Are you afraid the government could be spying on you? Though we’d like to think otherwise, the government has many tools at its disposal to snoop. And they use them, often without warrant or probable cause. Since we live in an ever interconnected world, it’s much easier for government agencies to listen in on your conversations, watch you in your home, and put together a detailed file on everything about you. They probably know more than you might think. From your family history to your education to how many times a night you get up to go to the bathroom, it’s all there, stored in a well-protected server. If this is surprising, you might want to sit down. Here are 25 scary ways the government could be spying on you.
License Plate Readers
You know those road signs that tell you how fast your driving? Well, they aren’t only a warning sign, they’re also a surveillance tool. According to federal contracting data, the DEA is expanding their surveillance network by attaching license plater readers to these signs. In addition, license plate readers are already on plenty of city street lights, capturing your plate information and keeping tabs on you.
If you own a Smart TV (a TV that connects directly to the internet), which nowadays is pretty much every TV made, the government could be listening in. According to WikiLeaks, CIA hackers have attempted to break into these TVs, utilizing the microphones inside.
The local police, the FBI, the CIA, and probably most government agencies regularly monitor people’s social media. Your social media accounts provide a huge amount of information about you, giving them a better picture. Even if you have a private account, they’ll still could find a way to get around it. At one point the U.S. government created a fake Facebook account of a woman for their social media investigations. They eventually were caught and had to pay her reparations.
Today, businesses and government agencies have plenty of security cameras inside their buildings and outside, monitoring city streets. The government uses their own cameras for their investigations and can easily gain access to business security cameras as well. So, if you see a security camera, chances are…they’re watching.
By now you likely know that computer cookies aren’t sweet, delicious treats on your computer. No, they track everything you do online, providing a footprint. Since companies track you with cookies to advertise to you, the NSA has used that information to their own benefit by knowing everything you’ve looked at online.
Know how you can open your iPhone X just by it recognizing your face? That’s biometrics, and it’s become extremely sophisticated. The government has used this technology and its data to create a massive face recognition database. This means that if your face shows up on a security camera, your profile will instantly pop up, giving the government everything they need to know about you.
This one might seem weird, but you know all those loyalty programs you’re apart of to save money? The government uses them to spy on you. When you use those cards, that purchasing data is sent off for marketing purposes. Just like computer cookies, Uncle Sam can look at that data as well.
You probably knew this one was coming, but it needs to be said. The government can (and probably has) read your email. In a provision of the FISA law called Section 702, the government can collect communications of Americas under certain circumstances. Before you think you wouldn’t be a target, think again. The government has used this provision liberally, taking collecting tons of emails in the process.
Plenty of satellites orbit the Earth, some of which are spy satellites. With some of these satellites, the government can easily locate you, watch you pump your gas and even read your license plate number.
Along with loyalty program cards, your credit card transactions are also recorded and monitored. The NSA specifically is collecting this information. Of course, they say it’s to help stop terrorism, but many fear plenty of innocent Americans have fallen prey to the data collection.
That tiny webcam on your laptop or the webcam hanging off your monitor can be hacked by the FBI or other government agencies. For example, files revealed by Edward Snowden showed British agents hacked and collected Yahoo! video chats of millions of users. Even former FBI Head James Comey said you should cover your webcam when you’re not using it.
Your new, fancy Nest thermostat could also be spying on you. If collects a wide variety of information about your habits. That data can be collected by the government.
Equally, any smart appliances, like microwaves, refrigerators, and laundry machines can collect your data and be hacked into by the government.
IMSI Catchers are small devices that can fit inside a car that essentially pretend to be legit cell towers, tricking phones to connect to it. Once a cell phone connects to it, government officials can collect and gather the information from the phone. It also allows officials to monitor individual movements and find them easily in a crowd.
Coined “Cartapping,” if your car has a digital console that connects to the internet or a GPS unit with OnStar, then like anything else, this also has the potential to be spied on by the police or other government agencies.
Your smartphone has a two cameras on it, a microphone, plus all your personal information in one place. You better believe the NSA and the government has tried to use it to spy on you. For instance, news broke that the NSA has backdoor access to iPhones, allowing them to record and monitor you without you even knowing about it.
Sorry, but you’re not safe on buses, either. In one case, the Maryland Transit Administration recorded both audio and video on all their public buses. This also takes place in several other cities around the United States as well. Of course, like all these things, proponents argue it’s for safety reasons.
You’ve seen the unmarked van in movies and on TV, but they’re not just a made up plot device; they’re legit. The government uses these all the time to surveil on citizens. However, things have taken a step further. In New York City, for instance, the NYPD is using x-ray vans to look through the walls of buildings and the sides of trucks. Beyond privacy concerns, we have no idea how much radiation these trucks are blasting on innocent civilians.
You’re text messages aren’t safe, either. According to The Guardian, the NSA collects 200 million text messages a day.
Naturally, if they’re collecting your texts, they’re also after your phone records. Recently, Reuters reported that the NSA tripled their collection of phone records in 2017.
You don’t have to read dozens of spy novels to know the government has been bugging phones and hotel rooms since the 1950’s. Today, it’s about as simple as planting smartphones on subjects to spy on them, something the DEA was caught doing in 2010.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows any government agency, like the FBI, to collect business records, medical records, or bank statements, if it involves a terrorist investigation. They do not need to show any probable cause.
Toll collectors, like the New York City’s E-ZPass, have been used by the government to collect data on Americans. The ACLU discovered many of these devices were set up far from tolls to collect information about people.
An NSA program revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, it collects tons of information on everyone’s internet activity. Social media, emails, browsing history were all collected on individuals. Snowden claimed, while working as an NSA contractor, he could tap anyone, even the President, if he had their email.
Alongside XKeyscore, the NSA also has a program called PRISM which collects data from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, among many other companies. With this program, the U.S. government is able to tap into anyone’s data from these companies. While proponents insist it’s directed only at terrorists, many have, understandably, sounded the alarm of privacy concerns.
Quick, how many types of government are there? Don’t know? Then you need to read 25 Unique Types Of Government You Might Not Know Exist