Happy Thanksgiving!

Subheader: The Various Webs and Law Enforcement

Happy Thanksgiving 2021!

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The Three Webs Defined As Related to L.E. Monitoring

Holiday reading: Subsequent to last week’s post regarding the use of geo-fencing and keyword logging warrants by law enforcement agencies, several readers asked me to define the various webs, i.e., the surface, deep and dark webs, as well as how they relate to l.e. monitoring of potential suspects and high-level security threats.

The Webs

Succinctly,

Surface Web: The majority of people employ Google, Bing, Firefox, Safari and like browsers. That area of the internet is called the surface or open web. It is the tip of internet that is visible to all, if you liken the internet to an iceberg. The surface web comprises only 4% of the entire Internet.

Deep web: The deep web is the portion of the Internet that is hidden and not shown from conventional search engines. IOW, it cannot be accessed by search engines; harboring sensitive and private information such as government data, bank data, cloud data (think the content of your personal email and social media accounts) etc. To access deep web data, you must go to the website, log in and locate the information within the site. Journalists and politically oppressed people internationally are common inhabitants of this space. The NYT has a permanent lockbox on this web.

Dark Web: The dark web, a subset of the deep web, refers to heavily encrypted online content that is not indexed by conventional search engines. Access requires a password, encryption, or specialty software to surf the anonymous environment as well as as a multi-layered encryption browser, i.e., TOR. This is where law enforcement concentrates its focus in that this is the area of the web in which criminals and nefarious routes reside (e.g. the Silk Road black market). 

The above provides a glimpse into the enormous scope of the internet that domestic and foreign l.aw enforcement agencies must monitor. By its sheer size, unless one is labeled a probable master criminal or terrorist, law enforcement is mostly reactive in monitoring people. One would have to commit extremely egregious acts over a prolonged period of time for deep, sustained monitoring. 

I say this knowing that AI tools specifically to monitor long-term have been developed and are being refined as I type. Lots to keep an eye on here.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe. and enjoy the holiday,

Geofencing And Keyword Logging; The New Warrants

Geofencing and keyword searches

Privacy experts are now contesting law enforcement’s two newest tools- geofencing and keyword logging. These technologies are used, respectively, to track activity within a specific geographical area (from a single home to a large neighborhood) and, to monitor specific keyword input. Combined, these two activities provide law enforcement with access to the location and personal written communication of millions of innocent people.

Lawyers and privacy experts contend that geofence and keyword logging warrants are akin to a general warrant, which is illegal under the Fourth Amendment protection of the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. These new warrant tools don’t have a specific person in mind, they simply target groups of unnamed people. Where is the probable cause against specific suspects in such random warrants?

Keyword logging warrants are potentially more far-reaching than geofence warrants because keyword search warrants are not necessarily geographically or otherwise tangibly tied to a specific crime and could make suspects out of innocent people around the nation and the world.

It’s not just the large tech companies such as Google and Facebook who are providing this personal information to law enforcement, many other smaller data providers and even apps (such as fitness app, FitBit) are fulfilling these geofence and keyword search warrants.

There’s also always the very real concern that this information will be used under pretext to target private citizens or causes. Companies like Hawk Analytics are hosting seminars, training people in the private sector as well as law enforcement on how to put together these type warrants. But no one is monitoring the use of this information. There is current legislation wending its way through Congress to protect general personal information, there is no legislative effort addressing geofencing.

A case on record now clearly illustrates the danger of unregulated geofencing warrants wherein an innocent bicyclist had to hire an attorney to clear himself as the prime suspect in a burglary case- simply for riding by the burglared house- along a route he took often while biking. Read here.

Very concerning to lawyers should be the worry that in researching cases, general keyword search warrants may be in place for anyone and everyone’s IP addresses and communication should they use certain phrases. Real case example.

We’ll update our readers on congressional action on these warrants as developments occur.


BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.


As always, stay safe.

How To Minimize Your Digital Footprint

Managing your digital footprint

(At all times in this review, we are referring to U.S. digital presence. The European GDPR law and rules – the right to be forgotten, aka the right to erasure – will be covered in a future post.)

Every day we see articles and advertisements claiming to help you “delete your digital footprint”. We’re not here to sell you anything – we provide you with the facts and, thoroughly tested, solutions. To this end:

Fact 1 – You cannot entirely delete your digital footprint, albeit, you can have certain information redacted. (See Step 6 below.)

Fact 2 – You can modify, minimize and moderate your digital footprint.

Addressing Fact 2, we include several common sense recommendations to minimize (in some cases, remove) your unwanted or irrelevant digital references and, very definitive actions you can take up directly with the data providers to better manage your public profile.

1. Go through your email, especially the Spam folder. Identify old, nuisance or trial accounts by using keywords such as “welcome”, “verify your email” and “free trial”. Delete these accounts on the company sites.

2. Delete old emails that you no longer use. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, servers such as Gmail, consider email unused for 180+ days abandoned. Furthermore, the government can access these “abandoned” emails without a warrant.

3. Go to haveibeenpwned.com and find out if your email addresses, phone numbers or passwords are in hacked/leaked databases available to criminals. (This information on this site is a small representation of the personal data criminals can access.)

4. Search your user names and delete the ones you no longer use. (If you can conduct this search, so can others- and potentially learn private things about you – where you shop, your political supports, affiliated organizations, etc.)

5. Change your social media privacy settings to control who can see your posts and while you are conducting this task, delete your old social media posts. Facebook was founded in 2004. By now, that college student is in her mid-30s; the associate lawyer is now a partner or a sole practitioner and surely, many original users have their own families, so perhaps it’s time to archive the night-out w/friends pics.

6. Opt out of data provider websites. These people finder sites collect tons of personal information such as names, addresses, ages, birthdays, phone numbers, tangible assets (homes, cars) and even court records and, these records are not always inaccurate. There are hundreds of these sites in the list we’ve compiled during the course of work (and we’ve successfully petitioned the majority of these sites for client information redacted/removed or corrected).

7. Text with Telegram (read our recent article on this ultra-secure and secret messaging app), search with DuckDuckGo (it doesn’t track your searches) and avail yourself of a ProtonMail free email account (end to end encrypted email that contains zero knowledge -IOW, not even the provider can read the contents of your ProtonMail email, unlike Google and the majority of email providers.)

We’ll update this list as new viable developments in digital privacy occur, so check back often.

BNI operatives; situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Telegram: The Ability To Permanently Delete Texts On Both Ends & Deploy A Self-Destruct Timer

Telegram – the new era of secure messaging

Virtually every day we read about a politician, a CEO or  who’s become legally jammed up – sometimes criminally –  based on their statements in text, email or other electronic communication method.  Anyone with a pulse and access to a smartphone or laptop at this point believes that “everything” is stored in perpetuity “somewhere”.

Well, along comes a messaging app like no other, Telegram – ushering in a new era of safe messaging that you absolutely control.  Let’s get right to Telegram’s benefits:

Why switch to Telegram?

Private

Telegram messages are heavily encrypted and can self-destruct.

Cloud-Based

Telegram lets you access your messages from multiple devices.

Fast

Telegram delivers messages faster than any other application.

Distributed

Telegram servers are spread worldwide for security and speed.

Open

Telegram has an open API and protocol free for everyone.

Free

Telegram is free forever. No ads. No subscription fees.

Secure

Telegram keeps your messages safe from hacker attacks.

Powerful

Telegram has no limits on the size of your media and chats.

What can you do with Telegram?

Connect

from most remote locations.

Message Delete Control

wherein you can permanently delete message on both ends – yours and that of your recipient.

Coordinate

groups of up to 100000 members.

Synchronize

your chats across all your devices.

Send

documents and graphic content of any type.

Encrypt

personal and business secrets.

Destruct

your messages with a timer.

Store

your media in the cloud.

Build

your own tools on our API.

Available

on every native platform (web version, macOS, PC, MAC, Linux).

================================================

We’ve used Telegram ourselves for quite a while now and will use no other messaging service.  Our favorite features are the ability to permanently delete texts on both ends (sender/recipient), the text self-destruct timer (which can be set anywhere from one second to one year or more) and the end to end encryption,  NO COPIES OF YOUR CHAT OR ATTACHMENTS ARE STORED ON ANY SERVERS ANYWHERE.  Another security feature we appreciate is that, in Secret Chat mode, you can’t even screen shot or forward the conversation.  Finally, there’s no file size limit.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.

Mandatory Area Code Changes Effective October 24, 2021

Mandatory 10-Digit Dialing Becomes Effective on October 24, 2021 for Multiple States/Area Codes; 988 Becomes Available Nationwide on July 16, 2022

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted “988” as a new 3-digit number to be used nationwide to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, starting July 16, 2022.

  • Wireless customers may dial either 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline now.
  • Landline customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.

For “988” to work for everyone with a telephone number in the below list of area codes, 10-digit local dialing (or 1+10-digit dialing for wireline customers in the area codes below with an asterisk) must be implemented. If your area code is included in the list below, you need to dial the area code for all local calls starting on October 24, 2021.

StateArea CodesStateArea Codes
Alabama251Minnesota218, 952
Alaska907Mississippi662
Arizona480, 520, 928Missouri314, 417, 660, 816
Arkansas501Montana406
California209*, 530*, 562*, 626*, 650*, 707*, 925*, 949*, 951*Nevada775
Colorado719, 970New Hampshire603
Delaware302New Jersey856, 908
Florida321 (Brevard County), 352, 561, 941New Mexico505, 575
Georgia478, 912New York516, 607, 716, 845, 914
Guam671North Carolina910
Hawaii808Ohio440, 513
Illinois309, 618, 708*South Dakota605
Indiana219, 574Tennessee731, 865
Iowa319, 515Texas254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915, 940
Kansas620, 785Vermont802
Kentucky859Virginia276, 804
Louisiana337, 504Washington509
Michigan616, 810, 906, 989Wisconsin262, 414, 608, 920

* 1 + 10-digit dialing is required for landline customers.          

What do you need to do?
Before October 24, 2021, in addition to changing the way you dial local calls, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed to complete calls to 7-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed to complete calls to 10-digit (or 1+10-digit) numbers, including the area code. Some examples are: life safety systems and medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm systems, other security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and other similar functions. Be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.

What will remain the same?

  • Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to this dialing change.
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
  • You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long distance calls.
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 911 (emergency services) and 711 (relay services), as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 where those services are available in your community.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Will you be able to dial 988 without a prefix from a multi-line telephone system?
No, you still will need to dial a prefix first when dialing 988 from a multi-line telephone system, where a prefix is required (for example, dialing 9 first from a hotel or office building multi-line telephone system).

Can you still dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline?
Yes, you can dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline now (wireless customers can dial 988 now too). Starting July 16, 2022, everyone can dial either 988 or 1-800-273-TALK to reach the Lifeline.

Is 988 a new area code?
No, “988” is a new 3-digit code that may be used to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, starting on July 16, 2022.

To minimize confusion when dialing work and personal contacts, please distribute this information as widely possible as the compliance date of October 24, 2021 is less than two weeks away. 

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Current Status Of Passport Operations

From the U.S. State Department: Passport Applications and Renewals:

What to Expect:

  • Effective September 23, routine service can take up to 16 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received.
  • Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. These door-to-door timeframes include both our processing times and mailing times on the front and back end.

Select Trackable Mail:

  • Send your application to us via USPS Priority Mail Express and pay an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery of your completed passport. These services provide the fastest turnaround and protect your important documents

Use Self-Service Tools Online: Get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our site. Check online for your passport status. Customer service representatives will not give status updates over the phone. 

Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least 4-6 months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. We do not charge a fee to make an appointment. Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.

Appointments are Limited, Must Be Scheduled by Phone: Call 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, Mondays through Fridays. Our appointment line is closed on weekends and federal holidays. 

We temporarily disabled the online appointment booking system to ensure our very limited appointments go to applicants who need them for urgent travel. You will need wait to speak to a customer service representative to book an appointment. Learn more to see if you qualify for an appointment.

Renew By Mail: Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.   

*If you applied over 16 weeks ago for routine service or 12 weeks for expedited service and have not received your passport, we may have sent you a letter requesting more information. We cannot continue processing your application until you respond to this letter. Learn more on our Respond to a Letter or Email page. 

We’re sure many of you will have specific questions not addressed in the above, such as, “I have a passport application pending. Can I expedite the service? (short answer, yes), so we suggest you review the State Department site should the above information not provide answers pertinent to your issue.

If you’re planning on overseas travel, please check the State Department’s Country-Specific Advisory to obtain the latest updates on COVID travel regulations by country.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

9/11, A Personal Account

Lina M. Maini, Log Book, 9/11/2001

Rarely do I publicly recount my private experiences but this somber week, with the 20th anniversary this Saturday of the 9/11 attacks on our country, I feel moved to share a small portion of a very personal memory of that day with you.

Above, I’ve embedded a photo of one of my first pilot training log books.

The very first entry in this logbook: 2001, 9/11. I had just completed 7 Touch & Go’s, flight training out of Republic Airport, Farmingdale, Long Island, NY. We took off around 8:15 a.m. that lovely near-autumn morning. We never made the scheduled 8th T&G.

What we (flight instructor with me) saw that day remains irremovably embedded in the deepest recesses of my mind, coming to the forefront now as we near 9/11/2021. My flight instructor was a Lt., NYPD (Captain now) and Navy Reserves pilot.

From a relatively very short distance aerially, we saw an aircraft streaking across a “severe clear” cobalt blue sky. I had performed the 7th touch n go, we headed towards Captree in Suffolk County and… never made it. My instructor’s official police telecoms went off and simultaneously, the Tower@ FRG repeatedly screamed at everyone up to land immediately. In a rush to land, another training pilot cut us off within several hundred feet, nearly crashing us into the runway.

We knew immediately that we were under attack- given the level of information coming in to my instructor and, we had employees on the ground at the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan running towards the Twin Towers, yelling into our company Nextel two-ways along the way – telling us exactly what was happening. Chilling words that I will not, cannot, ever forget. I began calling my employees, family and partners, telling them to shelter in place – and those with children in the NYC/LI area, to pull their children out of school ASAP.

What we witnessed over the next several days remains a shell-shocked medley of sights and sounds usually only experienced on a battlefield. And, almost incoherently juxtaposed to pure bedlam, was the eerie silence we encountered along the now closed roads and highways as we made our way towards the City, in various response capacities, never imagining what we would see once we arrived at what is now known as Ground Zero.

At this point, I’ll move away from telling my story of 9/11, knowing you all have your own experiences and memories of that fateful day and offer a simple prayer, especially during these extremely challenging times today, that we may all come together again as the large, compassionate community that is our nation, and our world.

Wishing all peace and calmness in our daily lives as we strive forward in all things,
~Lina

(Please excuse fluctuating tenses in the retelling of my story- the memories, as I write, are simultaneously vivid and recessed.)

Coming Soon- America’s Social Credit Score System

Social credit score

Early in January of this year, several web giants unveiled pilot programs in what effectively could become a soft social credit system before 2030. By way of explanation, China’s social credit system (in effect for seven years now) is a combination of government and business surveillance that gives citizens a “score” that can restrict the ability of individuals to take actions — such as purchasing plane tickets, acquiring property or taking loans — because of behaviors. Given the position of several major American companies, a similar system may be coming here sooner than you think. 

The potential scope of the soft social credit system under construction is enormous. The same companies that can track your activities and give you corporate rewards for compliant behavior could utilize their powers to block transactions, add surcharges or restrict your use of products. At what point does free speech make someone a target in this new system? When does your debit card get canceled over old tweets, your home loan denied for homeschooling your kids, or your eBay account invalidated because a friend flagged you for a post they simply didn’t like?”

In August, PayPal announced a partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center to “investigate” the role of propagators of “anti-government” rhetoric, subjective labels that potentially could impact a large number of groups or people using their service. PayPal says the collected information will be shared with other financial firms and politicians. Facebook is taking similar measures.

Peer pressure, trendy causes and movements, and the ability to comply with the new system with the click of a mouse combine all of the worst elements of a society more dependent on their social media profile than is healthy. As it grows in breadth and power, what may be most surprising about our new social credit system won’t be collective fear of it, but rather how quickly most people will fall in line.

The Hill

We’ll be keeping a very close eye on this concerning issue and will report updates as they develop.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Inheritance Theft: Rarely Committed By Strangers

Inheritance theft occurs when a person, usually a relative, friend, new spouse or advisor, takes advantage of his or her relationship with the person making the will (called a testator), to obtain or take money or property from the testator that the testator intended to leave to his legal heirs.

The person attempting to steal the testator’s assets gains his trust and proceeds to use such tactics as undue influence, isolation, manipulation, lies, threats or forgery to obtain alleged “gifts”, cash and property.

When most people hear the term inheritance theft, they presume these are acts committed by outsiders that are not related to the testator.  The opposite is true- the vast majority of inheritance thefts are committed by the testator’s own children or other family members.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to inheritance theft and – under undue influence –  will give away valuables, money and other property to people that visit or stay with them more or help them on a regular basis, especially if the testator’s relatives live far away.

Signs of Inheritance Theft:

  1. The inheritance thief physically moves in or close to his intended victim or visits often.
  2. He insinuates himself into the daily lifestyle of the testator (runs errands, accompanies testator to medical appointments, becomes involved in financial matters, etc.)
  3. There are signers or owners are added to the testator’s bank accounts.
  4. There are bank, brokerage, and retirement account statements indicating withdrawals in amounts that are greater than normal.
  5. The testator is isolated from other family members.

Penalties for Inheritance Theft:

Anyone involved in an inheritance scam can potentially face criminal charges for a variety of crimes including:

  • State or federal fraud charges.
  • Bank fraud charges
  • Identity theft charges
  • Wire fraud charges
  • Forgery charges

These criminal charges, if proven, carry serious penalties and, a defendant could also be subject to civil or criminal forfeiture, a civil lawsuit and forced to pay restitution to the victim.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware

As always, stay safe.

UPDATE: DHS Announces Extension of REAL ID Full Enforcement Deadline

REAL ID Deadline: May 3, 2023

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending the REAL ID full enforcement date by 19 months, from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023, due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has significantly impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity.

PREVIOUS POST BELOW. I’m letting the original article stand as it contains valuable requirements information .

Lina M. Maini, Editor

Your Regular License or State I.D. Will Not Allow You To Fly Starting October, 2021.

February 15, 2021

Enhanced, REAL ID and Standard Licenses

By October of this year, your standard driver’s license or state-issued I.D. will not allow you to fly commercially.  Since 2006, the federal government has urged (and then, mandated), the transition to Real I.D. for advanced security purposes.

After October 1, 2021, these are the permissions related to commercial flight and federal facilities access for these three types of government photo I.D.s (excluding passports and passport cards- reported on in next week’s Bulletin):

Standard driver’s licenses will not be valid for federal purposes, such as flying commercially or accessing federal buildings and military bases.

Enhanced driver’s licenses will require also require a U.S. Passport for boarding domestic and international flights and entering federal buildings and installations.

Real I.D. will allow immediate access to commercial domestic and foreign flights and all federal buildings and installations.

Getting a REAL ID is not mandatory but is encouraged

A REAL ID is optional and is not needed for the following:

  • Being licensed to drive
  • Voting or registering to vote
  • Entering Federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
  • Applying for or receiving Federal benefits
  • Accessing health or life preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations

However, by October 1, 2021, all citizens, legal residents and all other persons working or studying in the U.S. and its territories, and in situations requiring a government i.d., will be required to have a validated enhanced state I.D. or, a fed-state”Real ID”.  Below are the specifics.

What:   The REAL ID Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109-13, 119 Stat. 302, enacted May 11, 2005, is an Act of Congress that modified U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedures standards for the state driver’s licenses and identification (ID) cards, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism.

Data requirements

A Real ID-compliant form of identification requires, at a minimum, the following pieces of data:

  • Full legal name
  • Signature
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Unique, identifying number
  • Principal residence address
  • Resident status
  • Front-facing photograph of the applicant

Real I.D.s must also feature specific security features intended to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes. These cards must also present data in a common, machine-readable format (bar codes, Smart card technology, etc.).

The law set forth certain requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Secretary of Homeland Security has currently defined “official purposes” as presenting state driver’s licenses and identification cards for boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants.

Each state must agree to share its motor vehicle database with all other states. This database must include, at a minimum, all the data printed on the state drivers’ licenses and ID cards, plus drivers’ histories (including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses) and include resident status.

When: The effective date of the Real ID Act implementation deadline until October 1, 2021.

Why:  It’s federal law.

Please visit www.dhs.gov for more REAL ID info.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.