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Police State starts in tiny Arkansas town

Jan 03, 20133 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

A Street Crime Unit in a tiny Arkansas town is armed with AR-15s and SWAT gear as the cops ask for ID and question citizens' reasons for simply walking.

In looking back at disturbing privacy news, on December 15, 2012, in the small city of Paragould, Arkansas, population 26,113, Police Chief Todd Stovall announced an “armed patrol” Street Crime Unit.

. . . beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.

‘[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.” Stovall said while some people may be offended by the actions of his department, they should not be.’

Stovall also said, “We’re going to do it to everybody. Criminals don’t like being talked to.” Oh really? Some privacy-conscious, innocent citizens probably don’t like the idea of armed cops requiring them to explain why they are walking.

Main Street Paragould reacted to media outrage by stating, “Social media sites are not the best source of news.” Mainstream media, however, probably doesn’t even know or care about Paragould, Arkansas. While it may not be Mayberry, this is a small town and not number one on the list of most crime-riddled cities in the USA; in fact, it’s not even mentioned in the cities by crime rate since the population is under 40,000. It’s not the murder capital of America, but even if it were, this sort of Nazi-esque ‘show me your papers’ mindset surely cannot be legal. Hmm, this has an unpleasant stink to it, a bit like the TSA’s future plans to track all daily travel.

Yet another “did-I-awaken-in-the-wrong-country” news piece happened in Texas last month, when state troopers used the supposed scent of marijuana in a car to conduct body cavity searches on two women. No marijuana was found.

In the guilty-until-proven-innocent department, before the first Occupy Wall Street tent was erected, the FBI and Homeland Security were “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” People involved in the Occupy movement were monitored and considered potential criminals and terrorists as their information was dumped into fusion center databases.

Muckety reported:

If every protest movement is considered a potential danger to the country, every protester is subject to government intrusion. We’ve been here before, during the 1950s, when J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy invaded privacy and ruined lives under the guise of protecting Americans against communism. However, Hoover and McCarthy didn’t have access to email, the internet, DNA databases, facial-recognition software, drones and a national network of video surveillance cameras.”

If you thought your elected officials would help protect your constitutional rights, then you were probably a bit depressed when Congress disgracefully approved the FISA warrantless spying bill for five more years while rejecting all privacy amendments.

So what besides more surveillance might we see in 2013? Counter surveillance fashion is springing up, such as an anti-drone hoodie and anti-drone scarf “designed to thwart thermal imaging, a technology used widely by UAVs.”

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  • TSA: All your travel are belong to us?
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  • Future smart spies: Innovative leaps in 2012

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.