Trump administration officials are planning to use $400,000 of the $1.5 billion in funds the federal government allocated to monitor its citizenry to use for surveillance and data gathering, according to a newly published report by Politico.
The $400K allocation was part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Counterterrorism Communications Program (CCCP), which has been used to help federal agencies monitor social media activity, and it was initially set to expire this week, but the Trump Administration will use the funds for the CCCP again, according a Politico article published Wednesday.
The use of the funds, which includes $400 for each camera, comes as the federal surveillance apparatus continues to expand and become more intrusive.
The government is using more and more devices to monitor the activities of the public, including the ability to track and monitor private communications, and to conduct surveillance on millions of people in the US, including journalists and activists.
The new report, titled The Secret World of Surveillance, is part of a growing body of research on surveillance in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, which exposed the scope of surveillance programs in the United States and revealed the extent of government surveillance of Americans.
The report notes that the government has been using technology for more than a decade to track the movement of Americans, even though the vast majority of Americans are unaware of the government’s spying activities.
The report details the use of surveillance technology, how it works, and how its use has evolved over time.
For instance, it describes how the government developed a surveillance program called the “Blue Card” that was used to track an alleged hacker who infiltrated the office of Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.
“In 2015, the Blue Card program was used by law enforcement to track one of the hackers, who was believed to have been the person responsible for stealing and leaking sensitive data from the Democratic National Committee,” the report reads.
“This incident led to the creation of the Federal Communications Commission’s Cybersecurity Modernization Program, which focused on the development of surveillance capabilities that would help improve cybersecurity.”
The report describes how surveillance technology is used to target activists and dissenters in the name of public safety.
“In the early 2000s, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies began using facial recognition technology to identify people who were in or around public venues, which they used to monitor and track activists, dissenters, and individuals who were trying to disrupt government operations, according [to] a government source who requested anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing.”
The FBI, for example, used facial recognition software to track activist group Black Lives Matter.
“The FBI also used facial capture technology to monitor protests and demonstrations by Black Lives Matters, including during the 2016 election,” the article continues.
The FBI is currently developing facial recognition and facial recognition-based technologies that it hopes to use to identify and track anyone who enters a public building.
“The FBI will be developing facial capture technologies that allow it to track individuals entering public buildings and other places that could pose a security threat to the community, such as schools, churches, and public venues,” the FBI’s Chief of Intelligence Mark Giuliano told Politico.
It’s not clear when the agency will start using the facial capture tools, but in a statement to Politico, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said, “The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (BIRI) is in the process of developing facial tracking technology that will be used to assist in investigations.”