• Hidden Mics as Part of Government Surveillance Program

    May 19, 2016

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Post-Constitution America


    In another example of multi-dimensional clash among the Fourth Amendment, privacy, technology and the surveillance state, hidden microphones that are part of a broad, public clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the San Francisco Bay Area have been exposed.

    The FBI planted listening devices at bus stops and other public places trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud. FBI agents were previously caught hiding microphones inside light fixtures and at public spaces outside an Oakland Courthouse, between March 2010 and January 2011.

    The apparent goal of the feds was to catch the defendants in their impromptu conversations following court sessions.

    At issue is the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unwarranted search, which includes electronic “search,” and the concept that one has no expectation of privacy in a public place. The legal argument is that by choosing voluntarily to enter a public space, such a courtroom or bus stop, one gives up one’s Fourth Amendment rights. In the government’s interpretation, their actions are roughly the equivalent of overhearing a conversation on street corner waiting for a light to change.

    The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors will ask the judge to throw out the recordings. “Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy. Private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected ‘oral communication’ and therefore may not be intercepted without judicial authorization.”

    In addition to the Constitutional issues in the real estate case, the broad use of public surveillance devices also touches on the question of other people who may be swept up alongside the original targets. For example, the FBI’s interpretation means if its microphones inadvertently pick up conversation relating to another alleged crime, they would be free to use that as evidence in court as well.

    The use of microphones, coupled with technologies such as voice recognition (to identify a person) and keyword recognition (to identify specific terms of interest electronically) means that what appears to be a one-dimensional listening device can actually function within a web of technology to enable broad-spectrum surveillance of masses of people in public spaces.

    (The “Golden Nugget” slide above is provided by the NSA, courtesy of former employee Edward Snowden)

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  • Recent Comments

    • chuck said...


      Are these tech items in every room of The Capital, and who will they protect if so… is the question. Have a nice day!

      05/19/16 8:05 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The FBI has reverted to its origins in Hoovering up the innocent in its dragnets. Just imagine how many microphones the FBI has placed in public places in Washington. And they thought Hoover was a threat to our freedom.

      05/19/16 9:15 AM | Comment Link

    • Hidden Mics as Part of Government #Surveillance Program http://weme… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊) said...


      […] Mics as Part of Government #Surveillance Program https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2016/05/19/hidden-mics-as-part-of-government-surveillance-program/ no boundaries to these […]

      05/19/16 11:04 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I’ve decided to communicate by sky writing via a small drone. After a short time the message disperses and all evidence ends in undecipherable vapor.

      05/19/16 2:10 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Just when you think these scum sucking Totalitarian wannabe’s have reached the bottom of the Surveillance State cesspool. Unfortunately..they haven’t. And they won’t stop until every conversation between human beings is being stored 24/7. Moreover..wait till AI is advanced enough to “detect and identify” every “potential” criminal on the planet, and “pre-crime” prosecution becomes law.

      J Edgar must be salivating with envy.

      05/20/16 8:01 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      btw..just in case you didn’t already know…


      I’ve got $25 that says some Congressional tyrant wannabe introduces legislation that makes it a crime to disable TV surveillance. After all..they’ve already introduced bills aimed at making it a crime to alter or disable certain surveillance functions on your cars that would dis-connect it from manufacturer, and government data collection signals. Of course…in a few more years..you won’t be allowed to drive OR own a private vehicle.

      Moreover..it’s only a matter of time till one of these cocksuckers in Congress will try to make inserting RFID chips in humans required by law. At that point..well..I ‘d bet half of the Dumbest Country on the Planet will buy into it. You know..just to keep them “safe”. From themselves. Ha.

      05/20/16 8:19 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Pitch- maybe those who still watch TV NEED to be surveilled giving the government a good head count of how many imbeciles who will never resist martial law.

      05/20/16 8:46 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I read long ago about the FBI bugging parking meters along the sidewalk path mobsters took while discussing “business”. I guess we’re all mobsters now. I always wanted a pair of cement Van sneakers.

      05/20/16 9:04 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      On a side note, just came across Peter’s latest post over at TomDispatch.com. Great article Peter.


      If only we could take a Snapchat of WDC..and disappear it.

      05/21/16 6:24 AM | Comment Link

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