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Censorship Government Privacy Transportation United States Politics

Have a Political Bumper Sticker? The FBI Might Be Snapping Photos of You (muckrock.com) 192

v3rgEz writes: Tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs, the peace organization that seeks to democratically divert military spending into free food for the needy. But as documents recently obtained by MuckRock show, even such tepid support as a bumper sticker for the outspoken anti-violence organization could land you in FBI files. Read on for yet another example of how the FBI puts war protesters, Juggalos, and animal rights activists in the same category as organized crime and terrorist groups.
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Have a Political Bumper Sticker? The FBI Might Be Snapping Photos of You

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  • by saloomy ( 2817221 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @01:44PM (#51777187)
    if you read the story or comment on it!
    • Damn! Too late!

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Well, that's the rub isn't it, you can only be a virgin once, so once they have tracked you, they will track you forever. So why worry, you have just joined the gang, one of countless millions being tracked, monitored, secret warrants ready to execute at the first excuse. When silly shit like this becomes normal, it ceases to be a threat, in fact not being tracked tends to make you look suspicious now ;D.

    • No, that is the NSA. The FBI is only hooked into the phone system, and email.

      I just assume we're on the same list here as we're already on for having visited the Linux Journal website.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )

      if you read the story or comment on it!

      Warning people that actions get them tracked, will get you tracked.

    • There are other reasons not to be too overt with your political opinions. I have a sister, living in Texas, who has at least a dozen lefty stickers on her car, and it has been vandalized multiple times.

      • There are other reasons not to be too overt with your political opinions. I have a sister, living in Texas, who has at least a dozen lefty stickers on her car, and it has been vandalized multiple times.

        Whaddya expect? We're talking about Texas, afterall.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Really, at this point, who ISN'T in a file at the F.B.I.? The warped mission, or mission creep, that now tries to document everything and police everyone is making it that anything will earn you a folder in a filing cabinet somewhere. I have constantly spoken out against abuse of power and don't condone any of the unjustified, unnecessary surveillance and this little bit of news is no surprise given the "law enforcement" landscape.

      But it's the F.B.I.'s or other agencies' problem if they want to waste time t

      • by slashdot_commentator ( 444053 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:20PM (#51777919) Journal

        COINTELPRO, look it up.

        Just realize that the managers at all these agencies don't work for the American people. The American people didn't give their okay to be spied upon. Cabinet members and agency directors answer to the people who handle their next lucrative assignment.

        • COINTELPRO, look it up.

          Just realize that the managers at all these agencies don't work for the American people. The American people didn't give their okay to be spied upon. Cabinet members and agency directors answer to the people who handle their next lucrative assignment.

          And of course, The damned USAPATRIOTACT (look it up) undid all the privacy protections that were instituted following the COINTELPRO blowup.

          • Americans are so clueless, they don't even realize that any political "protest" movement has the FBI putting in CIs & undercovers to research the protest organizers as if they were terrorists. Its de riguer, and its been going on before 9/11. (Why the fuck would FBI need to send undercovers to monitor Quaker meetings to protest the Iraq invasion???)

            As for the PATRIOT act, the gov't was breaking the laws the PATRIOT act suspended before the act was drafted.

            • As for the PATRIOT act, the gov't was breaking the laws the PATRIOT act suspended before the act was drafted.

              You are correct. I just didn't have the time/energy to type a real history lesson.

            • by Boronx ( 228853 )

              The names of these government organizations are infuriating. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is really about the disruption of political opposition. The Central Intelligence Agency is really about secret, dirty wars.

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          Make that Main Core database with just the right style of creative art work :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • Most of us are safe then. Hardly anyone reads the stories and most only comment on guns or religion regardless of what the story is about.
  • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @01:48PM (#51777203)

    The car photo in the story has dozens of bumper stickers plastered over the back; it's hardly a single political bumper sticker. The person wanted to get noticed and should not be surprised to have someone take a pic of his car--or, if the FBI is there, to have them grab a picture for file art. If you're out investigating and see something that sticks out that much, wouldn't you take a picture of it?

    • I don't think I've ever seen a "Food not Bombs" bumper sticker on a car with less than 5 stickers.

      But I'm not ready to just wave my hands and discount the idea that the FBI considers having lots of bumper stickers to be suspicious, even if the 1st Amendment says they're not supposed to even go there.

      • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @02:18PM (#51777445)
        On one hand, it's a vehicle in public. Anyone can take a picture of it as there's no guarantee of privacy so pinning this up as some kind of government overreach is inane when there are so many better examples of the government infringing on the rights of the country's citizens.

        On the other hand, why the hell is the FBI bothering with these people. Unless their slogan is the world's biggest misnomer, they're not going to be blowing anything up. The worst they'll do is be annoying and passive aggressive in public, which hardly warrants a single letter in the local paper let alone three in the form of some government agency.

        Anyone stupid enough to ruin a perfectly good bumper with a sticker isn't worth wasting time or resources on. I'd be far more suspicious of the individuals with truck nuts. There's someone with enough screws loose to do something dangerous.
        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @02:32PM (#51777565)

          On the other hand, why the hell is the FBI bothering with these people?

          Because they have nothing better to do. In the last 20 years, crime rates in America have dropped dramatically, yet the FBI budget has doubled. They are over funded and over staffed, and they don't have enough real work to do.

          There are two alternative solutions:
          1. Criminalize more activities
          2. Cut their budget
          So far we have been opting for #1.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 )

            There are two alternative solutions:

            1. Criminalize more activities
            2. Cut their budget
            So far we have been opting for #1.

            Welcome to the nanny state. I, for one, detest my SJW overlords.

            Wahh! People disagree with me. Where's my safe space?

          • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

            In the last 20 years, crime rates in America have dropped dramatically, yet the FBI budget has doubled.

            Does that include inflation? You'd expect a budget to double in 20 years, from inflation alone.

            I realize you also said crime rates were dropping, which would suggest it ought to shrink instead of stay steady. Just musing out loud, mostly.

          • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:37PM (#51778017) Homepage

            Because they have nothing better to do.

            In a city near mine, about 10 years ago, an old cop died. When they were cleaning his basement, they found decades of illegal files documenting surveillance of totally innocuous local groups like liberal weekly newspapers, mainstream charity groups with a liberal ideology, social advocacy groups.

            It was really weird, I mean, even conservative citizens didn't understand why they would spend time investigating these groups. But the reason is obvious. Hippies. There are lots of old cops who still believe that hippies were the "death of America" and they're still trying to fight some sort of guerrilla culture war. I have no problem at all thinking that these guys get most of their life entertainment out of stalking hippies, blaming the worlds problems on them, and ticketing them for j-walking.

            Everything has a reason. A lot of those reasons are lame.

            And cutting their budgets? That might just mean they buy less toys they don't need, or do less lab testing of evidence. Reducing their budget does not in any way imply that you're going to improve what they spend money on, or curtail excessive interest in hippies.

            • And cutting their budgets? That might just mean they buy less toys they don't need, or do less lab testing of evidence. Reducing their budget does not in any way imply that you're going to improve what they spend money on, or curtail excessive interest in hippies.

              And you forget that they really don't care what the legislators does with their budgets; because they just make it up with bogus civil forfeiture, not to mention all the drugs and guns they have been selling for decades.

              • Generally no, they already max out the civil forfeiture they can find excuses for. Just look at the cases and the fact that they already seize a lot they have to pay back later. If they had a surplus they could dip into, they wouldn't be grabbing at the iffy stuff.

        • I'd be far more suspicious of the individuals with truck nuts.

          Well we have been known to do that at deer camp of course it is usually to screw with someone and what the hell else are you going to do with deer testicles and dick. Even my car ended up with them once hanging from the hitch.

        • Perhaps they are recording them to see if any bumper stickers are, indeed, correlated with some sort of wrongdoing.

        • There are all sorts of things that private citizens can do because it is in public, but the government is forbidden to do because it is based on speech.

          Putting people in a suspect list with no connection to a crime, based entirely on their speech, that is clearly forbidden to them. Taking the picture isn't. I have no problem with the picture. I'm only talking about where they wrote down stuff about people, implying suspicion where everything they actually pointed to was protected speech, including simply th

          • There are all sorts of things that private citizens can do because it is in public, but the government is forbidden to do because it is based on speech.

            Putting people in a suspect list with no connection to a crime, based entirely on their speech, that is clearly forbidden to them. Taking the picture isn't. I have no problem with the picture. I'm only talking about where they wrote down stuff about people, implying suspicion where everything they actually pointed to was protected speech, including simply that members of Food Not Bombs was seen at anti-war rallies where they also saw members of other groups such as Earth First!.

            In the photo on the website, I also see a "regime change" sticker, and other stickers that could be either pure political speech, or threats. But those aren't the ones they wrote down in these files.

            I didn't wave my hands and discount that the FBI might consider political speech to be suspicious; I said that the 1st Amendment says they're not supposed to.

            As another Poster said: COINTELPRO. Look it up [wikipedia.org].

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Putting people in a suspect list with no connection to a crime, based entirely on their speech, that is clearly forbidden to them.

            Nope, it's not. Acting on that information, e.g. to search that person, or put them on a no-fly list, that's where they cross the line. But keeping track of public speech is legit.

            (Meta-data tracking is a whole different discussion, omitted here.)

            Heck, just think in terms of basic police work (rare as that may be): cop sees something in public that seems suspicious, but doesn't rise to probable cause. He's certainly allowed to react to that by looking harder for signs of illegal activity, as long as he d

        • On the other hand, why the hell is the FBI bothering with these people.

          Because they are sick, power-hungry, paranoid motherfuckers with nothing better to do with our tax money, that's why.

          Next question?

    • Lies, damn lies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @02:22PM (#51777475)

      People who had Ron Paul bumper stickers were placed on DHS watch lists, which we all know gets shared with everyone else _including_ the FBI (Remember fusion centers right?). It only takes 1 of something to get you on a list, and like TFA demonstrates simply following a particular band like ICP will get you labelled and placed on a list.

      Oh, and to be perfectly clear, we _KNOW_ that people were put on lists for being Ron Paul supporters. It took years for people to get removed and of course the Government "claims" that they don't do that any more. If you believe the Government.. well, you are beyond help.

      • by khasim ( 1285 )

        If you are not on at least ONE government "watch" list then you're doing something wrong.

      • What were the effects of being on the watch lists?

        • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

          What were the effects of being on the watch lists?

          In general we can't even know, because we don't know whether or not we're on one. Maybe the reason Joe got pulled over 3 times last year for "reckless driving" but was never issued a ticket isn't because he can't drive well, but because he's on a list. Is he? Which one(s)? How is he to know?

          What we do know is that searching Google for terms like "Linux" or "Tor" gets us put on a list. What we do know is that people like Senator Ted Kennedy have been added to the no-fly list, for god knows what reason. It to

      • It seems so silly to add someone to a watch list because of a bumper sticker.

        It's the people who are quiet and evasive that they should be interested in, not the blowhards who are probably all bark and no bite.

        I mean, if you are a terrorist, are you going to advertise your intentions to the world with a bumper sticker?

        I break for jihad...

  • AWESOME! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @01:51PM (#51777235) Homepage

    Time to slap stickers on random people's cars in parking lots.

    Enjoy the increased signal to noise ratio mister FBI man!

  • You wanted to get noticed, and you did.

    This isn't exactly a news story. If you're that public about your beliefs, you should expect that people know about it.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      If you're that public about your beliefs, you should expect that people know about it.

      The people who scream the loudest about "political correctness" are the same people who want to say something socially unacceptable — "The president is a [church bells]!" to paraphrase Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles — without suffering the consequences.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @01:53PM (#51777257) Homepage
    A while back I saw a study about bumper stickers and traffic tickets. You're more likely to get a traffic ticket if you have an anti-police ("I shot the pig!") or pro-crime ("Legalized pot forever!") on the rear bumper. You're less likely to get a traffic ticket for having bumper stickers on the front bumper. Go figure.
    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      Just remember, in some areas pro-police bumper stickers can get you more scrutiny by the police as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by creimer ( 824291 )

        Just remember, in some areas pro-police bumper stickers can get you more scrutiny by the police as well.

        My father and I drove up from California to Idaho to bury my mother's ashes with her parents in 2004. He did a California rolling stop through a four-way intersection and we got jeered from all sides because we had California license plates. Californians got blamed for real estate prices, drive by shootings and drug activity by people in Idaho. Never mind that my extended family has been involved with the drug trade for decades. My father and his brothers bought tax-free cigarettes in Oregon and sold them o

    • Canadians, by and large, do not use bumper stickers (its some sort of deeply ingrained politeness thing) so CSIS and the other five-eyes organizations have to work much harder than bumper scanning. For those of you thinking of moving north in the event of a Trump presidential win, peel off all those stickers first so that you blend in much easier out on the road.

      • Please, the real reason is that 10 months out of the year the sticker would be covered in salt that gets put down on the roads to keep them ice-free and so nobody could read the stickers anyway.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @02:03PM (#51777333) Journal

      That's because the only time anyone will notice the bumper sticker on your front bumper is when you're about to mow them down.

      "Ah, he's against fossil fuels. That's kind of.... Aggghhhhh!"

    • by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:39PM (#51778695)

      What's pro-crime about wanting to legalize pot? Legalizing the stuff would give us a significant drop in the crime rate.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        Legalizing the stuff would give us a significant drop in the crime rate.

        And put quite a few cops out of business.

    • Gosh, the police will call your home phone to ask for donations to the policeman's whatever, and if you contribute they'll give you a sticker to put in the rear window of your car. I always figured that to be a legal way to put your thumb on the scale for "just a warning."

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        Gosh, the police will call your home phone to ask for donations to the policeman's whatever, and if you contribute they'll give you a sticker to put in the rear window of your car.

        The punchline for the old joke is: "Police don't have balls."

  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @01:59PM (#51777293)

    I'll put this bumper sticker on the left side of my car:
    "Attention FBI: This car best photographed from the right side."
    and on the right side of my car:
    "Attention FBI: This car best photographed from the left side."

    Then put some other nutty bumper stickers in between, and wait for the fun to start!

  • So this is how the IRS is really targeting specific groups of people for auditing!

  • ... The FBI might be snapping photos of you anyways.

  • Person with leftist bumper stickers thinks ANYONE taking pictures of their car is doing so to add them to an FBI tracking list, and yet the people posting violent anti-government rhetoric on the Internet in support of the unlawful actions of the Malheur Wildlife Reserve occupiers somehow don't think they are making the FBI pay any attention to them at all... after all, they have a _right_ to protest against the government, right?
  • Worse, try writing "[Candidate 2016]" with sidewalk chalk on a sidewalk in a public place (that normally encourages free expression) and the local authorities may check surveillance camera footage so they can harass you.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/03/24/someone-wrote-trump-2016-on-emorys-campus-in-chalk-some-students-said-they-no-longer-feel-safe/
  • One of the people I went to college with had modified his van with a custom wooden bumper that had an apparently real marijuana leaf laminated in the center. I often wondered how often he got pulled over...
  • Before 9-11 I was required to drive my own van for work stuff and I was not being paid enough for milage. So, seeing as it was my own van I had a couple of magnet signs made up for the doors.

    Imaging a circle logo with the top half in big letters, "Bob's Nukes." On the bottom half, in smaller letters, it said, "on time & on target," under that, "guaranteed yield."

    Not surprisingly, my manager and I had a discussion, the signs came off and my mileage got increased. . . but I loved those signs.

  • Anyone with a car plastered with bumper stickers like that needs to have a mental health file on them.
  • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:50PM (#51778089)

    We can sit around and poke fun at vegans, Juggalos, PETA, and all the other groups that are super easy to/we love to hate. That's precisely why this article is propaganda, as you shouldn't think for a second that "political statements" like being pro-encryption, rooting for Apple, anti-authoritarian, or against a police state doesn't also land you on the same lists.

    It's fun to joke around and all, but allowing any ridiculous-yet-innocuous activities be branded as terrorism just opens the door for the totalitarians to brand any common sense political leanings the same way. You know, I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Juggalo...or whatever.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @03:58PM (#51778159)

    ... my 'Cthulhu in 2016' sticker.

    I suppose I could get on the FBI's good side by adding a 'Lavrentiy Beria for US Attorney General' sticker.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I made "Charles Palentine for President" bumper stickers (magnets), complete with the "_We_ are the people".

      Some people asked me who he was. I told them he was a senator running for President, but that he was a long shot not many people had heard of, but if elected he would clean up the city.

      A much smaller number of people realized it was the "candidate" shown in the the movie Taxi Driver and an even smaller number got the fact that I used the mis-emphasized slogan that Albert Brooks complains about earlie

  • Police and FBI are routinely taking photos of your car every day, regardless of what stickers might or might not be on your car.

  • Sorry, but the FBI's attention is fully warranted, and I'll tell you why.

    "Us is terrorist squad, see?.An them is Terrorists! They wouldn't 'ave called Us in if they weren't terrorists, right? So there!"

And on the seventh day, He exited from append mode.

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