Category Archives: Press Room

Recent press releases issued by Media Alliance. Sometimes we’ll post newspaper, radio and broadcast interviews here as well.

Best of Counterspin 2018

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MA’s ED is very pleased to have been included in Counterspin’s 2018 “Best of” wrap-up show and we encourage you to listen to the whole compilation.

Counterspin – Best of 2018

Each week,  CounterSpin looks behind the headlines, asking what context is missing, what assumptions glossed over…and who is being excluded who might challenge that. It’s not a rhetorical exercise: Understanding the limits of the dialogue possible in the elite but influential press is crucial to understanding our political lives…and the importance of maintaining spaces where we can openly debate and challenge a status quo that is harming millions of people and the planet. We hope all of our shows advance that effort; in our annual year-end review, we can only revisit a very few—what we call the Best of CounterSpin 2018. You’ll find the whole year’s worth online at FAIR.org/counterspin/.

Featured interviews:

  • Tina Vasquez, immigration reporter at Rewire.news, on family separation and abuses at the border.
  • Marjorie Cohn, law professor and author, on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Andrew Pulrang, cofounder of #cripthevote, on the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Teresa Basilio Gaztambide, director of Resilient Just Technologies, on Puerto Rico’s communications infrastructure and hurricanes Irma and Maria.
  • Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-coordinator of the group Oakland Privacy, on  surveillance technologies.
  • Shireen Al-Adeimi, peace activist, on US support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
  • Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com, on black athletes and the politics of patriotism.
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Public Utilities Commission Hearing for Northern California on T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

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by Peter Maiden. Originally published at Central Valley Indy Bay

The California Public Utilities Commission held a public hearing January 15 on the question of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance was there and gave an interview.

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original image (1296×864)On January 15 a public hearing of the California Public Utilities Commission was held at Fresno City Hall on a proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. The merger would create the third largest wireless provider, with 60% of the market for prepaid mobile phones. Media Alliance has been instrumental in bringing consumers into the conversation about corporate mergers. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance after the event. 

“When I got to the motel where I’m spending the night down here, the desk clerk who was checking me in asked me why I happened to be in Fresno, so I told her that I´m coming to this hearing at City Hall, and it was about the T-Mobile Sprint merger. I didn’t express my position on it … and the first thing that Debbie the desk clerk said to me was ‘Don’t let those two companies combine, because they’ll raise all the prices!’ 

“But when we come to CPUC hearings … we find a number of different, what I would call ‘interested parties’ participating, and that includes company employees, and a number of Chamber of Commerce and business type groups. [Here they] were talking about rural broadband access, even though this merger is really unlikely to improve service in rural areas. It was kind of a company talking point.” 

Sprint and T-Mobile say they will initiate a 5G network, a systemic improvement, but Tracy said that could also be an empty promise, as many promises made in the course of mergers are broken. 

Tracy continued, “It was good to see an auditorium full of people. I appreciated the fact that the Communications Workers of America brought some of their folks out, and I think they made some of the strongest statements of fact that we heard this evening. But it always breaks my heart that when there is an opportunity for public comment that it’s often dominated by those who have a really tight and close interest to the merger rather than the random folks who essentially are not involved in the merger but are going to bear the impact of it.” 

The only Commissioner, of five altogether, who heard the comments at the meeting, was Cliff Rechtschaffen. He is assigned to oversee this merger procedure. He was previously an aide to Governor Brown. 

“If you want to participate in meetings such as this, Tracy said, “you don’t have to be an expert, that’s not what these hearings are for. What you just have to be an impacted person. Speak from the heart: this is how I use my cell phone, this is how I use my wireless service, this is what I’m afraid might happen, this is what I struggle with, this is how much I can afford to pay, here’s what would happen if it doubled. 

“People can write down their feelings, whether they’re an expert or not, and send that at any time to the Commission’s Public Advisor, it’s public.advisor [at] cpuc.ca.gov” 

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What We Know About Law Enforcement Use of Facial Recognition Software

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by Lisa Rein. Originally published at Mondo 2000

An Interview with Tracy Rosenberg (Executive Director, Media Alliance & Co-coordinator, Oakland Privacy www.oaklandprivacy.org)

By Lisa Rein & Tracy Rosenberg of the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

New! We’ve just updated our Muckrock Templates for Filing Requests re: Surveillance Equipment.) Use these handy templates to request information on the existence of any and every known piece of surveillance equipment. Works for Police (city) AND Sheriff (county).

We will be discussing the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project, its templates, latest results from Sacramento & other cities in California at this months Raw Thought Salon on February 8th – from 7-9pm.Then stay from 9pm-2am to dance and hang out in artist Grumpy Green’s super special Psychedelic Chill Room (an immersive space for both dancing & chilling). DJs include: MochipetMelotronixTha SpyrytMangangsAilz, & Cain MacWitish – with visuals by Projekt Seahorse – all at our March 8th Raw Thought at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco! TICKETS

Facial recognition software allows cops to feed in images of people and look them up in real time. For instance at a protest or any kind of public gathering. One of the new planned technical innovations is to put the software onto the body cameras many police now carry, turning cops into walking facial recognition programs.

Continue reading What We Know About Law Enforcement Use of Facial Recognition Software
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Black Agenda Report: The People v. The Information Monopolies: Case Continued

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Democrats failed to get enough votes to repeal the FCC’s undoing of net neutrality, but there’s still time to change some member’s votes.

“Verizon literally slowed access to the net when people were fleeing forest fires and checking their cell phones for updates on routes they should take.”

Some members of Congress are still attempting to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to stop the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, which is meant to protect us from the financial motives of Internet Service Providers controlling the pipes that data travels through. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg, the Executive Director of Media Alliance about what’s next.

Ann Garrison: Tracy, could you explain the CRA and how some Congress members have been trying to use it to prevent enactment of the repeal of net neutrality?

Tracy Rosenberg: Yes. The CRA permits Congress to take action to repeal what a regulatory agency has done. The use of the CRA to save neutrality passed the Senate some time ago, then sat in the House. We had a deadline of December 14 to get from 179 to 218 House votes, and we only got to 180, but the deadline has now been extended to the end of the Congressional session. So, what people can do is go to Battle for the Net, battleforthenet.com, where there’s a scorecard that will show you the representatives who have signed on and those who haven’t.

AG: Congress may extend its deadline to adjourn because Trump’s still pandering to his xenophobic base by demanding billions of dollars to turn the border fence into a wall. Is there any chance net neutrality could still be saved before Christmas?

TR: Procedurally yes, but it’s very unlikely. We’d still have to get 38 more votes. But pressuring any House members holding out is still a good thing to do because it demonstrates the will of the public and the majority of Congress.

AG: And what’s the next step if this fails?

TR: There are a number of different things going on that can bring us closer to saving net neutrality, aka an open internet. The lawsuit against the FCC is in court. It’s in the Third Circuit in D.C., and arguments will start in February of 2019. There are about 18 lawsuits that have been consolidated.

In the 2019 Democratic House, we should also have a very clear majority, so it is possible that new legislation can be put forward in both the House and the Senate to make net neutrality the law of the land. Congress has always had the power to overrule the FCC, so we can legislatively do what we were unable to do by repealing the FCC’s decision.

AG: There’ll be four more Republican Senators in January. Could they become a roadblock? Or is the Senate majority large enough to be secure?

TR: Republican Senators Collins and Kennedy flipped to our side last time. Assuming they don’t change their positions again, we’ll need to get a few more votes in the new, even more Republican Senate. On the other hand, the new Democratic House shouldn’t compel us to flip any votes, so our lobbying effort will precisely target the new Republican Senators.

AG: OK, lastly, could you remind us of what will happen if we lose net neutrality?

TR:We have lost it, unless you are a resident of one of the states that have passed statewide net neutrality laws. Those state laws should take effect if the courts kick back the FCC’s pre-emption lawsuits. So far, because the loss of net neutrality is being litigated and legislatively challenged, the telecoms and cable companies have been careful not to shut down the open internet too fast, but we’re getting occasional glimpses of what that will be like with Sprint throttling Skype, and Verizon slowing service to customers during catastrophic forest fires unless they upgraded service.

AG: OK, I want to make sure we fully understand that. Are you saying that Verizon literally slowed access to the net when people were fleeing forest fires and checking their cell phones for updates on routes they should take or help they might get from emergency responders?

TR: Yes, Verizon slowed wireless access in fire stricken areas. This meant slowed service not only to people fleeing the fires, but also to people still in their homes but checking for updates to see whether or not they needed to flee. Customers would see a button on their screens that they could press to upgrade. The same thing happened in Florida during hurricanes.

If the legal and legislative challenges to net neutrality fail, there’ll be more throttling and internet service providers will demand that consumers pay more for unfettered internet access.

Tracy Rosenberg is a social justice activist and the Executive Director of Media Alliance in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com.

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TechDirt: Man Shot By Cops Claims Shotspotter Found Phantom ‘Gunshot’

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Originally published by Tim Cushing at TechDirt

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Man Shot By Cops Claims Shotspotter Found Phantom ‘Gunshot’ To Justify Officer’s Deadly Force

from the so-are-cops-still-losing-the-tech-race-or-whatever? dept

A lawsuit originally filed early last year makes some very disturbing allegations about police officers and their relationship with their vendors. New York resident Silvon Simmons was shot three times by Rochester Police Officer Joseph Ferrigno. Simmons was unarmed, but was hit with three of the four bullets fired by Ferrigno as he ran way from the officer.

Shortly before being shot. Simmons had been engaged in “Minding Your Own Business,” which can apparently be nearly-fatal. Returning from a trip to a convenience store shortly after 9 pm, Officer Ferrigno cut in front of him, hit Simmons with his spotlight, exited his car with his gun drawn, and opened fire when Simmons began running. According to Simmons’ amendment complaint [PDF] filed in August, Ferrigno never stated he was police officer before opening fire. Simmons, blinded by the spotlight, was unsure who was shooting at him. Even if he had known it was cop, he still would have had no idea why he was being stopped, much less shot at.

The number of bullets fired matters, as Tracy Rosenberg of Oakland Privacy reports. Something seriously messed up happened after the shooting. A gun was found in the yard several houses away from where Simmons was stopped. Cops tried to tie this weapon to Simmons to justify Ferrigno’s deadly force use, despite the gun being located in the opposite direction of Simmons’ flight path.

Continue reading TechDirt: Man Shot By Cops Claims Shotspotter Found Phantom ‘Gunshot’

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34 Organizations Unite to Release Principles for Privacy Legislation

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Today, 34 civil rights, consumer, and privacy organizations join in releasing public interest principles for privacy legislation, because the public needs and deserves strong and comprehensive federal legislation to protect their privacy and afford meaningful redress.

Irresponsible data practices lead to a broad range of harms, including discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and advertising. They also lead to data breaches and loss of individuals’ control over personal information. Existing enforcement mechanisms fail to hold data processors accountable and provide little-to-no relief for privacy violations.

The privacy principles outline four concepts that any meaningful data protection legislation should incorporate at a minimum:

  • Privacy protections must be strong, meaningful, and comprehensive.
  • Data practices must protect civil rights, prevent unlawful discrimination, and advance equal opportunity.
  • Governments at all levels should play a role in protecting and enforcing privacy rights.
  • Legislation should provide redress for privacy violations.

Continue reading 34 Organizations Unite to Release Principles for Privacy Legislation

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The Purpose Of The Smart City Is To Kill Us

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By Tracy Rosenberg. Originally published on Medium. 

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean …..

It’s been a hell of a week. No doubt it was extra added if you happen to carry the last name that I was born with — Rosenberg. But virtually no one wants to be blown away for an identity that they can’t, and don’t want, to change. In the mad serial killer chants of “our people”, more and more of us are finding out we simply aren’t included. Continue reading The Purpose Of The Smart City Is To Kill Us

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