Category Archives: Press Room

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

A Look At Transparency On The Ballot This 2018 Midterm Election

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By Jessie Gomez. Originally published at muckrock.com

In Nevada, Question 1 on this year’s ballot is Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment, better known as Marsy’s Law, and would exempt certain law enforcement records from being disclosed. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Proposition B, the Personal Information Protection Policy Charter Amendment better known as the “Privacy First” measure is set to protect the personal information of San Francisco residents from abuse by tech companies. Yet, the measure’s broad language could award the City’s Board of Supervisors the ability to change its transparency laws in the future. Continue reading A Look At Transparency On The Ballot This 2018 Midterm Election

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Thousands of License Plates Inadvertently Recorded at MacArthur BART Station

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Tens of thousands of license plates were recorded at a BART station and stored in a database that could have been accessed by federal immigration officials, the transit agency revealed Thursday.

Privacy and immigration advocates said the action contradicts BART’s sanctuary policy, and BART’s police chief said the license plate reader was taken down from the MacArthur station parking lot after police had realized it had been accidentally turned on.

The camera is now sitting in storage somewhere. But that has not quelled the concerns.

“I don’t think how many times I park at MacArthur BART is any of the business of the Department of Homeland Security, and I’m a citizen,” rider Tracy Rosenberg of Albany said

Rosenberg uses BART nearly every day. She’s 100 percent certain BART police snapped a picture of her license plate and stored that information in a database last year.

“I’m absolutely positive that it’s there because I did park at MacArthur BART during that period of time,” she said.

In 2015, BART police had set up a license plate reader in the parking lot with the intention of stopping car thieves. But the BART board stopped police from using it, until a surveillance policy was put in place. BART police Chief Carlos Rojas admitted someone activated the technology by accident

“There were license plates of individuals that entered the BART parking lot that were transmitted and shared and subsequently deleted from the system,” Rojas said.

That information was shared with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which can also share information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The center’s director said ICE could have accessed the information only if it was looking for a person who was wanted for a violent crime.

“There are a lot of things that we have to explain as directors to our constituents,” BART Director Bevan Dufty said.

ICE released a statement, saying in part, “The agency does not specifically quantify what method of intelligence they use that leads to each arrest.”

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Notes From The Last Urban Shield As We Know It

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Originally published on Medium

On September 7th and 8th, I attended the Bay Area’s police militarization expo, Urban Shield. Urban Shield is a competition for the Bay Area’s SWAT teams, fire departments, and hazmat and emergency operations teams and a law enforcement equipment expo, which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s UASI program as a counter-terrorism exercise. Coordinated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, it attracts law enforcement agencies from around the region, has included the Homeland Security Investigations division of ICE (in 2017), has hosted a variety of foreign SWAT and secret police teams from countries like Brazil, Israel, Bahrain, and Hong Kong (China) and has been exported in concept to the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Amman, Jordan.

Urban Shield has been the subject of annual protests in the Bay Area since 2013, notably in 2016, when a few dozen people were arrested at the gates to the event. After several heavily attended and contentious public discussions about the impact of military style war games training for local police officers (including one in the City of Berkeley in June of 2017 that itself ended in injured attendees), the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, a year after issuing 12 Principles to try to reform the event, finally pulled the plug. The Board of Supervisors stated that 2018 would be the last year of Urban Shield “as we know it”. The January 2017 12 Principles had asked the event to desist from racial stereotyping, avoid crowd control and surveillance technique training, prevent the sale or transfer of assault weapons at the event, end any participation from countries with a documented history of human rights violations, and exclude vendors whose gear contained derogatory messages.

So to mark this historic occasion, I decided to attend. This is easier said than done.

Continue reading Notes From The Last Urban Shield As We Know It

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Mondo 2000: The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project #ASDPSP – Reports Back: Here’s #WhatWeFound In Sacramento

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By Lisa Rein. Originally published in Mondo 2000

These simple letter templates can compel the Police and Sheriff Departments of a given city to provide you with documentation regarding every type of surveillance equipment in existence for a given City (Police) and saCounty (Sheriff).

It’s a roundabout way of determining what surveillance equipment is being used on the public in a given city, but since it’s all we have, at least the #ASDPSP project will make it so much easier for journalists and the public to get their hands on this information.

In this third installment of our series, Tracy will help us understand more about what we found in Sacramento, and how do approach local politicians to put pressure on them to do something about it, by implementing a “surveillance policy framework.”

Here’s are the first two interviews of this series:

Interview with Oakland Privacy’s Tracy Rosenberg On The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

How a little “working group” stopped Oakland from becoming a mini-fusion center for the Department of Homeland Security.

 

Tracy Rosenberg, co-founder of the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project, explains #whatwefound in #Sacramento using our project’s letter templates and Muckrock, an online platform for filing public records requests. Continue reading Mondo 2000: The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project #ASDPSP – Reports Back: Here’s #WhatWeFound In Sacramento

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Assembly Resolution 268 Prioritizes Educational Technology in Schools

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Media Alliance was happy to support local Assemblyperson Tony Thurmond (AD-15) in his effort to draw attention to educational technology needs in CA public schools with ACR 268.

We joined Computer Using Educators, the Napa Office of Education and the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) in support.

ACR 268 Ed Tech Presentation Press Release4
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Podcast: Redeye Radio: Thomson Reuters – One of ICE’s Corporate Collaborators

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In addition to running the one of the world’s largest news and journalism wire services, the Canadian media giant Thomson Reuters is an information clearing house. It creates databases with information gathered from cell phones, credit cards, and health records to name but a few. The data is then sold to law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Tracy Rosenberg thinks Canadians should be aware of this. She is with Media Alliance, a San Francisco-based advocacy group.

Podcast

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Taming High Tech Law and Order in the Wild Wild West

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By Tracy Rosenberg. Originally published on Medium. 

I didn’t grow up in California. Instead I grew up in the relatively staid brick-lined streets of the Northeast, where history looks like pilgrim hats.

I understood Blazing Saddles better than Stagecoach.

But life can take you in some unexpected directions. I grew up to become a privacy advocate on the West Coast. And when I started to lobby my local government about the ways law enforcement surveillance and high-tech gadgetry were colluding to erode civil rights, I ran into the legacy of the autonomous sheriff in the “frontier” states.

Continue reading Taming High Tech Law and Order in the Wild Wild West

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BART Board Tables Vote On Several Proposed Safety Measures

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By Melanie Woodrow, originally posted at ABC7 News 

Continue reading BART Board Tables Vote On Several Proposed Safety Measures

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