Category Archives: Press Room

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

Oakland Becomes Third U.S. City to Ban Facial Recognition

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By Caroline Haskins. Published in Vice 7-16-2019

Oakland, California just became the third U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition in public spaces.

A city ordinance passed Tuesday night which prohibits the city of Oakland from “acquiring, obtaining, retaining, requesting, or accessing” facial recognition technology, which it defines as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual’s face.”

Continue reading Oakland Becomes Third U.S. City to Ban Facial Recognition
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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

**

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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A Look At Transparency On The Ballot This 2018 Midterm Election

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailBy 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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