Category Archives: Surveillance

The many ways the government is watching us with an emphasis on digital spying

Deporting ICE

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On July 18, Oakland’s City Council voted unanimously to terminate the Oakland Police Department’s federal law enforcement agreement with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), formerly known as ICE. The unanimous vote on CM Rebecca Kaplan’s resolution followed previous unanimous votes at the City’s Privacy Advisory Commission (OPAC) and the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

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Section 702

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Although writing to the Trumpian Congress is a pyrrhic pursuit at best,  22 civil rights groups wrote to the House Judiciary Committee in pursuit of reforms to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The groups wrote: “Section 702 is a warrantless surveillance authority that allows monitoring of non-US persons abroad for broad foreign intelligence purposes, including these individuals’ communications with individuals in the United
States. This powerful tool—subject to far fewer checks than domestic surveillance—was passed to combat threats from hostile foreign powers and international terrorism, and was not intended for domestic law enforcement investigation of U.S. persons for matters unrelated to foreign intelligence.” Continue reading Section 702

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East Bay Stingray Use Restrictions

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Cell phone interceptors are some of the most controversial types of surveillance equipment in existence. Long subject to nondisclosure agreements so onerous that prosecutors deliberately threw out criminal cases in order not to disclose the source of evidence derived from their use, the fake cell phone towers that sweep up cell phone traffic have been used without warrants and undercover all over the country.

Here in the Bay Area, Alameda’s “hailstorm”, a second generation stingray device precepitated the development of a use policy in 2015 followed by even stronger memorandums of understanding in place with Oakland’s police department and Fremont’s police department regarding their use of the device.  Continue reading East Bay Stingray Use Restrictions

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DC Oversight Hearing on Facial Recognition Software

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March 22, 2017

  • Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are in a FRT database.
    • 18 states each have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FBI to share photos with the federal government, including from state departments of motor vehicles (DMV). The committee identified Maryland and Arizona as having MOUs with the FBI.
    • The FBI will continue to pursue MOUs with states to gain access to DMV images.
  • The FBI used facial recognition technology (FRT) for years without first publishing a privacy impact assessment, as required by law.
  • FRT has accuracy deficiencies, misidentifying female and African American individuals at a higher rate. Human verification is often insufficient as a backup and can allow for racial bias.
  • The FBI went to great lengths to exempt itself from certain provisions of the Privacy Act.

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Oakland Police Department Rejects Predictive Policing

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Predictive policing is the use of computer-generated algorithims to predict crimes prior to happening. Made famous in Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report and the later film with Tom Cruise in which a futuristic policeman goes on the run after being accused of a precrime, software such as “Predpol” is becoming quite the rage in police departments across the country. Continue reading Oakland Police Department Rejects Predictive Policing

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Fusing California

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By Tracy Rosenberg (published at Media Alliance, Peace Review and Utne Reader)

When it comes to our personal information, many of us assume our privacy is protected. Most of our friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and family members know some things about us. Perhaps one or two loved ones know much about us. We certainly do not expect our personal information to be available to a random army of people we have never met. And yet America’s Network of Fusion Centers is setting out to do just that. We’ve all seen the iconic images of increasingly militarized policing in the United States feature tanks rolling through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and camouflage-wearing officers wielding assault weapons while patrolling downtown shopping districts. But law enforcement militarization also has invisible aspects, none more so than the surveillance data that flow out of a growing number of devices, ending up in places we might never expect.

Based on the idea that 21st century information-sharing among a large number of agencies—including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, National Security Agency, Drug Enforcement Administration, and local police, fire, hospital, and emergency departments—will provide a shield against acts of violence, the 78-strong national fusion-center network ensures that a lot of data follow us around wherever we go and whatever we do.

 

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