Category Archives: Surveillance

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

40 Groups Ask Oversight Board For Facial Recognition Moratorium

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40 groups, including Media Alliance, wrote to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) urging it to call for the suspension of all facial recognition use pending further review.

The letter states: The PCLOB has a unique responsibility, set out in statute, to assess technologies and policies that impact the privacy of Americans after 9-11 and to make recommendations to the President and to the executive branch. The rapid and unregulated deployment of facial recognition poses a direct threat to “the precious liberties that are vital to our way of life”. We urge the PCLOB to act now to safeguard the privacy rights of Americans.

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40 Civil Rights Groups Ask Colleges to Keep Facial Recognition Off Campuses

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An open letter from an assortment of civil rights groups, including Media Alliance, asked university administrators to keep their campuses free of facial recognition.

On March 2, students and faculty at schools across the country will organize to reject facial recognition’s false promises of safety, and stand against the idea of biased 24/7 tracking and analysis of everyone on campus.

Dozens of schools have clarified that they don’t use or plan to use the technology, while about one third have not responded. Three schools—George Washington University, Duke University, and American University—gave vague statements that implied they may have plans to use facial recognition in the future. And UCLA and Tufts University currently use or have plans to use the technology on its campus.

Campuses that have stated they have no intention of using facial recognition include Boston College, Brown University, Columbia University, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, DePaul University, MIT, Michigan State University, Georgia Tech, NYU, Hampshire College, Kent State University, Rice University, University of Florida, Oregon State University, UPenn, and John Hopkins University. University of San Francisco clarified that it abandoned its controversial facial recognition program in 2016. Activists made multiple attempts to contact every institution on the scorecard. More than 30 schools did not respond after multiple attempts, including Harvard, Yale, Oberlin, Howard University, Ohio State, Reed, and Sarah Lawrence College.

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Vallejo police expand community surveillance with license plate readers

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By Andres Torres. Originally printed on KTVU.com

VALLEJO, Calif. – Vallejo Police Department on Tuesday announced a partnership with Atlanta-based startup, Flock Safety that expands surveillance using license plate readers (LPR) throughout Vallejo. 

The surveillance technology is being touted as a crime-fighting tool. Police have “strategically placed” 10 LPRs throughout the city at a cost of $2,496 a year each, which includes maintenance and installation. Police said there is at least one privatized installation in a neighborhood through a homeowners association. 

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SF Police Sued Over Public/Private Camera Use To Surveil BLM Protests

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Three San Francisco residents who participated in protests that followed the death of George Floyd, have sued the San Francisco Police Department for use of the camera network of the Union Square Business Improvement District to monitor those protests.

Hope Williams, Nathan Sheard and Nestor Reyes, represented by attorneys at the ACLU of Northern California and Electronic Frontier Foundation filed Williams vs San Francisco under San Francisco’s May 2019 surveillance oversight ordinance.

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Criticism Mounts Over Trump’s Immigrant Biometric Data Plan

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Written by Raoul Walawalker, political commentator for the Immigration Advice Service; an organisation of immigration lawyers based in the US, UK and Ireland

Just as the wearing or non-wearing of masks can show how polarised views across the US can be over the coronavirus pandemic, September was a month that also showed a sharp divergence of opinion over immigration laws and the use of biometrics.

On September 11, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) presented a proposed regulation for a major expansion in its collection and use of biometric data in the enforcement and administration of immigration laws, even as some states were announcing plans to ban or scale back their use of biometrics following growing concerns over privacy and evidence of racial and other in-built biases.

A draft of the proposal was seen ten days earlier by BuzzFeed News and had already stirred bafflement at the scale of proposed data-gathering. Also noted was the absence of a reasoned attempt to justify placing all immigrants (including minors, millions of legal immigrants and US sponsors) under unprecedented levels of surveillance and proof of identity burdens.

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No PVE In California

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A 70-strong coalition of social justice and civil rights groups led by M-Power Change, Asian-Americans Advancing Justice and CAIR California (including Media Alliance) sent a letter to CA Governor Gavin Newson asking him to end the reinstatement of a washed-over version of the DHS Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, now repackaged as a California state program called Preventing Violent Extremism. (PVE).

The letter states “PVE programs are deceptively framed as public health and youth programs that offer social services to marginalized communities. Such a framing masks the true objectives; to surveil, profile and collect intelligence on Muslim, immigrant and Black and Brown communities…. These programs stigmatize the very communities they purport to help, making them less likely to seek legitimate social services for fear it will lead to unwarranted law enforcement scrutiny.

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As Reliance on Biometric Grows, So Does Opposition

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Eleanor J. Bader
Truthout PUBLISHEDJune 30, 2019

Sports enthusiasts heading to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics beware: Japan intends to install hundreds of thousands of facial recognition cameras to identify everyone in attendance. The software, initially used when Tokyo hosted the Paralympic games in 2018, is meant to weed out, in real time, people suspected of being potential terrorists — and anyone with a criminal record or questionable immigration status.

Continue reading As Reliance on Biometric Grows, So Does Opposition
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Civil Rights Groups Pressure Tech Companies Not To Sell Face Surveillance To Cops

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A coalition of more than 80 racial justice, faith, and civil, human, and
immigrants’ rights groups, including Media Alliance, today sent letters to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google demanding the companies commit not to sell face surveillance technology to the government.

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