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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