Archive for the ‘Action Alerts’ Category

We say #StopSpying on the National Day of Action Against Fusion Centers

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 9:09 am by

dont-spy-on-meToday coalitions across the United State will rally, protest, and demonstrate against local fusion/spy centers to inform the public about the spy centers and police/state surveillance.  As Americans, we demand that Congress shut down fusion centers; end funding to these centers and release all Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).

Take a creative action for National Bill of Rights Day (we did and it was awesome)

Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm by

BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew led a group of activists in a banner drop action against the NSA in Oakland California. This short video shows how you can get out into your community and make your voice heard.

Creative actions are exciting and engaging ways to connect your community to the fight against unconstitutional NSA spying.

Day of action to demand ECPA reform

Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:00 am by

ECPA graphic1Today, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee joins a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a nearly 30 year old law that allows the government to access your email and documents stored in the cloud without a warrant.

In a previous story written by Alok Bhatt about the need to reform the ECPA, he described:

“The severely outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), enacted in 1986 to restrict government access to then-limited digital data, allows warrantless access to messages stored for over 180 days. In a new era of cloud computing, however, this obsolete provision fails to uphold modern expectations of privacy,”


Congress considers key vote to restrict NSA spying

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm by

Concerns about dragnet domestic spying have prompted action in both houses of Congress. An impending vote in the House, in particular, offers a key opportunity for grassroots Americans to make our voices heard.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has re-introduced bipartisan legislation to curtail NSA spying modeled on bills he has previously sponsored, supported by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Mark Udall (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Jon Tester (D-MT). The FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act would accelerate sunsets and require a factual basis for controversial orders under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, as well as pen registers and trap & trace devices under FISA.

In the House, Ranking Judiciary Member John Conyers (D-MI) and Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced the bipartisan LIBERT-E Act to limit the NSA to seeking phone records of particular targets, and require partial disclosure of otherwise secret decisions of the FISA court. In a rare joint statement, Conyers and Amash—who champion dramatically different political perspectives—agreed that:

Free countries must not…operate under secret laws. Secret court opinions obscure the law. They prevent public debate on critical policy issues and they stop Congress from fulfilling its duty to enact sound laws and fix broken ones.

Rep. Amash also supports amendments to the Defense Department Appropriations bill to restrict NSA spying, opening up a third front on congressional resistance to NSA abuses. His proposed amendment represents the most aggressive congressional challenge to the NSA since the failed JUSTICE Act, yet received surprising approval by the House Rules Committee on Monday, July 21.


Mourning a national holiday

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm by

Exactly one year ago, I asked “What do we celebrate this July Fourth?” This July Fourth, I’m celebrating the holiday in a different way and, in the wake of the NSA leaks, enjoy many reasons for optimism.

Last year, I wrote:

Liberty…is a fading memory, a lyric in an anthem that few Americans today understand, even as millions sing it at sporting events and during today’s holiday….

Congress authorized the National Security Agency in 2008 to secretly capture and datamine all your emails and phone calls, and now prepares to extend that power again this year. A law signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve gives the military authority to kidnap and detain any American without trial. Congress had already given the Pentagon power to withhold evidence of its human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the line between military and police is blurring, as SWAT teams, aerial drones, armored personnel carriers, and fusion centers transform local police departments from public safety agencies into a militarized occupation force deployed across the country.

Never in human history has a state enjoyed such unfettered access to the minds of its subjects (ahem, citizens). And rarely in our nation’s history have agencies, and the officials who command them, wielded such dramatic power.


NYPD reform bills near vote in NYC City Council

Friday, June 21, 2013 at 11:13 am by

Two bills that would significantly reform oversight of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) are nearing a crucial vote. The bills are scheduled to be voted out of committee early next week will then face a vote on the floor of the New York City Council.

One bill would substantially broaden protections against profiling by police.

The other would appoint a commissioner at an independent agency to oversee the NYPD. These reforms have been championed by a broad based coalition, Communities United for Police Reform, that includes the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

The profiling bill would expand to current prohibitions on profiling based on race, ethnicity and religion to prohibit officers from relying on:

 actual or perceived race, national origin, color, creed, age, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status as the determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action against an individual, rather than an individual’s behavior or other information or circumstances that links a person or persons to suspected unlawful activity.

The second bill would require that the commissioner of New York CIty’s Department of Investigations:

investigate, review, study, audit and make recommendations relating to the operations, policies, programs and practices, including ongoing partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, of the new york city police department with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of the department, increasing public safety, protecting civil liberties and civil rights, and increasing the public’s confidence in the police force, thus building stronger police-community relations.

Both bills are crucial steps forward in the struggle to make the NYPD more accountable to the people of the city that it serves. New York City residents can call their council members to encourage them to support both bills when they come to the floor.

Click here to identify your council member and find an easy script to guide your phone call, along with other action tips.

Ellsberg, Jonsdottir and BORDC’s Nadia Kayyali inspire hundreds in Bay Area

Friday, June 14, 2013 at 9:29 am by

Our Vanishing Civil LibertiesThis Tuesday, BORDC Legal Fellow Nadia Kayyali joined renowned whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdottír on a panel in the Bay Area moderated by lawyer Bob Jaffe, who is representing the plaintiffs in the Hedges v Obama litigation challenging the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA. The discussion drew hundreds of attendees, as well as prominent media outlets.

Jónsdottír, who is affiliated with Wikileaks and serves in Iceland’s Parliament, praised NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is reportedly seeking asylum from the latest investigation extending the Obama administration’s crackdown on the press. She promised to help Snowden, but also encouraged him to consider countries other than Iceland, which she said is less receptive to asylees than some other countries.

Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers and became the most prolific whistleblower of the 20th century, said that the United States in 2013 is “a turnkey away from tyranny.”

Despite her presence speaking among luminaries, Ars Technica credited:

Kayyali [with] the most salient point of the night, noting that local activists are the best positioned to lobby for changes to local policies and statutes. She said that thanks to the efforts of “five to six people,” the city of Berkeley has become unique in changing how it shares information with so-called “fusion centers”—federally run nexuses of law enforcement data that receive information from local and state agencies….

“The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley got the Berkeley Police Department to change the policy [of sharing such information with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center] to reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. This is the only community in the country that has that standard.”

BORDC’s Local Civil Rights Restoration Campaign can offer your community an opportunity to shift the debate. If you’d like help, guidance, training, materials, or a small grant to enable your efforts, contact us at organizing[at]bordc[dot]org.

CISPA goes to the floor for a vote, privacy amendments blocked

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 10:15 am by

The following post by Mark M. Jaycox,  Kurt OpsahlRainey Reitman was originally published on Electronic Frontier Foundation’s  blog Deeplinks, on April 17, 2013.

Yesterday [April 16, 2012], the US House prepared for the debate on the privacy-invading “cybersecurity” bill called CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The rules committee hearing was the last stop before the bill is voted on by the full House.

In the hearing, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) was questioned about the core problems in the bill, like the broad immunity and new corporate spying powers. In response, he characterized users who oppose CISPA as “14 year olds” tweeting in a basement.

The bill may be voted on as early as Wednesday. This means there’s little time left to speak out. Please tell your Representative to vote no on the bill:

Call your Representative

Tweet at your Representative

Here are some of the takeaways from the hearing.

Rep. Rogers Dismisses CISPA Opponents as Teenage Basement Tweeters

After a heated exchange about the overly broad legal immunity, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) noted the widespread opposition to CISPA by Internet users. In response, Rep. Rogers characterized opponents to CISPA as “14 year olds” tweeting in a basement. See the video here.

Of course, many people oppose CISPA — several thousand of whom tweeted at Rogers after his remark.

Internet companies like Mozilla, Reddit, NameCheap,, and other have also come out strong against the bill. And over 70 cybersecurity experts and academics sent a joint letter opposing CISPA last year, expressing their firm opposition to the dangers of Roger’s approach to computer security:

We have devoted our careers to building security technologies, and to protecting networks, computers, and critical infrastructure against attacks of many stripes. We take security very seriously, but we fervently believe that strong computer and network security does not require Internet users to sacrifice their privacy and civil liberties.

Earlier this week, 34 civil liberties groups sent a letter opposing CISPA in its current form.

And the newest addition to CISPA opposition? The White House, which issued a veto threat(PDF) yesterday.


Week of Action Opposing CISPA

Monday, March 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm by

cispacamerasA coalition of Internet advocacy organizations and individuals are launching a week of action to combat the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Viewing CISPA as one of the greatest threats to Internet users since SOPA, the coalition intends to leverage popular outrage to oppose the dangerously broad cybersecurity bill.

The objectionable provisions of CISPA include:

- Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving legal immunity to companies who share users’ private information, including the content of communications, with the government.

- Authorizing companies to disclose users’ data directly to the NSA, a military agency that operates secretly and without public accountability.

- Broad definitions that allow users’ sensitive personal information to be used for a range of purposes, including “national security,” not just computer and network security.

The coalition believes that legislation intended to enhance our computer and network security must not sacrifice long-standing civil liberties and protections. Some examples:

Use the Internet Defense League action modal/banner

  • You’ll be able to get the embed code tomorrow
  • It will link to this action
  • And it will look like this (screenshots)Write a blog post about CISPA (or post this one)Post to social media. Hashtags are #CISPA, #StopCISPA and #CISPAAlert

    Tell people to take action

CISPA refuses to die the quiet death it deserves

Monday, March 11, 2013 at 6:36 pm by

The Cyber Information and Sharing Act (CISPA) was first introduced last year by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). It received widespread opposition, including a veto threat from President Obama, in addition to a petition with over 800,000 signatures, and a widespread online campaign dubbed “Stop Cyber Spying week.”

Support for the bill came mainly from big corporations such as Facebook, whose VP for Public Policy, Joel Kaplan, stated in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee and the bill’s sponsors:

Your legislation removes burdensome rules that currently can inhibit protection of the cyber ecosystem.

The rules that Facebook interprets as burdensome are some of the few civil liberties firewalls remaining between government surveillance and private companies. Under CISPA, these “burdensome rules” even include the company’s already weak terms of service. Concerns about the civil liberties implications ultimately led to the rejection of the bill.

It was clear after the bill’s defeat, however, that it would be back. CISPA was reintroduced in the House on February 13th, by the same sponsors as last year. Currently, there are letters of support from companies like AT&T and IBM, but opposition among civil liberties advocates remains strong.

In a press release, Rep. Rogers claims that the bill is needed because:

This is clearly not a theoretical threat – the recent spike in advanced cyber attacks against the banks and newspapers makes that crystal clear.  American businesses are under siege. We need to provide American companies the information they need to better protect their networks from these dangerous cyber threats.

The bills’ sponsors argue that CISPA contains strong civil liberties and privacy protections while streamlining response to the threat of “cybercrime,” but it is this very streamlining that leads to civil liberties concerns. The bill would create an unprecedented information sharing regime between private corporations and government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security or National Security Agency, all under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence.

Specifically, the bill allows “elements of the intelligence community to share cyber threat information with private-sector entities and to encourage the sharing of such intelligence.” Private entities can be “certified” and receive privacy clearance to allow them to receive such information. They can also share that information with other certified entities. One particularly concerning facet of the bill is that it:

allows companies to choose which government agency to share the information with, including the National Security Agency or other element of the Department of Defense.