From 2008 to 2010, Boston and eight surrounding cities and towns installed surveillance cameras provided by a grant through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Urban Areas Security Initiative. DHS’ website describes the cameras as part of a system that has “nine, independent and interoperable nodes tied together through a central hub and is made up of over 100 cameras.” The cameras were justified for the protection of “critical infrastructure” from terrorist attack, but their use has faced scrutiny from citizens concerned about threats to civil liberties. In Brookline and Cambridge, two municipalities covered by the grant, residents are using local governments to attempt to ban surveillance cameras.
Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’
It’s no secret that teens are avid internet users, a fact that exposes them to both opportunities and risks. The risks range from online predators to predatory marketing, oversharing to government surveillance, which could collect a lifetime of private information if it continues on its current path. This is cause for concern for all Americans, but especially for young people developing their judgment and understanding of long-term consequences.
California, among other states, has begun to address the risks of youthful oversharing: the state recently passed a “minor-eraser” law, which grants youth under age 18 the right to have the social media content they post removed by website or mobile app operators. Content need not be deleted entirely, so long as it is invisible to others. In addition, websites targeting minors are prohibited from advertising 19 enumerated products, including certain weapons and drugs.
Is an upside down American flag a reasonable indication of criminal activity? What about a group of young Middle Eastern men speaking a non-English language? Does the presence of Muslim women at a shopping mall suggest an intent to commit a crime? Is an artist photographing buildings necessarily a terrorist threat? According to the FBI, these first amendment protected actions are suspicious activities. These are all examples from the summaries of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) acquired by the ACLU and originally produced by the Central California Intelligence Center and the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.
The stated purpose of SARs is to collect information about criminal activity that may be related to “terrorist pre-operational planning,” which can then be shared among the different levels of the government. These reports could be issued by local law enforcement officers or could be the result of tips from the public.
This past Saturday, October 26, BORDC was proud to be one of over a hundred co-sponsors of the Stop Watching Us Rally Against Mass Surveillance in Washington, DC. It was an inspiring testament of how people can bridge political divides in defense of our constitutional values, rights, and protection from warrantless surveillance.
The day started with an 11:30 gathering at Union Square, where several people were interviewed, explaining their concerns about mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). Russ Tice, a former NSA agent turned whisteblower, discussed how he “blew the whistle on the NSA illegally and unconstitutionally spying domestically on the American people” in 2004. When asked what his hopes were for the demonstration he stated, “Hopefully Congress will pay attention and if we get the attention of the American people maybe they’ll wake up and realize that something has to be done about this, that this is a crime that is being committed against them, our citizens.”
Originally published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org)
By Carey Shenkman
On September 12, 2013, the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee narrowly defined who the law should consider to be a journalist, by amending  the proposed Free Flow of Information Act (“FFIA”). The FFIA is a “shield law” that protects journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources when confronted with court subpoenas. The amendment changed the language of the bill from protecting the activity of journalism to protecting the profession. Journalists are now limited to those employed by, recently employed by, or substantially contributing to media organizations for certain minimum durations.
This maneuver skirts the substantial investigative role served by independent journalists, bloggers, and nontraditional media, who are left unprotected by the statute. It also expressly excludes whistleblower organizations. By not extending protection to a vital segment of investigative newsgatherers, the amended FFIA falls short of providing real benefits. More fundamentally, the distinctions created by the bill reinforce a privileged club for journalists. In essence, the government is licensing the press, and treading down a path that courts have for decades cautioned  “present[s] practical and conceptual difficulties of a high order.”
- 8/5, Shira Ovide, Wall Street Journal, For Twitter, Free Speech Is a High-Wire Act
- 8/4, Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, In Afghanistan, a second Guantanamo
- 8/4, Jake Miller, CBS News, Hawks use terror threat to defend NSA surveillance
- 8/4, Staff, Associated Press, NC Law Grounds Some Surveillance Drones
- 8/4, Staff, Associated Press, States consider regulation of drones
- 8/4, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles
- 8/3, Mark Mazzetti and Mark Lander, New York Times, Despite Administration Promises, Few Signs of Change in Drone Wars
- 8/2, Fred Kaplan, Slate, Damaged Goods: How the NSA traveled down a slippery slope—and how it can regain Americans’ trust
- 8/2, Michael Hirsh, National Journal, The NSA’s Future: A Tale of Two Committees
- 8/2, Ana Marie Cox, Guardian (UK) Opinion, Why have so many liberals been silent about NSA spying?
- 7/29, Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, Washington Post Opinions, The White House should end the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records
- 7/29, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian (UK) Opinion, Major opinion shifts, in the US and Congress, on NSA surveillance and privacy
- 7/29, Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance
- 7/29, W. James Antle III, The American Conservative, Justin Amash’s Revolution
- 7/28, Aaron Blake, Washington Post, Greenwald: Low-level staff have access to ‘invasive’ surveillance
- 7/28, Margaret Sullivan, New York Times Opinion Pages, A Blow for the Press, and for Democracy
- 7/28, Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times, NSA faces backlash over collecting phone data
- 7/27, Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald, Guantánamo medics: Forced-feedings aren’t torture
- 7/26, David Nakamura and Billy Kenber, Washington Post, Obama administration to transfer two Guantanamo Bay detainees
- 7/26, Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland, CNN, New view of drone death toll
- 7/19, Charlie Savage, New York Times, In Major Ruling, Court Orders Times Reporter to Testify
- 7/18, Spencer Ackerman, Guardian (UK), White House stays silent on renewal of NSA data collection order
- 7/18, Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, Snowden leaks give new life to lawsuits challenging NSA surveillance programs
- 7/18, Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, Senate Panel Clears Way for Floor Vote on F.B.I. Director Pick
- 7/18, David Sirota, Salon, Holder’s amazing anti-drone war speech
- 7/18, Katherine Jacobsen, Christian Science Monitor, FISA 101: 10 key dates in the evolution of NSA surveillance
- 7/18, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, Prominent Democrats Are Now Comfortable With Racial and Ethnic Profiling
- 7/17, Billy House, National Journal, House GOP Leaders Hope to Block Amendments to Limit NSA Surveillance
- 7/16, Trip Gabriel, New York Times, Pennsylvania Defends Law on ID for Voters
- 7/16, Editorial Board, New York Times Opinion Pages, New Rules Protecting News Media
- 7/16, Ben Hallman, Huffington Post, NSA Sued By Unusual Coalition Of Gun Rights And Environmental Activists Over ‘Dragnet Surveillance’
- 7/15, Seth Mandel, Commentary Magazine, Questions Build As Snowden Retreats
- 7/15, Charles Kenny, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Case for Abolishing the DHS
- 7/15, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, A Modest Proposal: Don’t Worry About Government Surveillance at All, Ever
- 7/15, Jeremy Herb, The Hill, GOP leaders pushed to allow House vote on defunding the NSA
- 7/13, Brian Bennett and Joseph Tanfani, Los Angeles Times, Group opposing immigration bill plans full-scale campaign on House
- 7/12, David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to tighten rules on seizing reporters’ data
- 7/10, Perry Link, New York Review of Books, Censoring the News Before It Happens
The passage of the bills is important both for the added protection they bring to New Yorkers and because it shows the power of the broad based organizing model employed by the coalition promoting the bill, Communities United for Police Reform. The legislative victory builds on decades of courageous work in the movements for police accountability and racial justice.
Both pieces of legislation passed by 34 or more votes, assuring that if the votes stay the same a threatened veto by Mayor Bloomberg can be overridden by the city council.