Posts Tagged ‘warrantless surveillance’

“The fault line is shifting”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm by

Earlier this week, BORDC’s Shahid Buttar appeared on The Big Picture with host Thom Hartmann to explain what he described as a “game changer” on congressional NSA reform, and to relate how members of Congress found “an alternative outlet for their outrage” about NSA spying.

Shahid explained that:

The last thing that had happened in Congress was a very meager version of the USA Freedom Act passing the House, and that could ultimately [do] more harm than good. The amendments to the House Defense Appropriations bill last week…reflected essentially a response by members of Congress who were frustrated by the White House and the Republican leadership of the House gutting the USA Freedom Act, and finding an alternative outlet for their outrage….

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NSA? The Postal Service is watching you, too

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm by

With the ongoing debate about mass spying by the NSA, many Americans are reconsidering their reliance on telephone and electronic communications. But is it safe to trust the US Postal Service (USPS)? You may not want to know….

In 2013, the Postal Inspection Service processed tens of thousands of mail covers, and also “photograph[ed] the exterior of every piece of paper mail” processed by the USPS through the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program revealed last year.

Last July, the New York Times explained that “Snail mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.”

A Postal Service Inspector General report released last month suggests that even the more restrained mail cover program should raise concerns.

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House moves to rein in NSA Internet surveillance

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 11:13 am by

A year after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed pervasive dragnet spying by the National Security Agency, Congress has finally begun to take action. Last night, the House “unexpectedly and overwhelmingly” voted in favor of a measure imposing two major limits on the NSA’s domestic dragnet.

By a wide and revealing margin, 293 Representatives came together across party lines to approve an amendment to a military spending bill that — if ultimately signed into law after agreement in the Senate – could deny funding to two particular NSA abuses.

First, the amendment aims to effectively prohibit NSA queries taking advantage of a “backdoor search loophole” (in which the NSA collects information about Americans by designating a foreigner with whom they communicate as the ”target” of their search). It would also prohibit the NSA from building security vulnerabilities into tech products made in the US, as it has for “computers, hard drives, routers, and other devices from companies such as Cisco, Dell, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung and Huawei.”

Members of Congress from both major parties expressed the widespread popular outrage underlying the vote. According to a joint statement by Representatives Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Lofgren (D-CA), and Massie (R-KY), “Americans have become increasingly alarmed with the breadth of unwarranted government surveillance programs.” Rep. Massie also put it more colorfully, explaining that ”The American people are sick of being spied on,” evoking the words of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who sharply criticized “this dragnet spying on millions of Americans.”

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NSA collects biometric data, prompting creative countermeasures

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 7:27 am by

Along with investigative journalist Laura Pointras, James Risen from the New York Times (who is facing prosecution for protecting the confidentiality of his sources in the face of yet another whistleblower investigation) produced a report this Sunday based on the latest among the Snowden revelations. In particular, Poitras & Risen reveal that the NSA is collecting and maintaining a vast image database of faces for use with facial recognition software.

As they explain in their report:

The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. While once focused on written and oral communications, the N.S.A. now considers facial images, fingerprints and other identifiers just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorists and other intelligence targets, the documents show.

“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting,” noted a 2010 document.

Facial recognition software deployed for surveillance and intelligence gathering is not merely constitutionally questionable, it is also really, really creepy. Your face is not “data,” it is you. More than any personal email or racy text message, your biometric information is the most personal data you possess. By rendering faces into ones and zeros, the NSA objectifies and commodifies the body itself.

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Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC May Newsletter

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 9:55 am by

Constitution in Crisis

May 2014, Vol. 13 No. 05

View this newsletter as a webpage: http://www.bordc.org/newsletter/2014/05


Cities around the country say: fusion centers are wasteful, fraudulent, and perpetuate racial profiling

Diverse, multiracial grassroots coalitions from around the country held teach-ins, press conferences, and actions to challenge civil liberties violations by fusion centers, which coordinate the surveillance activities of local police alongside federal agencies like the NSA and FBI.



BORDC Analysis

Read the latest news & analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution

Have you read BORDC’s blog lately? The People’s Blog for the Constitution features news & analysis beyond the headlines.

Highlights from the past month include:


Grassroots News

Grassroots updates

To view campaigns supported by BORDC at a glance, visit our interactive campaign maps for local coalitions addressing surveillance and profiling by local law enforcement, or military detention under the NDAA. To get involved in any of these efforts, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at organizing (at) bordc (dot) org. We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!


New Resources & Opportunities

House committees take first step to reform NSA

Monday, May 12, 2014 at 11:36 am by

Last week, the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees approved a bill that would begin the process of restoring constitutional limits to dragnet government surveillance. While a praiseworthy step in the right direction, the progress to date remains both entirely too slow, and deferential to the intelligence agencies.

Congress should immediately pass the USA FREEDOM Act, and then get back to work to pass the further restrictions on NSA spying necessary to render it compliant with the First and Fourth amendments.

A limited reform package

Several observers have noted various ways in which the bill passed out of the committees last week leaves a great deal to be desired. The House committees watered down the bill’s provisions before approving it, undermining its ability to meaningfully restrain government spying.

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This is “The Day We Fight Back”

Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm by
Protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Unwarranted mass surveillance has proven to be a universal issue, providing common ground for private corporations, libertarian groups, and civil liberty advocates to unite. On Tuesday February 11, a broad coalition will take a stand against the National Security Agency (NSA) and engage in a global day of action, “The Day We Fight Back.

The Day We Fight Back is tied to the activist and technologist Aaron Swartz and his contributions to the digital rights movement. Swartz was a key individual in the movement to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that sought to limit access to sites with user-generated content. Because of the efforts of Swartz and other activists, the Internet remains intact as a universal platform for all users.

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Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC’s December 2013 Newsletter

Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm by

Constitution in Crisis

December 2013, Vol. 12 No. 12

View this newsletter as a webpage: http://www.bordc.org/newsletter/2013/12/

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Dropping in on the NSA

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 10:55 am by

As Congress considers dozens of bills to curtail NSA domestic surveillance, the grassroots firestorm opposing dragnet spying has continued to escalate. Coalitions across the country have employed creative tactics to display visual  dissent, reaching beyond the incremental reforms considered by Congress and calling for the National Security Agency (NSA) to be closed entirely.

On December 6, grassroots activists from across the DC / MD / VA area dropped banners reading “Save America. Close the NSA” off a highway overpass outside the NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, MD. (more…)

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.