Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • The Watchmen’s Misdirected Gaze

    Source: NY Times. A series in which entrepreneurialism is crime prevention’s best ally is a series ideologically synchronized to the Bloomberg age. How close we’ve come to this particular pop-cultural imagining was evident two weeks ago when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly introduced the eerily titled Domain Awareness System at a news conference. Developed in conjunction with Microsoft, the all-seeing computer system marries video feed from thousands of closed-circuit television cameras to various law-enforcement databases to track criminals and possible terrorist activity. Should the technology be sold to Boston or San Francisco the city will reap substantial profit.

     
  • Tampa, FL – August 25, 2012

    Though imprisonment has silenced him, his mother speaks out for him. Hear Laila Yaghi talk about her son’s trial, the flimsy prosecutor evidence, government allegations that going to the “beach,” was code for terrorist plans, the price her son paid for refusing to “co- operate” and lie about others in exchange for a reduced sentence, and more. . .

     
  • These Drones Are Made For Watchin’

    Source: EFF. EFF recently received a trove of documents from the FAA in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, offering new insights into the public and private use of drones in the United States—including where they’re flying, why they’re being used, and what their capabilities are. These new documents include the never-before-released Special Airworthiness Certificates (SACs) from all private companies authorized to fly drones.

     
  • Report from the Drone Convention

    Source: NPR. Ignoring civil liberties concerns could be a costly mistake. The UAV industry needs to explain the benefits of its products, and cannot sit back and complain that citizens’ concerns are unjustified.

     
  • NDAA Suit argued in Federal Court

    Source: Village Voice. The question being argued in federal court in Lower Manhattan boiled down to this: Is a law authorizing the indefinite military detention of American citizens with only the barest recourse to civil courts constitutional?

     
  • NYPD, Microsoft Launch All-Seeing “Domain Awareness System” With Real-Time CCTV, License Plate Monitoring

    Source: Fast Company. The New York Police Department is embracing online surveillance in a wide-eyed way. Representatives from Microsoft and the NYPD announced the launch of their new Domain Awareness System (DAS) at a lower Manhattan press conference today. Using DAS, police are able to monitor thousands of CCTV cameras around the five boroughs, scan license plates, find out the kind of radiation cars are emitting, and extrapolate info on criminal and terrorism suspects from dozens of criminal databases … all in near-real time.

     
  • Uncovering License Plate Scanners: The Next Big Thing in Government Tracking

    Source: ACLU. Maryland may be positioned to lead the nation in tracking the location and movements of innocent people through Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs). That is why the ACLU of Maryland joined with ACLU affiliates in 38 other states to file public records requests seeking information about the law enforcement collection and retention of ALPR data. Maryland seems to be (or claims to be) one of the national leaders in the troubling centralized aggregation and storage of ALPR data, which raises significant privacy concerns.

     
  • Kill Or Capture

    Source: The New Yorker. President Barack Obama had personally authorized the killing [of Anwar al-Awlaki]. “I want Awlaki,” he is said to have told his advisers at one point. “Don’t let up on him.” The President’s bracing words about a fellow American are reported in “Kill or Capture,” a recent and important book on the Obama Administration’s detention and targeted-killing programs, by Daniel Klaidman, a former deputy editor of Newsweek.

     
  • That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker

    Source: ProPublica. Most doubts about the principal function of these devices were erased when it was disclosed Monday that cellphone carriers responded 1.3 million times last year to law enforcement requests for call data. Thanks to the explosion of GPS technology and smartphone apps, these devices are also taking note of what we buy, where and when we buy it, how much money we have in the bank, whom we text and e-mail, what Web sites we visit, how and where we travel, what time we go to sleep and wake up — and more. Much of that data is shared with companies that use it to offer us services they think we want.

     
  • Five Ways Wireless Carriers Could Rein In The Government’s Surveillance Of Your Phone

    Source: Forbes. Some observers, like a commenter on my story Monday, might argue that the phone companies are as much victims of this snooping as its enablers: In many cases, they have no legal option but to cough up their users’ secrets. But it’s also true that on the whole, phone companies could do much, much more to limit how much private information they siphon to law enforcement and other agencies.