I’ve got to tell our local “Feminazi” @geegeetee about this!
On one hand-
“These materials show, over a sustained period of time, the depth and rigor of NSA’s commitment to compliance,” read a statement on the NSA’s website. “By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies.”
On the other hand-
In one instance, an analyst who surveilled her own spouse was merely “advised to cease her activities.” In another, an analyst “mistakenly requested” surveillance “of his own personal identifier instead of the selector associated with a foreign intelligence target.” But the NSA maintained that employees who conducted improper surveillance were adequately held to account.
“Results returned from improper queries may be deleted, and the analyst who submitted the query may be subject to additional training or administrative action as appropriate,” the agency said.
But my favorite passage of all-
The USA Freedom Act, which would have ended the NSA’s controversial domestic call tracking program, died in the Senate earlier this year despite support from an unlikely alliance that included Facebook, the ACLU and the National Rifle Association.
Why my favorite? It best illustrates the fact that a consensus of the public wanted that bill passed, and that was thwarted despite the allegedly always overwhelming lobbying power of the NRA and the considerable academic and legal resources the ACLU
We got screwed. By now we understand so many of the claims these programs are “essential” but proof remains necessarily secret are the emperors clothes of our day. We heard this song before. Yes on our watch. But in the end this will just be another psych/attitude test. Nothing more as per the set up by the timing of the release.
Kind of weird that nobody seems to be talking about the potential for massive privacy violations with police body cams.— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) December 1, 2014
Good point, we need them out there but not just willy nilly. Media wise he is exactly correct, there is a din of shouts for the cams and a dearth of time spent pondering unintended effects.
So lets see if we agree what they should be good for-A clear record of an encounter with a citizen, suspect or violent felon. This should hellp protect both sides of the encounter from false accusations. It should give us a solid video record of any assault on the police officer and the face and voice of the attacker. It would show police misconduct from trivial to deadly. Of course a camera makes everyone that is aware of it a bit more mindful of words and actions taken. The police could turn those in or even better upload them to a secure encrypted cloud storage. The police could use them to sharpen the accuracy of their reports. And have an opportunity to self correct any errors of memory.
But who gets to look at the tapes? Anyone via FOIA? TMZ every time a celeb gets a ticket? Probably a bad idea. Only the police? That’s no help, so we have to find a balance.
What about all that data? There are now memory cards that are quite robust and can record eight hours of 1080 dpi video. Ways to reduce that workload or storage volume include reduced resolution to 720 dpi, or cutting down the frame rate from 30 to 24 or even 15.
I’d even agree that we could compromise with the police unions who object. lets say this can not be used for minor violations of policy. Only in serious instances (like when a citizen files a formal complaint) would this video record be used to punish officers. Like if they lie about events. We don’t care if it implicates an officer in an affair at lunch. All that could be inadmissible via policy.
For an issue like this I always turn to the ACLU for a fair view. I clipped in a little here, please follow the link for the rest of a very well written article.
From the ACLU
Limiting the threat to privacy from cop cams
Most of the discussion around police recording has focused on its oversight potential. But that is only one of the significant interests implicated by recording. Equally important are the privacy interests and fair trial rights of individuals who are recorded. Ideally there would be a way to minimize data collection to only what was reasonably needed, but there’s currently no technological way to do so.
Police body cameras mean that many instances of entirely innocent behavior (on the part of both officers and the public) will be recorded, with significant privacy implications. Perhaps most troubling is that some recordings will be made inside people’s homes, whenever police enter — including in instances of consensual entry (e.g., responding to a burglary call, voluntarily participating in an investigation) and such things as domestic violence calls. In the case of dashcams, we have also seen video of particular incidents released for no important public reason, and instead serving only to embarrass individuals. Examples have included DUI stops of celebrities and ordinary individuals whose troubled and/or intoxicated behavior has been widely circulated and now immortalized online. The potential for such merely embarrassing and titillating releases of video is significantly increased by body cams.
Therefore it is vital that any deployment of these cameras be accompanied by good privacy policies so that the benefits of the technology are not outweighed by invasions of privacy. The core elements of such a policy follow.
NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Mississippi, and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center filed a class action suit late yesterday against the Scott County (Mississippi) sheriff, district attorney, and judges after learning that the Scott County Detention Center has held people for as long as a year without appointing counsel and without indicting them. The county’s practices violate the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments’ rights to counsel, to a speedy trial, and to a fair bail hearing.
“This is indefinite detention, pure and simple. Scott County jail routinely holds people without giving them a lawyer and without formally charging them for months, with no end in sight. For those waiting for indictment, the county has created its own Constitution-free zone,” said Brandon Buskey, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “These prisoners’ cases are frozen, their lives outside the jail are disintegrating, and they haven’t even been charged with a crime. The county has tossed these people into a legal black hole.”
One plaintiff in the ACLU’s suit, Joshua Bassett, has been in the Scott County Detention Center since January 16 of this year; he has been denied an attorney and a grand jury hearing. Another, Octavious Burks, has been in the jail since November 18, 2013. Neither Mr. Bassett nor Mr. Burks could afford their bail. Mr. Burks has been through this ordeal twice before. Since 2009, he has been jailed in Scott County on three separate charges without indictment or counsel.
The ACLU has evidence that many others have been trapped in the Scott County Detention Center for months at a time because they couldn’t pay bail and, like Mr. Bassett and Mr. Burks, were denied counsel and a grand jury hearing.
The article has some sincere depth. It explores when and how this trend got started. I selected a part that particularly resonates in terms of Ferguson area police (county or city) pointing assault rifles at a peaceful crowd. Assaulting the media with tear gas. Clearing the airspace to harass media.
it’s a consistent thread-SWAT units were formed for those rare times where a criminal or terror act outguns or outsizes the local regular PD. Now we see then used for search warrants in cases where the homeowner simply owns a registered pistol. Somehow it’s worth raiding with SWAT rather than detaining the guy away from home, and then searching with a warrant.
Surplus war making gear gets given to local PD. Much of that equipment is intended for extraordinary threats. Body armor way beyond that of an ordinary cop. Headgear, night vision, military rifles… The list goes on and on. Soon enough we see that very same gear being deployed against a legal protest. If it’s really crowd control-Why is the LRAD on an MRAP rather than just an SUV?
At the end game we have a local population abused by police power. It is not the locals or the threats from local criminals that changed. It’s the mindset built by a “default to SWAT” mentality. The same mindset that insists bigger is better. More armor, more powerful weapons. That an MRAP is what you need for a protest. That it’s okay to scope and sweep unarmed Americans with firearms.
Slippery slope? More like an upright ice rink.
Upping the Racial Profiling Ante
In a recently released report, “War Comes Home,” the American Civil Liberties Union (my employer) discovered that nearly 80% of all SWAT raids it reviewed between 2011 and 2012 were deployed to execute a search warrant.
Pause here a moment and consider that these violent home invasions are routinely used against people who are only suspected of a crime. Up-armored paramilitary teams now regularly bash down doors in search of evidence of a possible crime.In other words, police departments increasingly choose a tactic that often results in injury and property damage as its first option, not the one of last resort.In more than 60% of the raids the ACLU investigated, SWAT members rammed down doors in search of possible drugs, not to save a hostage, respond to a barricade situation, or neutralize an active shooter.
On the other side of that broken-down door, more often than not, are blacks and Latinos. When the ACLU could identify the race of the person or people whose home was being broken into, 68% of the SWAT raids against minorities were for the purpose of executing a warrant in search of drugs. When it came to whites, that figure dropped to 38%, despite the well-known fact that blacks, whites, and Latinos all use drugs at roughly the same rates. SWAT teams, it seems, have a disturbing record of disproportionately applying their specialized skill set within communities of color.
More: To Terrify and Occupy
I’m thinking slippery slope about like an ice rink tilted 45 degrees. Don’t misunderstand me- With properly educated judicial oversight these tools are useful. Without that the FBI has demonstrated over and over it will exploit any but the most diligent oversight powers.
The ACLU’s Soghoian says a child porn sting is probably the best possible use of the FBI’s drive-by download capability. “It’s tough to imagine a legitimate excuse to visit one of those forums: the mere act of looking at child pornography is a crime,” he notes. His primary worry is that Operation Torpedo is the first step to the FBI using the tactic much more broadly, skipping any public debate over the possible unintended consequences. “You could easily imagine them using this same technology on everyone who visits a jihadi forum, for example,” he says. “And there are lots of legitimate reasons for someone to visit a jihadi forum: research, journalism, lawyers defending a case. ACLU attorneys read Inspire Magazine, not because we are particularly interested in the material, but we need to cite stuff in briefs.”
Soghoian is also concerned that the judges who considered NIT applications don’t fully understand that they’re being asked to permit the use of hacking software that takes advantage of software vulnerabilities to breach a machine’s defenses. The Operation Torpedo search warrant application, for example, never uses the words “hack,” “malware,” or “exploit.” Instead, the NIT comes across as something you’d be happy to spend 99 cents for in the App Store. “Under the NIT authorized by this warrant, the website would augment [its] content with some additional computer instructions,” the warrant reads.
From the perspective of experts in computer security and privacy, the NIT is malware, pure and simple. That was demonstrated last August, when, perhaps buoyed by the success of Operation Torpedo, the FBI launched a second deployment of the NIT targeting more Tor hidden services.
The trick is going to be allowing this technology and regulating it against abuse. by anyone, law officers or commercial enterprise.
For almost a month, Kansas Citians lived through what amounted to a horror movie without an ending.
According to the narrative described in court documents, it would take cutting-edge and occasionally controversial law enforcement technology, including license-plate readers, to put an end to the horror show.
The story of this very 21st century hunt began playing out on the tangle of freeways just south of Kansas City, Mo., where, starting in March, one driver after another reported being shot at by a mystery gunman — nobody they knew, for reasons nobody could fathom.
The suspect would later be identified as a driver wearing a black hoodie, a black mask and black sunglasses. His strikes came unpredictably, police discovered, often right before his victims drove onto highway splits and exits. That’s when drivers would hear a bang, or suddenly feel a sharp sting.
Documents Reveal Unregulated Use of Stingrays in California
By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 4:37pm
Local law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area have so-called stingray devices, a powerful cellphone surveillance tool, and more are planning to acquire the technology, according to public records recently obtained by Sacramento News10. The devices are highly intrusive and completely unregulated. Although the Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 that they were being used by the federal government, the News10 records reveal for the first time that these devices are also in widespread use by local authorities stretching from San José to Sacramento. The revelations are troubling. Once again, we see the proliferation of powerful new surveillance tools, but without any rules to constrain their use. The acquisition of these devices is shrouded in secrecy and driven by federal grant money, which undermines local democratic oversight. Their actual use by local law enforcement reflects the all too common phenomenon of mission creep: Although the justification for acquiring these devices is “fighting terrorism,” agencies seem to be using them for ordinary criminal law enforcement.
What’s a stingray and what are the Fourth Amendment implications?
A stingray is a device that mimics a cell tower and thereby tricks all wireless devices on the same network into communicating with it. From a privacy perspective, this is worrying because it collects information about the devices and whereabouts of innocent third parties, not just the target of an investigation. In addition, it can pinpoint targets with extraordinary precision, meaning that individuals can be tracked even when they are inside their homes. Although some of the devices sold in this country are configured not to capture the content of communications, many offered for sale by surveillance vendors can be used for eavesdropping.
There is a real question as to whether stingrays can ever be used in a constitutional fashion. They are the electronic equivalent of dragnet “general searches” prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. But unfortunately, there are currently no statutes or regulations that specifically address how and under what circumstances stingrays can be used, and very little caselaw.