Category Archives: National Security vs Police State

Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

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As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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‘We Need Answers’: House Dems Demand Probe Into US Military Purchases of Location Data From Muslim-Focused Apps

“We cannot pick and choose who the Constitution applies to,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib. “Our government cannot continue to violate the privacy of Americans.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2021

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers concerned about possible violations of civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Bill of Rights asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Thursday for more information about how and why the U.S. military is buying “access to large quantities of personal data” collected from cellphone applications targeted toward Muslim users.

The letter (pdf) requesting an investigation into U.S. military purchases of private location data was led by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Continue reading

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#ReleaseDishaRavi: Global Outrage After India Arrests Climate Activist Over Farmer Protest Toolkit Shared by Greta Thunberg

Ravi’s arrest “is an unprecedented attack on democracy,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “Supporting our farmers is not a crime.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-15-2021

Disha Ravi leaving her court hearing. Photo: Harteerath Singh/Twitter

Public figures within and beyond India are demanding the release of Disha Ravi, a climate campaigner accused of sedition for allegedly editing and distributing an activist “toolkit” in support of the ongoing farmers’ protest that was tweeted by Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg.

petition calling for Ravi’s release has over 12,100 signatures. Activists, actors, politicians, and others have condemned her weekend arrest, which followed months of farmer-led demonstrations against agricultural reforms and other policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist government. Continue reading

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‘End… This Human Rights Atrocity,’ Says Amnesty After Biden Admin Signals Goal to Close Gitmo

Asked whether the president will shutter the prison, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “That certainly is our goal and our intention.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-12-2021

Witness Against Torture demonstrates for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay offshore prison. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

Human rights advocates on Friday welcomed reporting, confirmed by the White House, that President Joe Biden intends to close the Guantánamo Bay offshore military prison, which has long drawn global condemnation for torture and detention conditions.

“We are pleased to hear that the Biden administration wants to review the U.S. policy of almost 20 years of indefinite detention without charge of Muslim men at an offshore prison,” said Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security With Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA, in a statement. Continue reading

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‘Better Late Than Never’: Palestinians Welcome ICC Decision Enabling War Crimes Probe of Israel

An investigation “would not, for sure, bring my kids back to life,” said a survivor of an Israeli airstrike. “However, I am certain that I need to continue to try to find some sort of justice.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-6-2021

Israeli white phosphorus attack on the main compound of the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) in central Gaza City on 15 January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead.. Photo: HRW/CC

Palestinian families and human rights groups are welcoming a Friday decision that clears the way for the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations against Israel of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of apartheid in occupied Palestinian territories as a long-overdue step toward justice.

Given that the state of Palestine—as recognized by the United Nations and scores of countries, though not the United States nor Israel—is party to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s pre-trial chamber I decided by majority that the court’s jurisdiction “extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” Continue reading

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Warnings of Growing ‘Surveillance Empire’ as AI Van Cameras Give Amazon ‘Roaming Eyes in Every Neighborhood’

“Amazon will have the perfect panopticon in place to sweep up unprecedented amounts of data en masse,” says Fight for the Future.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-4-2021

An Amaazon Prime van making a delivery in Queens. Photo: Tdorante10/CC

In what one leading digital rights advocate is calling “the largest expansion of corporate surveillance in human history,” Amazon has begun installing artificial intelligence-equipped cameras in some of its partners’ delivery vehicles to monitor drivers while they work, a move that is raising broader concerns about privacy and corporate power.

CNBC reported Wednesday that Amazon’s AI-powered, four-lens cameras—called Driveri—are being tested in a handful of contracted delivery vehicles. The cameras are manufactured by Netradyne, a San Diego-based startup, and record 100% of the time while vans are operating. They watch and record not only the drivers, but also the road and what’s happening around the vehicles. Continue reading

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‘Get These Agencies Under Control Immediately’: Despite Biden Moratorium, ICE and CBP Deport Hundreds

“Don’t. Look. Away. We can’t trust ICE and CBP, even if their boss is a Democrat.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. published 2-2-2021

“How many more lives must ICE ruin before action is taken?”

That urgent question was posed late Monday by the advocacy coalition Families Belong Together following news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement—which progressives have characterized as a “rogue agency” that must be abolished—has deported hundreds of people since President Joe Biden took office last month, including a 27-year-old woman who witnessed the 2019 mass shooting targeting Latinos at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

The flurry of deportations over the past several days came after a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas last week temporarily blocked implementation of Biden’s 100-day deportation moratorium, a ban that could have prevented some—though, given its limitations, likely not all—of the latest removals. Continue reading

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‘This Is Not a Game’: Internet Defenders Warn Against Gutting of Section 230—Key Law for Online Speech

“Section 230 is one of the most important laws protecting freedom of expression and human rights in the digital age.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2021

Protect Net Neutrality rally, San Francisco 2017. Photo: Credo Action/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A coalition of internet defenders on Wednesday cautioned lawmakers against responding to this month’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by making “uncareful changes” to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that could “profoundly alter the state of digital free speech and human rights.”

The warning came in a letter to members of Congress and the Biden-Harris administration from a diverse collection of over 70 groups representing issues such as racial justice, sex workers, digital rights, and global human rights. Signatories include Common Cause, Fight for the Future, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Wikimedia Foundation. Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Alarmed by US Spy Agency’s Purchase of Warrantless Phone Location Data

“Congress must end this lawless practice and require the government to get a warrant for our location data, regardless of its source.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Image: Free Press

Digital rights advocates reacted with alarm to a report published Friday detailing how Defense Intelligence Agency analysts in recent years bought databases of U.S. smartphone location data without first obtaining warrants.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is part of the Department of Defense and is tasked with informing military and civilian policymakers about the activities and intentions of foreign governments and nonstate actors. Continue reading

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‘No One Can Censor Reality’: Human Rights Group Pushes Back After Israel Retaliates Against ‘Apartheid’ Label

“Israel cannot be considered a democracy, for it works to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people, Jews, over another, Palestinians.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2021

Palestinian workers queue up along the separation barrier often called the apartheid wall by critics as they wait to clear an Israeli military checkpoint. (Photo: delayed gratification/Flickr/cc)

The prominent Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem on Monday defiantly defended its position that Israel is an apartheid state after the country’s education minister banned members of groups that call the Jewish state “false, derogatory names” from entering its schools.

Last week, B’Tselem published a position paper that cited “a wide array of Israeli policies” it said are “advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians” before concluding that “we must look at the full picture and see it for what it is: apartheid.” Continue reading

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