Category Archives: National Security vs Police State

Privacy isn’t in the Constitution – but it’s everywhere in constitutional law

Who’s allowed to watch what you do and say?
Shannon Fagan/The Image Bank via Getty Images

Scott Skinner-Thompson, University of Colorado Boulder

Almost all American adults – including parents, medical patients and people who are sexually active – regularly exercise their right to privacy, even if they don’t know it.

Privacy is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. But for half a century, the Supreme Court has recognized it as an outgrowth of protections for individual liberty. As I have studied in my research on constitutional privacy rights, this implied right to privacy is the source of many of the nation’s most cherished, contentious and commonly used rights – including the right to have an abortion – until the court’s June 24, 2022, ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. Continue reading

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Why reporting from the Amazon has become so dangerous

The discovery of two bodies believed to be those of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira highlights risks facing journalists in the region

By Pablo Albarenga and Francesc Badia I Dalmases  Published 6-15-2022 by openDemocracy

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira on Amazon expedition in 2018 Screenshot: The Guardian

Reporting from the Amazon, as we can both attest, is fraught with danger at every corner.

While leaving Indigenous territory on one of our recent reporting trips, we were stopped at gunpoint by military police. Officers searched our bags and personal belongings while firing questions at us. Continue reading

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Calls to ‘Stop the Deal’ as US Military Contractor Moves to Buy NSO Group

“NSO Group should not be rewarded for its facilitation of human rights violations and dangerous business practices with a lucrative offer from a U.S. defense contractor,” said one campaigner.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 6-14-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: NSO Group/Facebook

Digital rights advocates sounded the alarm on Tuesday following reports that U.S. military contractor L3Harris Tech plans to acquire NSO Group, a private Israeli firm widely condemned for selling surveillance technology to repressive governments across the globe.

NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has been used to crack down on dissidents and journalists, worsening “human rights abuses around the world, from Palestine to El Salvador to Poland,” advocacy group Access Now said in a statement urging U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to “stop the deal.” Continue reading

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Why are so many big tech whistleblowers women? Here is what the research shows

The vast majority of high-profile big tech whistleblowers in recent years have been women.
Elke Meitzel/Image Source via Getty Images

Francine Berman, UMass Amherst and Jennifer Lundquist, UMass Amherst

A number of high-profile whistleblowers in the technology industry have stepped into the spotlight in the past few years. For the most part, they have been revealing corporate practices that thwart the public interest: Frances Haugen exposed personal data exploitation at Meta, Timnit Gebru and Rebecca Rivers challenged Google on ethics and AI issues, and Janneke Parrish raised concerns about a discriminatory work culture at Apple, among others.

Many of these whistleblowers are women – far more, it appears, than the proportion of women working in the tech industry. This raises the question of whether women are more likely to be whistleblowers in the tech field. The short answer is: “It’s complicated.” Continue reading

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‘Endangers Us All’: Supreme Court Ruling Shields Border Agent From Excessive Force Lawsuit

The ruling leaves thousands of Border Patrol agents “absolutely immunized from liability,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “no matter how egregious the misconduct or resultant injury.”

By Julia Conley   Published 6-9-2022 by Common Dreams

ERO Cross Check 2017. Photo: ICE/flickr/public domain

A ruling by the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday “will have far-reaching consequences” for people who accuse federal agents of violating their constitutional rights, the ACLU warned after the court ruled against a man who wanted to sue a U.S. Border Patrol agent who entered his property without a warrant and used excessive force.

The court ruled 6-3 in Egbert v. Boule that Congress must decide whether the plaintiff can sue the government over the alleged violation of his rights—a decision which Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion threatens to block nearly all civil suits against federal agents. Continue reading

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Two Years After George Floyd Murder, Biden to Issue Executive Order on Police Reform

“The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives,” said one civil liberties advocate.

By Julia Conley  Published 5-24-2022 by Common Dreams

George Floyd Protest in Washington, DC – May 30 2020 Photo: Geoff Livingston/flickr/CC

Exactly two years after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, President Joe Biden on Wednesday is expected to unveil an executive order aimed at reforming federal policing standards and pushing state and local law enforcement agencies to improve their policies as well.

Civil rights groups on Tuesday expressed cautious optimism regarding the upcoming order, which has reportedly changed since a draft document was leaked earlier this year and garnered criticism from police groups. Continue reading

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Progressives Vow to Fight as DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Protests at Florida Homes

“H.B. 1571 builds on the unconstitutional foundations of the anti-protest bill last year,” said one activist, “and only reaffirms our will to make sure our voices are heard in order to create a brighter future for the people of our state.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-17-2022 by Common Dreams

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Critics are calling a new Florida law unconstitutional following Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of H.B. 1571, which bans protests outside homes, on Monday.

The new law, which has drawn comparisons to a separate statute effectively allowing the killing or wounding of protesters, makes “picketing or protesting” outside private residences a second-degree misdemeanor crime punishable by as many as 60 days behind bars, up to a $500 fine, and six months’ probation. Continue reading

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‘Reprehensible’: Biden Slammed for Urging States to Spend Untapped Covid Funds on Cops

“The real crime,” said one critic, “is giving this money to cops instead of using it for air cleaning to protect the American people from the airborne plague that has killed more than a million of us.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 5-13-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: manhhal/flickr/CC

News that President Joe Biden is planning to urge states and cities to use unspent money from last year’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to further increase police funding elicited furious responses on social media Friday.

NBC News first reported that the president is expected to make his reallocation request on Friday during a White House event with mayors and law enforcement officials. The meeting is scheduled to take place just one day after Politico reported that the Biden administration is preparing to ration vaccines as Senate Republicans continue to stonewall a multibillion-dollar Covid-19 aid package. Continue reading

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Study Reveals Sweeping Extent of ICE’s Secret Surveillance Dragnet

“In its efforts to arrest and deport, ICE has—without any judicial, legislative or public oversight—reached into datasets containing personal information about the vast majority of people living in the U.S.”

By Brett Wilkins   Published 5-10-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is operating a digital surveillance dragnet through which the agency is able to access information about nearly every person in the United States, a two-year investigation by researchers from the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law revealed Tuesday.

The study—entitled American Dragnet: Data-Driven Deportation in the 21st Century—found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “has built its dragnet surveillance system by crossing legal and ethical lines, leveraging the trust that people place in state agencies and essential service providers, and exploiting the vulnerability of people who volunteer their information to reunite with their families.” Continue reading

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Privacy Advocates Celebrate ‘Big Win’ Against Facial Recognition Giant

“This settlement demonstrates that strong privacy laws can provide real protections against abuse,” an ACLU attorney said of a deal with Clearview AI.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 5-9-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Pixabay

A historic settlement filed in court on Monday highlighted the power of Illinois’ strong privacy law and will result in new nationwide restrictions on a controversial technology company infamous for selling access to the largest known database of facial images.

The deal permanently banning Clearview AI from providing most private entities with free or paid access to its database stems from a lawsuit that the ACLU and partners f in 2020, arguing that the company violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Continue reading

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