Tag Archives: DHS

‘Chilling’ New Rule Allows DHS to Monitor All Immigrants’ Social Media Activity

Freedom of speech advocates denounce DHS’s new “collect-it-all” approach

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-27-2017

Freedom of speech advocates are calling a new Department of Homeland Security rule “chilling,” as the department will begin collecting social media communications and data of all immigrants.

The rule, added last week to the Privacy Act of 1974, would allow the DHS to gather “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” of people with immigration files, as well as “publicly available information from the internet.”

The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement on the new rule on Tuesday. Continue reading

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‘Spitting in the Eye of Transparency,’ Govt Reveals Just 22 Mar-a-Lago Visitors

Watchdog groups promise to keep fighting Trump administration in court after it refuses to release full list of presidential visitors to so-called Winter White House

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2017

On Friday, the Trump administration released a list of visitors from President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. (Photo: Shealah Craighead/TheWhite House)

“See you in court, Mr. President,” a watchdog group warned on Friday, after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under pressure from a federal lawsuit, released just two pages of Mar-a-Lago visitor records, despite earlier promises to reveal the full list of visitors to President Donald Trump’s so-called Winter White House.

After waiting months for a response to our request for comprehensive visitor logs from the president’s multiple visits to Mar-a-Lago and having the government ask for a last minute extension, today we received 22 names from the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, and nothing else,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Continue reading

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US Government Quietly Starts Asking Travelers for Social Media Accounts

Controversial program met with opposition from civil liberties groups when first proposed in June

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-23-2016

Social media accounts are “gateways into an enormous amount of [users’] online expression and associations, which can reflect highly sensitive information about that person’s opinions, beliefs, identity, and community.” (Photo: The Hamster Factor/flickr/cc)

The U.S. government has quietly started to ask foreign travelers to hand over their social media accounts upon arriving in the country, a program that aims to spot potential terrorist threats but which civil liberties advocates have long opposed as a threat to privacy.

The program has been active since Tuesday, asking travelers arriving to the U.S. on visa waivers to voluntarily enter information associated with their online presence, including “Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites,” Politico reports. Continue reading

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The US Government Has an Internet Killswitch — and It’s None of Your Business

The Supreme Court has refused to hear a petition concerning the Department of Homeland Security’s secretive internet and cellphone killswitch program.

By Derrick Broze. Published 1-13-2016 by The Anti-Media

United States — On Monday the Supreme Court declined to hear a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that sought to force the Department of Homeland Security to release details of a secret “killswitch” protocol to shut down cellphone and internet service during emergencies.

EPIC has been fighting since 2011 to release the details of the program, which is known as Standard Operating Procedure 303. EPIC writes, “On March 9, 2006, the National Communications System (‘NCS’) approved SOP 303, however it was never released to the public. This secret document codifies a ‘shutdown and restoration process for use by commercial and private wireless networks during national crisis.’” Continue reading

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Exposed: Big Brother Targets Black Lives

Government spying can be an ‘effective way to chill protest movements,’ warns Center for Constutitonal Rights

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-15.

Documents released to The Intercept by the Department of Homeland Security show that the federal agency monitored National Moment of Silence protests like the one pictured above, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

Documents released to The Intercept by the Department of Homeland Security show that the federal agency monitored National Moment of Silence protests like the one pictured above, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

Participants in Black Lives Matter protests have marked an all-too-common rite of passage for social justice movements in the U.S.—they’ve been systematically spied on by the federal government.

According to exclusive reporting from The Intercept published Friday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been monitoring and collecting data on the two-year-old movement since protests against racism and police brutality erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.

The revelations are based on an analysis of hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request. As journalist George Joseph reports, the cache of documents “indicate that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful. The reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York.”

The documents—which Joseph notes “may well represent a small fraction of state surveillance against Black Lives Matter”—show that in some cases, DHS produced minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements in demonstrations and in other cases “planned  surveillance of…seemingly innocuous events, two of which were associated with historically black neighborhoods.”

Joseph writes:

The tracking of domestic protest groups and peaceful gatherings raises questions over whether DHS is chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights, and over whether the department, created in large part to combat terrorism, has allowed its mission to creep beyond the bounds of useful security activities as its annual budget has grown beyond $60 billion.

For its part, DHS told The Intercept in an email that “the DHS National Operations Center statutory authority…is limited to providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture for the federal government, and for state, local, tribal governments as appropriate, in the event of a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster.”

But Baher Azmy, a legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, countered that the concept of “providing situational awareness” is problematic in and of itself.

“What they call situational awareness is Orwellian speak for watching and intimidation,” Azmy told The Intercept. “Over time there’s a serious harm to the associational rights of the protesters and it’s an effective way to chill protest movements. The average person would be less likely to go to a Black Lives Matter protest if the government is monitoring social media, Facebook, and their movements.”

As Raven Rakia, a journalist who investigates state surveillance and policing, pointed out to The Intercept, Friday’s revelations fall into the government’s well-documented pattern of spying on and suppressing black social movements and groups. “There’s a long history of the federal agencies, especially the FBI, seeing black resistance organizations as a threat to national security,” Rakia said.

However, neither government surveillance nor the overt repression widely reported in the media seems to have deterred the strengthening movement, which will gather for its first ever national convergence this weekend in Cleveland.

Read The Intercept‘s full exposé here.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Bibi’s Blunders

Next Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak before a joint session of Congress. We wrote a piece the day after his speech was announced.

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by U.S. Department of State [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by U.S. Department of State [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In it, we discussed what made this speech different. From the breach of protocol with the end run around the White House in arranging and announcing the speech to the very real concerns over the House of Representatives essentially outsourcing our foreign policy and giving an international stage to Netanyahu right before elections in his own country, we explained why this was a terrible idea.

We followed that with a second piece a couple weeks later, asking how Congress could invite a leader to speak before them as a friend and trusted ally, when that leader’s military and police killed over 500 innocent children in Gaza over a period of 50 days.

With the speech now less than a week away, we thought we’d take a look at what else has happened with the “Republican Senator from Israel” recently. Continue reading

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MOA: Protests, Perceived Threats and Terrorism

When world headlines hit close to home, Americans and their media have a tendency to view things from a myopic point of view and fail to grasp everything worth considering.

People fleeing Westgate Mall. Photo: blog.people.com

People fleeing Westgate Mall. Photo: blog.people.com

Most recently, the terrorist group al-Shabaab has directly threatened western malls, naming the Mall of America as one of the targets they wish to see attacked in the style of the Westgate Mall tragedy in Nairobi, Kenya in September, 2013.

The Westgate Mall was chosen by al-Shabaab because of its striking resemblance to western-style shopping malls across Europe and America. They now stage this threat against western malls because it is the most significant thing they are known to have accomplished, so they cling to that horror for legitimacy and as a way of getting their name back in the news when all the media attention lately has been focused on Daesh. Mall of America was named because it symbolizes American materialism and is located where there is a substantial Somalian population, which is targeted by al-Shabaab for recruitment of followers. Based on the coverage we saw during the time the story broke, we would say al-Shabaab feels quite victorious without having to even fire a shot. Continue reading

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The Failure of a National Policy

Photo via Twitter

Photo via Twitter

This week, the Clay Hunt Bill sailed through Congress and has made its way to President Obama’s desk, his signature of approval expected. Long overdue, the bill aims to address the crisis of suicide rates among veterans; currently 22 lives lost every day.

The United States policy toward caring for our veterans is highly contentious. When an individual enlists, they are told they will be taken care of while serving as well as when they return from duty. In reality, this has amounted to life threatening waits for appointments at VA centers, cuts in benefits and a rising homeless veteran population. Continue reading

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