Tag Archives: Police State

Extreme Digital Vetting of Visitors to the U.S. Moves Forward Under a New Name

ICE officials have invited tech companies, including Microsoft, to develop algorithms that will track visa holders’ social media activity.

By George Joseph. Published by ProPublica 11-22-2017

The door of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicle.. Photo: ICE

The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of U.S. visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch. Continue reading

Share

Senate Votes to Give Trump Vast Domestic Spying Powers “No President Should Have”

“Instead of instituting much needed reforms, lawmakers voted to give the Trump administration broad powers to spy on Americans and foreigners at home and abroad without a warrant.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-18-2018

Photo: YouTube

Defenders of civil liberties and privacy advocates expressed their discontent on Thursday after the U.S. Senate passed a bill that reauthorizes and expands the ability of the goverment to spy on the digital communications without a warrant.

With a final vote of 65-34 vote in favor, the passage of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017—now headed to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature—will extend for six years a provision known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which allows for call the “unconstitutional spying” on emails, text messages, and other digital communications of both Americans and foreign nationals without a warrant. Continue reading

Share

Continued Detention of Ahed Tamimi Denounced as Symptomatic of Israel’s Flouting of Int’l Law

“It is clear that detaining and prosecuting Palestinian children in Israeli military courts has little to do with justice,” says Brad Parker of Defense for Children International Palestine

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-17-2017

Demonstrators, including members of the Tamimi family, rallied on Dec. 22, 2017 in Manhattan’s Union Square to demand the release of Ahed Tamimi. (Photo: Joe Catron/flickr/cc)

Human rights experts sounded alarm on Wednesday after an Israeli military judge ruled that 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi—a child who has not been convicted of a crime—must remain in custody during her trial.

While the court ruled there was no “alternative to custody,” Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said, “There is nothing that can justify Ahed Tamimi’s continued detention.” Continue reading

Share

Taking Short Break From Denouncing Trump Authoritarianism, House Dems Join With GOP to ‘Violate the Privacy Rights of Everyone in United States’

“Democratic leadership in the House—who say that Trump is currently abusing his power to go after his political enemies—just helped him pass dangerous domestic surveillance powers.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-11-2018

“It seems rather odd, to put that mildly,” wrote journalist Glenn Greenwald, “to simultaneously insist that Trump is a traitorous agent or enslaved tool of an adversarial foreign power to whom he reports back, and then vote to give Trump extremely invasive, largely unchecked domestic spying power.” (Image: EFF)

Despite spending much of the last twelve months denouncing the legitimate threat posed by President Donald Trump’s penchant for authoritarian policies and behavior, 65 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday joined with 191 Republicans in passing a bill that advocates of civil liberties warn will lead to the wholesale violation ‘of privacy rights for everyone in the United States.’

While the final vote on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (or S.139)—which included renewal of the controversial Section 702 which allows government agencies to spy on the emails, text messages, and other electronic communications of Americans and foreigners without a warrant—was 256 to 164 in favor of passage, the partisan breakdown revealed that Republicans in the majority needed a great deal of Democratic support in order to have it pass. Continue reading

Share

‘Appalling’: Acting ICE Director Denounced for Threatening to Jail Elected Officials of Sanctuary Cities

The ACLU said Thomas Homan’s “outrageous threat” to charge local officials “for not carrying out Trump’s deportation agenda” should “disqualify” him from permanently filling the director post

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-3-2018

Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Jan. 2 that politicians who lead sanctuary cities should face federal charges. (Photo: Fox News/screenshot)

Immigrant rights advocates are denouncing an “appalling and disqualifying” proposal by the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to charge with federal crimes elected officials who lead sanctuary cities, which often refuse to turn over or identify undocumented residents to the government’s immigration agents.

The ACLU said Wednesday that acting director Thomas Homan’s “outrageous threat” to bring charges against local politicians who enact and carry out sanctuary city policies “should disqualify [him] from consideration for the permanent ICE director post.” Continue reading

Share

Victory for Civil Liberties as GOP Push to Expand NSA Spying Declared Dead—For Now

“Just like that, in less than 12 hours, last-ditch efforts to cram an NSA surveillance expansion bill were delayed—and possibly derailed. Your voices are heard. Keep it up.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-20-2017

“Like with the tax bill and healthcare, House Republicans are now trying to pass an awful NSA surveillance expansion bill within hours of releasing the text and with zero debate,” Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm warned in a tweet on Tuesday. (Photo: Joe Brusky/Flickr/cc)

Civil libertarians and internet freedom groups declared tentative victory on Wednesday after House Republicans announced that they have—at least for now—abandoned efforts to sneak through a measure that would have reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and vastly expanded NSA spying powers.

A number of prominent groups and public figures—including Fight for the Future, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF), and Edward Snowden—have been working to call attention to the legislation in recent days amid the flurry of tax and budget developments. Continue reading

Share

Official Calls for UN Peacekeepers to Be Deployed on Streets of Chicago

Published 12-15-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: YouTube

As 2017 comes to a close, the city of Chicago has racked up over 3,400 shootings and over 650 homicides this year, and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin is seeking to implement a highly controversial policy to deal with the problem.

On Thursday, Boykin shared his plans to reach out to the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, to seek help with “horrific levels of shootings” in the city of Chicago. If the organization were to step in, it would mark the first time a U.N. peacekeeping mission was implemented on American soil.

Continue reading

Share

Criminalizing Dissent: Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Enters Fourth Week

Published 12-9-2017 by Unicorn Riot

Scene from J20 protest. Photo: It’s Going Down

 

Washington, DC – Several weeks into the first trial of the individuals who were mass arrested during President Trump’s inauguration in DC on January 20 (J20), the prosecution is almost ready to rest its case. The arrests occurred at 12th & L streets when police chased, trapped, and surrounded the ‘anti-capitalist and anti-fascist’ protest march.

The first trial group comprises those who insisted on their right to a speedy trial. Jury selection began on November 15, and the trial itself started with opening arguments on November 20. The next group of defendants exercising their right to speedy trial is set for trial later this month but may be delayed to January; many other trials for the remaining defendants are scattered throughout 2018. Continue reading

Share

The StingRay Spy Device Is Exactly Why the 4th Amendment Was Written

At least 68 agencies in 23 different states own StingRays.

By Olivia Donaldson

Photo: The Desk

Imagine you are in the middle of your typical day-to-day activities. Maybe you are driving, spending time with family, or working. If you are like most people, your phone is at your side on a daily basis. Little do you know that, at any time, police and law enforcement could be looking at information stored on your phone. You haven’t done anything wrong. You haven’t been asked for permission. You aren’t suspected of any crime.

The StingRay

Police have the power to collect your location along with the numbers of your incoming and outgoing calls and intercept the content of call and text communication. They can do all of this without you ever knowing about it.

How? They use a shoebox-sized device called a StingRay. This device (also called an IMSI catcher) mimics cell phone towers, prompting all the phones in the area to connect to it even if the phones aren’t in use.

The police use StingRays to track down and implicate perpetrators of mainly domestic crimes. The devices can be mounted in vehicles, drones, helicopters, and airplanes, allowing police to gain highly specific information on the location of any particular phone, down to a particular apartment complex or hotel room.

Quietly, StingRay use is growing throughout local and federal law enforcement with little to no oversight. The ACLU has discovered that at least 68 agencies in 23 different states own StingRays, but says that this “dramatically underrepresents the actual use of StingRays by law enforcement agencies nationwide.”

The Violation

Information from potentially thousands of phones is being collected every time a StingRay is used. Signals are sent into the homes, bags, and pockets of innocent individuals. The Electronic Frontier Foundation likens this to the Pre-Revolutionary War practice of soldiers going door-to-door, searching without suspicion.

Richard Tynan, a technologist with Privacy International notes that, “there really isn’t any place for innocent people to hide from a device such as this.”

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states that, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The StingRay clearly violates these standards. The drafters of the Constitution recognized that restricting the government from violating privacy is essential for a free society. That’s why the Fourth Amendment exists. The StingRay is creating a dangerous precedent that tells the government that it’s okay for them to violate our rights. Because of this, freedom is quietly slipping out the window.

Little Regulation

Law Enforcement is using StingRays without a warrant in most cases. For example, the San Bernardino Police Department used their StingRay 300 times without a warrant in a little over a year.

In 2010, the Tallahassee Police Department used a StingRay in a warrantless search to track down the suspect of a crime. A testimony from an unsealed hearing transcript talks about how police went about finding their target. The ACLU sums it up well:

“Police drove through the area using the vehicle-based device until they found the apartment complex in which the target phone was located, and then they walked around with the handheld device and stood ‘at every door and every window in that complex’ until they figured out which apartment the phone was located in. In other words, police were lurking outside people’s windows and sending powerful electronic signals into their private homes in order to collect information from within.”

A handful of states have passed laws requiring police and federal agents to get a warrant before using a StingRay. They must show probable cause for one of the thousands of phones that they are actually searching. This is far from enough.

Additionally, there are many concerns that agents are withholding information from federal judges to monitor subjects without approval – bypassing the probable cause standard laid out in the Constitution. They even go as far as to let criminals go to avoid disclosing information about these devices to the courts.

If the public doesn’t become aware of this issue, the police will continue to use StingRays to infringe on our rights in secret and with impunity.

Olivia Donaldson

Olivia Donaldson

Olivia Donaldson is a recent high school graduate that is currently opting out of college and participating in an entrepreneurial program called Praxis.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Editorial note: If you’d like to read about the current use of StingRays by the Trump administration, we ran an article on the subject back in May.

Share

In US and Worldwide, Study Shows ‘Never a More Dangerous Time to Be a Journalist’

“Labeling reporting you don’t like as ‘fake news’ sends a signal to authoritarian leaders globally that it’s okay to crack down on the press.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-30-2017

Photo: Steve Sbraccia/Twitter

A new report finds that threats to global journalistic freedoms are at an all-time high, with attacks on the press being increasingly reported in democratic countries as well as under authoritarian regimes.

The freedom of expression advocacy group Article 19 and online database V-Dem compiled data from 172 countries between 2006 and 2016, rating each based on their levels of internet censorship, harassment and intimidation of journalists, media bias and corruption, and other indicators. Continue reading

Share