Tag Archives: Police State

Privacy Advocates Alarmed as House Resumes Spying Powers Fight

Rights groups are particularly concerned about reporting that parts of the debate could be held in “secret session.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 2-12-2024 by Common Dreams

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

Privacy rights advocates and experts are sounding the alarm this week as members of the U.S. House of Representatives dive back into a contentious battle over reforming warrantless government surveillance powers that historically have been abused and consider closed-door debate.

House Republicans on Monday unveiled the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act and announced that the Committee on Rules will meet Wednesday to discuss the bill, which combines two previously competing proposals focused on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Continue reading
Share Button

Despite Human Rights Concerns, El Salvador’s Bukele Reelected in Landslide

“Human rights violations have been constant during the Bukele administration,” said one activist. “We can only expect it to continue growing.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 2-5-2024 by Common Dreams

Donald Trump and Nayib Bukele in 2019, Photo: Public Domain

As right-wing Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele on Sunday night declared victory in his bid for a constitutionally proscribed second term, critics underscored the human rights costs of a state of emergency that’s sacrificed civil liberties in the name of security.

Although votes are still being counted, there was no doubt on Monday of Bukele’s landslide reelection to another five-year term. The self-described “world’s coolest dictator” claimed to have won 85% of the vote, a figure roughly equal to exit polling figures published by Salvadoran and international media.

Continue reading
Share Button

Exposé of ‘Scandalous’ US Spying Sparks Calls for Congress to Act

“These new details add up to a horrifying picture that proves the need for Congress to… enact comprehensive privacy protections for Americans before reauthorizing any spying powers,” said one campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 11-20-2023 by Common Dreams

A U.S. senator is sounding the alarm about a “long-running dragnet surveillance program” enabling law enforcement to :request often-warrantless searches of trillions of domestic phone records.” Photo: Ivan Radic/flickr/CC

Privacy advocates on Monday renewed demands for swift congressional action on government surveillance in response to new WIRED reporting on a federally funded program through which law enforcement obtains phone records from AT&T.

“This is a long-running dragnet surveillance program in which the White House pays AT&T to provide all federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies the ability to request often-warrantless searches of trillions of domestic phone records,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote Sunday in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, which WIRED obtained and published in full.

Continue reading
Share Button

Israel Readying Emergency Regulations Allowing Arrest of Journalists for Factual Reporting

One Israeli journalist said Israel’s far-right government—trying to stop Al Jazeera’s Gaza broadcasts—is “acting more like Putin’s” regime.

By Brett Wilkins Published 10-16-2023 by Common Dreams

Shlomo Karhi, a member of the right-wing Likud party who is currently Israel’s communications minister, with Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Shlomo Karhi/Facebook

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi confirmed Sunday that he is drafting regulations that will empower him to order police to arrest journalists for factual reporting and target anyone he believes has damaged national morale during Israel’s ongoing war against Gaza.

Haaretz reports that Karhi—a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party—is preparing draft emergency regulations titled “Limiting Aid to the Enemy through Communication” which would allow him to direct police to arrest any civilian, remove them from their home, and seize their property if he believes they have disseminated information that might harm national morale or be used as “enemy propaganda.”

Continue reading
Share Button

Kansas Newspaper Co-Owner Dies as Press Defenders Decry ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Raid on Home, Office

One columnist said that “it is not hyperbole to say that this attack on the people’s right to know appears to have killed” 98-year-old Joan Meyer.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 8-13-2023 by Common Dreams

The Marion County Record confirmed the death of the newspaper’s co-owner on August 13, 2023. 
(Photo: screenshot/Marion County Record)

Advocacy groups and reporters across the United States have sounded the alarm throughout the weekend about a legally dubious police raid on Friday targeting the Marion County Record office and the publisher’s Kansas home in an alleged identity theft investigation—events that the newspaper said contributed to the death of the elderly co-owner.

“Stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after illegal police raids on her home and the Marion County Record newspaper office Friday, 98-year-old newspaper co-owner Joan Meyer, otherwise in good health for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her home,” the outlet reported.

Continue reading
Share Button

‘Openly Murderous’: DeSantis Outlines Border Proposal Modeled on War Zones

By admitting border agents would have to make their own “judgements” to determine whether to shoot a migrant, said one critic, the Florida governor signaled he would embrace “the large-scale murder of innocent people.”

By Julia Conley. Published 8=8-2023 by Common Dreams

Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference near the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas on June 26, 2023.. Photo; Ron DeSantis/Twitter

Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday night expanded on his proposed border policy, which he has said would include the use of “deadly force” against anyone suspected of drug trafficking—explaining to NBC News that border agents would use the same “rules of engagement” as U.S. forces in Iraq or police officers to determine when they should fire a weapon at someone.

DeSantis first proposed his border policy in June, saying he would “stop the invasion” by deputizing state and local police officers to arrest and deport migrants and detain unaccompanied children who cross the border, ending birthright citizenship, and empowering agents to use deadly force against people suspected of carrying drugs across the border—despite the fact that the vast majority of drug trafficking is carried out with commercial vehicles that travel through official ports of entry rather than people traveling on foot.

Continue reading
Share Button

More Proof of FBI Abuse Sparks Calls for Congress to Stop Warrantless Spying

“Government self-policing will never be an adequate substitute for the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement,” said one expert as U.S. lawmakers consider whether to reauthorize or reform Section 702.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 7-22-2023 by Common Dreams

FBI Director Christopher Wray discusses the importance of lawful access during an October 4, 2019 summit on the issue at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: FBI

Privacy advocates renewed calls for swift congressional action to rein in warrantless spying on Americans following the Friday release of documents showing U.S. law enforcement’s further misuse of a powerful surveillance tool.

“These disturbing new revelations show how Section 702 surveillance, a spy program the government claims is focused on foreign adversaries, is routinely used against Americans, immigrants, and people who are not accused of any wrongdoing,” said Patrick Toomey, deputy director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, in a statement.

Continue reading
Share Button

Nebraska Teen Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail After Self-Managed Abortion

The case of Celeste Burgess illustrates “the real, human cost of mass surveillance of everyone’s private digital communications,” said one digital rights advocate.

By Julia Conley. Published 7-21-2023 by Common Dreams

Protestors in front of the Supreme Court on June 24, the day of Roe v. Wade’s overturn.. Photo: Ted Eytan/CC

Advocates for digital privacy rights and reproductive rights alike were outraged Thursday over the jail sentence of a 19-year-old in Nebraska who self-managed her abortion last year—a case which one campaigner said highlights how prosecutors will “stretch laws far beyond their intended scope” to penalize people who end or attempt to end their pregnancies in the post-Roe v. Wade legal landscape.

Self-managed abortion is only banned in two states—Nevada and South Carolina—but prosecutors charged Celeste Burgess with one felony and two misdemeanors last year, several months after she had a stillbirth at 29 weeks of pregnancy. Burgess, who was 17 at the time, had procured pills for a medication abortion shortly before the stillbirth, and had discussed the outcome of the pregnancy on Facebook Messenger with her mother, Jessica Burgess.

Continue reading
Share Button

US Bill to Protect Reporters From Exploitative State Spying Heads to House Floor

“Journalists must be able to freely report on government actions without fear the government will compel them to reveal their sources,” said one campaigner.

By Julia Conley. Published 7-19-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Roger H. Goun/CC

Privacy and First Amendment advocates on Wednesday urged the U.S. House to pass legislation that would protect the United States’ bedrock freedoms and a core tenet of journalism: the right of reporters to guard the identities of their sources.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying (PRESS) Act with bipartisan support, despite claims in recent months by Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that the legislation would “immunize journalists and leakers alike from scrutiny and consequences for their actions.”

Continue reading
Share Button

State Spying Poses ‘Roadblock’ for Interstate Seekers of Abortion, Transgender Care: Report

“Digital surveillance data makes profiling easy and suggests that travel data will be weaponized to identify new targets for healthcare prosecutions and investigations.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 7-18-2023 by Common Dreams

Automated license plate reader (ALPR/LPR) cameras scan license plates of cars crossing into Pensacola Beach, Florida. Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/CC

A report published Tuesday details how digital surveillance can be used by police and prosecutors to criminalize patients seeking abortion and gender-affirming healthcare outside their home states.

The report—entitled Roadblock to Care: Barriers to Out-of-State Travel for Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care—was authored by the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), a New York-based privacy and civil rights group. The publication comes as Republican-controlled state legislatures pass a wave of abortion and gender-affirming healthcare bans, forcing people seeking such care to travel out of state.

Continue reading
Share Button