Police Without Warrants Searched Low Income Housing

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By Llowell Williams for Care2. Longmont, CO – Though the United States strives to realize justice and equality for all Americans, it is an unfortunate truth that when it comes to people of lower socioeconomic status, the reality is often far short of that. A rather stark example of this was recently exposed in the Colorado town of Longmont, a community located north of Boulder and Denver. In Colorado, landlords have the legal right to conduct inspections and perform maintenance on their rental units provided they issue a notice beforehand. In Longmont, however, management for low income housing took this right too far, resulting in the gross violation of tenants’ constitutionally guaranteed civil rights. In one such notice issued by the Longmont Housing Authority, as provided by a renter to NBC affiliate KUSA, a renter was told their apartment would be undergoing an inspection that would include a police officer and a drug-sniffing dog.

NYPD Sued Over Facial Recognition Program

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By Ava Kofman for the Intercept. Researchers at Georgetown University law school filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the New York City Police Department for the agency’s refusal to disclose documents about its longstanding use of face recognition technology. The NYPD’s face recognition system, which has operated in the department’s Real Time Crime Center since at least 2011, allows officers to identify a suspect by searching against databases of stored facial photos. Records pertaining to the NYPD’s program were requested in January 2016 by researchers at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology as part of The Perpetual Line-Up, a year-long study on law enforcement uses of facial recognition technology. After receiving public records from more than 90 agencies across the country, the study found that one in every two American adults is enrolled in a criminal face recognition network and that “few agencies have instituted meaningful protections to prevent the misuse of the technology.”

First Hundred Days Of Human Rights Violations

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By Amie Stepanovich for Access Now. In the final years of the Obama Administration, we frequently took issue with the negative impact the administration’s actions were having on our human rights, tackling issues from surveillance to encryption and beyond. However, nothing we saw then could have prepared us for what we have witnessed in the first few months of 2017. Simply put, when President Trump hits the 100th day benchmark on Saturday, April 29, he and his administration will have taken — or prepared to take — a series of actions with massive negative consequences for human rights all around the globe, some of which will darken the U.S. human rights record for generations to come. Below we detail five that are related to our mission of defending and extending the digital rights of users at risk, and describe what we’re doing to fight back.

Cybersecurity For The People

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By Micah Lee and Lauren Feeney for The Intercept. Planning on going to a protest? You might not be aware that just by showing up, you can open yourself up to certain privacy risks — police often spy on protesters, and the smartphones they carry, and no matter how peaceful the demonstration, there’s always a chance that you could get detained or arrested, and your devices could get searched. Watch this video for tips on how to prepare your phone before you go to a protest, how to safely communicate with your friends and document the event, and what to do if you get detained or arrested. This is the first in a new series of videos I’m hosting called Cybersecurity for the People. In future videos we’ll dive into topics such as encrypted messaging apps, password management, and how to become a whistleblower.

Eight Senators Demand Internet Privacy Rules From Internet Providers

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By Dell Cameron for The Daily Dot – On Monday, President Donald Trump signed the resolution into law, formally repealing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that were designed to prevent internet service providers (ISPs), such AT&T and Comcast, from packaging and selling consumer data, including the web browsing behavior of their customers. “The Republican-controlled Congress wants broadband companies to use and sell sensitive information about Americans’ health, finances, and even children without consent,” wrote Markey, a Democrat, in a statement last week. “The big broadband behemoths and their Republican allies have fired their opening salvo in the war on net neutrality, and broadband privacy protections are the first victim.”

Trump Move To Kill Privacy Rules Opposed By 72% Of Republicans

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By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – President Donald Trump yesterday signed the repeal of online privacy rules that would have limited the ability of ISPs to share or sell customers’ browsing history for advertising purposes, confirming action taken by the Senate and House. This was very much a partisan issue among elected officials. In a 50-48 vote, every Republican senator voted to kill privacy rules and every Democratic senator voted to preserve them. The House vote was 215-205, with 15 Republicans breaking ranks in order to support the privacy rules. But ordinary Americans aren’t split on the issue, according to a Huffington Post/YouGov survey that found 72 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats opposed the rollback.

How To Protest In Trump’s Expanded Surveillance State

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By Sally Adee for New Scientist. WELCOME to the new normal. Even before Donald Trump was elected, the US was already in a “golden age of surveillance“. As Edward Snowden revealed in 2013, the US government’s surveillance powers had expanded dramatically under the Obama administration. Trump has repeatedly signalled that he intends to make much greater use of these capabilities – perhaps inspired by British legislation that has given the UK government unprecedented power to snoop on its citizens. In both cases, such powers were ostensibly introduced to combat terrorism. But there’s very little evidence that greater spying powers actually catch terrorists, many of whom already know how to evade spooks. On the other hand, there is mounting concern among privacy advocates and human rights campaigners that such powers will stifle domestic dissent and enable political witch-hunts.

US Government Quietly Starts Asking Travelers For Social Media Accounts

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)

By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – 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.

Walking Tour Of New York's Massive Surveillance Network

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By Cora Currier for The Intercept. New York City – Earlier this month, on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the lower tip of Manhattan was thronged with soldiers in uniform, firefighters marching with photos of lost friends pinned to their backpacks, and tourists bumbling around the new mall at the World Trade Center. Firetrucks and police cars ringed Zuccotti Park and white ribbons adorned the iron fence around the churchyard on Broadway. Trash cans were closed up, with signs announcing “temporary security lockdown.” So it felt a bit risky to be climbing up a street pole on Wall Street to closely inspect a microwave radar sensor, or to be lingering under a police camera, pointing and gesturing at the wires and antenna connected to it. Yet it was also entirely appropriate to be doing just that…

Popular Email Privacy Bills Derailed In Senate Again

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By Sam Sacks for The District Sentinel – For the second time in two weeks, legislation to update a thirty-year old digital privacy law was yanked from consideration by a Senate panel—a sign that the bill, which passed the House 419-0, is dead in the upper chamber. The ECPA Amendments Act was slated to be marked up and voted on in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but its co-sponsors withdraw the measure after fellow senators continued efforts to weigh it down with controversial amendments.

FBI Seeks To End Privacy Protections From Massive Biometrics Database

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By Jennifer Lynch for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Since 2008, the FBI has been assembling a massive database of biometric information on Americans. This database, called Next Generation Identification (NGI), includes fingerprints, face recognition, iris scans and palm prints—collected not just during arrests, but also from millions of Americans for non-criminal reasons like immigration, background checks, and state licensing requirements. NGI contains well over 100-million individual records that include multiple forms of biometric data as well as personal and biographic information. Although many people assume the FBI’s files only include fingerprints and other data associated with criminal activity, much of these records—nearly 50-million individual files—contain data collected for non-criminal purposes. Now the FBI wants to exempt this vast collection of data from basic requirements guaranteed under the federal Privacy Act—and it’s giving you only 21 business days to object. EFF, along with 44 other privacy, civil liberties, and immigrants’ rights organizations, sent a letter to the FBI demanding more time to respond.

Why You Should Care About The Coming Email Privacy Law

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By William Turton for Gizmodo – You probably think the US government needs a warrant if they want to dig through your old emails, texts, and instant messages, right? Well, you’re wrong! That may change soon with the Email Privacy Act, which was just passed in the House by a vote of 419 to 0. The law that currently governs how police can pry into your digital life is theElectronic Communications Privacy Act, which was originally passed in 1986.

FBI Quietly Changes Privacy Rules For Accessing NSA Data On Americans

FBI director James Comey, left, and director of national intelligence James Clapper at a House committee hearing last month. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

By Spencer Ackerman for The Guardian – The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans’ international communications that was collected by the National Security Agency, US officials have confirmed to the Guardian. The classified revisions were accepted by the secret US court that governs surveillance, during its annual recertification of the agencies’ broad surveillance powers. The new rules affect a set of powers colloquially known as Section 702, the portion of the law that authorizes the NSA’s sweeping “Prism” program to collect internet data.

40+ Cities Rally Tuesday Against FBI Over Apple Conflict

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Evan Greer for Fight For The Future. The FBI just got a judge to order Apple to create a backdoor into the iPhone — putting all of our safety at risk by exposing personal information to hackers, criminals, terrorists, and government spies. The FBI has been trying this for years, but now they’re exploiting the tragedy in San Bernardino to push their reckless agenda. Our basic safety and security is at stake. So on Tuesday, February 23rd we will gather at Apple stores nationwide with one simple message: “Don’t Break Our Phones!” This isn’t just about the iPhone, because once the government is able to order companies to unlock their devices and build in backdoors, none of our data will be safe, because courts will be able to issue similar orders for Androids, PCs, and every other device out there. Ultimately, breaking the security features of our phones puts all of our safety at risk. Once a backdoor is built, anyone who finds it can use it. That means it won’t only be used by governments or law enforcement. It’s only a matter of time until someone else finds it, enabling malicious hackers, foreign governments, terrorists, thieves and stalkers to use our data against us.

White House Executive Order On Privacy Falls Short

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By Shahid Buttar for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. February 9, 2016 – This morning, the White House announced an Executive Order establishing a federal interagency privacy council composed of senior privacy officials from two dozen federal agencies. While seeming to offer some promise, however, the council has a limited mandate, and ultimately represents an overdue nod to privacy principles the administration has repeatedly abused in practice. If the Obama administration wants to support privacy, it can start by finally offering straight answers to Congress on surveillance and intelligence practices that offend privacy. Instead, Congress has legislated surveillance policy in the dark while enduring a long series of executive misrepresentations.