A United States court held an extraordinary hearing on November 16, where a judge carefully considered a lawsuit against the CIA and former CIA director Mike Pompeo for their alleged role in spying on American attorneys and journalists who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Judge John Koeltl of the Southern District of New York pushed back when Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean-David Barnea refused to confirm or deny that the CIA had targeted Americans without obtaining a warrant. He also invited attorneys for the Americans to update the lawsuit so that claims of privacy violations explicitly dealt with the government’s lack of a warrant.
Next week, Congress plans to move a bill forward that is opposed by dozens of organizations, digital rights protectors, LGBTQ+ activists, and human rights defenders: the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). As we’ve written before, KOSA would lead to censorship and privacy invasions for all social media users. But the most impacted groups will be young people, who the bill purports to help by banishing to a second-class internet. What’s often been left out of the debate over KOSA is how young people feel about this. In fact, many teenagers already oppose the bill. Young TikTok users have been rallying one another to call and email legislators to push back on the bill, and videos describing what’s wrong with KOSA have received hundreds of thousands of views.
An attorney who worked with Minnesota Democrats to craft the new ‘Driver’s Licenses For All’ bill, recently signed into law, spoke to Unicorn Riot about the bill’s privacy provisions that reportedly prevent driver data from being shared with the feds. On March 2, the Democrat-controlled Minnesota state legislature passed the “Driver’s Licenses For All” bill, restoring driving privileges to all Minnesota residents regardless of immigration status. Democratic Governor Tim Walz signed the bill into law on March 7. This legislation comes after a 20-year struggle. In 2003, GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty unilaterally revoked the right of some Minnesotans to obtain a driver’s license by mandating proof of legal residency in the United States, such as a Social Security Number from applicants.
In 2014-15, a broad social movement won net neutrality, but that victory was taken away by the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, under the Trump administration. President Biden, promising to restore net neutrality, appointed a favorable chairperson, Gigi Sohn, but his administration and Democrats in Congress failed to defend her from a successful attack by the Telecommunications industry. Clearing the FOG speaks with Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, about the current campaign to push for a new FCC commissioner, what is behind the assault on Tik Tok, including a dangerous piece of legislation called the RESTRICT Act, and how corporations are using facial recognition technology for their own agendas.
The Central Intelligence Agency and former CIA director Mike Pompeo notified a federal court in New York that they intend to push for the dismissal of a lawsuit that alleges that they were involved in spying against attorneys and journalists who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy. Both the CIA and Pompeo maintain that the “allegations in the complaint do not establish a violation of the Fourth Amendment [right to privacy].” In August 2022, four Americans who visited Assange in the embassy sued the CIA and Pompeo in his individual capacity: Margaret Ratner Kunstler, a civil rights activist and human rights attorney; Deborah Hrbek, a media lawyer, represented Assange or WikiLeaks; journalist John Goetz, who worked for Der Spiegel when the German media organization first partnered with WikiLeaks; and journalist Charles Glass, who wrote articles on Assange for The Intercept.
In early February 2016, the security gate at a U.S. military base near Washington, D.C., swung open to admit a Navy doctor accompanying a pair of surprising visitors: two artificial intelligence scientists from Google. In a cavernous, temperature-controlled warehouse at the Joint Pathology Center, they stood amid stacks holding the crown jewels of the center’s collection: tens of millions of pathology slides containing slivers of skin, tumor biopsies and slices of organs from armed service members and veterans. Standing with their Navy sponsor behind them, the Google scientists posed for a photograph, beaming. Mostly unknown to the public, the trove and the staff who study it have long been regarded in pathology circles as vital national resources: Scientists used a dead soldier’s specimen that was archived here to perform the first genetic sequencing of the 1918 Flu.
From the outset, the gutting of Roe by Dobbs is so devastating for, of course, the constitutional reasons, that at one time, Roe codified and really affirmed that abortion was a basic right. Dobbs, in overruling that, overturning that, has laid open states to pick and choose whether they will allow abortion providers and individuals that kind of right. But we’re in a very different moment now in 2022 than we were in the 1970s, and that’s really because of the rise of the digital age. With it, as you mentioned in your opening, is that the Internet is our primary pathway for almost everyone, I think, to information, to healthcare to, you know, telehealth appointments. And so there are these huge questions now about how people will access both just information, and then who is going to have access to that data that we are all of us engaging in and creating a footprint for.
Defending Rights & Dissent (DRAD) is a national civil liberties organization founded in 1960 and based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to strengthen our participatory democracy by protecting the right to political expression. The right to free speech faces enumerable threats, but we have long identified FBI counterterrorism authorities as a significant detriment to the First Amendment. In 2019, we published a report, Still Spying: The Enduring Problem of FBI First Amendment Abuse, documenting FBI abuses of First Amendment rights since 2010. The overwhelming majority of abuses documented were carried out pursuant to counterterrorism authorities. More often than not, these were related to domestic terrorism, not international terrorism.
In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and the ouster of the Afghan national government, alarming reports indicate that the insurgents could potentially access biometric data collected by the U.S. to track Afghans, including people who worked for U.S. and coalition forces. Afghans who once supported the U.S. have been attempting to hide or destroy physical and digital evidence of their identities.
A US appeals court has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents can conduct in-depth searches of phones and laptops, overturning an earlier legal victory for civil liberties groups. First Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch declared that both basic and “advanced” searches, which include reviewing and copying data without a warrant, fall within “permissible constitutional grounds” at the American border. Lynch ruled against a group of US citizens and residents objecting to invasive searches of their electronic devices. The group includes Sidd Bikkannavar, a NASA scientist who was detained and pressured to unlock a secure government-issued phone.
Over the course of just a few decades, technology has come to play a role in nearly every single aspect of our lives. While there have been undeniable benefits to technological advances, one of the main concerns that has grown alongside its presence in daily life is how tech companies collect, use and profit from our data in ways we’re often unaware of. James Steyer, a professor at Stanford University and the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a leading consumer advocacy group that promotes safe media and technology for families, joins Robert Scheer on this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss how we can fight back against tech companies’ encroachments on our privacy.
We believe online privacy should be simple and accessible to everyone, period. With the introduction of privacy regulations worldwide, consumers are gaining more rights to limit the sale and sharing of their personal data. While this is a great idea in theory, it doesn't amount to much if it is hard for consumers to take advantage of their rights. At present, consumers must invoke most all online privacy rights manually, website by website. That's why we're proud to be a founding member of a new effort to create a simple browser-oriented setting for users to more easily express their preference for privacy, called Global Privacy Control (GPC).
Private prison company CoreCivic and communications company Securus Technologies agreed on Friday to pay $3.7 million to settle federal claims that they illegally recorded attorney-client conversations in a private pre-trial detention facility and shared those recordings with law enforcement and others. In 2016, a federal court in Missouri found that detention facilities including CoreCivic’s Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas had installed devices that could record communications between attorneys and detained clients, Law360 reported.
If we don’t fight back against the secretive surveillance state growing steadily around us, your wife/husband may find out you love a Cinnabon more than you love her/him. And that might be just the beginning of it. While many of us remain quarantined — inexorably welded to our home/apartment/RV in an abandoned Walmart parking lot — the surveillance state is actually stretching its legs, brought out for a run by our friendly neighborhood oligarchs like a young golden retriever let off its leash on a nice day. Unfortunately, in this case what it’s retrieving is all of our information, movements, thoughts and desires. Right now violations of American’s privacy rights do not hold many people’s attention. We’re too busy adapting to a new, confusing, and anxiety-filled form of existence.