Tag Archives: mass surveillance

Unwarranted/Restore the Fourth Thanksgiving Newsletter: Action 1: Call on IBM to not bid on “extreme vetting” software contract

From their website, Restore The Fourth is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, dedicated to restoring the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and ending unconstitutional mass government surveillance.

rfIn the wake of the Snowden revelations of June 2013, and initially on Reddit, groups began meeting across the United States, under the banner of “Restore The Fourth”. Under our first National Chair (Anna Wilmesher, summer 2013), we coordinated protests for July 4 and for Orwell Day. Under our second National Chair (Ben Doernberg, fall 2013), we helped organize the nationwide Stopwatching.us protests, culminating in a rally of thousands in Washington DC. Under Alex Marthews (2014-), our focus has shifted more towards legislative advocacy and public education, particularly around sunsetting the legal authorities underlying mass government surveillance.

Please visit their website for more information, and read their newsletters here. Reproduced here is part of their 11/22/2017 newsletter which landed in my inbox earlier today–with some rather interesting news and action items. You can join them–“If you’d like to join, or help start a chapter of Restore The Fourth, please get in touch!”

–Ramola D/11/22/2017

Unwarranted/Issue 4–Excerpt:

Appropriately, our main call this week is to protect immigrants from the kind of digital “extreme vetting” that none of us could well sustain. A new, Senate version of the USA Liberty Act was released; we filed two amicus briefs at the Supreme Court; and the Pentagon leaked evidence of its mass internet surveillance through an unsecured upload to Amazon’s cloud.

Action 1: Call on IBM to not bid on “extreme vetting” software contract

ICE is stepping up automated “extreme vetting” of immigrants, and companies like IBM are interested in powering it. As conceived of by this administration, “extreme vetting” would include requiring visa applicants to provide consular officers with extensive information about their online presence, such as their social media handles. An automatic screening system will continuously analyze a multitude of databases, including those containing social media information, to evaluate such subjective characteristics as whether a traveler is likely to “becom[e] a positively contributing member of society.” If you’re not comfortable with IBM, or other large companies, bidding to become the gatekeepers of who is “likely to become a positively contributing member of society”, sign this petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/dont-build-trumps-deportation-machine. And remember: Just as is happening with facial recognition software at airports, what gets applied to foreign nationals today will be applied to US nationals tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving!

Action 2: This week’s specific asks on 702 surveillance

This week’s asks are as follows, and luckily work for Representatives and for Senators.
– Cosponsor the USA RIGHTS Act (H.R. 4124 / S. 1997)
– Oppose the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (S. 2012)
– Oppose the inclusion of any 702 reauthorization provisions in an end-of-year omnibus spending bill

For Senators in particular, please also ask them to cosponsor and work to strengthen the Senate version of the USA Liberty Act (no bill number yet, introduced by Sen. Leahy and Sen. Lee).

It may be surprising to take a relatively favorable stance towards the Senate version of USA Liberty. RT4-Boston has a longer legislative analysis up at https://warrantless.org/2017/11/section-702-thanksgiving-week/ that goes into our thinking in more detail, and specifies what to recommend about Senate USA Liberty.

For background on how the debate is progressing, try https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/17/senators-propose-usa-liberty-act-to-reauthorize-nsa-surveillan/ and https://www.emptywheel.net/2017/11/17/nsas-touchy-feely-fluff-on-title-vii-target/.

Action 3: Inspirational State and Local Legislation

Activists around the country have some good new ideas that can inspire us to do the same in our own communities. In NH, a new bill would opt the state’s police departments entirely out of the 1033 program that enables police departments to procure military surplus equipment, including armored vehicles and surveillance cameras: http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2017/11/under-proposal-new-hampshire-would-opt-out-of-federal-program-that-militarizes-local-police/. In NYC, City Councilman James Vacca is introducing a useful algorithmic transparency measure: http://cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/new-york-city/making-new-york-city-algorithms-public.html#.WhRnzUqnGCo

What’s New at RT4-National?

Our activists’ check-in calls happen on the Fourth of every month (next one December 4, 9pm Eastern; call in to (650) 285-1763 [no code]).

It’s been a busy week for us, what with tax filings and amicus brief filings. You can find our new briefs here: Collins v. Virginia, Byrd v. United States; congratulations to Mahesha, Vivek and the students at Harvard’s Cyberlaw Clinic for their assistance. Also, check out our new “Privacy Patriots” podcast episode: http://www.privacypatriots.org/2017/11/episode-8-tracy-rosenberg/. We’re still looking for new board members (email rt4chair@protonmail.com if interested; minority or female candidates especially welcome), and we’ll be starting our winter fundraiser next week. If you think we’re doing good work, please give generously!

What’s New with RT4 Chapters?

RT4-Boston / Digital Fourth followed up from the November elections by reaching out to newly elected local and state officials to talk with them about surveillance.
RT4-SF Bay Area worked on reducing Oakland PD’s cooperation with ICE, advocated successfully with the City of Berkeley to secure greater oversight of 1033 military surplus equipment acquisitions, and pushed to preserve net neutrality.
RT4-Pittsburgh highlighted, among other things, the fascinating new findings from the Snowden files at https://decipheryou.com/2017/10/24/analysing-the-snowden-sidtoday-files-part-three/.
RT4-Susquehanna Valley advocated against autonomous killer robots. You’d think it would be a given for most people, but, #2017, I guess.
The subreddit covered major surveillance news, but also enjoyed an argument over the Wisconsin Senate’s vote to call for a constitutional convention: https://www.reddit.com/r/restorethefourth/comments/7dc9yo/with_senate_vote_wisconsin_joins_call_for/

News Roundup: National

(a) The Pentagon used Amazon Web Services to store billions of public internet posts and news commentary from Department of Defense intelligence-gathering operations, which were then stored insecurely, enabling them to be leaked: https://www.upguard.com/breaches/cloud-leak-centcom. With impeccable timing, Amazon just announced its special cloud offering for intelligence services, “Amazon Web Services – Secret Region”. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/20/amazon-launches-aws-secret-region.html

(b The J20 protesters, and why they threaten the establishment more than the white supremacist protesters, even though the prosecution has already told the jury there was no evidence suggesting any of the J20 defendants personally engaged in property destruction: http://therealnews.com/t2/story:20397:Empire-Files%3A-Trump-Expands-Police-State-Crackdown-on-the-Left

(c) Oh, so we’re in it for the money! Big Oil brings RICO allegation that Greenpeace and others collude to make trouble at pipeline protests, so that they can get more donations. https://theintercept.com/2017/11/15/dakota-access-pipeline-dapl-tigerswan-energy-transfer-partners-rico-lawsuit/

(d) The Shadow Brokers’ publication of tools has shaken and undermined the NSA, and has compounded the problems of data breaches: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/12/us/nsa-shadow-brokers.html

(e) Is Silicon Valley building the infrastructure for a police state? A great video from Reason Magazine: http://reason.com/reasontv/2017/11/10/artificial-intelligence-and-the-surveill

(f) Do people care about government surveillance? https://www.lawfareblog.com/public-not-fussed-about-surveillance-state-confidence-intelligence-community-and-its-authorities presents some survey evidence that they don’t really, with a response from https://www.lawfareblog.com/alternative-conclusion-response-lawfares-google-survey-results-surveillance-state.

(g) Planning on passing through your local governmental identification center this Thanksgiving? TSA will be gathering your data: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/11/tsa-plans-use-face-recognition-track-americans-through-airports, but will likely not be very good at using it to improve security: http://abcnews.go.com/US/tsa-fails-tests-latest-undercover-operation-us-airports/story?id=51022188.

(h) A reflection on how Section 230 keeps the Internet healthy: https://www.law.com/therecorder/sites/therecorder/2017/11/10/cda-230-then-and-now-does-intermediary-immunity-keep-the-rest-of-us-healthy/

Please visit Restore the Fourth online and their newsletter archive for the rest of this newsletter. Thanks to Restore the Fourth for their great work.