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Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"


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    Archive for the ‘Civil liberties’ Category

    Pre-release Version of PCLOB Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

    The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, has published a pre-release version of its “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (PCLOB pdf; archive pdf). The board says: “Although the report will not become official and the final version will not be posted until after the Board votes on July 2nd, this pre-release copy is now available for members of the press (with no embargo) and the public to preview the Board’s findings and recommendations.” The board is set to vote tomorrow at a 10 a.m. meeting that members of the public can attend. More info on the meeting is here. The report was released less than an hour ago, so I haven’t had a chance to review it, but I will soon and set out my thoughts.

    Op-Ed at USA Today: Student privacy should be a priority

    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

    Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour writes about student privacy rights in an opinion column for USA Today:

    Debates about the relationship between privacy and personal liberty have come to a head in the past year, with legitimate arguments being made by folks from across the political spectrum. But when it comes to school children, some things should be non-negotiable. Student privacy should be protected, and companies should not be raiding kids’ records to make a buck. [...]

    It seems as if every day there’s a new story about hacking, data breaches, or major online security flaws that put students’ personal information at risk. Read more »

    U.S. Supreme Court: Warrants Needed to Search Cellphones After Arrest

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Riley v. California (court pdf; archive pdf) that the police need search warrants to search individuals’ cellphones after their arrest, which is a substantial victory for privacy rights. (Note: This decision is issued for two cases – Riley v. California, No. 13-132, and United States v. Wurie, No. 13-212. Riley concerned two searches of a smartphone after David Riley was arrested, and Wurie concerned the search of a flip phone after Brima Wurie was arrested.) Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for eight of the justices. Justice Samuel Alito joined in the judgment, but he wrote a separate concurrence.

    In the opinion, Justice Roberts noted that cellphones, “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy” and “Cell phones, however, place vast quantities of personal information literally in the hands of individuals.” He explained, “[W]e generally determine whether to exempt a given type of search from the warrant requirement ‘by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.’” In this case, the justices found that individual privacy trumped government interests.

    Read more »

    National Journal: Privacy Groups Sound the Alarm Over FBI’s Facial-Recognition Technology

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    The National Journal reports that privacy organizations are asking the Department of Justice to consider the privacy implications for the FBI’s controversial facial-recognition technology database, which will soon be fully operational:

    More than 30 privacy and civil-liberties groups are asking the Justice Department to complete a long-promised audit of the FBI’s facial-recognition database.

    The groups argue the database, which the FBI says it uses to identify targets, could pose privacy risks to every American citizen because it has not been properly vetted, possesses dubious accuracy benchmarks, and may sweep up images of ordinary people not suspected of wrongdoing.

    In a joint letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others warn that an FBI facial-recognition program “has undergone a radical transformation” since its last privacy review six years ago. That lack of recent oversight “raises serious privacy and civil-liberty concerns,” the groups contend. [...]

    The Next Generation Identification program—a biometric database that includes iris scans and palm prints along with facial recognition—is scheduled to become fully operational later this year and has not undergone a rigorous privacy litmus test—known as a Privacy Impact Assessment—since 2008, despite pledges from government officials. Read more »

    Wired: Emails Show Feds Asking Florida Cops to Deceive Judges

    Friday, June 20th, 2014

    Wired reports on new documents found through a Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU that have implications for individual privacy:

    Police in Florida have, at the request of the U.S. Marshals Service, been deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of a controversial surveillance tool to track suspects, according to newly obtained emails.

    At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect’s location from a “confidential source” rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray.

    series of five emails (.pdf) written in April, 2009, were obtained today by the American Civil Liberties Union showing police officials discussing the deception. The organization has filed Freedon of Information Act requests with police departments throughout Florida seeking information about their use of stingrays. [...]

    The U.S. Marshals Service did not respond to a call for comment. Read more »

    Center for Investigative Reporting: Privacy, accuracy concerns as license-plate readers expand

    Thursday, June 19th, 2014

    The Center for Investigative Reporting looks into privacy questions concerning the use of license-plate readers:

    [Today,] the use of license-plate readers has emerged as one of the biggest concerns among privacy advocates. Car-tracking technology is becoming ubiquitous in cities around the United States, and the types of data collected and analyzed with the help of license-plate readers is expanding into other realms of personal information.

    Documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting show that a leading maker of license-plate readers wants to merge the vehicle identification technology with other sources of identifying information. Vigilant Solutions is pushing a system that eventually could help fuse public records, license plates and facial recognition databases for police in the field.

    The Livermore company released facial recognition software last year for use in stationary and mobile devices. The technology uses algorithms to determine whether a person’s face matches that of someone in a law enforcement database. Like license-plate readers, privacy advocates say, the technology can make incorrect identifications that ensnare innocent people. Read more »