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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 ‘Fourth Amendment’ Category

    Wired: Virginia Police Have Been Secretively Stockpiling Private Phone Records

    Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

    Wired reports on a troubling database of private phone records created by Virginia police, the Hampton Roads Telephone Analysis Sharing Network:

    The database, which affects unknown numbers of people, contains phone records that at least five police agencies in southeast Virginia have been collecting since 2012 and sharing with one another with little oversight. Some of the data appears to have been obtained by police from telecoms using only a subpoena, rather than a court order or probable-cause warrant. Other information in the database comes from mobile phones seized from suspects during an arrest.

    The five cities participating in the program, known as the Hampton Roads Telephone Analysis Sharing Network, are Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Suffolk, according to the memorandum of understanding that established the database. The effort is being led in part by the Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, which is responsible for a “telephone analysis room” in the city of Hampton, where the database is maintained. [...] Read more »

    Update: DNI Releases Interim Progress Report on Implementing PPD-28

    Monday, October 20th, 2014

    To recap: There has been considerable controversy about the privacy and civil liberties implications of the bulk telephone data collection program revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (He revealed several surveillance programs by the agency.) The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (created by President Obama in August after the Snowden revelations) issued a report (archive pdf) recommending against the telephone call record database. Recently, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent oversight agency within the executive branch, released a report (archive pdf) on the NSA’s surveillance program that collects telephone records in bulk saying the NSA surveillance program is illegal and should be ended. Federal judges have issued conflicting rulings on the surveillance program. In January, Obama announced reforms and proposed changes to the NSA surveillance programs, including the call record database surveillance program. Obama also issued a “Presidential Policy Directive, PPD-28,” (pdf) concerning signals intelligence activities.

    Now, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued an interim progress report (DNI pdf; archive pdf) on implementing PPD-28. In an announcement, Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Alexander W. Joel, civil liberties protection officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the report “articulates key principles for agencies to incorporate in their policies and procedures, including some which afford protections that go beyond those explicitly outlined in PPD-28. These principles include the following: Ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are integral considerations in signals intelligence activities.”

    Intelligence Squared: Debate on constitutionality of mass collection of phone records

    Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

    A recent Intelligence Squared podcast debate included experts discussing whether the mass collection of phone records by the National Security Agency violates the Fourth Amendment. (This was a surveillance program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The program has faced considerable criticism from the public and federal legislators.) The experts are: Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project; Elizabeth Wydra, Chief Counsel, Constitutional Accountability Center; Stewart Baker, former Assistant Secretary, Homeland Security & former General Counsel, NSA; and John Yoo, Professor of Law, UC Berkeley & former Justice Department lawyer. The moderator is John Donvan, Author & Correspondent for ABC News.

    Here’s the blurb on the podcast:

    Some say that the mass collection of U.S. phone records is a gross invasion of privacy. Others say that it is necessary to keep us safe. But what does the U.S. Constitution say? “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Is collection of phone records a “search” or “seizure”? If so, is it “unreasonable”? Does it require a particularized warrant and probable cause? These are among the most consequential—and controversial—constitutional questions of our time.

    NSA Releases Second Transparency Report

    Thursday, October 9th, 2014

    The National Security Agency, which has faced considerable criticism from the public and lawmakers since revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden concerning the agency’s broad surveillance programs, recently released its second transparency report.

     The document focuses on the civil liberties and privacy protection practices of NSA in the course of targeted signals intelligence activities under Executive Order 12333. Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), the widely accepted framework of defining principles used by federal agencies to evaluate how systems, processes, or programs impact individual privacy, were used as the basis for assesssment.

    The report details numerous efforts designed to protect civil liberties and privacy protections in six of the eight FIPPs (Purpose Specification; Data Minimization; Use Limitation; Data Quality and Integrity; Security; and Accountability and Auditing). These protections are underpinned by NSA’s enterprise activities, documented compliance program, and investments in people, training, tools and technology. Read more »

    Los Angeles Times: Growing use of police body cameras raises privacy concerns

    Monday, September 29th, 2014

    The Los Angeles Times reports that local police departments nationwide are increasingly attaching body cameras to officers. This has raised privacy and civil liberties questions. The Times reports:

    The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, along with police in New York, Chicago and Washington, have launched pilot programs to test cameras for wider deployment.

    But equipping police with such devices also raises new and unsettled issues over privacy at a time when many Americans have been critical of the kind of powerful government surveillance measures that technology has made possible.

    For many departments, questions remain about when officers should be allowed to turn off such cameras — especially in cases involving domestic violence or rape victims — and the extent to which video could be made public. [...] Read more »

    Opinion at Guardian (UK): Privacy technology everyone can use would make us all more secure

    Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

    In an opinion column at the Guardian, Cory Doctorow discusses the need for privacy-protective technology that is easy for the general public to use:

    Internet privacy tools have an unfortunate but well-deserved reputation for being technically difficult and bothersome. There’s a persistent story that says that there is an intrinsic, irreducible complexity to the problem of keeping your communications from being snooped on and keeping your data from leaking that makes it the exclusive domain of spies and the professionally paranoid.

    I don’t believe it. I think that the real reason that privacy is so user-unfriendly is that the case for privacy is intensely technical. [...]

    You don’t need to be a technical expert to understand privacy risks anymore. [...]

    The time has come to create privacy tools for normal people – people with a normal level of technical competence. That is, all of us, no matter what our level of technical expertise, need privacy. Some privacy measures do require extraordinary technical competence; if you’re Edward Snowden, with the entire NSA bearing down on your communications, you will need to be a real expert to keep your information secure. But the kind of privacy that makes you immune to mass surveillance and attacks-of-opportunity from voyeurs, identity thieves and other bad guys is attainable by anyone. Read more »