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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Injunction against metadata collection reversed by U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit

EFF – “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s opinion [August 28, 2015] in Klayman v. Obama is highly disappointing and, worse, based on a mistaken concern about the underlying facts. The court said that since the plaintiffs’ phone service was provided by one subsidiary of Verizon—Verizon Wireless—rather than another—Verizon Business—they couldn’t prove that they had standing to sue. The court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to give the Klayman plaintiffs an opportunity to prove that their records were in fact collected. The appeals court did not rule one way or the other of the constitutionality of the mass collection program. As an initial matter, recent releases by the government make clear that the plaintiffs’ records were in fact collected. Earlier this month, in response to a Freedom of Information request from the New York Times, the government released documents confirming that it does indeed collect bulk telephone records from Verizon Wireless under Section 215. Specifically, the formally-released documents reference orders to Verizon Wireless as of September 29, 2010, when they had to report a problem to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This should mean that the plaintiffs records were collected, at least as of 2010, but likely long before and after. The government should give up its shell game here and admit the time frame that it collected the Klayman plaintiffs records, along with all other Verizon Wireless customers. But more importantly, the government’s telephone records collection was, by design, a mass collection program. Famously, then NSA Director Keith Alexander told Congress that “you need the haystack to find the needle.” Admittedly then, the records of millions of innocent Americans were collected.”

Continued Bipartisan Support for Expanded Background Checks on Gun Sales

“Two years after the failure of Senate legislation to expand background checks on gun purchases, the public continues to overwhelmingly support making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. Currently, 85% of Americans – including large majorities of Democrats (88%) and Republicans (79%) – favor expanded background checks, little changedContinue Reading

Census Data Used For Comprehensive Visualization of Segregation in American Cities

Wired – “This is the most comprehensive map of race in America ever created [by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service]. White people are shown with blue dots; African-Americans with green; Asians with red; and Latinos with orange, with all other race categories from the Census represented by brown.Continue Reading

Thousands of Americans cannot make bail each year and end up in jail

The Bail Trap, Nick Pinto, New York Times Magazine, August 15, 2015 “Criminal justice,” President Obama said in a speech to the N.A.A.C.P. last month, “is not as fair as it should be. Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it.” Two days after the speech, Obama becameContinue Reading

Review Federal Agencies on Yelp

Yelp Official Blog: “We are excited to announce that Yelp has concluded an agreement with the federal government that will allow federal agencies and offices to claim their Yelp pages, read and respond to reviews, and incorporate that feedback into service improvements. We encourage Yelpers to review any of the thousands of agency field offices,Continue Reading

CRS – National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations

National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background, Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law. July 31, 2015. “Five federal statutes authorize intelligence officials to request certain business record information in connection with national security investigations. The authority to issue these national security letters (NSLs) is comparable to theContinue Reading

Apple releases new diversity report

Apple’s Diversity Report still highlights a staff of employees that are 54% white and 69% male: “Our most recently filed Federal Employer Information Report EEO-1 is available for download here, representing employees as of July 2014. We will make the 2015 EEO-1 available when we file it with the federal government. We make these documentsContinue Reading

Another Snowden Reveal – Telecom Giant Provides Massive Data Pipeline to NSA

NYT and ProPublica investigative reports: “The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newlyContinue Reading

Central American Deportation Cases Dominate U.S. Immigration Courts

“Persons from Central America continue to outnumber those from Mexico when DHS seeks deportation orders in Immigration Court, according to the latest government data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). During the first ten months of fiscal year 2015, 42 percent of DHS filings involved individuals from Central America, primarily Guatemala, El SalvadorContinue Reading

Reducing Mass Incarceration Requires Far-Reaching Reforms

The Prison Population Forecaster – Ryan King, Bryce Peterson, Brian Elderbroom, and Elizabeth Pelletier – “Roughly 2.2 million people are locked up in prison or jail; 7 million are under correctional control, which includes parole and probation; and more than $80 billion is spent on corrections every year. Research has shown that policy changes overContinue Reading

Court moves mass internet surveillance case one step forward

EFF – Cindy Cohn:  “NSA Spying: Government’s Latest Delay Tactic Fails The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today rejected the government’s latest attempt to delay consideration of whether the NSA’s tapping into the Internet backbone is legal in Jewel v. NSA, clearing the path for the first appellate court decision onContinue Reading

GAO Report – Facial Recognition Technology

Facial Recognition Technology: Commercial Uses, Privacy Issues, and Applicable Federal Law, GAO-15-621: Published: Jul 30, 2015. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 2015. “Facial recognition technology can be used in numerous consumer and business applications, but the extent of its current use in commercial settings is not fully known. The technology is commonly used in software thatContinue Reading