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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities

“San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in partnership with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, today launched the largest-ever collection of searchable data on police use of surveillance technologies, created as a tool for the public to learn about facial recognition, drones, license plate readers, and other devices law enforcement agencies are acquiring to spy on our communities.  The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally.  Users can search for information by clicking on regions, towns, and cities, such as Minneapolis, Tampa, or Tucson, on a U.S. map. They can also easily perform text searches by typing the names of cities, counties, or states on a search page that displays text results. The Atlas also allows people to search by specific technologies, which can show how surveillance tools are spreading across the country…”

Report on Veterans Affairs Use of Laboratory Dogs Concludes Diminished Requirement

“For many years, laboratory dogs have served as important animal models for biomedical research that has advanced human health. Conducted at the request of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this report assesses whether laboratory dogs are or will continue to be necessary for biomedical research related to the VA’s mission. The report concludes… Continue Reading

Alexa, are you listening?

Information Technology and Libraries – An exploration of smart voice assistant use and privacy in libraries: “Smart voice assistants have expanded from personal use in the home to applications in public services and educational spaces. The library and information science (LIS) trade literature suggests that libraries are part of this trend, however there is a… Continue Reading

Majority of Public Favors Giving Civilians the Power to Sue Police Officers for Misconduct

“With legislation to address racism and the use of excessive force by law enforcement stalled in Congress, there is broad public support in the United States for permitting citizens to sue police officers in order to hold them accountable for misconduct or using excessive force. The legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” generally protects officers from… Continue Reading

China’s Great Firewall descends on Hong Kong internet users

The Guardian: “At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of a contentious new national security law, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech and force internet service providers to hand… Continue Reading

The COVID Racial Data Tracker

“The COVID Racial Data Tracker advocates for, collects, publishes, and analyzes racial data on the pandemic across the United States. It’s a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. This project began when Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research, wrote a series… Continue Reading

Audit Finds Facebook’s Decisions Were ‘Setbacks for Civil Rights

The New York Times – “An independent audit faulted the social network for allowing hate speech and disinformation to thrive — potentially posing a threat to the November elections. Auditors handpicked by Facebook to examine its policies said that the company had not done enough to protect people on the platform from discriminatory posts and… Continue Reading

Programs to Collect Data on Law Enforcement Activities: Overview and Issues

CRS report via LC – Programs to Collect Data on Law Enforcement Activities: Overview and Issues, July 6, 2020: “The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN,while he was in the custody of law enforcement, and several other recent high-profile deaths of African Americans at the hands of police,have generated interest in legislation to reform… Continue Reading

A Plan to Make Police Data Open Source Started on Reddit

Wired – “…For years, researchers, journalists, and activists have turned to official records, from incident reports to misconduct complaints, as one window into police behavior in the United States. “The problem is that all of this data, although it’s public, is buried inside of these really crappy or antiquated public records portals,” says Kristin Tynski.… Continue Reading

Teachers face threats, books are banned as China pushes party line in Hong Kong schools

Washington Post: “As China’s Communist Party dismantles Hong Kong’s freedoms, teachers are facing pressure to toe Beijing’s line. Schools are emerging as ideological battlegrounds as officials seek to transform freethinking students into patriots loyal to the motherland through punishment, coercion, surveillance and propaganda-style education. “I feel like we have suddenly been put on the front… Continue Reading

How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance

MIT Technology Review – “Facebook and Twitter might have the bells and whistles, but the word processing software’s simplicity and accessibility have made it a winning tool… In just the last week, Google Docs has emerged as a way to share everything from lists of books on racism to templates for letters to family members… Continue Reading