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Tag: privacy

Supreme Court Will Hear Data Privacy Issue Between DOJ and Microsoft

depositphotos_61179679_m-2015

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department continues to do battle  over privacy.

Kate Conger of GIZMODO writes:

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a critical case over data privacy, the outcome of which will likely determine how easily law enforcement can gain access to information stored in tech companies’ overseas data centers. Microsoft will go head-to-head with the Justice Department, arguing that the agency cannot use a warrant to collect emails held in Microsoft’s Ireland data center.

In 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, asserting that a 1986 law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), was not intended to grant law enforcement access to internationally-stored data. The Justice Department says that this ruling has hampered its investigative abilities in the digital age. In asking the Supreme Court to consider the case, the Justice Department argued that “hundreds if not thousands” of investigations into terrorism and child pornography “are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence.”

Other Stories of Interest 

 

Congress Slams FBI’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology Software

Rep. Elijah Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Democrats and Republicans in Congress slammed the FBI’s use of facial recognition software, saying it relies on racial biases, leads to the arrests of innocent people and violates privacy.

NBC reports that more than 400 million pictures of Americans’ faces are archived in various facial recognition networks, representing about half of all U.S. adults.

“I have zero confidence in the FBI and the [Justice Department], frankly, to keep this in check,” Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Massachusetts, said at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Regulation.

“This is really Nazi Germany here, what we’re talking about,” Lynch said. “And I see little difference in the way people are being tracked under this, just getting one wide net and getting information on all American citizens.”

Rep. John Duncan, R-Tennessee, added: “I think we’re reaching a very sad point, a very dangerous point, when we’re doing away with the reasonable expectation of privacy about anything.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said facial recognition software is less accurate at identifying people with dark skin, women and younger people.

“If you’re black, you’re more likely to be subjected to this technology,” said Cummings, who is black. “And the technology is more likely to be wrong. That’s a hell of a combination, especially when you’re talking about subjecting someone to the criminal justice system.”

ACLU Urges Justice Department to Investigate Use of Facial Recognition Technology

FBI-facial-recognitionBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ACLU is urging the Justice Department to investigate the use of facial recognition technology to determine whether it violates the rights of millions of Americans and disproportionately affects people of color.

The ACLU cited a recently released report by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology that concluded the controversial technology is used to identify and track people who are doing nothing wrong, like cross the street, WBALTV reports. 

In Maryland, for example, police have the ability to use facial recognition technology to search for more than 7 million state driver’s license and ID photos, more than 3 million arrest booking photos and 24.9 mugshots from the FBI’s Next Generation Identification database.

“The database is populated, I think may people with be surprised to hear, by over 7 million driver’s license photos, so every time you go to get a driver’s license you are now submitting to being a participant in a virtual lineup,” ACLU attorney David Rocah said.

The ACLU is concerned that the technology may unfairly target people of color.

“Not only do we not know how frequently it is helpful in finding an offender, how often they get a match and then identify the correct person who committed an offense, we also don’t know the error rate. We don’t know how many false matches, and how many people are falsely accused or wrongly investigated because of incorrect matches,” Rocah said.

Classified Rules Allow FBI Agents to Spy on Journalists without Warrant

spy graphicBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Without a warrant, the FBI is permitted to use secret surveillance to obtain journalists’ phone records with the approval of two government officials.

The Intercept obtained classified rules that show agents only have to get the consent of the FBI’s general counsel and executive assistant director of its national security branch.

Privacy and media advocates said the FBI has made it too easy to bypass courts to get subpoenas or search warrants to access journalists’ information.

The classified rules mean that agents could try to identify leakers and sources of new.

“These supposed rules are incredibly weak and almost nonexistent — as long as they have that second sign-off they’re basically good to go,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has sued the Justice Department for the release of these rules. “The FBI is entirely able to go after journalists and with only one extra hoop they have to jump through.”

Senator Delays Bill to Allow FBI to Obtain Internet Records without a Warrant

congress copyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A bill that would expand the FBI’s authority to use secret surveillance to obtain some Internet records was held up because of privacy concerns.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., placed a hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act, saying it would lead to a “dramatic erosion” of privacy rights, Reuters reports. 

A provision in the legislation would allow the FBI to hand over certain Internet records using national security letter, which do not require a warrant.

“Convenience alone does not justify such a dramatic erosion of Americans’ constitutional rights,” Wyden said on the Senate floor.

Senate Rejects Legislation to Allow FBI to Search Internet Records without Warrant

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Senate rejected a measure Wednesday that would allow the FBI to search e-mail records and Internet browsing histories of Americans without a warrant.

The USA Today reports the Senate was two votes short of the 60 needed to pass the legislation. The final vote was 58-38.

Last week, the House rejected legislation to ban warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications.

“In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations and track ‘lone wolves,’ or (Islamic State)-inspired terrorists who do not have direct connections to foreign terrorist organizations but who seek to harm Americans,” Sen. John McCain said.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the bill “won’t make our country safer, but it will take away crucial checks and balances that protect our freedom.”

“FBI agents will be able to demand the records of what websites you look at online, who you email and chat with, and your text message logs, with no judicial oversight whatsoever,” Wyden said. “The reality is the FBI already has the power to demand these electronic records with a court order under the Patriot Act. In emergencies, the FBI can even obtain the records right away and go to a judge after the fact. This isn’t about giving law-enforcement new tools, it’s about the FBI not wanting to do paperwork.”

2 Senators Criticize Bill That Would Expand FBI’s Warrantless Access to Online Records

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new bill would give the FBI more flexibility to gain warrantless access to online records of Americans.

Two U.S. senators have criticized the 2017 intelligence authorization bill as an overreach that could make it easier for federal investigators to use National Security Letters to access email records, messaging accounts, login records, browser history and social media activity, the Guardian reports. 

Although the text of the bill hasn’t be discloed yet, Sen. Ron Wyden said the change represents a sweeping expansion of warrantless surveillance.

“While this bill does not clearly define ‘electronic communication transaction records’, this term could easily be read to encompass records of whom individuals exchange emails with and when, as well as their login history, IP addresses, and internet browsing history,” Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who voted against the bill, told the Guardian.

Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico said he hope to remove the NSL expansion on the bill.

“The FBI has not made a convincing case that it needs any process other than the one that already exists, especially one that freely allows the FBI access to law-abiding Americans’ emails and web activity,” Henrich said.

Philadelphia Inquirer: FBI, Local Police Invade Citizens’ Privacy

cellphone-tower-photo2By Adam Bates
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Our cellular phones, the U.S. Supreme Court recently opined, contain “a digital record of nearly every aspect of [our] lives – from the mundane to the intimate.” Indeed, many of us use our cellphones to privately convey our love, our insecurities, our fears, our locations, and our most sensitive relationships.

Yet right now, across the United States, law enforcement agents have secret, unfettered access to all of it, and the government is trying to keep it that way.

It was recently revealed that the FBI has been colluding with the Oklahoma City Police Department to conceal the use of equipment capable of powerful, surreptitious, and constitutionally dubious cellphone surveillance. The device, known as a StingRay, operates by mimicking the signal of a cell tower. The StingRay puts out a boosted signal that muscles out the signals of legitimate cell towers and forces nearby phones to connect to the device.

Once your phone is connected, the operator of the device can triangulate your position, see the incoming and outgoing numbers, and by all indications intercept the actual content of your communications. Police often deploy StingRays without probable-cause warrants or, in some cases, court orders. Even when police seek warrants and orders, the federal government has coached them to mislead judges about precisely what they are being asked to authorize.

StingRay deployments have been confirmed in at least 24 states and the District of Columbia, and there is every reason to believe many of the remaining states possess them and simply haven’t been forced to disclose it. Different departments have different deployment policies, but cities such as Baltimore have admitted to deploying the devices in thousands of investigations.

To read more click here.