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Tag: surveillance

Seattle Councilwoman Wants FBI, ATF Cameras Removed Because of Trump

Portland Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, via Wikipedia.

Portland Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Seattle councilwoman wants the FBI and ATF to remove cameras on city utility poles because of concerns with the Trump administration.

“I think it is totally unacceptable for the city of Seattle to be complicit in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies surveilling Seattle’s public spaces,” Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said, reports Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “As a sanctuary city, we should not be filming our general population and we certainly should not be sending that data to law enforcement agencies now being run by the Trump administration.”

The comments come after a U.S. District Court judge ruled last week that the city has no authority to release information about the cameras through public records requests.

Sewant is backing a proposal to require a warrant or council approval to erect cameras on the city’s utility poles.

Seattle Debates Removing FBI Cameras Under President Trump’s Administration

Seattle surveillance cameras, via Seattle City Council.

Seattle surveillance cameras, via Seattle City Council.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Seattle is considering removing federal surveillance cameras around the city to avoid potential misuse under President Trump’s administration.

The Seattle City Council plans to call for the removal of the cameras, which have been operating since at least 2015, Seattle Weekly reports. 

Leading the move is Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

“It is totally unacceptable for the City of Seattle to be complicit in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies surveilling Seattle’s public spaces,” Sawant said in a press release. “As a sanctuary city we should not be filming our general population, and we certainly should not be sending that data to law enforcement agencies now being run by the Trump administration.”

Among her concerns is “normalizing a Big Brother mentality.”

FBI’s New Surveillance Powers Raise Questions about Civil Liberties

Data securityBy Editorial Board
Orange County Register

The FBI quietly acquired sweeping surveillance powers, beginning Dec. 1, it had sought for years, and the change came without a single congressional hearing or vote.

Under a change to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the FBI will now be able to obtain a single warrant from a magistrate that allows it to hack thousands – or perhaps millions – of computers across the country, or even outside it, in certain circumstances.

It would apply when technology like Tor or VPNs (virtual private networks) are used to hide the location of users, or when a computer is swept up in a “botnet,” a network of private computers infected by malware and controlled without the users’ knowledge, such as by an email spammer. “In these circumstances, law enforcement could remotely access, search, seize or copy data on computers, no matter where the computers were located and without providing notice to the users being searched,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation cautioned.

Previously, magistrates could only issue warrants for searches within their districts. Thus, the rule change raises fears about “forum shopping,” under which the FBI could seek warrants from magistrates known to hand out warrants with little scrutiny, even if no devices to be searched reside in their districts. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who led a bipartisan group of senators attempting to block the rule change the day before it went into effect, but was rebuffed by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called it “one of the biggest mistakes in surveillance policy in years and years.” Wyden contended that government hacking attempts could inadvertently damage personal computers and cellphones, hospital systems or even the power grid. “(I)nnocent Americans could be victimized twice – once by their hackers and a second time by their government,” he said on the floor of the Senate. “This rule change will give the government unprecedented authority to hack into Americans’ personal phones, computers and other devices.” Wyden was joined on the floor by Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. “This proposed solution essentially gives the government a blank check to infringe upon our civil liberties,” Daines asserted. “Our civil liberties and our Fourth Amendment can be chipped away little by little until we barely recognize them anymore. We simply can’t give unlimited power for unlimited hacking which puts Americans’ civil liberties at risk.”

The rule change also illustrates an astonishing lack of oversight.

To read more click here.

FBI to Gain Authority to Hack Millions of Computers After Senate Failed to Stop Changes

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is about to get the authority to hack millions of computers under President-elect Donald Trump.

That’s because lawmakers at midnight failed to stop changes to the federal code of criminal procedure, Huffington Post reports. 

Starting Thursday, the changes allow a Department of Justice official to get a warrant that lets the FBI hack numerous devices by asserting that a single computer crime may involve million of networked devices.

Opponents of the changes said there’s no assurance from law enforcement officials that people’s privacy won’t be violated.

“At midnight tonight, this Senate will make one of the biggest mistakes in surveillance policy in years and years,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who tried with a Republican and Democratic senator to delay or rein in the new FBI powers. “Without a single congressional hearing, without a shred of meaningful public input, without any opportunity for senators to ask their questions in a public forum, one judge with one warrant would be able to authorize the hacking of thousands, possibly millions of devices, cell phones and tablets.”

FBI, NSA, CIA Expected to Expand Surveillance Powers Under Trump

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI, NSA and CIA are expected to receive expanded surveillance powers under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, drawing opposition from privacy advocates and some lawmakers.

Trump’s first two appointment to law enforcement and intelligence agencies – Republican Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Republican Representative Mike Pompeo for director of the Central Intelligence Agency – are proponents of expanded domestic government spying, Bloomberg Technology reports. 

Bloomberg wrote:

The fights expected to play out in the coming months — in Senate confirmation hearings and through executive action, legislation and litigation — also will set up an early test of Trump’s relationship with Silicon Valley giants including Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Trump signaled as much during his presidential campaign, when he urged a consumer boycott of Apple for refusing to help the FBI hack into a terrorist’s encrypted iPhone.

An “already over-powerful surveillance state” is about to “be let loose on the American people,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, an internet and privacy advocacy organization.

Judge Orders FBI, CIA, NSA to Disclose Spying on Occupy Protesters

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has ordered the FBI, CIA and NSA to disclose any evidence that they spied on Occupy Philly protesters.

U.S. District Judge Berle Schiller gave the agencies 60 days to comply with the order, Al Jazeera reports. 

Civil rights activists want to know whether the agencies spied on protesters who camped outside Philadelphia City Hall for seven weeks in 2011.

“The government should not be investigating its citizens simply because they’ve raised their voices in dissent, whether it’s against government or corporate policy,” civil rights lawyer Paul Hetznecker said Tuesday.

The right-to-know case follows the revelation that the FBI was monitoring Occupy Wall Street rallies in New York and other cities.

Yahoo Conducted Surveillance for Federal Government by Scanning Emails

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Yahoo searched hundred of millions of incoming emails for the federal government in 2015, the Associated Press reports. 

Citing three former Yahoo employees, the report states that the NSA or FBI demanded that the internet company search for a string of letters, numbers or other characters.

To conduct the surveillance, Yahoo built a software program.

Google said Tuesday that it has not received similar surveillance demands, and if it did, the response would be, “No way.” Microsoft said it has “never engaged in secret scanning of email traffic.”

Twitter and Facebook also responded that they have not received similar requests.

Columnist: Justice Department’s Data-Sharing Plan Protects Privacy

department-of-justice-logoBy Melanie Teplinski
Christian Science Monitor

Earlier this month, the Justice Department unveiled a legislative proposal to facilitate cross-border data sharing for law enforcement purposes. While critics called it a “threat to privacy,” that characterization reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the plan. To the contrary, it’s an approach that would promote privacy, security, and innovation. It should be applauded, not decried.

The draft legislation responds to significant law enforcement problems that result from the rise of the global reach of the Internet, and the peculiarities of US law.

Until recently, law enforcement officials could find most of the evidence needed to investigate local crimes within their own countries. There were, of course, times when evidence was moved across borders or agents were tracking multinational criminals and gangs. In those situations, law enforcement officers either opened joint investigations with foreign counterparts or employed the mutual legal assistance process and made diplomatic requests for sought-after evidence.

Today, however, evidence is routinely located in other jurisdictions, often in the US. Much of the world’s communications are digitized and held by American companies such as Google or Microsoft. A 30-year-old US law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prohibits these firms from turning over the contents of US-held communications to foreign governments, even if the requesting government is investigating its own citizens with respect to a local crime.

Now, imagine if British police investigating a murder in London seek the suspect’s emails. If the perpetrator used a British internet provider, investigators would have the emails in days. But if the email provider is an American company, police must initiate the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process, which requires a US judge to approve the request. And that takes an average of 10 months to complete. Meanwhile, the murder goes unsolved.

To read more click here.

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