RIP East Bay Express


January 11 brought the sad news that East Bay alternative weekly the East Bay Express, which had been under financial duress for a while, would be laying off its entire editorial staff and greatly reducing operations. The newspaper’s demise as a staffed publication was immediately caused by a lawsuit by the paper’s former sales manager which awarded back overtime pay and legal fees totaling $750,000 or more.

The loss of the local investigative reporting done by the East Bay Express, which almost always led and spurred later coverage by the region’s dailies, is incalculable. In Oakland itself, where the paper’s reporting was the accountability agent for Oakland municipal government for the past decade, and throughout the East Bay.

Oakland Privacy benefitted enormously from the Express’ tough reporting and as a colleague of mine put it; “It’s safe to say that without the Express, Oakland would have a Domain Awareness Center”. And it wouldn’t have a privacy commission, OPD would still be cooperating with ICE, and BART would not have a transparency ordinance. Among many other things.

We can’t thank you enough, Express, specifically former reporters Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham. It’s a sad day for Oakland and for journalism.


Urban Shield Task Force Votes To Exclude SWAT Teams


The second iteration of Alameda County’s Urban Shield task force is formulating their final recommendations to implement a resolution by the County Board of Supervisors to re-constitute the Homeland Security-funded annual disaster preparedness drill.

In a seven hour meeting, the five member task force voted for several recommendations, a bunch via an uncontested consent motion and a few more substantive ones on a 3-2 vote.

Among the more substantive recommendations were to:

  1. Eliminate the event’s vendor show – an expo of law enforcement products
  2. Ending the public ranking and scoring of the competing teams so evaluation changes from a “contest” to a standards-based evaluation system.
  3. Excluding SWAT teams from the UASI-funded training drills

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Police Transparency Bill Sets Off Legal Battle


Update: On January 2, the California Supreme Court rejected the San Bernardino police officers union request for a ruling on the effective date of SB 1421 and stay. By denying, SB 1421 goes into effect this morning and no further appeal is possible. See ruling below

When Governor Jerry Brown, somewhat to the surprise of many, signed Senate Bill 1421 in his last year as the governor of California, it was the dawn of a potential new era in transparency about the use of force, and sexual assault and evidence planting by California’s police officers.

But before the new bill even went into effect, a pitched legal battle began in the courts – and in city councils with shredders – throughout the state.

First off, on December 19, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association asked a court to determine if Senate Bill 1421 applied retroactively i.e. to incidents that had occurred prior to January 1, 2019 – and to pause the bill’s enactment until the court decided. You can read the complaint below.
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Letting Go Of Control


By Chris Jasinski

When I sit back and try to think about all the ways that modern consumer technology has entered our lives, I keep coming back to the idea of control. 

Are you concerned you’re not getting enough exercise? 

Count your steps with a smart watch.

Are you worried about burglars breaking in and stealing your stuff? 

Think about installing a cloud-based camera in your living room.

Could your child be abducted on their way to school today?

Be responsible and equip them with a GPS tracker.

In a world that seems increasingly chaotic, we’re being offered more ways than ever to minimize risk. It’s a marketer’s dream come true: take an increasingly anxious population, gently guide them to internalize a few worst-case scenarios, and then turn around to sell them a sense of security. 

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Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Flew Drones Over Protests


Originally published at EFF Deep Links 

At the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in October, presenters from the Orlando Police Department issued a stern warning for fellow local law enforcement officials eager to start a small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS or drones) program.

“We don’t want to use them when people are exercising freedom of speech,” Orlando Police Sgt. Jeffrey Blye told the audience during the best practices portion of his talk. “Because that will destroy your program quickly.”

That is excellent advice for police departments, but sheriffs in the San Francisco Bay Area have chosen not to follow it.