On October 26, 2001, “in the name of national security, the Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet.” (from an ACLU page) source: https://www.aclu.org/infographic/surveillance-under-patriot-act
In 2006, I ran into an article (source: https://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2006/04/6585-2/) on the Internet that stunned and frightened me: “AT&T installed powerful traffic monitoring equipment in a ‘secret room’ in their San Francisco switching office at the behest of the NSA…The equipment used and the vast scale of the information being monitored [more than 10 billion bits of data per second] both suggest that the NSA is sifting through massive amounts of user data and phone calls.”
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A FAQ ABOUT PROPOSED SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT TRANSPARENCY LEGISLATION
Q. Why is this legislation necessary? Why isn’t the Fourth Amendment enough?
A. The short answer is that the law has not kept up with technology.
The longer answer is that our constitution, written in the 1780’s, could not have conceived of the technological capacities we now have for observation and communication. While some legal opinions have extended fourth amendment protections to include newer technologies, others have gone in the opposite direction (e.g., a recent decision, USA v Matish, said that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to your home computer if it is connected to the Internet!).
We have the very real possibility of soon living in a society far beyond what even George Orwell imagined – where we will be tracked whenever we leave our house through facial recognition integrated with surveillance cameras; where everything we do online will be cataloged, stored and run through algorithms for “thought crime” analysis, and where our conversations may be overheard and analyzed – even in our own homes if we choose to use voice-enabled gadgets. These things are all well within our technological capability today, and who knows what will be possible in five or ten years?
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Oakland’s Public Safety Committee will vote on the ordinance on May 9 at 6pm at City Hall at Oscar Grant Plaza. We need you there.
(Reprinted from the ACLU of Northern California)
Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community. Sometimes, that means policing the police. Shouldn’t you have a say in deciding whether local law enforcement gets to deploy futuristic surveillance technology in your community?
The Oakland Police Department has the capability to spy on Oakland residents using surveillance cameras, automatic license plate readers, a ‘Stingray’ cellphone tracker, and social media monitoring software. Upwards of $2.5 million has been spent on these devices, which are capable of collecting data that can be shared with the federal government.
Use this form to ask the Oakland City Council to vote “YES” on the Surveillance Technology Ordinance.
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