How to use Bridgefy as an Emergency Mesh Network

by Lisa Rein & Matteo Borri – June 1, 2020

Download link for Bridgefy

Introduction (What is a mesh network and how does it work?)

A mesh network application will allow you to continue to communicate – over bluetooth – even after all WiFi and cellular service has been interrupted.

So, for instance if your local city decides to turn off phone service on a given city block, you and your group of people will still be able to communicate with each other – in a small area. (About 100 meters, for example, if you had five people who were all about 20 meters away from each other.)

As long as there are a lot of people with bluetooth and Bridgefy installed within a given area, a “mesh network” will be enabled that has the potential to go even farther distances (than 100 meters).

More details here: https://medium.com/bridgefy/how-to-use-the-bridgefy-offline-messaging-app-b4799af7649b

How to hold your phone for the best reception

Reminder that Bridgefy basically turns a phone into a digital walkie talkie.  So, you may need to hold it up and vertically to get the best range.

BATTERY Considerations

Using mesh networks uses up your phone’s battery very quickly – so be sure to bring extra batteries.

Bandwidth issues (Why you should keep it to text and LOW RES images (and not use too much voice or god forbid, video)

Bluetooth’s bandwidth isn’t the greatest. So, although you CAN send anything – anything but text will be very slow to move around and can slow down the network. It will work, but it’ll glitch out a lot.

Security Considerations

Using Anonymously

If you wish to create an “anonymous, unverified account” – remember when you are installing to NOT SYNC THE APP WITH YOUR CONTACTS when it asks.

Note that you and your friends can quickly “see” each other on the network, using the “Broadcast” group chat feature, BUT GROUP CHATS ARE NOT ENCRYPTED. (Perhaps you don’t care if the group messages are encrypted, since everyone is using anonymous names. Or, it could be really important that your group’s communications are not publicly seen.)

More details here: https://medium.com/bridgefy/how-to-use-the-bridgefy-offline-messaging-app-b4799af7649b

Using with your phone identified (forever, after the first time) and your contacts synced

If you sync contacts, it will grab your phone’s IMEI identifier. If you try to change your account name and save it (in “settings” under “About” and then “Profile”), it will give you the new name, but keep the old name in parentheses when you are identified to others as a user on their phones. Like this: “new name (old name).”

If you decide to let your phone be identified and let the app sync up with your contacts, you will have to be connected to the internet for it to configure properly.

Encrypted messages between individuals vs. Clear text “group” messages using “Broadcast” feature

Messages between two accounts are encrypted. The “Broadcast” feature is useful because it allows you to message everyone on the network at once, but in CLEAR TEXT.

Bridgefy uses RSA encryption for messages sent between individual accounts. Encrypted group chat is not yet available. (Only the unencrypted “group chat – with a default of “all users in range” that is available using the “Broadcast” feature.)

BEFORE YOU INSTALL

IMPORTANT:

Before you start installing the Bridgefy app on your phone, you need to decide if you wish to use Brigefy anonymously OR if you want to sync it to your contacts and have your phone uniquely identified.

DO NOT sync with your contacts if you EVER want to have an anonymous, unverified account. If you sync even ONE TIME. Bridgefy grab’s your phone’s IMEI identifier – and won’t ever forget it. (Even if you uninstall it, reboot your phone, and reinstall it.)

Again: Once you sync your contacts and your phone’s IMEI number has been identified you can’t create an anonymous account. You can create a new name, but when you look at your app – and when others see you on the network, the old name (in parenthesis) will keep showing up next to the new name.

Like this: New name (old name)

NOTE: You do not need to install the SDK to send and receive text messages over the mesh network. The SDK requires an account and is not needed to simply communicate and send text messages over the network.

Install Instructions

1. After deciding to be anonymous or to sync your contacts and be forever identified, install Bridgefy on to your phone (from your phone’s app store)

2. Give yourself an account name (make note of it perhaps – so you can tell others what it is).

3. If you are making an anonymous account, the program will say you have created an “unverified” account.

4. If you decide to sync with your contacts, make sure you are connected to the internet, say “yes,” and then give it a couple minutes.

5. After it syncs with them (which takes a minute) – all of your contacts that have Bridgefy installed will pop up under “contacts.” (Just like they way Signal brings up your contacts, if they also have the app installed.

Click on the “Contacts” icon along the bottom of the screen, and it will display:

1) any of your contacts that have the app installed
2) ALL USERS on the network that are “nearby” and can be messaged individually.

Note: Messages between individual users are encrypted, while group chats via the “Broadcast” feature are in CLEAR TEXT.

6. If no one is showing up under “nearby” in “contacts,” the other way of seeing folks on the network – and a good way to kinda “wake up” your system if you’re not seeing anyone on it – is to click on “Broadcast” (in the row of icons along the bottom of the screen).

7. After you click on it, an empty looking “Broadcast” window comes up with a text box at the very bottom where you can text to EVERYONE on the mesh network (IN CLEAR TEXT).

8. While on the “Broadcast” screen, you can find other users on the network by clicking on the upper right corner, where there is a contact-y looking icon with a red number showing you how many other people are on the network. Touch that – and it will give you a list of the people’s handles that are within range, so you can message people individually..

9. Although it’s very easy to text the whole group from the BROADCAST page, remember that it’s in CLEAR TEXT – AND EVEN USERS YOU HAVE BLOCKED CAN SOMETIMES SEE ALL BROADCAST MESSAGES (according to our testing). (Speak up if we’re wrong about this :)

9. So, whether you access your contacts via “contacts” along the bottom (after allowing it to sync to your contacts) – or access a list of “nearby” people you can message by clicking on the contact-ish icon in the upper right of the “Broadcast” window, once you can see a name, you can select it and:

-start a conversation
-delete a conversation
-block that user from getting any texts from you

Okay we think that about covers it. But we are open to adding more details or changing anything we might have gotten wrong. Please email us at aaronswartzday@protonmail.com.

New “Toolkit” from the ACLU & Oakland Privacy Can Help You Get A Surveillance Ordinance Passed

via Oakland Privacy

The ACLU has just announced a new Surveillance Ordinance Toolkit!

Two years in the making – and in collaboration with Oakland Privacy – this toolkit from the ACLU provides the critical information for part three of the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project’s goals:  To help folks present the information to their own local city councils to help get a surveillance policy in place for how any surveillance equipment is allowed to be used on its citizens.

Since the November 2017 Aaron Swartz Day weekend, our police surveillance project has taught activists how to use our templates with muckrock to file public records requests – with a city’s police and sheriff departments (in the spirit of Aaron Swartz’ many FOIA requests via muckrock) so that they will have to give any relevant documentation when specific types of surveillance equipment have already been purchased.

The last, and most complicated of our project’s three goals involves figuring out what to do exactly once you have evidence of the surveillance equipment’s existence.  Ideally, once a piece of surveillance equipment has been identified, a city council can start working on  in the process of implementing a use policy, based on an ordinance, which regulates how that equipment is allowed to be used. But what’s the best way to present that evidence to a  city council for it to act upon?

Thanks to Tracy Rosenberg, we have provided some easy to use templates for obtaining information direct from a city’s own police and sheriff departments, so that the information could be taken to the City Council. Now, the ACLU & Oakland Privacy have created a toolkit for the process of taking that information to the City Council.

From the Oakland Privacy article:

Getting a surveillance transparency ordinance or a facial recognition ban passed in your town can seem like an overwhelming task. It’s not. You can do it!

Oakland Privacy and ACLU of Northern California sat down to write a step by step guide based on the dozen ordinances in place across the country, including 8 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This free guide includes loads of advice on coalition-building, public education, strategy, research, messaging and advocacy and samples of useful documents.

Howl For Aaron Swartz

If Aaron were still alive he’d be 33 years old, with most of his life still ahead of him.

It’s never easy on January 11th. This year will be no exception.

Brewster Kahle wrote this poem about Aaron shortly after Aaron’s death, in 2013. It was filmed in 2015, and first published in January 2017.

Howl for Aaron Swartz

Written by Brewster Kahle, shortly after Aaron’s Death, on January 11, 2013.

Howl for Aaron Swartz
New ways to create culture
Smashed by lawsuits and bullying
Laws that paint most of us criminal

Inspiring young leaders
Sharing everything
Living open source lives
Inspiring communities selflessly

Organizing, preserving
Sharing, promoting
Then crushed by government
Crushed by politicians, for a modest fee
Crushed by corporate spreadsheet outsourced business development

New ways
New communities
Then infiltrated, baited
Set-up, arrested

Celebrating public spaces
Learning, trying, exploring
Targeted by corporate security snipers
Ending up in databases
Ending up in prison

Traps set by those that promised change
Surveillance, wide-eyes, watching everyone now
Government surveillance that cannot be discussed or questioned
Corporate surveillance that is accepted with a click

Terrorists here, Terrorists there
More guns in schools to promote more guns, business
Rendition, torture
Manning, solitary, power

Open minds
Open source
Open eyes
Open society

Public access to the public domain
Now closed out of our devices
Closed out of owning books
Hands off
Do not open
Criminal prosecution

Traps designed by the silicon wizards
With remarkable abilities to self-justify
Traps sprung by a generation
That vowed not to repeat
COINTELPRO and dirty tricks and Democratic National Conventions

Government-produced malware so sophisticated
That career engineers go home each night thinking what?
Saying what to their families and friends?

Debt for school
Debt for houses
Debt for life
Credit scores, treadmills, with chains

Inspiring and optimistic explorers navigating a sea of traps set by us
I see traps ensnare our inspiring generation
Leaders and discoverers finding new ways and getting crushed for it

Chelsea Manning Responds to United Nations Rapporteur’s Call For Her Release

For Immediate Release: 8AM EST, January 2, 2020

Contact: Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, Andy@sparrowmedia.net

Chelsea Manning Responds to United Nations Rapporteur’s Call For Her Release

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: Release Chelsea Manning immediately

Alexandria, VA — This week Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment published a letter to the U.S. government dated November 1, 2019, condemning the incarceration of Chelsea Manning, calling such coercive confinement “torture” in violation of international law, and recommending her immediate release. He also recommends that any disproportionate fines levied against her be cancelled. The letter was made public following a customary 60-day window pending any government response.

Said S.R. Melzer:

“…I recommend that Ms. Manning’s current deprivation of liberty be promptly reviewed in light of the United States’ international human rights obligations. Should my assessment regarding its purely coercive purpose be accurate, I recommend that Ms. Manning be released without further delay, and that any fines disproportionate to the gravity of any offence she may have committed be cancelled or reimbursed.”

The letter was announced by Melzer via Twitter late December 30, 2019, stating:

“…the continued detention of @xychelsea is not a lawful sanction but an open-ended, progressively severe coercive measure amounting to torture & should be discontinued & abolished without delay”

In the letter, Melzer also condemns the United States’ practice of what he considers to be “prolonged coercive confinement” which “involves the intentional infliction of progressively severe mental and emotional suffering for the purposes of coercion and intimidation at the order of judicial authorities.” He added that “victims of prolonged coercive confinement have demonstrated post-traumatic symptoms and other severe and persistent mental and physical health consequences.”

 

According to Ms. Manning:

“My long-standing objection to the immoral practice of throwing people in jail without charge or trial, for the sole purpose of forcing them to testify before a secret, government-run investigative panel, remains strong.

“Nearly every other legal system in the world condemns coercive confinement, and long ago replaced secret grand juries with public hearings. I am thrilled to see the practice of coercive confinement called out for what it is: incompatible with international human rights standards. Regardless, even knowing I am very likely to stay in jail for an even longer time, I’m never backing down.”

 

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Manning’s attorney, said:

“Special Rapporteur Melzer has issued a legally rigorous condemnation of the practice of coercive confinement, and of Ms. Manning’s confinement in particular. While the United States has so far failed to live up to its human rights obligations, I remain hopeful that the government will reconsider its policies in light of the UN’s admonition.

“In any case, there can be no further doubt that Ms. Manning has the courage of her convictions, and will never agree to testify before a grand jury, even at great personal cost. As S.R. Melzer notes, since her confinement is not having the intended coercive effect, she must be released.”

Although S.R. Melzer has requested a clarifying response from the United States, he makes clear his settled conclusion that the practice of coercive confinement violates international human rights law, and recommends Ms. Manning’s immediate release pending any response or investigation. In the two months since the letter was conveyed to the United States, Ms. Manning has remained confined, and the daily fines imposed upon her have continued to accrue.

###

Note to Editors:

  1. Definition of “torture” — as outlined in Article one of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), as described by S.R. Nils Melzer in his letter:

“torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, it does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”. (Note: Melzer clarifies, in the letter, on page 2, that he does not think such practices fall under CAT’s “lawful sanctions” exception.)

  1. List of international human rights laws that the U.S. practice of coercive confinement is in violation of, as described by S.R. Nils Melzer in his letter:
  • Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (Articles 1, 2, 15 and 16)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); ratified by the United States of America in 1994 and 1992 respectively (Articles 2, 7 and 9)
  • Human Rights Council Resolution 16/23
  • Human Rights Council Resolution 34/19
  • Human Rights Council Resolution 25/13
  • General Assembly Resolution 68/156

 

danah boyd At EFF Pioneer Awards: Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On

danah boyd was given an EFF Pioneer Award last week and she gave an important acceptance speech that we support whole-heartedly.

Please take a minute to read it. (It’s short!)

Or, at least read these excerpts below. :)

danah boyd (left) with Cindy Cohn, EFF’s Executive Director

Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On

by danah boyd.

Audio of danah’s speech here.

From danah’s speech:

And so, if my recognition means anything, I need it to be a call to arms. We need to all stand up together and challenge the status quo. The tech industry must start to face The Great Reckoning head-on. My experiences are all-too common for women and other marginalized peoples in tech. And it it also all too common for well-meaning guys to do shitty things that make it worse for those that they believe they’re trying to support…

The Great Reckoning is in front of us. How we respond to the calls for justice will shape the future of technology and society. We must hold accountable all who perpetuate, amplify, and enable hate, harm, and cruelty. But accountability without transformation is simply spectacle. We owe it to ourselves and to all of those who have been hurt to focus on the root of the problem. We also owe it to them to actively seek to not build certain technologies because the human cost is too great.

My ask of you is to honor me and my story by stepping back and reckoning with your own contributions to the current state of affairs. No one in tech — not you, not me — is an innocent bystander. We have all enabled this current state of affairs in one way or another. Thus, it is our responsibility to take action. How can you personally amplify underrepresented voices? How can you intentionally take time to listen to those who have been injured and understand their perspective? How can you personally stand up to injustice so that structural inequities aren’t further calcified? The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good.

The above quotes with more context, from danah’s speech:

Joi Ito became a dear friend and mentor. He was that guy who made sure I got home OK. He was also that guy who took being called-in seriously, changing his behavior in profound ways when I challenged him to reflect on the cost of his actions. That made me deeply respect him.

I also met John Perry Barlow around the same time. We became good friends and spent lots of time together. Here was another tech luminary who had my back when I needed him to. A few years later, he asked me to forgive a friend of his, a friend whose sexual predation I had witnessed first hand. He told me it was in the past and he wanted everyone to get along. I refused, unable to convey to him just how much his ask hurt me. Our relationship frayed and we only talked a few times in the last few years of his life.

So here we are… I’m receiving this award, named after Barlow less than a week after Joi resigned from an institution that nearly destroyed me after he socialized with and took money from a known pedophile. Let me be clear — this is deeply destabilizing for me. I am here today in-no-small-part because I benefited from the generosity of men who tolerated and, in effect, enabled unethical, immoral, and criminal men. And because of that privilege, I managed to keep moving forward even as the collateral damage of patriarchy stifled the voices of so many others around me. I am angry and sad, horrified and disturbed because I know all too well that this world is not meritocratic. I am also complicit in helping uphold these systems…

I am grateful to EFF for this honor, but there are so many underrepresented and under-acknowledged voices out there trying to be heard who have been silenced. And they need to be here tonight and they need to be at tech’s tables. Around the world, they are asking for those in Silicon Valley to take their moral responsibilities seriously. They are asking everyone in the tech sector to take stock of their own complicity in what is unfolding and actively invite others in.

And so, if my recognition means anything, I need it to be a call to arms. We need to all stand up together and challenge the status quo. The tech industry must start to face The Great Reckoning head-on. My experiences are all-too common for women and other marginalized peoples in tech. And it it also all too common for well-meaning guys to do shitty things that make it worse for those that they believe they’re trying to support.

If change is going to happen, values and ethics need to have a seat in the boardroom. Corporate governance goes beyond protecting the interests of capitalism. Change also means that the ideas and concerns of all people need to be a part of the design phase and the auditing of systems, even if this slows down the process. We need to bring back and reinvigorate the profession of quality assurance so that products are not launched without systematic consideration of the harms that might occur. Call it security or call it safety, but it requires focusing on inclusion. After all, whether we like it or not, the tech industry is now in the business of global governance…

The Great Reckoning is in front of us. How we respond to the calls for justice will shape the future of technology and society. We must hold accountable all who perpetuate, amplify, and enable hate, harm, and cruelty. But accountability without transformation is simply spectacle. We owe it to ourselves and to all of those who have been hurt to focus on the root of the problem. We also owe it to them to actively seek to not build certain technologies because the human cost is too great.

My ask of you is to honor me and my story by stepping back and reckoning with your own contributions to the current state of affairs. No one in tech — not you, not me — is an innocent bystander. We have all enabled this current state of affairs in one way or another. Thus, it is our responsibility to take action. How can you personally amplify underrepresented voices? How can you intentionally take time to listen to those who have been injured and understand their perspective? How can you personally stand up to injustice so that structural inequities aren’t further calcified? The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good. But it’s not enough to say that we’re going to do good; we need to collectively define — and hold each other to — shared values and standards.

People can change. Institutions can change. But doing so requires all who harmed — and all who benefited from harm — to come forward, admit their mistakes, and actively take steps to change the power dynamics. It requires everyone to hold each other accountable, but also to aim for reconciliation not simply retribution.

Help Ban Facial Recognition in Berkeley (Update: we won!)

UPDATE!     VICTORY!

October 15, 2019: Berkeley has voted to ban facial recognition

Original post: The EFF has this great page set up where you can write a letter to Berkeley’s City Council, telling them to ban facial recognition in the City of Berkeley.

You can also attend the Public Safety Committee Meeting tomorrow, Monday, September 16, at 10:00 am, and let your voice be heard. (Members of the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project & Oakland Privacy will be there.)

What: PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE SPECIAL MEETING

When: September 16th (Monday)

Time: 10:00 am

Where: 2180 Milvia, 6th floor, “Redwood Room”

Here is the AGENDA with the language of the proposed ordinance.

See you there!

Language of EFF Letter you can send:

To: council@cityofberkeley.info
Subject: I Support the ban on face surveillance in Berkeley.

Dear Members of the City Council,

I am writing to urge you to pass the proposed ordinance banning government use of face recognition technology in Berkeley.

Berkeley residents wouldn’t support a law requiring every resident to wear a visible identification badge. And, we definitely don’t support being covertly monitored as we move through the city to attend prayer, visit doctors, or spend time with loved ones.

I ask you to stand with your constituents and vote in support of the ordinance banning government use of face surveillance in Berkeley.

Sincerely,

 

Oakland Privacy’s Brian Hofer at the 2019 EFF Pioneer Awards

The EFF has made a full transcription of the entire 2019 Pioneer Awards available here.

Video of Brian Hofer’s speech on YouTube here.

See video/transcriptions for Tracy Rosenberg & Mike Katz-Lacabe.

oakland privacy

EFF’s nash Sheard presents a 2019 Barlow Award to members of Oakland Privacy (Left to right: Nathan “nash” Sheard, Tracy Rosenberg, Brian Hofer, Mike Katz-Lacabe)

Brian Hofer’s Speech:

So my name is Brian Hofer, I recently left Oakland Privacy. I founded Secure Justice with a handful of our coalition partners that are, some of who are in this room tonight. And we’re going to continue carrying on the fight against surveillance, just like Oakland Privacy. I also had the privilege of chairing the city of Oakland’s Commission, as you heard earlier, and it’s an honor and a privilege to be recognized by EFF for the same reasons that my former colleagues have been saying, because you’ve been standing next to us in the trenches. You’ve seen us at the meetings, lobbying, joined in the long hours waiting at city council meetings late at night just for that two minute opportunity that Nash is now an expert at. You know how much labor goes into these efforts, and so I really want to thank you for standing next to us.

This path has been pretty unexpected for me. I quit a litigation job, was unemployed, and I read this East Bay Express article by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston based on public record requests that Oakland Privacy members had founded. And there’s a little side bar in that journal that the very next day, just fate I guess, that this upstart group Oakland Privacy was meeting and that I could attend it. It’s even more strange to me that I stayed. It was a two hour discussion about papier-mache street puppets and the people asking me if I was a cop when I walked in. Nobody wanted to sit next to me.

So when I finally spoke up and asked how many city council members they spoke to, the room got quiet. And so that became my job, because I was the one guy in the suit. At the honorable Linda Lye’s going away party a couple months ago, I remarked that if we had lost the Domain Awareness Center vote, I would have never become an activist. I would have returned to my couch. I spent hundreds of hours on that project, and I would have been really disillusioned. But March 4th, 2014, which was the vote, is still the greatest day of my life. We generated international headlines by defeating the surveillance state in the true power to the people sense.

It was quite a contrast the following morning, on the Oakland Privacy list, when the naysayers thought the world had ended in calamity. Little did they know, that was the formation of the ad hoc privacy commission; we were about to change the conversation around surveillance and community control. EFF is directly responsible for helping us form that privacy commission in Oakland, and so it’s my turn to congratulate you. Matt Cagle of the ACLU, Dia Kayyali, and myself were sitting around trying to figure out how to make it a permanent thing, and we noticed that another piece of technology was on the agenda. We didn’t have any mandate or authority to write a privacy policy for it. But Dia signed a letter with me asking that we be given that task.

It worked, and that established the Privacy Commission as a policy writing instrument that remains today. As our colleagues were saying, that’s been the launching pad for a lot of this legislative success around the greater Bay Area. It’s the first of many dominoes to fall. I want to close with a challenge to EFF——and not your staff—like any non-profit, they’re overworked and underpaid, because I’m sending them work and I don’t pay for it. I was supposed to insert an Adam Schwartz joke there.

I believe that we’re in a fight for the very fabric of this nation. Trump, people think he’s a buffoon. He’s very effective at destroying our civic institutions. The silent majority is silent, secure in their privilege, or too afraid or unaware how to combat what’s going on. So I’m going to tell you a dirty secret about Oakland Privacy: we’re not smarter than anyone else. We have no independently wealthy people. We have no connections. We didn’t get a seat at the table via nepotism or big donations. We have no funding for the tens of thousands of volunteer hours spent advocating for human rights. And yet as you heard from the previous speakers, the formula of watching agendas, which anyone with an Internet connection can do in their pajamas, submitting public record requests, which anyone can do in their pajamas, and showing up relentlessly, which in Berkeley and Oakland, you can do in your pajamas—that led to a coalition legislative streak that will never be duplicated. That four year run will never happen again. So I ask that you challenge your membership to do the same, pajamas optional. We need numbers. We need people to get off their couch, like me, for the first time. The Domain Awareness Center was literally the first time I ever walked inside the open city hall, and I apologize for the police lingo, but your membership is the force multiplier and it’s critical that more folks get involved. If you don’t already know, somehow next week turned onto facial recognition ban week. Berkeley, Portland, Emeryville, we have our Georgetown national convening where I know EFF will be. It’s critical that new diverse faces start showing up instead of the same actors. As Tracy said, they can see us from a mile away. We need more people.

In October, we expect four more cities to jump on board. Only one is in California, demonstrating that this isn’t just a Bay Area bubble. It’s got legs. And like the Domain Awareness Center moment, we’ve got a chance to change the national conversation, and we better take advantage of it. Thank you for this honor and thank you for this award.

Oakland Privacy’s Tracy Rosenberg at the 2019 EFF Pioneer Awards

The EFF has made a full transcription of the entire 2019 Pioneer Awards available here.

Video of Tracy Rosenberg’s speech on YouTube here.

See video/transcriptions for Mike Katz-Lacabe and Brian Hofer.

oakland privacy

EFF’s nash Sheard presents a 2019 Barlow Award to members of Oakland Privacy (Left to right: Nathan “nash” Sheard, Tracy Rosenberg, Brian Hofer, Mike Katz-Lacabe)

Tracy Rosenberg’s speech:

Thank you, Mike, and hi, everyone, and thank you so much for this wonderful award. We are honored.

We’re splitting up the speaking here because Oakland Privacy is a coalition and is a collective, and that’s important to us. We have no hierarchy after all these years, and I’ve been doing this for five years. All that I get to call myself is a member. That’s all I am.

I want to highlight, there are people in the audience that are not coming up on stage. J.P. Massar, Don Fogg, Leah Young. There are people that are not here whose names I won’t mention since they’re not here, but it’s always a coalition effort.

And this week I’ve been jumping up and down because the broader coalition that includes EFF and Consumer Reports and ACLU and a bunch of other people, we just stood down the Chamber of Commerce, the tech industry, and pretty much every business in California in order to keep the Consumer Privacy Act intact.

There were six people on a whole bunch of conference calls, you don’t want to know how many, and somehow we actually did it. It’s official as of today. There is power in coalition work.

I’m incredibly grateful to Oakland Privacy because I was incredibly upset about the encroaching surveillance state, and I didn’t know what to do. And in the end, in 2013, Oakland Privacy showed me what I could do, and I will never be able to repay the group for that.

I was thinking back to our first surveillance transparency ordinance in Santa Clara. EFF actually came down, and they took a picture of me speaking at that meeting and put it on their blog, and I thought, I wish I could put into words what lay behind that picture, which was 11 stinking months of going down to Santa Clara and sitting in that room with the goddamn Finance and Governmental Operations Committee where they were trying to bury our ordinance because let’s face it, the powers that be don’t want transparency. And every month standing there and saying, “I’m not going to let you do that. I’m just not.”

We succeeded. It became law, I think it was June 7th, 2016, which doesn’t feel like that long ago. And now there are 12. Eight of them are here in the Bay Area, a couple in Massachusetts, Seattle, and somehow Nashville did it without us and more power to them.

So I think that’s pretty much what I kind of want to say here. I mean, what Oakland Privacy does fundamentally is we watch. The logo is the eye of Sauron, and well, I’m not a Tolkien geek, but I deal with what I am a part of. Hey look—I went to a basement, it was all guys. It is what it is. It’s a little more gender-balanced now, but not entirely. But the point is that eye kind of stands for something important because it’s the eye of “we are watching,” and in really mechanical terms, we try to track every single agenda of God knows how many city councils there are in the Bay Area. I think we’re watching about 25 now, and if a couple more of you would volunteer, we might make that 35.

But the point is, and every time there’s a little action going on locally that’s just making the surveillance state that much worse, we try to intervene. And we show up and the sad truth is that at this point, they can kind of see us coming from a mile away, and they’re like, “Oh, great. You guys came to see us.” But the point is, that’s our opportunity to start that conversation. Oakland is a laboratory, it’s a place where we can … And Oakland’s not perfect. All that you need to do is take a look at OPD and you know that Oakland’s not perfect. Right? But it’s a place where we’ve been able to ask the questions and we’re basically trying to export that as far as it possibly can, and we go there and we ask the questions.

And really, the most important part to me and the part that gives me hope is we get a lot of people that come to the basement to talk to us and basically share with us how dystopia is coming, which we know. It’s here. There’s no hope, right? But when those people find the way to lift up their voices and say no, that’s what gives me hope. So thank you. Thank you and Brian Hofer is also going to make a final set of comments. Thank you.

 

Oakland Privacy’s Mike Katz-Lacabe at the 2019 EFF Pioneer Awards

The EFF has made a full transcription of the entire 2019 Pioneer Awards available here.

Video of Mike Katz-Lacabe’s speech on YouTube here.

See video/transcriptions for Tracy Rosenberg and Brian Hofer.

oakland privacy

EFF’s nash Sheard presents a 2019 Barlow Award to members of Oakland Privacy (Left to right: Nathan “nash” Sheard, Tracy Rosenberg, Brian Hofer, Mike Katz-Lacabe)

Mike Katz-Lacabe’s speech:

So I first have to confess I’m not just a member of the EFF. I’m also a client. Thank you to Mitch Stoltz and your team for making sure that public records that I unearth remain available on the Internet for others to see.

So as Nash said, Oakland Privacy’s strength comes not just from the citizens that volunteer as part of its group, but also from the coalitions that we build. And certainly every victory that is credited to us is the result of many, many other coalition members, whether in some cases it’s the EFF or the ACLU or local neighborhood activists. It’s really a coalition of people that makes us stronger and helps us get the things done that sometimes we not always deservedly get as much credit for. So I want to make sure to call out those other groups and to recognize that their work is important as well and critical for us.

My work for Oakland Privacy comes from the belief that only from transparency can you have oversight, and from oversight derives accountability. So many examples of technology that have been acquired and used by law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area were never known about by the city councils that oversaw those police agencies.

In the city of Oakland, it was seven years after the city of Oakland acquired its stingray cell site simulator that the city of Oakland and the city council became aware of the use of that device by the police. In my city, I live in San Leandro, it was five years before the city council became aware of our city’s use of license plate readers and a very notorious photo of me getting out of my car that was taken by a passing license plate reader got published on the Internet.

We do our best work when working together. That’s been said. Let me give you … speaking of stories, I’ll take take off from Adam’s talk here. For example, recently journalist Caroline Haskins obtained a bunch of documents pertaining to Ring, you may know the Ring doorbell, and its relationship with police departments. A post about a party that Ring held at the International Association of Chiefs of Police meeting with basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, where each attendee got five free Ring doorbells. That was highlighted by EFF Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass.

I, or we as Oakland Privacy, we then found a social media post by the police chief of Dunwoody, Georgia saying, “Hey, look at this great party with Ring, and there’s Shaq.” Dave then went and took that information, went back and looked at Dunwoody and found that subsequently, a few months later, Dunwoody was proud to announce the first law enforcement partnership with Ring in the state of Georgia. What a coincidence.

Oftentimes it’s these coalitions working together that result in prying public records free and then establishing the context around them. The work we do involves very, very exciting things: Public records requests, lobbying of public officials and meeting with public officials, speaking at city council meetings and board of supervisors meetings. We’re talking, this is, primo excitement here.

So, as was mentioned, our work with Oakland Privacy was helpful in getting the first privacy advisory commission, an actual city of Oakland commission going, within the city of Oakland. It’s this organization, led by chair Brian Hofer, that passes policies regarding surveillance technologies, and not only passes policies but actually digs down and finds out what surveillance technologies the city of Oakland has. It has been a model for cities and counties, and we’re proud that our work will continue there in addition to working on many other issues surrounding surveillance.

In fact, I would be very happy to tell you that we’ve had … just recently the California assembly and the Senate passed a ban on the use of face surveillance on body-worn cameras. Again, our work with coalitions there makes the difference. And now, I would like to introduce another member of Oakland Privacy, Tracy Rosenberg.

 

Berkeley Delays Implementing Surveillance Policy Despite Ordinance Passed Over A Year and a Half Ago

New Interview with Tracy Rosenberg of Oakland Privacy and the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project (ASDPSP) about Berkeley’s delay in implementing its Surveillance Policy.

Come to our premiere “First Fridays” event in Berkeley on September 6th, 6-7:30pm: A Raw Thought Surveillance Salon (use the discount code “AaronSwartzDay” for a super-discounted ticket :-) TICKETS

The bottom line is that, in July 2017, although several members of the city council promised that the data collected by Berkeley’s license plate readers would never be shared with law enforcement, some badly worded language was also approved, during the same meeting.

That same bad language (for regulating license plate reader data) is now in danger of being accepted as part of the new Surveillance Policy – not as a placeholder until the policy is implemented (as we previously stated).

Turns out that the Oakland Privacy and the ACLU had to write a letter to the City of Berkeley earlier this year, threatening to sue the city, if the city council did not start “creating draft policies & putting them through the approval process.” So, this latest attempt of pushing through bad language from two years ago is just the city council making good on its word of getting started. ^_^

The problem is that we really need to start from scratch writing Berkeley’s surveillance policy, not pick up where we left off, using the bad language proposed in July of 2017.

From the Interview:

ASDPSP: So, in March of 2018, Berkeley passed a surveillance transparency ordinance. The ordinance required that a surveillance policy framework be put in place, similar to the one that currently exists for the City of Oakland (note that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is excluded), and is in the process of being put in place for the City of San Francisco.

Tracy: Correct.

ASDPSP: And to date, after a year and a half, a surveillance use policy framework for the data collected by Berkeley’s automated license plate readers has still not been put into place by the City Council?

Tracy: Correct.

ASDPSP: And the reason for this is that that process has been delayed by certain members of the City Council, such as Dee Williams-Ridley, the City Manager, and also by Berkeley Police Chief Greenwood?

Tracy: Yes. They have not been quick to get things moving.

In July of 2017, the City Council (with 3 dissenting votes) expanded the City’s license plate reader “pilot program” by adding 15 additional readers and making the program permanent.

But at that meeting, the purpose of the ALPR equipment was clearly defined as parking enforcement and the issuing of parking citations.

ASDPSP:  So we have basically been using the honor system, and have no guarantees that the data won’t be handed over to law enforcement agencies in the future, since there is still no specific policy in place ensuring that parking is the only way that the data will be used? And without a policy in place, there are loopholes allowing the cops to use the data in other ways?

Tracy: Yes, at a Police Review Commission subcommittee meeting on August 7th, a proposed license plate reader policy included some very broad permanent additions for the way that law enforcement can use the data, such as “Supporting a patrol operation or a criminal investigation” and “Canvassing license plates around any crime scene.”

Also proposed was authorizing sharing the data with any outside law enforcement or prosecutorial agency for any official law enforcement purpose (absent federal immigration enforcement officials).

ASDPSP: Whoa. Hold on there. That’s exactly how we don’t want license plate readers to be used.

Tracy: Yup. Certainly at a minimum, not parking. And pretty much the way most law enforcement agencies currently use license plate readers. For broad law enforcement purposes without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

 

Everyday/Forever