Category Archives: Surveillance

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.

 

SB-1421; When Will We Get The Records?

By Tracy Rosenberg (Oakland Privacy and The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project)

SB 1421 isn’t perfect…But even with its limitations, the bill provides more law enforcement personnel transparency than has been possible in California for decades.

When then-governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1421 in October of 2018, police misconduct records were expected to start flowing on January 1.

That isn’t what’s happened, although small quantities of records have started to come out from certain cities, including Burlingame, Oakland and Berkeley.

To recap, SB 1421, one in a long line of bills that for more than a decade have tried to crack open California’s restrictive police officer’s bill of rights, turned records of investigations and discipline after incidents of lethal force or sustained incidents of sexual assault, evidence planting or lying, into public records that could be gotten with a public records request.

SB 1421 isn’t perfect. It freezes records when there are internal investigations going on and when lawsuits are in progress, which can cause lengthy delays before there is public transparency. And in cases where sexual assault, perjury and evidence-planting allegations aren’t sustained internally or in a court, records will still be sealed. But even with its limitations, the bill provides more law enforcement personnel transparency than has been possible in California for decades.

Even this modest of a change was met with outrage and rebellion by many of the state’s police unions, which have relied on the obscurity of misconduct proceedings to protect member cops from accountability for the crimes they commit.

Police unions ran into court all over California, asking for stays and injunctions in San Bernardino County, Ventura County, Los Angeles, Orange County and in Contra Costa County. Because you can’t unrelease a record after it has already been released, the courts have had to issue temporary stays while considering the issue, but at the now four courts where the cases have been fully argued, Contra Costa, LA, and now Orange County and San Diego, the police unions have lost big.

Arguing that cops involved in lethal incidents or caught lying and/or planting evidence relied on their investigative hearings hidden from view has drawn skepticism from judges, who have continued to insist that the public’s right to know outweighs the police right to hide and that illegal and criminal behavior from the police is not protected behavior that the State should help to conceal.

All the lower court rulings have been appealed, so there will be a few more months of legal jousting, but in the end, the records are going to flow. At least the ones that are left, since a few enterprising police unions have been convincing their City Councils to revise document retention protocols in order to pitch them. The first and second district of the Court of Appeals have upheld the lower court decisions releasing misconduct records and the California Supreme Court has resisted every request to intervene so so far it is public records 6, police unions 0. Those results are expected to be the same in any further legal suits.

For more background on SB-1421, here are a few references:

  1. SB-1421 Peace officers: release of records. (California Legislative Information Page) https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1421

  2. ACLU Northern California: Lifting the Veil of Secrecy: Police Misconduct & Use of Force (SB 1421) Author: Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) https://www.aclunc.org/our-work/legislation/lifting-veil-secrecy-police-misconduct-use-force-sb-1421

  3. KQED’s California Report, January 2, 2019: State Supreme Court Denies Attempt to Block New Access to Police Misconduct, Shooting Records https://www.kqed.org/news/11715442/state-supreme-court-denies-attempt-to-block-new-access-to-police-misconduct-shooting-records

Summer Update: The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

See Tracy Rosenberg, Daniel Rigmaiden & Lisa Rein discuss the Solar Survival Project – LIVE, on November 10, 2018 at the San Francisco Hackathon.

TICKETS HERE

We’ll be posting “Summer Updates” all week regarding our endless hackathon projects that we kept going from last year’s event.

The first is our new quick tutorial with templates for our Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project – or #ASDPSP.

These templates enable you to compel the Police and Sheriff Departments for a given City and County to hand over all documentation on all known surveillance equipment. (Including documentation and information regarding all software used and any data it collects and stores.)

If you’re wondering what the situation is exactly with all of the surveillance equipment (and the data about the public that is being collected via this equipment) – in most major cities across the country –  you’ll want to read my latest interview with Tracy Rosenberg of Oakland Privacy.org, entitled “The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project #ASDPSP – Reports Back: Here’s #WhatWeFound In Sacramento.

Tracy created the templates, and explains even more about the different types of equipment our templates ask about.

Here are the first two detailed interviews with Tracy on this topic:

Interview with Oakland Privacy’s Tracy Rosenberg On The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

How a little “working group” stopped Oakland from becoming a mini-fusion center for the Department of Homeland Security.

The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project  is all about developing a larger strategy for determining what types of surveillance equipment a city’s police and sheriff departments have already purchased and whether or not a surveillance policy is in place to monitor that equipment – regulating how that equipment is used against their citizens.

This project started during Aaron Swartz Day 2017’s Sunday hackathon. Before that event was even over, it was clear that it had been really successful and we were all very pumped and had decided to just keep going until next year.

The results of doing so are just starting to pour in, and I’m going to be doing my best to give you the full story – both here on the Aaron Swartz Day website, and over on Mondo 2000, over these next few months, leading straight into this year’s event.

We just added two new templates (Zip file of all templates in .PDF, Zip file of all templates in .DOC) to our tutorial – one for Police Departments (City) and one for Sheriff Departments (County) – that include the use of facial recognition software, since it came out recently that Amazon has been literally giving away its facial recognition software to law enforcement, in the hopes of getting a number of early implementations. Not a bad marketing strategy, and we’re not saying the software shouldn’t be used; just that there should be a surveillance policy framework in place that regulates how it can be used against citizens.

Special thanks to Muckrock, without which this project would not be possible.

 

 

Tracy Rosenberg Explains How to Compel Police & Sheriff Departments To Admit What Surveillance Equipment They Already Have

See Tracy Live at this year’s San Francisco Hackathon!

TICKETS HERE

Lisa Rein has written a pair of articles in Mondo 2000 with Tracy Rosenberg from OaklandPrivacy.org.

Tracy explains the importance of the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project, and its mission of filing public records requests en masse, in order to retroactively determine what kinds of surveillance equipment and software a city’s Police and Sheriff Departments already have.

We will have a complete tutorial with templates and step-by-step instructions, so you to start doing this yourself, next week.

For now, please read these articles to get a better idea of why this project is so important, for all of us, right now.

How a little “working group” stopped Oakland from becoming a mini-fusion center for the Department of Homeland Security.

(How The Occupy Oakland Privacy Working Group became Oakland Privacy)

 

and

Interview with Oakland Privacy’s Tracy Rosenberg On The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

 

ACLU: Amazon Needs To Get Out Of The Surveillance Business

“But wait,” you may start to say “I didn’t even know Amazon was even IN the surveillance business.”

Yeah. Neither did we. :-/

This is pretty much our worst fears realized: A huge corporation quietly implementing biased facial recognition software without any oversight from anyone.

Needless to say, this situation falls under the territory of our #EthicalAlgorithms mandate.

Here’s an ACLU Petition with links to more information:

Amazon: Get out of the surveillance business

(https://action.aclu.org/petition/amazon-stop-selling-surveillance)

We are still evaluating the documents and will be planning a specific strategy to deal with this situation – Aaron Swartz Day style :-

We have been making enormous progress on the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project – which is a 100% successful experiment done in collaboration with the EFF, Oakland Privacy.net, cell phone privacy expert Daniel Rigmaiden and wonderful Muckrock.

The project provides letter templates to make it easy to ask your local police and sherriff’s departments what surveillance equipment they may have already purchased; they have to give you receipts and contracts if you guess correctly. (It’s like a little game show.)

So we are still in catch up mode at this time – but we are on the case. And we have many experts and technologists working to explain and expose the truth, before it’s too late.

If we can’t stop it from being implemented in the short term, perhaps we can develop technologies to stop it from functioning properly. While we are working out these issues in the courts, there is nothing saying we can’t share information and take defensive action. If you know techniques that folks should know about, email us at aaronswartzday [@] gmail.com

More on the situation from the New York Times.

Two Important Articles Re: Surveillance of President Trump and other Americans

These two articles (from Friday March 24) really help to better explain many of the complex issues involved in President Trump’s “wiretapping” claims.

The first is a great interview with former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley by Dennis J. Bernstein. The second is an awesome surveillance primer by Charlie Savage.

Surveillance State Goes After Trump
By Dennis J Bernstein for Consortium News

* Although Trump’s accusations of Obama personally ordering Trump tower to be “wiretapped” remain unsubstantiated, it’s only technically incorrect because he used the word “wiretapped” which implies specifically tapping a phone land line, as opposed to “monitoring” all communications of a target, which includes cell phone communications, email, and anything else.

* So, in a more general sense, Trumps calls WERE picked up, while government agencies were “monitoring other targets.”

* To be clear, Rowley said “I think Trump is vindicated” on this issue. So, although Trump may have been confused about the correct term to use, the essence of what he was saying was true; his communications were been intercepted. (As House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has stated: there is evidence of U.S. intelligence picking up conversations by Trump while monitoring other targets.)

* Also due to this technical difference between “wiretapping” and “surveillance” or the “monitoring” of the targets in question, FBI Director Comey was technically telling the truth when he said that they had found no evidence of the wiretapping mentioned in Trump’s tweets.

* Congressional Spying was actually the exact reason that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was created; as a result of the Frank Church Committee (created when Senator Frank Church found out he was being surveilled by the NSA).

* Looking back at history, flimsy Title III orders were used by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover against Martin Luther King Jr.  (to hide microphones in his hotels), and they were based on guilt by association.

* These orders had “very little probable cause” and were usually “a paragraph or two alleging that an associate or a cousin of an associate was a communist.” These were the kinds of orders used to spy on Frank Church and others.

* With all this in mind, you would think that Congress would have considered the downsides to mass surveillance, but it looks like the last 30 years of congresspeople that came in forgot about the problem.

There are more points than this! You should read the whole thing :)

Second article:
Amid Trump Inquiry, a Primer on Surveillance Practices and Privacy

By Charlie Savage for the New York Times

* Incidental collection is standard operating procedure.

* The private information of Americans is routinely intercepted in this process.

* There are repositories of “raw” (unprocessed) emails and phone calls that are place into “repositories” that intelligence analysts can then query, looking for specific information relevant to what they are working on, using keywords or names.

* When writing surveillance-based reports for broader dissemination within the intelligence community, analysts are supposed to “minimize” any privacy intrusion into Americans, “masking” any names and private information.

* Minimization rules have exceptions for leaving the private information “unmasked” if it’s impossible to understand the foreign intelligence otherwise.

* “One issue of concern is the ‘backdoor search loophole’ – when officials search raw repositories of surveillance information intending to pull out and read any incidentally collected private messages of an American – especially when those messages were gathered without a warrant in the first place.”

* The FISA Amendments Act will expire at the end of 2017 unless congress enacts new legislation extending it.

There are more points than this! You should read the whole thing.