Privacy SOS

Grand jury resisters, telecom immunity, the impending biometrics craze and more

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  • THIRD NORTHWEST ACTIVIST IS IMPRISONED FOR REFUSING TO TESTIFY AT GRAND JURY: In a case many observers are identifying as a witch-hunt, three Northwest US activists are now in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Prosecutors have suggested that the investigation pertains to vandalism that occurred in Seattle during a May Day demonstration, but in fact the grand jury was convened in March 2012, well before those events. The Northwest grand jury and imprisonment of refusers marks a more aggressive prosecutorial posture than what we've observed in related cases in other parts of the nation. No one was jailed when activists in the Midwest refused to testify before a grand jury after September 2010 FBI raids on activists' homes. Read more about the repression in the Northwest, and watch a statement from one of the refusers, Leah-Lynne Plante, above.
  • GERMAN EXPENDITURES REPORT REVEALS INVASIVE SPYING ON CITIZENS: Ask any nerd/wonk type and they'll tell you: sometimes you find a nugget of gold buried in bore-yourself-to-death documents. In Germany, a routine expenditure report contained something quite revealing indeed:

The German ministry for home affairs and thus the German police clearly state that they are monitoring Skype, Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Facebook chat if deemed necessary. Money is spent on trojan viruses and we can be quite certain which company produces the IMSI catchers [used for "man-in-the-middle" attacks on mobile phones] used by German police.

  • SUPREME COURT RULES TELECOM IMMUNITY IS ACCEPTABLE: Remember when we learned that the Bush administration had authorized the NSA to spy on our communications without warrants? Remember when Congress passed a bill that became law immunizing the telecommunications who illegally colluded with the NSA and gave them our private data? Among other lawsuits challenging aspects of that domestic spying program was one challenging the legality of that immunity. The Supreme Court has now consecrated "its vesting of retroactive legal immunity in the nation's telecom giants," as Glenn Greenwald writes. Read more
  • PEMBROKE, MA SCHOOL CHILDREN AND TEACHERS SURPRISED BY SWAT EXERCISE INSIDE SCHOOLS: A regional SWAT team held exercises at five public schools in Pembroke on Tuesday during the school day, warning only special education teachers in advance. The other teachers and students were therefore surprised to see men in fatigues armed with automatic weapons roaming their hallways during the drills. Read more.
  • PARENTS IN MISSISSIPPI WHO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE FOR CHILDCARE WILL BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT FINGERPRINT SCANS: In a move that has sparked outrage and protest among families in Mississippi, the state is requiring all parents who receive childcare vouchers to submit to biometric finger scans when they drop off and pick up their children from care every day. The federal government provided the funds for the purchase of the biometric scanners, which are manufactured and operated by the Xerox corporation. Families say the money spent on the scanners would have been put to better use providing childcare or other services, and are worried that their biometric information will end up logged in federal databases. The biometrics craze is fast approaching; look at the demographics of who it is affecting first:

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.