Privacy SOS

News you need to know, in case you missed it

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  • SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN NEW YORK STATE: The New York Civil Liberties Union yesterday released a report — hosted on a beautiful multi-media website — documenting the solitary confinement crisis in NY state prisons. Please visit the site to learn more about the problem, view photographs of NY state prisons, read letters from people locked up in solitary, and comb through the report. The NYCLU also produced a video about the solitary confinement crisis; you can see that video above.
  • APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS STAY OF JUDGE FORREST'S BLOCK ON NDAA PROVISION: Asserting that the government already had the right to indefinitely detain us without charge or trial under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) signed after the 9/11 attacks, a three-judge panel of Obama appointees on the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overruled Judge Katherine Forrest's permanent injunction against section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA. Read more.
  • SPY AGENCIES USING "SOCIAL ENGINEERING" ATTACKS TO INSTALL MALWARE ON UNSUSPECTING TARGETS' ELECTRONICS: Beware the links you click and the files you download, even if it looks like they come from a friend or trusted source. Military spy agencies and criminals have long used a tactic they call "social engineering" to get you to click on links or download files that will install spyware onto your computer or smartphone. From the Washington Post:

David Kennedy, a security consultant and former National Security Agency analyst, said he is amazed at the effectiveness of the techniques.

“I have done hundreds of these, and I have never been stopped,” said Kennedy, who teaches social engineering to other security specialists. “It sounds horrible, but it works every single time.”

  • FBI QUIETLY BUILDS SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY "HELP DESK": The FBI has been building what one journalist is calling a "surveillance help desk" for state and local police departments. The Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC) "mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order," writes CNET. Read more.
  • SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO HEAR BODY SCANNER CASE: The highest court in the land isn't interested in hearing a challenge to the use of naked scanners in airports. Congress might do something about the scanners, however; lots of representatives are upset about the findings of a report released last spring showing that the machines don't work. A New York Congressman plans to hold hearings to discuss whether, as some scientists have alleged, the technology is hazardous to human health. Will we forever be subject to pointless, costly and potentially dangerous humiliation every time we fly? Stay tuned.
  • SUPREME COURT TO HEAR WARRANTLESS SPYING STANDING CASE: Do we have the right to challenge the government's warrantless spying programs in court? The Supremes will decide on that question this session. The ACLU's case, Amnesty et al. v. Clapper, was filed in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, challenging the warrantless spying on Americans the statute allows. In a supporting brief, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood write:

The public, the judiciary (but for the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]) and almost all Members of Congress are kept in the dark as to the most extensive electronic surveillance program undertaken by the US government. While the DNI and Attorney General provide internal reporting requirements, none of this information is made available to the whole Congress or the public broadly, and thus no meaningful public oversight can occur. When the law gives new authority to conduct electronic surveillance, there should also be new means of oversight and accountability. The FISA Amendments Act fails this test.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.