Privacy SOS

Wyden pledges to put a hold on Big Brother spying act, other news

  • SENATOR WYDEN TO PUT A HOLD ON SURVEILLANCE BILL: Democrat of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is following through with his pledge to do whatever he can to block the five year extension of the FISA Amendments Act absent any kind of floor debate in the Senate. His spokesman told Roll Call that the legislation as it stands “allows intelligence agencies to deliberately search through potentially large piles of communications to find the phone calls and emails of specific Americans….They can do this without getting a warrant or emergency authorization on anyone. This is clearly something that the United States Senate should be debating and it is the reason the senator put a hold on the bill in the first place….When the bill comes to the floor, Sen. Wyden will offer an amendment to close this ‘back-door searches’ loophole and will do everything he can to ensure that it gets the consideration it deserves. A statute as far-reaching and potentially problematic as this should not be extended for five years without floor debate and a vote.” Read more on Wyden's resistance and about the ACLU's lawsuit to challenge the law.
  • "ACTIVITY FORECASTING": Surveillance cameras will soon feed their data into computer programs that can "predict" what people will do before they do it, according to government-funded researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Read more.
  • "INTELLIGENCE" SPENDING CLOCKED IN AT OVER $75 BILLION LAST YEAR: The US government spent more than seventy-five billion dollars on spying and surveillance operations last year. It's not clear how much of that spending went to the powerful army of spy contractors that increasingly performs many "intelligence" functions previously done by government agencies. Read more.
  • COP TASES CHILD DURING SCHOOL VISIT: A police officer in New Mexico shot a ten year old child with a taser during a school career day visit. The cop was in a classroom talking about police duties and showing off his taser when he reportedly asked the kids to clean his patrol unit. One of the children said he wouldn't clean it, to which the cop reportedly replied: "Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police." He then shot the ten year old with the taser. Read more.
  • GOVERNMENT "MAKING IT UP AS IT GOES ALONG" AT GITMO TRIALS: Journalist John Knefel filed a must-read report from the military commissions at GITMO for The Nation, describing the bizarre legal framework in which the trials are taking place. According to his report, the judge doesn't understand the law and the government appears to be making up the rules as it goes along. Do read it to get a sense of how perverted is the military commissions system.
  • EFF FILES SUIT AGAINST DHS FOR INFORMATION ON DRONES: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a public records suit against the Department of Homeland Security to learn more about domestic drone deployment. "We've seen bits and pieces of information on CBP's Predator drones, but Americans deserve the full story," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. "Drones are a powerful surveillance tool that can be used to gather extensive data about you and your activities. The public needs to know more about how and why these Predator drones are being used to watch U.S. citizens." Read more.
  • OAKLAND POLICE CHIEF USED SPAM FILTERS TO IGNORE ALL MESSAGES ABOUT EXCESSIVE FORCE AND OCCUPY OAKLAND: Police Chief Howard Jordan missed lots of messages pertaining to his department's treatment of Occupy Oakland protesters, including those from the court-appointed federal monitor of the OPD, Robert Warshaw. Beginning two days after OPD brutality against Occupy that put the police department in the international news, Jordan filtered all messages including the words "Occupy," "police brutality," "respect the press pass," and "excessive police force" to his junk mail folder — where they sat unread. Read more.

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