The Party of Open: Open Government, Open Culture, Open Innovation & People First

Monthly archive: October 2017

We killed the wiretapping expansion

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Early this morning, the Massachusetts Senate voted 22 to 14 to kill amendment 87 that would have expanded our wiretapping laws dramatically. Thankfully, a related amendment (#24) was withdrawn. Against pressure from the Governor, the AG, all the DAs’ offices, and the police unions, we, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Restore the Fourth Massachusetts and other lovers of privacy defeated the most serious threat to our privacy in years. Thanks to everyone who called and emailed their State Senators urging them to reject these amendments! Without your help, Massachusetts would be a less free commonwealth.

published under Main Topic, Privacy, Surveillance | Comments Off on We killed the wiretapping expansion

Today: tell Mass. Senators to oppose giving prosecutors new surveillance powers

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The Massachusetts Senate is working on an omnibus criminal justice reform package.  Two amendments (#24 and #87) would give prosecutors unprecedented new powers to wiretap phone calls, emails, instant messaging services, and potentially even internet connected devices like personal assistants (think Amazon’s ‘Echo’) and televisions. The votes are scheduled for this Thursday, so now is the time to tell our State Senators to oppose these amendments.  Calls are best, but emails help too, if there are enough of them. The Massachusetts’ ACLU’s Privacy SOS blog reported that the wiretap amendments up for a vote this Thursday would do the following: Eradicate the organized crime requirement, enabling prosecutors to use wiretaps in a wide-range of criminal investigations, including petty drug distribution and even solicitation to distribute drugs. That means even drug users could be wiretapped should one of these amendments become law. Grant prosecutors the power to coerce drug users into wearing wires to document drug deals, putting them at risk of extreme violence. Drug users and others picked up on lower-level offenses across the country have been murdered because of these operations. Enable prosecutors to demand technology companies provide “technical assistance” to facilitate wiretapping, plunging Massachusetts into a highly controversial debate about the ability of government to force companies to compromise the security of their own products. We can’t be sure how courts will interpret this language, but the prosecutors may view it expansively, meaning District Attorneys could try to force companies to turn their products into bugs for the government. Think Amazon ‘Echo,’ internet connected TVs with microphones and cameras, and internet connected home security systems. Eliminate the existing jurisdictional requirement, enabling prosecutors to wiretap people outside the state of Massachusetts—potentially anywhere in the world. Enable law enforcement to hand off wiretapping operations to private corporations. Under current law, … Read more

published under Help Needed, Main Topic, Privacy, Surveillance | Comments Off on Today: tell Mass. Senators to oppose giving prosecutors new surveillance powers

NSA, FOIA, and a long-running quest for Telephony Metadata

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Gathering information through FOIA or public records requests can be a long-term endeavor. I made a privacy act request to the NSA back in October 2013, shortly after the Guardian revealed that the NSA had been collecting telephony metadata from Verizon customers. I happened to be a Verizon customer at the time, so I asked the NSA for a copy of my telephony metadata, via a Privacy Act Request. The NSA responded as follows FOIA Case: 75473 21 November 2013 Dear Mr. Revilak: This responds to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of 23 October 2013, which was received by this office on 4 November 2013, for a list of phone calls made from your home phone number, 781-***-****. A copy of your request is enclosed. Your letter has been assigned Case Number 75473. Please refer to this case number when contacting u s about your request. For purposes of this request and based on the information you provided in your letter, you are considered an “all other” requester. There are no assessable fees for this request. Your request has been processed under the provisions of the FOIA. You may be aware that one of the NSA/CSS missions is to collect, process, and disseminate communications or signals intelligence information for intelligence and counter intelligence purposes. NSA is authorized to engage in these activities in order to prevent and protect against terrorist attacks, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, intelligence activities directed against the United States, international criminal drug activities, and other hostile activities directed against the United States. The roles and responsibilities that NSA exercises are delineated in Executive Order 12333, as amended. As you may also be aware, there has been considerable coverage of two NSA intelligence programs in the press/media. Under Sec. 215 of the USA … Read more

published under Main Topic, Surveillance | Tagged | Comments Off on NSA, FOIA, and a long-running quest for Telephony Metadata

No Free Lunch for Amazon

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Amazon’s deadline is here and many states have fallen over themselves to sell their cities as the location for Amazon’s second headquarters.  With those bids, we expect that states and municipalities will try to shower Amazon with tax breaks and other subsidies their residents cannot afford. We ask: why should we pay for Amazon to take our money? The US government already allocates well over $100 Billion of your tax dollars to corporate subsidies.  State and local governments contribute at least an additional $50 Billion. That’s money we aren’t spending on healthcare or infrastructure repairs, the same overtaxed infrastructure Amazon built their delivery empire on. Amazon uses their market power to enrich their owners. That market power makes them unaccountable to the merchants they service, their employees or their community. First hand accounts of working for Amazon portray it as a crushing, brutal experience, with employees expected to make deep personal sacrifices for the good of an impersonal corporate entity. That is patently absurd. If Amazon wants to employ Massachusetts workers, they can bloody well afford to pay for it. If the commonwealth is in such a hurry to subsidize jobs, they could start by paying teachers a decent wage, build affordable housing our fellow residents need or make sure we have access to reliable public transit. Like Rhode Island’s failed backing of the debt of gaming company 38 Studios, our commonwealth shouldn’t expect a payoff from any tax breaks or subsidies we give Amazon. We won’t benefit from the $250 million dollars in free office space and other perks we have lavished on General Electric. We won’t benefit from Amazon. We oppose Massachusetts or any Massachusetts municipality giving Amazon any tax breaks or subsidies. We also oppose using eminent domain to get Amazon a discount on any land they … Read more

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Wednesday: Cambridge surveillance transparency ordinance needs your help

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This Wednesday, the 18th, starting at 6:30pm, the Cambridge Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on a local ordinance to require a transparent and democratic process before police can purchase new surveillance equipment. Community input and transparency are critical to ensure new technologies don’t get out ahead of our constitutional rights. Join us, Digital Fourth and the ACLU on Wednesday, October 18 at Cambridge City Hall at 6:30pm for the Public Safety Committee Hearing, to learn about the ordinance and raise your voice in support of these commonsense protections. Digital Fourth setup a Facebook event. It is important that Cambridge residents speak in favor of this ordinance, so if you plan to speak, please email us so we can make sure you get added to any speaker list the city has.

published under Main Topic, Out And About, Surveillance | Comments Off on Wednesday: Cambridge surveillance transparency ordinance needs your help

Digital Right of Repair Bills Still Need Your Help

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With computers in more and more of the things we buy, it is vital that we have a digital right of repair so we truly control the things we own. Corporations must not be able to lock down their products so that we have to pay them exorbitant amounts to fix them or prevent people from determining their security vulnerabilities or even making improvements. The activists at Right of Repair and iFixit have put forward two bills to support a digital right of repair: H.143 in the Massachusetts House and S.96 in the Senate. H.143 has 38 co-sponsors in the House. S.96 has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate. Massachusetts is the last state to have not sidelined digital right of repair bills. We have to get it passed here! Right now, we need to help get more legislators to support it and get it out of committee. Please find your legislators’ contact info and call to urge them to support these bills. If they are already a co-sponsor (listed below), thank them for supporting the bill. If your state representative or state senator are on the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection, all the better. Committee members are: Senate Committee Members Barbara A. L’Italien, Chair Michael D. Brady (co-sponsor) Sal N. DiDomenico Ryan C. Fattman House Committee Members Tackey Chan, Chair Daniel J. Hunt, Vice Chair (co-sponsor) Ruth B. Balser James Arciero Smitty Pignatelli Jay D. Livingstone Jonathan D. Zlotnik José F. Tosado Juana Matias Steven S. Howitt (co-sponsor) Joseph D. McKenna And Digital Right of Repair bill supporters are: Senate Supporters Name District/Address Michael D. Brady Second Plymouth and Bristol Thomas J. Calter 12th Plymouth James E. Timilty Bristol and Norfolk Walter F. Timilty Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth Joan B. Lovely Second Essex Josh S. Cutler 6th Plymouth William N. … Read more

published under Copyright, Main Topic, Organizing, Patents, Right of Repair | Comments Off on Digital Right of Repair Bills Still Need Your Help

Thursday, RCV/IRV bill hearing

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This Thursday, October 12th in State House Hearing Room B-1 the Committee on Election Laws will hear bills on Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff Voting. We have long supported RCV/IRV and use it for our elections. We support these bills: S.380 / H.2897 “An Act providing a local option for ranked choice voting in city or town elections” H.377 “An Act to promote better voting practices” — “[use of ranked choice voting for state offices:] governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of the commonwealth, state treasurer, state auditor, and representative and senator in the general court.” Voter Choice Massachusetts, who have led the fight for these bills and RCV/IRV in Massachusetts, aims to pack the room with at least 50 supporters. They are asking supporters to arrive at 1:30PM so they can prep for the hearing at 2PM. If you want to testify, tell Adam: Get to the hearing room (B-1) at 1:30PM on October 12th. Don’t be late! Keep your remarks brief (under two minutes) and most importantly, personal. When speaking, use real examples whenever possible. If you can’t make it to the hearing, you can send testimony to all members of the Joint Committee on Election Laws by emailing Henry.Kahn@masenate.gov.

published under Election Reform, Main Topic, Out And About | Comments Off on Thursday, RCV/IRV bill hearing

Testify Tuesday on Police Militarization Oversight Bills

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This Tuesday at 10am in Room B-2 of the State House will be a hearing on police militarization bills. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will be holding a hearing on Digital Fourth bill’s, H. 2503, which Pirates helped with and voted to support. The hearing also includes the ACLU-sponsored bill, S. 1277. Both bills require a public hearing and a vote by the elected officials of a Massachusetts town or city before the police acquire or deploy military-style equipment. H. 2503 would also include surveillance equipment of various kinds, including stingrays and drones. The ACLU’s bill also covers the state police and law enforcement councils. Both have merit. Passing these bills would provide a needed brake on the militarization of our police and increase democratic accountability. Based on recent research, it may reduce the likelihood of police shootings. If you’re able to come, please email digitalfourth@protonmail.com as soon as possible and let Alex know whether you’ll be speaking and on what bills. If you have subject matter expertise and would like to participate in a panel in front of the Committee, please specify that. Alex will arrive before the hearing begins and sign in the names of everyone who has emailed him beforehand, so that you are heard and can get away as early as possible. Whether you can come or not, please circulate this alert widely to other groups and listservs. Hearing location: Currently room B-2 in the State House. Details of bills up for consideration: https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/2767

published under Main Topic, Out And About, Transparency | Comments Off on Testify Tuesday on Police Militarization Oversight Bills

Further information

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IRC Meetings Tuesday Night

The Mass. Pirate Party weekly chat is every Tuesday at 9pm, Eastern time. To get on:

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