Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged Civil Rights

St. Louis County police said they have spent around $100,000 stocking up on riot gear and other items they may need if protests turn violent after prosecutors announce whether a Ferguson officer will face criminal charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
“And CNN reports that citizens are also preparing for the grand jury ruling: gun sales are up in St. Louis.

A state grand jury has been meeting since shortly after Brown, who was 18 and black, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, on Aug. 9. Brown was unarmed and some witnesses said he was trying to surrender. Wilson’s attorneys have repeatedly declined comment.



flattr this!

In a historic change, city cops on Nov. 19 will stop arresting people on low-level marijuana charges and issue them tickets instead, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Monday.

People caught smoking on the street would still wind up in the pokey, however, but someone caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana would be slapped with a noncriminal violation. “As for those who want to avoid summonses, don’t do it; it’s that simple,” Bratton said at a press conference at NYPD headquarters, holding up a baggie of oregano as a visual aid. “It’s still against the law. I’m not giving out get-out-of-jail-for-free cards.”


More at the Daily News.

flattr this!

This series is from Press TV. Though many look at it as a propaganda channel, watch the videos, do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

We live in the United States of Surveillance–with cameras increasingly positioned on street corners and with much more invisible spying online and on the phone. Anyone who is paying attention knows that privacy could be out the window. All of this is not happening by accident -well funded powerful agencies and companies are engaged in the business of keeping tabs on what we do, what we say, and what we think.

To many in the world, today, the face of America also has A BIG NOSE for sniffing and sifting mountains of data—phone calls, emails and texts. And with many mouths silenced by paranoia to keep what they decide is secret, secret. America has become a Surveillance-Industrial State where everyone’s business has become its business, and where one huge US intelligence Agency has been given the sanction and unlimited amounts of money to spy on the whole world.

Mass Surveillance is the focus of this new 6 part investigative documentary series examining who is watching whom and why.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

flattr this!

In Rochester, New York, and other cities around the country, license plate readers (LPRs) continue to pop up. With little regulation nationwide, no one really knows how much of their data is collected, how it’s used, who keeps the data or for how long.

Most surprisingly, the digital cameras are mounted on cars and trucks driven by a small army of repo men, including some in Rochester and Syracuse.

Shadowing a practice of U.S. law enforcement that some find objectionable, records collected by the repo companies are added to an ever-growing database of license-plate records that is made available to government and commercial buyers.

At present that database has 2.3 billion permanent records, including hundreds of thousands gathered locally. On average, the whereabouts of every vehicle in the United States — yours, mine, your mother’s — appears in that database nine times.

Todd Hodnett, founder of the company that aggregates and sells that data, defends the activity as lawful and harmless. “We’re just photographing things that are publicly visible,” he said.

No matter how benign the intentions of camera system operators, they say, their data may prove irresistible to government or private parties bent on snooping.

“We think people are entitled to wander around this grand country without being concerned about being tracked,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “What they’re doing … is making it possible for someone to come back and check.”

As often is the case with emerging technologies, license-plate reader use is outpacing government attempts at regulation. Only five states have adopted laws regulating or banning private use of license-plate readers, also known as LPRs, with legislative bodies in as many more states having considered such measures.

New York State has no such laws, but there are 3.8 million records in their database.

Crowded mall parking lots have been favored venues for plate readers, which are deployed for market studies, security purposes or to guide shoppers who have forgotten where they left their car.

The owner of the Rochester area’s largest malls, Wilmorite Inc., is aware of the trend but has so far opted out.

“We have been approached by those companies. From our perspective … there’s still some privacy issues. People feel you’re using information they want to keep private,” said Janice Sherman, Wilmorite’s marketing director. “At this point we’re not going to jump in something like that. We want to see how it pans out.”

In some cases, motorists must provide their own personal data and then have no control over how it’s used.

At Monroe Community College, employees, students and frequent visitors register their plate numbers with the college. Employees gain access to gated lots when cameras match their plate with a number in the college database.

Campus security patrols student and visitor lots with license plate cameras, making sure everyone’s parked in the right place. If they’re not, tickets follow. The number of tickets is down, spokeswoman Cynthia Cooper said, perhaps because students no longer misplace their window stickers.

Perhaps tickets are down because access to gated areas are only allowed after plate numbers are matched with a database, not because people have forgotten to put a sticker on a window. Restricted access automatically reduces tickets.

New York State’s DMV has also jumped on the cash cow bandwagon.

Every two years, the New York DMV sells access to its database of registered vehicles. That database includes the registrant’s name and address plus the make, model and year of the vehicle. Under the current contract, Experian Information Solutions and R.L. Polk and Co. are expected to pay New York about $3 million over two years for this data.

Those two companies are free to use and to re-sell the data, but it can only be employed for “statistical compilations” and research. They cannot contact an individual or make use of their personal information except in connection with a vehicle manufacturer’s recall. Federal law contains a provision allowing registrants to “opt-in” to use of this data for marketing purposes, but New York DMV officials assume no one would want to be targeted for marketing in this way and thus the agency has no opt-in program.

Some individuals still do not see a problem with anyone obtaining this data. Your movements are tracked everywhere you go in your vehicle. After a few days, a profile can be developed on you.

Databases can, and are, hacked. If there’s a profile on you, someone now knows the schedule of your family and the most likely time you are not going to be home. They know where your spouse and children are on a regular basis.

This sort of information can be used to find out your political leanings, what protests or rallies you attend, who you associate with. It is a temptation those in power will not resist. With this information, it will be trivial to crush dissent.

flattr this!


A new ruling states that criminal defendants can be compelled to give up their fingerprints, but not a pass code in allowing police to search a cellphone. The issue arose during the case of David Baust, who was charged with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Prosecutors had said video equipment in Baust’s bedroom may have recorded the couple’s fight and, if so, the video could be on his cellphone. They wanted a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, but Baust’s attorney, James Broccoletti, argued pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forced self-incrimination.

Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A pass code, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci’s written opinion.

According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can’t be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint.

With this power, the police can search a cellphone. What one person may think is innocent, the police might find cause for concern. That cute photograph of your child taking a bath could be construed as child pornography. A judge may later see it as the innocent picture it was meant to be, but you have now been fingerprinted, photographed and jailed. You’re innocent, but you may have already lost your job, reputation, family and friends.

flattr this!