We’re delighted to welcome Restore The Fourth’s latest new chapter, RT4-Pittsburgh, convened this month by Sean Donahue. This brings us to three new chapters formed just since Election Day, for a total of 17. If you’d like to help form a chapter and push back against the surveillance state in your area, please email us; or to join an existing chapter, check out the chapter map and contact your local chapter leader!
By Danielle Kerem
Restore the Fourth has once again filed an amicus brief that challenges the plurality opinion in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) and seeks to promote an understanding of the Fourth Amendment that imposes limits on the exertion of U.S. authority against citizens and non-citizens alike — including children like Sergio Hernandez, a 15-year-old citizen of Mexico who was shot and killed by U.S. border patrol agent Jesus Mesa in the summer of 2010.
This past week, attorney Mahesha Subbaraman of Subbaraman PLLC submitted an amicus brief on behalf of our organization to the Supreme Court of the United States. The case, Hernandez v. Mesa, asks the Court to decide whether the use of deadly force against Sergio Hernandez, by a U.S. border patrol agent who deliberately fired at the unarmed teenager from American soil, constituted a violation of Hernandez’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. In our brief, we argue that the Fourth Amendment does indeed govern federal officers’ use of excessive force in cross-border shootings, as well as outline the historical and jurisprudential origins of that claim.
By Alex Marthews
Part of the vision of the Founders was a republic so peaceful and so brimming with liberty that, in the words of the prophet Micah, “Every man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”
What we want as a movement is not simply an end to mass surveillance, but the revival of the ability to live free, creative, loving and flourishing lives. The best way to crush creativity and destroy happiness at work is to track every worker’s every activity, every moment of every day. A nation is no different. We all need space; we need free air to breathe; we need the knowledge that our government knows its bounds, and will not trespass into our lives without reason.
Instead, under President Obama, we see peaceful water protectors shot with rubber bullets and water cannons; protesters against police abuse spied on using stingrays and spy planes; and all of our communications sucked into the NSA’s rapacious maw. Under President Trump, we can expect more of the same.
At this point, everyone should realize that there’s a process at work here that the President doesn’t really control — a corrupt, out-of-control DC-based deep state that has no problem sacrificing your privacy and mine in the name of counter-terrorism, efficiency, and profits, while committing crimes of their own without comeback or consequences.
But it’s also important to realize that in our towns, cities, counties and states, we can meaningfully rally back against what they’re trying to do. Across America, we’re organizing to pass surveillance oversight ordinances that can protect your town from surveillance technologies being deployed without your knowledge or consent. We’re using the courts to argue for restoring the Fourth Amendment. Our growing network of chapters is helping Americans everywhere use tools like Tor, Signal and Protonmail to protect themselves better.
One day, as Micah says, there shall be none that shall make us afraid. But there’s a little work to be done before we get there. Join us, and help Restore The Fourth.
The night of November 8 brought a storm to Washington, not of hope but of alienation and resentment. Trump’s improbable win has handed authoritarian Republicans the keys to all three branches of government.
In North Carolina, surveillance state apologist Richard Burr beat out ACLU chief Deborah Ross; in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, the sole and honorable vote in the Senate against the PATRIOT Act in 2001, lost out to incumbent Ron Johnson. During the campaign, Trump enthused about the NSA, and called for Snowden’s execution. For those concerned about the surveillance state, there is little indeed to smile about this morning.
In this somber dawn, there are nevertheless a few potential points of light. First, the hideous cavalcade of horrors that was the presidential campaign challenged the narrative of a heroic FBI among partisans of both parties. Few indeed in Washington should think it reasonable to reward Jim Comey with more ability to spy on our communications, after this. Second, blue states continued to make limited progress against the drug war, by passing initiatives legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Third, the campaign made the right wing view Julian Assange and Wikileaks with favor, making it possible that the new administration will treat them with a less heavy hand. Last, Trump’s voter base are likely to have little patience with the kind of DC corruption that swirls around the national security state.
Each of Restore The Fourth’s chapters, and every surveillance activist, must gird up to fight passionately in the months ahead. There will be more surveillance. There will be suspicionless searches, seizures, arrests and deportations of Trump’s least favored groups: Muslims, immigrants, and people of color. We must harness the outrage of ordinary people across the country to retake our rights. Neither your religion, nor your beliefs of any kind, nor your race, make the State your master, or give it the right to pry at will into your affairs. No matter what retaliation will result, we will hold true to that vision, and work for better days ahead.
Please, give today to help us Restore The Fourth.
After a preview on Radio Statler at the HOPE XI Conference this summer, Restore the Fourth launched their new podcast, “Privacy Patriots“. Hosts Fongaboo and Chuck Ritter discuss political and social policy issues regarding privacy and the 4th Amendment in the digital age.
Privacy Patriots is available on most major podcast directories as well as RSS feeds for both MP3 and OGG formats.
By Danielle Kerem
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Restore the Fourth and a coalition of civil society organizations have called on the government to clarify the legal basis for a classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order that allegedly compelled Yahoo to scan hundreds of millions of user email accounts for a digital signature associated with a foreign power.
According to the initial Reuters report, Yahoo “secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials.” According to some surveillance experts, Yahoo’s program may be unprecedented — representing the “first known case of a US internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.” In response to these disturbing revelations, Restore the Fourth has demanded the following from the Director of National Intelligence:
- Honor the pledge your office made to “provide timely transparency on matters of public interest” by disclosing publicly the interpretation of law and of the Fourth Amendment that was relied upon to justify this surveillance;
- Release as quickly as possible the FISA Court opinion and order that compelled the surveillance to occur, as is required in the USA FREEDOM Act and as is consistent with the ODNI Principles of Intelligence Transparency Implementation Plan;
- Disclose whether the reported practice involved the scanning of email content;
- Disclose the types of selectors that the government believes are permissible under the authority it used;
- Provide any legal interpretations of FISA that reflect the government’s view of the scope of technical assistance it can compel providers to afford it;
- Indicate the total number of times such an order has been issued to a provider compelling a scan of all incoming email (or a search of comparable scope), as well as the year in which such a surveillance order was first issued.
The news of Yahoo’s bulk scan of customer emails is only the latest example of Silicon Valley’s troublesome enabling of the American intelligence community’s surveillance and collection methods – revealing the duplicity of Yahoo’s “Users First” approach and provoking serious questions regarding the sincerity of providers’ commitment to protecting digital security and client data.
By Ed Quiggle, Jr.
On Tuesday, November 8th the 2016 General Election will be held, and all 18 Pennsylvania seats in the US House of Representatives will be up for election, as well as one of Pennsylvania’s two seats in the US Senate (Senator Pat Toomey’s seat). Restore the Fourth has created a website called DecideTheFuture.org to rate our politicians’ records on important internet freedom and privacy legislation.
While most of Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress has leaned towards restricting internet freedom, eroding the 4th amendment and privacy protections, and increasing illegal global mass surveillance, there are some who are on what we are calling “Team Internet,” fighting to protect internet freedom and your privacy rights. The members of Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress who are part of Team Internet are Rep. Scott Perry (R-4th), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-2nd), Matthew Cartwright (D-17th), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-14th), and Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-8th). All received a score of A+ on DecideTheFuture’s scorecard, and Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-12th) scored a B-.
Meanwhile, both of Pennsylvania’s US Senators have a horrible record when it comes to opposing mass surveillance and defending internet freedom, Democratic Senator Bob Casey got a D+, and Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who is facing re-election this year, scored an F. These Senators join the rest of Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress who are on what we refer to as “Team NSA.” Rep. Lou Barletta (R-11th), Rep. Tom Marino (R-10th), Rep. Charles Dent (R-15th), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-3rd), Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-7th), Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18th), and Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-16th) all received an F. They are joined by Rep. Ryan Costello (R-6th), Rep, Bill Shuster (R-9th) who both received a grade of D, and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-13th), and Rep. Bob Brady (D-1st) who both received a grade of D+. Rep. Glenn Thompson’s (R-5th) record is unclear.
Of particular importance to those of us in the Susquehanna Valley are the races for the 10th District and the 11th District. In the 11th District, incumbent Republican, and Team NSA member, Rep. Lou Barletta faces Democratic candidate Mike Marsicano. Marsicano said that, “With respect to NSA policy as it applies to the 4th Amendment, [I’m] against any attempt to censor mass phone or Internet traffic. I oppose any attempt to weaken the encryption or [to create] backdoor standards of our tech companies,” when asked for his position on NSA mass surveillance and attempts by Congress to weaken encryption standards and to force companies to create backdoors in their software.
In the 10th District, Team NSA member, incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Marino faces Democratic challenger Mike Molosevich. At the time of publication, we do not have any information on Molosevich’s position on privacy and internet freedom issues, but should we obtain this information, this article will be updated to include his positions.
There are only three congressional races in Pennsylvania where there will be no incumbent running for re-election. In the 8th District, one Team Internet member, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, who scored an A+ on DecideTheFuture’s scorecard, is not seeking re-election. Rep. Fitzpatrick’s brother, Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, is seeking the seat as the Republican candidate, and faces Democratic candidate, and current PA State Representative, Steve Santarsiero. Brian Fitzpatrick’s campaign web site does not include his positions on privacy rights and internet freedom, and likewise, Santasiero’s campaign web site does not include his positions on privacy rights and internet freedom. As a State Representative, Santasiero is not a co-sponsor of HB 2046 or HB 409. HB 2046 is a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to get warrants before using stingrays, dirtboxes, and other cell site simulators. HB 409 is a bill that requires law enforcement agencies to request and receive authorization from a Superior Court judge before being able to use a drone.
In the 2nd District, a Team Internet member who received an A+, Rep. Chaka Fattah, lost in the Democratic primaries in April to State Representative Dwight Evans. Evans faces Republican candidate James Jones for Fattah’s seat, in the General Election. As a State Representative, Evans did not support HB 2046 or HB 409. Neither Evans nor Jones list their positions on privacy rights and internet freedom on their respective campaign web sites.
In the 16th District, one Team NSA member, Rep. Joe Pitts, will not be seeking re-election, and those running to replace Rep. Pitts include Libertarian candidate Shawn Patrick House, Republican candidate, and current PA State Senator, Lloyd Smucker, and Democratic candidate Christina Hartman. Libertarian candidate Shawn Patrick House said, “My campaign is rooted in using the US Constitution to bind once again an overreaching Federal bureaucracy that has continued to spy and collect personal information from honest law abiding Citizens in violation of our 4th Amendment rights to be secure in our homes, persons and property. I oppose stop & frisk, would work to exonerate & protect whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others. Repeal the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, and shut down the TSA,” when asked for his position on privacy rights and internet freedom. Republican candidate, State Sen. Lloyd Smucker, does not address privacy and internet freedom issues on his web site and also was not a co-sponsor of State Sen. Mike Folmer’s 2 year State and Local Government Drone Moratorium bill. Democratic candidate Christina Hartman also did not include her position on privacy rights and internet freedom.
Included below is a link to find out who the candidates are that are running in your area. There are so many running that I did not have time to contact every candidate running and ask their campaign where the candidate stands on internet freedom, mass surveillance, the 4th amendment, and privacy rights, but I urge you to do that for the candidates running in your district.
To find out which congressional district you live in using your zip code, go to: http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep
For more information on the races and the candidates running, go to: https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections_in_Pennsylvania,_2016
For more information on how the candidates were scored and their votes on key internet freedom and privacy legislation, go to: https://www.decidethefuture.org/
Yahoo compromised the security and privacy of hundreds of millions of users and all the people they communicate with by installing a secret software program that searched all incoming emails at the request of US intelligence officials.
Sign the pledge to dump Yahoo now and learn how you can send a clear message to email providers that this kind of secret surveillance won’t go unanswered.
By Danielle Kerem
A new Department of Homeland Security proposal, currently under review, asks that visitors entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program disclose Facebook, Twitter, and other online usernames in order to facilitate government analysis of all visa-waiver applicants’ social media activity and connections. Today, Restore the Fourth and a coalition of over two dozen human rights and civil liberties organizations sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection outlining the program’s disproportionate risks, excessive costs, and other serious shortcomings as well as encouraging CBP to dismiss the proposal. As our letter explains, the proposed program would “invade individual privacy and imperil freedom of expression while being ineffective and prohibitively expensive to implement and maintain.”
The collection of online identity data would offer DHS a window into travelers’ private lives as well as provoke the expansion of unwarranted surveillance activity. Moreover, an online identity data collection program – while enforced on all visa-waiver applicants in theory – will likely exacerbate existing discrimination against Arab and Muslim travelers by inviting contextless scrutiny of these visitors’ social media content. Moreover, this “disparate impact will affect not only travelers from visa-waiver program countries, but also the Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans whose colleagues, family members, business associates, and others in their social networks are exposed to immediate scrutiny or ongoing surveillance, or are improperly denied a visa waiver because of their online presence.”
In addition to the program’s negative consequences for privacy and freedom of expression, the collection of travelers’ social media usernames will also prove to be a strikingly ineffective method of detecting genuine national security risks as “individuals who pose a threat to the United States are highly unlikely to volunteer online identifiers tied to information that would raise questions about their admissibility to the United States.” The proposed screening methods will instead yield a flood of social media data, data unlikely to generate any actionable intelligence, and lead to an escalation of costs that would “render the proposal prohibitively expensive and with no conclusive benefits to the mission of DHS.” As such, we join our 27 partners in asking that CBP decline to implement this invasive, costly, and ineffective program.
Restore the Fourth had a strong showing from around the country at this year’s HOPE XI conference. Brian Hofer and aestetix of RT4 San Francisco hosted the talk ‘Spy Hard with a Vengeance: How One City Stood Up to the Department of Homeland Security‘ regarding their fight against a DHS Domain Awareness Center in Oakland, CA. RT4 Chairman Alex Marthews spoke on the chilling effects of government surveillance on citizens’ online activity in his talk ‘Surveillance Gives Me Chills‘. RT4 ally and ACLU lawyer Matt Cagle appeared on panel for ‘Only You Can Stop Police Surveillance‘. And RT4 launched ‘Episode Zero’ of the forthcoming RT4 podcast ‘Privacy Patriots‘ on Radio Statler, with host Fongaboo, Zaki Manian and Alex Marthews.
Spy Hard with a Vengeance: How One City Stood Up to the Department of Homeland Security
Brian Hofer & aestetix, RT SF
Surveillance Gives Me Chills
Alex Marthews, RT4 National Chair
Only You Can Stop Police Surveillance
Matt Cagle, Mariko Hirose, Jared Friend
— Privacy Patriots (@PrivacyPats) July 27, 2016
Archive is forthcoming at http://radio.hope.net/archive.html