You’ve probably seen the buzz around #ReleaseTheMemo on social and other media. But perhaps you found it hard to follow from a privacy advocate’s point of view.
The House Intelligence Committee in Congress agreed to share a document that allegedly described abuses of FISA surveillance, pending the president’s approval.
Now that it’s finally been released, let’s take a look if it lived up to the hype…
- It would describe political surveillance, conducted with the knowledge of President Obama, of people involved in the Trump campaign
- It would show the bias inherent in the Mueller investigation of President Trump
- It would vastly misrepresent the underlying intelligence reports
- It would be unprecedented to release to the public reports of such a highly classified nature, potentially compromising national security
- It would provide substantial evidence for the need of greater oversight of FISA surveillance
- President Nixon used his access to the federal intelligence apparatus to engage in political surveillance, leading to his impeachment
- Testimony from former US Air Force analyst Russell Tice suggests that the NSA has engaged in political surveillance before
- Classified information is often classified simply because it is embarrassing or reveals unconstitutional activity by an agency
- Its main point is that the FBI failed to disclose bias by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele against Trump as part of its application for a FISA warrant; But it was already well-known that Steele’s firm received payment from Democrats, that he was vehemently opposed to Trump’s election, and that his dossier constituted opposition research
- It doesn’t lessen any suspicion of collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, because that has been shown from other sources than the Steele dossier
- Perhaps the FBI should have caveated better on the FISA application as to Steele’s motivations.
- However, the memo doesn’t seem to substantively reveal improper political surveillance by the FBI motivated by political animus against Trump
- From our standpoint, the memo seems to have been released as a parry in the knife fight of partisan struggles; it doesn’t reveal material relevant to Restore the Fourth’s mission
- Suggestions of the memo compromising national security seem to be overblown; the memo could easily have been part of a public discussion prior to this, and the fact that it wasn’t suggests that our system vastly overclassifies information, and is reluctant to let the public know about things we’re in fact fully capable of understanding.
SB21, a California state ordinance that will mandate extensive oversight of police surveillance technology, is just two votes from being penned into law.
Restore the Fourth is urging all Californians, on behalf of Oakland Privacy, to contact state representatives by Friday to urge them to bring the bill out of suspense for Gov. Brown to sign.
You can contact the governor and your state representative here. But more importantly, we urge you to reach out to the following representatives by phone or on Twitter – especially ones marked with an asterisk(*).
PLEASE CALL OR TWEET and tell them to vote FOR SB 21.</span?
*Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (chair) – Tel: (916) 319-2080
Frank Bigelow (vice chair) – Tel: (916) 319-2005
*Richard Bloom – Tel: (916) 319-2050
*Raul Bocanegra – Tel: (916) 319-2039
*Rob Bonta – Tel: (916) 319-2018
William Brough – Tel: (916) 319-2073
Ian Calderon – Tel: (916) 319-2057
Ed Chau – Tel: (916) 319-2049
*Susan Talamantes Eggman – Tel: (916) 319-2013
Vince Fong – Tel: (916) 319-2034
*Laura Friedman – Tel: (916) 319-2043
James Gallagher – Tel: (916) 319-2003
*Eduardo Garcia -Tel: (916) 319-2056
*Adam Gray – Tel: (916) 319-2021
Reginald Jones-Sawyer – Tel: (916) 319-2059
Jay Olbernolte – Tel: (916) 319-2033
Eloise Gomez Reyes – Tel: (916) 319-2047
(Tweets to cut and paste):
Please release #SB21 from suspense to end secret mass police #surveillance in CA @LorenaAD80 @JonesSawyer59 @AsmRichardBloom @AsmBocanegra
Please release #SB21 from suspense to end secret mass police #surveillance in CA @RobBonta @IanCalderon @AsmEdChau @AsmSusanEggman
Please release #SB21 from suspense to end secret mass police #surveillance in CA @AsmEGarciaAD56 @AdamGrayCA @reyes4assembly
Please release #SB21 from suspense to end secret mass police #surveillance in CA @laurafriedman43 @FrankBigelowCA @vfong @J_GallagherAD3
Please release #SB21 from suspense to end secret mass police #surveillance in CA @JayObernolte @BillBroughCA
Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 – Restore the Fourth has filed an amicus curiae in the case of Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. United States of America. In this case, cell-site location information (CSLI) was obtained by subpoena from a cellphone carrier pertaining to the suspect’s cellphone.
In submitting this brief, we seek to urge the court on the following points:
- From the nature of CSLI, it can be derived that privacy is relational: That is, that even when people disclose their information to third parties, that should not mean that they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
- CSLI will become more revealing over time: This is due to the increasing density of tower locations, and the increased power of computers to algorithmically parse a given set of information on people’s locations to predict where they will be in the future.
- Police use of CSLI comes with a high risk of abuse: Such as, usage for LOVEINT (ie. officials with access to government surveillance and data collections utilizing it to spy on lovers, exes, etc.), police concealment of stingray use, and precedents for CLSI used to harass political dissidents abroad.
For these reasons, we urge that the Court should adopt a warrant standard for governmental searches and seizures of CSLI. We hope that the Court will see Carpenter v. USA as an opportunity to make a much-needed reexamination of the ‘third-party doctrine.’
Restore the Fourth would like to thank our counsel, Mahesha Subbaraman, of Subbaraman PLLC, for contributing this brief.
UPDATE: (5/31/17) SB21 passed the California State Senate 21-15, and now will move on to the Assembly.
SB 21 was filed in December by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), proposing that all new law enforcement surveillance equipment to be first approved by local government. The approval process would require agencies to submit a Surveillance Use Policy at a meeting open to the public. They would have to specify the type of technology to be use, data to be collected, who would have data access, storage duration, and the steps taken to ensure security and privacy. The bill had initially been approved by the Judiciary Committee.
- Separate use policies for each kind of equipment
- Affirmative legislative approval required for use policies and impact reports or use ceases
- Ongoing usage reporting no less than every two years
- Amendments required due to requesting funds for acquiring, using, or accessing information from any new technology
- Private right of action for those harmed by violation of the policy
- Limitations on exigent use
- Inclusion of district attorneys
The bill, in its latest incarnation, has now passed through the Budget Committee (aka. Appropriations), and can now move on to the State Senate and Assembly.
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.
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.
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