BART Board’s Vote on Surveillance Technology Protects the Privacy of BART Riders; Promotes Public Safety
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the BART Board of Directors passed a surveillance oversight ordinance that requires public notice and debate prior to seeking funding, acquiring equipment, or otherwise moving forward with surveillance technology proposals. BART joins Palo Alto, Davis, Oakland, Berkeley, and Santa Clara County by passing legislation that puts communities in control of police surveillance.The ACLU of Northern California, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) SF, and Oakland Privacy, issued the following statements in response:“This is a victory for every person who rides BART,” said Matt Cagle, Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney. “This surveillance ordinance holds BART accountable to the community it serves and gives riders a seat at the table. People should be free to move around the Bay Area without being secretly policed by dangerous surveillance technology. We commend the willingness of BART leadership to find common ground, and we look forward to working together to build a city that we can all feel safe living in.”“Today’s decision will help BART staff and law enforcement officials begin to earn back the community’s trust by asking us for feedback about how they navigate the city,” said Sameena Usman, Government Relations Coordinator of CAIR SF. “Further, the passage of this ordinance will empower community members to have a say in the spaces they occupy -- which will increase public safety in and of itself. And under an administration committed to targeting sanctuary cities like San Francisco, it will protect our civil liberties at the local level, which is crucial to the safety of our most marginalized communities.”“We applaud the BART Board and Staff for recognizing the concerns caused by mass surveillance,” said Brian Hofer, a member of Oakland Privacy. “By implementing rules to govern the use of invasive equipment, BART can ensure adequate protection of our civil liberties, while still ensuring public safety.” File Under : Privacy and Government Surveillance Racial Justice Technology and Civil Liberties
Tomorrow, ACLU of Northern California staff and members will attend the BART Board of Directors meeting to urge the passage of a comprehensive surveillance oversight ordinance.The surveillance technology ordinance, long advocated for by the ACLU and community partners such as Oakland Privacy, would require surveillance proposals to undergo public scrutiny prior to approval. For technologies that the Board approves, the legislation would require a set of strict limits governing how the technology and collected data can be used.In a letter sent to the BART Board of Directors today, the ACLU commended the Board for considering the legislation while explaining that in order to fully protect riders from secret and unaccountable surveillance, the legislation must be adopted as an ordinance so that it is fully enforceable and be modified to remove or significantly narrow an exception allowing BART agencies to secretly test surveillance technology at single station for 90 days without any oversight or rules to prevent harm. For over two years, the ACLU has encouraged BART to take up this legislation. The BART Board of Directors placed the ordinance on tomorrow’s agenda as a direct result of an August 2018 meeting in which the Board, after hearing extensive concerns from the public and a coalition of civil rights and racial justice organizations, hit the brakes on a last minute multi-million-dollar proposal to significantly increase BART’s surveillance systems and assured the public that it would not implement face surveillance technology in the system.When: Thursday, Sept. 13 at 9amLocation: BART Board of Directors 2040 Webster Street, Third Floor Oakland, CA File Under : Privacy and Government Surveillance Racial Justice Technology and Civil Liberties Subtitle : Ordinance Would Be First of Its Kind for a Major Transit System
Technology and Civil Liberties Fellowship
Location: San Francisco, CAApplication deadline: Open until filledThe opportunityThe ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) seeks applicants for a full-time, one-year Technology & Civil Liberties Fellowship to begin no later than October 2019 with a focus on work at the intersection of government surveillance, immigrants’ rights, and racial justice. Applicants are urged to seek school-sponsored fellowship support as available, but applicants without access to school funding support are also strongly encouraged to apply.This position joins our statewide Technology and Civil Liberties team, nationally recognized for its use of cutting-edge legal, policy, and technology strategies, in the San Francisco office. The Fellow reports to the Technology and Civil Liberties Director for the ACLU of California, also based in San Francisco.The approachYou bring experience, enthusiasm and passion to your work on issues at the intersection of technology and civil liberties. You are a creative thinker who can help identify and implement diverse legal and policy strategies. You are a relationship-builder and willing collaborator with demonstrated success maintaining key relationships with diverse community groups and leaders. You excel at time-management and are able to keep a disciplined focus on your priorities while balancing emerging opportunities. You are thorough while also efficient and always produce top-notch work product that is tailored to Project goals. You have a growth-mindset and always seek to learn and improve the quality of your practice.The positionYour job is to defend and promote civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age, with a focus on work at the intersection of government surveillance, immigrants’ rights, and racial justice. This Fellowship serves a critical, immediate need. Advances in surveillance technology and the current administration’s policies combine to severely threaten the safety of communities of color and undermine civil rights.As the Technology and Civil Liberties Fellow, you will help investigate surveillance technologies that pose a threat to civil liberties and civil rights. You will be responsible for helping to develop and implement multi-disciplinary, proactive strategies to stop the use of powerful surveillance technologies, such as face surveillance, to track and target communities of color.Working on the Technology and Civil Liberties team and with ACLU experts on immigrants’ rights, border surveillance, national security, policing, and racial justice, you will integrate a range of legal and policy strategies into your work. These may include, but are not limited to: legal, policy, and technical research; legislative and agency lawyering; litigation and legal analysis; civic engagement; coalition development; public education; and strategic communications.About the organizationThe ACLU-NC is an affiliate of a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. For most of the last century, it has been at the heart of many of the most major – and sometimes controversial – struggles for civil liberties and civil rights in our state. Our mission is to ensure that Constitutional rights don’t just exist on paper, but are protected in practice. As we move into a new era and face dangerous policies that threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we remain dedicated to confronting these issues and defending the progress we have made. We must use our decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight these un-American policies and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms. We are the resistance. Join us.Duties & responsibilitiesConduct legal, policy, and technical research about technology and civil liberties issues, with a focus on the civil liberties and civil rights impact of surveillance on immigrant communities and other communities of color;Manage public records request projects;Participate in litigation, including via preparation of amicus briefs;Help to implement local, state and company campaigns to defend and promote civil rights, including legal and policy research and working on civic engagement, public education, and strategic communication materials;Engage in legislative, agency, corporate and political process lawyering, and support legal and policy efforts, including evaluating local and state legislation, helping to develop new legislation and policy models, drafting local and state advocacy letters, and providing expertise to policymakers;Forge and maintain relationships with technology experts, public interest groups, government officials, community stakeholders, and academics to engage them in our work, implement collaborative projects, and foster positive working relationships and opportunities to collaborate with state and national ACLU staff; andEngage in other activities to advance the work of the Technology and Civil Liberties Project.QualificationsJ.D. or graduate degree by June 2019 in a field such as public policy, political science, or information science;Relevant legal, policy or technical experience related to technology and privacy, free speech, immigrants’ rights, racial justice, national security, police practices, or broader civil rights;Excellent analysis, research, and writing skills, including the ability to translate complex legal and technology issues for diverse audiences;Strong time and project management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail, and follow-through, while balancing and prioritizing multiple activities and responsibilities;Excellent relationship-building and collaboration skills, including success working as a member of a team and/or with community organizations;Demonstrated experience engaging in creative problem solving and taking initiative, while utilizing a solutions-oriented approach and exhibiting flexibility and good judgement;Demonstrated experience engaging and working with and/or on behalf of communities of color. Applicants with personal experience related to immigrants’ rights, racial justice, policing, or government surveillance are encouraged to apply for this position; Willingness to travel within California, and occasionally to other parts of the country for speaking events, meetings, and conferences;Spanish, Arabic, or other relevant language skills preferred, but not required; andA commitment to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.CompensationCompetitive salary depending on experience. Starting salary range is $70,000. Excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation in addition to 14 office holidays; medical, vision and dental insurance for staff members, their dependents and spouse/domestic partner; life and long-term disability insurance; and 401(k) plan with employer match.To applyApplications will be accepted until the position has been filled. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible as we will be evaluating applications on a rolling basis. Applications must include (1) a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above, (2) resume, and (3) a list of four references.Cover letters should include the following additional information: (1) if seeking school-sponsored support and if so, the timeline for that process; (2) if concurrently applying to any other position with the ACLU and if so, which positions; (3) the month you would be able to begin the Fellowship (no later than October 2019).Applicants concurrently applying to any other position with the ACLU should state what other position they are applying for in the cover letter. Please submit your application materials online at:https://aclunc.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk01a8mThe ACLU of Northern California advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU-NC strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is free from discrimination and supportive of a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our communities and the people we serve. Type : Fellowship
Oakland: BART Board Action
Oakland: BART Board Action File Under : Criminal Justice and Drug Policy, Privacy and Government Surveillance, Technology and Civil Liberties Hashtag: #HellaPrivacyAs a subway, BART is supposed to serve and represent all the people who use it. That's why we will be at the BART Board's next meeting – to demand that they vote for an ordinance that gives people a seat at the table when BART considers invasive new surveillance technology. Join us this Thursday, Sep. 13 at 9am at in Oakland at 2040 Webster Street, Third Floor. Read the ACLU's letter.In the wake of the tragic murder of Nia Wilson, BART dropped a multi-million dollar security dragnet proposal with only three days' notice.The Bay Area responded with hours of passionate public testimony, leading BART to reject proposals that threatened the safety of riders, especially immigrants and people of color. In the end, the Board listened to the community and a civil rights and racial justice coalition, and promised to hold a vote on an ordinance that gives people oversight over new surveillance technology.The ordinance will require transparency and accountability when BART wants to buy and use technology like cameras, license plate readers, and face surveillance. It will make sure there can be no mass surveillance proposals on three days' notice ever again, and that the community will get a say on what security measure we want - and which we don't want.But we need you there to make sure it is passed: (1) as an enforceable ordinance (not a policy) and (2) without a dangerous exception that allows BART agencies to test invasive new technology without the necessary transparency and safeguards to prevent harm to riders. Read our letter to the Board discussing this legislation and our recommendations.Passing this law would give people the information and time they need to organize against technology that poses a threat to rider safety. Legislation like this ensures that BART riders have a seat at the table. It empowers riders to speak up if BART tries to purchase threatening new technology, such as face surveillance.Public safety in the digital age requires transparency, accountability, and oversight over surveillance technology. Please come and help us keep BART safe for everyone. Location:BART Board of Directors2040 Webster Street, Third FloorOakland, CARSVP requested on Facebook Event Date : Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 9:00am
Raimondo v. FBI (Internet Free Speech)
Active Case Our Work Legal Docket Legislation Know Your Rights Need Legal Help? Raimondo v. FBI (Internet Free Speech) August 27, 2018 Share: In 2004, the FBI conducted a “threat assessment” of long-time journalists and commentators Justin Raimondo and Eric Garris, as well as their website, Antiwar.com. In violation of the federal Privacy Act, this threat assessment compiled descriptions of the journalists’ First Amendment activities without any apparent law enforcement purpose. Attorneys at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP represented the journalists in a federal lawsuit against the FBI. Records the journalists received in response to their Freedom of Information Act claims revealed that the threat assessment was based on shoddy investigative work in addition to the apparent targeting of the journalists’ political speech. In the litigation, the FBI asserted that it was entitled to create this threat assessment because of Antiwar.com’s posting of government documents. But the First Amendment has long protected the publication of government secrets and the FBI never even suggested that the journalists or Antiwar.com had violated the law by obtaining or posting those documents.The district court held for the government and the ACLU appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Several organizations filed amicus brief in support of the journalists’ position.Learn moreACLU Releases Records in Freedom of the Press Lawsuit: Sloppy FBI Work Leads to Spying on Journalists (Nov. 6, 2013)ACLU Lawsuit Takes on FBI Surveillance of News Organizations (May 21, 2013) File Under : Free Speech, Privacy and Government Surveillance, Technology and Civil Liberties Case Developments Filing 08/27/2018 FBI's Responding Brief Filing 08/03/2018 Amicus Brief of First Amendment Coalition Filing 08/03/2018 Amicus Brief of Electronic Frontier Foundation Filing 08/03/2018 Amicus Brief of Knight First Amendment Institute, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Color of Change Filing 07/27/2018 Appellants’ Opening Brief Ruling 01/12/2018 Order on Further Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment Ruling 05/10/2016 Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment Filing 05/01/2014 First Amended Complaint Filing 05/21/2013 Complaint
Police Are Acquiring Surveillance Tech in Secret. A California Bill Would Give the Public a Say.
Police Are Acquiring Surveillance Tech in Secret. A CA Bill Would Give the Public a Say. Recent stories about Amazon’s invasive face scanning surveillance technology and Cambridge Analytica’s exploitation of Facebook data have brought the impact of surveillance and data misuse to the fore. But many people don’t realize how often local law enforcement agencies acquire and use similar technologies in their own communities. A groundbreaking bill pending in California would bring this day-to-day local surveillance out of the shadows and give communities a way to fight back against surveillance systems that are disproportionately aimed at immigrants and people of color.The bill, SB 1186, requires greater transparency and public oversight when law enforcement agencies seek to acquire surveillance technologies that collect sensitive location or other personal data. It builds on a workable model that several California localities have already enacted.Right now, a key California legislative committee holds the power to advance the bill, which is supported by a broad coalition of California civil rights and civil liberties organizations. In this political climate, it’s a necessary tool for protecting immigrants and other vulnerable residents from surveillance systems that are readily exploitable by the federal government.The bill requires local law enforcement to get the approval of elected local representatives before acquiring surveillance technology. Before that vote, law enforcement agencies like police departments, sheriffs, and district attorneys must propose a set of written rules that explain their plans for the technology, as wells as limits on its use and collection and sharing of data. Next, residents get a chance to weigh in on these rules and the proposal at a public meeting. If a city council or board of supervisors doesn’t approve a proposal, law enforcement cannot acquire or use that technology.As surveillance technology becomes more powerful and easily available, California needs this bill now more than ever — and hopefully other states will follow its lead. Often bankrolled by federal funds, technologies like automatic license plate readers, drones, and social media surveillance systems have invaded our communities without our knowledge or input. These technologies collect information about our whereabouts and other sensitive details about our lives, and they are frequently turned on local activists.Warrantless surveillance not only feeds databases that can be abused, it leads to real world harms that disproportionately affect immigrants, people of color, and Muslim Americans. Many law enforcement agencies have used social media monitoring products advertised as tools to track activists of color — San Jose police used it to spy on protesters during a visit by India’s prime minister. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department monitored the residents of Compton using high-powered aerial surveillance. San Francisco police stopped and held an elderly Black woman at gunpoint — all because an automatic license plate reader improperly identified her car as a stolen vehicle. Elsewhere, police have used that same technology to monitor mosque visitors.Federal immigration authorities are increasingly seeking to exploit these local surveillance systems, often without local knowledge. Earlier this year, for example, news broke that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had obtained access to a database operated by a company called Vigilant, which hosts license plate location data collected by local law enforcement agencies across the United States.The ACLU of Northern California has sued to learn more about this arrangement, and some California communities have stood up and rejected this company’s technology. However, these systems continue to prowl cities and rural areas, collecting data about immigrants while they’re driving to work, running errands, or bringing their kids to school. ICE should not be able to exploit this data to target and separate families. SB 1186 gives communities statewide a way to ensure that local law enforcement is not facilitating practices like this.Communities such as Santa Clara County, Oakland, Davis, and Berkeley have already passed ordinances that require law enforcement agencies to be transparent about surveillance proposals, submit those proposals to a vote by elected leaders, and write strict rules for how the technologies can be used. SB 1186 — which would be the first statewide law of its kind — would ensure that all Californians can benefit from these important reforms. Community voices must be heard if surveillance proposals are on the table.This bill is a piece of a larger movement. Localities across the country are taking part in a national campaign called Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS), a reform effort spearheaded by 17 organizations, including the ACLU, aimed at putting local residents and elected officials in charge of decisions about surveillance technology. To date, local CCOPS efforts have sprouted up in more than twenty cities, including New York, and St. Louis.After passing through the California Senate, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee will decide this bill’s fate in the next week. If you live in California, contact your state assembly representative and encourage them to support SB 1186 across the finish line.This will not be an easy fight. Law enforcement agencies strongly oppose this bill’s transparency and oversight mechanisms. But public safety in the digital era requires that elected representatives and community members have a voice in important decisions like these.Chloe Triplett is a Policy Advocate with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
ACLU Comment on New Amazon Statement Responding to Face Recognition Technology Test
Media contact: email@example.com or (212) 549-2666San Francisco - Amazon today issued an additional statement in response to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California test of Rekognition, the company's face recognition technology. The test revealed that Rekognition falsely matched 28 current members of Congress with images in an arrest photo database. Congressional members of color were disproportionately identified incorrectly, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Jacob Snow, technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, responded with the following comments:In its five stages of grief over its dangerous face surveillance product, Amazon is clearly stuck at denial. In a matter of 48 hours, Amazon has gone from its own system default of an 80 percent match rate to saying yesterday it should be 95 percent, and then saying today it should be 99 percent. At no time has Amazon taken any responsibility for the very grave impact that their face surveillance product has on real people.Instead, Amazon is grasping at straws in an attempt to distract from critical civil rights issues. Amazon should take steps to fix the damage its ill-advised face surveillance product may have already caused and to prevent further harm. Amazon should respond to members of Congress. It should disclose every government agency that has already purchased this technology. And it should heed the calls of organizations and its own customers, employees, and shareholders and stop selling face surveillance to the government. The fact that Amazon has refused to address the very real threats its technology poses, let alone take these necessary actions, is further evidence of its disappointing state of denial – and the need for Congress to quickly step in with a moratorium.Snow's comments in response to Amazon's initial statement can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/news/members-congress-demand-meeting-amazon-ceo-fol....Below is a timeline of developments to date:February 2017 — The Sherriff’s office in Washington County Oregon (correctly) warned Amazon their work together could raise civil liberties concerns, stating thatthe “ACLU might consider this the government getting in bed with big data.”June 2017 – Amazon and Washington County write a blog post together instructing people on how to use Rekognition to find people in arrest photos, just as the ACLU did in its test. That post sets the confidence threshold at 85% (not 95% and certainly not 99%).May 2018 — ACLU releases the results of an investigation showing that Amazon was aggressively marketing face recognition to law enforcement as a tool of mass surveillance.June 18, 2018 — The ACLU, together with local community partners, deliver a petition with over 150,000 signatures and coalition letter signed by nearly 70 organizations to Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle. That same day, 19 investor groups echo the ACLU’s demand in a shareholder letter to Mr. Bezos. In their letter, shareholders warn the technology “may not only pose a privacy threat to customers and other stakeholders across the country, but may also raise substantial risks for our Company, negatively impacting our company’s stock valuation and increasing financial risk for shareholders.”June 21, 2018 —Amazon employees send a powerful letter to Jeff Bezos calling on him to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement, stating that they “refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights” and that Amazon “should not be in the business of supporting those who monitor and oppress marginalized populations.”July 26, 2018 — ACLU releases the results of its independently verified test showing that, using the default match settings, 28 members of congress incorrectly matched arrest photos, with members of congress of color disproportionately being falsely identified.July 26, 2018 — Amazon states that it guides law enforcement customers to set a threshold of 95% for face recognition. Amazon also notes that, if its face recognition product is used with the default settings, it won’t “identify individuals with a reasonable level of certainty.”July 27, 2018 — Amazon writes that even 95% is an unacceptably low threshold, and states that 99% is the appropriate threshold for law enforcement. File Under : Privacy and Government Surveillance Racial Justice Technology and Civil Liberties
Members of Congress Demand Meeting With Amazon CEO Following ACLU Report on Amazon Face Recognition Technology
SAN FRANCISCO – Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) today wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demanding a meeting to discuss Amazon’s face surveillance product Rekognition. The letter comes after the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California released results of a test this morning revealing that Rekognition falsely matched 28 current members of Congress with images in an arrest photo database. Congressional members of color were disproportionately identified incorrectly, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) also wrote to Amazon with questions about the sale of Rekognition to law enforcement. Markey, Gomez, Lewis, Gutiérrez, and DeSaulnier were among the 28 to be falsely identified. “These lawmakers and others are standing up and holding Amazon’s feet to the fire,” said ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani. “It’s disappointing that Amazon continues to bury its head in the sand in the face of concrete and legitimate concerns being raised about its technology. In doing so, they ignore the real privacy, civil liberties, and safety risks of their technology. Congress should continue to demand Amazon take responsibility for the technology it sells to law enforcement. In addition, Congress should enact a federal moratorium on law enforcement use of this technology until there can be a full debate on what – if any – uses should be permitted.”Earlier, Amazon responded to the ACLU’s test via a statement arguing that the ACLU should have used higher threshold settings than Amazon’s own default. Jacob Snow, technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, responded with the following comments:“Amazon seems to have missed, or refuses to acknowledge, the broader point: Face surveillance technology in the hands of government is primed for abuse and raises grave civil rights concerns. It could allow – and in some cases has already enabled – police to track protesters, ICE to continuously monitor immigrants, and cities to surveil their own residents. Changing the matching threshold doesn’t change the danger. In fact, it could exacerbate it.“In addition to remaining silent on these very real concerns that members of Congress, community groups, and Amazon’s own employees, shareholders, and consumers have raised repeatedly, Amazon is acknowledging that Rekognition – a product that it aggressively markets to law enforcement – can and will misidentify people by default. That’s downright dangerous, and there’s more:We know from our test that Amazon makes no effort to ask users what they are using Rekognition for. Instead, Rekognition sets one default: the same 80 percent we used in running our test. We also know that Amazon’s website, right now, shows the use of an 80 percent confidence for recognizing human faces. It shows that Amazon is recommending an 80 percent confidence score in ‘Face-Based User Verification.’ If an 80 percent threshold is not ‘appropriate for identifying individuals with a reasonable level of certainty,’ why is Amazon highlighting that confidence level for recognizing human faces?“Amazon has effectively admitted that its product is dangerous out of the box. This just reinforces that Amazon needs to take greater responsibility for Rekognition. And Congress needs to take action to put on the brakes and enact a moratorium on law enforcement use of face surveillance.”Below is an image from Amazon’s website with Amazon showing the use of an 80 percent confidence score for “Face-Based User Verification.”The ACLU used Amazon’s default settings to conduct the test, which was then verified by an independent expert. The test also resembles how a sheriff’s department in Oregon is deploying Rekognition to compare people’s faces against a mugshot database.The letter from Reps. Gomez and Lewis to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos can be found here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4618972-Amazon-Rekognition-Lette....Sen. Markey and Reps. Gutiérrez and DeSaulnier’s letter can be found here: https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/after-false-matches-by...The ACLU report can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/a... File Under : Privacy and Government Surveillance Racial Justice Technology and Civil Liberties Subtitle : ACLU Also Issues Comment on Amazon Statement About “Rekognition” Scan Results
Amazon Facial Surveillance Technology Falsely Identifies 28 Members of Congress with Mugshots
Today the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California released the results of a test revealing that Amazon’s facial surveillance product Rekognition falsely matched 28 current members of Congress with images in an arrest photo database. In the ACLU’s test, legislators from both parties, from states across the country, were falsely matched. Congressional members of color were disproportionately identified incorrectly, including six members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Several months ago, the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to Jeff Bezos that expressed concern about the “profound negative unintended consequences” face surveillance technology could have for African Americans, undocumented immigrants, and protestors.The ACLU used Rekognition’s default settings to compare every member of Congress with 25,000 public arrest photos, and verified the results with an independent expert. The test mirrors how a sheriff’s department in Oregon is deploying Rekognition to compare people’s faces against a mugshot database.“Our test reinforces that face surveillance is not safe for government use,” said Jacob Snow, Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. “Face surveillance will be used to power discriminatory surveillance and policing that targets communities of color, immigrants, and activists. Once unleashed, that damage can’t be undone.”These results follow a nationwide movement in protest of the government use of face surveillance, prompted by the ACLU’s release of a report showing how Amazon is marketing facial surveillance to law enforcement. Since the release of the documents, the ACLU has delivered over 150,000 petition signatures to Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle demanding that Amazon stop selling facial surveillance technology to governments. A coalition of nearly 70 civil rights organizations, hundreds of academics, as well as Amazon shareholders and employees, have all expressed grave concerns about the profound civil liberties and civil rights threats posed by facial surveillance.“Congress should press for a federal moratorium on the use of face surveillance until its harms, particularly to vulnerable communities, are fully considered,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel. “The public deserves a full debate about how and if face surveillance should be used. Image : File Under : Privacy and Government Surveillance Racial Justice Technology and Civil Liberties Subtitle : ACLU Calls for Moratorium on Government Use of Face Surveillance Technology
A Promising California Bill Could Help Communities Stop Secret And Discriminatory Police Surveillance
SB 21 Could Help Communities Stop Secret And Discriminatory Police Surveillance California is on the verge of passing Senate Bill 21 (SB 21), a strong bill that, in its current form, would help empower communities and their local elected officials to stop secret and discriminatory use of police surveillance technologies. Making sure state lawmakers enact robust surveillance reform laws is all the more important right now as the Trump administration equips its deportation force with surveillance capabilities, aggressively pursues political activists, and escalates pressure on sanctuary cities. Now is the time to make sure a strong SB 21 — with no further amendments — gets across the finish line.For years, the secret use of surveillance technology has been consistently expanding with virtually no restraints. Law enforcement agencies nationwide, using federal funds, have amassed sophisticated technologies, including Stingray cell phone trackers, automatic license plate readers (ALPRs), drones, and algorithm-based policing software.These surveillance technologies are frequently used to target immigrants and communities of color. South Asian, Muslim and Sikh protesters were spied on in San Jose. Baltimore police used facial recognition technology to identify people protesting the police killing of Freddie Gray. And social media surveillance technology in Fresno enabled police to monitor hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter as “threats to public safety.” Residents of Compton, California, have been monitored in their own backyards with high-powered, fly-over cameras and the New York Police Department used license plate readers to track people as they worshiped at mosques. Now immigrant communities living along the United States and Mexico border are facing an invasive new program to scan their eyeballs.Californians want reform, with more than two-thirds supporting both local and state-level rules to rein in police surveillance. If passed in its current form, SB 21 will become the first state law to require transparency and community control over police decisions about surveillance technology. The bill requires a public debate over proposals to acquire new surveillance technologies. It places local communities and elected officials at the center of every decision to approve or reject their locality’s use of surveillance technologies. And should local elected leaders approve the use of a surveillance technology, SB 21 requires the adoption of a council-approved policy governing its use and regular evaluations of its impact on civil rights and civil liberties.>> Take Action: Urge California to pass a strong SB 21 to rein in secret and discriminatory surveillance.The need for surveillance reform is not just a local issue. Sensitive surveillance information about who we are, where we go, and what we do that is collected by local law enforcement often flows, without adequate controls, to the federal government through fusion centers, which collect and share surveillance data from all levels of government, as well as other domestic spying infrastructure. This is not a hypothetical threat. Just ask Oakland, California, which despite being a sanctuary city, discovered that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was using a fusion center to get its hands on Oakland’s license plate reader data. SB 21’s provisions, which empower communities to consider if and how any surveillance information is shared with the federal government, are particularly important in the current political climate.SB 21 builds on the nationwide Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) movement, a reform effort spearheaded by 17 organizations, including the ACLU, that is designed to put local residents and elected officials in charge of decisions about surveillance technology. Last summer, Santa Clara County, California passed a groundbreaking ordinance ensuring consistent transparency, accountability, and oversight procedures for all surveillance decisions in the county. Nashville adopted a CCOPS law earlier this summer, and Seattle just voted to strengthen its first-in-the-nation surveillance ordinance.California’s SB 21 has emerged at a key moment — right now at least 18 U.S. cities are actively considering their own surveillance bills. Oakland is poised to enact a robust ordinance in an effort led by the city’s new Privacy Advisory Commission. In New York City, the ACLU of New York and various community groups are fighting to end the NYPD’s secret use of surveillance technology and prevent any inappropriate data sharing with the Trump administration. Residents in St. Louis are working to pass a CCOPS law as a part of broader efforts to address discriminatory policing in the region.We need strong local and state protections to push secret surveillance into the light, put communities back in control, and prevent abusive practices that all too often target immigrants, people of color, religious groups, and activists.We hope you’ll urge California lawmakers to pass a strong SB 21 – with no further amendments – and in so doing set an example for other cities and states to follow.To learn more about the CCOPS effort and how to start or join an effort in your community, please visit www.CommunityCTRL.com.Nicole A. Ozer is the Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director with the ACLU of California. Chad Marlow is Advocacy and Policy Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union.