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Last week, Congress passed and sent a bill to the President that will greatly decrease individual privacy and cybersecurity (for more, see Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) “Five Ways Cybersecurity Will Suffer If Congress Repeals the FCC Privacy Rules”). S.J.Res. 34: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, submitted by the FCC relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services” will roll back the FCC regulation passed last year that required Internet service providers (ISPs) — like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, Cox, and CenturyLink — to hold all Internet browsing data, as well as data regarding app usage on mobile devices, to the same privacy requirements as sensitive or private personal information. The Republican-controlled Congress repealed those privacy-protecting rules, and the President is set to sign the bill any day now. BTW, none of the big ISPs have publicly supported the rule change, but a group of Small ISPs wrote a public letter to Congress opposing Congress’s Move to Abolish Privacy Protections — including, I’m happy to say, MY awesome local ISP called MonkeyBrains! So if you’re concerned about your Internet privacy rights, I’d definitely recommend getting off of Comcast et al and signing up with one of the ISPs that signed the letter. Do it ASAP!
While it’s unclear if this will be possible or even legal, there has been a crop of FundMe and Kickstarter projects springing up to collect $$ to purchase Congress’ browsing history and make it public in retaliation for Congress killing Internet privacy rules. And I just found that our friends at GovTrack.US have just made public a running tally in real time of “any time someone visits GovTrack.us from within the United States Senate, House of Representatives, or the White House, and their associated office buildings.” GovTrack is following the lead of the CongressEdits twitter feed, making a public record of Congress’ moves and actions across the Intertubes.
In March 2017 the U.S. Congress passed a bill that rolled back regulations prohibiting Internet service providers from selling subscribers’ browsing habits to advertisers. Since browsing history metadata is no big deal to Congress, we began publishing the browsing history of anyone visting GovTrack.us from Congress’s and the White House’s office buildings.
We’ve been following [[Edward Snowden]] since his first leaks of NSA documents. But wow, this is quite the chart that ProPublica has put together. It’s really something to see all of the leaks in this visual format. Thanks ProPublica!
This is a plot of the NSA programs revealed in the past year according to whether they are bulk or targeted, and whether the targets of surveillance are foreign or domestic. Most of the programs fall squarely into the agency’s stated mission of foreign surveillance, but some – particularly those that are both domestic and broad – sweeping – are more controversial.
Hey, check out the new, hot-off-the-presses Radical Reference anti-surveillance zine! It’s chock full of information to keep individuals and libraries safe in our ubiquitous surveillance world. It’s under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA license so feel free to print and hand them out in your library.
Ever since the events of September 11th, something has been happening to our privacy rights. The aftermath of this national tragedy has been an unprecedented expansion of mass surveillance in the name of “national security.” Technological progress has enabled surveillance to be both ubiquitous and ultra-pervasive, seeping into all aspects of the public and private spheres. Recent revelations about dragnet surveillance prove that we are having our data collected, stored and analyzed, even if we’ve been charged with no crime. In this world of mass surveillance, we are all suspects.
Librarians have always been fierce defenders of privacy. As a profession, we’ve opposed undemocratic and illegal threats to 1st and 4th amendment rights from McCarthyism to the USA PATRIOT Act. It’s unsurprising that these issues are of paramount importance to us; as information professionals, we know that privacy is fundamental to freedom. Even more importantly, privacy is vital to human dignity, recognized by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our freedoms of association, speech, and thought all depend on our privacy.
That’s why we’ve created this anti-surveillance, pro-privacy publication. Information and action is critical to the fight against surveillance. We hope that this publication will help.
Your anti-surveillance Radical Reference Librarians
Here’s an opportunity to let the White House know your opinions on data gathering, transforming technologies and privacy issues.
From: The White House [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2014 2:00 PM
Subject: The President’s review of big data and privacy
Friday, March 21, 2014
The President’s review of big data and privacy
In January, President Obama spoke about changes in the technology we use for national security purposes, and what they mean for our privacy broadly.
He launched a 90-day review of big data and privacy: how they affect the way we live, and the way we work — and how data is being used by universities, the private sector, and the government.
As part of that review, we’ve already heard from leading privacy advocates and industry leaders, among others.
But this is a conversation that affects all Americans, and we want to make sure you have a chance to be a part of it. We want your input.
Take a moment to tell us what you think about big data, privacy, and what it means to you. Visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/big-data-review to voice your opinions
PLEASE. Take a moment to take the survey and (respectfully) tell the President that if there’s no probable cause you’re involved with a crime, your data should be off limits. It would probably be good to also provide input on the question “what technologies have transformed your life” and note the role of net neutrality in making it possible.
ALA off target in giving Madison Award to Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
I’m in 2 minds about this year’s James Madison Award given annually by the American Library Association to “honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know at the national level.” Last year’s award was given to computer programer and internet activist [[Aaron Swartz]], “an outspoken advocate for public participation in government and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarly articles.” It was announced yesterday that the Obama administration’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies had received the award.
While I can appreciate that the Obama administration would set up this group to look into US security and surveillance programs, I believe it premature to give this group the Madison award before any of their suggested reforms have been put in place or analyzed for their efficacy at protecting the public’s privacy and 4th amendment rights. Additionally, I find it highly questionable to honor the Obama administration after it has been repeatedly shown to be hypocritical in terms of surveillance, privacy, and government transparency in general [update 2:45PM: case in point, this recent AP news article “Obama Administration Cites ‘National Security’ More Than Ever To Censor, Deny Records”].
Instead, this year’s award ought to have gone to whistleblower Edward Snowden who’s leaks of NSA documents brought to light the NSA’s systematic and unconstitutional surveillance programs and forced the Obama administration to set up the Review Group in the first place — lipstick on a pig?! — if for nothing else to have some positive PR. ALA was already on record in support of needs for reforms of US intelligence community with its Resolution on the Need for Reforms for the Intelligence Community to Support Privacy, Open Government, Government Transparency, and Accountability (Council Document 20.4) — which ironically replaced the Resolution in Support of Whistleblower Edward Snowden a day after that resolution passed and was then rescinded by ALA Council! — so they should have taken this opportunity to do the right thing and honor Mr Snowden with the Madison award.
Today, the American Library Association awarded President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies the 2014 James Madison Award during the 16th Annual Freedom of Information Day in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Review Group received the award for calling for dozens of urgent and practical reforms to the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance programs.
Calling on the government to enhance public trust, the President’s Review Group produced a thoughtful report (PDF) with a blueprint showing how the government can reaffirm its commitment to privacy and civil liberties—all without compromising national security. In the report, the Review Group emphasized the need for transparency and effective oversight, and made recommendations intended to protect U.S. national security and advance foreign policy. Additionally, the Review Group asked the U.S. government to demonstrate the validity of claims that secrecy is necessary.
Members of the Review Group include Richard Clarke, former national security official under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; Michael Morell, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Geoffrey Stone, law professor at the University of Chicago Law School; Cass Sunstein, professor at Harvard University and Peter Swire, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.