Category Archives: News

White Flags On The Brooklyn Bridge: Massive Surveillance Can’t Even Stop Minor Crimes

by Alex Marthews on August 8, 2014

On July 22, at 3:30am, in place of the Stars and Stripes that usually fly over the Brooklyn Bridge, bleached-out American flags appeared instead. Despite three surveillance cameras and allegedly round-the-clock police surveillance, four or five people, their identities still unknown, were able to cover up the lights trained on the flags, take them down, […]

Bullying on the Buses: Boston School Department Says More Surveillance Is The Solution

by Alex Marthews on July 31, 2014

The Boston Globe reports that the Boston School Department, worried about bullying on yellow buses, is buying audio-enabled camera systems to install on them. MBTA buses have already added camera systems that are not enabled for audio. As ever, the justification is “safety”: driver safety, student safety, whatever kind of safety. Mention the word “safety”, […]

The Executive’s Humpty-Dumpty Terrorism Watchlisting Policy: Lessons from People v. Morales

by Alex Marthews on July 25, 2014

The Intercept’s publication of the criteria for the terrorism watchlists throws some light at least on what the government tells itself a terrorist is. This is a matter of keen interest to many of us, since a close reading of the following text tells you a lot about the values and priorities of our new-minted […]

During 2013, Exactly Zero MA Wiretaps Resulted In Arrests Or Convictions

by Alex Marthews on July 22, 2014

The official system of electronic wiretaps in the US predates and is separate from the unconstitutional mass surveillance conducted by the NSA and other surveillance agencies. Typically, electronic wiretaps comply fully with the Fourth Amendment by requiring an individualized warrant based on probable cause before the wiretap begins. But it’s still interesting to look at […]

86-Year-Old Man Took Photo of “Rainbow Swash” in Dorchester; Agents Track Him Down to Sacramento, Quiz His Neighbors, Put Him On A Watch List

by Alex Marthews on July 18, 2014

This is James Prigoff. He is 86 years old. Mr. Prigoff was president of a division of all-American jeans maker Levi Strauss and a VP at tasty bread maker Sara Lee. In his retirement, he apparently likes taking photos of public art, which of course, because WE HAVE FREEDOM HERE DAMMIT, he can pursue happily […]

Three Bills To Protect Privacy: We Need Calls. Now.

by Alex Marthews on July 16, 2014

The powerful MA Senate Ways and Means Committee is voting on whether to approve three privacy-protecting bills. The ACLU is asking Massachusetts residents to call their legislators; do it today if you can! The License Plate Privacy Act would limit the ability of law enforcement to track your movements around the state, by keeping an […]

Change Is In The Air: Alleged Pot Smell No Longer Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion in Massachusetts

by Alex Marthews on July 15, 2014

It was clear from the moment that Massachusetts decriminalized the ownership of small amounts of pot, that it would create a problem for the police. Specifically, it would create a problem for their ability to continue to make the 6.5% of arrests nationwide, as of 2010, that related to pot specifically [source: FBI Uniform Crime […]

NSA: Civil Liberties are for Christians, Not “Mohammed Raghead”

by Alex Marthews on July 13, 2014

The Intercept has a careful profile of five American Muslim leaders who have been targeted by the NSA. It makes clear that absolutely nothing in the public record suggests that these five men are suspected of or are guilty of any crime, or are “agents of a foreign power”. Over at Lawfare, they’re busy arguing […]

MA Fusion Center Reform Stalls Out

by Alex Marthews on July 10, 2014

Digital Fourth’s second major campaign is to close the fusion centers, which are like mini-NSAs that gather data on residents’ “suspicious activities” in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Now, the major fusion center reform bill in the Massachusetts legislature has died in committee. In this post, we’re exploring why the Free Speech Act was important, […]

Are Boston Police Using Stingrays? Help MuckRock Find Out

by Alex Marthews on June 4, 2014

Today’s news in Wired that the federal government is willing to send in the US Marshals to prevent disclosure of how local police departments are using stingrays, makes it seem that what they’re hiding is pretty important. Our friends at public information service Muckrock.com are launching a new research project to find out exactly what […]