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 […]

At HOPE X: Artist Essam Attia, cool research, and Restore The Fourth!

by Alex Marthews on July 18, 2014

The tenth biennial Hackers on Planet Earth Conference starts today and runs through Sunday at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. We’ll be there as part of the Restore The Fourth delegation (I’m the national chair of Restore The Fourth). I and Zaki Manian will be hosting a radio show 10am-11am on Radio Statler, the HOPE […]

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 […]

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, […]

We Need Real Surveillance Reform, Not The House’s “USA Freedom Act”

by Alex Marthews on May 28, 2014

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the bill called The USA Freedom Act, 303 votes to 121. Following a series of amendments, the bill as it passed in the end contained much weaker reforms than even the very modest ones it originally proposed. The Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s manager’s amendment removed two-thirds of […]

Animal welfare clashes with the Fourth Amendment in Lynn

by Alex Marthews on May 23, 2014

In April, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts expanded the circumstances under which police could enter a home without a search warrant. The facts of the case are of a nature almost calculated to extinguish sympathy with the defendant. As reported in the Lynn Daily Item, the Duncan family mistreated their dogs and left them […]

Why Would Anybody Distrust The Spies? Ben Wittes on the “Intelligence Legitimacy Paradox”

by Alex Marthews on May 18, 2014

Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institute has a new article on the popular security blog Lawfare in which he worries that the intelligence project has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the public. No kidding. Wittes argues, the threat environment America faces is growing ever more complicated and multifaceted, and the ability to meet it […]

NH: Warrants now likely to be required for cellphones

by Alex Marthews on May 13, 2014

Following on from February’s ruling by Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court that law enforcement needs a warrant to obtain cellphone location information, New Hampshire is now strengthening its laws relating to cellphone searches. A short and simple bill introduced by Reps. Kurk, Sandblade and O’Flaherty, all of Hillsborough County, NH, provides that a warrant, “signed by […]