Security Grifting At Work: Million-Dollar ALPR System In Vermont Solves Four (4) Crimes in 2013

by Alex Marthews on October 20, 2014

Vermont Public Radio does the spadework to find out whether automated license plate surveillance systems offer a reasonable return on investment: “…Even with the millions of scans, the system has not led to many arrests or breakthroughs in major criminal investigations. [...] They were helpful in solving fewer than five crimes in 2013. [Officer] Cram […]

State Report Tells Schoolkids: Inform, Conform, and Trust the Police

by Alex Marthews on September 26, 2014

Following on from the Sandy Hook school shooting, the “Massachusetts Task Force on School Safety and Security” released a report in July. As you’d expect from a report written with plenty of police input and none from the civil liberties community, it recommends changes that are highly intrusive, probably ineffective, definitely expensive, and likely to […]

Local Police May Be Hacking Your Phone: Piercing Secrecy Around Stingrays

by Alex Marthews on September 4, 2014

Without your knowledge or permission, your smartphone’s calls could be being intercepted right now by your local police department, and your taxes are definitely being misused to pay for unconstitutional police snooping. We have reported before on “stingrays”, which started being used by local police departments in around 2006. These devices impersonate a cellphone tower […]

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 […]

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, […]

High Over Compton: “Wide Area Surveillance” Surveils Entire Town

by Alex Marthews on April 22, 2014

The Atlantic picks up on a story from the Center for Investigative Reporting that in 2012, the LA County Sheriff’s Department secretly tested a civilian surveillance aircraft by flying it over a town in their jurisdiction and taking high-resolution footage of everything visibly happening there, over a period of up to six hours (highlights are […]

Cities around the country say: fusion centers are wasteful, fraudulent, and ineffective

by Alex Marthews on April 15, 2014

[Guest post from Adwoa Masozi of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.] Thursday, April 10, 2014 was a National Day of Action against Fusion Centers. Diverse, multiracial grassroots coalitions from around the country held rallies, press conferences, and creative actions to challenges civil liberties by fusion centers, which coordinate the surveillance activities of local police […]

No Way To Complain = No Complaints = No Problem!

by Alex Marthews on April 14, 2014

Boston’s fusion center, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, no longer hosts their privacy policy on their website – I was told that it was “under review” and that the new policy will be posted when it’s ready – so it’s lucky for all of us that the ACLU of Massachusetts has a copy of the […]

Commonwealth Fusion Center Violates Constitution, New Report Says

by Alex Marthews on April 10, 2014

Massachusetts has two “fusion centers”, mostly state-funded, which aggregate enormous amounts of data on innocent Massachusetts residents, with the notion of preventing terrorist attacks. When you call the “See Something, Say Something” line, the information goes into “Suspicious Activity Reports.” The ACLU of Massachusetts documented that the Boston fusion center (“BRIC”) had actually spent its […]