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 […]

One Ring To Rule Them All: Surveillance and the Massachusetts Governor’s Race

by Alex Marthews on February 5, 2014

While most Massachusetts voters are digging out from a ferocious winter storm, state politics goes on. In particular, ten brave souls are running for this November’s election for Massachusetts governor – five Democrats, two Republicans and three Independents. It seems recently that candidates campaigning against the surveillance state have been getting some traction, probably because […]

#MassWiretap: The AG’s Office Responds

by Alex Marthews on June 19, 2013

After I posted an article giving Digital Fourth’s view on the wiretapping law on Blue Mass Group, Massachusetts’ largest Democratic blog, we got some attention from Mr. Brad Puffer, Director of Communications for the Mass Attorney General’s office. They seem put out. Maybe they didn’t like the lede, “Coakley Channeling the NSA?” The above blog […]

Microscope Monday: Analysis of Massachusetts’ proposed Liberty Preservation Act, H. 1428

by Alex Marthews on April 8, 2013

The newly formed Massachusetts chapter of PANDA is bringing forward legislation on Beacon Hill to prevent the indefinite detention of American citizens under the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The notion that the President should be allowed to detain US citizens without trial and without limit in time of war is a horrifying idea, […]

Major Crimes Plunge, But AG’s Office Still Pressing To Wiretap All The Things

by Alex Marthews on April 5, 2013

One Catch-22 of criminal justice reform is that law enforcement will always ask for more powers, whether crime is down or crime is up. If crime is up, they need more powers to deal with criminals who have “gotten the upper hand.” If crime is down, they need more powers to keep it from rising […]

Time to Gut CFAA Like The Rotten Fish It Is: Protests and Reform Proposals for Computer Crime, with Added Matthew Broderick

by Alex Marthews on April 4, 2013

It’s not usually our dealio here at Digital Fourth to weigh in on federal digital rights, because terrific organizations like EFF, Fight for the Future, Demand Progress and the ACLU generally do that heavy lifting for us. But so much has happened regarding prosecutions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that it’s worth focusing […]

The Theory of Surveillance: The Panopticon and the Stainless Steel Rat

by Alex Marthews on March 25, 2013

As we residents of Massachusetts gambol heedlessly downward from the Mountains of Liberty toward the Swamps of Oppression, let’s take a brief breather to consider a more general commentary on surveillance. Philosophical examinations of governmental surveillance powers center on eighteenth-century founder of utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham and twentieth-century philosopher Michel Foucault. The key concept used to […]

Microscope Monday: Massachusetts’ proposed Electronic Privacy Act (S. 796 / HD 1014)

by Alex Marthews on March 25, 2013

Howdy and good morning, lovers of the Internet freedoms! It’s time for another in our “Microscope Mondays” series, where we take a good hard look at pending legislation here in Massachusetts relevant to surveillance. Previously, we’ve covered a praiseworthy effort to restrict the use of drones for law enforcement purposes and Martha Coakley’s should-be-better-known “Let’s […]

The God of Vengeance is Still Thirsty: Feds Charge Reuters Social Media Editor Matthew Keys with Aiding Anonymous, Threaten 25 Years in Jail & $750,000 Fine

by Alex Marthews on March 14, 2013

Just in case you thought that the federal government would be satisfied with massively overcharging Aaron Swartz and Barrett Brown, we now have the case of Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys (@TheMatthewKeys). Seems that a grand jury indictment has been filed in Sacramento, alleging that Keys participated in an online chat where he gave […]

Microscope Monday: Massachusetts’ new drone privacy bill

by Alex Marthews on March 4, 2013

Since our earlier analysis of the repellent new bill expanding electronic wiretapping was well-received, we’re starting an official series analyzing proposed Massachusetts legislation, called “Microscope Monday”. In honor of the efforts to organize a new drone privacy group here in Massachusetts, this week’s bill is S. 1664 (Hedlund) / H. 1357 (Garry), “An act to […]