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, […]

CIA Chief John Brennan Is Getting A Little Bored, People

by Alex Marthews on August 1, 2014

Whoa, for a moment there I was worried. Our own Inspector-General here at the CIA has verified that we tortured people and then lied about it and then illegally surveilled the Intelligence Committee that’s supposed to oversee us, to intimidate them into not publishing the report that documents the torture and lying and covering up. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Spying is Censorship

by Gregg Housh on April 30, 2014

[We welcome our newest contributor, Gregg Housh, an activist focused on internet freedoms, censorship, over-prosecution and Anonymous. This article is cross-posted at 0v.org. - Alex.] It was February 6th, 2011 that I had to give some bad news to my wife. Her pseudonym (one she calls “as subtle as John Zeus”) was on the list […]

Racial profiling, Muslim surveillance, and the NYPD

by Adam Weiss on April 28, 2014

On Tuesday, April 15 the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced it was disbanding a controversial unit that had been spying on Muslims since its inception in 2003. The NYPD’s “Demographics Unit” specifically gathered intelligence on Muslims living in New York City, New Jersey, and even as far away as Philadelphia. It sent plain […]