This post, which focuses on an incident involving a TSA attempted pat-down of a 3 year old in a wheel chair, argued that a TSA screener was wrong in telling a passenger they could not video tape the interaction with TSA.
Now, Chris McLaughlin, the TSA’s assistant administrator for security operations, has told the New York Times that:
The [TSA] acknowledged that the screener had incorrectly told the parents that the child needed to be patted down and incorrectly told the mother that it was illegal for her to record the encounter.
The Department of Homeland Security doesn’t operate only at airports. As I noted in an earlier post, DHS also claims the right to stop citizens anywhere with 100 miles of the United State borders.
Check out this great video showing citizens refusing to comply with these violations of liberty.
If more people stood up for their rights, the checkpoints far from the border would be snarled. That would be a good thing.
The Supreme Court has ruled that Americans subject to surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008 have no standing to challenge the constitutionality of that law. The decision was a 5-to-4 vote, strictly divided among the conservative justices and the rest.
Because surveillance under the law is treated by the Federal government as secret, there is no way for a citizen to prove that they have been spied upon. So a major assault on free speech and privacy is scuttled by the Supreme Court.
The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer said:
Justice Alito’s opinion for the court seems to be based on the theory that the FISA Court may one day, in some as-yet unimagined case, subject the law to constitutional review, but that day may never come. And if it does, the proceeding will take place in a court that meets in secret, doesn’t ordinarily publish its decisions, and has limited authority to consider constitutional arguments. This theory is foreign to the Constitution and inconsistent with fundamental democratic values.
The Department of Homeland Security is claiming that it is fine for DHS to stop anyone within 100 miles of the US border, without any suspicion or warrant, and search all the data on all their devices. And this decision was made by the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is supposed to protect civil liberties, not grant carte blanche for invasions of privacy.
Are you kidding me? I wasn’t aware that the requirements of the Constitution are “blacked out” in a 100 mile ring around the US border. I live within 100 miles of the Canadian border so I assume DHS could come to my house and scan my computers, tablets and phones without specifying any cause whatsoever.
The ACLU did an analysis of the number of people living within this border zone.
What we found is that fully TWO-THIRDS of the United States’ population lives within this Constitution-free or Constitution-lite Zone. That’s 197.4 million people who live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.
Nine of the top 10 largest metropolitan areas as determined by the 2000 census, fall within the Constitution-free Zone. (The only exception is #9, Dallas-Fort Worth.) Some states are considered to lie completely within the zone: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Is this really where we want to be as a country?
More from Wired.
TSA has announced that it is removing all the remaining pornoscanners from the nation’s airports.
However, replacement scanners will be put in place. The replacement scanners will not display a clear body image, but will rely on displaying avatars. So they are more private, but not necessarily any safer or effective. And even worse, the TSA says that the pornoscanners will not be mothballed, but rather will be moved to other government facilities “that might not require the same level of privacy called for in a crowded airport.” I suggest that they be put to use in all offices of the TSA, beginning with the headquarters of the TSA.
President Obama has refused to tell Congress or the American people why he believes the Constitution gives, or fails to deny, him the authority to secretly target and kill American citizens who he suspects are involved in terrorist activities overseas. So far he has killed three that we know of.
Presidents had never before, to our knowledge, targeted specific Americans for military strikes. There are no court decisions that tell us if he is acting lawfully. Mr. Obama tells us not to worry, though, because his lawyers say it is fine, because experts guide the decisions and because his advisers have set up a careful process to help him decide whom he should kill.
He must think we should be relieved.
– Vicki Divoll, former general counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and former deputy legal adviser to the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, calling on President Obama to release his legal justification for killing American citizens without a trial.
An attempt to require a warrant for government access to private email, pushed by the Senate Judiciary, was quietly pulled from a bill at the last minute. So no warrant is required for the government to access your email if it has been stored by a private party for more than 180 days (think cloud services, for example).
A new (at least to me) window into the TSA is called “Taking Sense Away” and is authored by a former TSA screener. Great inside stories including submissions from other screeners. Here is short example:
This one comes from Eric, who I believe is a current or former screener, given the very insider-y feel of his proposed addition to the Insider’s TSA Dictionary (I will update all the best proposed additions to the Insider’s TSA Dictionary in one lump post somewhere down the road). At any rate, after his proposed dictionary entry, he went on to say:
…I can’t argue with anything you say on your blog, and even if I could, I probably wouldn’t. However, I do feel like it’s akin to poking a crippled, retarded bear with a sharp stick.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a huge new database is being created by the government that will track virtually all citizens, even those not suspected of any wrongdoing.
Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.
Not everyone was on board. “This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.
A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.
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Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” may be permanently retained.
The changes also allow databases of U.S. civilian information to be given to foreign governments for analysis of their own. In effect, U.S. and foreign governments would be using the information to look for clues that people might commit future crimes.
Your tax dollars at work. It really makes you feel safer, doesn’t it? And this is a clear indication of the effectiveness of so-called “privacy officers” in most organizations.
ProPublica has published a detailed summary of the various methods that the government can use to breach your privacy, without the bother of securing a warrant. If you think your comings and goings, email and browsing habits, etc., are private, you are wrong.
The U.S. government isn’t allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. But there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day. Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a simple subpoena. Usually you won’t even be notified.The Senate last week took a step toward updating privacy protection for emails, but it’s likely the issue will be kicked to the next Congress.
Like many Americans, I am concerned about the growing and unwelcome intrusions into our private lives in cyberspace. I also understand that we must update our digital privacy laws to keep pace with the rapid advances in technology.
– Senator Patrick Leahy, after announcing that his committee approved a bill that would require law enforcement to secure a warrant to access most online email. This bill would have to be reintroduced next year to be enacted, but it is a step in the right direction for a change.
Senator Patrick Leahy authored a bill that he claimed would increase email privacy rights in the US. However, law enforcement officials complained and Leahy apparently agreed to change the privacy provisions to provide warrantless government access to email.
Revised bill highlights
- Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.
- Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.
- Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim “emergency” situations exist.
- Says providers “shall notify” law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.
- Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.
After all this was disclosed by Declan McCullagh at Wired. Shortly after that disclosure, Leahy announced that he “will not support” these new provisions.
So what’s next? A committee vote on the bill is currently scheduled for next Thursday. This deserves attention.
The Obama administration’s Justice Department is arguing that American citizens have no right to keep their locations private. Law enforcement, it argues, is perfectly correct in seeking detailed locational histories of private cellphone locations, without any need for a warrant.
The Obama administration will tell federal judges in New Orleans today that warrantless tracking of the location of Americans’ mobile devices is perfectly legal.
Federal prosecutors are planning to argue that they should be able to obtain stored records revealing the minute-by-minute movements of mobile users over a 60-day period — in this case, T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers — without having to ask a judge to approve a warrant first.
The case highlights how valuable location data is for police, especially when it’s tied to devices that millions of people carry with them almost all the time. Records kept by wireless carriers can hint at or reveal medical treatments, political associations, religious convictions, and even whether someone is cheating on his or her spouse.
Cellphone location data is sufficient to track a person’s location and activities in extreme detail and certainly it is unreasonable to assume that citizens has no expectation that law enforcement can “follow them” without the minimum requirement of a warrant. Outrageous.
Update: Now this…
California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required the state’s authorities to get a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge to obtain location information from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones and laptops.
If you use a cellphone, your movements are recorded by your carrier. How long do the carriers retain such data?
An internal Department of Justice document shows cell phone service providers keep that information for more than a year, Crump told the committee. Verizon stores the cell towers used by a mobile phone for “one rolling year;” T-Mobile USA keeps this information “officially 4-6 months, really a year or more;” Sprint and Nextel store this data for “18-24 months;” and AT&T/Cingular retains it “from July 2008 [over four years].”
And, of course, if the carriers have the data, the government comes looking for it. At a hearing yesterday in Washington, privacy advocates pushed in favor of a proposed national law to require a warrant for such requests and law enforcement objected, even though such information can provide a total picture of a person’s movements over months and years.
So finally an actual plot has been foiled, a real-live bomb has been kept off a plane, and what role was played by the TSA? None.
In fact, the Christian Science Monitor reports that, “It was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected” the Underwear Bomb 2.0. And speculation has been revived that al-Qaeda is working on bombs implanted in the wannabe martyrs’ bodies.
In other words, the next (as Janet Napolitano calls it) “little ping” on your privates will be completely pointless. The terrorists have already beaten the system.
But that’s been the problem from the beginning: You can’t beat the terrorists by playing defense. Forget the fact that the TSA didn’t stop this bombing. Can you name a bomb plot they have foiled?
* * *
So why do we treat every passenger like an al-Qaeda suspect? Why do we as citizens put up with it?
I love how the reaction to this new, undetectable bomb from TSA supporters has been “This proves we should be abusing passengers even more!” The answer for their uselessness and stupidity is more useless stupidity.
– Michael Graham, countering the TSA calls for even more offensive, ineffective airport security in the face of the fact that TSA had no part whatsoever in the undercover work that turned up the plot.