Tag Archives | Civil Liberties

Free Speech Scores A Hat Trick

Picture: NARA (PD)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Freedom of speech had a hat trick of victories last week, proving that despite the interest of law enforcement and other machinations of the state to put down protesters, ultimately, the law still sides with activists. On Wednesday, the University of California settled with 21 students who sued after campus police hosed them with pepper spray during a demonstration. Images from UC Davis became iconic, particularly the photo showing an officer casually spraying peacefully sitting demonstrators as if he were watering a lawn. Each student will receive $30,000 and a written apology from the chancellor, according to the agreement. Additionally, the San Francisco Chronicle reports the settlement calls for UC Davis officials to work with civil liberties advocates on police policies.

The incident had a chilling effect on some students, but galvanized others to holding police accountable for their actions. One sophomore told the Chronicle that he avoided demonstrations after the event, saying “they had silenced me.” Another student of the University who recently graduated said that she hoped the suit would keep police clad in riot gear away from demonstrations.

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Cleansing the Internet of Terrorism

Yet another vague and overreaching project to censor the internet is underway; European Commission-funded CleanIT, which aims to “countering illegal use of the Internet” and fight what they see as terrorism. It’s another attempt to use a private police network to determine what ‘illegal’ and ‘terrorist’ uses of the internet mean. Groups like European Digital Rights and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are stepping in to protect our legal safeguards:

EFF has always expressed concerns about relying upon intermediaries to police the Internet.  As an organization, we believe in strong legal protections for intermediaries and as such, have often upheld the United States’ Communications Decency Act, Section 230 (CDA 230) as a positive example of intermediary protection. While even CDA 230’s protections do not extend to truly criminal activities, the definition of “terrorist” is, in this context, vague enough to raise alarm.

The recommendations call for the easy removal of content from the Internet without following “more labour intensive and formal” procedures.

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Dallas Cop Suspended for Trying to Confiscate Cyclist’s Helmet Camera

Via CopBlock:
Well, this is an unexpected but welcome turn of events: Dallas Sheriff’s Deputy James Westbrook has been suspended for 30 days without pay following his attempt to confiscate a motorcyclist’s helmet camera. The deputy told cyclist Chris Moore that he was going to take his helmet cam as evidence proving that other cyclists were engaged in criminal behavior. Following Moore’s refusal, Westbrook arrested him for an obstructed license plate, an offense that normally warrants a ticket. Here’s Moore’s video:

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Are Free Speech Zones Really Free?

Raul654 (CC)

The recent DNC and GOP conventions had so-called free speech zones, but there wasn’t much freedom on offer. Ann O’Neill reports for CNN:

Shane Brown squeezed through a gap between sections of a steel security fence 9 feet high, picked his way across a vacant lot infested with fire ants and climbed atop a rickety wooden platform. He stepped up and spoke into the microphone:

“God is a good, good God.”

His words were amplified over a hardscrabble patch of earth wedged against a highway the locals call the inner loop. White plastic trash bins stood sentry against litter, but there was no one there to fill them.

Brown, the first speaker to take the platform Wednesday at the official “free speech zone” of the Democratic National Convention, had an audience of just three — two city workers and a reporter. It was shortly before 3 p.m., and the place had been deserted since it opened five hours earlier.

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Undercover Agents Threaten and Attempt To Intimidate Journalists At DNC

Picture: Anna Bal (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina detained and threatened two journalists covering a march outside the Democratic National Convention over the weekend. Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake and Steve Horn, a contributor to Truthout covering the DNC for WORT-FM in Madison, Wisconsin, noticed four men taking photos of a contingent of undocumented immigrants during a march called “No Papers, No Fear.” Gosztola and Horn noticed the men, who were later revealed as undercover officers, trying to blend in with demonstrators and began taking photos.

Both Horn and Gosztola were concerned the men could be shooting photos of the undocumented immigrants for targeted deportation. After following one of the men in question, the two journalists were confronted by him, who claimed he was a protester and did not like his photo taken. During the conversation, the man threatened to punch Gosztola in the teeth, then grabbed Horn and pulled him to a street corner.

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Marine Vet Still Detained for Posting Government Criticisms Online

Picture: Evan Amos (PD)

MEDIA ROOTS– Federal agents are continuing to detain a Marine Corps veteran in Chesterfield, Virginia for posts made on his website that expressed discontent for the federal government and accuse elements of it for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.

On the evening of August 16, FBI agents accompanied by US Secret Service and Chesterfield County police officers approached the home of Brandon J. Raub, 26, a decorated combat engineer who had served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2011.

After talking with authorities for “20, 30 minutes” it is still unclear what justification was used for his detainment as his posts did not mention any specific threats of violence to any person or place, nor did they include any imagery of destruction.

Having risen to the rank of sergeant, Raub returned home and continued to serve his country by helping establish the Richmond Liberty Movement.… Read the rest

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Doomsday Prophet Admits to Buying Influence at Marine Corps Base

Arnold Böcklin - Die PestVia Rock Beyond Belief:

Apocalyptic Christian groups have long proselytized within the United States military fostering an underlying mythos of worldwide destruction and Manifest Destiny that provides a continuum with the political rhetoric of theoconservatives.  The drive to self-fulfill prophecy becomes the fodder for irrational fear based domestic politics and the justification for foreign policies that create enemies out of innocents.

It is time that the endeavors of religious organizations to infiltrate and influence the workings of the military and the state apparatus are exposed.

Fortunately the Army thought Foxhole Atheist Justin Griffith needed ‘remedial Spiritual Fitness Training’ and suggested he write a blog… He writes at Rock Beyond Belief:

     “Two national atheist groups, and one advocating religious freedom, have complained to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus   that officials at Camp Pendleton, Calif., continue to deny them access to the base while giving “preferential treatment” to Christian religious organizations, including a controversial church they say is steeped in “doomsday theology” and embroiled in sexual-abuse scandals.”

“We are disturbed that the government is giving such extensive support, including assets, resources and personnel, to a single sect of Christianity,” the three groups wrote in their letter to Mabus.

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DARPA To Develop Technology To Analyze Social Media

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

A contract proposal from the Defense Department’s research arm DARPA revealed the Pentagon is looking to develop computer algorithms which would mine data from social media websites and use it to track and analyze the behavior of various criminal and terrorist groups (h/t Mashable). In order to understand group dynamics and “forecast trends”, the DOD hopes to understand how a group evolves, interacts, recruits, influences other groups and affect the opinions of individuals and communities.

In phase 1, DARPA wants a system developed which would first track groups and their state changes and research “key indicators” of interactions. In phase 2, the system developed would learn the “dynamics of group behavior and inter- and intra-group interactions in an unsupervised manner,” then achieve a 90% accuracy rate in detecting state changes in 1,000 groups with a combined total of more than a million members with 100,000 postings a day.… Read the rest

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New Billboard Ads Will Use Facial Recognition Technology

Karen Chan 16 (CC)

It sounds like something from one of William Gibson’s cyberpunk novels, proving once again how prescient Mr. Gibson was regarding the tense relationship between humans and technology. Sarah Freishtat reports for the Washington Times:

As you scan the face on that giant billboard, it may just be scanning your face right back.

Increasingly sophisticated digital facial-recognition technology is opening new possibilities in business, marketing, advertising and law enforcement while exacerbating fears about the loss of privacy and the violation of civil liberties.

Businesses foresee a day when signs and billboards with face-recognition technology can instantly scan your face and track what other ads you’ve seen recently, adjust their message to your tastes and buying history and even track your birthday or recent home purchase. The FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies already are exploring facial-recognition tools to track suspects, quickly single out dangerous people in a crowd or match a grainy security-camera image against a vast database to look for matches.

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