Tag Archives | Civil Rights

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have Nothing to Hide

Via the Chronicle of Higher Education, law professor Daniel J. Solove reveals all:

The nothing-to-hide argument is everywhere. In Britain, for example, the government has installed millions of public-surveillance cameras in cities and towns, which are watched by officials via closed-circuit television. In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

But the problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is the underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. By accepting this assumption, we concede far too much ground and invite an unproductive discussion about information that people would very likely want to hide. As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty “premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong.” Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.

One such harm, for example, which I call aggregation, emerges from the fusion of small bits of seemingly innocuous data.

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US Citizens Still Don’t Need To Worry About The NDAA Just Yet

Picture: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Billings (PD)

As Disinfo reported September 18th, the permanent injunction against §1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), has been stayed pending appeal.

Naturally the lawyers for the case are treating this as a major setback in whatever media is paying attention to them, which unfortunately is pretty thin: basically, it’s just their client. The most likely explanation for that dearth of coverage is that most major media sources have legal advisors on staff who are looking at the law suit the way the Justice Department is: this is either a standing or a separation of powers issue that should have died the miserable death all paranoid nuisance cases die at trial, and will get shut down at the appellate level and denied cert by SCOTUS. Which is not to say that view is correct, just that it’s the rather obvious and lazy conventional wisdom that cases like this attract among legal cognoscenti.… Read the rest

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U.S. Administration Officials Charged with Politically Motivated Killings of American Citizens

If only tree-hugging ACLU types like Saul Alinsky wannabe Obama and their radical constitutional originalist opposition like Mitt Romney would stop stoking this issue for political gain!  From Charlie Savage at the New York Times:

Relatives of three American citizens killed in drone strikes in Yemen last year filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against four senior national security officials on Wednesday. The suit, in the Federal District Court here, opened a new chapter in the legal wrangling over the Obama administration’s use of drones in pursuit of terrorism suspects away from traditional “hot” battlefields like Afghanistan.

The first strike, on Sept. 30, killed a group of people including Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico, and Samir Khan, a naturalized American citizen who lived at times in Queens, Long Island and North Carolina. The second, on Oct. 14, killed a group of people including Mr.

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Ron Paul And The Liberty Of Bullies

Ron PaulPaul Rosenberg writes in Al Jazeera:

On January 12, a great blow was struck against freedom, if you subscribe to the philosophy of Ron Paul. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission voted 4-0 to uphold its earlier finding that a Cincinnati landlord, Jamie Hein, had discriminated against a ten-year-old biracial girl by posting a “White Only” sign in June 2011, aimed at keeping her out of a swimming pool. According to Paul’s worldview, this was a grave and terrible blow to the white landlord’s liberty. The girl’s white father, however, sees things a bit differently.

“My initial reaction to seeing the sign was of shock, disgust and outrage,” the girl’s father, Michael Gunn, said in brief comments the day the final decision was announced. The family quickly moved away, in order to protect their daughter from exposure to such humiliating bigotry – but they also filed the lawsuit.

According to Ron Paul’s view of “liberty”, they were right to move, but wrong to sue.

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The Wind that Shakes the Parley: Police Voice Concerns about Being Used to Stifle Legitimate Protest

Ray LewisThis past week has tacked on more examples of politicians using law enforcement to stifle dissent among unsatisfied constituents.  NY’s Mayor Bloomberg, for instance, was quoted referring to the NYPD as his “own army”.  “But other facets of this story have been developing behind the scenes.  Could Operation SHIELD and Ray Lewis raise the “wind that shakes the parley”?  Chris Faraone writes in the Boston Phoenix:

As Occupy camps from coast to coast face evictions — and in many cases have already been pushed out of parks and plazas like so much human trash — it’s clear that the institutional response to the movement is escalating dangerously. Likewise, relations between police and activists seem to be deteriorating, as non-violent protesters continue to be arrested almost daily.

But as tensions build between Occupiers and Big Brother, what’s also true is that individual officers are increasingly concerned about their role in combating Occupy.

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Calling Out The Police For Hiding Their Nameplates

The California Penal Code states that uniformed police officers must wear "a badge, nameplate, or other device which bears clearly...the identification number or name of the officer". Feel free to remind the police of this when they forget:
Officer Hargraves of the Oakland Police Department is called out by a citizen journalist for covering his name tag with a strip of black electrical tape. Police lieutenant Hu removes the tape while the camera rolls. The issue of "anonymous police" remains a serious problem. This is especially true for "riot police" who wear dark anonymous uniforms while firing rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and flash-bang grenades into the crowd.
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Happy Bloomsday, America!

Hand drawing of Bloom by Joyce

Hand drawing of Bloom by Joyce

June 16th is the annual celebration of Leopold Bloom’s doomed wanderings through Dublin in 1904, as chronicled in James Joyce’s classic novel “Ulysses”.  And in the 21st century, reality finally catches up with and overtakes fiction.

In 1921 a U.S. court banned Ulysses on the grounds that some of its graphic depictions of nudity and sexuality constituted pornography under the Postal Code. And while that decision was reversed in 1933 by a judge who could only have failed today’s more rigorous selection processes for illiteracy and cretinism, the private sector came to the rescue of public morals when Apple banned an online illustrated version from its iStore last year.

However, that victory had an even shorter half-life. A couple months later, presumably realizing that it would lose it’s investment completely if it maintained the ban, and that nobody would likely access anything remotely smacking of literary merit anyway, Apple decided to give it a go after all.… Read the rest

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“Herr Prösser?!!”: The Madison Uprising to Shift Gears on April 5th

>Click Here<The madness surrounding Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to destroy trade unionism continues apace, but outsiders are likely to be deceived into thinking momentum of the Madison Uprising has been dissipated from its previous well-defined orbit. They couldn’t be more wrong and the turnout for Wisconsin’s April 5th supreme court contest between Prosser (R) and Kloppenburg (D) will prove that.

Current reports from Madison consistently describe a hard core of about one to two dozen protestors haunting the capitol building these days. Some Right Wing supporters of the union-busting tactics have publicly taken courage from this decrease since March 11th, when Walker signed the contententious bill. That, however, would be to focus on the hole, rather than the doughnut, so to speak.

While massive 100+ person rallies like those that continued for 3+ weeks in the capitol building are hugely important for gathering momentum and mobilizing latent energies, they really only represent the tip of an ungodly horror being whipped up for Walker and his supporters in places where it will do some real damage — the home districts of Republican legislators. … Read the rest

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