Tag Archive: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Hundreds of South Carolina Inmates Sent to Solitary Confinement Over Facebook

 In the South Carolina prison system, accessing Facebook is an offense on par with murder, rape, rioting, escape and hostage-taking.

Back in 2012, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) made “Creating and/or Assisting With A Social Networking Site” a Level 1 offense [PDF], a category reserved for the most violent violations of prison conduct policies. It’s one of the most common Level 1 offense charges brought against inmates, many of whom, like most social network users, want to remain in contact with friends and family in the outside world and keep up on current events. Some inmates ask their families to access their online accounts for them, while many access the Internet themselves through a contraband cell phone (possession of which is yet another Level 1 offense).

Through a request under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, EFF found that, over the last three years, prison officials have brought more than 400 disciplinary cases for “social networking”—almost always for using Facebook. The offenses come with heavy penalties, such as years in solitary confinement and deprivation of virtually all privileges, including visitation and telephone access. In 16 cases, inmates were sentenced to more than a decade in what’s called disciplinary detention, with at least one inmate receiving more than 37 years in isolation.

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FBI’s “Suicide Letter” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

mlklettersFrom The Electronic Frontier Foundation

The New York Times has published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, recently discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.

The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.

Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One of these portions contains a claim that the letter was written by another African-American: “King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all us Negroes.” It goes on to say “We will now have to depend on our older leaders like Wilkins, a man of character and thank God we have others like him. But you are done.” This line is key, because part of the FBI’s strategy was to try to fracture movements and pit leaders against one another. (more…)

Cell Phone Guide for US Protesters

cellphone1From Electronic Frontier Foundation

With major protests in the news again, we decided it’s time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we’ve learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private.

Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they’ll be carrying phones, and they’ll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands. (more…)

FBI Building Database Containing Face-scans of Millions

 

Biometric facial recognitionThere are millions of entries for non-criminal reasons as well as many from unexplained sources.

Biometric facial recognition. There are millions of entries for non-criminal reasons as well as many from unexplained sources.

From Warrior Publications

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been developing a gigantic database containing biometric information on a significant portion of the United States.  The human identifiers contained in this database — photos, fingerprints, facial signatures, iris scans, palm prints, birthmarks, voice recognition, DNA — are not only taken from people who have been arrested, they are also being collected from millions of Americans who have not been charged with any crime. The database is called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI) is being built upon the FBI’s legacy database of 100 million fingerprints collected over the past several decades, called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).  Now, the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence has taken that database and expanded it to include all sorts of other personal identifiers.  It is estimated that one-third of the population of the USA has personal bodily identifiers stored in the FBI’s database.

In 2012, the bureau spent $1,000,000,000taxpayer dollars in an effort to add millions of face-scans to the database. With its current capabilities, a facial image can be matched to a stored profile amongst millions of entries in under 2 seconds.  The feds have passports, driver’s licenses, mugshots, surveillance cameras, and social media at their disposal to create their massive database.  Dozens of states have already integrated facial recognition into their driver’s licenses, and some are sharing that information with the FBI. (more…)