Despite the guarantee of the Fourth Amendment, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have made a habit of spying on the citizenry. But in the 21st century, the internet and the ability of computers to store and process vast amounts of data has allowed the government to collect vast amounts of data about each of us.
Government surveillance goes well beyond the NSA/FBI mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s automatic license plate readers have been recording our travel for decades; the FBI’s domain awareness program records where we travel, record has been recording license plates for decades, Fusion Centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (run by DHS and the FBI respectively) gather information.
Yesterday, the House passed the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (S. 139), giving the NSA authority to sweep up internet communications of foreigners and untold numbers of Americans without a warrant, and allowing the FBI to troll through the collected data without a warrant.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, a terrible bill proposed by the Intelligence Committee that will not only extend Section 702’s vast surveillance powers, but also explicitly give the FBI and other law enforcement permission to sift through the data collected without a warrant.
Yesterday, we won twice. Amid the onslaught of bad news this year, it’s nice to see a couple of rays of hope.
The American Friends Service Committee and the Social Justice Initiative at University of Illinois Chicago hosted a “Resisting Surveillance” panel investigating surveillance programs in Chicago, and how communities are resisting these racist, invasive and dangerous practices.
On December 5th, the Berkeley City Council will consider an ordinance to allow public oversight and input before any new surveillance technology is acquired by the police.