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Thursday, September 12, 2019

PETITION: Ban Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology is unreliable , biased and a threat to basic rights and safety. Fill out the Form below to tell your Congressional and local lawmakers to ban the government from using this dangerous technology.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Fight for the Future
Detroit Community Technology Project
Constitutional Alliance
Media Alliance
Oakland Privacy
Popular Resistance
18 Million Rising
Daily Kos
Consumer Action
Muslim Justice League
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Privacy Times
United We Dream
Greenpeace USA
Detroit Digital Justice Coalition
MPower Change
Secure Justice
National Lawyers Guild

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Facial Recognition Technology / Civil Rights and Liberties

“Facial Recognition Technology (Part 1): Its Impact on our Civil Rights and Liberties”
Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 10:00am
Location: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515


The hearing will examine the use of facial recognition technology by government and commercial entities and the need for oversight on how this technology is used on civilians.  Read More: Here 

Facial Recognition Technology (Part II): Ensuring Transparency in Government Use

Date: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 10:00am
Location: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

The hearing will examine the use of facial recognition technology by federal law enforcement entities and the need for oversight and regulation of how this technology is used on American citizens. Read more: Here

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Rutherford Institute - Government Building Facial Recognition Database


For Immediate Release: September 5, 2019

Rutherford Institute Launches Inquiry Into Government Use of Drivers' Licence Photos to Build Facial Recognition Database, Track Citizens 

CHICAGO, Ill. — Pushing back against the expansion of secret government surveillance programs at the expense of individual privacy, The Rutherford Institute is asking the State of Illinois to disclose information about its participation in the federal government’s scheme to establish a massive facial recognition database by collecting the drivers’ license photographs of millions of Americans.

In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made on behalf of Illinois resident Dmitry Feofanov, The Rutherford Institute is seeking details about the federal government’s facial recognition program, which allows government agents to track citizens whenever they are in public. The request comes after it was disclosed in July 2019 that the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have mined information kept by state DMVs to create a massive database of biometric photos and personal information without the consent of citizens.

“Surveillance, DNA and biometric technologies have become convenient tools in the hands of government agencies to render null and void the Constitution’s requirements of privacy and its prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “For a long time, the government was required to at least observe some basic restrictions on when, where and how it could access someone’s biometrics and use it against them. That is no longer the case. While the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent government officials from tracking a person’s movements or searching an individual’s person or property without a warrant and probable cause—evidence that some kind of criminal activity was afoot—the founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we needed protection against widespread government breaches of our privacy on a biometric level.”
Facial recognition programs, which can be used to identify people in photos, video, or in real-time, employ sophisticated technology to identify individuals using their faces. Advanced cameras scan a person’s features and then compare the “biometric” data obtained with a database of biometric photographs to determine the person’s identity. Law enforcement currently use mobile devices to identify people during police stops.

The FBI’s Next Generation Identification system has dramatically expanded the government’s surveillance capacity by using a variety of photos and other biometric data, cross-referenced against the nation’s growing network of surveillance cameras, to not only track people but create a permanent “recognition” file on them within the government’s databases. However, the government’s capacity to track citizens is dependent on its database of biometric photographs of identified individuals.

In an effort to expand the government’s database, federal law enforcement agencies, and the FBI and ICE in particular, have been obtaining the photographs and associated identities of persons from state agencies that obtain biometric photographs in connection with issuing drivers’ licenses. According to the Government Accounting Office, since 2011, the FBI has conducted over 390,000 facial-recognition searches of federal and local databases, including state drivers’ license databases. Federal investigators have also established ongoing working relationships with state licensing officials. In its FOIA request to the Illinois Secretary of State, which is responsible for issuing drivers’ licenses in the state, The Rutherford Institute is seeking to know the extent to which the state has disclosed residents’ drivers’ license photographs to any federal or other government agencies.
The Rutherford Institute’s FOIA request is available here.

This press release is also available at www.rutherford.org.

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, defends individuals whose constitutional rights have been violated and educates the public about threats to their freedoms.

Source: https://bit.ly/2kwOwIv

C4L Defend Second Amendment Web Blitz

September 2019

Dear Patriot, 

Senator Lindsey Graham and his gun-grabbing cohorts from BOTH parties are flooding back into Washington, D.C. and the battle over gun control is on.

That’s why Campaign for Liberty is launching an Internet ad blitz to send the message home LOUD and CLEAR that when it comes to our gun rights, the only “deal” is the words of the Second Amendment . . . shall not be infringed.

But I need the help of patriots like you to make this work.

So please dig deep and pitch in to help me flood the web with targeted ads DEMANDING Congress reverse course on any schemes to GUT your gun rights. 


If you’re a liberty-loving American like me, the horse trading that’s been going ever since weak-kneed “Swamp” politicians vowed to “do something” should scare you to your core.

Before the details of the El Paso and Dayton shootings were even fully known, Lindsey Graham raced to the microphones to announce his “deal” with congressional Democrats like Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT). 

Of course, the heart of their “deal” would grant Big Government statists powers to seize law-abiding Americans’ firearms -- with ZERO DUE PROCESS. . .

. . . and create a Nationwide Gun Registration -- aka Universal Background Checks -- giving Government Goons the names and firearms of every single gun owner in the country.

And now after the Midland-Odessa shootings over the weekend, the anti-gun statists are going even further to get their way.

In fact, they are even planning to bribe states with taxpayer-dollars to enact these BLATANTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL “Red Flag” Gun Confiscation schemes.

The good news is, if we can fully fund this “Defend the Second Amendment Web Blitz” our plan will build into the type of mass mobilization campaign that really makes weak-kneed politicians see the light, as we flood the Internet with banners demanding U.S. Senators IMMEDIATELY disavow their plans to “deal” away your gun rights and instead oppose all schemes to gut our Second Amendment freedoms.

These banners will link to action pages that will drive countless petitions, emails, and phone calls to their offices demanding they protect our gun rights as the Founding Fathers intended.

But to literally blanket our targeted districts, we have determined that Campaign for Liberty must raise a minimum of $145,629 by midnight on September 9 to fully implement Phase One of our targeted “Defend the Second Amendment Web Blitz.”

And with just under ONE WEEK to raise these funds before the Senate returns, I am going to need your help.

Patriot, would you be willing to pitch in $19 or even $37?

Please click here to make your donation now and help C4L reach its goal.

The truth is, the moment the president and weak-kneed Republicans started making noise about “a deal” on these gun-grabbing schemes, they put EVERYTHING on the table.

That’s why Democrats are now demanding Mandatory Gun Buybacks, Nationwide Gun Licensing (i.e. you don’t get one), and of course, re-imposing the Feinstein Gun Ban permanently.

And with the president doubling down on so-called “Red Flag” Gun Confiscation Orders, establishment Republicans are expecting -- even demanding -- us to “fall in line.”

“Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Even politicians who habitually tell voters back home they “support the Second Amendment” seem to be tripping over one another to declare they’ve “got the solution” to “keep us safe.”

But you and I know better.

What they fail to understand is that caving to Democrats’ and the media elites’ demands on any of the anti-gun schemes they’ve been horse trading over will end in disaster.

It’s the same misguided path they took after the 2018 Parkland, Florida murders.

The fact is, they’re playing right into the anti-gun statists’ hands like they did then, when President Trump made Senator Dianne Feinstein downright giddy when he told Republicans to add parts of her so-called "Assault Weapons" Ban to Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin’s Nationwide Gun Registration bill.

Of course, that was a disaster for them in the 2018 mid-terms, but they don’t seem to have learned from it -- and they’re preparing to RAM even more monstrous gun control schemes down our throats that could include everything from bans on certain types of firearms and magazines to Nationwide Gun Registration and “Red Flag” Gun Confiscation.

I’m afraid without your immediate action, you and I are all but certain to see our Second Amendment freedoms steamrolled by these blatantly UNCONSTITUTIONAL schemes.

That’s why it’s absolutely vital Campaign for Liberty has your immediate support to help flood the Internet with our “Defend the Second Amendment Web Blitz,” demanding they BACK OFF their plans to gut our gun rights.

Take action now >> Campaign for Liberty Defend the 2A Web Blitz

The truth is, the sick and senseless shootings in Texas and Ohio are exactly what all the anti-gunners and their pals in the national media had been waiting for.

Sadly, they haven’t even discussed, pro-gun reforms that could actually prevent another El Paso or Dayton, such as repeal of so-called “Gun-Free” zones.

You see, all of these gun control proposals aren’t really about preventing another murder spree by some madman.

It’s about control.

The Big Government statists know Americans’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is the ultimate road block to them imposing their tyrannical policies on you and me.

So, the statists in BOTH parties are determined to not let the crisis go to waste.

Take action now >> Campaign for Liberty Defend the 2A Web Blitz

You and I are facing an all-hands-on-deck fight right now, and I need every single patriot to dig deep to help halt the statists’ assault on our Second Amendment freedoms.

The good news is, our “Defend the Second Amendment Web Blitz” along with the tens of thousands of petitions we’ve already gathered will go a long way to showing wavering politicians you and I are serious.

I'm counting on you to help me make it 100% clear to ALL your elected officials -- there is no room for negotiation when it comes to our Second Amendment rights.

These rights are at the very heart of the liberty and freedom that so many patriots fought and died for -- and they now hang by a thread.

>>> So please dig deep and chip in with as generous a contribution as you can afford to help Campaign for Liberty generate the kind of mass mobilization campaign that shows Lindsey Graham and his pals in BOTH parties we mean business!

For Liberty,

Ron Paul
Chairman Campaign for Liberty

P.S. With gun-grabbing Senators like Lindsey Graham and Joe Manchin returning to the D.C. Swamp hell bent on RAMMING through their so-called “deal,” the Gun Control fight is on.

We can’t let them sell-out America’s law-abiding gun owners and place massive new restrictions on our Second Amendment rights.

So please pitch in and make a generous contribution of $10, $20, or even more right away to help Campaign for Liberty flood the Internet with our “Defend the Second Amendment Web Blitz” and show the anti-gun statists we mean business!

I can’t do it without your support Patriot, and I simply must raise $145,629 by September 9 to launch Phase One of our targeted “Defend the Second Amendment Web Blitz.” to defend your gun rights.

Take action now >> Campaign for Liberty Defend the 2A Web Blitz

$19 ~ 9,000 views on Drudge Report
$37 ~ 11,000 views on Breitbart
$61 ~ 19,000 views on The Daily Caller
$82 ~ (best value) 42,000 views on Drudge Report
$143 ~ 70,000 views on Fox News
$237 ~ 95,000 on Breitbart

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Cell-Site Simulators / IMSI Catchers

Cell-Site Simulators/IMSI Catchers

Cell-site simulators, also known as Stingrays or IMSI catchers, are devices that masquerade as legitimate cell-phone towers, tricking phones within a certain radius into connecting to the device rather than a tower. 
Cell-site simulators operate by conducting a general search of all cell phones within the device’s radius, in violation of basic constitutional protections.  Law enforcement use cell-site simulators to pinpoint the location of phones with greater accuracy than phone companies. Cell-site simulators can also log IMSI numbers (unique identifying numbers) of all of the mobile devices within a given area. Some cell-site simulators may have advanced features allowing law enforcement to intercept communications or even alter the content of communications.

How Cell-Site Simulators Work

Generally, there are two types of device used by law enforcement that are often referred to interchangeably: passive devices (which we will call IMSI catchers), and active devices (which we will call cell-site simulators.) Passive devices, as a rule, do not transmit any signals. They work by plucking cellular transmissions out of the air, the same way an FM radio works. They then decode (and sometimes decrypt) those signals to find the IMSI of the mobile device and track it.
Active cell-site simulators work very differently from their passive cousins. Cellular devices are designed to connect to the cell site nearby with the strongest signal. To exploit this, cell-site simulators broadcast signals that are either stronger than the legitimate cell sites around them, or are made to appear stronger. This causes devices within range to disconnect from their service providers’ legitimate cell sites and to instead establish a new connection with the cell-site simulator. Cell-site simulators also have passive capabilities, such as identifying legitimate cell sites and mapping out their coverage areas. For the purposes of this article we will primarily discuss active cell-site simulators.
It is difficult for most people to know whether or not their phone’s signals have been accessed by an active cell-site simulator, and it is impossible for anyone to know if their phone’s signals have been accessed by a passive IMSI catcher. Apps for identifying the use of cell-site simulators, such as SnoopSnitch, may not be verifiably accurate. Some more advanced tools have been built, which may be more accurate. For instance, security researchers at the University of Washington have designed a system to measure the use of cell-site simulators across Seattle. There are other researchers, including those at EFF, looking into this further.

What Kinds of Data Cell-Site Simulators Collect

Data collected by cell-site simulators can reveal intensely personal information about anyone who carries a phone, whether or not they have ever been suspected of a crime. 

Once your cellular device has connected to a cell-site simulator, the cell-site simulator can determine your location and read identifying data such as IMSI or ESN numbers directly from your mobile device. It can also intercept metadata (such as information about calls made and the amount of time on each call), the content of unencrypted phone calls and text messages and some types of data usage (such as websites visited).  Additionally, marketing materials produced by the manufacturers of cell-site simulators indicate that they can be configured to divert calls and text messages, edit messages, and even spoof the identity of a caller in text messages and calls.   

How Law Enforcement Uses Cell-Site Simulators

Police can use cell-site simulators to try to find a suspect when they already know their phone’s identifying information, or to scoop up data on anyone in a specific area. Some cell-site simulators are small enough to fit in a police cruiser, allowing law enforcement officers to drive to multiple locations, capturing from every mobile device in a given area—in some cases up to 10,000 phones at a time. These indiscriminate, dragnet searches include phones located in traditionally protected private spaces, such as homes and doctors’ offices.
Law enforcement officers have used information from cell-site simulators to investigate major and minor crimes and civil offenses. Baltimore Police, for example, have used their devices for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from tracking a kidnapper to trying to locate a man who took his wife’s phone during an argument (and later returned it to her). In one case, Annapolis Police used a cell-site simulator to investigate a robbery involving $56 worth of submarine sandwiches and chicken wings. In Detroit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement used a cell-site simulator to locate and arrest an undocumented immigrant. 
Police have even deployed cell-site simulators at protests. The Miami-Dade Police Department apparently first purchased a cell-site simulator in 2003 to surveil protestors at a Free Trade of the Americas Agreement conference
Cell-site simulators are used by the FBI, DEA, NSA, Secret Service, and ICE, as well as the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and National Guard. U.S. Marshals and the FBI have attached cell-site simulators to airplanes to track suspects, gathering massive amounts of data about many innocent people in the process. The Texas Observer also uncovered airborne cell-site simulators in use by the Texas National Guard.
A recent Congressional Oversight Committee report called on Congress to pass laws requiring a warrant before using cell-site simulators. Some states, such as California, already require a warrant, except in emergency situations.

Who Sells Cell-site Simulators

Harris Corporation is the most prevalent company providing cell-site simulators to law enforcement. Their Stingray product has become the catchphrase for these devices, but they have subsequently introduced other models, such as Hailstorm, ArrowHeadAmberJack, and KingFish. Digital Receiver Technology, a division of Boeing, is also a common supplier of the technology, often referred to as “dirtboxes.” 
Other sellers of cell-site simulators include Atos, Rayzone, Martone Radio Technology, Septier Communication, PKI Electronic Intelligence, Datong (Seven Technologies Group), Ability Computers and Software Industries, Gamma Group, Rohde & Schwarz, Meganet Corporation. Manufacturers Septier and Gamma GSM both provide information on what the devices can capture. The Intercept published a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of various cellphone surveillance devices, as well as an older cell-site simulator manual made available through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Threats Posed by Cell-Site Simulators

 Cell-site simulators invade the privacy of everyone who happens to be in a given area, regardless of the fact that the vast majority have not been accused of committing a crime. 
The use of cell-site simulators have been shrouded in government secrecy. Police have used cell-site simulators to track location data without a warrant, by deceptively obtaining “pen register” orders from courts without explaining the true nature of the surveillance. In Baltimore, a judge concluded that law enforcement had intentionally withheld the information from the defense, in violation of their legal disclosure obligations. For a while, police departments tried to keep the use of cell-site simulators secret from not just the public but also the court system, withholding information from defense attorneys and judges—likely due to non-disclosure agreements with Harris Corporation. Prosecutors have accepted plea deals to hide their use of cell-site simulators and have even dropped cases rather than revealing information about their use of the technology. U.S. Marshalls have driven files hundreds of miles to thwart public records requests. Police have tried to keep information secret in Sarasota, Florida, Tacoma, Washington, Baltimore, Maryland, and St. Louis, Missouri.
In light of this secrecy, the FBI told police officers to recreate evidence from the devices, according to a document obtained by the nonprofit investigative journalism outlet Oklahoma Watch. 
Cell-site simulators often disrupt cell phone communications within as much as a 500-meter radius of the device, interrupting important communications and even emergency phone calls.  Cell-site simulators have been shown to disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. In Baltimore, the use of cell-site simulators disproportionately impacted African-American communities, according to a map included in an FCC complaint that overlaid where Baltimore Police were using stingrays over census data on the city’s black population.
Cell-site simulators rely on a vulnerability in our communications system that the government should help fix rather than exploit. 

EFF’s Work on Cell-Site Simulators 

For the reasons above, EFF opposes police use of cell site simulators. Insofar as law enforcement agencies are using cell-site simulators in criminal investigations, EFF argues that use should be limited in the following ways:
  1. Law enforcement should obtain individualized warrants based on probable cause;
  2. Cell-site simulators should only be used for serious, violent crimes;
  3. Cell-site simulators should only be used for identifying location;
  4. Law enforcement must minimize the collection of data from people who are not the targets of the investigation.


We filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to expose and shine light on the U.S. Marshals Service’s use of cell-site simulators on planes. 
Along with the ACLU and ACLU of Maryland, we filed an amicus brief in the first case in the country where a judge threw out evidence obtained as a result of using a cell-site simulator without a warrant. 
We filed an amicus brief, along with the ACLU, pointing a court to facts indicating that the Milwaukee Police Department secretly used a cell-site simulator to locate a defendant through his cell phone without a warrant in U.S. vs. Damian Patrick. (The government then admitted to having used it.) 


We were original co-sponsors of the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), along with the ACLU and the California Newspaper Publisher Association. This bill requires California police to get a warrant before using a cell-site simulator. Any evidence obtained from a cell-site simulator without a warrant is inadmissible in court. 
EFF supported S.B. 741, which requires transparency measures regarding the use of cell-site simulators. We are in the process of collecting these policies.

Further Research 

EFF has been investigating the use of cell-site simulators against Water Protectors and their allies at the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. We are currently doing further research on the technical aspects of cell-site simulators.

EFF Cases

For More Information