Archive Page 2

Letter to Council re Surveillance Ordinance CB 118930

Today I sent the following email to the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, and New Americans Committee of Seattle City Council, speaking only for myself as an individual, not for the Seattle Privacy Coalition or board.

(The board is currently discussing possibilities for a unified position on this legislation that we could endorse as a group.)

I strongly encourage anyone interested in privacy to contact the committee with your own thoughts on this issue.

Dear Councilmembers Gonzales, Burgess, and Bagshaw,

I’m a 30-year resident of Seattle; I live in Councilmember Bagshaw’s district, and I work for Google in the cloud computing division. Previously I have worked for both Microsoft and Amazon on documenting online privacy and security issues.

I am the Chair of the Board of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, and I am a former LA to Councilmember Bagshaw and former Councilmember Sally J. Clark.

I’m writing to call on your committee to discuss and vote for the strongest possible version of the ACLU’s amendments to CB 118930, the Seattle Surveillance Ordinance, and to follow that by tackling the issue of strengthening protections from data-gathering software or hardware that is purchased for reasons other than surveillance.

I am absolutely opposed to council passing any version of this bill that fails to mandate oversight, reporting, auditing, and enforcement (enforcement through such mechanisms as the right to sue for privacy harms).

Finally, please be aware that even the strongest version of the amendments to the ordinance submitted by the ACLU address only a small subset of data-gathering technologies. The world of data-gathering is moving so quickly that technologies not purchased for the use of surveillance can easily become surveillance technology, particularly when information from multiple technologies is combined and shared.

This is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed, since we are now literally being pressured by the federal government to provide information on people for use in deporting them, while at the same time promising those same people that we will protect them as a sanctuary city.

The city must vigorously enforce its privacy program and hire an effective and committed Chief Privacy Officer as soon as possible.

I participated in an Electronic Frontier Foundation call last week in which grassroots activists from around the country discussed surveillance ordinances they are working to enact on municipal, county, and state levels. Seattle’s was cited as “well-intended, but weak.”

Please, help change how people talk about the hard work you do to protect Seattlites, so that they call this legislation “a brilliant model for other municipalities to follow,” instead.

Sawant is a privacy badass; some hope for Dems

With a few very notable exceptions (Mike O’Brien), it has been a huge uphill battle to get Dems at any level of government to acknowledge need for privacy protections or oversight of big data use and sharing, or protection from federal overreach. (Indeed, we had some city council staff openly laughing at us before the Snowden revelations.)

(Councilmember Kshama Sawant deserves special mention for having been on top of this problematic issue since her first day in office, but of course she is not a Dem.)

I have high hopes of the new party leadership in Washington state however, Tina Podlodowski and Joe Pakootas, and now that Mayor Ed Murray is taking a very unambiguous stand on our sanctuary status, hopes that we might get some enforcement teeth in our municipal surveillance ordinance and start setting some precedents. (Such as the right to sue over privacy harms.)

Surveillance most harms vulnerable populations such as immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, and people of color — the people we offer sanctuary.

Here’s a round up of coverage on Sawant’s committee meeting that started investigating federal cameras on SCL poles last week:

Video of the committee meeting

Sawant Blasts Secret Federal Surveillance Cameras on Seattle Utility Poles

Fearing Trump administration’s reach, Seattle City Council fights FBIand SPD’s ‘warrantless surveillance cameras’

Sawant wants to strengthen Seattle’s laws against warrantless surveillance

Surveillance on Seattle’s mind in light of Trump presidency

Sawant moves to curb federal surveillance

Seattle City councilmember wants federal surveillance cameras removed

New push to restrict law enforcement surveillance cameras on City Lightpoles

Court Says Location Of FBI’s Utility Pole-Piggybacking Surveillance Cameras Can Remain Secret

Tell City Council that Feds Must Follow Seattle Law

Call for action: Demand transparency related to federal government surveillance in Seattle

tl,dr

Email the city and insist that city employees document cooperation with federal requests for surveillance cameras.

Details

What: Meeting of Seattle City Council Committee on Energy and Environment. Agenda:  https://seattle.legistar.com/View.ashx…

When: Tuesday, January 24, at 2 pm

Where: Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall (601 5th Avenue, at Cherry)

Why: Of interest in the agenda is item #2:

Warrantless Surveillance Cameras in Seattle: How to protect
the privacy of Seattleites and reverse the proliferation of
surveillance cameras installed by the Seattle Police
Department and Federal law enforcement agencies on SCL
polls in public space without democratic authorization or
transparency.

As many of you will know, Seattle currently has legislation about surveillance equipment on the books. Currently, however, federal agencies ignore it (because it doesn’t apply to them) and use city resources to put up their own cameras. Seattle Privacy has documented several cases where the ATF or FBI entered into informal, off-the-record, verbal agreements Seattle City Light employees allowing the placement of cameras on utility poles.

We support the committee’s study of this issue call on the committee members to back corrective legislation.

What you can do

Attend the meeting if you can, and speak out during the public comment period.

If you can’t attend, you can submit a public comment by emailing the committee members:

For example, you might feel that…

  • Any agreements between federal and city agencies regarding surveillance equipment should be written down and FOIA-able.
  • The public should know who makes the call to allow ATF cameras.
  • The lack of transparency in the city’s dealings with the federal government is at odds with our status as a sanctuary city.

We’ll be at the meeting, and hope to see you there.

Membership meeting 1/30; meet Seattle CTO

Hey Seattle friends of privacy!

It’s all true: The New York Times reports that President Obama admin today permitted NSA to give raw (that is, unminimized to protect privacy) 12333 surveillance to FBI/CIA/DEA/etc., and here’s the buried lede: “…if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department…”.

Furthermore, Rudy Guliani is going to be our nation’s CyberCyber!

Only seven days remain until a junta takes over the surveillance state.

This calls for action. Take a first step by meeting the Chief Technical Officer of the city of Seattle: a good person to talk to about how we can make our own city a refuge.

Please join us at our first general membership meeting of 2017!

When: Monday, Jan 30 545pm – 745pm
Where: Greenwood Library ( 8016 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103)

We will be in the main library meeting room, right as you come in the front door on the right. Free parking is available underneath the building until library close at 8pm; the #5 Metro bus stops directly outside the library going northbound.

Our special guest this month is Michael Mattmiller, the CTO for the City of Seattle.

Like all general Seattle Privacy meetings, the public is most welcome.

Meeting agenda:

– Open meeting with welcome (545pm)

– Intro Michael Mattmiller, CTO for the City of Seattle

10-15 min on role of city CTO generally, background of Mr Mattmiller prior to this position

30-45 min on current City activities as regards privacy (incl some limited Q&A):

– status of Seattle Privacy Initiative
– Seattle City Light programs of late,
– status of SPD mesh network downtown (still hopefully off, but?)
– SDOT networks downtown – what do they do, where are they?

Second Hour: – An open discussion on a day in the life of a Seattleite: the privacy perspective
– daily tasks/activities from privacy perspective for ‘avg’ Seattle resident
– areas of risk
– usual tradeoffs (and why choose one or another)
– mitigation strategies

– wrap up, meeting adjourn

Indivisible: A resource and roadmap to resistance

I’ll admit it; I was one of the people who never in her wildest dreams imagined that our nation would elect Trump, even with the help of Russia, hackers, voter suppression laws, and all the other evils people talked about before the election.

So I’ve been pulling myself together after a period of paralysis.

I can’t see this as anything but a huge setback for all civil rights activists everywhere.

I wonder what will happen to privacy activists as the new junta inherits the surveillance state.

Meanwhile I’m looking for ideas about resistance. This online guide, Indivisible, compiled by former progressive congressional staffers, is very aligned with the principles under which Seattle Privacy was founded: the idea that we in the public can positively influence the actions of our elected officials. At Seattle Privacy we address the municipal government, but Indivisible explains how the Tea Party managed to influence Congress, despite having a minority (and toxic) viewpoint.

In some ways “working to change the system from within” seems quaint now, in the post-Truth era. The morning of the day I wrote this, Trump declared that his takeaway from meeting with the IC was that the election was won by him fair and square. This is literally an insane interpretation of what they reported.

Anyway, I’m reading Indivisible and getting ready to go out and bother representatives at public events, and I encourage everyone interested in civil rights to do the same.