Looks like the surveillance state has put its foot in it again.
The New York Times has revealed that since “early 2012”, the National Counterterrorism Center now has access to all data, not minimized for privacy in any way, that was authorized for collection via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. That includes the phone metadata dragnet on all US calls, and much else besides. NCTC’s job is to streamline data sharing between federal and local agencies, via so-called “fusion centers” – 85 domestic spying centers that now exist all over the US. The spy centers act as clearinghouses where federal and local law enforcement data meet; Massachusetts’ ones are run out of the Massachusetts State Police and the Boston PD. So, local police forces across America, without a warrant, subpoena or reasonable suspicion of any kind, are now able to access what the NSA has on you and generate “Suspicious Activity Reports.”
Fourth Amendment, schmourth Amendment. This is the Age Of Terror (TM). No warrants or probable cause required!
So, predictably enough, when these “Suspicious Activity Reports” get leaked, they turn out to be mostly collected on people of color, and to be filled with unverified and often racially motivated gossip. The policies of our own fusion centers only forbid investigations solely motivated by race – so, if you are black and also Muslim, the policy is not violated.
We’re rallying today at 2pm at the Boston fusion center at 1201 Tremont St., Boston (by Ruggles) to protest these kinds of unconstitutional and unjust shenanigans by law enforcement. At the same time, we’re releasing a new report reviewing the unconstitutional policies of the Commonwealth Fusion Center in Maynard, MA, and filing FOIA requests to dislodge more information about how the fusion centers share and use data on all of us. Simultaneously, there will be rallies in LA, Oakland, Dallas, Charlotte, DC and elsewhere. Though it started with Digital Fourth here in MA and with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, we now have a rack of supporters in this, including (here in Boston) the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Defend the Fourth Coalition, #MassOps, the Massachusetts Pirates Party, and (nationally) the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CodePINK, Critical Resistance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future and Restore the Fourth.
Unless we act, this is the future of law enforcement. It won’t be what you’ve done. It will be what an algorithm suggests you may do, based on your friends, interests and expressive acts on social media. It’s already all too easy for local people who aren’t planning any crime, like Cameron D’Ambrosio in Methuen or Travis Corcoran in Arlington, to get swept up in this net. It’s time for it to stop.
For more on fusion centers, check out EFF’s new FAQ on why they are such a problem.