Civil Liberties

Panel sees Orwellian overtones in NSA spying scandal

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It is now public knowledge that the NSA has been spying on us (unless you’ve been living under a rock and, lucky for you, exempt from digital surveillance) thanks to the information leaked by Edward Snowden last week.

In the wake of this scandal, people crowded into St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley on Tuesday, June 11, to participate in a panel discussion titled “Our Vanishing Civil Liberties,” centered around the intricacies of government intrusion and spying in the age of the War on Terror.Read more »

Bay to Breakers will have video surveillance, license plate scans, and secret "FBI assets"

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Police video surveillance was in the spotlight during yesterday's City Hall hearing on security measures at large events, as supervisors voiced a desire to strike the right balance between security and civil liberties. And while they got some reassurance and small signs of restraint from the SFPD, they also learned about secretive new security measures that go beyond what the public was aware of.Read more »

Feds' use of spy tools under scrutiny due to privacy concerns

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If the FBI is trying to pinpoint the location of a suspect in your neighborhood, investigators could sweep up information from your mobile device just because you happen to be in proximity to their target. Civil liberties advocates are concerned that the practice is a major invasion of privacy.Read more »

Oakland to decide on controversial stop-and-frisk advocate Bill Bratton

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On Tuesday, Oakland City Council will consider approving a $250,000 contract for an outside security consulting team, which could include controversial roving police chief and private security contractor William Bratton. Read more »

Berkeley Police implement new limits on spying and mutual aid

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The Berkeley Police Department is undergoing some major policy changes after mounting pressure from the community to enact reforms, with new limits on its participation with other law enforcement agencies.  Read more »

Ed Lee gets frisky

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I knew Mayor Ed Lee was going to be more friendly to developers that I would have liked, and I knew he'd be a tough sell on new taxes, but I didn't expect to see him talking about a program that has racial profiling and civil liberties issues written all over it.Read more »

Lee veto protects the SFPD's ability to spy on you

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Mayor Ed Lee yesterday vetoed legislation that would have banned San Francisco Police Department officers working with the FBI from conducting covert surveillance on law-abiding citizens. Read more »

SFPD-FBI spying restrictions could face mayoral veto

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If the San Francisco Police Department isn't working with the FBI to secretly spy on law-abiding local residents – as a secret document released last year indicated they had the authority to do – then why are Police Chief Greg Suhr, Mayor Ed Lee, and others opposing legislation that would ban such surveillance?Read more »

Taking sit-lie lying down: Graduate student beds down on Haight Street

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Some things seem strange even for San Francisco. The pedestrian double take was in full effect at the Haight Street curb where Bennett Austin fed the meter for his bed last Thursday. And it wasn't even Parking Day

Austin hoped to create awareness about the homeless youth who wander, sleep, and hang out on Haight Street. The graduate school student set up a bed to demonstrate that the only safe space for the homeless to sleep in public are curb spots that they must pay for by the hour, joining the tradition of artists speaking out against sit-lie.  Read more »

Police Commission braces for another Taser debate

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The San Francisco Police Department, police commissioners, and community advocates are gearing up for another debate about whether or not SFPD officers should carry and use Tasers. The hearing will be held at tomorrow’s Feb. 23 police commission meeting. Read more »