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Category Archives: Fourth Amendment

A usurpation of Fourth Amendment rights – BayStateBanner

Posted: December 6, 2019 at 8:47 pm

Whenever they change police policies, you know were the ones who will be targeted.

Prior to 1968 it would have been a constitutional violation for a policeman to stop-and-frisk anyone unless he had a warrant for that individuals arrest. However, the U.S. Supreme Court altered that restriction with its decision in the case of Terry vs. Ohio. It became permissible for a police officer to stop-and-frisk if it was his judgment that the person was carrying a gun or was about to commit a crime. The question then became whether the police force was judicious in the implementation of its stop-and-frisk policy. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York is now forced to account for the policy when he was in office.

The primary objective of stops by police in New York was to discover and remove guns thus reducing the number of shootings. Bloomberg served as mayor from 2002-2013. In 2002 there were 97,296 stops and 1,892 victims of gunfire. In 2011 the number of stops had climbed to 685,724 but there were still 1,821 gunfire victims. Clearly the stops were ineffective.

The disastrous aspect of the policy is that blacks and Latinos were the primary victims of the stops. They were nine times more likely to be stopped than were whites. And with all this police harassment, very few guns were taken off the street. During the Bloomberg era only 14 guns were found in every 10,000 stops.

Now that Bloomberg plans to run for president, blacks seem to be concerned that the apology for his support of stop-and-frisk is sincere, and well it should be. But little attention has been given to the loss of our Fourth Amendment rights. This constitutional amendment prohibited any unwarranted violations by the police. It states in part that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

In the process of defying this right, the police have alienated their relationship with blacks and Latinos. Without the support of the community, the police are less effective at their primary objectives, the protection of citizens and the deterrence of crime. Nonetheless there has been no serious outcry against the loss of Fourth Amendment rights.

Compare this with the protest from the National Rifle Association over any restriction on the unfettered right to buy guns, even firearms intended for military use. The NRA has imposed upon the American public an interpretation of the Second Amendment that would have required the Founding Fathers to anticipate in the late 1700s the availability of AR-15 style rifles as a common weapon of choice. The slow reloading flint locks were common back then.

The loss of Fourth Amendment rights did not end with stop-and-frisk. The technology industry in its many forms has now felt free to alienate whatever rights of privacy remain, regardless of the citizens race. Industry leaders insist that the loss of privacy is a modest price to pay in order for the high tech media to be affordable. Perhaps, but it is still a crime to record a telephone call without permission.

Bloombergs apology is an admission that stop-and-frisk has failed. Black leaders who oppose the practice should present their protest from the perspective of an excessive violation of the Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. This is an important grievance to pursue now because many people of all ethnicities are concerned with the massive loss of Fourth Amendment rights created by digital technology.

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Why is Adam Schiff sniffing around the phone records of reporters and congressmen? – Washington Examiner

Posted: at 8:47 pm

Adam Schiff owes the public some answers.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman should explain why and under what authority he obtained and then publicized phone records that included calls involving the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, ranking Intelligence Committee Republican Devin Nunes, journalist John Solomon, and others. It is far from clear when, or even whether, House subpoena powers extend so far without a court-ordered search warrant.

The California Democrat has used the records to hint at attempts by the Trump team and by Nunes, Schiffs bitter rival, to coordinate a pressure campaign against Ukraine for Trumps personal benefit. Solomon, meanwhile, was the conduit for much of the reporting, some of it from dubious sources, that Trumps defenders have cited as the reason Trump wanted certain Ukrainian actions investigated.

The exact scope of congressional subpoena power is a legal gray area, frequently fought over in the courts without clear resolution. In Schiffs favor, Congress arguably deserves more latitude amid impeachment proceedings. And as Giuliani and his associate Lev Parnas are both reportedly under investigation by divisions of the Justice Department, it is possible, if one stretches the imagination, that Schiff was somehow just piggybacking on those investigations to secure their phone logs.

But Schiff is on dangerous ground by publicizing phone calls by fellow members of Congress and journalists. Perhaps Schiff merely stumbled across Nunes's and Solomon's calls because they involved Giuliani or Parnas. But it sets a dangerous precedent that journalists, protected with good reason by the First Amendment, or members of Congress, protected with good reason by the Constitution's speech or debate clause, should be thus exposed by a committee chairman just to score what appears to be a few extra political points.

Nunes's phone calls probably do not merit speech or debate protection. But they might, and it is not a frivolous question. If a member of Congress takes an action connected to oversight for example, speaking on the phone with someone tasked by the president to do something in Ukraine the courts have ruled that the pertinence of this action to the speech or debate clause does not hinge on the formality of the investigation but on "whether information is acquired in connection with or in aid of an activity that qualifies as legislative in nature. Maybe it's a crazy idea, but there probably ought to be a presumption against leaking a political rival's phone activity in this manner. In fact, Schiff's behavior in this regard resembles that for which he now hopes to impeach the president.

There are other concerns here, as well. In the context of executive law enforcement, Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures generally require permission from judges or magistrates. In other words, the checks and balances of the system require two of the three branches, not just one, to agree that the search is necessary and lawful. If Congress, meaning Schiff, acted without judicial imprimatur, then the legitimacy of his phone-records search is certainly questionable.

Meanwhile, if he did subpoena Solomons calls again, this is not entirely clear that would also raise serious issues related to press freedoms, in addition to the Fourth Amendment concerns. Schiff needs to clear up why Solomons calls were included in his dragnet. Their release appears to be an act of petty vengeance against someone whose reporting followed the wrong narrative.

Schiff owes the public absolute transparency here about his methods, and he must provide legal justifications that clear a fairly high bar. Yes, his exercise of power may conceivably have been legitimate, but count us unconvinced. Absent a full and convincing explanation, the phone-records search was presumptively invalid.

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Facial Recognition Technology: Is There Anything to Be Afraid Of? – DevPro Journal

Posted: at 8:47 pm

Over the past year, the debate over facial recognition technology has heated up. On one hand, facial recognition technology, like other forms of biometric identification, can greatly benefit systems in which the users identity must be flawlessly verified. Ravi Raj from Passage AI explains, Increasingly weve seen leaks of sensitive private information including credit card numbers, passwords and social security numbers, through data hacks, often resulting in identity theft. Facial recognition technology can increase the security of sensitive accounts by requiring a biometric scan to access an account in place of a password.

Raj says when its used ethically and accurately, facial recognition technology can also provide consumers with greater convenience. Raj says, for example, Facial recognition could be used to identify a passenger when they use public transit and automatically debit their accounts.

And there are numerous other uses or potential applications for facial recognition technology.

Identifying people in photos posted on social media is a familiar use case. This technology can also provide an efficient and secure solution to unlock mobile devices, target dynamic advertising based on a consumers age and gender, automatically track school attendance, and streamline airline check-in processes.

While some industries are exploring the promising potential, there is also ample concern over how facial recognition technology could create risks so much so that some legislators have passed laws to ban or limit its use, including San Francisco, Oakland, and the Boston suburb of Somerville.

Raj says concerns over facial recognition technology center on three general areas:

Raj says if businesses, enterprises or organizations use facial recognition for applications beyond what they publicly disclosed, it could lead to privacy and ethical issues.

He points out, however, Consumers do not have to give up privacy as long as their data is used solely for the reason described and nothing else.

Beyond privacy, Raj says, security of the data is very critical to ensure that hackers and other bad actors dont make malicious use of the data.

A report on the 2019 BioStar2 security breach brought some of these issues front and center. One of the biggest concerns is that unsecured biometric data cant be changed once its stolen its easier to update a password than change a face. Also, if account and personal information are stolen with biometric data, cybercriminals can take over accounts even exchange the account owners facial and fingerprint records for their own.

Raj comments, There could also be bias in the data that is used for training the deep learning models for facial recognition. Since the data sets used in a particular country would underrepresent minorities, it could lead to bias and algorithm errors when dealing with recognition of minorities.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also raises questions about the use of facial recognition technology for surveillance, which could be carried out without peoples knowledge or consent. The ACLU warns that driver license photographs or other images could be used with surveillance systems to build systems that can track people.

The American Bar Association points out that using facial recognition technology for some use cases could violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects US citizens from unlawful search in places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that collecting historical cell site location information (CSLI) from cellular providers, which could be used to track a person, required a warrant. In its decision, the Supreme Court stated that as technology advances, courts would have to work to protect peoples privacy.

Facial recognition technology could also interfere with First Amendment rights to freedom of association if people know theyre being watched, they may begin to self-censor their activity.

If you are considering providing your users with identity, user authentication, or access control solutions using facial recognition technology, Raj advises you to vet solutions carefully.

It is extremely important that facial recognition technology be 100 percent accurate, he says. Even a small amount of inaccuracy can lead to inconvenience for consumers, and worse, violation of civil rights and the likelihood of innocent individuals being punished, especially in law enforcement applications.

He advises, Software developers should be very clear on how this technology is used in the solutions they provide and make sure their users are also aware.

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Fare Inspections and the Fourth Amendment – Montgomery County Sentinel

Posted: November 23, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Courts are frequently called upon to apply the Fourth Amendments prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures to police procedures. Marylands Court of Special Appeals this week reviewed whether the use of fare inspections on a light rail train violated the Fourth Amendment in a case called Kenneth Carter v. State of Maryland.

The opinion indicates that Maryland Transit Authority police gathered on the platform of a Baltimore light rail station, for the purpose of doing a fare inspection to see if passengers had paid for their fare. There was no evidence of any signs posted in the stations that such fare sweeps may be done. Failure to pay the fare is a crime subject to a $50 fine. When the train pulled into the station, an officer entered each train and announced that each passenger had to show their ticket proving they had paid the fare.

Carter approached an officer and admitted he had no ticket, and was directed to another officer on the platform who obtained his identification. A record check showed a possible warrant outstanding for Carter, who then tried to flee and was tackled. During the melee the police found that Carter had a gun, and it turned out he was a convicted felon. At trial, defendants motion to suppress evidence because of an illegal detention was denied, and he was convicted of firearms offenses and resisting arrest.

The appellate Court noted that in determining whether an investigatory detention by police had occurred, it would look at such factors as the use or show of force or authority by the police so that a reasonable person would believe they were not free to leave or refuse to answer questions. Here, the appellate Court found that by announcing to all passengers that they could not leave the train until producing proof of fare payment, Carter had in fact been detained even before he admitted he had no ticket.

Since one of the officers at trial admitted that they used fare checks as a means of enforcing outstanding warrants, the appellate Court declared this police misconduct in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, the motion to suppress evidence should have been granted, and the convictions were reversed.

Thomas Patrick Ryan is a partner in the Rockville law firm of McCarthy Wilson, which specializes in civil litigation.

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Utah Court of Appeals upholds the controversial police practice of stop and frisk – KSTU FOX 13 Salt Lake City

Posted: at 12:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY The Utah Court of Appeals has upheld the controversial police practice of stop and frisk.

In a ruling published Friday night, the Court acknowledged a close case, but ultimately sided with police in a challenge to the practice, which has largely come under scrutiny in other states for targeting minorities. This case involves a challenge by Bryant Robert Mitchell, a member of a white supremacist gang, who was searched in a traffic stop in Ogden last year.

Mitchell was in a vehicle that was stopped after police saw him stand up in the passenger seat of the car and yell at another person in a convenience store parking lot.

Officers later testified that Mitchell looked very upset and aggressive, and that he began to open the door of the Blazer before it had come to a stop. One of them testified that Mitchells screaming sounded indicative of an intent to get into a confrontation or a fight with the person that he was talking to,' Utah Court of Appeals Judge Ryan Harris wrote.

Police obtained consent to search the vehicle from the driver, and another passenger had a warrant, the ruling said.

Immediately after Mitchell exited the vehicle, one of the officers frisked him. During the pat-down, the officer discovered a switchblade-style knife in the pocket of Mitchells shorts. Because he was a convicted felon, Mitchell was not allowed to possess such a weapon, so the officers then arrested Mitchell for unlawfully possessing the knife. After arresting Mitchell, the officers conducted a more thorough search of his person and discovered a ball of a black tar like substance that was later confirmed to be heroin, Judge Harris wrote.

Mitchell was ultimately charged with drug and weapons possession, and the weapons charge was dropped in a plea deal. He challenged the search as a violation of his Fourth Amendment right against search and seizure.

In addition to the facts already described, one of the officers testified that, in his experience, gang members typically carry weapons, and that this knowledge was among the reasons he had decided to frisk Mitchell. For his part, Mitchell testified that his profane words to the man in the parking lot were not intended to be aggressive, and that he was just attempting to greet an old friend whom he had not seen in a while, the ruling said. (The ruling noted that police heard Mitchell shout come here you mother-er.)

In his appeal, Mitchell argues he gave no sign that he was going to be violent. The Court acknowledged the usual signs were not there. He was wearing very little clothing, didnt have places to conceal a weapon, nor did he make any movement that police could have perceived as a threat. Prosecutors countered that Mitchell was an admitted member of a violent gang, had acted aggressively toward someone else and appeared to be on the verge of a fight and that police were in the process of arresting someone else when the search took place.

The Court said each factor alone isnt enough, but took the situation in its entirety.

While we consider this a close case, we are ultimately persuaded by the States position that the officers had reasonable articulable suspicion to conduct aTerry frisk, Judge Harris wrote.

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Lawmakers Abandon Bill Regulating Facial Recognition Software Over Concerns Of Inadequate Protection – KUER 90.1

Posted: at 12:32 pm

Draft legislation to regulate government use of facial recognition software was unveiled and subsequently abandoned Wednesday after some lawmakers worried it did not do enough to protect privacy.

The issue erupted in July when a report from Georgetown Universitys Center on Privacy and Technology revealed the Utah Department of Public Safety ran more than 1,000 searches through the state drivers license database at the request of federal law enforcement agencies. During many of the searches, images of criminal suspects were run through the database, which contains millions of photos of Utahns, in order to find a potential match.

DPS later admitted that it also runs every new drivers license photo including images of minors through the database in order to prevent fraud.

But none of that is an issue for Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City.

I want to make sure that someone is not getting a fake ID, Thatcher said. So I personally have no problem with my face being searched 2,000 times a day to ensure that were not supporting people in identity theft and identity fraud.

A draft bill he spearheaded would have required the Drivers License Division to disclose the searches on new license applications, but would not have limited those searches in any way.

But Thatcher was largely focused on regulating new technology he said is coming up quick and could be used in surveillance. His bill would have prohibited the use of facial recognition systems to conduct surveillance in public spaces without a warrant. A similar bill was recently introduced by U.S. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Chris Coons, D-DE, at the federal level.

But Utah lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had lingering concerns about the regular searches in the drivers license database and whether they violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, said running photos of criminal suspects through the database is akin to pulling over every driver when you got a tip that one car in this area has some illegal contraband in it, so you subject everyone to this search.

Thatcher disagreed, saying he believes the Fourth Amendment protects against physical interactions with law enforcement such as interrogations and blood draws, not using a government-issued ID in a database search.

When someone is pulled over, they are physically detained. Their right of movement has been restricted, he said. The idea that were stopping every single Utahn 2,000 times a day to me, that doesnt connect.

Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Highland, said most committee members were concerned with the use of the database to search for matches of criminal suspects.

Were basically taking a drivers license, which is not a criminal proceeding, not a criminal license, and youre allowing it to be used in searches for criminal issues, and thats a Fourth Amendment issue, he said.

Brammer suggested an amendment requiring a warrant in searches requested by law enforcement, an idea Thatcher shot down.

When it appeared the bill would not get enough support to pass, the committee adjourned without voting on it. Afterward, Thatcher said he is not interested in making any changes to the legislation and will abandon it, though he expects a different lawmaker will take up the issue in the 2020 legislative session.

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New information released in ACLU excessive use of force lawsuit – The Globe

Posted: at 12:32 pm

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, however, contends the report is contrary to video and audio evidence.

In a police report filed following the Jan. 12 arrest of Kelvin F. Rodriguez, 33, and obtained by The Globe in a public data request, arresting officer Mark Riley reported that based on his belief, Rodriguez slipped on the ice and fell while running through the Scholtes Auto World car lot. Rileys report notes that Rodriguez appeared to have gotten back up and continued running. Upon catching up with Rodriguez, Riley noted witnessing Rodriguez stand up again and put his hands in the air.

Rileys report indicates his vision was obstructed by parked vehicles in the car dealership, and that his information is based mostly on what he could hear.

Rileys ride-along that night, Evan Eggers who the ACLU accused of kicking Rodriguez in the back was interviewed by a police sergeant five days later. In the interview, Eggers, 22, corroborated Rileys report, stating: You could see (Rodriguez) running, see his head above the cars, and then all of a sudden its like he ducked down. I think thats when he fell.

Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel referred comment to legal counsel regarding the department's policy of interviewing ride-alongs. Legal counsel couldn't be reached prior to Friday's deadline.

The ACLU released dash cam footage it obtained of the arrest upon filing its civil lawsuit Oct. 14. The arrest, which was made prior to the police department wearing body cameras, takes place behind a line of parked vehicles.

Warning: The video contains expletives.

Rodriguez was connected to an assault that occurred at The Tap earlier that night, according to police reports filed by multiple officers. Rodriguez's criminal case, in which he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, concluded Oct. 15. Because the criminal matter had resolved in court, the police reports became public.


Plaintiff in ACLU lawsuit sentenced in criminal case

The new information isnt leading the ACLU, who represents Rodriguez, to change its position.

In an amended complaint, the ACLU says Rileys report that Rodriguez slipped on the ice and fell implies a cause for his injuries other than the pressure of Rileys knee to Rodriguezs back. The ACLU calls Rileys report contrary to live video and audio recordings of the incident, and maintains that Rileys action, coupled with alleged delay of medical attention, caused Rodriguez four broken ribs, internal bleeding, a partially collapsed lung, a lacerated liver and injured spleen.

Rodriguez was reportedly airlifted by medical helicopter to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he spent five days in the intensive care unit.

On behalf of the defendants, defense counsel filed a response to the litigation denying each and every thing, matter and particular alleged in the complaint.

The defenses answer also indicates that, upon good faith belief, Riley and Eggers performed actions that were lawful, constitutional, proper and pursuant to probable cause. The defense also denies any deliberate indifference to (Rodriguezs) medical needs.

The defenses answer also denies that Eggers ever had physical contact with Rodriguez.

The ACLU is requesting a jury trial seeking reasonable compensation related to damages, attorney fees and declaring that Rodriguezs Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

The defense requests the litigation be permanently dismissed.

A pretrial conference on the matter is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 12. The conference is scheduled in judges chambers at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in St. Paul.

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Cops Can Pull Drivers Over Who Aren’t Breaking the Law. The Supreme Court Could Change That. – VICE

Posted: at 12:32 pm

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Right now, cops can easily track and pull over millions of people not because theyre swerving or speeding, but because theyre driving a car registered to a person with a suspended license.

Now, the Supreme Court could soon put an end to those traffic stops to uphold drivers Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable searches or seizures. It's not always clear that the driver of the car is also the registered owner, which means people could get pulled over even if they weren't doing anything wrong.

The case, Kansas v. Glover, addresses whether cops can pull someone over because the car theyre driving is registered to someone with a suspended license. To initiate these stops, police rely on the assumption that a cars driver is also its owner, but drivers often share cars with their family members or friends. And being pulled over can subject them to searches or arrests they may not have otherwise had to deal with.

Thats especially dangerous for people of color, according to advocates. Black men like Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and Samuel Debose were shot and killed by police in what started as routine traffic stops.

The consequences for black drivers here are enormous when an officer is operating on an assumption that may or may not be true, said said Lisa Foster, the co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center, which participated in a brief urging the Supreme Court to put an end to the stops. We know that black drivers get pulled over in some studies, at ten times the rate of white drivers; we know black drivers are more likely once theyre pulled over to be searched.

Police say pulling someone over for a suspended license is necessary because the driver might be actively committing a crime, and the officer can always let the person go if theyre wrongly identified. Officers also want to be able to freely use automatic license plate readers which have become standard in even the smallest police departments over the last decade to pull someone over when its too difficult to manually scan a license plate, search for a description of the driver, and match that description.

But at least 11 million licenses across the country are suspended solely because of unpaid court or traffic debts and not because the indebted person is a dangerous driver, according to the Free to Drive campaign. That doesnt even include people who have lost their licenses over unpaid child support, minor drug crimes, or other non-traffic offenses.

The consequences for black drivers here are enormous."

Before automatic license plate readers, cops often only discovered a drivers license was suspended after they had pulled them over for some other traffic violation. And if the Supreme Court affirms the practice of pulling over anyone suspected of driving with a suspended license, police will essentially have a database of cars ready to stop, according to William Maurer, the managing attorney for the Institute for Justices office in Washington state. The non-profit law firm joined with the Fines and Fees Justice Center in urging he Supreme Court to reconsider the stops.

It creates a two-tiered justice system: People who are able to afford the fines and fees debt that accompany things like traffic tickets and parking tickets will not feel this intrusion, Maurer said.

The case stems from a 2016 traffic stop where a Kansas police officer scanned the license plate of a pickup truck and noticed it was registered to a person with a suspended license. Based on the assumption that the owner of the truck was also the person driving the car, the officer pulled over Charles Glover Jr., who wasnt committing any other traffic violation. It turned out the car was Glovers, and he was cited for driving unlawfully.

But Glover appealed, arguing his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because the officer didnt have a good enough reason to pull him over. The car couldve just as easily been driven by someone who wasnt Glover, but the officer wouldnt have had any way of knowing until they had already initiated the traffic stop. The Kansas Supreme Court took Glovers side, but the state appealed to the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court were to rule in Glovers favor, several state attorneys general, the National Fraternal Order of Police, and even the Trump administration argue that public safety would be put at risk. But if the decision is struck down, they say cops will have the official greenlight they need to to make more routine traffic stops and keep suspended drivers off the road.

During arguments earlier this month, the Supreme Court appeared to lean toward the side taken by police and prosecutors. Justices, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., said that officers use common sense when they assume the driver of a car is also its owner and shouldnt have to rely on much else.

Reasonable suspicion does not have to be based on statistics, it does not have to be based on specialized experience. As we've said often, it can be based on common sense, Roberts said.

Cover image: Policeman pulls over a driver for speeding, getting out of police car to write a traffic ticket. (kali9 via Getty Images)

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US Government Has Stopped Warrantless Collection of Phone Data – Decipher

Posted: at 12:32 pm

When the United States Supreme Court ruled last year that Fourth Amendment protections apply to location data on mobile devices, it was hailed as a significant privacy victory for individuals. But what wasnt clear is how intelligence and law enforcement agencies would handle the ruling when it came to using their authority under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to collect phone location data.

But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has sent a letter to a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence confirming that the intelligence community and Department of Justice have not been collecting mobile device location data using Section 215 since the ruling in June 2018. That section is what gives agencies the authority to gather information, including some telephone record information as part of national security investigations, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That power has been highly controversial for many years, and privacy advocates and some legislators have been pushing for Section 215 to be reformed to provide better privacy protections for individuals.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in Carpenter v. United States that mobile phone location records are afforded Fourth Amendment protections. In a letter responding to questions from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Assistant DNI for Legislative Affairs Benjamin Fallon said that the intelligence community has stopped collection of those records, including cell site location information (CSLI), under Section 215.

While neither the Department of Justice nor the INtelligence Community has reached a legal conclusion as to whether the traditional Title V provision may be used to obtain CSLI in light of Carpenter, given the significant constitutional and statutory issues the decision raises for use of that authority to obtain such data, the Intelligence Community has not sought CSLI records or global positioning system (GPS) records pursuant to Title V of FISA since Carpenter was decided, the letter says.

Both GPS and CSLI records can be used to reconstruct the historical location and movements of an individuals device, which raises serious privacy concerns. In July, Wyden sent a letter to Dan Coats, who was then the DNI, asking how the Carpenter ruling affected the intelligence communitys ability to collect CSLI. The response from Fallon makes clear that for right now, intelligence agencies are not collecting that information under Section 215, but that does not preclude the government from getting that data with a warrant.

Wyden said the decision not to use Section 215 to gather CLSI data should be codified in law.

The Intelligence Community has now publicly revealed that, since the Supreme Court decision more than a year ago, it hasnt used Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to track Americans, Wyden said in a statement.

At the same time, the government is hedging its bets by not formally acknowledging that the Supreme Court case applies to intelligence surveillance. The Supreme Court has confirmed that tracking our movements without a warrant is unconstitutional. Now that Congress is considering reauthorizing Section 215, it needs to write a prohibition on warrantless geolocation collection into black-letter law. As the past year has shown, Americans dont need to choose between liberty and security Congress should reform Section 215 to ensure we have both.

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Public Pulse: U.S. protects rights; Kudos to youth ballet; Reasons behind anxiety on campus – Omaha World-Herald

Posted: at 12:32 pm

U.S. protects rights

I noticed an article in The World-Herald about a federal court in Boston ruling that warrantless U.S. government searches of phones and laptops of international travelers at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper said U.S. border agents need reasonable suspicion of contraband such as classified national security information or child pornography in order to search travelers devices at U.S. ports of entry without a warrant.

I wondered where in this world but in the good old U.S.A. can the rights of both the citizens of a country and those from other countries rights be protected?

Thats why I call the good old U.S.A. the greatest country on the planet.

Robert Martinez Sr., Omaha

Kudos to youth ballet

A huge shout-out and congratulations to the members of Heartland Youth Ballet for another outstanding performance.

These pre-professional dance students performed Madelines Rescue, a delightful childrens story, in front of hundreds of people last weekend, inside the beautiful Kish Theater at Marian High School.

Under the direction of Rachel Vickrey Hartley, these students were absolutely amazing. Thank you to Rachel for providing these students such fantastic opportunities to perform in so many beautiful ballets.

Our family is looking forward to the next production in April, Hansel and Gretel.

Janet and Rich Phipps, Papillion

Anxiety on campus

Rick Ruggles authored an excellent and thought-provoking article on counseling of college students in the Nov. 18 World-Herald (UNL is putting counselors in dorms to meet growing need for mental health care in college).

He mentioned that a sizable number of students suffer from anxiety, depression, loneliness and feelings of hopelessness. Why is this happening? This old school retiree offers these causes:

Many of the students are not academically prepared for college life. Statewide testing of high school students indicates that many are deficient in various areas of study. This is not a good indication that they will be successful as college students.

The misuse of social media contributes to wasted time and lack of discipline on hitting the books. What portion of students who require counseling use their phones more than two hours per day? The answer would probably be alarming.

Student debt has soared to over $1 trillion. Much of that can be attributed to undisciplined and ill-prepared students who are wasting time on a college campus.

There is no easy answer for the dilemma outlined in Ruggles article. One suggestion is offered to address this situation. Parents should be realistic before their sons and daughters are sent off to college. Check their ACT scores and their study habits. If they are not ready, help them consider an alternative path for their early and formative years.

Counter-arguments dont track

I am really having problems with the counter-arguments for President Donald Trumps guilt in the impeachment hearing:

1. The witnesses so far did not have direct contact with the president. Perhaps these civil servants more than anyone would know what was going on as they implement the orders from their superiors, including Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton. Each has refused to testify, which doesnt make sense as they certainly could clear things up if the president is innocent.

2. The aid to Ukraine was released after the whistleblowers complaint was made known. Therefore, the argument goes, Trump only attempted bribery, and his behavior is not impeachable. This is like saying attempted robbery or attempted murder is not a crime. Come on.

3. The whistleblower must testify. I really dont know what this would do as he/she only alerted superiors of the problem, and plenty of people have confirmed his/her account. Also, it is illegal to out a whistleblower.

4. The Democrats are not allowing equal time for Republicans to speak and question witnesses. Not true. I observed both parties questioning the witnesses. Reps. Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff both had time for opening remarks. Both parties attended the closed-door hearings.

5. President Barack Obama did not allocate as much aid to Ukraine as Trump has. I dont really know what this has to do with what the president did or didnt do in terms of a quid pro quo, etc.

Charlotte Shields, Papillion

Questionable accomplishments

Before deciding the merits of President Donald Trumps possible impeachment, we need to remember some of his questionable accomplishments.

1. Provided a sugar rush to the economy and the stock market by passing massive tax cuts that largely benefited corporations and the richest Americans. Sadly, these tax cuts added a trillion dollars to the U.S. deficit.

2. Nominated two conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

3. Saved money for U.S. taxpayers by not buying beds for immigrant children crowded in cages.

4. Provided paper towels to desperate hurricane victims of Puerto Rico.

5. Helped diversify Americans diets by allowing coal companies to dump mining debris into rivers, increasing Americans chances of getting mercury and arsenic in their diets.

6. Helped teach Americans concepts such as: quid pro quo, emoluments clause, campaign-finance violations, obstruction of justice and foreign election interference.

Hold on tight. There will be more questionable accomplishments to come.

David and Barb Daughton, Omaha

Gift of groceries

I would like to thank the generous lady who paid for my groceries recently at the WalMart at Interstate 80 and Highway 370. It was a pleasant surprise and such a nice gesture. It was very much appreciated by this Korean War veteran.

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Public Pulse: U.S. protects rights; Kudos to youth ballet; Reasons behind anxiety on campus - Omaha World-Herald

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