Man Who Posed as a Federal Agent to Defraud Immigrants out of $2.5 Million Sentenced to 91 Months

Hardev Panesar of San Diego was sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel to 91 months in custody for his leadership role in an immigration fraud scheme.
According to his plea agreement, Panesar conspired with others, including Rafael Hastie and Gurdev Singh, to induce unauthorized immigrants to pay money based on false and fraudulent claims that the defendants could secure immigration status for the victims and their families. Panesar misled the victims into believing that he could obtain immigration documents or legal immigration status by pretending to be an agent with the Department of Homeland Security. Panesar wore a DHS jacket and showed purported official credentials to his victims.
The plea agreement outlined several dates in 2016 where Panesar successfully obtained thousands of dollars by pretending to be a DHS official. The money paid by the victims totaled over $2.5 million, which was converted to the personal use and benefit of Panesar and his co-defendants.  According to statements made at sentencing, Panesar also lost a significant portion of the money he stole from victims as a victim himself in a Nigerian “advanced fee scheme.” At a prior sentencing hearing, one of the victims testified in court that his family gave Panesar and Gurdev Singh approximately $250,000 with the hopes of receiving green cards—a devastating financial loss that contributed to the depression and eventual suicide of a family member.
Panesar’s sentence includes a six-month custodial sentence for an additional charge of Failure to Appear. On June 21, 2018, while released on bond, Panesar fled to Mexico and failed to appear at a Motion Hearing before Judge Curiel set for June 22, 2018. He was captured in Mexico and deported to the United States approximately six weeks later.
Earlier this year, Panesar’s co-defendants were sentenced by Judge Curiel. Rafael Hastie was sentenced to 46 months in custody and ordered to pay $942,000 in restitution to the victims. Gurdev Singh was sentenced to 27 months in custody and ordered to pay $392,850 in restitution to the victims. The Court ordered Panesar to pay approximately $2.5 million in restitution to his victims.
Additionally, last week, former HSI supervisor Johnny Martin was found guilty by a federal jury in a related case for the false statements he made to the FBI in connection with their investigation into this immigration fraud scheme. Martin will be sentenced on January 17, 2020.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Curiel described Panesar’s scheme as “one of the more serious cases this Court has handled” in recent years.  “Mr. Panesar preyed on the most vulnerable…these are people who wanted to live and experience the American dream. . . . Mr. Panesar pretended he could be the one who provided the American dream.” Judge Curiel added, “This offense is serious because of the heartlessness and callousness required to perpetuate this fraud on so many for so long.”
“Pretending to be a legitimate government agent to scam hundreds of individuals of their life savings undermines the crucial trust we bestow upon our law enforcement partners,” said U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. “When that trust is betrayed for personal enrichment, our office will aggressively prosecute the fraudsters and seek restitution for the victims.”
“Panesar’s fraud scheme was particularly egregious as he attempted to use the veil of a U.S. government official to obtain millions of dollars from those trying to obtain legal status in the United States,” said Scott Brunner, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “Falsely claiming to be a federal official degrades the integrity of the system and therefore has serious consequences. Today, Panesar’s destructive scheme has been shut down, he has a federal conviction, and must serve a prison sentence as a result of his actions.”
DEFENDANTS                                Case Numbers:           17CR1371-GPC, 18CR3229-GPC
Hardev PANESAR                             Age: 71                       El Cajon, California
Rafael HASTIE                                  Age: 49                       Tijuana, Mexico
Gurdev SINGH                                  Age: 58                       Bakersfield, California
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
17CR1371-GPC
Count 1: 18 U.S.C. § 1349, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
Maximum Penalty: Twenty years in prison, $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.
Counts 2-4: 18 U.S.C. § 1343, Wire Fraud;
Maximum Penalty: Twenty years in prison, $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution
Counts 5-10: 18 U.S.C. § 912, False Personation of an Officer or Employee of the United States;
Maximum Penalty: Three years in prison, $250,000 fine
Count 11: 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(3), Structuring Domestic Financial Institutions;
Maximum Penalty: Ten years in prison, $250,000 fine, forfeiture
18CR3229-GPC
Count 1: 18 U.S.C. § 3146(a)(1), Failure to Appear After Pre-Trial Release;
Maximum Penalty: Ten years in prison, $250,000 fine.
AGENCY
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Office of Field Operations
U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Office of Professional Responsibility

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October 16, 2019 at 06:19PM

Expunging records with new technology

In the United States, an estimated 70 million people have a criminal record. Being tagged with this scarlet letter can affect a person’s ability to find employment, housing and even potential relationships.

Yet having a criminal record does not mean that a person was found guilty or even charged with a crime. It can merely mean that a person was arrested and released.

Meanwhile, the expansion of freedom of information laws and the internet has changed how criminal records are used and who has access to them. These changes raise questions around the purpose of criminal records and the limits of legal remedies like expungement and sealing.

To make better sense of these issues, Colleen Chien, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, and Sarah Lageson, an assistant professor at Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice, came together to talk about their research into the modern trials and tribulations of expungement, sealing and criminal records.

“The thing about criminal records that makes them so challenging is that they are so easy to access and very hard to interpret correctly,” Chien says.

Because adult arrest records are largely public and the internet makes them easy to publish and access, employers, apartment management companies and others are able to factor criminal records into their decision-making to the detriment of people with minor criminal records, like those with an arrest without charge.

While legal ways to erase or hide some types of records exist, these remedies are poorly used, Chien says.

“There’s a lack of awareness that this remedy exists,” she says. Her own research estimates that the uptake of remedies, like the Obama-era clemency program and California’s program to recategorize some nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors, which would open the door to expungement for many, is less than 10%.

In an attempt to improve these remedies, Chien points to recent laws passed in California and Pennsylvania that would automate aspects of expungement and sealing.

Generally, people have to apply to have their records obscured from public view. Now, both states will do the work for people if their record meets specific criteria.

“Automation makes possible what would take years, maybe even decades—hundreds of years—to get done through a petition process,” Chien says.

Beyond what governments and lawyers are doing in this space, technology companies are also trying to make their mark.

One example was Google’s 2013 decision to de-list mug shot websites, which meant that the sites no longer appeared in Google’s search results. While Google’s act was well intended, Lageson says by de-listing a couple of mug shot websites six years ago, it led other mug shot sites to improve and work around this hurdle.

Regardless of the platform that a person finds their record published on, Lageson says anyone with a record has the ability to access their official rap sheet in the state where it exists. With this, people can correct inaccuracies and, depending on the state they live in, challenge a website to take down or make accurate the information they’ve published.

“People are terrified of what’s on their record; they are confused by it—they’re indecipherable,” she says. “But I think getting some literacy for people and access for people to their own records is a crucial first step.”

Want to listen on the go? Legal Rebels is available on several podcast listening services.

<p>Colleen Chien and Sarah Lageson.</p>

Colleen Chien and Sarah Lageson.

Colleen Chien is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law where she teaches, mentors students and conducts empirical research on innovation, intellectual property and the criminal justice system. From 2013 to 2015, Chien served in the Obama White House as a senior adviser of intellectual property and innovation, working on a broad range of patent, copyright, technology transfer, open innovation and other issues. She is nationally known for her research and publications on domestic and international patent law and policy issues. Sarah Lageson is an assistant professor at Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice. She received her PhD in sociology from the University of Minnesota. Her current research examines the growth of online crime data, mug shots, and criminal records that create new forms of “digital punishment.” Lageson is a grant recipient of the National Institutes of Justice’s New Investigator Early Career Award for her study of criminal records.

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October 16, 2019 at 10:49AM

Some States Criminalize College Fraternity Hazing

Pledging season for college fraternities is in high gear, and this year they face stricter safety protocols and more state laws that criminalize hazing, reports the Wall Street Journal. States including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York have strengthened laws in an effort to prevent hazing-related accidents and deaths since early 2018. Cracking down on hazing differs from curtailing underage drinking because hazing involves various forms of harassment, from the forced consumption of alcohol to the physical abuse of college students trying to join a fraternity or sorority. This month, Florida implemented “Andrew’s Law,” which gives legal immunity to anyone who renders aid to someone whose safety is endangered from hazing, even if they too were involved. Before this, there was no clear protection for students who called 911. The state expanded the definition of hazing victims to include members and former members of a fraternity.

The law is named after Andrew Coffey, a Florida State University student who died of alcohol poisoning after a Pi Kappa Phi party on “Big Brother Night” in 2017. Five students pleaded guilty for misdemeanor hazing. FSU President John Thrasher said the university has no tolerance for hazing and is working with students to communicate concerns and ensure university values are reflected in campus activities. “There is no such thing as good-natured hazing,” Thrasher said. “When you have a death like you have here, you have to take a step back and reflect on what are the values of this university.” Hank Nuwer, a professor of journalism at Franklin College in Indiana, said laws are doing little to curb the problem. Since 1975, he has researched more than 200 hazing and hazing-related deaths and written two books on the subject. “We are seeing so much more deaths in this alcohol era than ever,” he said.

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October 14, 2019 at 07:46AM

Misdemeanor Arrests Decline

Studies indicate that misdemeanor arrests have dropped substantially over the past several years particularly in big cities.  Jacob Gershman reports in the Wall Street Journal that some experts see the drop as evidence of a “very deep reset of the fundamental relationship between police and public.”  New York City saw misdemeanor arrests drop by 50% since 2010, with black men as the major beneficiaries.  In St. Louis the arrest rate for black men declined by 80% since 2005, while Los Angeles saw a 47% drop in misdemeanor arrests since 2008.  But as the article notes, many experts are confused about what is causing this drop. U.C. Irvine professor Alexandra Natapoff is probably correct in observing that “misdemeanor enforcement is much less sensitive to actual crime rates and influenced by changing political and cultural winds.”  The annual numbers, even for reported felonies, is a lagging indicator which, while helpful in determining trends, does not accurately reflect the amount of crime in a given community.   In the 1990s New York and San Francisco demonstrated that taking a tough, consistent approach on misdemeanor offenses resulted in reductions of all types of crime.  In the places where reported misdemeanors have dropped significantly, aggressive enforcement of “quality of life” laws such a drug dealing, vagrancy, vandalism, theft and even some assaults have been abandoned, either through federal consent decrees against police departments, laws reducing or removing penalties, or political pressure.  As we have learned first hand in California, when the consequences of criminal behavior are reduced or eliminated, you get more criminal behavior.  So while reported misdemeanors are way down, dozens of unreported misdemeanors are occurring every minute on city streets filled with drug dealers, smash and grab thieves, porch pirates, drunks and drug-addicted homeless.  For law enforcement reformers this is an acceptable price to pay for social justice.  “We were locking people up for minor things,” said the Chief Strategy Officer for the Seattle Police Department. “There started to be a realization that you were often exacerbating the problem.”      

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October 15, 2019 at 01:35PM

Miami-Dade Prosecutors Taught to Hide Lying Cop Evidence

Defense lawyers and justice-reform advocates have known for years that cops routinely get away with lying in court and on official documents without punishment. Cops, in fact, lie in sworn statements so often that critics even created a phrase — “testilying” — to describe the problem.

But this morning, the American public got what is likely its best glimpse at the severity of the issue. USA Today released a massive investigative report showing that thousands of cops have avoided punishment for lying on documents that have gotten people arrested and, in some cases, sent to prison. The newspaper also reported that prosecutors’ offices are often skirting Supreme Court rules by failing to keep track of lying cops.

Among other revelations, USA Today obtained internal documents from Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office — namely, a PowerPoint slideshow for new prosecutors that seemingly instructs them on how to avoid disclosing that a cop in a particular criminal case might have a history of failing to tell the truth. The four-page slideshow explains to prosecutors exactly when they do and don’t need to disclose if a cop is a documented liar.

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October 15, 2019 at 06:46PM

Another Woman Comes Forward Claiming Miami-Dade Corrections Employee Raped Her

A Miami-Dade corrections officer already accused of sexual battery is facing new charges after another woman comes forward.

Yulian Gonzalez, an 11-year employee of the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections, once again faced a judge Monday morning.

Police said a 26-year-old woman, who is on house arrest, came forward after she learned that Gonzalez was arrested.

According to the arrest report, Gonzalez forced the woman to drive to the “Nexx Motel” on NW 27th Avenue and have sex with him.

This follows the same narrative from the first victim, who told police Gonzalez would force her to have sex with him at the same motel.

Both women claim he threatened to violate their house arrest status and send them back to jail if they didn’t listen to him.

The director of the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections sent CBS4 News a statement following Gonzalez’s arrest.

“This investigation demonstrates our firm commitment to maintaining the public trust. We are saddened that the actions of one employee could tarnish the good work of the proud men and women of MDCR who dedicate their lives to ensuring the safety of the public. MDCR takes allegations of employee misconduct seriously and this arrest should send a strong message that employees involved in these types of crimes will not be tolerated and will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”

Gonzalez is now facing 24 counts of armed sexual battery and seven counts of armed kidnapping in total.

He has requested to be placed on house arrest, but that was denied and he remains behind bars.

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October 14, 2019 at 06:16PM

Activists’ phones targeted by one of the world’s most advanced spyware apps

Mobile phones of two prominent human rights activists were repeatedly targeted with Pegasus, the highly advanced spyware made by Israel-based NSO, researchers from Amnesty International reported this week.

The Moroccan human rights defenders received SMS text messages containing links to malicious sites. If clicked, the sites would attempt to install Pegasus, which as reported here and here, is one of the most advanced and full-featured pieces of spyware ever to come to light. One of the activists was also repeatedly subjected to attacks that redirected visits intended for Yahoo to malicious sites. Amnesty International identified the targets as activist Maâti Monjib and human rights lawyer Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui.

Serial pwner

It’s not the first time NSO spyware has been used to surveil activists or dissidents. In 2016, United Arab Emirates dissident Ahmed Mansoor received text messages that tried to lure him to a site that would install Pegasus on his fully patched iPhone. The site relied on three separate zeroday vulnerabilities in iOS. According to previous reports from Univision, Amnesty International, and University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab, NSO spyware has also targeted:

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

via Policy – Ars Technica https://arstechnica.com

October 12, 2019 at 09:59AM

One Weird Law That Interferes With Security Research, Remix Culture, and Even Car Repair

How can a single, ill-conceived law wreak havoc in so many ways? It prevents you from making remix videos. It blocks computer security research. It keeps those with print disabilities from reading ebooks. It makes it illegal to repair people’s cars. It makes it harder to compete with tech companies by designing interoperable products. It’s even been used in an attempt to block third-party ink cartridges for printers.

It’s hard to believe, but these are just some of the consequences of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives legal teeth to “access controls” (like DRM). Courts have mostly interpreted the law as abandoning the traditional limitations on copyright’s scope, such as fair use, in favor of a strict regime that penalizes any bypassing of access controls (such as DRM) on a copyrighted work regardless of your noninfringing purpose, regardless of the fact that you own that copy of the work.  

Since software can be copyrighted, companies have increasingly argued that you cannot even look at the code that controls a device you own, which would mean that you’re not allowed to understand the technology on which you rely — let alone learn how to tinker with it or spot vulnerabilities or undisclosed features that violate your privacy, for instance.

Given how terrible Section 1201 is, we sued the government on behalf of security researcher Matt Green and innovator Andrew “bunnie” Huang — and his company, Alphamax. Our clients want to engage in important speech and they want to empower others to do the same — even when access controls get in the way.  

The case was dormant for over two years while we waited for a ruling from the judge on a preliminary matter, but it is finally moving once again, with several of our clients’ First Amendment claims going forward. Last month, we asked the court to prohibit the unconstitutional enforcement of the law.

That has gotten the attention of the copyright cartels, who are likely to oppose our motion later this month. In their opinion, the already astronomical penalties for actual copyright infringement aren’t enough to address the perceived problem, and the collateral damage to our freedom of speech and our understanding of the technology around us are all acceptable losses in their war to control the distribution of cultural works.  

EFF is proud to help our clients take on both the Department of Justice and one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country—to fight for your freedoms and for a better world where we are free to understand the technology all around us and to participate in creating culture together.

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October 11, 2019 at 07:40PM

Secret Court Rules That the FBI’s “Backdoor Searches” of Americans Violated the Fourth Amendment

But the Court Misses the Larger Problem: Section 702’s Mass Surveillance is Inherently Unconstitutional

EFF has long maintained that it is impossible to conduct mass surveillance and still protect the privacy and constitutional rights of innocent Americans, much less the human rights of innocent people around the world.

This week, we were once again proven right. We learned new and disturbing information about the FBI’s repeated and unjustified searches of Americans’ information contained in massive databases of communications collected using the government’s Section 702 mass surveillance program.

A series of newly unsealed rulings from the federal district and appellate courts tasked with overseeing foreign surveillance show that the FBI has been unable to comply with even modest oversight rules Congress placed on “backdoor searches” of Americans by the FBI.  Instead, the Bureau routinely abuses its ability to search through this NSA-collected information for purposes unrelated to Section 702’s intended national security purposes.

The size of the problem is staggering. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) held that “the FBI has conducted tens of thousands of unjustified queries of Section 702 data.” The FISC found that the FBI created an “unduly lax” environment in which “maximal use” of these invasive searches was “a routine and encouraged practice.”

The court should have imposed a real constitutional solution: it should require the FBI to get a warrant before searching for people’s communications

But as is too often the case, the secret surveillance courts let the government off easy. Although the FISC initially ruled the FBI’s backdoor search procedures violated the Fourth Amendment in practice, the ultimate impact of the ruling was quite limited. After the government appealed, the FISC allowed the FBI to continue to use backdoor searches to invade people’s privacy—even in investigations that may have nothing to do with national security or foreign intelligence—so long as it follows what the appeals court called a “modest ministerial procedure.” Basically, this means requiring FBI agents to document more clearly why they were searching the giant 702 databases for information about Americans.

Rather than simply requiring a bit more documentation, we believe the court should have imposed a real constitutional solution: it should require the FBI to get a warrant before searching for people’s communications.

Ultimately, these orders follow a predictable path. First, they demonstrate horrific and systemic constitutional abuses. Then, they respond with small administrative adjustments.  They highlight how judges sitting on the secret surveillance courts seem to have forgotten their primary role of protecting innocent Americans from unconstitutional government actions. Instead, they become lost in a thicket of administrative procedures that are aimed at providing thin veil of privacy protection while allowing the real violations to continue.

Even when these judges are alerted to actual violations of the law, which have been occurring for more than a decade, they retreat from what should now be clear as day: Section 702 is itself unconstitutional. The law allows the government to sweep up people’s communications and records of communications and amass them in a database for later warrantless searching by the FBI. This can be done for reasons unrelated to national security, much less supported by probable cause.

No amount of “ministerial” adjustments can cure Section 702’s Fourth Amendment problems, which is why EFF has been fighting to halt this mass surveillance for more than a decade.

Opinion Shows FBI Engaged in Lawless, Unconstitutional Backdoor Searches of Americans

These rulings arose from a routine operation of Section 702—the FISC’s annual review of the government’s “certifications,” the high-level descriptions of its plans for conducting 702 surveillance. Unlike traditional FISA surveillance, the FISC does not review individualized, warrant-like applications under Section 702, and instead signs off on programmatic documents like “targeting” and “minimization” procedures. Unlike regular warrants, the individuals affected by the searches are never given notice, much less enabled to seek a remedy for misuse.  Yet, even under this limited (and we believe insufficient) judicial review, the FISC has repeatedly found deficiencies in the intelligence community’s procedures, and this most recent certification was no different.

Specifically, among the problems the FISC noticed were problems with the FBI’s backdoor search procedures. The court noted that in 2018, Congress directed the FBI to record every time it searched a database of communications collected under Section 702 for a term associated with a U.S. person, but that the Bureau was simply keeping a record of every time it ran such a search on all people. In addition, it was not making any record of why it was running these searches, meaning it could search for Americans’ communications without a lawful national security purpose. The court ordered the government to submit information, and also took the opportunity to appoint amici to counter the otherwise one-sided arguments by the government, a procedure given to the court as part of the 2015 USA Freedom Act (and which EFF had strongly advocated for).

As the FBI provided more information to the secret court, it became apparent just how flagrant the FBI’s disregard for the statute was. The court found no justification for FBI’s refusal to record queries of Americans’ identifiers, and that the agency was simply disobeying the will of Congress.

Even more disturbing was the FBI’s misuse of backdoor searches, which is when the FBI looks through people’s communications collected under Section 702 without a warrant and often for domestic law enforcement purposes. Since the beginning of Section 702, the FBI has avoided quantifying its use of backdoor searches, but we have known that its queries dwarfed other agencies. In the October 2018 FISC opinion, we get a window into just how disparate the number of FBI’s searches is. In 2017, the NSA, CIA and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) “collectively used approximately 7500 terms associated with U.S. persons to query content information acquired under Section 702.” Meanwhile, the FBI ran 3.1 million queries against a single database alone. Even the FISC itself did not get a full accounting of the FBI’s queries that year, or what percentage involved Americans’ identifiers, but the court noted that “given the FBI’s domestic focus it seems likely that a significant percentage of its queries involve U.S.-person query terms.”

The court went on to explain that the lax—and sometimes nonexistent—oversight of these backdoor searches generated significant misuse. Examples reported by the government included tens of thousands of “batch queries” in which the FBI searched identifiers en masse on the basis that one of them would return foreign intelligence information. The court described a hypothetical involving suspicion that an employee of a government contractor was selling information about classified technology, in which the FBI would search identifiers belonging to all 100 of the contractor’s employees.

As the court observed, these “compliance” issues demonstrated “fundamental misunderstandings” about the statutory and administrative limits on use of Section 702 information, which is supposed to be “reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information.” Worse, because the FBI did not document its agents’ justifications for running these queries, “it appears entirely possible that further querying violations involving large numbers of U S.-person query terms have escaped the attention of overseers and have not been reported to the Court.”

With the benefit of input from its appointed amici, the FISC initially saw these violations for what they were: a massive violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the court let the FBI off with a relatively minor modification of its backdoor search query procedures, and made no provision for those impacted by these violations to ever be formally notified, so that they could seek their own remedies. Instead, going forward, FBI personnel must document when they use U.S. person identifiers to run backdoor searches—as required by Congress—and they must describe why these queries are likely to return foreign intelligence.  That’s it.

Even as to this requirement – which was already what the law required — there are several exceptions and loopholes.  This means that at least in some cases, the FBI can still trawl through massive databases of warrantlessly collected communications using Americans’ names, phone numbers, social security numbers and other information and then use the contents of the communications for investigations that have nothing to do with national security.

Secret Court Rulings Are Important, But Miss the Larger Problems With Section 702 Mass Surveillance

It is disturbing that in response to widespread unconstitutional abuses by the FBI, the courts charged with protecting people’s privacy and overseeing the government’s surveillance programs required FBI officials to just do more paperwork. The fact that such a remedy was seen as appropriate underscores how abstract ordinary people’s privacy—and the Fourth Amendment’s protections—have become for both FISC judges and the appeals judges above them on the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review (FISCR).

But the fact that judges view protecting people’s privacy rights through the abstract lens of procedures is also the fault of Congress and the executive branch, who continue to push the fiction that mass surveillance programs operating Section 702 can be squared with the Fourth Amendment. They cannot be.

First, Section 702 allows widespread collection (seizure) of people’s Internet activities and communications without a warrant, and the subsequent use of that information (search) for general criminal purposes as well as national security purposes. Such untargeted surveillance and accompanying privacy invasions are anathema to our constitutional right to privacy and resembles a secret general warrant to search anyone, at any time.

The Founders did not fight a revolution to gain the right to government agency protocols

Second, rather than judges deciding in specific cases whether the government has probable cause to justify its surveillance of particular people or groups, the FISC’s role under Section 702 is relegated to approving general procedures that the government says are designed to protect people’s privacy overall. Instead of serving as a neutral magistrate that protects individual privacy, the court is several steps removed from the actual people caught up in the government’s mass surveillance. This allows judges to then decide people’s rights in the abstract and without ever having to notify the people involved, much less provide them with a remedy for violations. This likely leads the FISC to be more likely to view procedures and paperwork as sufficient to safeguard people’s Fourth Amendment rights. It’s also why individual civil cases like our Jewel v. NSA case are so necessary.

As the Supreme Court stated in Riley v. California, “the Founders did not fight a revolution to gain the right to government agency protocols.” Yet such abstract agency protocols are precisely what the FISC endorses and applies here with regard to your constitutionally protected communications.

Third, because Section 702 allows the government to amass vast stores of people’s communications and explicitly authorizes the FBI to search it, it encourages the very privacy abuses the FISC’s 2018 opinion details. These Fourth Amendment violations are significant and problematic. But because the FISC is so far removed from overseeing the FBI’s access to the data, it does not consider the most basic protections required by the Constitution: requiring agents to get a warrant.

We hope that these latest revelations are a wake-up call for Congress to act and repeal Section 702 or, at minimum, to require the FBI to get individual warrants, approved by a court, before beginning their backdoor searches.  And while we believe current law allows our civil litigation, Congress can also remove government roadblocks by providing clear, unequivocal notice, as well as an individual remedy for those injured by any FBI or NSA or CIA violations of this right. We also hope that the FISC itself will object to merely being an administrative oversight body, and instead push for more stringent protections for people’s privacy, and pay more attention to the inherent constitutional problems of Section 702.

But no matter what, EFF will continue to push its legal challenges to the government’s mass surveillance program and will work to bring an end to unconstitutional mass surveillance.

Related Cases:

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October 11, 2019 at 07:40PM

Florida man’s mugshot hits viral status after arrest

Only in Florida can you become a viral sensation because of a mugshot.

Ricky Deeley, 34, is gaining the wrong kind of attention after he was arrested during a traffic stop in Ocala on Tuesday.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office sent out Deeley’s mugshot, along with two other passengers in the vehicle, and the Facebook post became a sensation with over 7,000 shares.

During a search of the vehicle driven by Deeley, police found 23 grams of methamphetamine, a handgun, cocaine, marijuana, 20 Methylin pills and a digital scale.

Deeley had also been driving with a suspended driver’s license.

Deeley, Katlyn Spruill, 20, and Logan Tindale, 20, were all arrested and taken to jail.

​_

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October 12, 2019 at 12:44AM