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surveillance

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Street Level Surveillance: Biometrics FOIA Campaign

Police departments are increasingly tracking your face, your fingerprints, your tattoos — and even your DNA. Help the Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock uncover how local agencies are tracking you and bring some much-needed transparency to the murky world of biometric surveillance.

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The Spy In Your Pocket

Cell phone surveillance technology has outpaced policy and public awareness. MuckRock is investigating precisely how law enforcement across the country use cell phones to locate and track individuals.

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CVE Watch

The programs being designed and implemented across the country under the auspices of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) have drawn fire from Muslim community members and civil rights activists. They are criticized for unfairly targeting Muslims, being used for surveillance under the pretext of community outreach, and being based on an unfounded theory of radicalization. Despite the heavy criticism CVE has been subjected to, there remain lingering questions about precisely which communities are targeted, what research (and which experts) agencies are relying on for their approaches, how (or if) government agencies are planning to safeguard civil liberties, which community leaders are being supported and for what reasons, etc. By making the relevant government documents public, we hope to help answer some of these questions.

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Cell Site Simulator Census

A nationwide census of cellphone surveillance equipment use and policy.

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Joe McCarthy allegedly had spies within the CIA

A pair of CIA memos on the McCarthy Subcommittee make the startling allegation that the Subcommittee had managed to spy on the Agency. A formerly SECRET summary from the McCarthyism file states that an unnamed source had identified classified CIA materials that the Subcommittee had managed to get its hands on, as well as tape recordings of Agency officials speaking, apparently obtained through bugging.

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FBI completely redacts James Comey’s talking points on challenge of balancing privacy and security

In October of 2014, then-FBI Director James Comey gave a speech at the Brookings Institute about the “Going Dark” problem, and the challenge of balancing privacy and security in the digital age. In response, MuckRock user Joseph Uchill requested records about how the Bureau specifically planned to address this issue, any potential consequences that might result. Two years later, he got his response: hundreds of pages of talking points, withheld in their entirety.

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Police are getting a lot of use out of cell phone extraction tech

Mobile phone forensic extraction devices have been a law enforcement tool for years now, and the number of agencies using them is only rising. As part of an ongoing investigation, we have finally been able to turn up some usage logs of this equipment, from the Tulsa Police Department, and Tucson Police Department. While the logs don’t contain specifics of why the phone was being searched, it does list the make of the phone, the date, and the type of extraction - and it underscores just how often the tech is getting used.

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CIA memo highlights the dilemma of declassification

One of the dilemmas of reading declassified documents is that readers are constantly faced with the question of whether or not to take the exemptions at face value - after all, CIA redacts beer brands and cafeteria names while claiming to “protect sources and methods.” Doing so erodes faith in the Agency’s choices to redact certain pieces of information, creating a situation where one of two possibilities are likely: that the CIA chose to improperly redact information to protect itself from embarrassment regarding improper activities, or that some of those activities are still seen as at least potentially valid.

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The year before his murder, Malcolm X was under electronic surveillance by the FBI

The last section of Malcolm X’s 10,000 plus page FBI file concerns the Bureau’s electronic surveillance of the activist shortly before his death. For months, agents listened to X’s phone calls, photographed his comings and goings, and even considered bugging his Queens residence - only to hastily discontinue the operation for fear it would taint a potential conviction.

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