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“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.

You Have The Right To Remain Silent, Your Phone Does Not

On January 20, 2017, as Donald Trump was being sworn in as President of The United States protests were taking place a short distance away. Washington, D.C. Police arrested over 200 individuals and charged them under felony riot laws and took phones away as evidence.  AlterNet’s Sarah Lazare, along with other news outlets cited in the article, have reported that law enforcement is compelling Facebook, Google, and Apple to turn over data for at least some of the people arrested.  An E-mail from Facebook’s “Law Enforcement Response Team” to a user explained that they had ten days to produce court documents that would legally prevent Facebook from honoring the government’s request for information about their account.  Mark Goldstone, a lawyer representing several of the defendants, was quoted as saying both Apple and Facebook had been contacted and asked to turn over customer’s personal information.  One individual arrested and charged with rioting showed AlterNet a communication from Apple alerting him they had received a similar request from legal authorities requesting data.  This man told reporters his phone was NOT present when he was arrested.  Gladstone said, “It’s an outrageous overreach by the government to try to data-mine personal property that wasn’t seized at the demonstration.” Another person arrested, a journalist swept up in the mass arrest who also had his phone taken, showed that there had been almost immediate activity on his password-protected phones’ Google account once it was in police hands. Google, Apple, and Facebook all declined to comment for the story.  Both D.C. Police and the U.S. Attorneys office would likewise not comment about an on-going investigation.  One of the things not known is what legal instrument was used to compel the three companies to turn over information on their customers. Various degrees of power are granted by different legal instrument. A National Security letter would require no court order while a 2703(d) court order allows access to metadata about communications and possibly location. The information to be turned over could be a relatively small amount or it could include everything a user had in the iCloud, photos taken, messages, and emails sent.

This story is critically important for several reasons. Mark Goldstone has defended protesters in the Washington, D.C. area for over 30 years.  He emphasized to AlterNet that he had never heard of a case where phones were seized and had never seen a felony riot charge.   This, unlike the usual misdemeanor charge, carries a penalty of 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.  “We’re in a dangerous new world,” Goldstone said.  The journalist that showed AlterNet evidence that his phone and Google account had been accessed while he was in custody begs the question, did the police violate the Supreme Courts ruling in Riley v. California?  The court ruled 9-0 in 2014, “That officers must generally secure a warrant before conducting such a search.” When we examine these events and consider them with the recent actions by state legislators to enact a wide array of laws to criminalize protest related behavior we see clear and present threats to our First Amendment rights. Nineteen states have lawmakers proposing a wide variety of laws all designed to quell protest. The ever increasing equipping of police with tools of both mass surveillance and individual device password breaking gives more and more departments an ability to crack the digital vault of your life. CityLab’s George Joseph, who’s reporting contributed to the AlterNet story, has previously reported that the 50 largest police departments have invested heavily in military-grade surveillance tools. The two primary types of technology used are interception and extraction. The first method involves sweeping large amounts of data from groups of people when their phones are actually communicating with a cell receiver under police control. One device, called the Dirtbox, can track and receive data from almost 10,000 phones at once.  The second method involves extracting data from an individual device including messages, photos, and location history. Taken together, the use of federal riot laws and their severe penalties, the risk of all ones personal information being available to prying eyes, and state laws that further criminalize protest behavior we may expect people to display self censoring behavior.  Not exercising their right to protest because the loss of Fourth Amendment protections also comes in the deal, even if the phone was left home.

Reporting on this story has been scant.  CityLab, by The Atlantic was first to report that these tech companies had been contacted. Reporting by George Joseph on February 3, 2017 in a story titled “Inauguration Protesters Targeted for Facebook Searches” was the first to appear. Other stories, mostly relying on City Labs reporting added a few details.  Articles from The Daily Caller and Naked Security appeared on February 7 and 8 respectively. The large piece from Lazare of AlterNet was published on February 24 and an article from the revolution newspaper on February 27 on AlterNet’s reporting. There was no reporting found on this story from larger corporate media sources.  The Washington Post ran a story on April 2, 2017 citing a Reuters report from March 30, 2017 that a United Nations Human rights investigator stated that individual state laws denote an “alarming” U.S. trend against free speech and protest but made no mention of the Inauguration incident.

Sources:

Sarah Lazare, “Law Enforcement Using Facebook and Apple to Data-Mine Accounts of Trump Protest Arrestees,”  AlterNet,  Feb. 22, 2017 http://www.alternet.org/activism/law-enforcement-using-facebook-and-apple-data-mine-accounts-trump-protest-arrestees-0

Robert Seigel, “Local Police Departments Invest In Cell Phone Spy Tools,”  NPR Radio, February 17, 2017, http://www.npr.org/2017/02/17/515841069/local-police-departments-invest-in-cell-phone-spy-tools

Joseph, George. “Inauguration Protesters Targeted for Facebook Searches”. CityLab.  Feb. 3, 2017. http://www.citylab.com/crime/2017/02/inauguration-protesters-targeted-for-facebook-searches/515517/

“U.S. Government Efforts to Data Mine Accounts of Anti-Trump Protesters—And Apple and Facebook’s Shameful Complicity,” Revolution Newspaper, February 27, 2017, http://www.revcom.us/a/480/us-govt-efforts-to-data-mine-anti-trump-protesters-en.html

Student Researcher: Tom Field (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator:  Mickey Huff  (Diablo Valley College)

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