GPS Privacy Legislation after the PATRIOT Act

November 26, 2016

This post is more a request for information than a provision of same.

I was discussing cell-phone privacy, and a friend mentioned that since the World Trade Center attacks all cell phones have GPS location devices that are trackable even when off.  I was not sure of the accuracy of that statement (though we all know that the so-called PATRIOT Act was a vast overreaction and overreach), so I went hunting for current law.

I did not find much; I did find a government site from 2014 that had a link to a page about pending legislation; that page was updated 2 months ago (28 Oct. 2016).  Here is the link:

The original page ( also had information on the 2012 Jones decision and on lower-court rulings, including one that required a warrant for GPS-based vehicle trackers (later vacated and to be reheard, according to the site today [26 Nov. 2016]).

I think we have some work to do, between all the other ball-juggling that is happening: Electoral College, vote recounts, proposals for mass registration and deportations, Dakota Access water-protector repression, racist appointments, etc.  Already, many folks are talking about the need for encrypting e-mails and phone conversations/messages—is that actually useful, or just an illusion because Internet Service Providers give everything to the government, anyway?


Call the Rules Committee Tonight!

June 13, 2016

I got an e-mail from Fight for the Future an hour or two ago (they were still answering the phone when I called), asking for a quick phone call to tell the Congressional Rules Committee, which will be voting on FISA amendments, to take another step toward restoring the privacy that we once had.

Here is the link:; Decide the Future gives the phone number to call, asking that we let the committee know that we support the Massie-Lofgren Amendment to defund mass surveillance under Section 702 of FISA.  The group that created this blog have been asking the president, Congress, anyone who will listen to “GetFISARight” for almost a decade now—through President Obama’s full 8-year administration (we grew out of a My Barack Obama group opposed to the then-senator’s support for warrantless wiretapping in July 2008), so don’t stop now!  Pick up the phone, make the call, and Tweet the link!

Defund the NSA

#restorethe4th roundup: resources, media attention, and videos

July 1, 2013

RestoreThe4thAs we head into the July 4 rallies, I thought it would be useful to collect some useful links.

For organizers — or people wanting to get the word out — the best place to start is Restore the Fourth’s website at, where there’s a a FAQ, list of protests, , the June 18 press release, and a resources page (including logos, flyers, and guides for organizers on media and outreach).  There’s also a wiki page with more resources on Reddit; and of course r/RestoreTheFourth subreddit which is the best place to go for links, questions, and discussions.  Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s How to protest against NSA surveillance on Fourth of July and the reddit threads on first-time protestors and  talking points all have great tips, tricks, and general advice.

The rallies are starting to get more and more attention. For example:

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Thousands Prepare to Protest Nationwide on July 4th for Fourth Amendment Rights

June 19, 2013

RestoreThe4thRestore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement that seeks to organize and assemble nationwide protests on July 4th, 2013. Protesters in over 100 cities across America will gather to demand that the government of the United States adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. provides a detailed list of protest locations.

Restore the Fourth’s press release

Just like in 2008, there’s a lot of grassroots opposition to the NSA’s surveillance on social networks.  Restore the Fourth started on Reddit, and with their well-run daily IRC meetings has been making impressive progress.  They wrote their just-issued press release collaboratively, much as Get FISA Right did back in the day with our open letter to Obama and video scripts.Restore the 4th stands with EFF and (and Get FISA Right and the ACLU and BORDC and reddit and the other 100+ signers) on the call to Congress to reform the FISA Amendments Act and Section 215 of the Patriot Act, appoint a special committee to investigate, and hold public officials accountable.   The July 4th demonstrations seek to demand an end to the unconstitutional surveillance methods employed by the U.S. government and to ensure that all future government surveillance is constitutional, limited, and clearly defined.  So check out their site to see if any of the 77 protests currently in planning are near you … and get involved!

GFR June 16 phone conference: NSA link roundup

June 17, 2013

Here are a few links from Sunday evening’s Get FISA Right (GFR) phone conference, compiled from collaborative notes available here.

 News roundups
Activist links

With NDAA looming, MCCRC activists pay the Obama campaign a visit [CROSSPOST]

December 22, 2011

Hi, “Get FISA Right” friends — it’s been a while! I’ve been active with a local civil rights/civil liberties group I helped start, the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition. While we usually concentrate on local civil liberties issues — Metro transit system bag searches, county youth curfew and loitering/prowling proposals — we did something new last night and went to an Obama campaign HQ to protest and educate about the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). I’m crossposting my post about the visit to this blog to let you know about it, since it kind of fits the Get FISA Right “engage Obama” style.  — Thomas Nephew

– – –

President Obama announced last week that he was not planning to veto the National Defense Authorization Act — a bill with provisions upending the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and arguably common law dating back to the Magna Carta: the right to a trial and to not be imprisoned without review.

MCCRC activists were determined to weigh in on a decision that will have terrible consequences for the rule of law in this country. We decided to select Obama’s Montgomery County, Maryland “Organizing for America” headquarters in Kensington, on Wednesday during evening phonebanking hours. Our goals: (1) to serve notice that we’re willing to protest President Obama’s plans or decisions when necessary, “even” in an election season, (2) to engage Obama volunteers about the NDAA bill, (3) to persuade some of them to call the White House — (202) 456-1414 — and urge Obama to veto the bill, and (4) to discuss with them the general “security at the price of liberty” policies that have accelerated since 9/11 — and that have been continued or even expanded under the Obama administration.

We talk with the campaign's evening office manager

We talk with the campaign's evening office manager. Click the image for a slideshow of the protest.

Obama volunteers — whether inside the office or at the building entrance — were surprised to see us, and many told us they hadn’t heard about the NDAA bill before we had spoken with them.

For his part, the evening office volunteer manager was willing to hear from us, and listened with interest as we explained our problems with the NDAA. He said he would share the news and reasons of our visit with higher-ups in the Obama campaign organization.

He also agreed to distribute about a dozen copies of our one page, two-sided informational flyer to the evening’s volunteers. The flyer featured the New York Times editorial “Politics over Principle” on one side and excerpts from Glenn Greenwald’s “Three myths about the detention bill” on the other. As these articles explain, the bill…

  • strips civilian law enforcement and courts of the power to prosecute terrorists, giving that to the military
  • codifies indefinite detention of those charged, without trial
  • does not preclude that American citizens might suffer the same fate, despite the Bill of Rights
  • expands the scope of the “war on terror” beyond those responsible for 9/11 or harboring them, to anyone who “substantially supports” such groups and/or “associated forces”

While too much of the above has already been occurring, it’s a legally meaningful and bad thing for such practices to be expressly codified by Congress and signed by the President. It’s additionally disappointing — and ominous for democracy — that a president who campaigned on the “Hope” for “Change” so many of us shared, and who specifically opposed many of these measures on the campaign trail, might now choose to make them the law of the land.

Many of us believe it’s important to take a stand against these encroachments of our rights and liberties — wherever we are, and no matter who is responsible. By next Wednesday, we sadly anticipate that President Obama will have signed the NDAA into law.

So we’re asking everyone in our area to join us that next Wednesday, December 28, at 4:30pm at 3750 University Blvd. West, Kensington MD (map)* to protest the NDAA’s passage at Obama for Maryland headquarters. And we hope Americans elsewhere will do the same at the Obama campaign headquarters nearest to them.

UPDATE: video

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Get FISA Right Offline: Write a Letter to the Editor

October 27, 2009

From its inception, Get FISA Right has been dedicated to building an online movement from within the context of the Obama for President campaign. But the passage of time and the turn of events have led to some subtle and not-so-subtle changes in Get FISA Right’s focus.

During 2008, Get FISA Right reacted with chagrin to Senator Barack Obama’s support for the FISA Amendments Act and pressured him to consider FISA reform as his inauguration approached; during 2009, we’ve watched as President Barack Obama has moved to definitively support and reinforce elements of George W. Bush’s surveillance agenda. The agenda of Get FISA Right has become more distant from the agenda of President Obama as the President’s agenda moves ever farther from the defense of American constitutional protections.

During 2008, Get FISA Right worked from within the Democratic Party base of supporters to rally support for a NO vote against the FISA Amendments Act; during 2009, we’ve watched as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee joined Republicans to form a supermajority against civil liberty and for the reauthorization of Patriot Act. The reach of Get FISA Right has become less partisan, drawing from the expertise of libertarians such as Julian Sanchez of the CATO Institute and reaching toward Libertarian Party audiences in an effort to build more bridges.

During 2008, Get FISA Right was able to tap into the excitement of the presidential race and existing media coverage stemming from Senator Christopher Dodd’s filibuster threats to build a large online activist presence. This year, there are no presidential elections and only one one congressional elections. To my knowledge, newspapers’ coverage of the introduction of surveillance reform bills H.R. 3845 and H.R. 3846 has been limited to one Associated Press article and one Roll Call article. There’s no similar buzz this year over surveillance legislation, even though constitutional and practical problems with government surveillance remain unresolved by the Obama administration. And so as Get FISA Right continues its important work of building awareness online, there is a need to expand awareness of surveillance policy developments offline.

One way to build awareness of Patriot Act reauthorization, and of the need for Patriot Act and FISA reform, is to use the newspapers’ voice in spite of most newspapers silence. In addition to your online twitter, facebook and blogging work, please consider writing a letter to the editor today. Your words may reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of readers, and if published will almost certainly gain the attention of your local paper’s editorial staff. Get FISA Right has added a wiki page with appropriate links to background information and the letter-writing engine at Add your submitted letters to the wiki page as an inspiration for others who would like to write their own original letters but may not know where to begin.