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Center Column Archives
On April 18th, U.S. Federal authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup Networks and May First/People Link in New York City. The seized server was operated by the European Counter Network (“ECN”), the oldest independent internet service provider in Europe, who, among many other things, provided an anonymous remailer service, Mixmaster, that was the target of an FBI investigation into a series of bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh.
Congress is currently considering HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill that purports to protect the United States from “cyber threats”. This legislation would create a gaping loophole in all existing privacy laws. If CISPA, as the bill is called, passes, companies could vacuum up huge swaths of data on everyday internet users and share it with government agencies without a court order. Internet privacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Press say that CISPA uses dangerously vague language to define the breadth of data that can be shared with the government.
ACLU–Santa Cruz Chapter writes,
"Eleven local activists have been charged with a variety of offenses arising from the occupation of a vacant bank building last fall. We have two primary concerns regarding this prosecution. First, at least some of the defendants are journalists who were present to report on the protest. We condemn any attempt to criminalize their exercise of the crucial First Amendment right to gather and disseminate information about this newsworthy event. All charges based on this constitutionally protected activity should be dropped immediately. Second, it appears that some of the defendants may have been charged due to their past adversarial relationship with law enforcement officials."
The Long Haul and East Bay Prisoner Support have settled their lawsuits over an armed, over-broad police raid after the law enforcement agencies agreed to delete improperly seized computer data and pay $100,000 in damages and attorney's fees. Moreover, the University of California-Berkeley Police Department (UCBPD) acknowledged that at the time of the raid one of the groups qualified for federal protections designed to protect journalists, publishers, and other distributors of information from police searches, despite the police's persistent denial of that status throughout the lawsuit.
On April 4th, a dozen people demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the Wells Fargo Bank located at 74 River St. in downtown Santa Cruz, and across the street from the vacant bank building at 75 River St. The event was held to "encourage those victimized by the bank to learn they have allies" and "support the hundreds of people who visited or protested the vacant building at 75 River St. in late November and early December last year."
Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee has embarked on a full frontal assault against independent media in Santa Cruz by including four regular contributors to the independent news website Indybay.org amongst the eleven people charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors after the occupation of a vacant bank building on November 30th, 2011. District Attorney Lee is attempting to dictate how events such as the occupation of the vacant bank at 75 River Street should be reported on by the media.
The twelfth and final profile in the series “Hidden in Plain Sight,” by Peter M, concerns Jose Manuel Martinez, whose creative life has been story telling. As a recording artist — a singer-songwriter — he made his mark in Rock, Latin Rock and Salsa. Now having just completed a Master’s degree in Education at Stanford University, he is an English teacher, relating to young people how stories can empower, and the ways they can bring people together.