Apple has patented a technology that can remotely disable the camera on your cell phone via an infrared signal. Ostensibly created to prevent people from taking pictures and video at concerts and movie theaters, or to prevent students from cheating on tests, it’s only a matter of time before this is used by law enforcement to prevent the lawful recording of their actions or by governments to prevent protestors from documenting retaliation against their assemblies.
EFF-Austin board member Heather Barfield has conceived and directed a new play at The Vortex theater titled Privacy Settings. Based on the ancient Greek play of Prometheus Bound, Privacy Settings imagines Edward Snowden in the titular role of Prometheus, the titan whole stole fire from the gods and gifted it to mankind. The play is inspired by the actions and punishments of contemporary whistle-blowers, advocates for digital privacy rights and perversions of American civil liberties. Privacy Settings offers a “surveillance fun house” with opportunities for unique interactive experiences. Some of these experiences include actionable tips about how you can increase your digital privacy from the moment you walk out of the play later that evening.
EFF-Austin has managed to obtain a special deal for our followers to see the play for the low price of $10 a person on Thursday, June 16th at 8:00pm. On the night of the show you can mention that you’re with EFF-Austin to the Box Office and they will allow you to purchase the discounted tickets, which are being held for our group in our name. EFF-Austin board member Kevin Welch will be your host for the evening and will arrive at 6:30pm to lead a pre-show hour of drinks, socialization, and dinner at the adjacent Butterfly Bar and Patrizi’s Italian food trailer. Following the play, EFF-Austin president Jon Lebkowsky will lead a talkback to discuss the issues raised by the play.
We encourage everyone in the Austin tech community, as well as anyone who wants to learn more about the modern surveillance state and the increasingly large impact it’s going to have on our lives, to attend.
Please RSVP only if you are planning to attend, we are trying to get an accurate headcount.
Our speaker this month will be Kathy Mitchell. Kathy is a volunteer with the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition working to require police to get a warrant to access cell phone location data. She was a policy analyst on Open Government issues for Consumers Union for several years and led public advocate negotiating of the last major rewrite of the Public Information Act. In 2006, she was the PAC Treasurer for a Prop that would have opened police misconduct records if it had passed. She has been in the trenches for more than 20 years trying to make sure the public can see government records and hold government accountable while protecting that same public from government intrusion in the form of unwarranted surveillance.
Kathy will be discussing the privacy and data retention issues surrounding the coming widespread use of Police Body Cameras both in Austin and at large. Very soon, Austin police officers will be equipped with video cameras (body cams) that will always be on during encounters with the public. But the city has yet to finalize a policy around data collection, data privacy, data retention/expunction and public access. There is a strong interest in public access, especially for video related to misconduct or incidents in which a civilian is hurt or killed. There is also a strong interest in privacy for everyone who may be the subject of body camera video. This talk will walk through some of the options that are on the table for an APD body camera policy that encourages accountability while also protecting privacy. We will also discuss the process by which such a policy could be enacted, and what will happen if we enact no policy at all.
A good resource for attendees to read beforehand: http://calibrepress.com/2016/01/barriers-to-officer-worn-video-the-ten-per-cent-challenge/
Legislation authorizing body cams and setting the legal framework for Texas: 84(R) SB 158 – Enrolled version – Bill Text
COA body cam vendor RFP, now closed but downloadable: COA Financial Services
Current body cam policy to be replaced by one that addresses key issues: http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Police/APD_Policy_2015-2_Issued_5-1-2015-updated.pdf (Go to policy 303 at page 125.)