We already know that the Los Angeles Police Department, the Sheriff, and police departments including Long Beach's use rooftop vehicle-mounted cameras that have collected millions of photos of the license plates and precise locations of innocent SoCal drivers. That info sits in a databank that law enforcement can use to track your car's movements over a period of years.
We also know that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck purchased two spy drones from Seattle after residents there shouted down the Seattle City Council and got rid of them. And now, Glenn Greenwald has warned Angelenos (see video) that the NSA views those who encrypt their own emails as "bad people." On Saturday, those worried that the public is losing its freedoms to the surveillance complex will discuss what Californians can do about it:
A lot of heavy-hitters will gather at the Glendale Central Library, Saturday at 7:45 p.m., to discuss the extensive surveillance issues that have emerged. Panelists will include the ACLU Southern California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and the Tenth Amendment Center.
The organizing group, calling itself Restore The Fourth, is commemorating the one-year anniversary of Edward Snowden's revelations regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) "mass surveillance programs that monitor every American."
"The Fourth Amendment cannot be protected with secret interpretations of law," says Pablo Serrato, of Restore The Fourth Los Angeles. "Mass surveillance instills a chilling effect on our Constitutional rights to free speech and association."
Xander Snyder, a former investment banker and another spokesman for the event, says he's just a regular guy who, in his day job, is the head of finance for a tech startup focusing on energy issues. He got involved because, he says:
"I don't think the public is paying attention. ... None of us see ourselves as activists, but as concerned citizens. We have never been part of any organization before. But we were just shocked by how far the privacy protection issue has swung ... against the public. The media has not been covering it like it could, because if they do they can easily be locked out at the national level by sources or contacts they value."
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The group Stop LAPD Spying, Snyder says, is "trying to push back on some of the local surveillance that's been going on lately. Law enforcement agencies "share data through these 'fusion centers,' ostensibly to track drugs, and not aimed at national security issues. But national security intelligence is shared."
He is particularly concerned about "facial recognition systems used by local police departments - this can move from photos in Facebook toward building databases by 2015 that contain [millions] of images" of normal citizens, he says. "It is happening now, in conjunction with local police departments."
The hope of Restore the Fourth and the other groups, Snyder says, is that "We can help educate people to what's been happening - - and what they can do to influence policy, certainly at the state level if not the national level. And what they can do with technology to protect themselves."