FBI and AG sued by American muslims over no-fly list


Four of the plaintiffs are US citizens, the other a permanent resident, and they say that their rights have been routinely violated by a secret, unaccountable terrorist watchlist system that impairs their ability to travel and subjects them to "the unimaginable indignity and real-life danger of having your own government communicate to hundreds of thousands of federal agents, private contractors, state and local police, the captains of sea-faring vessels, and foreign governments all across the world that you are a violent menace."

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TSA aviation tax set to double


The TSA is taking the brakes off the tax it levies on fliers, doubling (and more) the charge built into your plane ticket.

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An American in Yemen: unlikely and wonderful tourism


Polish-American software developer Maciej Cegłowski decided to take a holiday in Yemen's capital city of Sana'a, home to breathtaking, 600-year-old skyscrapers that look like gingerbread houses.

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TSA tells UK airport security: confiscate broken and out-of-battery gadgets


The TSA has demanded that overseas airports, like London's Heathrow, should require travellers to turn on their electronics before flying to the USA, and ban any broken or out-of-power devices.

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Sheffield cops threaten reporter with terrorism charges


Alex Evans, a Sheffield Star reporter, was shaken down by transport police who told him that he wasn't allowed to shoot video of a pensioners' protest against cuts to travel subsidies for elderly people. When he refused to delete his footage, they threatened him with arrest under anti-terrorism laws. Shortly after he was made to stop recording, the police roughly arrested two protestors: one 65, the other 64.

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Illinois State Cops blew $250K on "terrorist-catching" Stingray surveillance gadgets


Michael says, "New documents released on MuckRock show the Illinois State Police crying "Terrorist" in order to get funding and approval for a $250,000 Stingray cell snooping system, even though, as Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes, the technology is being used to fight regular crime. The terms of service on the device actually prevent officers from seeking a warrant to use it. MuckRock currently has a crowdfunding campaign to fund similar requests across the country."

ZOMGTERRISTSGONNA KILLUSALL tee, now in tote form


My ZOMG­TERRISTS­GONNA­KILL­US­ALL­RUN­HIDE TSA tee-shirt (of Poop Strong fame) is available in tote-bag form, a fact I had somehow missed!

National anti-censorship orgs protest cancellation of Little Brother summer reading program


Last week's news that the principal of Pensacola, FL's Booker T Washington High School had cancelled its One School/One Book summer reading program rather than have his students read my novel Little Brother has alarmed several national anti-censorship organizations, led by the National Coalition Against Censorship. Their open letter to the principal of BTWHS, signed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the American Booksellers Federation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, discusses the legal and moral duty of educators to put challenging material in front of their students.

I'm immensely grateful to these organizations and especially the NCAC for their support, and I really hope that the principal reconsiders his decision and that I can have a chance to discuss the admittedly challenging themes and scenes in Little Brother with his students in the fall.

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How to request your US Border file (and what you're likely to get)


Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the United States Customs and Border Protection agency for his own travel records, including the notoriously comprehensive "Passenger Name Record" -- what he got was '72 pages of shit,' a redacted jumble of arbitrarily collected and retained nonsense. He didn't get his PNR. If you want to give it a try, he's signposted the procedure.

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UK Home Office's terrorist detection checklist


Snapped yesterday at the Mykonos, Greece airport: the UK Home Office's terrorist detection checklist for spotting existential threats to the human race before they can board. It's grimly fun to imagine the brutal false-positives this inane document must generate. My favourite (for sufficiently perverse definitions of "favourite") is a refugee who's just attained citizenship, but now has to rush away to attend the funeral of a brutalized relative.

Peter Watts's The Scorched Earth Society: A Suicide Bomber's Guide to Online Privacy


Science fiction writer and biologist Peter Watts gave a spectacular talk to the Symposium of the International Association of Privacy Professional, called The Scorched Earth Society: A Suicide Bomber's Guide to Online Privacy (PDF); Watts draws on his two disciplines to produce a stirring, darkly comic picture of the psychological toll of the surveillance society.

Watts is the writer who was beaten, maced, and convicted of a felony for asking a US border guard why he'd walked up behind his rental car and opened his trunk without any discussion or notice. His take on surveillance and its relationship to control, authoritarianism and corruption is both sharp-edged and nuanced. And his proposal for a remedy is provocative and difficult to argue with. I only wish I'd been in the room to give the talk, as he's a remarkable and acerbic storyteller.

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Movie plot threat semifinalists announced

Bruce Schneier has announced the semifinalists in his seventh annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest, wherein contestants dream up implausible reasons to justify extreme surveillance and other lawless policing techniques like torture and indefinite detention. My favorite: Homeopathic Factoring, "The NSA, through the White House's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives formed a partnership with Zicam Digital to explore and exploit homeopathic techniques for advanced cryptanalysis."

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Kickstarting a game about cops, terrorism and cognitive bias

Guy Galer sez, "I created a game that was inspired by many of the stories found on Boing Boing. You play a FBI agent that is reassigned to the field because of the Snowden brouhaha. She then has to come to terms with data privacy, racial profiling and all sorts of cognitive biases that impact criminal investigations. It dives into a legal system where it is extremely easy to convict poor people of almost anything while it takes absurd amounts of evidence to convict the rich."

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Technical analysis of terrorist graphic/brand design


A long and fascinating review of the 2013 book Branding Terror, which presents a detailed analysis of the visual identity of terrorist and non-state-actor insurgent groups around the world and over time. Underground and criminalized subcultures have produced some remarkable and long-lived iconography, from the Christian fish in the catacombs to the Jolly Roger. Regine has interviewed Artur Beifuss, who contributed an introduction to the book, and the discussion is fascinating.

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Muslims sue FBI: kept on no-fly list because they wouldn't turn informant


A suit brought by four Muslim-American men with no criminal records asserts that the FBI put them on the no-fly list in order to pressure them to inform on their communities. Brooklynite Awais Sajjad, one of the plaintiffs, says that he was denied boarding for a flight to visit his sickly grandmother in Pakistan in 2012, and that subsequently, the FBI told him they would remove him from the no-fly list only if he worked as an FBI informant. Sajjad's has tried all the official means of getting himself removed from the no-fly list, without any success. Sajjad's co-plaintiffs tell similar stories.

The case echoes that of Dr Rahinah Ibrahim, the first person to successfully appeal being placed on the US no-fly list. In her case, it emerged that she had been put on the list due to an administrative error (an FBI officer ticked the wrong box on a form) and that subsequently the DHS, Justice Department and FBI conspired to use state secrecy to cover up their error, even though they knew that there was no conceivable reason to keep Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

Sajjad and co will have to overcome the same secrecy privilege and the same culture of ass-covering indifference to innocence from the FBI and its allies in government. I don't like their chances, but I wish them luck.

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