JTDL: A letter from Portland

Editor’s Note

I rarely editorialize in this newsletter, because that isn’t its purpose. However, living blocks from the police union headquarters in Portland, Oregon and attending peaceful protests where federal paramilitary units are stationed and comb social media to find identities of protesters requires something more.

For nearly two years, this newsletter has captured the use of novel police surveillance technologies and techniques. If you follow closely, you already know the real threat isn’t the newest spy equipment, it’s more ubiquitous. The surveillance economy, such as social media, consumer DNA databases, and the devices we carry in our pockets, is our great peril.

Because we surf the internet and use apps with abandon, the police can skip the warrant and buy our data instead. Because we are curious about our heritage, our genetic material sits in a perpetual lineup. Because we carry a phone to let our loved ones know we’re safe, law enforcement can pinpoint our location with the flip of a switch, no due process required.

For far too long, leaders in the United States have allowed for the proliferation of these technologies and practices with a bewildering lack of transparency and oversight. In a collective failure to act, we built a turnkey tyranny.

The articles below and in the archive are not prescient science fiction about possible troubles ahead, they are dispatches from the present we currently inhabit. And if this isn’t the moment to reflect on that and act, I don’t know if we ever will.



In an impressive effort, there’s a new national map of police surveillance capabilities. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

In an end run around warrants, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol buys private license plate data. (Ars)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security authorized personnel to collect information on protesters it says threaten monuments. (Washington Post) The Department also worries Covid-19 masks are breaking its facial recognition software. (Intercept)

A judge in Seattle ruled local media companies must hand over protest images to the police. (Seattle Times)

Policing's problems won't be fixed by tech that aids or replaces humans. (Fast Company)

Consumer DNA honeypot GEDmatch confirmed a data breach after users’ DNA data was made available to police. (TechCrunch)

Predictive policing algorithms are racist, and they need to be dismantled. (MIT Tech Review)

The FBI secretly used a travel company as a global surveillance tool. (Slashdot)

Smart streetlights are now exclusively a tool for police. (Voice of San Diego)

A company is selling spy equipment to police that’s disguised as Monster soda cans and vapes. (VICE)

The controversial NSO Group pitched its spyware to the U.S. Secret Service. (VICE)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned an administrator of the archive site that hosted data from the “Blue Leaks” hack. (VICE)

The NYPD's facial recognition policy leaves a lot of leeway the department says it's not using. (Gotham Gazette)

Your Zoom interrogation is about to start. (Marshall Project)

Inside Citizen, the app that asks you to report crimes. (Wired)

A German court rules that police have too much access to people’s data. (New York Times)

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[Virtual] Rights Con is July 27-31. (RC)

[Virtual] The International Legal Technology Association is holding a conference from August 24-28. (ILTA)

[Virtual] The first annual American Legal Technology Awards will be held in August, date TBD. (ALT)

[Stay tuned] We Robot 2020 may not take place at the University of Ottawa. (UOttawa)

Jobs & Opportunities

18F, the federal government’s in-house tech shop, is hiring for two roles. (18F) (h/t Eleni Manis)

AI Now Institute has numerous openings. (AI Now)

American and Georgetown Law Schools have a call for papers on policing, technology, and building public trust. (AU) (h/t Nikki Pope)

Arnold Ventures has a bunch of job openings in their various criminal justice tracks. (Arnold)

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is looking for a deputy director and a program coordinator. (Aspen) (h/t Betsy Cooper)

BetaNYC needs a civic hacker. (BNYC) (h/t Eleni Manis)

The California Law Revision Commission is taking on the penal code and needs a data savvy attorney. (CLRC) (h/t Thomas Nosewicz)

Casebook has technical and product openings. (CB) (h/t Eleni Manis)

The Center for Democracy and Technology has multiple openings. (CDT) (h/t Alex Givens)

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has openings in their Justice and Opportunity vertical. (CZI)

Citizen Lab has a fellowship on surveillance, digital security, and race. (CL)

CivicActions has multiple roles. (CA) (h/t Eleni Manis)

Data & Society is hiring a policy director. (D&S)

[New] Data.gov needs an open data specialist. (DG)

DataKind is looking for a director of volunteers. (DK) (h/t Eleni Manis)

Everytown for Gun Safety is looking for a data scientist. (EGS) (h/t Eleni Manis)

The Future Society needs an analyst for their AI against child abuse program. (FS) (h/t Eleni Manis)

Georgetown’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy needs a justice data associate. (GULC) (h/t Matthew Stubenberg)

The Illinois Courts are looking for a senior program manager for its legal technology initiatives. (ILCourts)

JustFix.nyc is looking for a UX/UI designer. (JF)

[New] JusticeText needs a dev. (JT)

Lagniappe Law Lab is looking for an access-to-justice tech fellow. (LLL)

LawHelpNY needs a new director. (CFW)

Measures for Justice has numerous open positions in their research and technology sections. (MfJ)

Neota Logic, an expert systems platform, is looking for a university and non-profit relationships director, plus other roles. (Neota)

New Jersey’s Office of Innovation has numerous open roles. (NJOI) (h/t Eleni Manis)

NYU GovLab has an opening for a senior fellow. (NYU)

NYU Law School has a fellowship for tech policy people. (NYU)

The Partnership on AI is looking for a program lead. (PAI)

The Philly District Attorney's Office is looking for researchers, data scientists and programmers. (PDAO)

Pro Bono Net has an open position. (PBN)

[New] San Francisco city government needs a business analyst for their criminal justice data work. (SF) (h/t Eleni Manis)

Schmidt Futures has numerous open roles. (SF)

The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project has two openings. (STOP) (h/t Keith Porcaro)

Texas Southern University’s Center for Justice Research is looking for a research analyst. (TSU)

Theory and Principle, a legal software development boutique, needs a QA dev. (T&P)

Thorn, a platform fighting child sex trafficking, has a number of positions open. (Thorn)

The Vera Institute of Justice has numerous open positions. (VIJ) (h/t Eleni Manis)

Yale’s Justice Collaboratory needs a project manager. (YJC) (h/t Amy Bach)

Yale Law School is looking for visiting fellows for the Information Society Project. (ISP)

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