Activists Say Lori Lightfoot Is Not Meeting Their Demands to Protect Immigrants

On July 13, more than 4,000 people rallied in Chicago to protest President Trump’s immigration crackdown—part of a nationwide day of action. But organizers also directed grievances at another politician: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightoot, who is refusing to shut down the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) infamous gang database, despite evidence that it disproportionately targets Black and Latinx people—and gives Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) another tool to go after Chicagoans.

“The youth demands the gang database be erased,” Keishjuan Owens, a youth leader with Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, told the crowd. “It puts so many people like you and me in harm’s way, targets undocumented folks, limits access to opportunities, jobs and schooling.”

After Trump threatened to unleash sweeping immigration raids starting July 14, Lightfoot announced that the CPD would not cooperate with ICE, and that ICE agents would not have access to the gang database, known as the Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) database. 

Mony Ruiz-Velasco, the executive director of Proyecto de Acción de los Suburbios del Oeste (PASO), a local immigrants’ rights organization, told In These Times Saturday before the rally that this gesture goes “beyond anything that any of the previous mayors were ever willing to do.” 

Yet, Ruiz-Velasco said it is not enough: “We would like to see those databases eliminated.” 

At Saturday’s march, organizers and speakers repeated this call for the gang database to be shut down. 

“Our message is consistent: We want the gang database closed,” said Darcey Regan, executive director of Indivisible Chicago.

The gang database, which originated in 2002 under the Richard M. Daley administration, includes information on Cook County residents the CPD claims are “criminal offenders” or affiliated with "gangs." Black and brown Chicagoans are disproportionately targeted and added to the database for supposed gang affiliation. The Chicago Tribune reports that “96 percent of the nearly 65,000 people identified as suspected gang members are Black or Latino.” According to ProPublica Illinois, the database has been accessed over a million times in the past decade by many organizations and agencies, including ICE. A report by Joe Ferguson, Chicago’s inspector general, found that between 2009 and 2018, “more than 32,000 queries came from federal immigration authorities.” Ferguson’s report recommended that stronger standards be put in place to make sure the gang database is accurate, and that the CPD evaluate the usefulness of the database itself.

The database has been shown to contain inaccurate or misleading information, such as listing people as 0 years old, or including people who had not been arrested or accused of a crime. The criteria for being added to the database are vague, and people can be added simply because a police officer claims to have "special intelligence on the subject of gangs.” 

These murky criteria have led to the profiling of Black and Latinx people. In 2017, two men brought  separate lawsuits against the CPD, arguing that they had been profiled as gang members and erroneously put in the database. One of them, Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, was subsequently arrested and detained by ICE. After being detained for 10 months, he was released in January 2018.

The database has been the target of repeated protests. In October 2017, during Rahm Emanuel’s administration, Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) and Black Youth Project 100 protested outside of City Hall with three large art installations that criticized the gang database, as well as Emanuel’s proposed cop academy.

Lightfoot has suggested that the gang database should undergo some changes to improve accountability and transparency, such as creating a system for auditing information. She also has said, “[T]here can be legitimate purposes for collecting that data [in the gang database]. But that’s the rub: legitimate purposes.”

Closing loopholes

Lightfoot is declining to meet another community request to protect immigrants. According to OCAD, on June 29, Lightfoot’s office received an executive order drafted by the Immigration Working Group, which consists of several community organizations (including OCAD). If signed, the executive order would ensure the CPD cannot work with ICE in any capacity, and it would close loopholes in Chicago’s pre-existing Welcoming City ordinance, created in 2012. Rey Wences, an organizer with OCAD, said the ordinance allows police to work with ICE, for instance, if someone is in the gang database or if someone has a felony conviction or charge. They say, “As we know, there’s been an increase in criminalization. And there are people that have felonies but they are made up of non-violent offenses.”

This executive order would “codify the statements the mayor made,” says Wences.

The community’s proposed executive order closes an important loophole by denying not only ICE, but any other agency within the Department of Homeland Security, “direct access to any electronic database or other data-sharing platform” belonging to the CPD.  

Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with OCAD, told In These Times that the community executive order, if signed by Lightfoot, would ensure that the CPD “would not be participating or collaborating with ICE in any situation.” Guttierrez said that because Lightfoot’s announcement and subsequent package of executive actions do not explicitly address the loopholes in the Welcoming City ordinance, she leaves room for potential CPD and ICE collaboration.

Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times that she would not sign OCAD's executive order. “t would be easy to pander to the crowd,” she said. “But I want to do this in a way that’s actually gonna be meaningful and structural and lasting.”

“The fact that she did not sign the executive order is unfortunate,” said Wences.

On Friday, Curbed Chicago reported that Lightfoot signed a separate package of executive actions that restricts ICE’s access to public facilities, such as parks and libraries, and increases funding towards Chicago’s Legal Protection Fund.

Concerned about what a potential escalation in immigration raids could mean for Chicago, residents are preparing for the worst. Saturday’s march also aimed to connect Chicagoans to various resources for help in case of ICE arrests, such as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights’ Family Support Hotline. Organizers urged allies to take further, sustainable action by getting involved with local organizations and actions, such as neighborhood bike and foot brigades, which patrolled and defended Chicago neighborhoods against ICE activity on Sunday. With the support of democratic socialist alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez, Chicagoans flocked to Albany Park, a neighborhood with a large population of Central American refugees, where they were trained on how to spot and act against potential ICE activity. As of July 15, the Chicago Tribune reports that there have been no signs of ICE raids in the city. However, the Tribune reports that officials have said that “the sweeps will continue through the coming week."

By cutting ozone pollution now, China could save 330,000 lives by 2050

If China takes strong measures to reduce its ozone pollution now, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives in the long run, according to a new study.

Hearing Thursday: EFF, ACLU Will Ask Court to Rule In Favor of Travelers Suing DHS Over Unconstitutional, Warrantless Searches of Cellphones, Laptops

Evidence Shows Fourth, First Amendment Violations

Boston, Massachusetts—On Thursday, July 18, at 3:00 p.m., lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU will ask a federal judge to decide that the constitutional rights of 11 travelers were violated by the suspicionless, warrantless searches of their electronic devices at the border by the U.S. government.

The plaintiffs are ten U.S. citizens and a lawful permanent resident who, like many Americans, regularly travel outside the country with their cellphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Federal officers searched their devices at U.S. ports  of entry without a warrant or any individualized suspicion to believe that the devices contained contraband. Federal officers also confiscated the devices of four plaintiffs after they left the border, absent probable cause of criminal activity. The judge will decide whether a trial is needed or whether the evidence is so clear that the case can be decided now.
Evidence obtained in this lawsuit,Alasaad v. McAleenan,  demonstrates the unconstitutionality of the challenged searches and confiscation of traveler’s devices at the border. It also demonstrates that the plaintiffs’ have standing to bring these claims. At Thursday’s oral argument, EFF Senior Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz will address the standing issues, and Esha Bhandari, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project will address the merits of the claims.
Oral argument on summary judgment motion in Alasaad v. McAleenan
Adam Schwartz, EFF senior staff attorney
Esha Bhandari, ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project
Thursday, July 18, 3:00 p.m.
John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
Courtroom 11, 5th Floor
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 2300
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
For more on this case:

Contact:  Adam Schwartz Senior Staff Attorney

Joshua trees facing extinction

They outlived mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. But without dramatic action to reduce climate change, new research shows Joshua trees won't survive much past this century.

In 2008, Democratic Socialists Endorsed Him. Now, a DSA Member Is Primarying Him.

CHICAGO—Nas’ voice led me to Anthony Clark’s June campaign launch party in suburban Forest Park, Ill. I had misplaced the exact address and wandered until steered by distant hip-hop rhythms—I had heard that Clark was a hip-hop aficionado and followed the hint. The activist educator is making a second try to oust Rep. Danny K. Davis from Illinois’ 7th Congressional District, drawing a youngish crowd full of political enthusiasm.

Clark won 26 percent of the primary vote in 2018—or, as his supporters say, “almost 30 percent”—to Davis’ 74 percent. The results indicate some discontent with the iconic incumbent, who had never before dipped below 80 percent.

Clark ran in 2018 with the endorsement of three progressive organizations: Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats and the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (CDSA). Brand New Congress has already announced its 2020 endorsement.

Clark proudly describes himself as a democratic socialist and stresses his political kinship to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and others who challenged establishment Democrats in 2018. Clark’s candidacy is taking shape just as Chicago is experiencing an unprecedented surge of socialism, perhaps an indication of elections to come.

As the Chicago Sun-Times put it following the city’s April elections: “Chicago had experienced the biggest electoral victory for socialists in modern American history. Members of the [CDSA] now control one-tenth of the City Council’s 50 seats.” Chicago also elected its first black lesbian mayor, who was widely regarded as anti-establishment. This new electoral spaciousness has opened the way for a fuller critique of the political status quo.

Davis is perhaps as progressive as any member of Congress and has been endorsed by CDSA in the past. He is a storied Chicago character, revered as part of a long-serving trio of black reps from the city. Although he has long voiced progressive ideas, his constituents increasingly say his congressional output does little in terms of policy.

“Danny Davis has been ineffective for some time now,” says Paul Sakol, a long-time Chicagoan and one of the oldest CDSA members at the event. “Oh, sure, he occasionally says the right things, but where is his active voice in the struggle? He seems tired… I’ve been an admirer of Anthony even before he got into politics, so I see him as a natural to succeed Danny.”

Clark also criticizes Davis for “siding with Republicans” to support a May 2018 rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations for smaller banks, and for taking corporate donations.

Davis faces another challenger, Kina Collins, a gun-control advocate and an organizer with Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates single-payer healthcare.

Clark, who was once in a hip-hop group himself, The Sons of Sin, had his own DJ team presiding as diverse young people continued crowding into the trendy night spot, including Clark’s former students from Oak Park and River Forest High School. Clark initially gained notice as a teacher with a strong penchant for student advocacy, and his energetic corps of supporters personally praises his influence. But Clark started off the evening crediting his own father, Ronald Clark Sr., who spoke about the importance of paternal duty, especially as it regards black Americans, on the eve of Father’s Day.

Dima Ali, an immigrant from Iraq, says Clark invited her to speak about Trump’s Muslim ban at a community forum in April 2017. “I have no family here, but Anthony is my brother,” she says.

It was Clark’s vibrant activism that initially made him attractive to groups like Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, who want to inject a renewed spirit into the party.

“I’ll be honest with you: In 2018, I was nominated,” Clark told the crowd. “I didn’t wake up and say, ‘I want to become a politician.’ I never had those dreams and I still don’t consider myself a politician.

“When the Brand New Congress people approached me, I was hesitant at first, but after I thought about it, I realized, that with all of my work as a teacher and even with my non-profit work, I’m only treating symptoms and I’m still part of the problem.”

Clark says a congressional seat would afford him the ability “to address root causes, policy and legislation to help redress the damage done by a capitalist society based on white supremacy.”

Clark’s policy prescriptions are progressive: Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, abolish ICE, legalize cannabis with racial justice provisions (Illinois will do so in 2020), housing as a human right, a federal jobs guarantee. Then again, so are Davis’.

But Clark faults Davis for failing to “lead and fight” on these issues and others, especially the jobs guarantee, “considering the 7th’s unemployment rate is 2.5 times the national average.”

In response, Ira Cohen, Davis’ communications director, says, “I believe it is fair to say that Rep. Davis is a strong and outspoken leader on these issues in the fullest sense of the word. He works closely with unions, activist groups, state and local progressive legislators, and grassroots organizations on legislative agendas in these areas. Rep. Davis preaches mass struggle and solidarity because he understands, in the end, that is the only path to a truly just society.”

Clark is forcing the question: Have Davis’ prescriptions become more stentorian than effective?

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EFF Sues AT&T, Data Aggregators For Giving Bounty Hunters and Other Third Parties Access to Customers’ Real-Time Locations

Lawsuit Seeks Court Order Prohibiting Sale of Customer Location Data

SAN FRANCISCO — The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP filed a class action lawsuit today on behalf of AT&T customers in California to stop the telecom giant and two data location aggregators from allowing numerous entities—including bounty hunters, car dealerships, landlords, and stalkers—to access wireless customers’ real-time locations without authorization.
An investigation by Motherboard earlier this year revealed that any cellphone user’s precise, real-time location could be bought for just $300. The report showed that carriers, including AT&T, were making this data available to hundreds of third parties without first verifying that users had authorized such access. AT&T not only failed to obtain its customers’ express consent, making matters worse, it created an active marketplace that trades on its customers’ real-time location data.
“AT&T and data aggregators have systematically violated the location privacy rights of tens of millions of AT&T customers,” said EFF Staff Attorney Aaron Mackey. “Consumers must stand up to protect their privacy and shut down this illegal market. That’s why we filed this lawsuit today.”
The lawsuit alleges AT&T violated the Federal Communications Act and engaged in deceptive practices under California’s unfair competition law, as AT&T deceived customers into believing that the company was protecting their location data. The suit also alleges that AT&T, LocationSmart, and Zumigo have violated California’s constitutional, statutory, and common law rights to privacy.
“The location data AT&T offered up for sale is extremely precise and can locate any of its wireless subscribers in real time, providing a window into the intimate details of their lives: where they go to the doctor, where they worship, where they live, and much more,” said Abbye Klamann Ognibene, an associate at Pierce Bainbridge.
“To sell this information without any notification to users is deceptive, extraordinarily invasive of their privacy, and illegal,” said Thomas D. Warren, a partner at Pierce Bainbridge.
The lawsuit, Scott, et al. v. AT&T Inc., et al., filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, seeks money damages and an injunction against AT&T, as well as the involved location data aggregators, LocationSmart and Zumigo. The injunction would prohibit AT&T from selling customer location data and ensure that any location data already sold is returned to AT&T or destroyed. 
For the complaint:
For more information about the case:

Contact:  Adam Schwartz Senior Staff Attorney


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Knowing the “Value” of Our Data Won’t Fix Our Privacy Problems

Some lawmakers, seeking to hold companies accountable for the way they collect and profit from our personal information, are pushing a new idea: requiring companies to report a dollar value for the data they collect from us.

Some frame this reporting as a first step towards requiring companies to share with consumers the wealth our personal information generates for these companies. Yet knowing how much your personal information is worth to a company doesn’t actually protect your privacyand the “pay for privacy” schemes that would probably follow from valuation reporting would actually harm it. What we need instead are strong laws to safeguard our privacy and prevent the reckless collection, use, and disclosure of our information.

Proposals to place a concrete dollar value on data and, by extension, on our privacy, have popped up across the country this year. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) last month introduced the “Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data,” or DASHBOARD Act. It would require larger companies to report the value of customer data. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) recently proposed a bill to recognize consumer data as property. Companies pushed a bill with a similar concept in Oregon, which the ACLU of Oregon and EFF opposed, to directly pay people for the “value” of their health data as calculated by companies.

Assigning a value to your personal information might appear attractive, at first blush. Companies have grown rich off the insatiable collection of our personal information. It is tempting to demand a cut of the money they make from our clicks, our likes, and our networks of contacts.

But this is a mistake. If anything, assigning a dollar value may give the false impression that, at a value of $5, $30, or $200 for your personal information, the data collection companies’ conduct is no big deal. But a specific piece of information can be priceless in a particular context. Your location data may cost a company less than a penny to buy, yet cost you your physical safety if it falls into the wrong hands. Companies advertised lists of 1,000 people with different conditions such as anorexia, depression and erectile dysfunction for $79 per list. Such embarrassing information in the wrong hands could cost someone their job or their reputation.

Our information should not be thought of as our property this way, to be bought and sold like a widget. Privacy is a fundamental human right. It has no price tag. No person should be coerced or encouraged to barter it away. And it is definitely not a good deal for people to receive a handful of dollars in exchange for allowing companies’ invasive data collection to remain unchecked.

Privacy is a fundamental human right. It has no price tag.

No doubt companies that collect data should be more forthcoming about how they collect, share, sell, and use personal information. That’s why EFF supports laws requiring transparency about data collection, including the right to know the specific items of personal information companies have collected on you, and the specific third parties who received it—not just categorical descriptions of the general kinds of data and recipients. Users should have a legal right to obtain a copy of the data they have provided to an online service provider.

But while knowing the supposed value of your data itself is not harmful to consumers, it is difficult—if not completely impossible—to assess the true individual cost of losing control of that information.

Individuals are also poorly situated to understand the impact their single sale could have as part of a large-scale business practice—for themselves and our broader society. You may think nothing of sharing where you went to high school with a company. But the University of California-Berkeley has found that mortgage lenders, using proxy variables such as their high school, charge African American and Latinx homebuyers higher interest rates as compared with whites in similar financial situations. This research suggests the way companies use this information overcharges minority homeowners up to $500 million per year—and comes with the further social cost of dashing the dreams of between 74,000 and 1.3 million creditworthy minority applicants to own a home at all.

Associating the sale of personal information with income is also particularly dangerous for low-income families. Proponents of the Oregon pay-for-privacy bill suggested that that this would provide a new income stream for lower-income people. The truth is that pay-for-privacy creates a world where privacy is a luxury afforded only to those who can afford to protect their fundamental rights. EFF strongly opposes “pay-for-privacy” schemes, which discourage all people from exercising their right to privacy and creates classes of privacy “haves” and “have-nots.” Corporations should not be allowed to require a consumer to pay a premium, or waive a discount, in order to stop the corporation from vacuuming up and profiting from, the consumer’s personal information.

Some advocates of assigning data a monetary value also push the idea that privacy is dead—and that a “dividend” is the only way for consumers to claw back any benefit from a system designed to exploit them. In truth, we are seeing more momentum behind strong privacy legislation nationally and internationally than we have in years. We at EFF are nowhere near ready to give up on stronger privacy legislation. Nor should our country’s lawmakers.

Simply knowing the arbitrary “value” of our personal information to companies won’t fix our privacy problems. Requiring companies to respect everyone’s privacy rights—and giving individuals the power to hold those companies accountable when they don’t—will do much more. If lawmakers are serious about confronting the erosion of our privacy rights, they should set the idea of valuing data aside and instead pass strong privacy legislation.

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