The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a report days ago investigating questionable surveillance during Standing Rock protests. EFF’s inquiry involved numerous law enforcement agencies, from the feds to Morton County. What was gleaned only highlights the disturbingly redacted capabilities of the police surveillance state.
“Following several reports of potentially unlawful surveillance”, an EFF blog reads, “EFF sent technologists and lawyers to North Dakota.” Investigators compiled “anecdotal” reports of “suspicious cell phone behavior”, unusual battery drainage, and applications or phones crashing entirely.
“Some water protectors”, EFF noted, also observed login attempts to Google accounts. After the intrusions the IP addresses were usually linked to “North Dakota’s Information & Technology Department”, EFF reports. “On social media”, the blog continues, “many reported Facebook posts and messenger threads disappearing.” Live uploads, and uploads in general, normally failed to complete or disappeared once processed.
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The protest at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, US has mobilized hundreds of Native American tribes as well as solidarity across the world. The protests are against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-billion dollar project that would transport almost half a million barrels of oil per day across the northern US. The pipeline could contaminate the Missouri River, a key water source for the region. It would also cross through a prominent Sioux burial site.
Although the US government stated last week that it would not grant the easement–the right to cross or use someone’s land–under Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, the struggle is not over. The announcement cited that further examination was needed, and that an Environmental Impact Statement will be initiated. Demonstrators have said they plan to remain in the camps surrounding the northern edge of the reservation.
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While the professionalism, training, and tactics of Morton County is being openly questioned after bystanders are shot with rubber bullets, tear gas canisters are lobbed with their spoons taped down, and water cannons are used in freezing temperatures, a team of journalism students on assignment in Standing Rock uncovers willingness on the part of the Morton County to field untrained officers.
The debut report from TFC’s newest team.
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Millions around the world are again gawking over police brutality against water protectors. Following DAPL’s (Dakota Access Pipeline’s) corporation dishonoring Obama’s requests the to halt construction, a new wave of violence hit the protest camps. However, whereas these acts are obvious, those of contracted intelligence firms remain more insidious.
“Do not believe that your cellphones or your computers are clean and uncompromised”, said journalist Jeremy Scahill. “I guarantee you that they’re using the entire suite of surveillance devices.” Scahill was giving water protectors, and fellow journalists in Standing Rock advice on Democracy Now.
“I know that people have been complaining that their cellphones have been down”, he continued, “their internet has been down. That can be caused by surveillance weaponry targeting their devices.” Scahill describes how phones and computers belonging to water protectors can be used as “geo-tracking devices.”
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