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    Take Action on CISPA: Criminal Internet Spying on People Act

    On April 26th 2012, the US House of representatives voted on HR 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) [1].  The entire Massachusetts congressional delegation voted against CISPA, but it still passed the house by a vote of 248 – 168 [2].  In the coming weeks, CISPA (or similar cybersecurity legislation) will likely come up for a vote in the Senate, so it is imperative that we contact our Senators and ask them to vote against this overreaching surveillance bill.  Here’s why: CISPA would legalize an oppressive degree of domestic surveillance with no accountability or democratic oversight.

    (1) CISPA relies on an oppressive degree of surveillance.

    CISPA invites private industry to a government-sponsored fishing expedition.  Sections (b)(1)(A)(i) and (b)(1)(B)(i), allow “cyber security providers” and “self-protected entities” to “…use cyber security systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information”.  This means that any business can eavesdrop, collect the contents of your communications, analyze who you’re talking with and what you’re saying, and turn that information over to the government, without a warrant — as long as they claim they are doing it in the spirit of cyber security.   Currently, laws such as the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prevent companies from monitoring your private communications [4].  Would you feel comfortable if the post office opened all of your letters, photocopied them, and shared that information with the government?  Of course not!  But that is exactly what CISPA would do with your electronic communications.

    CISPA places no limits on who’s data can be collected, or how long that data can be retained.  We’re not talking about spying on terrorists or foreign countries.  We’re talking about spying on everyone in the United States, and on people around the world who rely on US Internet companies for communication. You don’t need to be guilty, and you don’t need to suspected of a crime.  All you need to do is use the Internet.

    In terms of the types of data being collected, some limits are described in the bill (such as library circulation records and tax return records) but the vast majority of online data exchanges are fair game for collecting. And further, since language is included which shields the spying activity from public oversight, it would be virtually impossible to verify if any limits to data collection were actually being respected.

    (2) CISPA creates an environment with no accountability or democratic oversight.

    The legislation spells out this lack of accountability quite clearly:

    • Section (b)(3)(C) declares shared cyber threat information exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Not only is the government planning on spying on us, they have no plans to let us know about it either.  If an Internet service provider voluntarily turns over “cyber threat information” to the federal government, then the American people have the right to know that this disclosure occurred.
    • Section (b)(3)(D) exempts disclosure under state, local, or tribal laws;
    • section (b)(4) exempts collectors of cyber threat information from criminal liability; and
    • section (d)(1)(A) limits the liability for violations of restrictions on the disclosure, use, and protection of shared information to the amount of $1,000 (which is not sufficient to serve as a deterrent).  So even if you can prove the government or “cyber security providers” have violated the meager restrictions laid out in CISPA, you can only win $1,000.  It’s almost as if the government is saying, “We don’t want you to sue us, so let’s make sure it’s not worthwhile to take us to court”.

    CISPA goes beyond dragnet surveillance of Internet communications;  CISPA keeps the American people in the dark about how their information is being collected and used.  Furthermore, CISPA provides little recourse to anyone harmed by the collection and sharing of their personal information.  This is a Big Brother, Big Surveillance bill, and it’s only purpose is to chip away at privacy and personal freedom.  The legislation might as well be called the “You Too Can Be a J. Edgar Hoover Cyber Surveillance Act”.

    (3) Conclusion

    The U.S. Constitution guaranteed, “The  right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and  effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be  violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,  supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place  to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Bush-Cheney administration mounted an ambitious attack on this constitutional protection in their pursuit of the power to spy on the domestic population. The Obama administration’s Justice Department has demonstrated the same interest in surveillance and secrecy.

    Access to the private communications of U.S. citizens has been used in the past on numerous occasions by federal law enforcement to intimidate and suppress people engaged in lawful expressions of dissent.  This is particularly distressing for Occupy and other grassroots movements, but legalizing domestic spying on a massive scale, with no oversight of this enormous secret operation by the government should be viewed with alarm and rejected by everyone who uses the Internet.  It’s imperative for Occupy, and the future of secure online activism, that this bill not proceed.  Contacting your senators [3] and insuring they vote ‘no’ is one way to help.

    Tell them “Vote ‘No’ on the CISPA domestic spying bill!”





    PRESS RELEASE: MBTA Refuses to Challenge Banks as Occupation Enters Second Day

    At ‘Camp Charlie,’ Occupy the MBTA’s occupation of the State House steps enters its second day. Meanwhile, the board of the MBTA still refuses to challenge the dominion of Wall Street banks over public finances.

    Last night, dozens of activists slept on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to protest the proposed service cuts, fare hikes, and layoffs. Occupiers also demanded that the T cancel its interest rate swaps with JPMorgan Chase, Deustche Bank, and UBS. Combined, these three cartels enjoyed more than $200 billion dollars in taxpayer bailouts. Their CEOs took home nearly $32 million in 2010 alone. Now, despite owing their existence to the goodwill of taxpayers, they will extract $26 million a year from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority every year for the foreseeable future. So far, the MBTA has resisted demands to cancel these toxic swaps and instead is attempting to balance its books through massive fare increases that will devastate seniors, students, the disabled, and low-income riders.

    JPMorgan Chase

    The MBTA loses $8.9 million a year to JPMC and is on the hook for another $115 million in the future to JPMC; it can only get out of these deals if it pays JPMC $40 million in penalties. The CEO of JPMC made $20.8 million in 2010 after the company received a $100 billion taxpayer bailout. JPMC is currently foreclosing on homes all around Boston.

    Deutsche Bank

    The MBTA loses $8.3 million a year to Deutsche Bank and is on the hook for another $75 million in the future to Deutsche; it can only get out of these deals if it pays Deutsche Bank $23 million in penalties. The CEO of Deutsche made $8.3 million in 2010 after the company got a $66 billion taxpayer bailout. Deutsche Bank is foreclosing on homes all around Boston.


    The MBTA loses $9 million a year to UBS and is on the hook for another $97 million in the future to UBS; it can only get out of these deals if it pays UBS $39 million in penalties. UBS received a $77 billion taxpayer bailout. It does not foreclose on homes.

    As a result, the MBTA is ready to cut service on nearly two dozen bus routes and increase fares more than twenty percent. This must be seen for what it is: a new chapter in the officially sanctioned robbery of the public trust by consolidated, private interests. Interests, it will be repeated, with a demonstrated inability to survive the open market in the absence of obscene taxpayer subsidy. These criminal, rent-seeking organizations are the products of government corruption and monopoly control, not free enterprise or competitive advantage.

    For thousands of the 99% who rely on the T to get to work, the proposed changes amount to a massive tax increase, all of which will go directly to the banks. This should be compared to the four billion dollars in federal subsidies lavished on oil companies like ExxonMobil, who in turn spend nearly fifty-million dollars a year lobbying to continue their historically profitable destruction of the earth’s atmosphere.

    Despite these obstacles, many other cities have forced bankers to the negotiating table by passing resolutions forbidding further business if they refuse. In this manner, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and many others have succeeded in reducing interest rate payments, not only preserving their public goods and services, but reminding the multinational trusts that it is they who are in debt to us, and not the other way around. Occupy the MBTA remains mystified as to why the Board of Mass Dot and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are not willing to pursue a similar tactic.

    We need a comprehensive, accessible, and sustainable public transportation plan for the 99% across the entire Commonwealth, not a short-sighted, short-term austerity band-aid.

    April 4th: Occupy Boston & Occupy MBTA Host People’s Assembly at State House

    On April 4th at 3:00 PM, Occupy Boston, Occupy MBTA, and other advocates for public transportation, environmental justice, and labor will converge on the State House for a People’s Assembly to demand “No Hikes! No Cuts! No Layoffs!” The Day of Action will include a People’s Hearing inside the State House at 3:00 PM, a rally outside at 5:00 PM, and at 8:00 PM a remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 44th anniversary of his assassination.

    “A good public transportation system works to reduce the effects of economic inequality by providing affordable access to work, school, and medical care,” said Ariel Oshinsky, an organizer for Occupy Boston.  “But the MBTA is attempting to do the opposite by balancing its books on the backs of those who can afford it the least. In the MBTA’s current proposal, four of the five biggest fare increases will fall on seniors and riders with disabilities, and communities that are already marginalized will be further isolated by the fare hikes and service cuts.”

    Occupy MBTA’s People’s Assembly will be a direct response to the 31 public hearings hosted by the MBTA on its proposals to slash service and raise fairs. The MBTA claims to incorporated feedback from those hearings into its most recent proposal, but the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, MBTA officials claim there is public support for raising fares, but only 2.5% of public meeting comments supported fare hikes.  In addition, MBTA officials have refused to explore many of the solutions that would have allowed the agency to balance its books without fare hikes or service cuts — including, but not limited to, canceling its interest rate swaps with Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bancorp (UBS), and JPMorgan Chase.

    “The MBTA’s austerity measures should be aimed at Wall Street banks, not the T-riding 99%,” said Tyson Hawk of Occupy Boston.  “We’re coming to the State House to make sure our voices are heard – to present our own solutions and to exercise a “people’s veto” over the MBTA’s disastrous plan.”

    With public transit under attack across the nation, the Occupy Boston General Assembly passed a Call to Action on March 3, 2012, which called on “occupations, general assemblies and people’s movements across the country and around the globe to mobilize on April 4th, 2012 to demand public transportation for the 99%.”  Events are planned on April 4th in more than twenty-five cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Portland, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. The Amalgamated Transit Union, the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the US and Canada, has pledged its support for the April 4th National Day of Action for Public Transportation.

    “People across the country are participating in this Day of Action because our priorities are not reflected in the politicians’ budgets,” said Noah McKenna of Occupy JP. “We say ‘no’ to endless wars of choice and propping up Wall Street against the weight of its own fraud.  And ‘yes’ to comprehensive, affordable and sustainable transportation plans that work for the 99%.”

    At 8:00 PM on the steps of the State House, Occupy Boston’s People of Color Working Group will lead a vigil for Dr. King.  April 4this the anniversary of Dr. King’s historic 1967 speech linking poverty and war and then his assassination exactly one year later.  Dr. King was a staunch advocate of public transportation, who stood for prioritizing social needs ahead of corporate profit margins and militarism and once wrote:

    Urban transit systems in most American cities, for example, have become a genuine civil rights issue—and a valid one—because the layout of rapid-transit systems determines the accessibility of jobs to the Black community. If transportation systems in American cities could be laid out so as to provide an opportunity for poor people to get to meaningful employment, then they could begin to move into the mainstream of American life.

    Occupy Boston will be observing this day and remembering a great visionary by continuing Dr. King’s fight against economic inequality.

    National Day of Action for Public Transportation
    People’s Assembly – State House

    3pm: People’s Hearing
    5pm: Rally to Save the T
    8pm: MLK Remembrance

    For more information, visit

    Twitter hashtag: #A4bos

    The 99% Rejects the MBTA’s Austerity Measures

    The following is Occupy MBTA’s response to the MBTA’s latest  proposal for service cuts and fare hikes:

    Today’s proposal by MBTA does not go nearly far enough in addressing the concerns of the T-riding 99%. The MBTA claims to have listened to the thousands of riders who have flooded their meetings and demonstrated these past few months, but they seem to have missed our key message: “No Hikes! No cuts! No Layoffs!” Significant fare increases and service reductions will devastate students, seniors, low-income communities, people of color, workers, and everyone who must rely on the T. Any plan that will lead to more driving, more congestion, and more CO2 emissions is simply unacceptable. And, to make matters worse, the MBTA freely admits this is only a one-year stop-gap measure, and that we’ll be facing further austerity measures next year.

    The MBTA has been presented with many solutions that would have allowed the agency to balance its books without placing the financial burden on those who can afford it the least. The MBTA’s refusal to explore those solutions – including, but not limited to, the possibility of canceling its interest rate swaps with Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bancorp (USB), and JPMorgan Chase – speaks volumes about its priorities.

    We are neither placated nor discouraged by the MBTA’s latest proposal; the fight to save the T is only just beginning. On April 4, this fight will move to the State House when Occupy MBTA and our allies hold a People’s Assembly to demand a comprehensive state-wide plan for affordable and sustainable transportation that works for the 99%.  Join us!

    April 4 at the State House
    Hearing: 3-5pm
    Rally & Speak Out: 5pm until we’re done

    Join us as part of the National Day of Action on Transportation to demand:

    • No service cuts
    • No fare hikes
    • No layoffs
    • No privatization of our treasured public transit system.
    • A comprehensive state-wide plan for affordable and sustainable transportation that works for the 99%.

    For more information on #A4 or to get involved in Occupy MBTA, please visit

    The power of the 99%: MBTA scraps initial draconian proposals; activists vow to escalate fight for public transit!

    After an uprising from the 99%, MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis announced last night that neither of the agency’s proposals to slash service, raise fare hikes, and layoff hundreds of workers will be adopted.  No details for the new proposal have been released. On January 3, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) released two proposals – both a toxic mixture of draconian service cuts and unacceptable fare hikes – to close the MBTA’s $161 million deficit for the coming fiscal year.  But thousands of members of the 99% – including members of Occupy the MBTA and other advocates for seniors, the disabled, students, workers, low-income communities, and the environment – flooded public hearings and rallied to tell the MBTA, “No Hikes! No Cuts! No Layoffs!”

    The MBTA’s retreat demonstrates the growing power of the 99% movement, but our work is far from done.  We will not accept any plan that attempts that attempt to balance the MBTA’s books on the backs of those who can afford it the least. We will continue to demonstrate, speak-out, and Occupy to ensure that the MBTA’s final proposal does not include any cuts to service, layoffs or fare increases and to demand that the legislature develop a comprehensive, affordable, and sustainable transportation plan that works for the 99%.  Public transportation is a right and must be accessible to all.Since January 31, over 6,000 people have attended 31 public hearings about the MBTA’s proposals, according to the Boston Globe.  In addition, a coalition of organizations including OccupyMBTA, Mass Senior Action, the T Riders Union, Students Against T Cuts, the Save the T coalition, MassUniting, Occupy Boston, Occupy Somerville, Occupy JP and many more have taken to the streets over the last two months to raise awareness and organize opposition to the proposed fare hikes, service cuts and layoffs. Members of these organizations and the broader 99% organized several major marches and rallies, mic-checked on trains, and spread the message through flyering and social media.
    Let’s keep the pressure on! Join us today  at 12:30 as we rally inside and outside of the MassDot board meeting.  And on April 4, we’ll bring our message to the State House (think Wisconsin!) for a people’s hearing and rally as part of our national call to action on public transportation.

    Contact us

    Occupy Boston Media <> • <> • @Occupy_Boston