Follow Up Action to March 7, 2017 Town Hall (Digital Privacy & Electronic Surveillance: (EFF) The Electronic Frontier Foundation)

From our last event on March 7, 2017 with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Shahid Buttar led participants in a letter campaign to their local Board of Supervisors requesting the sponsorship and support of a comprehensive bill protecting citizens’ right to privacy from electronic surveillance.

Santa Clara’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the cutting edge measure, the Surveillance Technology & Community Safety Ordinance, becoming the first county in the nation to institute consistent transparency, accountability and oversight measures for all surveillance decisions. This letter asks San Mateo’s Board of Supervisors to do the same.

Here are the letters which you can download and use to get signatures from your own community, school, places of worship or wherever you can get mass signatures to let our supervisors know that we are serious. We will keep you posted as to when the meeting is and with whom. If you didn’t sign up but would like to be posted about the meeting and/or would like to attend, please email us at, Subject: Supervisor Meeting Privacy Law

District 1: Sup. David Pine Letter

District 2: Sup. Carol Groom Letter

District 3: Sup Don Horsley Letter

District 4: Sup Warren Slocum Letter

District 5: Sup. David J. Canepa Letter

Unsure of your district? Check here.

Belmont City Council Meeting with ACLU-Northern Peninsula Chapter and Mid Peninsula Human Rights Coalition

A town hall is a great way to know your community, your neighbors, and their concerns. One of the items on the agenda: a Civil Rights Resolution in response to recent anti-Semitic graffiti at Carlmont High School and hate speech directed at a student.

The Civil Rights Resolution was sponsored by Councilmember Davina Hurt and Mayor Charles Stone. The Resolution calls for the community to stand up against bullying and hate crimes; that no city officials, including the police, will not detain or arrest residents based solely on immigration status; and other points committed to safeguarding diversity and reinforcing inclusion. Belmont also revised its Vision statement to include this message of inclusion.

However, organizations like the ACLU, that worked with many communities and been part of legal proceedings where escalating hate crimes and ICE activities destabilized towns felt that the Resolution needed stronger language to have “teeth,” to reassure the community that the resolution also came with enforceable actions on behalf of residents.

Summary of suggestions to amend the Resolution:

1) Clarification that Belmont city officials will only take action based on a judicial warrant, and won’t take action on an administrative document;

2) City won’t release certain data to federal officials;

3) No surveillance of individuals or groups based on protected characteristics;

4) Not give ICE/CBP access to people/places under City control and, if ICE/CBP gets access, ICE/CBP must be clearly identified; and

5) Appoint someone to whom someone can complain if this ordinance is violated. 

Over 25 residents joined with ACLU-Northern Peninsula Chapter and Mid Peninsula Human Rights Coalition to call for these amendments and shared their stories. You can contact us and/or download this handout for your own group for any resolution you support but would like amended: City Council Talking Points in Support of the Resolution.

The spate of hate crimes cropping up even in this small town reminded people of their own family history: ancestors fleeing pogroms in Russia, family lost in the Holocaust, grandparents interred at Japanese internement camps during World War II, and a 9 year old who made the night’s most moving story of how her grandfather fled El Salvador as a boy during the civil war and brought his wife and sons over legally in the course of the next decade:

“I am one girl who gets to stand in front of you today. But for every girl like me, there are many others who are too afraid to go to school for fear of deportation.”

The Resolution passed unanimously with a statement that the amendments requested will be further researched. All city council meetings and town halls of Belmont are available online. 

Civil Rights

2017 Challenges for the US and California

aclu-nca-logoIn our Jan 2017 town forum the ACLU-Northern California chapter, the largest ACLU affiliate in the country, gave us the three biggest challenges it faces.

The ACLU of Northern California has a civil liberties hotline at (415) 621-2488.

  1. Top priority of the ACLU that ensures all the other civil rights’ fights can even be fought is transparency and accountability in the government. The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to demand President Trump’s conflicts of interest.
  2. The ACLU will defend the press and media. Media comes from “medium,” thus the press is the “medium” to filter facts/truth. Concerned press corps will have not access. This is an unprecedented scale to which the Trump administration has already begun its limitations and exclusion of the press and the ACLU will be like a hawk watching and ready to act.
  3. The 1st amendment protection of the right to peaceful assembly, religion, and free speech is a priority for the ACLU, especially in regards to the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities under direct attack by the new executive and Congressional powers. As of now the Muslim registry that President Trump refers to has an unclear structure but they are anticipating something similar to the registry created after 9/11, which had restrictions for Muslims who registered from certain countries and even more for Muslim men. Rather than just fighting against the registry, ACLU is fighting so that data is not able to be collected in the first place by cutting data sources off from the feds through surveillance and law enforcement restrictions.
  4. Protection of the 4th and 14th amendment. Police departments should not be committing acts of racial profiling. People of color (POC) disproportionally are targeted by police departments. Before the November 8th election, more focus had been given to the issues of mass incarceration, law enforcement reforms, judicial reforms to eliminate racial and economic bias. The ACLU is committed to making sure this focus doesn’t go away.


“What we do in California reverberates throughout the nation.”
Tessa D’Arcangelew, ACLU-NCA, Leadership Development Manager


The Issue:  Oppose AB165 by FEBRUARY 10th!.  


The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act or CalECPA, also known as Senate Bill 176 (or SB176), is the most comprehensive digital privacy law in the country. It makes it a state law for law enforcement to obtain a warrant before obtaining any electronic communications from individuals or companies. This means your emails and your entire digital footprint, from emails to browser history to your calendar and contact — but you are protected from any illegal searches or seizures due to ECPA.

AB165 prevents over 6 million students and teachers from having the same protection under CalECPA as every other resident of California. Parental permission or notification is not even required to search a student. AB165 threatens our most vulnerable populations.

Here are 8 things to know about CalECPA and FAQs.


Stop this egregious violation of civil rights! Download this notebook paper used in ACLU’s campaign to remind Assemblyman Cooper that schoolchildren are being targeted.

Letter Structure

  • Address to Assemblymember Cooper
  • Tell your story (are you a teacher, a student, a parent…how would it impact you for warrant protections to be omitted in the context of school)
  • Utilize talking points above
  • Sign it with your name, city, and contact information if you wish to share it

Mail or scan and email by February 10! 
Ashley Morris
39 Drumm Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

More bills are coming to chip away at ECPA. 15% of California communities publicly debated new surveillance technology purchases and only 1 in 5 surveillance programs had any policies to protect against misuse. Yet, there are drones doing facial recognition in protests, software tracking those in the Black Lives Matters movements, invasive cell phone devices being used without warrants.

Stay vigilant!