On Saturday February 4, 2017, Rhode Island Rights will host a workshop on online privacy: “How to shield yourself from surveillance.”

Where: Providence Friends Meeting House, 99 Morris Ave, Providence, RI 02906
Time: 2:30pm-4pm

WiFi will be available, so feel free to bring your computer and/or phone — you can start downloading some of the tools we describe as the workshop progresses.

Some of what will be covered in this workshop is suitable for beginners, but the presentation will also include some more advanced material if the participants  are interested.

The workshop will be led by Kevin Gallagher, a Ph.D. candidate at New York University whose work focuses on anonymity, privacy and anti-censorship.

Rhode Island Rights will offer other workshops on privacy in the future, some for beginners and some more advanced.


The RI Coalition to Defend Human & Civil Rights has joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Electronic Frontier Alliance. We support the Electronic Frontier Alliance’s principles of free expression, security, privacy, creativity, and access to knowledge. We remain affiliated with Restore the Fourth, a national organization opposing
unconstitutional, mass surveillance.


Our next RI Rights meeting is at 2pm Saturday in Rochambeau Library downstairs.  There will be refreshments.

Some possible topics to discuss:

  1. federal Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA)
  2. Body cameras in RI
  3. Providence Community Safety Act

Present: Terry Cummings, Pat Fontes, Cathy Orloff, Randall Rose.  Regrets: Patricia Raub

  1. Net Neutrality—There is a lot of grassroots pressure to pass this.  Many Republicans in Congress don’t like it.  It’s a clause in the budget bill.  David Segal says they may be able to get it out of the budget bill, enough Democrats may support it.  Our RI delegation is good on this.
  2. TPP Trans-Pacific-Partnership— All 4 of the RI delegation supported the right side, opposing this secret and scary legislation.  Suggestion to send a letter thanking them for their vote.  Cathy said she will draft one and send it around.  Maybe have other groups sign on?
  3. Suggestion that the Peace group invite the other lists to the monthly book discussion.  Maybe change the time to a day rather than evening?   But many people, including Terry, work days. Hard to find a good time for all.  Right now it’s on a Monday evening, pot-luck and then discussion.  The July meeting will be at Pat Fontes’ in Hopkinton on Monday July 20.  Book is “The Secret History of the American Empire” by John Perkins.  VERY amazing!
  4. Meeting with Whitehouse— re: Fair Elections Now?  Randall was contacted by a campaign finance reform group called May Day, inviting him (our group?) to join them in meeting with Senator Whitehouse  re: a bill in the US Senate, Fair Elections Now.  The Fair Elections Now Act says that candidates for the US House and Senate who raise money only from small donors will be given 6 times what they raise from small donors, paid for out of federal funds, as long as they agree to participate in debates.  It will be funded by a tax on federal contracts, but there is a debate about that.  Lawrence Lessig (from Harvard) is involved in or leading the May Day group.   Randall plans to go to the meeting with May Day.  Noted that in Maine candidates can’t take private money for state or local races; they get public funds.    Cathy said she heard another way to do campaign finance reform is for the FCC to require that all TV and radio stations that want a license to broadcast on the airwaves (which are owned by “we the people”) would have to agree to provide an equal amount of free time to all certified candidates, which would mean that they wouldn’t have to raise the millions of dollars they now use largely to pay for media ads.   She will try to contact Lessig about this.
  5. Bills currently before the RI legislature—Randall has been updating us by email. We did discuss the one re: computers in cars and should there be a law requiring car buyers to be notified of this computer and what info it records, and how they can turn it off if desired, also who has access to the data it records?    Randall wanted to go over more bills, but we ran out of time, apologies and thanks for all his efforts in this regard.
  6. Organizing—We could set up more tables at events where the public will be.  e.g. re car computers, we could set up a table at auto shows or near dealerships?   Similar to how we did at the Cable Car Cinema when “No Place to Hide” about Edward Snowden was showing.  We got quite a lot of new names for our email list at that time.
  7. Fourth of July action?—Discussed attending Bristol parade, or doing the Rte. 195 bridge Restore the Fourth (Amendment) as last year, or doing something at the Ancient and Horribles parade in Gloucester.  No consensus, Randall to send around an email about this.
  8. Agreed we should meet during the summer.
  9. Next meeting—is Saturday, July 11, presumably at Rochambeau.

Notes by Cathy Orloff

The meeting is at 2pm tomorrow in Rochambeau Library, 708 Hope St, Providence, downstairs.

Some topics to discuss:

  •  Update on bills
  •  TPP
  •  Net neutrality
  •  Possible meeting with Sen. Whitehouse on “Fair Elections Now” act
  •  More organizing

Present: Nick, Terry, Randall, Patricia—notes by Patricia
TPP update: rally this coming Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. location t.b.a. Organized by Occupy Providence. We agreed to endorse this event. More information will be forthcoming.

Tax Day Rally—Tell Corporate America to Pay Their Fair Share
Organized by RI Jobs with Justice. April 15, 4 p.m. 260 Westminster.
RSVP here

Discussion of Decision-making process/group dynamics of RIhumcivrights
We decided that we would cut down on the number of announcements Randall has been sending out to the list serv recently about upcoming State House legislation. Randall has volunteered to send a weekly update of the upcoming bills of interest to us, and he will organize them in order of priority. Rather than giving a lengthy description of each bill with its pros and cons, he will limit his description for each one to a couple of sentences giving the main reasons why we should support or oppose it. He will either include a link to the full wording of the bill or provide a PDF attachment with the full bill.

He will also include a link to the members of the House or Senate committee that is considering the bills we might most want to speak out on. We can either attend the hearing, or we can send a brief e-mail message to each committee member in support or opposition to the legislation.

Randall is proposing some changes to the vehicle location tracking and the drones bills, to better conform to the principles of our group.

We discussed other ways to involve more people in issues of importance to us. We are considering using the Move On model—sending our listserv a statement about a given issue to help to inform them about it and then providing them with the option of clicking to add their name to a petition in support of or opposition to the issue.

We are still considering organizing a panel discussion on a Civil Rights issue. We might start working on this during the summer and then schedule the panel for the early fall.

We voted to sign onto a letter to end mass surveillance under the Patriot Act, which is being organized by Demand Progress.  If you are not in favor of our organization signing this letter, speak out by Monday night, as the deadline to respond is Tuesday. (For more information, and for a script of what to say if you want to call your elected officials about this issue, go to this link. )

Various national privacy groups are also urging people to support HR 1466, which would repeal the Patriot Act. Here is the bill Call Rep. Cicilline and ask him to support this bill.

Randall and Patricia have been working with a group largely composed of members from DARE, ONA and PriSYM, which is urging the Providence City Council to pass an ordinance titled the Community Safety Act (which was also introduced unsuccessfully last year). This legislation aims to end racial profiling in Providence. (See the provisions in the legislation with then-mayor candidate Jorge Elorza’s comments from October of last year: Here is the link)

The City Council’s Ordinance Committee will be discussing this proposed ordinance in early May. After that, there will be a public hearing on it, and we hope that many members of RIhumcivrights will participate in the hearing.

Our next meeting is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on May 9 at Rochambeau Library.

May 16, 2015—Monthly Meeting

Posted: May 9, 2015 in Meetings

What: Monthly Meeting
What: May 16, 2015 @ 1pm
Where: Small Point Cafe, 230 Westminster, Providence
Some possible agenda topics:

  • federal surveillance
  • racial-profiling bills (statewide and in Providence)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership

This month’s meeting: 1:30pm on Sunday.  Since the usual library meeting place is closed then, the meeting will be at the Starbucks in the Santander Bank building at the corner of Westminster St and Weybosset St in downtown Providence, just over 1 block from Kennedy Plaza.  There is a glassed-in food court that can be used.  It’s just opposite the Turk’s Head Building.

Notes of February 7, 2015 meeting

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Meetings

Notes from RI Rights Meeting Sat. Feb. 7, 2015 1PM Rochambeau Library, Providence
RI Coalition to Defend Human and Civil Rights

Present: Chris Currie, Pat Fontes. Cathy Orloff, Patricia Raub, Randall Rose.

Randall facilitated.

  1. Police cameras, pro or con? — Cathy read a short Letter to Editor from a Peter Ruggieri. One suggestion is that we should oppose more police cameras until there are clearer privacy guidelines: how long are the photos stored? To whom can they be released? It was noted that you can take pictures (and sound video?) with smart phones now. This raised the case of John Prince, of DARE, who saw some men putting some women into a car, and from his own yard recorded that on his phone; the men were plainclothes police, who jumped over his fence, tackled him to the ground, grabbed his phone and erased what John had just recorded. They told him it was an unmarked police car and they did not want to “blow the cover.” It was suggested that somebody call John and see what’s happening with him and his case.
  2. Drones letter — Cathy brought up our demonstration outside the U.S. Marshal’s office in downtown Providence last November, during which we went inside and delivered a letter to the Chief Marshal, asking about their policy on drones, which are being used by the Marshals to track suspects, etc. Our letter asked about privacy protections, etc. We received two non-answers, the second one saying that under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, ironically, they don’t have to respond to our questions! But we can reformulate them by describing the records that we are seeking! Randall forwarded these to to the ACLU about a month ago; he will follow up.
  3. Demonstration Ferguson, MO — re shooting of unarmed black youth; RI Highways blocked. Randall said 7 demonstrators were arrested; 6 for blocking I-95, 1 for spray-painting an unmarked police car and identifying it as a police car. One person plea bargained and got community service; 4 went to trial, some pled guilty and got community service. There are 3 more trials coming up. Since then 2 bills have been introduced in the Legislature: 1 by Raptakis and Hall would make it a felony to block any state or federal highway, by standing, sitting, kneeling or loitering in order to interfere with traffic or distract motorists. This would have a mandatory sentence that can’t be suspended. (15 people spoke against this, including Planned Parenthood, even tho they have protests, and homeless advocates. 2) by Rep. Canaria, would make it just a misdemeanor, and limit it to freeways. Noted that Smith St., Douglas Ave., and many other main roads are State Hiways, and this is too severe. Most opposed both bills. The fight isn’t over, stay tuned.
  4. Letter to Editor re: torture — In January Cathy said she would write one; she read her draft and got good feedback. Will send to people at today’s mtg. and perhaps also to The List before submitting.
  5. Immigrant Rights — Question was raised whether Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls has any persons being held on immigration charges?* Note from Patricia Raub: Although there was talk early last year that the City of Central Falls was pursuing a renewed contract with ICE for the Wyatt detention. Since then, though, there’s been nothing made public and the rumors are that there will be no contract.
  6. No Fly Lists — An article on Reader Supported News about a Muslim person who could not get back into the US because he had been put on the list, but no-one would tell him why he was on it. The government effectively exiling people from their homes in this country for secret reasons. Question of whether this person was a citizen? Unknown. Should this be a RI Rights issue?
  7. Racial Profiling — A state bill will be re-introduced this year. There is also a Providence bill*. Not great prospects for these bills. Question: does RI do stop-and-frisk as in New York? Answer unknown. Also noted that asset seizure was a big problem in Ferguson. White police taking money from black citizens; against the 5th Amendment.* Note from Patricia: Providence Racial Profiling Ordinance:  The Providence City Council is considering a racial profiling ordinance. http://wpri.com/2014/06/20/providence-city-council-introduces-anti-racial-profiling-act/ At this point, the ordinance is still pending, with the support of 6 councilors. With the leadership change in the Council the bill is expected to start to move. Stay tuned for more information, as we will want to come to City Hall to support the measure when it is reintroduced.
  8. Drones — National Lawyers Guild gave a talk on drones. It’s not clear if they are legal or not.  FAA hasn’t given a Certificate allowing regular people to fly drones or model planes above 400 feet, but it has given Certificates to law enforcement, research groups, corporations, etc. Has approved their flying over Cape Cod. In RI there are more bills coming up to restrict drones. It seems the bill by Rep. Tanzi would be a minimum that we could support. There are some legitimate uses of drones: search and rescue, news agencies, farmers checking out their crops, etc. Last year a bill drafted by the ACLU covered only law enforcement drones at state and local level. It said: 1) no weapons on drones 2) a public hearing is required for any police dept. to use drones for surveillance. 3) The police must get a court order, except for emergencies, and state the purpose of surveillance; 4)the people targeted must be notified;5) people can sue re: drone problems; and 6) police must delete data after a certain time period. Comment that the horse is already out of the barn re: drones. Response that sometimes people have succeeded in getting the horse back in the barn! Another problem is companies that harvest data from drones and use it for commercial purposes. For example, drones can see into your house, so they could note your furniture and then sell that data to a furniture company which could advertise to you individually!
  9. Net Neutrality — Congress probably won’t stop the ongoing proposed practices.
  10. Announcements — Chris said the RI Progressive Democrats are scheduled to meet here at Rochambeau “this Monday,” which was Feb. 9. However, it may be cancelled due to snow.
  11. Next RI Rights meeting —Sunday March 15 1:30PM at Starbucks, see note below.* Cathy O.* Note from Patricia: The Starbucks in the Santander Bank building, 1 Financial Plaza (next to the RISD Library and across from the Turk’s Head Building) is open Sunday afternoons. I think we decided we’d meet in its food court if it was open on Sundays, since we scheduled our next meeting for Sunday, March 15. Walk past the serving counter and out the side door into the enclosed court area to reach the tables where we will meet. Any chance we could schedule the meeting for 1:30? I don’t ever seem to make it by 1:00.

Cathy’s last word: Since 1:30pm is fine with me, I took the liberty of unilaterally changing the time above to 1:30pm!

February 7th — Monthly Meeting

Posted: February 7, 2015 in Meetings

The next meeting is at 1pm Sat in the lower level of Rochambeau Library, 708 Hope St., Providence. There will be refreshments.