Today, a group of 27 legal scholars and technical experts and 13 privacy and civil liberty groups filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Herring v. U.S. The Multiracial Activist (TMA) was among the signers of this brief.
From the Electronic Privacy Information Center on this case:
In Herring v. US, the police searched and then arrested Bennie Dean Herring based on incorrect information in a government database. He was illegally arrested and searched even though he told the officers that there was no arrest warrant, and no officer had seen or could produce a copy of the arrest warrant.
After he was indicted, Herring petitioned the district court to suppress the evidence gathered incident to his unlawful arrest, arguing the exclusionary rule prevented the use of such evidence. But the district court rule against him. Herring then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed (pdf) the district court's ruling. Herring then petitioned for cert. to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court agreed on February 19, 2008 to consider the case and decide whether to suppress the evidence obtained.
The heart of this case speaks to the dangers of information sharing, domestic surveillance and centralization of public and private data in federal hands, something TMA has been quite vocal about in the past:
There has been an increase in information sharing not just among government agencies, but between federal, state, local, tribal and commercial entities. In October 2005, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13388 (pdf), which created the Information Sharing Environment among these many entities. An outgrowth of this has been "fusion centers," which have received $380 million in federal grants and millions more from state governments. There are 43 current and planned fusion centers in the U.S., and some states have more than one, according to (pdf) the Congressional Research Service. The expansion of fusion center goals and increasing interaction with federal and private sector entities leads to a massive accumulation of data, raising questions of possible misuse or abuse. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seeks to create a "national network" of local and state fusion centers, tied into DHS's "day-to-day activities." This national network combined with the Department of Homeland Security's plan to condition grant funding based on fusion center "compliance" with the federal agency’s priorities inculcates DHS with enormous domestic surveillance powers and evokes comparisons to the publicly condemned domestic surveillance program COINTELPRO.
You can explore the links below for more information on this important legal effort.
EPIC Herring v. U.S. page: http://epic.org/privacy/herring/
The Multiracial Activist: http://www.multriacial.com
Amicus Brief filed today: http://epic.org/privacy/herring/07-513tsac_epic.pdf