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Posts Tagged ‘Black Thursday’

It’s disturbingly commonplace and pretty workaday stuff for law enforcement.

If you are an owner of one of the country’s 277 million cell phones, it’s possible that your cell-phone company retained records of where your device has been at all times.

Cell phones have tiny GPS devices embedded inside or because each phone call is routed through towers that can be used to pinpoint the phones’ location to within areas as small as a few hundred feet.

And as the government continues it’s relentless intrusion into the private lives of citizens, cell-phone tracking has become commonplace and among the more unsettling forms of government surveillance. The ease at which your location information can be accessed is a question posed by a Newsweek article, which outlines the various methods local law-enforcement agencies and the Justice Department can use to trace Americans’ cell phones–tracking that in some cases can be done in real time. According to the article, courts across the country routinely agree to police requests for cell phone location information.  The legality of such requests is somewhat murky and there is anecdotal evidence of abuse of the system, with requests that are clearly personal.

What if the Justice Department wants to track political protesters or motorcyclists at the Washington CoC Run?  Or how about track all the motorcycle enthusiasts who arrive at the state capital for “Black Thursday” in Olympia to protest unfavorable biker legislation?  Apparently, it may all be allowed.

It would seem the Orwellian day of Big Brother secretly following motorcyclists movements through the cell phone device in our pocket is here.  Currently, the records are obtained under what is known as “2703(d)” orders—a reference to an obscure provision of a federal law known as the Stored Communications Act—in which prosecutors only need to assert that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe the records are “relevant” to an ongoing federal criminal investigation, a much lower standard than that needed for a search warrant.

When the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Enhancement Act of 1999 was passed, I don’t think they thought about law enforcement over reach or customer’ privacy information related to location-based services.  I encourage preservation of the Fourth Amendment and think it’s time that Congress clarify the terms under which location information may be released to law enforcement.

Until then, if you’re someone who does not wish to disclose their movements to the government then you’ll need not use a cellular telephone.

Photo courtesy of Apple.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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no_colorsSomewhere in a windowless, cinder block room in the basement of an institutional building in Olympia, Washington police officers are passing on secrets.  Meanwhile the folks on the 2nd floor might look at introducing strict anti-biker legislation which would allow organizations to be banned and people prevented from associating.  And in the Capital parking lot the WSP decides this is the “right time” to send a message to motorcyclist and started photographing everyone who arrived including clubs, motorcycles and license plates.

In my youth I would have been overly alarmed, but there is more to aging than just gray hair.  Wistful yearning for something past or nostalgia as it is known, is also part of the aging process.  I should have been a cowboy.  At least they have remained true to their lifestyle.  Cowboys are still respected and no attempt has been made to take their freedoms away.  They can wear a cowboy hat, a bandanna or whatever they choose and have never been made part of gang legislation.  Their ride, the horse, has not suffered the embarrassment of their counterpart, the motorcycle. It still has four legs and the mechanisms for riding has remained the same for a lot of years.  No attempt has been made to legislate an air bag, legislate noise, legislate riding attire or have it talk to you!  A cowboy has not been banned from a bar because boots and a PBR buckle were deemed clothing symbols representing a banned “group.”  Cowboys have no profiling concerns, no harassment or false pre-text stops like many motorcycle enthusiasts.

You see we’re slowly allowing the government and law enforcement agencies to take away our rights and dictate to all motorcycle enthusiasts what we can and can’t wear and who we can associate with.  Today it’s biker clubs then tomorrow they will target the Lions Club or whoever else they “feel” like making out to be a bad organization.

cowboy_coffeeDo you think I’m off base or headed in the wrong direction?  Then consider this.  People make decisions that carry extremely different levels of healthcare risk. For example, fatalities on motorcycles are far more likely than in cars (35 deaths/million miles vs. 1.7 deaths/million miles) (1). Motorcyclists are also four times as likely to be seriously injured (2).  Many legislators don’t thing car drivers should subsidize the costs for the increased risks taken by motorcyclists.  But when you really look at this situation it’s employers who purchase health insurance so they can decide what to cover. And guess what?  Companies have exclusions for items that the executives considered unwise: no coverage for treatments resulting from motorcycle accidents, sky-diving etc., (3).

In short, “Black Thursday” was represented by over 100 riders with the same goal.  There were independent motorcycle enthusiasts, Veteran clubs as well as 1%ers all focused on exercising their constitutional rights as citizens to actively lobby representatives who control the destiny of Washington state motorcycle riders. 

Congrats to WAC.o.C. and ABATE on a professional and well attended day in the democratic process.

References:

  1. Trends in Motorcycle Fatalities Associated with Alcohol-Impaired Driving-United States, 1983-2003. JAMA. 2005;293:287-288. MMWR. 2004;53:1103-1106
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2001 DOT HS 809 473
  3. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services. Nondiscrimination and Wellness Programs in Health Coverage in the Group Market; Final Rules. Federal Register. December 13, 2006;71(239):75013-55 

Photo courtesy American Cowboy Coffee.

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olympia_capitalIf you’re anything like the rest of the motorcycle world, how the economy will perform in 2009 weighs heavily on your mind as well as how the legislators plan to regulate motorcycle issues.

After a successful election season the Washington State elected officials return tomorrow (January 22nd) for the new legislative session.  “Black Thursday” is the motorcycle enthusiasts opportunity to show representatives in the State Capitol that motorcyclists will stand up, be counted and work together to make a difference.

My friends over at Northwest Cycle Report have an excellent post which provides a lot more details.  You can read it HERE.   Also ABATE of Washington will be in the upper concourse by the George Washington Statue (3rd Floor) and has more information HERE.  Lastly you can watch for future legislative updates and other interesting news from the Washington Confederation of Clubs (WACoC) web site HERE.

This is a great opportunity to expand visibility of our challenges and be heard.  It will be a tough year — program cuts are already happening and we need all hands on deck to send a strong message to the Washington legislature. Please join the hundreds of motorcyclists from across Washington State for a day of lobbying to ensure motorcyclists have a voice.

No experience necessary – just a desire to make a difference.  A shout-out to “Griz” for raising visibility of the event.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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