Tag Archives: ACLU

Silicon Valley Responds to Trump and Hate

Silicon Valley, the very heart and brain of the nation’s tech industry, is sending a strong message to both Donald Trump and white supremacist, NO!

Since the neo-nazi and alt-right demonstration in Charlottesville the nation has come to realization that hatred and bigotry is alive and well and supported from the highest office in the land. But tech companies are reacting to shut racist down

Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted Trump for his words supporting racist in an email to Apple employees. In the email cook said,  “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.” Cook continued on to say, “Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

Cook announced that Apple will donate $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League.

Cook and Trump have locked horns before over his immigration and climate change positions. At the same time Cook has been working to influence Trump’s policies on issues from tax reform to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Apple has also shut down Apple Pay on all white supremacist websites selling clothing and accessories.

Google, the world’s largest and most powerful search engine acted quickly to cancel the Daily Stormer neo-nazi website’s domain registration. Google acted in a mere 3 hours after it signed up. A Google spokesperson stated that the Daily Stormer was “violating our terms of service.” Web hosting service GoDaddy also rejected the neo-nazi website. GoDaddy tweeted that is giving the site 24 hours to move to another domain provider for violating of its terms and services.

White supremacist bands are also being silenced online. Billboard.com reported that Spotify is removing “hate rock” from its streaming service. Other tech companies and forums shutting racist out include Reddit which bans ban hate groups, gaming chat app Discord also shut down racist accounts and GoFundMe shut down a campaign to support the man accused of driving a car into protesters this weekend in Charlottesville killing one women and injuring 19 others.

PayPal all took steps to shut down white supremacist outlets and Twitter even suspended an account that provided updates for the site.

Other financial services companies are also rejecting hate group’s commerce en masse. Square, Visa and Discover Card have all stopped hate groups from using their service to accept payments. Other companies rejecting neo-nazi activity on their platforms include Cloudflare which stripped away the Daily Stormer security and protection against hackers

But can all this action to shut down hate really make a difference? Some believe that hatred will survive online regardless. Neo-Nazi and hate groups have already moved onto the dark web according to news accounts. In the debate on racism, hate and the groups that support it some believe that sending these groups underground is counter-productive. The argument is to keep these groups out in the open so they can be monitored closely. Others, including the ACLU, have argued in support of hate groups to express themselves freely. The ACLU was key in helping the neo-nazi demonstrators win a court battle for permission to carry out the Charlottesville march.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement that hateful and bigoted speech must be heard. “Racism and bigotry will not be eradicated if we merely force them underground,” Romero wrote. “Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks such bigotry squarely in the eyes and renounces it.”

App of the Week: Driving While Black

driving-while-black-landing-pagejpg-fabb6a73b66f9508Incidents in recent weeks have reminded all people of the horrible relationship between black people and law enforcement. Again and again black men have ended up dead as a result of an encounter with a police officer.

Driving while black is not a crime but a situation that is far more dangerous than just avoiding accidents. African-American parents have the added fear of wondering if their child will ever return when they leave home in the family car.

A 2013 U.S. Justice Department report revealed that a black driver is 30 times more likely to be pulled over than a white driver.  It is an insane situation to deal with but we have to. But now there is an app for that.

An African-Amercan lawyer in Portland, OR  has created the “Driving While Black” app. Mariann Hyland made a vow 10 years ago, after Portland Police fatally shot 21-year-old Kendra James during a routine traffic stop, to do something about these tragic incidents. She teamed up with another lawyer, Melvin Olden-Orr and software developer James Pritchett to create the app. It is intended to teach young black people how to survive being pulled over by police. As the level of tension between police and people of color continues to escalate after the Mike Brown and Eric Garner decisions, Hyland says this type of education is crucial.

“Being a police officer is a tough job,” said Hyland. “They deal with the most horrific experiences in society. They’re first responders. And traffic stops tend to be where they get hurt the most. So they’re on high alert when they pull you over. We want to educate people about how to put them at ease so they don’t feel threatened.”

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Melvin Oden-Orr, Mariann Hyland and James Pritchett

The “Driving While Black” app teaches young African-Americans how not to get pulled over in the first place. The app points out factors that can put a police officer on alert such as tinted windows. It urges people of color to perform as responsible drivers by using turn signals early. The app also offers a checklist to remind drivers to keep their license plate tags up-to-date and their headlights in working order.

The app also instructs young drivers on what to do if they do get pulled over. Alert functions in the app allows users to program in three numbers such as their mother, a friend or a lawyer if needed. When stopped by the police the driver can hit the “alert” button to immediately send a message to those three people.

“People feel so alone in these vulnerable situations,” Hyland said.

The “Driving While Black” app offers a record function so the user can tape and log interactions with police. It also provides video tutorials that demonstrate good and bad behavior during traffic stops and forms for submitting commendations or complaints against officers. It also includes a how-to-guide for parents talking with their kids about police. There is a checklist for ways to keep officers at ease. During research before the app was created Hyland and her team discovered that police see a car full of empty Red Bull cans as a danger sign.

But Hyland still had concerns about the app and the potential for danger. For example; could a driver reaching for his or her phone to use the app be mistaken for reaching for a weapon; a gun? We know it happens.

Oden-Orr considered if they should include video recording. Secretly recording police is illegal in Oregon. Other similar apps, including the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app for Android devices and the New York City-based Stop and Frisk Watch app for iPhone, allows it. They decided to include the record function with a reminder for the user to tell officers they are being filmed. They  also suggest using a hands-free device.

“Driving While Black” focuses specifically on traffic stops. But many police encounters happen outside traffic situations. Pedestrian situations have proven to be just as dangerous  as the Ferguson interaction between Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown clearly indicate.

Hyland pointed that “Driving While Black” consolidates resources from dozens of sources but reminds users that each case is different. The app teaches mothers how to talk to their sons about police. Eventually, it also will include a directory of lawyers for the user’s area, programmed using location-based technology.

“Driving While Black” is available for Android and iPhone.