ACLU Applauds State Attorney General's Commitment to Protect Californian's Civil Liberties and Rights

July 14, 2003 12:00 am

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SACRAMENTO – The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California today applauded Attorney General Bill Lockyer for agreeing to implement a series of guidelines ensuring that the state will no longer monitor and collect information on activists and First Amendment activity.

At issue was the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC), a state agency established shortly after September 11, 2001 to analyze and disseminate information about terrorist threats. Recent news reports revealed that the agency was disseminating information to law enforcement on legal protest activity – including anti-war protests at the Ports of Oakland and San Francisco.

“We are very pleased by the Attorney General’s commitment to institute significant and much-needed guidelines and regulations regarding CATIC and intelligence-gathering procedures,” said Mark Schlosberg, Police Practices Policy Director of the ACLU of Northern California.

“It is heartening to know that in California the Attorney General has committed to protecting our privacy rights, even as federal authorities continually try to erode those rights,” he added. “We look forward to seeing these guidelines implemented in the near future so that this will never happen again. The Attorney General is sending a strong message to Washington: in California we can be both safe and free.”

After meeting with ACLU attorneys, the Attorney General agreed to the following:

  • The Attorney General’s office will issue guidelines to state and local law enforcement agencies stating that they can no monitor political or religious activity or organizations without reasonable suspicion of a crime;
  • The Attorney General’s office will develop guidelines for CATIC to guarantee that only information about terrorist activity is included in the daily bulletins and briefings. The guidelines will establish that protest activity – including civil disobedience — cannot be considered terrorist activity;
  • The Attorney General’s office will conduct an audit of the CATIC system and will publicly release the results of the audit;
  • The Attorney General’s office will conduct a training of CATIC personnel on the new guidelines;
  • The Attorney General’s office will make public all CATIC bulletins that include protest and First Amendment activity.

In May, the ACLU wrote a letter to Attorney General Lockyer urging him to implement these changes. A news release about that effort is online at /node/11517.

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