Communication rights, and
especially local and regional work to cement them at home, often gets
overlooked, but it is key to so many struggles for health, safety, and
MA has been here for 39 years, always on one kind of edge or another, and we want there to be a year 40. Please join us.
do we protect the right to dissent? Crackdowns on journalists,
whistleblowers and activists are legion as a toxic combination of greedy
telecoms and an unaccountable government try to plug every remaining
space for free expression and organizing. They won't rest until the
Internet is a toll road for big spenders, and a spy net for the rest of
the corporations that run the government won’t help dismantle their own
influence. The system that lulls us into complacency as our human
rights get whittled away wants us doing busy work, not challenging them.
Keeping the challenges going, steady and strong and right here at home
in California where we live and work together, that can only be
supported by you. Media Alliance will keep lighting the fire. With your
The arc of justice is realized by claiming the space to create alternate narratives.
got some great gifts for you, a 30% discount off the mind-bending
titles from MIT Press, including Low Power To The People, the chronicle
of the pirate radio movement. Local filmmaker Donna Lee's video story of
blogger Josh Wolf's 226 day stay in federal prison to protect his
videos, a crucial moment in the history of citizen journalism and
the brand new Hella Privacy t-shirt.
Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on September 23rd, 2016 ACLU
This blog entry was written by Media Alliance ED Tracy Rosenberg for the ACLU as part of a national rollout of surveillance equipment transparency ordinances developed and implemented by Bay Area anti-surveillance activists.
Interrupting Surveillance in Silicon Valley and Beyond
September 21, 2016
Issues : Privacy and Government Surveillance, Racial Justice, Technology and Civil Liberties
By: Tracy Rosenberg follow @twrling
Public cynicism about government is at an all-time high – and we all know the reasons. That's why it's pretty remarkable when activists use public government processes to attack a scary and overwhelming problem like surveillance – and it works.
Bay Area activists have seized on a strategy to localize the fight against government spying and enlist city councils and county supervisors – who are far more approachable and accountable than remote DC officials – as allies in building community control of surveillance equipment. City by city and county by county, transparency regulations are being discussed. As the motto of one of the most active community groups in the country Oakland Privacy says, “I've Been Watching You Watching Me."
With a virtually untapped flow of militarized equipment and techno-gadgets from the federal government into local cities and counties, watching the watchers is exactly what hasn't been going on. The use of surveillance equipment has been anything but transparent, rarely discussed, pushed through on consent calendars and sometimes even legally hushed up, as was the case with the notorious non-disclosure agreements applied to “Stingray” cell phone interceptor equipment.
Now that is starting to change.
Bay Area activists including Media Alliance, a 39-year-old media watchdog concerned about the transformation of the Internet from a tool for connection into a spying dragnet, went into the belly of the beast of technological innovation – Silicon Valley – to talk transparency and community accountability (as laid out in the ACLU of California's guide for communities, Making Smart Decisions About Surveillance).
Santa Clara may have been the first, but they won't be the last. Supported by community activists who are challenging every local municipality to do what Santa Clara did, transparency legislation is spreading widely.
This buzz of activity reflects two things: genuine public anxiety about the extent of spying and surveillance and the commitment of community groups to engage to recover some control over how they are watched and profiled.
It is possible to interrupt the seemingly inevitable mushrooming of blanket surveillance.
Tracy Rosenberg This guest blog is by Tracy Rosenberg, the Executive Director of Media Alliance (www.media-alliance.org).
Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on June 6th, 2016 Media Alliance
On Thursday June 2nd, I
joined dozens of people who live or work in San Francisco's Mission
District at the San Francisco Planning Commission to speak up against
yet another huge luxury housing development proposed for the
neighborhood. The activist-dubbed “Beast on Bryant” adds 196 more
luxury units to a neighborhood already built out way in excess of the
Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, and removes tens of thousands of square
feet of badly needed light industrial space. The project was opposed
by the San Francisco Labor Council and the Building Trades Council.
While the Planning Commission's
tendency to rubber stamp housing projects is infamous and nobody
really expected the project would go down to defeat, the surprising
part of the day and evening spent at City Hall was the full court
press of the San Francisco Sheriff's department. Why were the
sheriffs intervening in Planning Commission decisions? Was this on
When I arrived at 3:00pm, the scene
outside of Room 400 at City Hall was complete chaos. Scores of burly
carpenters from the Northern CA Regional Carpenters Council all
wearing jackets saying “CIA”, were roaming the hallways along
with dozens of Mission District residents. The Carpenter's Council
had broken from the Building Trades Council and hatched an
independent deal with developer Nick Podell.
An inquiry at the door to the hearing
room led to being told by a sheriff the hallway was about to be
“cleared out”. Not wanting to be “cleared out”, (whatever
that meant), I tiptoed away and found a quiet spot some distance
About an hour later, I ventured back to
the hearing room, peered in, and saw 70% or more of the seats were
now occupied by the dozens of carpenters who had been milling about
in the hallway. There was a long line to the right of the door filled
with other people. I asked for admittance to the room as I was
planning to speak and was told to get in line, despite at least 5
visible empty seats in the room. I pointed out I had been there an
hour ago and had been told to leave or get cleared away. I wasn't
told to get in a line. So why was I not at the front of this line?
That didn't go over well.
After being invited inside the hearing
room by a colleague on a bathroom break who told me there was a seat
empty behind her, I found myself accosted by the Sheriff insisting I
could not sit there. I asked point blank if all the seated people had
arrived more than 90 minutes ago, as I had, and if they all intended
to address the commission on the item now up. The sheriff raised his
voice and the meeting was briefly interrupted. I left to avoid
further disruptions and spent another 90 minutes in the hallway line
watching numerous people being admitted to the room in front of the
people in line.
Eventually, we hallway people observed
that names were being called to speak during public comment although
the people called had still had not been admitted to the room and
were in the hallway line, or an even bigger group in an overflow room
way down the hall, or simply idling elsewhere in the building. We
attempted to exchange names and install a runner system to notify
people if their names had been called for public comment.
After finally being admitted, more than
three hours after arrival and after three aggressive encounters with
the sheriffs, I was escorted to a seat between two carpenters. In the
two and a half hours I spent in that seat waiting for my three
minutes to address the Planning Commission, I had a ringside seat to
the phenomenon called man-spreading as occupancy of my seat was
I finally addressed the Commission,
mostly to say the luxury housing threshold in the 25 year duration
Eastern Neighborhoods Plan had already been surpassed in the first
seven years, the anticipated loss of light industrial space was at
2/3 of the limit in 1/3 of the time anticipated and I wasn't sure
where the “planning” was in Planning Commission. I tried to hang
in for the duration of the hearing, but was defeated by the
incursions into my sitting space. There were thoughts about the
discreet use of elbows, but I figured the sheriffs were clearly not
on my side should there be an altercation.
Neither of the two carpenters
surrounding me, nor 99% of the 70+ filling up the meeting room, made
a public comment to the commission despite occupying virtually all
the seats for hours on end.
To get to the end of the story, the
Beast on Bryant project was approved. Mission District residents were
successful in getting a significant increase in the amount of light
industrial space that would be recreated in the new project. They
deserve plaudits for that hard-won victory.
But many of the people who just wanted
to speak their piece about what was happening in their neighborhood
experienced inconvenience, harassment, discomfort, unpleasantness and
intimidation. They came, not on a payroll but on their own dime, and
definitely took second fiddle to an organized campaign designed to
make it as hard as possible for them to have their say. That's just
As the FCC debates the modernization of the Lifeline telephone subsidy program to include Internet access for the first time, Media Alliance and the Media Action Grassworks Network (Mag-Net) are taking action to make sure the agency hears from the program's users, its potential users in the future, and the communities most impacted by lack of broadband access.
TheLifeline Story Bankwill collect written testimonies, pictures and short audio or video clips and deliver them directly to the policy makers and the press to make sure DC just doesn't just talk to themselves.
So if you use or might use the program yourself, have friends or family members who do, work with or know of an organization that provides services to seniors, people living on fixed incomes, the disabled, limited english-fluency populations, recent immigrants, single moms or anyone on the wrong side of the digital divide:
Take a moment to
1) Download our Story Bank Toolkit, a quick guide to everything you need to know about Lifeline and submitting a story to the Bank
2) Visit the easy submission formand tell them what subsidized broadband access in the home means to you and your community.
An op-ed on the FCC review of retransmission rules and their potentially destructive impact on low-income audiences whose access to pay TV and high-speed broadband is limited due to affordability issues.
A founding principle of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is protecting the public interest in communications - in television, radio, internet and new emerging mediums. In a country of increasing diversity,
the public interest is not a "one size fits all" proposition. In the
United States of 2016, the public interest must serve a Spanish-speaking
mother in Los Angeles as well as it serves a rural rancher in South
Dakota or a millennial urbanite in Brooklyn.
As an industry, broadcast television has long served the largest number of Americans with its mass, free, over-the-air broadcasts.
For this reason, Media Alliance finds it troubling that the FCC's
current re-examination of the rules for exclusivity may jeopardize local
broadcast television as it exists today. The Commission is in the process
of reexamining rules which allow broadcasters to negotiate the terms of
use for broadcast content to be disseminated to cable providers.
As it stands, broadcasters count on the revenue stream that comes
from content negotiations with pay-TV providers. If the current system
is upended, some local stations across the country will face the very
real possibility of having to shut down due to a lack of adequate
funding, because they are not being compensated for their own content.
If stations were forced to shut down, it would be the stations that
do not garner the most viewers - including stations that serve minority
communities, for example. Spanish-language broadcast networks - such as
Univision or Telemundo - are often not viewed at the high levels of
their English-language counterparts such as NBC or CBS, simply because
many communities have fewer Spanish-speaking residents. Yet, these
stations are sometimes the only avenue for low-income families who
cannot afford other types of media to get their news and information:
from severe weather alerts, to community events, to a roundup of local
and national news. If these stations were forced to shut their doors
because of fewer viewers, many families that depend upon them could be
quite literally left in the dark
The current exclusivity rules preserve diversity in broadcast
programming. And while there is nowhere near enough diversity, taking
actions to further reduce it in order to increase profit levels for
cable providers is not in the public interest.
Media Alliance has long been interested in protecting diversity in
media, and holding government accountable for any action taken to
decrease diversity in favor of increased corporate profits. It is clear
that any action taken by the FCC to change these rules will have a
disproportionately negative impact on small, over-the-air broadcasters, many who are minority-owned or serve minority audiences.
We believe that the current exclusivity rules should be preserved by
the FCC. Any change to these regulations is a win for Big Cable and a
terrible loss for small broadcasters across the country and the local
communities in which they serve. The "public interest" that the FCC must
protect includes Americans who have affordability challenges with pay
TV and high-speed broadband access and the FCC must recognize this when
considering how it should act on this important issue.
Tracy Rosenberg is the Executive Director of Media Alliance,
based in Northern California. Media Alliance is a member of
Media Alliance is pleased to be a media sponsor for this series of conversations:
Recording in Progress is a series of panel discussions about
innovation and new developments in technology, entertainment, culture,
business, art and design.
Moderated by Tara Conley (Race Forward), this discussion on
media, tech and social justice includes panelists Susan Simpson
(Undisclosed), Jackie Zammuto (WITNESS), Carmen Perez (Justice League
NYC) and Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer (Global Citizen).
Posted by Dorothy Kidd on University of San Francisco
This brief academic paper by USF Media Studies Professor and former MA board member Dorothy Kidd examines democratized media in Honduras and South Korea.
"Some 30 years after the commission’s publication of Many Voices, One World, I analyze the contribution of contemporary grassroots communication praxis to the democratization of communications practice and theory. Because if the neoliberal shift captured global information and communication systems for corporate giants and state powers, it also created conditions of radical possibility. Media activists around the world have appropriated technologies that were first designed for military, state and capitalist apparatuses, and have reshaped them to meet urgent information and communication needs of majority populations underserved by commercial or public service media. As the MacBride Report promised, these media have provided living examples of more democratic communication.
The Honduran Network of Indigenous and Garífuna Radios, andMediACT in South Korea, exemplify this movement to democratize communications from within social justice movements. South Korea is a relatively wealthy, urban and industrialized country, and one of the most digitally connected nations in the world; whereas Honduras is primarily rural, with high rates of poverty, and where only 4.5 percent of Hondurans have regular access to the internet. Nevertheless, people in both countries share long struggles for democratization against colonialism and military rule, and more recent pressures to conform to neoliberal development agendas. Operating in very different national contexts, the Honduran Radio Network and MediACT are both deeply embedded within local centers, linked together through a complex web of global social justice movements and radical communicators, who are connected both face to face and online.
A Review of American Daydream by Margot Eve Pepper
American Day Dream is situated in San Francisco and embedded in the things we love about the Bay Area, but also lodged in the rear corner of our minds that hasn't forgotten the Snowden revelations of June 2013. Or Cointelpro. Or every bit of sickening evidence that we are less free than we think.
In the long tradition of dystopian science fiction, but imbued with a humane and strongly feminist tilt, American Day Dream grabs hold of the red pill/blue pill dilemma of Hollywood's Matrix, but without all the futuristic shiny toys.
What if, right here and right now and right down the block, everything we see and do and own, isn't real? Job, home and friends are all a carefully planted illusion to keep us circling a hamster wheel for a social order running for the benefit of others.
In American Day Dream, the gadgets we love don't connect us to humanity. They are the tool that traps us into dreams and prevents us from seeing our own imprisonment.
The novel addresses the price of looking up from the screen into the void. What would you say to the person who tells you reality isn't real? Would you love them or hate them, or both at the same time?
The protagonist, a Marin-residing graphic designer with a seemingly cushy job at a biotech firm in downtown SF, temporarily breaks his circuits and faces a dilemma: remember that crack in the fabric of appearances or forget it as quickly as he can.
As he walks the road to choosing frightening reality or comforting dream world, the designer ponders who he used to be before his cushy condo, how friends, family and acquaintances reconcile their own illusions and what life might be like outside the penal colony.
And he meets a woman.
American Day Dream asks us to consider the joys, and the dangers, of authentic existence when the human experience isn't what we thought it was. When the price of the little compromises is more expensive than we ever imagined and everything we thought was true about life, really wasn't.
There is still a choice to be made in the world of American Day Dream, but time is running out on the dreamers. Jailbreaking isn't just for i-phones. It's for all of us before there is nothing left but pretty trappings on top of a penal colony.
In a society where we are being watched more than we can fully grasp, the distance between American Day Dream's Bay Area and our own is shrinking.
It's a small step between dawn to dusk surveillance and planting us in a customized-just-for-us existence to meet all of our needs as incarcerated worker bees.
American Day Dream makes that leap and then paints the picture of what the hesitant walk along the road of resistance might look like - without the superpowers of Neo - for just a guy and a girl in Northern California.
Posted by Alfredo Lopez on August 4th, 2015 MayFirst/PeopleLink
Attackers continued their assault on May First/People Link operations Monday evening shutting down the organization's website at https://mayfirst.org. All other services continue operating.
The Denial of Service attack targeted the website but, as collateral
damage, much of May First's hosting system was paralyzed for a short
time about 11:00 pmMonday evening. May First technologists restored all services except May First's own website, the specific target, by 11:30 pm.
The attack follows several days of Denial of Service attacks on May
First servers, targeting specifically May First member the National
Network of Abortion Funds whose website, http://fundabortionnow.org
was down for almost a day last week. That attack appears to have been
part of the campaign aimed at the pro-choice movement which included the
attacks last week on Planned Parenthood and various pro-choice
Today's action is the first time the attackers have targeted the May First/People Link website specifically.
"We consider our organization attacked when one of our members is
targeted so we've been under attack for several days now," according of
Jamie McClelland, MF/PL Leadership Committee member. "But the targeting
of our website means that these people are not just focusing on the
issue of abortion or trying to repress communication about it but
punishing an organization that allows that communication. This isn't
about choice specifically, this is about May First/People Link and,
because of who we are, it's about an entire movement in two countries."
Technologists continue working to return the website to service. No other services are affected at this time.
May First/People Link is a political progressive membership organization
specializing in Internet work and the sharing of services with most
members in the United States and Mexico. It is the largest organization
of its kind in either country.
Earlier this month, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) issued a request
for comments on how consumers are being charged for video-related
services, the notice they are given before these costs appear on
their monthly cable bill and whether these fees cause consumers to
pay higher prices than the company’s advertised rates for monthly
service. The FCC has always had jurisdiction over how common
carriers, broadcast, wireless, satellite, cable companies and other
telecom entities address consumer interests in their business
According to the FCC
website, through the Consumer Policy division, they are “…tasked
with issuing orders to resolve complaints about unauthorized changes
in local telecommunication providers (slamming); conducting
rulemakings on slamming, truth-in-billing telemarketing and fax
advertising; and monitoring informal inquiries and complaints to
identify trends that affect consumers.” Unfortunately, many
advocates believe that the focus on consumers has been sidelined
since the passage of The
1996 Telecommunications Act. While the act spurred innovative
platforms for video distribution and creative content for internet
users, it was to the detriment of cable subscribers who realized no
real benefits, and instead have experienced nearly two decades of
limited choices for service, rising monthly prices and deteriorating
customer service. With consolidation happening at a breakneck speed
in the cable and broadband markets, it is time that the focus of our
21st century video market policy-making process be placed squarely on
the protection of the consumer.
For this reason, Media Alliance
applauds the FCC’s undertaking to augment their next video
competition report with detailed pricing data and information through
their comment process. We have long advocated for increased
transparency when it comes to the billing practices of pay-TV and
broadband providers and are further encouraged that the FCC’s
action is not an isolated incident.
Washington, D.C. are increasingly losing their patience with the
unscrupulous practices of the pay-TV industry and are calling for
inquiries with the interest of consumers in mind. Last
year, Senator McCaskill asked probing questions of cable providers
who experienced first-hand how cable operators have overcharged and
misled consumers with complicated fee structures and surcharges.
Time and time again, McCaskill has sought to bring accountability to
the pay-TV industry by calling for legislative hearings around cable
The momentum continued with a letter
on July 9 from Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie
Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calling for the FCC to
collect detailed pricing data on broadband and cable services on a
state-by-state basis and comparatively in rural versus urban areas.
Their letter also recognizes the lack of competition in the pay-TV
industry citing that fact that only “37 percent of Americans have
more than one option for high-speed broadband providers.” The
senators declared that a lack of competitive choices and a
marketplace that continues to move toward more consolidation has left
Americans with “de facto telecommunications monopolies” across
the nation. These are factors that need to be addressed at a granular
level by federal regulators.
The FCC’s action to collect broadband
and pay-TV pricing data will go a long way in helping consumers
better understand exactly what it is they are paying for in their
monthly bills. The pay-TV companies have this information. We
simply need our leaders in Washington D.C. to ask the right questions
so that regulators can then deconstruct the fees, surcharges,
equipment rentals and other miscellaneous costs.
Thanks to leaders in the nation’s
capital, we are taking the first step towards creating greater
pricing and billing transparency for consumers of pay-TV and/or
Internet subscription services in America.
Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on July 22nd, 2015 Media Alliance
The Media Alliance 2015 Northern California Press List is out!
The 2015 Northern California Press List provides 1200+ media
contacts in an easy-to-manipulate Excel spreadsheet, including
daily/weekly newspapers, televison and radio stations, hyperlocal news
websites, and selected national alternative press.
Media Alliance produces this community press list to help nonprofits
and activists reach the media consistently without having to pay the
prohibitive prices charged by commercial public relations efforts.
Pair your press list with a Media How To Guide, if you haven't already, to get everything you need to know for low-cost high-impact guerilla publicity.
The press list retails for $50 (discounted for MA members) so make sure to let people know about it who could benefit from the resource.
Our new telephone number as of May 4, 2015 will be (415) 746-9475. ED Tracy Rosenberg can also be reached directly via mobile phone at 510-684-6853, which is unchanged.
The good news: The new space will provide the classroom, workshop and event space that Media Alliance has been missing in Oakland, contained within a new vibrant art space with lots of cross-fertilization and fun, creative things going on.
Being a part of the community will allow us to permanently lower our rent while increasing our physical capacity in a long-term secure space dedicated to art and social justice, freeing us from the commercial real estate market and the exploding costs in our adopted Oakland home.
It was a difficult decision to leave Oakland, a city MA has grown to love after the forced exodus from San Francisco in 2005, but the long-term security and stability of the nonprofit in today's always-challenging financial conditions was our first priority. Media Alliance intends to continue robust participation in public policy throughout the Bay Area, but especially on both sides of the Bay, which are both our professional and personal homes.
There will be a little moving upheaval during the last week of April and first week of May, but bear with us and we'll do our best to be fully up and running as quickly as possible.
And stay tuned for classes and events. We've heard you these past few years about wanting more of that, and this new office is designed with more public events and workshops in mind.
Thank you for your support and sharing the excitement of this move with us. Any helping hands in the last week of April for the schlepping of boxes are very very welcome.
Posted by Tracy Rosenberg on June 5th, 2015 Media Alliance
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dealt a blow to cable regulation when Chair Tom Wheeler declined to join democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel in dropping the presumption of effective cable competition in most cities and counties.
The presumption means that the burden of proof to assert that cable competition is insufficient falls on city and state governments who must mount a case to prove their point. Failing a monumental effort on their part, federal regulators will presume that effective cable competition exists.
Clyburn and Rosenworcel argued that "streamlining" should not take the form of an expedited process to avoid oversight and accused the agency of racing past the statutory requirements and providing such broad relief to cable companies as to increase burdens on local franchising authorities and potentially result in price increases for consumers.
However, FCC chair Tom Wheeler voted in favor of the presumption and it passed the commission on a 3-2 vote.
Media Alliance agrees with Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel and hails them for their attempts to preserve oversight by franchising authorities and not streamline away local cable regulation.
Below is the public interest letter sent by several organizations including MA asking the FCC not to presume effective cable competition.
This video produced by the Champaign-Urbana Independent Media Center and the Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice exposes the actions of phone service provider
Securus Technologies and the Illinois Department of Corrections in
gouging nearly $12 million a year from the families of the incarcerated
from over-priced phone call.
Sign the petition to encourage the FCC to finish reforming the prison phone call system and cap phone rates for all kinds of phone calls for good.