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Louisiana and Minnesota Introduce Anti-Protest Bills Amid Fights Over Bayou Bridge and Enbridge Pipelines
Alleen Brown, Will Parrish
This week, the Louisiana House of Representatives introduced new legislation aimed at criminalizing the activities of groups protesting the extraction, burning, and transport of oil and gas. The bill is similar to a model created by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. Indeed, in the wake of the massive protest movement at Standing Rock, which attempted to prevent completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, at least seven states have introduced or passed “critical infrastructure” legislation. Louisiana’s version comes as opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline have ramped up protest activities in the state, staging occupations and blockades aimed at halting construction of the project.
The legislation creates new crimes that would punish groups for “conspiring” to trespass on critical infrastructure sites and prescribes particularly harsh penalties for those whose ideas, if carried out, would disrupt the operations of such infrastructure. The definition of the term critical infrastructure would be amended to include pipelines and pipeline construction sites. The language of the bill reaches far beyond cases of property destruction and stands to net individuals who do not participate in or condone such activities.

The Louisiana bill, unlike the ALEC model, does not require that any disruption to a facility’s functioning take place for penalties to apply — an individual could face huge fines or prison time without ever having set foot on the property.

“This is ALEC-plus,” said Pamela Spees, a senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights who is representing groups opposed to the Bayou Bridge project.

The proposed law appears to be designed to intimidate the array of groups working to halt construction of the 163-mile oil pipeline, which cuts through a sensitive wetland where Louisiana crawfish are harvested. The groups — including the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Bold Louisiana, and the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper — have worked together despite varying goals that range from preserving sensitive habitats and lessening the impact of climate change to defending property rights and protecting the local crawfishing industry.

The Bayou Bridge pipeline shares the same parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, as the Dakota Access pipeline. Indeed, the two projects represent the northern and southern ends of a larger pipeline system.

“I think it shows how very deeply this industry has our state government by the throat,” Cherri Foytlin, a member of the indigenous women’s advisory council for the anti-Bayou Bridge L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) Camp, said of the new legislation. “That they would sacrifice the citizens of South Louisiana, who are trying to protect their water, by criminalizing them over companies like Energy Transfer Partners.”

Mounting Restrictions on the Right to Protest
ALEC, which brings together corporations and right-wing legislators to draft industry-friendly policies, finalized its model “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” in January based on a law passed in Oklahoma last spring, and since then, similar bills have been introduced in Iowa, Ohio, Wyoming, and Minnesota. Pennsylvania also introduced a critical infrastructure bill shortly after Oklahoma. In addition to ALEC, the nonpartisan Council of State Governments has also promoted the Oklahoma law on its list of “shared state legislation.”

The Iowa bill has passed both bodies of the state legislature and awaits final approval. The Ohio and Pennsylvania bills are pending, and the Wyoming bill passed the legislature before being vetoed by Gov. Matt Mead.

Minnesota’s bill, one of the newest, was introduced earlier this month. A committee of the state’s Republican-controlled House approved the bill on March 12, meaning it will soon go to a vote before the full House. The controversial Enbridge Line 3 pipeline awaits approval in the state, where it’s facing opposition from local tribes and environmental groups — some of which were also involved in fighting the Dakota Access pipeline.

The Minnesota bill appears to be aimed at those groups. Notably, it creates a felony for anyone who “recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” an individual who causes significant damage to critical infrastructure such as pipelines. The penalties for such individuals or entities would be the same as those for the person who did the damage — up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. In the same vein, the law creates a misdemeanor for anyone who aids a person caught trespassing on a property containing critical infrastructure, and “vicarious liability” for any damage that occurs during the trespass. Versions of those items were also recommended by ALEC’s model.
The pipeline-related bills are part of a broader legislative crackdown on protest movements. According to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, since Trump’s election, 31 states have considered bills meant to curb protest.

Minnesota lawmakers, for example, will also vote soon on a bill that creates a gross misdemeanor for anyone who interferes with freeway traffic or traffic on roadways near an airport. Additionally, it would increase the potential fine for anyone who interferes with vehicles and the potential jail sentence from 90 days to a year. The bill’s authors have described it as a response to protests that have blocked traffic in recent years, including those that erupted in 2015 after 24-year-old Jamar Clark was killed by Minneapolis police and in 2016 after a St. Anthony, Minnesota, officer shot and killed 32-year-old Philando Castile

“Where’s the Conspiracy Here?”
In Louisiana, the majority of members of the House — 64 out of 105 — have signed on as sponsors of the critical infrastructure bill. Its primary sponsor, Major Thibault of Pointe Coupee Parish, is a Democrat, as are eight co-sponsors. “I saw what happened in parts of the country like North Dakota. Oklahoma had some legislation, and this is kind of modeled after that,” he told The Intercept. According to data from, energy and natural resources companies are Thibault’s second leading campaign donor by sector.
Those convicted of “conspiring” to trespass on a pipeline site would be imprisoned for a maximum of five years, fined a maximum of $10,000, or both. If the conspirators’ plan involved disrupting the pipeline’s construction, they would be imprisoned for between six and 20 years, fined a maximum of $250,000, or both.

Those who actually succeed in disrupting the operations of a pipeline or construction site would actually face a lesser maximum fine, $25,000, than if they’d only conspired to do it and the same possible prison sentence, between six and 20 years. Courts would also have the ability to require offenders to pay the costs of any law enforcement response, as well as restitution to the property owner.

“Where’s the conspiracy here? Whose interests are being served? We’re already operating in a state where our regulatory agencies, we’ve seen, are not acting as independent regulators,” Spees said.
“It’s further confirmation that a complete overhaul of the system is going to be what’s required,” said Foytlin. “We will do what we have to do to protect our water, and if that means we can’t be on the pipeline route, then we’ll be in these politicians’ office, and we’ll be running against them and replacing them with people that can put families in Louisiana over the profits of a pipeline company.”

How to Turn Off Third-Party Data Access to Your Facebook Account - Gaius Publius:
Posted on March 30, 2018 by Yves Smith
Yves here.
While some of us have managed to stay far away from the personal data mining operation known as Facebook, some readers who have never been all that keen about Facebook point out that they can’t avoid having an account, since it’s the only way to participate in activities that are important to them, like their kids’ sports teams or local activist groups. This post gives advice as to how to lower your data bleed.
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Facebook has come under scrutiny lately for its role in passively giving data on 50 million of its users to Cambridge Analytica, a company that uses Facebook-type data to target and change electoral outcomes worldwide. (There’s more on the Cambridge Analytica story here and here. Note that Carole Cadwalladr is a co-author of both stories. Her reporting is one of the centers for information about this revelation.)

Cambridge Analytica got that Facebook data, not because Facebook gave it to them, but because Facebook’s policy on info-sharing allowed them to harvest it. Here’s how that was done (h/t Naked Capitalism; emphasis mine):

On March 17, The Observer of London and The New York Times announced that Cambridge Analytica, the London-based political and corporate consulting group, had harvested private data from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their consent. The data was collected through a Facebook-based quiz app called thisisyourdigitallife,

created by Aleksandr Kogan, a University of Cambridge psychologist who had requested and gained access to information from 270,000 Facebook members after they had agreed to use the app to undergo a personality test, for which they were paid through Kogan’s company, Global Science Research.

But as Christopher Wylie, a twenty-eight-year-old Canadian coder and data scientist and a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, stated in a video interview, the app could also collect all kinds of personal data from users, such as the content that they consulted, the information that they liked, and even the messages that they posted.
In addition, the app provided access to information on the profiles of the friends of each of those users who agreed to take the test, which enabled the collection of data from more than 50 million.
All this data was then shared by Kogan with Cambridge Analytica, which was working with Donald Trump’s election team and which allegedly used this data to target US voters with personalised political messages during the presidential campaign. As Wylie, told The Observer, “we built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.”
Forget the Trump factor and consider simply the Cambridge Analytica app and how it operated.
People who agreed and were paid to use it gave up more information to the app than was disclosed to them. Part of what they unknowingly surrendered was information from the profiles of all of their Facebook friends. That’s how harvesting the data from 270,000 people became a hack, via the app, of data on 50 million, who gave no approval for this transfer.
Not also that the means by which the original data was acquired was a ruse. The company’s interest in its “personality test” — thisisyourdigitallife — was false. All they wanted was the data.
“Exactly How Facebook’s Infrastructure Was Designed to Work”
This is not an aberration; this is how Facebook is designed to work and the source of the great wealth of its founders and investors. These Facebook apps (the games you play, the “tests” you take, and so on) are designed specifically as data transfers.
When you play a game on Facebook, or take part in a “quiz” to see which Roman emperor you most resemble (or whatever), you may think you’re taking part in the “fun” of being on Facebook. In reality, you’re being used by the app makers, and Facebook is making money selling you and your data to them.
The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) puts it this way (again, my emphasis):
Over the weekend, it became clear that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company, got access to more than 50 million Facebook users’ data in 2014. The data was overwhelmingly collected, shared, and stored without user consent. The scale of this violation of user privacy reflects how Facebook’s terms of service and API [Application Programming Interface] were structured at the time. Make no mistake: this was not a data breach. This was exactly how Facebook’s infrastructure was designed to work.

The only way to fix this situation for yourself is to turn off the ability of Facebook’s “platform API” to send out your data. That means to anyone. You also have to turn off the ability to log into third-party sites using your Facebook account. That so-called “convenience” opens big holes.
Getting Between Zuckerberg and His Money
Below are the latest instructions for doing just that. But before we go there, pause to consider what Facebook is — a company that collects masses of data from billions of users, uses algorithms to analyze that data to get more information about its users, then (a) sells that datato third parties for any use they wish, generally manipulative ones; (b) sells access to its users and their data to third parties via games, apps and other means; and (c) uses that data for its own manipulative purposes if it so wishes.

ow To Turn Off Third-Party App Access to Your Data
Now the fix for your own account. You could, of course, just delete your Facebook account, but until Facebook is regulated, they’re going to keep the data you’ve already given them anyway. #DeleteFacebook is a good personal solution to the problem going forward, but it’s understandably not for everyone.
For those who choose not to do delete their Facebook account, here’s how, as of this writing, to eliminate access to your Facebook data by third-party apps. This comes from the EFF article linked above, but has been modified to reflect changes Facebook has already made since the controversy (what a mild term) erupted.
As the EFF piece warns, “Keep in mind that this disables ALL platform apps (like Farmville, Twitter, or Instagram) and you will not be able to log into sites using your Facebook login.”
Step 1. Click the pull-down arrow in the upper right corner of your Facebook page and select Settings. Then click Apps in the column on the left. (Or click here for a shortcut that takes you to the same place.)
Step 2. Remove your Facebook login from all apps currently using it by looking in the large blue box labeled “Logged in with Facebook,” clicking on the check box below each app name, then clicking Remove.
Explanation: The first large box below “App Settings” is labeled “Logged in with Facebook”. Listed are games, organizations and apps where your Facebook login is already your app login.
My suggestion, don’t ever use your Facebook login as a third-party login. Instead create a login that’s specific to that organization or app and tie nothing to your Facebook account.
When a game or other web-based app asks you to create an account or “sign in with Facebook or Twitter,” you’re handing over access to your account data if you choose the easier Facebook (or Twitter) option — just as those who took money from Cambridge Analytica did. Yes, you can limit this access, but (a) most people don’t, and (b) who knows if app or the organization behind it is doing just what Cambridge Analytica did?
Step 3. Now remove this permission generally. Under “Apps, Websites and Games” see if the setting is “turned on” or “turned off.” If it’s turned off, you’re done.
If it’s turned on, click the Edit button, then click Turn Off. You’re done.
Explanation: As Facebook reminds you, if you turn off this setting:
You won’t be able to log into apps or websites using Facebook
Apps and websites you’ve logged into with Facebook may delete your accounts and activity
You won’t be able to play some games on Facebook [Gameroom], and [some of] your gaming activity may be deleted
Your posts, photos and videos on Facebook that apps and websites have published may be deleted
You won’t be able to interact with or share content from other apps and websites on Facebook using social plugins such as the Share and Like buttons
You may miss the use of Share and Like buttons on websites, but that’s the price. As of this writing, they don’t separate the permissions associated with Share and Like buttons with Facebook’s Gameroom and third-party login permissions. You can always go to Facebook itself and Share or Like a web post.