By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 9:06am
The PBS series NOVA, “Rise of the Drones,” recently aired a segment detailing the capabilities of a powerful aerial surveillance system known as ARGUS-IS, which is basically a super-high, 1.8 gigapixel resolution camera that can be mounted on a drone. As demonstrated in this clip, the system is capable of high-resolution monitoring and recording of an entire city. (The clip was written about in DefenseTech and in Slate.)
In the clip, the developer explains how the technology (which he also refers to with the apt name “Wide Area Persistent Stare”) is “equivalent to having up to a hundred Predators look at an area the size of a medium-sized city at once.”
By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:43pm
It’s perfectly understandable that after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., everyone is casting about for an answer to a singular question: why?
As past is prologue, we shouldn’t be surprised that several members of Congress have settled on media violence as the possible culprit, noting stories that Adam Lanza may have “obsessively” played Starcraft and Call of Duty. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is reportedly circulating legislation mandating a study on youth exposure to violent video games.
By Christopher E. Mason, Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics, Weill Cornell Medical College, Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project of Yale Law School & Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School at 12:29pm
Even though they’ve been in our families since the dawn of man, our genes do not belong to us. They’ve been claimed by companies that hold patents on the DNA from our cells. Over the past 20 years, at least 41 percent of our genes have become the intellectual property of corporations. These patent claims contradict an intuitive sense that our DNA is no less ours than our lungs or kidneys. More importantly, these patents, covering thousands of human genes, restrict our doctors’ ability to look at our DNA and plan ahead for our medical treatment.
Keene, New Hampshire has a population of 23,409, except during the months of July and August when campers flock in for the summer. Keene's violent crime index? 134.4, compared to a national average of 213.6. Most common crime? Theft. Good thing the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave Keene money to buy a BearCat, an armored counter-attack vehicle. What is Keene using its BearCat for? Good question.
In the Family (POV 2008) tells the first-person story of director Joanna Rudnick as she tries to decide on a course of action after testing positive for the BRCA1 mutation, the "breast cancer gene." To raise public awareness of the issues being presented in the April 15th Supreme Court hearing in our case challenging gene patents, Rudnick, POV, and Kartemquin Films will re-release the film online for free streaming. The film features Rudnick's probing interview with Myriad Genetics' founder about its patents on the genes. Today, Rudnick gives POV an update on her health and personal life, and addresses the upcoming Supreme Court case regarding human gene patenting. An excerpt of the update appears below – to read Rudnick's thoughts in full, and to watch In the Family, go to: http://to.pbs.org/ZjQjcW
By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:55pm
Nestled away in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013), which was signed last week by President Obama and is otherwise a very good law, exists a provision that may significantly broaden the already overly expansive federal stalking law.
The original statute, interestingly enough, was the law Paula Broadwell was suspected of violating when the FBI investigation uncovered the Petraeus affair last year, which I wrote about here. Right now, the statute covers two different types of conduct.
Yesterday, the ACLU and the ACLU of New Mexico filed an amicus brief in Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, an important antidiscrimination case pending before the New Mexico Supreme Court. Elane Photography is a wedding photography studio that advertises its services to the general public but refuses to take pictures for wedding or commitment ceremonies involving same-sex couples. New Mexico is one of 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) that prohibit businesses who hold themselves out to the general public from discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation. But Elane Photography argues that the law cannot be applied to its services because – unlike the services provided by a restaurant or retail store – photography is a form of expression and forcing Elane Photography to provide services on an equal basis would therefore unconstitutionally “compel speech.”
By Aden Fine, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 8:09am
“I Like Ike” is one of the most well-known and catchiest political slogans of all time. According to a decision that was issued by a federal judge in Virginia a few days ago, however, the modern-day equivalent—saying that you "like" a political candidate by using Facebook's "like" feature—is not even worthy of the protections of the First Amendment. That decision is wrong, whether you like or dislike Facebook.
The court’s decision appears to be premised on its belief that pressing a button to say that you “like” something—in this case, a candidate running for election to be a city’s Sheriff— is not “substantive” enough to be protected by the First Amendment. In the court’s words: “[M]erely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection . . . It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection. The Court will not attempt to infer the actual content of [the plaintiff’s] posts from one click of a button on [the candidate’s] Facebook page.”
In an earlier entry, I discussed some of the legislative challenges we faced in a series of online censorship bills introduced in Congress in 2007. So-called "cyber-bullying" is the most recent threat to online speech to come into the public vernacular. The term has become popularized following the Read More»