Blog of Rights


You Are Being Watched!

By Barry Steinhardt, Technology & Liberty Program at 1:07pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

You are being watched! Once that might have just been the ravings of a paranoid, but increasingly it’s all too true. More and more of the public spaces in America are being plastered by video surveillance cameras — and increasingly, the “they” behind those cameras is not a disconnected collection of shopkeepers and building security guards, but the government itself. One of the big trends that we are seeing in the past few years is video surveillance that is 1) run by the government and 2) made up of a network of cameras, centrally controlled.

And the images captured by those cameras are no longer spinning away harmlessly on old, recycled VHS cassettes. Today they are digital. They can be stored, archived, and indexed on today’s nearly limitless hard drives.

The bottom line: we’re quickly moving into an entirely new era. I get calls from reporters all the time asking, “how many video cameras are there in America?” or “How often is the average American filmed by cameras?” or “How many cities are building government camera systems?” I’ve never been able to supply precise answers to these questions, and usually suggest they try calling camera industry sources. We may never know how many private cameras are out there, but governments must, at least, reveal when they are building a system. So we’ve decided to build a web site to at least track how many of these new government-run surveillance systems are being deployed. The site, called, will serve as an information clearinghouse to track the deployment of those kinds of systems in the U.S.

Homeland Security Assuming Broad Powers, Turning Vast Swaths of U.S. into "Constitution-Free Zone"

By Barry Steinhardt, Technology & Liberty Program at 4:49pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

You’re driving along a remote, dusty road, when suddenly you come upon a border patrol checkpoint. There, agents demand to see your identity papers, and search your car. You are taken by surprise,…

917,000 Terrorists Poised and Ready to Strike America!

By Barry Steinhardt, Technology & Liberty Program at 1:29pm
Jack Bauer's worst nightmare? Not according to the U.S. Government. Today we launched a new web feature - an "ACLU Watchlist Counter" to dramatize the absurd bloat in our nation's terrorist watchlists. It wasn't long after 9/11 that we began hearing…

Real ID: Privacy Nightmares

By Barry Steinhardt, Technology & Liberty Program at 4:10pm
"Can we all just go home now??" -- that was the reaction of an exasperated Illinois DMV official contemplating the real details, difficulties and costs of implementing the Federal "Real ID" law. The law requires the states to issue a uniform national…
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