Blog of Rights

Catherine
Crump

Catherine Crump (@CatherineNCrumpclerked for the Hon. M. Margaret McKeown, a judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, prior to joining the ACLU. Crump graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. She is a non-residential fellow with the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

LGBT Filtering Victory!

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:47pm
Yesterday we won a great settlement of a lawsuit against two Tennessee school districts. Before, public schools in Nashville and Knoxville had blocked access to all Web sites that presented positive information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Yet they allowed access to Web sites urging individuals to attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity (a practice the American Psychological Association recently denounced). Blocking access to just one side of a debate is called viewpoint discrimination – the government cannot favor one side of the debate over another – and it violates the Constitution. Yesterday a federal court approved a settlement binding the schools to never again block access to the favorable sites and agreeing that, if the schools violate the settlement, the court will take up the lawsuit again.

Everywhere You Want to Be, and Everywhere You Once Were

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:45pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

We recently submitted a brief (PDF) to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in a case about the legal limits of the government using people's cell phones to monitor their whereabouts, a.k.a. "cell phone tracking." The case is about what requirements must be met in order for the governmentto obtain a record of someone's past movements from the telephone company. The government argues (PDF) that it is entitled to this information whenever it shows the information is "relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation." The ACLU and our coalition partners the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy & Technology and the ACLU of Pennsylvania argue that judges should be free to require the government to show probable cause, which we believe is required by the Fourth Amendment.

If you're like most people, you're probably not aware that your cell phone can be used to track your movements. It can. If your phone is fairly new, the odds are it has a GPS chip inside. The same technology that allows car navigation systems to know where your car is can be used to track your movements through your cell phone. But even if your phone doesn't have a GPS chip, it still has to connect to the cell phone network somehow. It transmits to the nearest cell network tower and, because the location of those towers is known, it's possible to approximate the location of you and your phone.

Don't Restrict Adults to Protect Kids

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 1:43pm

(Originally posted on The Agonist.)

There are few cases addressing whether libraries may block patrons’ access to portions of the Internet. An ACLU of Washington case that will be before the Washington State Supreme Court this spring raises this issue, and is a case to watch. We recently filed our brief in the case, and just received word that the Court will hear argument on June 23.

At stake is whether libraries are free to use Internet filtering software to block adults’ access to constitutionally protected speech. The defendant, a consortium of 23 public libraries, has a policy of blocking access to all speech it considers inappropriate for children. One of our clients, the gun rights group the Second Amendment Foundation, joined the lawsuit because the libraries went so far as to block all websites about firearms, including one of the advocacy organization’s own websites.

In the name of protecting kids, the library has blocked access to a great deal of speech that is indisputably protected by both the Washington and federal constitutions. Other clients in the case are adult patrons of the libraries whose efforts to do research online have been frustrated by the libraries’ filter. For example, Sarah Bradburn was prevented from accessing websites about youth tobacco usage that she needed to complete a school assignment.

Court Silences Political Speech…For Now

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 2:53pm

We just lost — for the moment, at least — an important court case about the right to protest. In 2005, Leslie Weise and Alex Young were removed from one of President Bush’s speeches. The speech was open to the public and funded…

Court Strikes Down Internet Censorship Law

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 1:00pm

We just received word today that the Third Circuit struck down a federal Internet censorship law as unconstitutional. The law, called the Child Online Protection Act, imposed civil and criminal penalties on those who place "harmful to minors" material…

Can You Find Me Now?

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:59pm

Today the ACLU sued the Justice Department to force it to reveal its policies for tracking the location of cell phones. As anyone who watches Law & Order: SVU knows, all cell phones double as tracking devices.They send cell phone networks information…

Take Three: Appellate Court Hears Challenge to Internet Censorship . . . Again

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:14am

A sense of déjà vu pervaded the courtroom in Philadelphia yesterday as the ACLU presented its challenge to the Child Online Protection Act . . . again. This is not the first or the second, but the third time the ACLU has been before…

Fighting for a Free Press in Puerto Rico

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:20pm
This morning we argued a case about the freedom of the press before a panel of very engaged 1st Circuit judges in Puerto Rico.We represent a number of journalists who were kicked, punched and pepper sprayed by FBI agents. The FBI agents had been executing…

Keep Kids Safe with Software, Not Censorship

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:08pm
Yesterday we filed a brief in 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals , asking it uphold a federal court decision that the Child Online Protection Act is unconstitutional . COPA makes it unlawful to put "harmful to minors" material on the Web. At last year's…

Fight for Online Free Speech Continues - Again

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 7:33pm
As expected, the government is appealing the ACLU's March 2007 victory in the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) case. COPA is an Internet censorship law that makes it a crime to place content deemed "harmful to minors" on the Web unless the content is…
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