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.

What’s the Difference Between Facebook and a Stranger on the Street?

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:55am
“Can you guys give us a list of every friend you’ve ever had? In alphabetical order, please.” This question, posed by a pair of geeky guys to two blondes, is part of a great satire of Facebook put together by the Australian show Hungry Beast. The video makes you stop and think about just how much personal information Facebook is learning about our friends, our families, and our lives — information most of us would never share with a stranger.

What the Government Wants to Know About You

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:32pm

Earlier this month, news broke that the government got a court order to force Twitter to reveal the private account information of some people associated with WikiLeaks. What is unusual about the situation is not that the government obtained such…

Privacy Rights Must Keep Pace with Technology

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:02pm

In November, a federal court in Texas found that the Constitution requires the government to get a warrant and show probable cause before getting access to someone’s historical location data from their mobile carrier. We applauded this decision…

North Carolina Wants to Know What You Bought from Amazon

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:29pm

On Monday, Amazon.com sued the State of North Carolina after the state issued a summons that would, according to Amazon, require it to identify what books, CDs and DVDs its customers in North Carolina had purchased. The North Carolina Department…

Cell Phone Users: Your Privacy is at Risk

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 2:59pm

(Originally posted on Philly.com)

If you own a cell phone, you should care about the outcome of a case scheduled to be argued in federal appeals court in Philadelphia tomorrow. It could well decide whether the government can use your cell…

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…

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…

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…
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