Blog of Rights

Jay
Stanley
Jay Stanley (@JayCStanley) is Senior Policy Analyst with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, where he researches, writes and speaks about technology-related privacy and civil liberties issues and their future.  He is the Editor of the ACLU's "Free Future" blog and has authored and co-authored a variety of influential ACLU reports on privacy and technology topics. Before joining the ACLU, he was an analyst at the technology research firm Forrester, served as American politics editor of Facts on File’s World News Digest, and as national newswire editor at Medialink. He is a graduate of Williams College and holds an M.A. in American History from the University of Virginia.
Telemarketing Calls and the Blurring Human-Computer Divide

Telemarketing Calls and the Blurring Human-Computer Divide

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 7:14pm
I’ve written before about how talking on the phone to a telemarketer or customer-service agent is often more like dealing with a computer than a human being. Even though the person on the other end is human, their discretion is often tightly circumscribed by the computer in front of them—often including the words they say, which are confined to computer-generated scripts. I got a political telemarketing call recently that reshaped my understanding of this dynamic in very interesting ways and raised some new questions in my mind.
Data Brokers Release Information About Their Operations In Response to Congressional Inquiry

Data Brokers Release Information About Their Operations In Response to Congressional Inquiry

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:18pm

Yesterday Reps. Ed Markey (D, Mass.) and Joe Barton (R, Texas) released a batch of important details about the operation of the nation’s largest data broker companies. The information came in responses from nine data broker companies to a list of questions posed by a group of Members led by Markey and Barton seeking details of their operation in light of the privacy sensitivity of what they do. The responses released yesterday provide a good snapshot and reminder of what it is these companies are doing.

Legal Responsibility As Computers Get More Unpredictable

Legal Responsibility As Computers Get More Unpredictable

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:40pm

There has been some discussion lately of whether the output of computer algorithms should be considered protected free speech, as Tim Wu discussed in an op-ed and my colleague Gabe Rottman addressed in a blog post in response.

As Gabe mentioned,…

The Potential Chilling Effects of Big Data

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:46am

Last week I posted about “Big Data” and how it is being used to discover new facts about people, to sift and sort them based on subtle patterns, to flag them as “risks” in this field or that, to predict their behavior, and to manipulate them…

Still from the movie Matrix Revolutions

The Surveillance Machine Moves to Defend Itself

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:28am

In a pair of stories this past weekend, the Washington Post and the AP reported on the construction of an ambitious surveillance system by which the government aims to carry out detailed surveillance of its own employees.

Great, you say, our…

Cars That Talk to Each Other: What Are The Privacy Implications?

Cars That Talk to Each Other: What Are The Privacy Implications?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:23am

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Monday that it is proceeding with an effort to reduce traffic accidents by creating a “Vehicle to Vehicle” wireless infrastructure (known as V2V) through which cars can communicate with each other…

The Flawed Logic of Secret Mass Surveillance

The Flawed Logic of Secret Mass Surveillance

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:50am

Privacy is a form of power. Humans are always highly aware who is observing them at any given time and place, and always tailor their behavior to that audience. And they generally work to make sure that their behavior does not reveal things that might…

Albert Einstein on America Since 9/11

Albert Einstein on America Since 9/11

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:13am

I recently came across the following quote from Albert Einstein which, if you just sub out “Communism” and replace it with “terrorism,” pretty much nails our current situation:

America is incomparably less endangered by its own Communists…

From the NSA to License Plate Readers: Are We to Have a “Collect it All” Society?

From the NSA to License Plate Readers: Are We to Have a “Collect it All” Society?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:44am

If the NSA needs a slogan, it should probably be “collect it all.” As phrased by an anonymous intel official recently quoted by the Washington Post, that has apparently been the approach of agency leadership in recent years. But the fight over whether that’s an appropriate strategy for keeping order in a democratic society is one that stretches far beyond the NSA programs now being debated.

For example, look at automatic license plate recognition systems, which are now sprouting up around the country. As we detailed in our recent report on the technology, many police departments are collecting and storing not only information about vehicles that are wanted by the police, but also location information about everybody who drives a car. Some police have defended this practice by arguing, essentially, that “you never know when or what we might need to solve a crime.”

In other words, nobody who accepts the NSA’s argument that universal collection is the right answer ought to be surprised when

How Social Networks Short-Circuit Our Inborn Privacy Intuitions

How Social Networks Short-Circuit Our Inborn Privacy Intuitions

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:58pm

A few years ago, one of our ACLU state affiliates received a request for help from a man who had set up a marijuana grow operation in his home. He was apparently quite proud of what he built, because he bragged about it not only to his friends, but also to his Facebook “Friends.” Unfortunately, one of his Friends was Friends with a police officer a thousand miles away in Florida. That police officer called up his colleagues in

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