Blog of Rights

Nathan Freed
Wessler

Nathan Freed Wessler (@NateWessler) is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, where he focuses on litigation and advocacy around surveillance and privacy issues, including cell phone location tracking, medical records privacy, and warrantless government use of surveillance technologies. He previously served as the National Security Fellow in the ACLU’s National Security Project, where he was involved in litigation seeking transparency and accountability for targeted killing and challenging unlawful detention at the U.S. prisons in Bagram and Guantanamo. Nate is a graduate of Swarthmore College and New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Fellow. Prior to law school, he worked as a regional and national field organizer for the ACLU. He served as a law clerk to the Hon. Helene N. White, United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, before rejoining the ACLU.

Photo of cell phone tower disguised as a palm tree.

ACLU-Obtained Documents Reveal Breadth of Secretive Stingray Use in Florida

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:30pm
The ACLU is releasing records today obtained from law enforcement agencies across Florida about their acquisition and use of sophisticated cell phone location tracking devices known as “Stingrays.” These records provide the most detailed account to date of how law enforcement agencies across a single state are relying on the technology. (The full records are available here.)
The Government is in Pursuit of a Less Secure Internet

The Government is in Pursuit of a Less Secure Internet

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:49pm

A government proposal to change the rules for obtaining search warrants risks making all of us more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

The FBI wants to be able to infect computers with malware when it doesn't know where exactly they're located. The…

The Police's Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

The Police's Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:07pm

This piece originally appeared at Slate's Jurisprudence, under the title, "Search Party."

It used to be that when police violated a suspect's Fourth Amendment rights through an unconstitutional search, evidence derived from the search would…

Blurry Street by Thomas Hawk

Documents in ACLU Case Reveal More Detail on FBI Attempt to Cover Up Stingray Technology

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:46am

What is used by dozens of local law enforcement agencies around the country, featured in numerous news stories, and discussed in court, yet treated by the FBI like it is top secret? That would be "Stingray" cell phone surveillance gear, of course.

This…

Documents Suggest Maker of Controversial Surveillance Tool Misled the FCC

Documents Suggest Maker of Controversial Surveillance Tool Misled the FCC

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project & Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California at 10:10am

New documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California appear to show the Florida-based Harris Corporation misleading the Federal Communications Commission while seeking authorization to sell its line of Stingray cell phone surveillance gear to…

Trickle Down Surveillance

Trickle Down Surveillance

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:22am

Cell site simulators, also known as "stingrays," are devices that trick cellphones into reporting their locations and identifying information. They do so by mimicking cellphone towers and sending out electronic cues that allow the police to enlist…

Car in blurry lights

Federal Court Rules on One of the Major Outstanding Constitutional Privacy Questions of Our Time

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:13am

In a tremendous step forward for our right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held in United States v. Quartavious Davis that police need a warrant to obtain historical cell phone location information from…

Photo of stingray at bottom of ocean

VICTORY: Judge Releases Information about Police Use of Stingray Cell Phone Trackers

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:12pm

A Florida judge has sided with the ACLU to order release of information about police use of “stingrays,” which are invasive surveillance devices that send out powerful signals to trick cell phones into transmitting their locations and identifying…

filing cabinet

U.S. Marshals Seize Local Cops’ Cell Phone Tracking Files in Extraordinary Attempt to Keep Information From Public

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:13pm

A run-of-the-mill public records request about cell phone surveillance submitted to a local police department in Florida has unearthed blatant violations of open government laws, including an incredible seizure of state records by the U.S. Marshals…

Cell phone tower

New York Court Recognizes Privacy-Invasive Nature of Cell Tower Dumps But Stops Short of Requiring a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:49pm

A magistrate judge in New York has become only the second federal judge to issue a public ruling addressing the lawfulness of so-called “tower dumps”—the intrusive practice by which the government acquires location information for hundreds or…

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