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 handles cases involving both free speech and privacy issues. 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. Mr. Wessler 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. Mr. Wessler 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.

ACLU Challenges 67 Days of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

ACLU Challenges 67 Days of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:55am
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals may soon decide whether police need a warrant to track the location of your cell phone over the course of days or weeks. The case, United States v. Davis, involves a warrantless police request for four people's cell phone location records over a 67-day period. Yesterday evening the ACLU, along with the ACLU of Florida, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed an amicus brief arguing that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained these location records from the men's wireless carrier without a warrant. For one suspect, Quartavious Davis, police got 11,606 location records—an average of 173 location points each day.
FBI Documents Suggest Feds Read Emails Without a Warrant

FBI Documents Suggest Feds Read Emails Without a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:31am

New documents from the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ offices paint a troubling picture of the government’s email surveillance practices. Not only does the FBI claim it can read emails and other electronic communications without a warrant—even after a federal appeals court ruled that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment—but the documents strongly suggest that different U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are applying conflicting standards to access communications content (you can see the documents here).

Last month, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the ACLU received IRS documents indicating that the agency’s criminal investigative arm doesn’t always get a warrant to read Americans’ emails. Today we are releasing these additional documents from other federal law enforcement agencies, reinforcing the urgent need for Congress to protect our privacy by updating the laws that cover electronic communications.

The FBI and Electronic Communications: Where’s the Warrant?

The documents we received from the FBI don’t flat out tell us whether FBI agents always get warrants, but they strongly suggest that they don’t.

In 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in United States v. Warshak that the government must obtain a probable cause warrant before compelling email providers to turn over messages to law enforcement. But that decision only applies in the four states covered by the Sixth Circuit, so we filed our FOIA request to find out whether the FBI

IRS Says It Will Respect 4th Amendment With Regard to Email, But Questions Remain

IRS Says It Will Respect 4th Amendment With Regard to Email, But Questions Remain

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:07pm

With tax day behind us, taxpayers may soon have something else to celebrate from the IRS. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee today, IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller was questioned aggressively about documents released by the ACLU…

Reading of Emails Without Warrant Likely Extends Beyond IRS

Reading of Emails Without Warrant Likely Extends Beyond IRS

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 8:23am

The ACLU released documents last week indicating that the criminal investigative arm of the IRS doesn’t think it always needs a warrant to read people’s email when investigating them for tax crimes. The revelation garnered widespread media attention…

New Documents Suggest IRS Reads Emails Without a Warrant

New Documents Suggest IRS Reads Emails Without a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:00am

Everyone knows the IRS is our nation’s tax collector, but it is also a law enforcement organization tasked with investigating criminal violations of the tax laws. New documents released to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that…

Court Agrees to Consider ACLU Arguments That Fourth Amendment Requires Warrant For Access to Prescription Database

Court Agrees to Consider ACLU Arguments That Fourth Amendment Requires Warrant For Access to Prescription Database

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:48pm

A federal judge has granted the ACLU’s motion to intervene in an Oregon case that raises the question of whether the Fourth Amendment allows Drug Enforcement Administration agents to obtain confidential prescription records without a judge’s prior…

ACLU Challenging DEA’s Access to Confidential Prescription Records Without a Warrant

ACLU Challenging DEA’s Access to Confidential Prescription Records Without a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:36pm

The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to access private prescription records of patients in Oregon without a warrant, despite a state law forbidding it from doing so. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate are challenging this practice in a new…

Government Wins Right to Pretend That Cables Released by WikiLeaks Are Still Secret

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:28pm

This morning a federal judge ruled that the government is free to continue pretending that the contents of State Department diplomatic cables already disclosed by WikiLeaks are secret. The case concerns an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request seeking…

The Government’s Pseudo-Secrecy Snow Job on Targeted Killing

The Government’s Pseudo-Secrecy Snow Job on Targeted Killing

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:59am

Just before a midnight deadline on Wednesday, the government filed its legal brief responding to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about the legal and factual basis for the deaths of three U.S. citizens in targeted…

First the 'targeted killing' campaign, then the targeted propaganda campaign

First the 'targeted killing' campaign, then the targeted propaganda campaign

By Jameel Jaffer, ACLU Deputy Legal Director and Director of ACLU Center for Democracy & Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:10am

Originally posted on The Guardian.

A story in last week's New York Times painted a remarkably detailed picture of the US government's so-called "targeted killing" campaign, a campaign that involves the use of unmanned aerial vehicles…

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