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.

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 thousands of Americans at a time. The judge ruled after inviting the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union to submit a brief in the case in light of the novelty of the issue. And although we disagree with the court’s decision not to require the government to get a warrant before resorting to invasive tower dumps, the court’s decision to demand that the government institute privacy protections for innocent bystanders is a step forward.
DOJ Proposal on Law Enforcement Hacking Would Undermine Longstanding Check on Government Power

DOJ Proposal on Law Enforcement Hacking Would Undermine Longstanding Check on Government Power

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:18pm

At the urging of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Courts’ Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure is considering whether to bless procedures that would allow law enforcement to hack into computers, including by the use of controversial “zero-day…

Crop of image by David Goehring via Flickr

Curious Cop Downloaded Hundreds of Private Prescription Records Because He Could

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:40pm

Today, the ACLU and ACLU of Utah filed an amicus brief in support of a Utah paramedic whose Fourth Amendment rights were violated when police swept up his confidential prescription records in a dragnet search. Law enforcement’s disregard for…

Florida "Surveillance State" license plate

Local Police in Florida Acting Like They’re the CIA (But They’re Not)

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:00am

The City of Sunrise, Florida, tried to take a page from the CIA’s anti-transparency playbook last week when it responded to an ACLU public records request about its use of powerful cell phone location tracking gear by refusing to confirm or deny…

Modification of image by rachaelvoorhees via Flickr

Police Hide Use of Cell Phone Tracker From Courts Because Manufacturer Asked

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:01am

It appears that at least one police department in Florida has failed to tell judges about its use of a cell phone tracking device because the department got the device on loan and promised the manufacturer to keep it all under wraps. But when police…

What Does a Soviet Submarine Have to Do With U.S. Government Secrecy?

What Does a Soviet Submarine Have to Do With U.S. Government Secrecy?

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:54am

It is the height of the Cold War. A nuclear-missile-equipped Soviet submarine sinks in the Pacific Ocean, in suspicious circumstances. The CIA commissions reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes to secretly build a massive ship capable of lifting the submarine…

Court Rules Feds Need Warrant to Access Drug Prescriptions Database

Court Rules Feds Need Warrant to Access Drug Prescriptions Database

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:48pm

In a significant win for the privacy rights of anyone who has ever gotten a drug prescription, a federal judge in Oregon ruled yesterday that the DEA needs a warrant to search confidential prescription records.

Oregon, like 48 other states,…

In Court Today: Defending Medical Records from Warrantless Search

In Court Today: Defending Medical Records from Warrantless Search

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

I will be in federal district court in Oregon today for oral argument in the ACLU’s challenge to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s practice of obtaining Oregon patients’ confidential prescription records without a warrant. We represent patients…

Government Refusing To Say Whether Phone Tracking Evidence Came From Mass Surveillance

Government Refusing To Say Whether Phone Tracking Evidence Came From Mass Surveillance

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 8:36am

In criminal cases, defendants have a right to know what evidence the government plans to use against them and how the government gathered that evidence. This basic due process principle is essential: it allows defendants to test in court whether law…

How Private is Your Online Search History?

How Private is Your Online Search History?

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:04pm

The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice to find out whether federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors think they need a warrant to obtain people’s search queries from online search engine operators,…

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