Blog of Rights

This Week in Civil Liberties (2/24/12)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 4:15pm

Which agency doesn’t need a warrant to intercept and store the 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, texts and other electronic communications it collects each day?

Which company is fueling our country’s addiction to incarceration by offering to buy state-owned prisons in return for a promise of a 90 percent occupancy rate?

How can you help fight the NDAA and indefinite military detention without charge or trial?

Racial profiling and mass incarceration disproportionately affect which population?

How do gene patents threaten patients’ rights?

Infographic: The NSA Unchained

Late last Friday afternoon, the government asked the Supreme Court to dismiss our lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act that gives the National Security Agency (NSA) unprecedented authority to monitor and store Americans’ international emails and phone calls. Our new infographic details some of the ways in which the NSA is spying on Americans.

Is CCA Trying to Take Over the World?

Recently we learned that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country, sent a letter to 48 state governors offering to buy up their state-owned and operated prisons and put them under CCA control. If offering cash-strapped states a quick infusion of money by taking the control of prisons off their hands sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

Angry About the National Defense Authorization Act?

For the first time in American history, we have a law authorizing the worldwide and indefinite military detention of people captured far from any battlefield. The NDAA has no temporal or geographic limitations. It is completely at odds with our values, violates the Constitution and corrodes our nation's commitment to the rule of law. We've just released a new toolkit with resources to help you fight back against the NDAA in your community.

Why Mass Incarceration Really is the New Jim Crow

This month, ACLU staff members are writing down their personal testimonials in commemoration of Black History Month. In her blog post, Inimai Chettiar talks about how racial profiling means that Black men are disproportionately affected by mass incarceration. This system of racial profiling and using prison as a one-size-fits-all solution is one of the reasons Black communities are and will remain economically worse off than the rest of the America. It's bad enough that the Great Recession has affected Black men more than every other demographic, but our ever-expanding prison complex is further decimating the already bleak economic future of Black America.

Today We Take Back Our Genes

There is something fundamentally wrong with allowing companies to own the rights to pieces of the human genome. By allowing companies to block access to alternate tests and second opinions, charge thousands of dollars for their tests and chill scientific research, gene patents are threatening all patients' rights. This week the ACLU is launching a campaign to illustrate the personal harms of gene patenting by showcasing those who have been or may be directly impacted by this practice. This week we are "Taking Back Our Genes."

This is your week in civil liberties. Let us know if this is useful or if you'd like to see changes. Share your thoughts: ideas@aclu.org.

Learn more about your rights: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Statistics image