Free Future

SimCity and the Digital Divide

SimCity and the Digital Divide

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:14pm
I grew up in a non-Nintendo household, and so was weaned on PC games. One of my favorites was the mayor-simulator SimCity. Launched in 1989, the addictive and soon-to-be venerable title became the first name in sleepless nights for kids with limited athletic ability.
Hamas, Twitter and the First Amendment

Hamas, Twitter and the First Amendment

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:25pm

With one major exception, the Roberts Court has been quite protective of unpopular (and even revolting) speech under the First Amendment. That exception, however, is a doozy. It involves a statute criminalizing “material support” for terrorism,…

Police Install Camera Focused on Back Yard of Woman's Home

Police Install Camera Focused on Back Yard of Woman's Home

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:42am

Recently I wrote about an ACLU of Michigan report that highlighted the problem of police cameras being installed outside of people’s private homes. Last week I learned from my colleague Doug Bonney of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri about…

Petraeus and the Perils of Federal Cyber-Stalking Laws

Petraeus and the Perils of Federal Cyber-Stalking Laws

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:52am

The Petraeus Affair Affair is salacious stuff. It also, naturally, raises a lot of questions about privacy. But there’s also an interesting First Amendment angle underneath the sensation: why did the FBI investigate Paula Broadwell—the…

Video Analytics: A Brain Behind the Eye?

Video Analytics: A Brain Behind the Eye?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:14am

One of the central elements in last week's Trapwire story involves the application of “behavioral recognition,” also known as “video analytics,” to camera feeds. What are we to make of this technology?

In essence, video…

NYPD's Backwards Policy on Photography at Occupy Wall Street

NYPD's Backwards Policy on Photography at Occupy Wall Street

By Naomi Gilens, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:32pm

Police are busting people for taking pictures while cops themselves improperly monitor protestors.

The $338,000 Internet Comment

The $338,000 Internet Comment

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:00am

We’ve written before about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1998 — a federal law that protects the robust diversity of free speech we’ve come to know and love (and hate) on the Internet. Last night, the ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky…

Chelsea Manning and the Government's Draconian Approach to Whistleblowers

Chelsea Manning and the Government's Draconian Approach to Whistleblowers

By Ben Wizner, Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:02pm

Many Americans have been perplexed about how to view the prosecution of Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced this week under the name Bradley Manning.

On the one hand, they're not comfortable with the notion that any Army private should be able…

Chertoff on Google Glass

Chertoff on Google Glass

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:56pm

We’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the implications of consumer wearable cameras like Google Glass, and I’m sure we’ll have more to say in this space on the subject. But meanwhile, we’re pleasantly surprised to report a very trenchant analysis of the technology’s implications for our privacy by none other than Michael Chertoff. Writing on CNN’s web page, the former DHS chief writes,

So, who owns and what happens to the user's [video] data? Can the entire database be mined and analyzed for commercial purposes? What rules will apply when law enforcement seeks access to the data for a criminal or national security investigation? For how long will the data be retained? ….

Even those who might be willing to forgo some degree of privacy to enhance national security should be concerned about a corporate America that will have an unrestricted continuous video record of millions.

What is to prevent a corporation from targeting a particular individual, using face recognition technology to assemble all uploaded videos in which he appears, and effectively constructing a surveillance record that can be used to analyze his life?

Chertoff says he’s inclined to think that government regulation may be needed. I haven’t seen Chertoff say anything about the threat of pervasive government surveillance, which would make him a kind of anti-libertarian on privacy—in favor of restricting corporations, but not the government. For the average, relatively powerless person trying to live their life, the threat comes from both directions.

Open Source Intelligence and Crime Prevention

Open Source Intelligence and Crime Prevention

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:00pm

Buried on page A25 of Thursday’s New York Times is a tiny story on what’s likely to become a big problem after the recent horrific mass shooting. According to the report, top intelligence officials in the New York City Police Department…