Free Future

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.

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…

Free Future!

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:57am

This week we launched Free Future, a new blog that will feature a range of forward-looking technology issues.

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.

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

By Christopher E. Mason, Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics, Weill Cornell Medical College, Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project of Yale Law School & Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School at 12:29pm

Even though they’ve been in our families since the dawn of man, our genes do not belong to us. They’ve been claimed by companies that hold patents on the DNA from our cells. Over the past 20 years, at least 41 percent of our genes have become the…

Newest Video Analytics Technique “Product Recognition” Aims to Judge You By What You Wear

Newest Video Analytics Technique “Product Recognition” Aims to Judge You By What You Wear

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:56pm

I blogged recently about video analytics, the attempt to build intelligence into video surveillance so that cameras can not only record our every move in public, but also in some respects understand what they are seeing. Now comes word of the latest…

Friday Links Roundup

Friday Links Roundup

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:52pm

A few links that have caught our eye this past week:

Earlier this month in response to the Pauls’ Internet Manifesto I pointed out that the internet “was created by the government.” Monday Gordon Crovitz wrote a column arguing…

Buddhists, “True Threats” and Twitter

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:55pm

One of the very few pleasant things about being an attorney is that even some of the most boring cases have wacky backstories. This post is about one of the wackiest--though the issues raised illustrate certain constitutional concerns with a very short…

The Freedom to Game

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:17pm

In 1954, German-American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham published the now infamous Seduction of the Innocent, a book chronicling the supposed harm caused to America's youth by comic books. Wertham's book prompted a wave of hand-wringing around the…

Should Facebook Censor Misogynistic Material?

Should Facebook Censor Misogynistic Material?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:57am

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about pressure that is mounting on Facebook to censor websites full of awful misogynistic material. The company said it was reviewing its processes for dealing with content under its hate speech policy.

As…