Free Future

DHS Releases Disappointing Civil Liberties Report on Border Searches of Laptops and Other Electronics

DHS Releases Disappointing Civil Liberties Report on Border Searches of Laptops and Other Electronics

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:49pm
In response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, the Department of Homeland Security has at long last released its December 2011 Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact Assessment of its policy of conducting suspicionless searches of electronic devices at the border. Because of the sensitive, personal nature of the records we all carry with us on our laptops and phones, both the First and Fourth Amendments prohibit the government from searching these devices at the border, absent reasonable suspicion that a search will turn up evidence of wrongdoing.
Documents Shed Light on Border Laptop Searches

Documents Shed Light on Border Laptop Searches

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 6:24pm

The case of David Miranda got a lot of attention around the world after UK authorities were accused of abusing an anti-terrorism law to evade the normal constitutional restrains on police power and question someone because of their political associations.…

Setting the record straight on DHS and license plate tracking

Setting the record straight on DHS and license plate tracking

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 4:37pm

There has been a lot of press coverage in the past couple of weeks about the Department of Homeland Security posting a solicitation for contract proposals regarding access to a national license plate reader database—and DHS’s decision, once mainstream…

Hindu Man Describes Mistreatment After False-Positive Hand Swab

Hindu Man Describes Mistreatment After False-Positive Hand Swab

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:40pm

When the TSA in 2010 introduced the swabbing of some passengers’ hands to detect for explosive residue, we got a call from CNN asking if we’d tell them on camera what we thought of it from a privacy standpoint. It seemed to us that particle sniffers…

Homeland Security, May I Earn a Living?

Homeland Security, May I Earn a Living?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:43pm

One of the things in play in the current wrangling over immigration reform is whether we will see the E-Verify work authorization program expanded nationwide and made mandatory. We’ve just put out a white paper summarizing “The 10 big Problems…

CBP Using Its Authorization for Border Use Of Drones as Wedge For Nationwide Use

CBP Using Its Authorization for Border Use Of Drones as Wedge For Nationwide Use

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:51pm

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a very valuable set of documents it obtained via FOIA from Customs & Border Protection (CBP) on that agency’s use of drones. EFF found that CPB has greatly increased the number of missions that it has flown—inside the border region—on behalf of other state, local and federal agencies. The EFF’s Jennifer Lynch summarizes what they found nicely in this blog post.

All the public discussion around the CBP’s use of drones has centered around their use on the border. As far as I know, CBP’s drone program was intended and authorized by Congress for the purpose of patrolling the nation’s borders. It was not intended to be a general law enforcement drone “lending library,” in which Predator drones (which are quite unlike the small UAVs that police departments around the country are beginning to acquire and deploy) are used for all manner of purposes across the country. Many of those purposes are totally unobjectionable, but if such a system is to be created, it should be only following a full, open, and democratic discussion, and (as Lynch points out) with a strong set of privacy policies. It should certainly not be created in secret by a single federal agency.