Free Future

Photo of Stingray from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Documents Reveal Unregulated Use of Stingrays in California

By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 4:37pm
Local law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area have so-called stingray devices, a powerful cellphone surveillance tool, and more are planning to acquire the technology, according to public records recently obtained by Sacramento News10. The devices are highly intrusive and completely unregulated. Although the Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 that they were being used by the federal government, the News10 records reveal for the first time that these devices are also in widespread use by local authorities stretching from San José to Sacramento. The revelations are troubling. Once again, we see the proliferation of powerful new surveillance tools, but without any rules to constrain their use. The acquisition of these devices is shrouded in secrecy and driven by federal grant money, which undermines local democratic oversight. Their actual use by local law enforcement reflects the all too common phenomenon of mission creep: Although the justification for acquiring these devices is “fighting terrorism,” agencies seem to be using them for ordinary criminal law enforcement.
Still from the movie Matrix Revolutions

The Surveillance Machine Moves to Defend Itself

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:28am

In a pair of stories this past weekend, the Washington Post and the AP reported on the construction of an ambitious surveillance system by which the government aims to carry out detailed surveillance of its own employees.

Great, you say, our…

Image by Joe_A via Flickr

Federal Court Rules DOJ’s Location Tracking Memos Can Stay Secret

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 2:00pm

Yesterday, a federal district court ruled that the Justice Department does not need to disclose two secret memos providing guidance to federal prosecutors and investigators regarding the use of GPS devices and other location tracking technologies.…

Chris Soghoian TED talk

Surveillance For a Price

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 11:16pm

Most governments don’t have the resources to manufacture the surveillance technology that’s required to hack into the computers of unsuspecting citizens. In recent years, surveillance software firms have stepped in to fill that gap, proliferating…

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…

Nothing to See Here! Censoring 'The Innocence of Muslims'

Nothing to See Here! Censoring 'The Innocence of Muslims'

By Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:32pm

It's likely you haven't escaped the roiling controversy generated by the film The Innocence of Muslims. This "film" has alternately been described as: a deliberate provocation of Muslims, a launching point for a conversation about free speech, a trigger…

Finger pressing security button on keyboard

Protect our Privacy – Protect our Metadata

By Chris Conley, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California Technology and Civil Liberties Project at 10:05am

Imagine bringing a date home for dinner. You put the laptop away and mute your phone. You prepare a gourmet home-cooked meal for two, queue up a selection of romantic songs and pick out a movie to watch after dinner. As the evening winds down, your…

Rapid Improvements in Lidar Technology Could Have Surveillance Implications

Rapid Improvements in Lidar Technology Could Have Surveillance Implications

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:25am

Technology Review has an article out on advances in lidar technology. The article is a reminder of just how many fronts there are where we’re seeing large technological advances with possible implications for surveillance.

Lidar is like radar…

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…

New Location Tracking Video Released

New Location Tracking Video Released

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:04pm

Our crack communications staff here at the ACLU have taken the graphical blog post I did on location tracking, and what it might look like in the future, and turned it into a snappy new video.

All of our materials on the various facets of the…