Free Future

Game Theory and Privacy

Game Theory and Privacy

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:27am
Earlier this week in “The Flawed Logic of Secret Mass Surveillance” I presented some thinking about the dynamics of mass surveillance and what that suggests about how things are likely to play out in the future with regards to the NSA’s spying. It seems to me that there’s an essential structure to privacy that is reminiscent of game theory. And this could provide additional hints about how things are likely to play out over the long term—especially with regards to spying among nations. As I wrote in the earlier piece, spying confers power over others, and it is in my interest to secretly observe you, and for you not to secretly observe me.
The $338,000 Internet Comment

The $338,000 Internet Comment

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

(Updated below)

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…

What Makes Presidents Turn Into Hard Core Defenders of the Security State? Seven Possible Explanations

What Makes Presidents Turn Into Hard Core Defenders of the Security State? Seven Possible Explanations

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:45am

I recently wrote about how it can be useful to think of our national security state in institutional rather than personal or political terms—as a gigantic organism that displays certain consistent behaviors. And I speculated about how this organism can be both less intelligent and less moral than the individuals who make it up.

At the same time, it is undoubtedly true that some individuals within the national security state—the leadership—have great direct power to alter its character and direction. So why don’t they? Those individuals come from a wide variety of political and life backgrounds. But despite that fact, the overall behavior of the security establishment seems to be relatively consistent.

This is true up to the presidential level. In interviews about his whistleblowing decision, Edward Snowden has talked about his disillusionment with President Obama when it comes to reining in the national security state. This is a disillusionment that we share. Before he took office Obama seemed sympathetic to the criticism of the Bush Administration over the excesses of the national security state. So what happened?

Trickle Down Surveillance

Trickle Down Surveillance

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:22am

Cell site simulators, also known as "stingrays," are devices that trick cellphones into reporting their locations and identifying information. They do so by mimicking cellphone towers and sending out electronic cues that allow the police to enlist…

The Government is Silencing Twitter and Yahoo, and It Won't Tell Us Why

The Government is Silencing Twitter and Yahoo, and It Won't Tell Us Why

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 10:07am

The government is using shaky legal arguments to silence major Internet companies without giving them – or the public – the opportunity to respond. In three separate recent cases, the government has sent a grand jury subpoena to Yahoo or Twitter…

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…

It Sure Sounds Like the NSA Is Tracking Our Locations

It Sure Sounds Like the NSA Is Tracking Our Locations

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 12:36pm

The drumbeat of “non-denial denials” is getting louder as the NSA continues to refuse to directly state whether it is using cell phone information to track Americans’ whereabouts. When NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander was asked again about…

So you think you have nothing to hide...

So you think you have nothing to hide...

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 11:00pm

Governments at the local, state, and federal level increasingly collect troves of sensitive information about where we go, what we read, who we know, what we buy, and more. Some people say they don't care about this silent and ever present surveillance.…

The Shrinking Rationale For Government Surveillance Camera Systems

The Shrinking Rationale For Government Surveillance Camera Systems

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:42am

Yesterday I wrote about how the spread of cameras throughout our public lives is irrevocably changing our privacy in public spaces, as well as society expectations around video surveillance—with people increasingly surprised when an unusual incident…

Car in blurry lights

Federal Court Rules on One of the Major Outstanding Constitutional Privacy Questions of Our Time

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:13am

In a tremendous step forward for our right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held in United States v. Quartavious Davis that police need a warrant to obtain historical cell phone location information from…