Free Future

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When Big Data Becomes a Civil Rights Problem

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:06am
My colleague Jay Stanley just wrote about an invasive new police tactic employed by the Chicago Police Department. Using software created by an engineer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the city developed a “’heat list’ — an index of the roughly 400 people in the city of Chicago supposedly most likely to be involved in violent crime.” The criteria for placement on the list are secret but reportedly go beyond indicators like criminal conviction, and raise real questions about racial bias in the selection process.
Data Suggests Boston Police Targeted Black & Working Class Areas For Surveillance

Data Suggests Boston Police Targeted Black & Working Class Areas For Surveillance

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 5:38pm

Earlier this week the ACLU of Massachusetts called for a statewide moratorium on the use of license plate readers. We did so because a MuckRock/Boston Globe investigation revealed serious abuses by the Boston Police Department in its use of the controversial…

Is Your Turn-By-Turn Navigation Application Racist?

Is Your Turn-By-Turn Navigation Application Racist?

By Joe Silver, Washington Legislative Office, ACLU at 10:32am

Last month, a web-based service called “Ghetto Tracker” was unveiled. The site’s creator touted it as a travel advice service where users could pin digital maps with safety ratings to enable those new to town to avoid dodgy neighborhoods. While…

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…

SPOT Off

SPOT Off

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:58pm

Lost in all the news about the NSA program this week was the release of a devastating report by the DHS Inspector General on the TSA’s SPOT program (first reported by the New York Times on Sunday). The new report underscores what a waste of money that program has been. After hiring 2,800 full-time staff and spending an estimated $878 million since FY 2007, the program remains deeply misguided not only in its very concept, but also in how it has been implemented.

SPOT (which stands for Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) is the program that places “Behavior Detection Officers” (BDOs) near airport security lines, where by intrusively chatting with fliers, they will supposedly be able to detect “something amiss” that might suggest a passenger is planning a terrorist attack.

The program has always been ludicrous. In testimony at a 2011 congressional hearing on SPOT, psychologist Dr. Maria Hartwig summarized the decades of empirical research on the detection of deception, which is basically