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U.S. Marshals Seize Local Cops’ Cell Phone Tracking Files in Extraordinary Attempt to Keep Information From Public

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:13pm
A run-of-the-mill public records request about cell phone surveillance submitted to a local police department in Florida has unearthed blatant violations of open government laws, including an incredible seizure of state records by the U.S. Marshals Service, which is part of the Justice Department. Today the ACLU and the ACLU of Florida filed an emergency motion in state court to preserve the public’s right of access to government records.
Adding Audio Recording to Surveillance Cameras Threatens A Whole New Level of Monitoring in American Life

Adding Audio Recording to Surveillance Cameras Threatens A Whole New Level of Monitoring in American Life

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:06am

There has been a lot of attention recently to the issue of audio recording being added to surveillance cameras on public buses. This issue first came onto our radar in 2009, but resurfaced again in Maryland in October (see this October Baltimore Sun…

VICTORY! Federal Appeals Court Rules Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

VICTORY! Federal Appeals Court Rules Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:59pm

Today the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement agents must obtain a warrant based on probable cause to attach a GPS device to a car and track its movements. The case, United States v. Katzin, is the first in which a federal appeals…

Photo of stingray at bottom of ocean

VICTORY: Judge Releases Information about Police Use of Stingray Cell Phone Trackers

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:12pm

A Florida judge has sided with the ACLU to order release of information about police use of “stingrays,” which are invasive surveillance devices that send out powerful signals to trick cell phones into transmitting their locations and identifying…

We Already Have Police Helicopters, So What’s the Big Deal Over Drones?

We Already Have Police Helicopters, So What’s the Big Deal Over Drones?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:26am

As drone regulation legislation works its way through Congress and the 30 (so far) state legislatures where it has been introduced, one question that we hear a lot these days is, “we’ve had police helicopters for a long time, what’s so different…

Police Documents on License Plate Scanners Reveal Mass Tracking

Police Documents on License Plate Scanners Reveal Mass Tracking

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:01am

Automatic license plate readers are the most widespread location tracking technology you’ve probably never heard of. Mounted on patrol cars or stationary objects like bridges, they snap photos of every passing car, recording their plate numbers,…

A Creeping Private-Sector “Checkpoint Society”—and a Small Step to Protect Your Privacy

A Creeping Private-Sector “Checkpoint Society”—and a Small Step to Protect Your Privacy

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:03pm

I was at a Target store recently and threw a bottle of wine in my cart to bring as a gift to a party. Later, when I got to the register, the cashier asked to see my ID. That in itself was silly, because it’s safe to say I’m a few years…

Photo of aircraft

ACLU Seeks Information About Airborne Cell Phone Snooping

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 7:59am

The ACLU is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request today for information about a newly revealed Marshals Service program that uses aircraft to suck up location data from tens of thousands of people’s cell phones at a time.

The…

Status of Domestic Drone Legislation in the States

Status of Domestic Drone Legislation in the States

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 12:21pm


Final update to this chart 1/22/14. Status of 2014 legislation is available here.

We’re currently seeing an unprecedented surge of activity in state legislatures across the country aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. (My colleagues Jay Stanley and Catherine Crump have this recent piece detailing the trend.) Working closely with our lobbyists in state capitols around the country, we have been tracking this activity and working hard to make sure these privacy-protective bills become law. The chart below shows the current status of state legislation as we understand it. We will update this as we receive new information.

Is Privacy a Modern Phenomenon?

Is Privacy a Modern Phenomenon?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:02pm

I recently came across this piece by the author William Deresiewicz (from his consistently insightful “All Points” blog), in which he comments on the observation that privacy and solitude are privileges of the modern era that are “rare…