Blog of Rights

"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

"Ag-Gag" Not Just About Animal Welfare

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:54am
A story out of Utah this week neatly showcased the rising concerns among civil liberties and press freedom groups around so-called "ag-gag" laws, which, in various ways, make it illegal to document animal abuse on factory farms and other agricultural businesses. In Utah, authorities charged a local woman with taking photographs of animal cruelty from a public vantage point, and then quickly dropped the charges after significant public outcry.
Chertoff on Google Glass

Chertoff on Google Glass

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:56pm

We’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the implications of consumer wearable cameras like Google Glass, and I’m sure we’ll have more to say in this space on the subject. But meanwhile, we’re pleasantly surprised to report a very trenchant analysis of the technology’s implications for our privacy by none other than Michael Chertoff. Writing on CNN’s web page, the former DHS chief writes,

So, who owns and what happens to the user's [video] data? Can the entire database be mined and analyzed for commercial purposes? What rules will apply when law enforcement seeks access to the data for a criminal or national security investigation? For how long will the data be retained? ….

Even those who might be willing to forgo some degree of privacy to enhance national security should be concerned about a corporate America that will have an unrestricted continuous video record of millions.

What is to prevent a corporation from targeting a particular individual, using face recognition technology to assemble all uploaded videos in which he appears, and effectively constructing a surveillance record that can be used to analyze his life?

Chertoff says he’s inclined to think that government regulation may be needed. I haven’t seen Chertoff say anything about the threat of pervasive government surveillance, which would make him a kind of anti-libertarian on privacy—in favor of restricting corporations, but not the government. For the average, relatively powerless person trying to live their life, the threat comes from both directions.

NEW LAWSUIT: Police Should Stop Arresting Innocent People Just for Being on a Business’s Property

NEW LAWSUIT: Police Should Stop Arresting Innocent People Just for Being on a Business’s Property

By Jason Williamson & Miriam Aukerman, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Michigan at 1:46pm

The next time you're in Grand Rapids, Michigan and need to pull into a gas station to make a phone...

Thoughts on the Latest Political Disclosure Proposal

Thoughts on the Latest Political Disclosure Proposal

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:41pm

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) unveiled a new bill this week requiring all groups that spend money independently of campaigns, candidates, or parties to influence a federal election or nomination to disclose their donors.…

Cop Assaults Elementary School Student

Cop Assaults Elementary School Student

By Seema Sadanandan, Organizer, ACLU of the Nation's Capital at 1:43pm

When Officer David Bailey grabbed a 10-year-old student by the back of his head and slammed it into the school cafeteria table, it is safe to say that student was not free to leave. On that afternoon, Bailey decided that his routine beat on the streets…

Today's the Day: Challenging Human Gene Patents Before the Supreme Court

Today's the Day: Challenging Human Gene Patents Before the Supreme Court

By Sandra Park, ACLU at 10:16am

Today, we're headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for oral argument in our challenge to human gene patents...

Filmmaker Joanna Rudnick on Life with the “Breast Cancer Gene” and Human Gene Patenting

Filmmaker Joanna Rudnick on Life with the “Breast Cancer Gene” and Human Gene Patenting

By Joanna Rudnick, Activist, Filmmaker at 1:19pm

In the Family (POV 2008) tells the first-person story of director Joanna Rudnick as she tries to decide on a course of action after testing positive for the BRCA1 mutation, the "breast cancer gene." To raise public awareness of the issues being presented…

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

Voices on Human Gene Patents: It's Time to Free Our Genes

By Christopher E. Mason, Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics, Weill Cornell Medical College, Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project of Yale Law School & Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Assistant Professor of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School at 12:29pm

Even though they’ve been in our families since the dawn of man, our genes do not belong to us. They’ve been claimed by companies that hold patents on the DNA from our cells. Over the past 20 years, at least 41 percent of our genes have become the…

CISPA Remains Fatally Flawed After Secret Committee Markup

CISPA Remains Fatally Flawed After Secret Committee Markup

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:20pm
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The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday marked up CISPA,…

Common Ground on Campaign Finance

Common Ground on Campaign Finance

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:46am

Earlier this week, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), held a hearing on campaign finance law enforcement. We submitted comments highlighting a few areas of common ground between the ACLU and proponents of…