Blog of Rights

Edward Snowden is a Whistleblower

Edward Snowden is a Whistleblower

By Michael German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:00am

My American Civil Liberties Union colleagues and I have been extremely busy since the Guardian and the Washington Post published leaked classified documents exposing the scope of the...

Photo of a police traffic stop

Police Officer Discretion in the Use of Body Worn Cameras

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:30pm

In our October 2013 policy white paper on police body cameras, we struggled with how to ensure that the cameras would serve as an effective oversight mechanism for police while not unduly invading privacy. We pointed out that purely from an oversight…

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

How Does the Federal Government Handle Prosecutions of Police Officers?

How Does the Federal Government Handle Prosecutions of Police Officers?

By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program at 2:26pm

Should we take the Department of Justice's word on how federal prosecutions of police officers are being conducted and resolved, or do we need to see the data?

After a police officer is accused of a crime and the Department of Justice decides…

You May Have 'Nothing to Hide' But You Still Have Something to Fear

You May Have 'Nothing to Hide' But You Still Have Something to Fear

By Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 10:17am

In the wake of recent news that the NSA is spying on Americans, I have been particularly struck by the argument...

Painting of family riding in 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

License Plate Scanners Also Taking Photos of Drivers and Passengers

By Sonia Roubini, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 10:01am

The Drug Enforcement Administration is using its license plate reader program not only to track drivers’ locations, but also to photograph these drivers and their passengers, according to newly disclosed records obtained by the ACLU via a Freedom…

‘Perfect Surveillance,’ Says Edward Snowden, Could Have Snuffed Out the LGBT Movement. He’s Right.

‘Perfect Surveillance,’ Says Edward Snowden, Could Have Snuffed Out the LGBT Movement. He’s Right.

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:35pm

Edward Snowden recently pointed out how the victories of the LGBT movement in this country might never have happened if the government had the ability to conduct “perfect surveillance.” For decades, LGBT people had to fight official government…

Racial Profiling at Logan Airport Undermines Security and Freedom

Racial Profiling at Logan Airport Undermines Security and Freedom

By Carol Rose, Executive Director, ACLU of Massachusetts at 6:10pm

Reports that the so-called "behavioral detection program" at Logan Airport leads to racial profiling is front-page news in today's Sunday New York Times. You have to admire the courage of the TSA screeners who raised the alarm that pressure from TSA management to meet quotas leads to targeting of passengers based on their race, ethnicity, and religion-- even when they clearly pose no terrorist threat.

ACLU to Court: Government Spying Invades Privacy of Each and Every American

ACLU to Court: Government Spying Invades Privacy of Each and Every American

By Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 5:03pm

Last night, we filed the opening brief in our lawsuit challenging the NSA’s ongoing collection of the call records of virtually everyone in the United States, including the ACLU’s. We’re asking the court for a preliminary injunction ordering…

stingray device

Internal Police Emails Show Efforts to Hide Use of Cell Phone Tracking

By Maria Kayanan, Associate Legal Director, ACLU of Florida at 9:01pm

As we suspected, local law enforcement officials are borrowing cell phone tracking devices known as “stingrays” from the U.S. Marshals Service—and police are deliberately concealing the use of stingrays in court documents submitted to judges…