Blog of Rights

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Police Hide Use of Cell Phone Tracker From Courts Because Manufacturer Asked

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:01am
It appears that at least one police department in Florida has failed to tell judges about its use of a cell phone tracking device because the department got the device on loan and promised the manufacturer to keep it all under wraps. But when police use invasive surveillance equipment to surreptitiously sweep up information about the locations and communications of large numbers of people, court oversight and public debate are essential. The devices, likely made by the Florida-based Harris Corporation, are called “stingrays,” and unfortunately this is not the first time the government has tried to hide their use.
What Does a Soviet Submarine Have to Do With U.S. Government Secrecy?

What Does a Soviet Submarine Have to Do With U.S. Government Secrecy?

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:54am

It is the height of the Cold War. A nuclear-missile-equipped Soviet submarine sinks in the Pacific Ocean, in suspicious circumstances. The CIA commissions reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes to secretly build a massive ship capable of lifting the submarine…

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…

Finger pressing security button on keyboard

Protect our Privacy – Protect our Metadata

By Chris Conley, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California Technology and Civil Liberties Project at 10:05am

Imagine bringing a date home for dinner. You put the laptop away and mute your phone. You prepare a gourmet home-cooked meal for two, queue up a selection of romantic songs and pick out a movie to watch after dinner. As the evening winds down, your…

Rapid Improvements in Lidar Technology Could Have Surveillance Implications

Rapid Improvements in Lidar Technology Could Have Surveillance Implications

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:25am

Technology Review has an article out on advances in lidar technology. The article is a reminder of just how many fronts there are where we’re seeing large technological advances with possible implications for surveillance.

Lidar is like radar…

NYPD Patrol Car

Wrongly Legitimatizing NYPD Discrimination

By Ashley Gorski, Nadine Strossen Fellow, National Security Project, ACLU at 2:52pm

A federal judge in New Jersey dismissed a lawsuit last week brought by New Jersey Muslims who claim that the NYPD investigated and surveilled them based on little more than their Muslim faith. The plaintiffs in Hassan v. City of New York have good…

Setting the record straight on DHS and license plate tracking

Setting the record straight on DHS and license plate tracking

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 4:37pm

There has been a lot of press coverage in the past couple of weeks about the Department of Homeland Security posting a solicitation for contract proposals regarding access to a national license plate reader database—and DHS’s decision, once mainstream…

Guantánamo Dispatch: When a Guilty Plea is the Way Out

Guantánamo Dispatch: When a Guilty Plea is the Way Out

By Marcellene Hearn, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 9:53am

I watched a man yesterday plead guilty to war crimes in a military commission, and it troubled me. It troubled me because just the day before, I watched the defense counsel in another commission proceeding taking place at Guantánamo this week make…

New Location Tracking Video Released

New Location Tracking Video Released

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:04pm

Our crack communications staff here at the ACLU have taken the graphical blog post I did on location tracking, and what it might look like in the future, and turned it into a snappy new video.

All of our materials on the various facets of the…

In Court Today: Challenging DOJ Secrecy on Use of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

In Court Today: Challenging DOJ Secrecy on Use of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:47am

Way back in 2007, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking information about how and when the government obtains cell phone location data without a warrant. Since then, we have learned that the practice of using cell phones as tracking…