Blog of Rights

Florida "Surveillance State" license plate

Local Police in Florida Acting Like They’re the CIA (But They’re Not)

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:00am
The City of Sunrise, Florida, tried to take a page from the CIA’s anti-transparency playbook last week when it responded to an ACLU public records request about its use of powerful cell phone location tracking gear by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of any relevant documents. And the state police are trying to get in on the act as well. We have written about the federal government’s abuse of this tactic—called a “Glomar” response—before, but local law enforcement’s adoption of the ploy reaches a new level of absurdity. In this case, the response is not only a violation of Florida law, but is also fatally undermined by records the Sunrise Police Department has already posted online.
NSA Spy Target Challenges Warrantless Wiretapping Law

NSA Spy Target Challenges Warrantless Wiretapping Law

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 4:36pm

The ACLU today joined a new challenge to the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) — the surveillance law that gives the NSA virtually unfettered access to the international phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens and residents.…

The National Security State: Why it’s Important to Understand the Nature of the Beast

The National Security State: Why it’s Important to Understand the Nature of the Beast

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:48pm

In two recent posts I argued that it is useful to think of the national security establishment as a thoughtless organism prone to certain predictable behaviors such as self-preservation, expansion, and secrecy. But what are the policy implications,…

The Senate Jumps into the Race to Rein in NSA Surveillance

The Senate Jumps into the Race to Rein in NSA Surveillance

By Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU Legislative Counsel at 11:50am

The race is on.

Senator Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced today a new version of the USA Freedom Act to rein in NSA surveillance, and only 10 legislative days remain to get it through the Senate before the November elections.

To put this in…

The Chilling Effects of License-Plate Location Tracking

The Chilling Effects of License-Plate Location Tracking

By Mica Moore, ACLU & Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 12:12pm

Location tracking has far-reaching implications for the way we live, even if we don't think we've done anything wrong. Our recent report, "You Are Being Tracked," shows that automatic license plate readers allow law enforcement to track every car on…

The Obama Administration's 2 Faces on Releasing Evidence of U.S. Prisoner Abuse

The Obama Administration's 2 Faces on Releasing Evidence of U.S. Prisoner Abuse

By Josh Bell, Media Strategist, ACLU at 10:00am

There is too often a gap between the Obama administration's words and deeds when it comes to transparency on national security issues. Take, for example, whether the government should release information about the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody.

In…

If the Government Is Tracking Your Location or Reading Your Email, Would You Ever Know?

If the Government Is Tracking Your Location or Reading Your Email, Would You Ever Know?

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 12:36pm

Court rulings unsealed last week in Washington show for the first time a behind-the-scenes legal battle over when the government should have to tell you that it's tracking your location and reading your email. These documents—which came to light…

The First State Laws on Drones

The First State Laws on Drones

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 3:13pm

On Thursday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed into law the first bill in the nation protecting individuals from unfettered surveillance by unmanned aerial vehicles.

Virginia enacted the very first drones bill nationwide on April 3. Their bill…

The Torture Secrets Are Coming

The Torture Secrets Are Coming

By Marcellene Hearn, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 11:44am

Once you've seen the Abu Ghraib photos, they're not easily forgotten.

The hooded man, the electrodes, the naked bodies piled upon each other, and the grinning soldier with a thumbs up. The images are the stuff of nightmares. They're also incontrovertible…

Persistent Aerial Surveillance: Do We Want To Go There, America?

Persistent Aerial Surveillance: Do We Want To Go There, America?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:32am

The Washington Post ran a story Thursday on a technology that I've been very concerned about for a while: persistent aerial surveillance. Specifically, it profiled a company, Persistent Surveillance Solutions, that has been deploying this panoptic…