Blog of Rights

New Document Sheds Light on Government’s Ability to Search iPhones

New Document Sheds Light on Government’s Ability to Search iPhones

By Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project & Naomi Gilens, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:11am
Cell phone searches are a common law enforcement tool, but up until now, the public has largely been in the dark regarding how much sensitive information the government can get with this invasive surveillance technique. A document submitted to court in connection with a drug investigation, which we recently discovered, provides a rare inventory of the types of data that federal agents are able to obtain from a seized iPhone using advanced forensic analysis tools. The list, available here, starkly demonstrates just how invasive cell phone searches are—and why law enforcement should be required to obtain a warrant before conducting them.
Easily Abused, Domestic Drones Raise Enormous Privacy Concerns

Easily Abused, Domestic Drones Raise Enormous Privacy Concerns

By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 10:06am

Shortly before next week’s one-year anniversary of the Oakland Police Department’s brutal crackdown on Occupy Oakland, Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern announced that he was seeking funds to purchase a drone to engage in unspecified unmanned aerial surveillance.

An FBI Counterterrorism Agent Tracked Me Down Because I Took a Picture of This

An FBI Counterterrorism Agent Tracked Me Down Because I Took a Picture of This

By James Prigoff at 10:08am

This is a statement from one of the plaintiffs speaking at Thursday's press conference announcing the ACLU's lawsuit challenging the government's controversial Suspicious Activity Reporting program.

Good morning. My name is James Prigoff. I…

Do Cops Really Need Tanks to Keep Us Safe?

Do Cops Really Need Tanks to Keep Us Safe?

By Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:11pm

This piece was originally published on The Crime Report.

The militarized law enforcement response to peaceful protests over the killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo. last month, has prompted several federal officials to question…

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…

Blurred lights from cars on street at night

Company Asks Cops to Keep Use of License Plate Trackers Secret

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 5:28pm

The NYPD may soon become the latest police department to begin paying private license plate tracking corporation Vigilant Solutions for access to the company’s nationwide location database, according to a report in the New York Daily News and documents…

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…

Do Young People Care About Privacy?

Do Young People Care About Privacy?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:00am

Everywhere I go, I hear some variation of the claim that “young people today just don’t care about privacy.” This is something that people widely seem to believe is “just true.” The latest claim to this effect comes in the form of a new poll, the release of which was trumpeted with unfortunate headlines like “Millennials don’t worry about online privacy.”

In fact, the poll, which was conducted by the University of Southern California’s corporate-partnered Center for the Digital Future, showed no such thing. Although there were some differences between younger and older respondents,

Does Surveillance Affect Us Even When We Can’t Confirm We’re Being Watched? Lessons From Behind the Iron Curtain

Does Surveillance Affect Us Even When We Can’t Confirm We’re Being Watched? Lessons From Behind the Iron Curtain

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:16pm

During the Cold War, as I argued last week, the totalitarian governments of the Soviet bloc functioned as a standing warning to Americans of the dangers of unchecked surveillance—lessons that we would do well to remember despite the fall of the…

filing cabinet

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…