Blog of Rights

From the NSA to License Plate Readers: Are We to Have a “Collect it All” Society?

From the NSA to License Plate Readers: Are We to Have a “Collect it All” Society?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:44am

If the NSA needs a slogan, it should probably be “collect it all.” As phrased by an anonymous intel official recently quoted by the Washington Post, that has apparently been the approach of agency leadership in recent years. But the fight over whether that’s an appropriate strategy for keeping order in a democratic society is one that stretches far beyond the NSA programs now being debated.

For example, look at automatic license plate recognition systems, which are now sprouting up around the country. As we detailed in our recent report on the technology, many police departments are collecting and storing not only information about vehicles that are wanted by the police, but also location information about everybody who drives a car. Some police have defended this practice by arguing, essentially, that “you never know when or what we might need to solve a crime.”

In other words, nobody who accepts the NSA’s argument that universal collection is the right answer ought to be surprised when

My Life Under NYPD Surveillance: A Brooklyn Student and Charity Leader on Fear and Mistrust

My Life Under NYPD Surveillance: A Brooklyn Student and Charity Leader on Fear and Mistrust

By Asad Dandia, Activist at 10:18am

My name is Asad Dandia although friends know me as Ace. I am an American citizen, born in Brooklyn, where I have lived my whole life...

Crop of photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

To Protect Privacy, Utah Attorney General Gives Away Some of His Power

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 6:10pm

In February 2014, the attorney general for the state of Utah did something remarkable, something that law enforcement officials hardly ever do: He willingly gave away some of his power. The power was too great, he said, and the potential for abuse…

The Three Dimensions of the Privacy Apocalypse

The Three Dimensions of the Privacy Apocalypse

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:34am

Recent reports have revealed that several companies are currently pushing “intelligent street lights” that are capable of being loaded with various kinds of sensors including, as Reuters reported late last month,

sensors for moisture,…

Massachusetts High Court to Become Latest to Rule on Warrant Requirement for Cell Phone Tracking

Massachusetts High Court to Become Latest to Rule on Warrant Requirement for Cell Phone Tracking

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 3:24pm

Should the police be required to get a warrant in order to monitor our location via our cell phones?

Massachusetts’ highest court is likely to answer this critical question when it rules on Commonwealth vs. Shabazz Augustine. The ACLU is…

Accountability vs. Privacy: The ACLU’s Recommendations on Police Body Cameras

Accountability vs. Privacy: The ACLU’s Recommendations on Police Body Cameras

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:00am

Today we’re releasing our policy recommendations on police “body cameras” (also called “on-officer recording systems” or “cop cams”), small cameras that clip on to an officer’s uniform and record audio and video of the officer’s interactions…

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…

DHS Releases Disappointing Civil Liberties Report on Border Searches of Laptops and Other Electronics

DHS Releases Disappointing Civil Liberties Report on Border Searches of Laptops and Other Electronics

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:49pm

In response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, the Department of Homeland Security has at long last released its December 2011 Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact Assessment of its policy of conducting suspicionless searches of electronic…

Still from the movie Matrix Revolutions

The Surveillance Machine Moves to Defend Itself

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:28am

In a pair of stories this past weekend, the Washington Post and the AP reported on the construction of an ambitious surveillance system by which the government aims to carry out detailed surveillance of its own employees.

Great, you say, our…

Image by Joe_A via Flickr

Federal Court Rules DOJ’s Location Tracking Memos Can Stay Secret

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 2:00pm

Yesterday, a federal district court ruled that the Justice Department does not need to disclose two secret memos providing guidance to federal prosecutors and investigators regarding the use of GPS devices and other location tracking technologies.…