Blog of Rights

Members of Congress Ask AG Holder to Release Justice Department’s GPS Tracking Memos

Members of Congress Ask AG Holder to Release Justice Department’s GPS Tracking Memos

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:02pm
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent a letter yesterday to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to release the two Department of Justice legal memos providing guidance to federal prosecutors and investigators about the proper use of GPS devices and other location-tracking technologies. Emphasizing that "there is no room in American democracy for secret interpretation of public law," Sen. Wyden and Rep. Chaffetz told Holder that it is "critical" for both members of Congress and the American public to "understand DOJ's precise views on the current state of the law and existing legal requirements and protections." They requested that the he provide them with unredacted copies of the Justice Department memos by the end of January. (You can read the letter for yourself here.)
Even Your Avatar Can't Escape NSA Surveillance

Even Your Avatar Can't Escape NSA Surveillance

By Robyn Greene, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:41pm

It seems that literally no one is safe from the NSA. Even digital alter egos living in fantasy realms in the online gaming world are being caught up in the NSA's surveillance dragnet.

A newly leaked internal document reveals that the NSA and…

New Documents Show Lopsided Reliance on Secret Subpoenas

New Documents Show Lopsided Reliance on Secret Subpoenas

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 12:29pm

What happens when legislatures pass laws enabling law enforcement to obtain sensitive, private information about people without requiring any evidence of criminal activity, and without any outside oversight whatsoever?

Fishing expeditions.

Take…

Mass Location Tracking: It’s Not Just For the NSA

Mass Location Tracking: It’s Not Just For the NSA

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:12pm

Thanks to Edward Snowden we now understand that the NSA runs many dragnet surveillance programs, some of which target Americans. But a story yesterday from Washington, D.C. public radio station WAMU is a reminder that dragnet surveillance is not just…

Tech Giants Join the Fight for Our Constitutional Rights

Tech Giants Join the Fight for Our Constitutional Rights

By Gaurav Laroia, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:31pm

For years now, the ACLU and a coalition of other civil rights and civil liberties organizations have been working to roll back the NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless surveillance regime. This past summer’s revelations made the extent of this surveillance…

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's NSA 'reforms': bad for privacy, bad for business

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's NSA 'reforms': bad for privacy, bad for business

By Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California at 2:29pm

This op-ed originally ran in the San Jose Mercury News before the tech giants released their letter to Pres. Obama and Congress urging widespread surveillance reform. In August, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington,…

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:06pm

Cellphones are the spies in our pockets, gathering information about whom we befriend, what we say, where we go, and what we read. That’s why Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently asked the nation’s major cellphone companies to disclose how frequently they receive requests from law enforcement for customer call records—including the content of communications, numbers dialed, websites visited, and location data. Sometimes police have a warrant, sometimes they don’t.

Seven companies provided information in response to the inqury. The letters Markey received, which were covered today in the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and New York Times, show that the quantity of requests for these records is staggering. T-Mobile and AT&T together received nearly 600,000 requests for customer information in 2012. AT&T has to employ more than 100 full-time workers to process them. And police demand for our call records is growing rapidly, with requests to Verizon doubling in the last five years.

This piece was originally published on Slate. Click here to read the full article.

Meet Jack: What The Government Could Do With All That Location Data

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:38pm

Wednesday we learned that the NSA is collecting location information en masse. As we’ve long said, location data is an extremely powerful set of information about people. To flesh out why that is true, here is the kind of future memo that we fear may someday soon be uncovered:

Dear commissioner: now that we have finalized our systems for the acquisition and processing of Americans’ location data (using data from cell phone and license plate readers as well as other sources), I wanted to give you a quick taste of our new system’s capabilities in the domestic policing context.

As you can see in this screen shot from our new application, an individual by the name of Jack R. Benjamin yesterday was flagged as a potential DUI risk:

The rest of this post has been placed on a separate page that can display high-resolution images. Click here to view.

DOJ asks court to give police the benefit of the doubt on murky surveillance law

DOJ asks court to give police the benefit of the doubt on murky surveillance law

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 3:18pm

Live in Delaware, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania? You can rest a little bit easier today, knowing that police need a warrant before putting a GPS tracker on your car to monitor your movements. The Department of Justice has declined to appeal a Third Circuit…

Who Should be in Charge of Privacy in the 21st Century?

Who Should be in Charge of Privacy in the 21st Century?

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Joe Silver, Washington Legislative Office, ACLU at 2:23pm

An effort is underway to significantly set back even the limited amount of government privacy oversight that currently takes place over commercial privacy in the United States. Tuesday the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing…