Blog of Rights

The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of State Legislation Passed This Year

The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of State Legislation Passed This Year

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 8:50am
2013 could easily be christened the year of the drone. It was the first full state legislative session after Congress passed a law requiring the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to open up domestic airspace much more widely to drones, and it brought an avalanche of state legislative activity as legislators and the public across the country grappled with how to protect privacy in the face of this fast-approaching technology.
We Already Have Police Helicopters, So What’s the Big Deal Over Drones?

We Already Have Police Helicopters, So What’s the Big Deal Over Drones?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:26am

As drone regulation legislation works its way through Congress and the 30 (so far) state legislatures where it has been introduced, one question that we hear a lot these days is, “we’ve had police helicopters for a long time, what’s so different…

Cybersecurity Doesn’t Have to Mean Sacrificing Privacy

Cybersecurity Doesn’t Have to Mean Sacrificing Privacy

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:20pm

Are our work emails, our medical records, and our financial information safe online? Or have we been leaving our digital doors unlocked?

Given the high-profile cybersecurity failures in recent weeks, from the Sony hacks to the brief takeover…

Modification of image by jpstanley with map by jepoirrier via Flickr

Cell Tower Dumps: Another Surveillance Technique, Another Set of Unanswered Questions

By Katie Haas, Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 11:58am

Today, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, the DEA, the Secret Service, and several other agencies asking for information about a surveillance technique known as a “cell tower dump.” If you’re wondering what that…

Photo of toll booth at night

Christie Use of Tollbooth Data and Why Location Privacy Must Be Protected

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:26am

David Sirota of the International Business Times reported last week that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and his appointee, the deputy governor of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, had released a political opponent's private tollbooth…

Documents Suggest Maker of Controversial Surveillance Tool Misled the FCC

Documents Suggest Maker of Controversial Surveillance Tool Misled the FCC

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project & Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California at 10:10am

New documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California appear to show the Florida-based Harris Corporation misleading the Federal Communications Commission while seeking authorization to sell its line of Stingray cell phone surveillance gear to…

America, NSA Surveillance is Bad for Business

America, NSA Surveillance is Bad for Business

By Michael German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:50am

The New York Times last week provided new information that clarified how a key, yet unnamed, National Security Agency surveillance program designed to "target" foreigners' Internet communications actually worked, namely by secretly snatching and sifting…

FBI Documents Suggest Feds Read Emails Without a Warrant

FBI Documents Suggest Feds Read Emails Without a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:31am

New documents from the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ offices paint a troubling picture of the government’s email surveillance practices. Not only does the FBI claim it can read emails and other electronic communications without a warrant—even after a federal appeals court ruled that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment—but the documents strongly suggest that different U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are applying conflicting standards to access communications content (you can see the documents here).

Last month, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the ACLU received IRS documents indicating that the agency’s criminal investigative arm doesn’t always get a warrant to read Americans’ emails. Today we are releasing these additional documents from other federal law enforcement agencies, reinforcing the urgent need for Congress to protect our privacy by updating the laws that cover electronic communications.

The FBI and Electronic Communications: Where’s the Warrant?

The documents we received from the FBI don’t flat out tell us whether FBI agents always get warrants, but they strongly suggest that they don’t.

In 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in United States v. Warshak that the government must obtain a probable cause warrant before compelling email providers to turn over messages to law enforcement. But that decision only applies in the four states covered by the Sixth Circuit, so we filed our FOIA request to find out whether the FBI

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…

Beware the Dangers of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill

Beware the Dangers of Congress’ Latest Cybersecurity Bill

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:52pm

A new cybersecurity bill poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous new powers from transparency laws.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing…