Blog of Rights

New Documents Suggest IRS Reads Emails Without a Warrant

New Documents Suggest IRS Reads Emails Without a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:00am
Everyone knows the IRS is our nation’s tax collector, but it is also a law enforcement organization tasked with investigating criminal violations of the tax laws. New documents released to the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the IRS Criminal Tax Division has long taken the position that the IRS can read your emails without a warrant—a practice that one appeals court has said violates the Fourth Amendment (and we think most Americans would agree).

Appeals Court Rules Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Cell Phone Location Data

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:25pm

Yesterday the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an unfortunate and legally incorrect decision holding that the Fourth Amendment provides no protection against warrantless cell phone tracking. Although couched in language stating narrowly that the…

Crop of image by afagen via Flickr

Dear Mr. President: Walk the Walk on Big Data

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:28pm

In the wake of the NSA scandals and daily corporate privacy invasions, the president asked one of his senior advisors, John Podesta, to perform a quick 90-day review of “big data” (corporate jargon for privacy) and lay out what next steps his administration…

Privacy Rights are Human Rights

Privacy Rights are Human Rights

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 10:45am

Today and tomorrow the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. To assist in the review of U.S. compliance with the covenant’s privacy protections,…

On the Prospect of Blackmail by the NSA

On the Prospect of Blackmail by the NSA

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:47am

Sometimes when I hear public officials speaking out in defense of NSA spying, I can’t help thinking, even if just for a moment, “what if the NSA has something on that person and that’s why he or she is saying this?”

Of course it’s…

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…

Concern High About Both NSA and Corporate Surveillance Among Americans Polled

Concern High About Both NSA and Corporate Surveillance Among Americans Polled

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:13pm

While I was semi-disconnected from the grid over the holidays, one of the things I missed was an article in the Washington Post detailing the results of a poll on Americans’ privacy attitudes. The article, which contains lots of “man on the street”…

With No Evidence of Wrongdoing, NYPD Treats Entire Mosques as Terrorist Groups

With No Evidence of Wrongdoing, NYPD Treats Entire Mosques as Terrorist Groups

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:44pm

The Associated Press reported today that the NYPD designated entire mosques "terrorism enterprises" in order to justify the use of invasive methods to spy on congregants and imams. The report confirms what we have long been saying about the NYPD's…

Use of Automated License Plate Readers Expanding in Northern California, and Data is Shared With Feds

Use of Automated License Plate Readers Expanding in Northern California, and Data is Shared With Feds

By Matthew Cagle, Volunteer Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 10:51am

The feeling of freedom that comes from driving down California’s sunny open roads is at risk—and rising gas prices are not to blame. Our investigations show that at least twenty Northern California law enforcement entities as well as the California…

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…