Cell Phones & Smartphones

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.

Creepy Government Surveillance Shouldn't Be Kept Secret

Creepy Government Surveillance Shouldn't Be Kept Secret

By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 4:00pm

Shocking revelations about creepy government surveillance came in waves over the summer, from the Snowden leaks to the Hemisphere Project, through which the government has paid AT&T for access to a mind-bogglingly vast database of our telephone…

Fighting a Striking Case of Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

Fighting a Striking Case of Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 4:16pm

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering a case that could be pivotal in determining whether the government needs a warrant to track your cell phone. Today the ACLU, together with the ACLU of Maryland, Center for Democracy &…

Who Decides?

Who Decides?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:32am

I’d like to make one major point about the NSA surveillance scandal that many people have made indirectly, or implicitly, or seem to have assumed, but have not stated baldly and explicitly. That point is how this incident has laid bare the arrogance of our national security officials.

Because there are really two separate issues behind last week’s revelations. The first is, how much surveillance of the American people should the government conduct? The second is, who should decide how much surveillance of the American people the government should conduct?

And on that second question, the government has arrogated to itself the power to make that decision, unilaterally, in secret, on behalf of the American people.

In his only comments on this scandal, President Obama said,

New Location Tracking Video Released

New Location Tracking Video Released

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:04pm

Our crack communications staff here at the ACLU have taken the graphical blog post I did on location tracking, and what it might look like in the future, and turned it into a snappy new video.

All of our materials on the various facets of the…

In Court Today: Challenging DOJ Secrecy on Use of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

In Court Today: Challenging DOJ Secrecy on Use of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 10:47am

Way back in 2007, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking information about how and when the government obtains cell phone location data without a warrant. Since then, we have learned that the practice of using cell phones as tracking…

State High Courts Realize It's Not 1986 Anymore, Broaden Privacy Protections

State High Courts Realize It's Not 1986 Anymore, Broaden Privacy Protections

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 10:57am

This was posted to privacysos.org.

Technology in the digital age has changed the way the government conducts surveillance against targets, and the law must change accordingly. So ruled two separate state supreme courts in decisions that take…

Private Cameras Will Hurt Privacy - But is There a Solution?

Private Cameras Will Hurt Privacy - But is There a Solution?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:09am

The ACLU has long opposed the spread of government video surveillance in American public life. We published this piece, The Four Problems With Public Video Surveillance, way back in February 2002 for example, and we had been saying similar things long…

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.

Giving Consumers Essential Transparency on Apps

Giving Consumers Essential Transparency on Apps

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:54am

Today the ACLU publicly supported a document that we believe will prove to be an important step forward in providing privacy transparency for mobile applications. After more than a year of negotiation among industry, trade associations and consumer…

Statistics image