Cell Phones & Smartphones

Apple, Drone Strikes, and the Limits of Censorship

Apple, Drone Strikes, and the Limits of Censorship

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:55pm
Wired reported last week that the Apple App Store has rejected an app that compiles news reports in order to map overseas U.S. drone strikes, and provide users a pop-up notification whenever a drone strike has been reported.

Shutting Down Cell Service During Protests: The Constitutional Dimension

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 8:19am

The Bay Area Rapid Transit System (“BART,” for short) has a serious public relations problem. BART Police have been involved in three fatal shootings of BART passengers in the past three years, including the Oscar Grant incident in 2009,…

Cell Phone Censorship in San Francisco?

By Rebecca Farmer, ACLU of Northern California at 5:15pm

Pop quiz: where did a government agency shut down cell service yesterday to disrupt a political protest? Syria? London? Nope. San Francisco.

The answer may seem surprising, but that’s exactly what happened yesterday evening. The …

Court Ruling Gives FBI Too Much Leeway on Surveillance Technology

Court Ruling Gives FBI Too Much Leeway on Surveillance Technology

By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 5:09pm

Today, a federal district judge in Arizona issued a very disappointing decision concerning the government’s obligations to be candid with courts about new technologies they are seeking a warrant to use.

The case involves Daniel Rigmaiden, who is being criminally prosecuted for an alleged electronic tax fraud scheme. The government used a surveillance device known as a stingray to locate Mr. Rigmaiden. A stingray operates by simulating a cell tower and tricking all wireless devices on the same network in the immediate vicinity to communicate with it, as though it were the carrier’s cell tower. In order to locate a suspect, a stingray scoops up information not only of the suspect, but all third parties on the same network in the area. This means that when the government uses a stingray to conduct a search, it is searching not only the suspect, but also tens or hundreds of third parties who have nothing to do with the matter. When the FBI sought court permission to use the device to locate Mr. Rigmaiden, it didn’t explain the full reach of stingrays to the court.

The ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief arguing that when the government wants to use

Tuesday: Federal Appeals Court Hears Important Cell Phone Tracking Case

Tuesday: Federal Appeals Court Hears Important Cell Phone Tracking Case

By Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:05pm

Tomorrow, the Department of Justice will tell a federal appeals court panel in New Orleans that law enforcement agents should be permitted to obtain two month’s worth of historical cell phone location information without a warrant. Several civil…

New Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

New Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 2:04pm

It’s been over a year since 35 ACLU affiliates filed over 380 public records requests with state and local law enforcement agencies seeking information about their policies, procedures, and practices for tracking cell phones. And 13 months later…

ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Reconsider Cell Phone Tracking Decision

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 2:22pm

Yesterday we asked the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the arguments in our amicus brief that it should rehear a case decided by a three-judge panel in a ruling last month that undermined the privacy rights of everyone who carries a…

ACLU Wins Round in Battle Against Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

ACLU Wins Round in Battle Against Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 7:08pm

Today the ACLU won a significant victory in our battle to ensure that cell phones don’t become Big Brother tracking devices. Following a four-year fight, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ordered the Department of Justice…

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.

Following Texas’s Lead on Location Tracking

Following Texas’s Lead on Location Tracking

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 4:21pm

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives passed the first bill in the nation that would require law enforcement to obtain a probable cause warrant before tracking individuals’ location by collecting their cell phone location data. As Rebecca…

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