Civil Liberties in the Digital Age

In the digital age that we live in today, we are constantly exposing our personal information online. From using cell phones and GPS devices to online shopping and sending e-mail, the things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. The ACLU believes that Americans shouldn’t have to choose between using new technology and keeping control of your private information. Each week, we feature some of the most interesting news related to technology and civil liberties that we’ve spotted from the previous week.

Eight Problems With “Big Data”

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 3:06pm
The idea of “Big Data” is in the air. At the South by Southwest Interactive conference last month, it was probably the hot topic, dominating or surfacing in numerous panels, including one on which I spoke, on “Big Data: Privacy Threat or Business Model?”
Detail from painting "Washington as Statesman at the Constitutional Convention"

Calls For a Constitutional Convention Heating Up in the States

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

(Updated below)

We're hearing from our ACLU affiliates about a new trend in state legislatures: proposals to call for the convening of a constitutional convention. This would be a fairly radical step: although clearly provided for in the Constitution,…

Do Young People Care About Privacy?

Do Young People Care About Privacy?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:00am

Everywhere I go, I hear some variation of the claim that “young people today just don’t care about privacy.” This is something that people widely seem to believe is “just true.” The latest claim to this effect comes in the form of a new poll, the release of which was trumpeted with unfortunate headlines like “Millennials don’t worry about online privacy.”

In fact, the poll, which was conducted by the University of Southern California’s corporate-partnered Center for the Digital Future, showed no such thing. Although there were some differences between younger and older respondents,

New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance

New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance

By Naomi Gilens, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 1:32pm

Justice Department documents released today by the ACLU reveal that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability.

The…

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…

image of state privacy map

Interactive Map: Privacy in the States on Four Key Issues

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 10:50am

In the last few years, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of privacy battles being waged in state legislatures. Today we’re launching an interactive web map that shows the privacy laws in place across the country on four of those issues:

law…
Is Privacy a Modern Phenomenon?

Is Privacy a Modern Phenomenon?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:02pm

I recently came across this piece by the author William Deresiewicz (from his consistently insightful “All Points” blog), in which he comments on the observation that privacy and solitude are privileges of the modern era that are “rare…

How Private is Your Online Search History?

How Private is Your Online Search History?

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:04pm

The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice to find out whether federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors think they need a warrant to obtain people’s search queries from online search engine operators,…

The ACLU’s Pizza Video: 10 Years Later

The ACLU’s Pizza Video: 10 Years Later

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:48pm

In 2004, the ACLU produced a satiric video called “Ordering Pizza in 2015” that has become the single most-downloaded piece of content we’ve ever produced (at least we believe in the absence of complete stats). I won’t describe…

painting of crowd of workers leaving factory

New Technology Renews Old Fears of Manipulation and Control

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:18pm

In the first half of the 20th century, Americans gained a new awareness of the malleability and manipulability of the human mind, and the result was a wave of concern over “propaganda” and other techniques of influence. Today we may be seeing a…

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