ECPA

VanishingRights.com: A Conduit for Change

VanishingRights.com: A Conduit for Change

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:59pm
As the scope and depth of NSA’s spying continues to grow—and the ACLU continues to fight for Americans’ privacy—we cannot forget about similar privacy violations committed by state and local law enforcement. Today the ACLU and other advocacy groups and like-minded organizations are launching an online site, Vanishing Rights, to support legislation to do just that.
If the Government Is Tracking Your Location or Reading Your Email, Would You Ever Know?

If the Government Is Tracking Your Location or Reading Your Email, Would You Ever Know?

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 12:36pm

Court rulings unsealed last week in Washington show for the first time a behind-the-scenes legal battle over when the government should have to tell you that it's tracking your location and reading your email. These documents—which came to light…

AP Phone Records Scandal Highlights a Broader Problem: Lack of Checks and Balances on Government Access to Records

AP Phone Records Scandal Highlights a Broader Problem: Lack of Checks and Balances on Government Access to Records

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 11:36am

Last week we learned that the Department of Justice, in an unprecedented intrusion on the work of journalists, had obtained records for twenty telephone numbers belonging to the Associated Press or its reporters, spanning April and May 2012. The telephone records obtained do not include the content of phone calls, but they likely reveal the phone number of each and every caller on those lines for a period of weeks and, therefore, the identity of scores of confidential media sources.

The seizure of these records came to light only because the government has a special set of guidelines that require it to notify any media organization of a subpoena for its records within (at most) 90 days. The AP appears to have learned of the seizure of its phone records, albeit after the fact, only because of this special policy.

The notice given to the AP has generated a healthy debate over the limits on the government’s authority to acquire our telephone and internet records. But what if you aren’t a media organization and, therefore, do not benefit from the special government policy entitling you to notice when the government obtains your telephone or internet records? What information can the government get about you, and is it even required to tell you when it does so?

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

One Small Step by the Senate Judiciary Committee, One Giant Leap for Online Privacy

One Small Step by the Senate Judiciary Committee, One Giant Leap for Online Privacy

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:50pm

Yesterday marked a major step for Americans taking control of their privacy online. In a rare demonstration of bipartisan support, the Senate...

Reading of Emails Without Warrant Likely Extends Beyond IRS

Reading of Emails Without Warrant Likely Extends Beyond IRS

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 8:23am

The ACLU released documents last week indicating that the criminal investigative arm of the IRS doesn’t think it always needs a warrant to read people’s email when investigating them for tax crimes. The revelation garnered widespread media attention…

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…

Congress Must Act to Stop Unwarranted Tracking by Law Enforcement

Congress Must Act to Stop Unwarranted Tracking by Law Enforcement

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:22am

In an effort to rein in overreaching law enforcement practices, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) yesterday re-introduced the GPS Act, which would require a warrant for location tracking and create a critical check on the growing…

A Fourth Amendment Application for the Internet

A Fourth Amendment Application for the Internet

By Grover G. Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform & Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:35pm

Originally posted on Politico.com

Technology has changed dramatically since 1986. With free, unlimited email storage and high-speed broadband service widely available, we no longer have to download email onto our hard drives. Instead, we indefinitely…

The Bipartisan Push for Digital Due Process Rights Grows Stronger Every Day

The Bipartisan Push for Digital Due Process Rights Grows Stronger Every Day

By Sandra Fulton, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:55pm

It's a big week for reforming the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a little-known law which safeguards internet communications but hasn't been touched in nearly 30 years.

Yesterday the ACLU joined Americans for Tax Reform to push…

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