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Keeping the Government Out of Your Smartphone

Keeping the Government Out of Your Smartphone

By Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 11:48am
Smartphones can be a cop's best friend. They are packed with private information like emails, text messages, photos, and calling history. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement agencies now routinely seize and search phones. This occurs at traffic stops, during raids of a target's home or office, and during interrogations and stops at the U.S. border. These searches are frequently conducted without any court order.
Invasion of the Data Snatchers: Big Data and the Internet of Things Means the Surveillance of Everything

Invasion of the Data Snatchers: Big Data and the Internet of Things Means the Surveillance of Everything

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project & Matthew Harwood, Media Strategist, ACLU at 11:18am

This piece originally ran at TomDispatch.com.

Estimates vary, but by 2020 there could be over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet. Once dumb, they will have smartened up thanks to sensors and other technologies embedded in…

Keeping "Your World" Private: Turning off Google's New Private Search Results

Keeping "Your World" Private: Turning off Google's New Private Search Results

By Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California at 5:23pm

Want to keep your information private now that Google has started rolling out “Search, plus Your World,” a new search results format? For those signed-in with a Google account, the new feature combines search results from the public…

Privacy Please laptop

How to Protect the Most Privacy with the Least Effort: Change Search Engines

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:15am

If you use Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other service that tracks your search terms, there is no reason not to change search engines today.

When you do a search with these companies, they log your IP address and search terms, and store that…

Why You Should be 203 Percent Behind ECPA Reform

Why You Should be 203 Percent Behind ECPA Reform

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:46am

There's a wave of transparency reports sweeping the nation. In recent months a plethora of companies – including Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter – have released these detailed documents, which describe the number of requests they get from…

How Social Networks Short-Circuit Our Inborn Privacy Intuitions

How Social Networks Short-Circuit Our Inborn Privacy Intuitions

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:58pm

A few years ago, one of our ACLU state affiliates received a request for help from a man who had set up a marijuana grow operation in his home. He was apparently quite proud of what he built, because he bragged about it not only to his friends, but also to his Facebook “Friends.” Unfortunately, one of his Friends was Friends with a police officer a thousand miles away in Florida. That police officer called up his colleagues in

More Transparency Needed For Government's Use of National Security Powers For Data Requests From Companies

More Transparency Needed For Government's Use of National Security Powers For Data Requests From Companies

By Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 2:27pm

Google's transparency report reveals that the U.S. government asked Google for data on its users 6,321 times during the second half of 2011—a 75% increase from two years ago.

Google Turns on Encrypted Search by Default for Users

Google Turns on Encrypted Search by Default for Users

By Chris Conley, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California Technology and Civil Liberties Project at 5:57pm

This week, our federal online privacy law turns 25. The ACLU is hosting a blog series that will address some of the many reasons why the "Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986" (ECPA) is in need of an upgrade! Spread the word…

Do Androids Dream of Electric Speech?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Speech?

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:23am

Professor Tim Wu at Columbia had an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday arguing against First Amendment protections for “automated” speech. Here’s the argument distilled:

As a matter of legal logic, there is some similarity…

Chertoff on Google Glass

Chertoff on Google Glass

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:56pm

We’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the implications of consumer wearable cameras like Google Glass, and I’m sure we’ll have more to say in this space on the subject. But meanwhile, we’re pleasantly surprised to report a very trenchant analysis of the technology’s implications for our privacy by none other than Michael Chertoff. Writing on CNN’s web page, the former DHS chief writes,

So, who owns and what happens to the user's [video] data? Can the entire database be mined and analyzed for commercial purposes? What rules will apply when law enforcement seeks access to the data for a criminal or national security investigation? For how long will the data be retained? ….

Even those who might be willing to forgo some degree of privacy to enhance national security should be concerned about a corporate America that will have an unrestricted continuous video record of millions.

What is to prevent a corporation from targeting a particular individual, using face recognition technology to assemble all uploaded videos in which he appears, and effectively constructing a surveillance record that can be used to analyze his life?

Chertoff says he’s inclined to think that government regulation may be needed. I haven’t seen Chertoff say anything about the threat of pervasive government surveillance, which would make him a kind of anti-libertarian on privacy—in favor of restricting corporations, but not the government. For the average, relatively powerless person trying to live their life, the threat comes from both directions.

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