Government Surveillance

I Broke Into an FBI Office and Took Every Document. Here’s Why.

I Broke Into an FBI Office and Took Every Document. Here’s Why.

By Bonnie Raines at 3:50pm
Last week, I publicly revealed my identity as a member of the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, a group that in 1971 broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took documents proving that the FBI had been spying on innocent Americans, and shared them with the public. Since I came forward, I have been repeatedly asked the following: Why would you, a young mother of three, do something so dangerous and with such serious consequences, and put the lives of your children at risk?
The USA FREEDOM Act is Real Spying Reform

The USA FREEDOM Act is Real Spying Reform

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:11am

Over the last several months, members of Congress have introduced at least two dozen spying reform and transparency bills. Today, a new proposal called the USA FREEDOM Act from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was introduced…

"Snowden Was Justified." Get the Facts and You’ll Likely Agree.

"Snowden Was Justified." Get the Facts and You’ll Likely Agree.

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 5:09pm

A New York audience devoted nearly two hours yesterday evening to a riveting Intelligence Squared debate about Edward Snowden and the surveillance regime that his disclosures revealed.

The motion up for debate was "Snowden Was Justified." Arguing…

Writers, Lawmakers, and the NRA Support ACLU Challenge to NSA Spying

Writers, Lawmakers, and the NRA Support ACLU Challenge to NSA Spying

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 10:04am

Updated (09/05/2013): An impressive array of organizations and individuals filed amicus briefs yesterday in support of the ACLU's constitutional challenge to the government's collection of the call records of virtually everyone in the United States.…

Oliver Stone: Don’t Stand By While the NSA’s Surveillance Machine Eats Our Civil Liberties

Oliver Stone: Don’t Stand By While the NSA’s Surveillance Machine Eats Our Civil Liberties

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 10:01am

After The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the astonishing scope of some of the NSA...

Privacy & Security

Introducing the ACLU's NSA Documents Database

By Emily Weinrebe, ACLU National Security Project at 9:55am

The public debate over our government's surveillance programs has reached remarkable heights since the first set of NSA disclosures in June 2013 based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Since then, additional disclosures by both the press and government…

Edward Snowden to Talk Privacy With the Tech Community at SXSW

Edward Snowden to Talk Privacy With the Tech Community at SXSW

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 9:49am

In his first conversation in front of an audience since his disclosures began making global headlines last year, Edward Snowden will appear via live video next Monday at SXSW Interactive, the festival that brings together tens of thousands of technology…

ACLU Seeks Information About Pentagon Infiltration of “World of Warcraft”

ACLU Seeks Information About Pentagon Infiltration of “World of Warcraft”

By Rita Cant, Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project & Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:44pm

Picture it. You’re online, ensconced in a muscled avatar, hacking your way through a World of Warcraft quest. A burly blacksmith appears on screen, and instead of brandishing a blunderbuss, turns to you and whispers: “Nothing is better than joining…

Game Theory and Privacy

Game Theory and Privacy

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:27am

Earlier this week in “The Flawed Logic of Secret Mass Surveillance” I presented some thinking about the dynamics of mass surveillance and what that suggests about how things are likely to play out in the future with regards to the NSA’s spying.…

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

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