Government Surveillance

Finger pressing security button on keyboard

Protect our Privacy – Protect our Metadata

By Chris Conley, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California Technology and Civil Liberties Project at 10:05am
Imagine bringing a date home for dinner. You put the laptop away and mute your phone. You prepare a gourmet home-cooked meal for two, queue up a selection of romantic songs and pick out a movie to watch after dinner. As the evening winds down, your heart races a bit as you go in for a kiss and wonder how your night will end.
The NSA's Shadow Database

The NSA's Shadow Database

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 4:58pm

Last week saw the release of yet another independent report condemning the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records. In its report, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) called for an end to the program, concluding that it…

The Flawed Logic of Secret Mass Surveillance

The Flawed Logic of Secret Mass Surveillance

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:50am

Privacy is a form of power. Humans are always highly aware who is observing them at any given time and place, and always tailor their behavior to that audience. And they generally work to make sure that their behavior does not reveal things that might…

New Documents Show Lopsided Reliance on Secret Subpoenas

New Documents Show Lopsided Reliance on Secret Subpoenas

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 12:29pm

What happens when legislatures pass laws enabling law enforcement to obtain sensitive, private information about people without requiring any evidence of criminal activity, and without any outside oversight whatsoever?

Fishing expeditions.

Take…

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:06pm

Cellphones are the spies in our pockets, gathering information about whom we befriend, what we say, where we go, and what we read. That’s why Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently asked the nation’s major cellphone companies to disclose how frequently they receive requests from law enforcement for customer call records—including the content of communications, numbers dialed, websites visited, and location data. Sometimes police have a warrant, sometimes they don’t.

Seven companies provided information in response to the inqury. The letters Markey received, which were covered today in the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and New York Times, show that the quantity of requests for these records is staggering. T-Mobile and AT&T together received nearly 600,000 requests for customer information in 2012. AT&T has to employ more than 100 full-time workers to process them. And police demand for our call records is growing rapidly, with requests to Verizon doubling in the last five years.

This piece was originally published on Slate. Click here to read the full article.

"Limited Only by the Imagination": The Need for Legal Limits on License Plate Reader Use

"Limited Only by the Imagination": The Need for Legal Limits on License Plate Reader Use

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 10:13am

If you've been following our work on license plate readers, by now you know that if you're driving, your license plate is likely being photographed...

Privacy, Computers, and Consequences (Computers vs. Humans Part 2)

Privacy, Computers, and Consequences (Computers vs. Humans Part 2)

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:09pm

In a post yesterday I discussed the belief that as long as our behavior and communications are only scrutinized by a computer, our privacy has not been invaded. Many people have that sense because computers are so much dumber than human beings.

But…

Government Confirms That It Has Secret Interpretation of Patriot Act Spy Powers

Government Confirms That It Has Secret Interpretation of Patriot Act Spy Powers

By Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 12:59pm

The government has just officially confirmed what we've long suspected: there are secret Justice Department opinions about the Patriot Act's Section 215, which allows the government to get secret orders from a special surveillance court (the FISA…

ACLU ED Anthony D. Romero and filmmaker Laura Poitras

"CITIZENFOUR": The Evolution of Whistleblower Edward Snowden

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 3:56pm

Filmmaker Laura Poitras, director of CITIZENFOUR, sits down with Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director, to discuss her film, the surveillance state, and Edward Snowden.

Anthony Romero: Your film offers an understanding of Ed Snowden and the…

Crop of image by David D/C via Flickr

Have We Become a “Surveillance State”? A Five-Part Test

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:14am

At a panel in Toronto recently I was asked whether I thought the United States had become a “surveillance state.” How to answer that question? At first glance it’s an impossibly fuzzy question, the answer to which is relative depending on whether…

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