Government Surveillance

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.

Meet Jack: What The Government Could Do With All That Location Data

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:38pm

Wednesday we learned that the NSA is collecting location information en masse. As we’ve long said, location data is an extremely powerful set of information about people. To flesh out why that is true, here is the kind of future memo that we fear may someday soon be uncovered:

Dear commissioner: now that we have finalized our systems for the acquisition and processing of Americans’ location data (using data from cell phone and license plate readers as well as other sources), I wanted to give you a quick taste of our new system’s capabilities in the domestic policing context.

As you can see in this screen shot from our new application, an individual by the name of Jack R. Benjamin yesterday was flagged as a potential DUI risk:

The rest of this post has been placed on a separate page that can display high-resolution images. Click here to view.

DOJ asks court to give police the benefit of the doubt on murky surveillance law

DOJ asks court to give police the benefit of the doubt on murky surveillance law

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 3:18pm

Live in Delaware, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania? You can rest a little bit easier today, knowing that police need a warrant before putting a GPS tracker on your car to monitor your movements. The Department of Justice has declined to appeal a Third Circuit…

Tell the White House to Fix ECPA and Protect Our Electronic Privacy

Tell the White House to Fix ECPA and Protect Our Electronic Privacy

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:03am

This might come as a shock to you, but the privacy of many of your electronic communications has a six-month expiration date.

The angry email you wish you didn't send last spring where you said those unflattering things. That text message you…

Echoing Dirty Past, NSA Sought to Reveal Porn Habits to Discredit Targets

Echoing Dirty Past, NSA Sought to Reveal Porn Habits to Discredit Targets

By Brett Max Kaufman, Legal Fellow, ACLU National Security Project at 12:06pm

In the five months since the world first learned of Edward Snowden, story after story based on documents disclosed by the young whistleblower have filled out a picture of the National Security Agency (NSA) as an organization with a limitless — and…

A Vote for Privacy is a Vote for Security

A Vote for Privacy is a Vote for Security

By Matthew Harwood, Media Strategist, ACLU at 11:23am

It couldn't be more black or white than this: "Spy on me, I'd rather be safe."

That was the proposition before two teams of debaters at the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate held Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. Defending the proposition…

Finally, a Day in Court to Challenge Mass Surveillance

Finally, a Day in Court to Challenge Mass Surveillance

By Brett Max Kaufman, Legal Fellow, ACLU National Security Project at 11:11am

For more than seven years, the government has collected the phone records of every American under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, without ever having to justify the program's legality in a public and adversarial court hearing — that is, until this…

The FISA Court’s Problems Run Deep, and More Than Tinkering is Required

The FISA Court’s Problems Run Deep, and More Than Tinkering is Required

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

With the latest release of documents about the NSA and the FISA Court (this one in response to an ACLU/EFF Freedom of Information Act request) we now have yet more evidence that the NSA’s compliance with the court’s orders has been poor. We learn,…

How a Secret Court's Backwards Logic Opened the Floodgates for NSA Spying

How a Secret Court's Backwards Logic Opened the Floodgates for NSA Spying

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project & Brett Max Kaufman, Legal Fellow, ACLU National Security Project at 2:55pm

This was originally posted at The Guardian.

After yet another avalanche of documents showing how the NSA has spied on our communications for years, Americans should be asking, how did we get here?

The answer is simple: secrecy poisoned…

Senators Say Bulk Collection Unnecessary to Fight Terrorism

Senators Say Bulk Collection Unnecessary to Fight Terrorism

By Brett Max Kaufman, Legal Fellow, ACLU National Security Project at 12:45pm

The ACLU and the ACLU of Northern California filed a friend-of-the-court brief yesterday on behalf of three of Congress’s most staunch defenders of Americans’ privacy rights — Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and Martin…

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