Location Tracking

Is Your Turn-By-Turn Navigation Application Racist?

Is Your Turn-By-Turn Navigation Application Racist?

By Joe Silver, Washington Legislative Office, ACLU at 10:32am
Last month, a web-based service called “Ghetto Tracker” was unveiled. The site’s creator touted it as a travel advice service where users could pin digital maps with safety ratings to enable those new to town to avoid dodgy neighborhoods. While crowd-sourced travel advice is not a particularly novel or noteworthy idea, the site’s suggestive use of the word ghetto to evoke neighborhoods of color and its intention to label certain areas categorically “good/bad,” “safe/unsafe,” in conjunction with its choice of the below stock photo on the homepage, has resulted in an understandable backlash from those who have found the service distasteful. After a storm of negative publicity, the operators quickly renamed the service “Good Part of Town,” the stock photo was replaced with one depicting a black family, and the site dropped all of the references to “ghetto” to refer to a “bad” area. Despite this rebranding effort, the site’s operators decided to take down the site altogether just days after the launch.
It Sure Sounds Like the NSA Is Tracking Our Locations

It Sure Sounds Like the NSA Is Tracking Our Locations

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

The drumbeat of “non-denial denials” is getting louder as the NSA continues to refuse to directly state whether it is using cell phone information to track Americans’ whereabouts. When NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander was asked again about…

In Court Thursday: Demanding the Justice Department’s Secret Memos on GPS Location Tracking

In Court Thursday: Demanding the Justice Department’s Secret Memos on GPS Location Tracking

By Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:41am

I will be in court tomorrow to argue that the Justice Department must release two key memos...

Federal Appeals Court Rules the Government Can Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant

Federal Appeals Court Rules the Government Can Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:12pm

It has long been our position that the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause before engaging in surveillance of people's historical cell phone location information. Today, our efforts were dealt a setback. Over a strong dissent,…

From the NSA to License Plate Readers: Are We to Have a “Collect it All” Society?

From the NSA to License Plate Readers: Are We to Have a “Collect it All” Society?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 10:44am

If the NSA needs a slogan, it should probably be “collect it all.” As phrased by an anonymous intel official recently quoted by the Washington Post, that has apparently been the approach of agency leadership in recent years. But the fight over whether that’s an appropriate strategy for keeping order in a democratic society is one that stretches far beyond the NSA programs now being debated.

For example, look at automatic license plate recognition systems, which are now sprouting up around the country. As we detailed in our recent report on the technology, many police departments are collecting and storing not only information about vehicles that are wanted by the police, but also location information about everybody who drives a car. Some police have defended this practice by arguing, essentially, that “you never know when or what we might need to solve a crime.”

In other words, nobody who accepts the NSA’s argument that universal collection is the right answer ought to be surprised when

Giving Consumers Essential Transparency on Apps

Giving Consumers Essential Transparency on Apps

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:54am

Today the ACLU publicly supported a document that we believe will prove to be an important step forward in providing privacy transparency for mobile applications. After more than a year of negotiation among industry, trade associations and consumer…

License Plate Readers: Just Don’t Keep Data on Innocent People!

License Plate Readers: Just Don’t Keep Data on Innocent People!

By Katie Haas, Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 11:42am

Our recent report on license plate scanners, You Are Being Tracked, reveals a lot about the privacy problems caused by the proliferation of this technology. But the report also shows that there are simple solutions that would go a long way toward transforming…

Use of Automated License Plate Readers Expanding in Northern California, and Data is Shared With Feds

Use of Automated License Plate Readers Expanding in Northern California, and Data is Shared With Feds

By Matthew Cagle, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Fellow, ACLU of Northern California at 10:51am

The feeling of freedom that comes from driving down California’s sunny open roads is at risk—and rising gas prices are not to blame. Our investigations show that at least twenty Northern California law enforcement entities as well as the California…

"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...

State secrecy and opaque funding programs cloud public's understanding of federal grants for surveillance gear

State secrecy and opaque funding programs cloud public's understanding of federal grants for surveillance gear

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 2:54pm

In the summer of 2012, the national ACLU and 38 affiliates submitted public records requests to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to learn about how they are engaging with license plate readers—powerful cameras that, used without…

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