Spying

AP Phone Records Scandal Highlights a Broader Problem: Lack of Checks and Balances on Government Access to Records

AP Phone Records Scandal Highlights a Broader Problem: Lack of Checks and Balances on Government Access to Records

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 11:36am

Last week we learned that the Department of Justice, in an unprecedented intrusion on the work of journalists, had obtained records for twenty telephone numbers belonging to the Associated Press or its reporters, spanning April and May 2012. The telephone records obtained do not include the content of phone calls, but they likely reveal the phone number of each and every caller on those lines for a period of weeks and, therefore, the identity of scores of confidential media sources.

The seizure of these records came to light only because the government has a special set of guidelines that require it to notify any media organization of a subpoena for its records within (at most) 90 days. The AP appears to have learned of the seizure of its phone records, albeit after the fact, only because of this special policy.

The notice given to the AP has generated a healthy debate over the limits on the government’s authority to acquire our telephone and internet records. But what if you aren’t a media organization and, therefore, do not benefit from the special government policy entitling you to notice when the government obtains your telephone or internet records? What information can the government get about you, and is it even required to tell you when it does so?

DOJ's AP Phone Logs Grab Highlights Renewed Need for Shield Law

DOJ's AP Phone Logs Grab Highlights Renewed Need for Shield Law

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:31pm

Update: The administration has asked Sen. Schumer to reintroduce the Free Flow of Information Act, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) just announced that he will do so in the House, and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced a similar bill today. The administration…

Is the FBI’s Community Outreach Program a Trojan Horse?

Is the FBI’s Community Outreach Program a Trojan Horse?

By Mike German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:33pm

In December 2011, the ACLU released FBI documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, which showed that San Francisco FBI agents were exploiting community outreach programs for intelligence-gathering purposes. Now it appears FBI…

President Obama Shows No CISPA-like Invasion of Privacy Needed to Defend Critical Infrastructure

President Obama Shows No CISPA-like Invasion of Privacy Needed to Defend Critical Infrastructure

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:48pm

Last night the President signed an executive order (EO) aimed at ramping up the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure...

Open Source Intelligence and Crime Prevention

Open Source Intelligence and Crime Prevention

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:00pm

Buried on page A25 of Thursday’s New York Times is a tiny story on what’s likely to become a big problem after the recent horrific mass shooting. According to the report, top intelligence officials in the New York City Police Department…

Boston Police Store License Plate Data For “Intelligence” Purposes

Boston Police Store License Plate Data For “Intelligence” Purposes

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 2:29pm

This summer ACLU affiliates all around the country filed open-records requests seeking information about how government agencies are using automated license plate readers. One set of records, released this week to the ACLU of Massachusetts by the police…

New Public Safety Broadband Network: Tool For A Domestic Secret Police?

New Public Safety Broadband Network: Tool For A Domestic Secret Police?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 6:19pm

Police in Tampa used smartphones and tablets to spy on protesters at the Republican National Convention, according to a report today from the National Journal.

Smartphones have proven to be an excellent tool for empowering individuals faced…

Members of Congress Urge Investigation of FBI Muslim Surveillance

Members of Congress Urge Investigation of FBI Muslim Surveillance

By Devon Chaffee, Legislative Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:37am

Yesterday 22 Members of Congress sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice urging him to launch an investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's improper recording and dissemination of information about the First…

More Anti-Muslim Training Materials Uncovered

More Anti-Muslim Training Materials Uncovered

By Devon Chaffee, Legislative Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 7:16pm

This morning, Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman continued to shock readers by exposing some of the most vehemently anti-Muslim training documents used by the U.S. government that have come to light to date. (See our past analysis of biased FBI materials.)…

A Glimpse at the World of Digital Forensics

A Glimpse at the World of Digital Forensics

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:33pm

A gathering of cyber-crime specialists in Massachusetts last week provided a glimpse into the tactics used by prosecutors and police to access digital data. Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts has done a nice writeup of the conference. As she…

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