Blog of Rights

Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (7/20/2012)

By Anna Salem, ACLU of Northern California at 2:57pm

In the digital age that we live in today, we are constantly exposing our personal information online. From using cell phones and GPS devices to online shopping and sending e-mail, the things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. The ACLU believes that Americans shouldn’t have to choose between using new technology and keeping control of your private information. Each week, we feature some of the most interesting news related to technology and civil liberties that we’ve spotted from the previous week.

No cyber news is usually good news, but today is an exception.  Senators have unveiled significant privacy amendments that will be incorporated into S. 2105, the Cybersecurity Act.  Authored by Sens. Lieberman, Feinstein, Rockefeller and Collins, the bill provides comprehensive cybersecurity reform, including a new ‘information sharing’ program that permits companies to share internet info with each other and the government. 

     See Also New Cybersecurity Bill Available [Stanford Center for Internet and Society – Jennifer Granick]

     See Also New Cybersecurity Proposal Patches Serious Privacy Vulnerabilities [Rainey Reitman and Lee Tien]

That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker. [New York Times - Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan] 
"The device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone — guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls. Let’s stop calling them phones. They are trackers."
 

"Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) grilled Facebook and the FBI in a Congressional hearing about their increasing use of 'faceprints.' Franken had an especially heated exchange with Facebook privacy manager Rob Sherman, with Franken complaining that a user has to click through six pages in Facebook’s privacy settings before the term 'facial recognition' appears."

      See Also EFF Urges Congress to Protect Privacy in Face Recognition [EFF – Yana Welinder]

     See Also Regulation of facial recognition may be needed, US senator says [Computer World - Grant Gross]

     See Also Face blurring: when footage requires anonymity [YouTube Blog]

Taking the Cyberattack Threat Seriously [Wall Street Journal – Barack Obama]
"Fortunately, last month's scenario was just a simulation—an exercise to test how well federal, state and local governments and the private sector can work together in a crisis. But it was a sobering reminder that the cyber threat to our nation is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face."
 
Covert FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test  [Wall Street Journal - Jennifer Valentino-Devries]

"Early last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a secret letter to a phone company demanding that it turn over customer records for an investigation. The phone company then did something almost unheard of: It fought the letter in court."

     See Also What It’s Like to Fight a National Security Letter [Wall Street Journal - Jennifer Valentino-Devries]

     See Also FAQ: The Case of the National Security Letter [Wall Street Journal – Interactive Graphic]

     See Also A 15-Month Fight for Subscriber Information [emptywheel]

"Earlier this year, the nine justices unanimously agreed that placing a GPS tracking device on a suspect’s car without a warrant was unconstitutional. That decision continues to have ripple effects throughout the privacy law world, and likely will for years to come."

     See Also ACLU Seeks FBI Guidance Memos on GPS Tracking [ACLU – Catherine Crump]

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