Blog of Rights

Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (9/14/2012)

By Anna Salem, ACLU of Northern California at 2:48pm

 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.

Private Spies and Our Growing Surveillance State [The Nation – Kade Crockford]
"In early August, WikiLeaks released another cluster of the 5 million e-mails it obtained in late 2011 from Stratfor, a private intelligence agency Barron’s has called 'The Shadow CIA.'…Among the most intriguing items disclosed in the latest document dump was the existence of a spooky-sounding company called TrapWire, sparking an online uproar among surveillance researchers and transparency advocates."

House Reauthorizes Warrantless Wiretapping Program [ACLU – Ateqah Khaki]
Today, the House of Representatives passed a reauthorization of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, an unconstitutional domestic spying law that gives vast, unchecked surveillance authority to the government. The law, passed in July of 2008, authorizes the National Security Agency to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls.

See Also Fight over FISA Amendments Act Moves to the Senate, as the House Passes the Broad, Warrantless Spying Bill [EFF – Trevor Timm]

See Also House Approves Sweeping, Warrantless Electronic Spy Powers [Wired – David Kravets]

Cops might finally need a warrant to read your Gmail [Ars Technica – Cyrus Farivar]
"Right now, if the cops want to read my e-mail, it’s pretty trivial for them to do so. All they have to do is ask my online e-mail provider. But a new bill set to be introduced Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee by its chair, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), seems to stand the best chance of finally changing that situation and giving e-mail stored on remote servers the same privacy protections as e-mail stored on one's home computer."

See Also Email Privacy Faces a Key Test Next Week [ACLU – Chris Calabrese]

Twitter surrenders Occupy protester's tweets [Reuters – Joseph Ax]
"Twitter handed over tweets from an Occupy Wall Street protester to a New York criminal judge on Friday after months of fighting a subpoena from prosecutors."

See Also New York Judge Tries to Silence Twitter in Its Ongoing Battle to Protect User Privacy [EFF – Hanni Fakhoury]

FBI launches $1 billion face recognition project [New Scientist – Sara Reardon]
"As part of an update to the national fingerprint database, the FBI has begun rolling out facial recognition to identify criminals. It will form part of the bureau's long-awaited, $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme, which will also add biometrics such as iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification to the toolkit."

See Also Biometric Databases and Quantitative Privacy [Concurring Opinions – Danielle Citron]

Company Says It, Not F.B.I, Was Hacking Victim [New York Times – Nicole Perlroth]
"An Orlando, Fla., company said on Monday that it — not the F.B.I. — was the source of a file hackers posted online last week that contained a million identification numbers for Apple mobile devices. The company, BlueToad, which works with thousands of publishers to translate printed content into digital and mobile formats, said hackers had breached its systems more than a week ago and stolen the file."

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