Blog of Rights

Oliver Stone: Don’t Stand By While the NSA’s Surveillance Machine Eats Our Civil Liberties

Oliver Stone: Don’t Stand By While the NSA’s Surveillance Machine Eats Our Civil Liberties

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 10:01am

After The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the astonishing scope of some of the NSA...

VICTORY! Supreme Court Decides: Our Genes Belong to Us, Not Companies

VICTORY! Supreme Court Decides: Our Genes Belong to Us, Not Companies

By Sandra S. Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 11:35am

Should companies be able to patent human genes? Today, the Supreme Court answered that profound question with a resounding NO.

Seems like common sense, right? But over the last 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands…

"Drones" vs "UAVs" -- What's Behind A Name?

"Drones" vs "UAVs" -- What's Behind A Name?

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:00am

Representatives of the drone industry and other drone boosters often make a point of saying they don’t like to use the word “drones.” When my colleague Catherine Crump and I were writing our drones report in 2011, we talked over what terminology we should use, and decided that since our job was to communicate, we should use the term that people would most clearly and directly understand. That word is “drones.”

Drone proponents would prefer that everyone use the term “UAV,” for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or “UAS,” for Unmanned Aerial System (“system” in order to encompass the entirety of the vehicle that flies, the ground-based controller, and the communications connection that connects the two). These acronyms are technical, bland, and bureaucratic. That’s probably their principal advantage from the point of view of those who want to separate them from the ugly, bloody, and controversial uses to which they’ve been put by the CIA and U.S. military overseas.

I suppose there is a case to be made that domestic drones are a different thing from overseas combat drones. Certainly, there’s a wide gulf separating a $17 million Reaper drone armed with Hellfire missiles and a hand-launched hobbyist craft buzzing around somebody’s back yard. But drone proponents themselves would be the first to say that drones are a tool—one that can be used for many different purposes. They can be used for fun, photography, science, surveillance, and yes, raining death upon people with the touch of a button from across the world. Even the overseas military uses of drones vary, including not just targeted killing but also surveillance and logistics.

Putting aside well-founded fears that even domestically we may someday see the deployment of weaponized drones, in the end, the difference between overseas and domestic drones is a difference in how the same tool is used. Regardless of whether you’ve got a Predator, a Reaper, a police craft, or a $150 backyard hobby rotorcraft, that tool is what it is. What it is is a drone.

I can’t touch on this subject without quoting from George Orwell’s famous essay “Politics and the English Language,” in which Orwell argued that bland and needlessly complicated language was a political act—a symptom of attempts to cover up

Larry Kirschenman

As a Soldier I Defended Our Rights, Now Who Will Defend Mine?

By Larry Kirschenman at 5:10pm

For a year now, I've been asking how a 75-year-old Vietnam Vet and retired prison guard like me could wind up in the hospital after being brutally mistreated by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.

I live in a quiet retirement community,…

My Big Gay Illegal Wedding Winners!

Meet the Five Winning Couples of "My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding!"

By Alicia Gay, ACLU at 4:39pm

Almost 200,000 supporters of the freedom to marry voted for couples from across the country, to win the "My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding" contest. The winning couples will each receive $5,000 towards the wedding of their dreams as part of our campaign…

Border Patrol Agents on motor bikes

Why is U.S. Border Patrol Shooting Rock-Throwing Teenagers?

By Vicki B. Gaubeca, ACLU of New Mexico at 12:15pm

Sixteen-year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was walking near the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to meet his brother for a late-night snack when he was fatally shot by U.S. Border Patrol agents. An autopsy later showed the body of the…

I Can’t Afford to Let My Boss Interfere With My Health Care Decisions

I Can’t Afford to Let My Boss Interfere With My Health Care Decisions

By Alice S.

The Affordable Care Act makes effective birth control more affordable for millions of women by requiring employer-based health plans to include no-cost coverage for contraceptives.  On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear…

Edward Snowden to Talk Privacy With the Tech Community at SXSW

Edward Snowden to Talk Privacy With the Tech Community at SXSW

By Noa Yachot, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 9:49am

In his first conversation in front of an audience since his disclosures began making global headlines last year, Edward Snowden will appear via live video next Monday at SXSW Interactive, the festival that brings together tens of thousands of technology…

Murder is Murder

Murder is Murder

By Becca Cadoff, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:07pm

Almost five years ago, the life of a man – a physician and father of four widely regarded as kind, compassionate, and dedicated to his patients – was abruptly ended. On a Sunday in late May of 2009, while Dr. George Tiller handed out flyers at…

ACLU Seeks Information About Pentagon Infiltration of “World of Warcraft”

ACLU Seeks Information About Pentagon Infiltration of “World of Warcraft”

By Rita Cant, Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project & Lee Rowland, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:44pm

Picture it. You’re online, ensconced in a muscled avatar, hacking your way through a World of Warcraft quest. A burly blacksmith appears on screen, and instead of brandishing a blunderbuss, turns to you and whispers: “Nothing is better than joining…