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This Week in Civil Liberties (02/21/2014)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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February 21, 2014

How many Japanese Americans were relocated to American concentration camps seventy one years ago?

A transparency report released by what major telecommunications provider reveals that the government requests large volumes of customer information, typically without a warrant?

What government agency took a first step this week to establish protections for net neutrality?

Jurists from the state supreme courts of which two states ruled that laws keeping surveillance in check must be updated as new technology changes the way the government conducts surveillance?

In how many states has legislation been proposed to enact privacy protections around drone use?

While My Grandfather Fought in WWII, My Grandmother Was Locked in a U.S. Concentration Camp

This week we honored the Day of Remembrance: seventy one years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized military officials to “evacuate” from their homes some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry (nearly two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens) and “relocate” these men, women, and children to desolate prison camps scattered all the way from Arkansas to California.

While the ACLU’s Carl Takei’s grandfather served in a racially segregated U.S. Army artillery unit during World War II, Carl’s grandmother waited for him in an American concentration camp. He blogs on how his family’s experience fueled his interest in fighting for the rights of prisoners and immigration detainees.

AT&T’s First Transparency Report Reveals Warrantless Demands for Customer Data

In the wake of the ACLU’s shareholder advocacy, AT&T has now joined Verizon and released its first transparency report. AT&T’s report shows how federal, state, and local governments have requested large volumes of customer information, typically without a warrant. While we welcome AT&T’s move, the American public remains in the dark about a lot of what’s happening behind the scenes. Greater transparency is still needed from AT&T and the federal government.

Rebooting Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission has taken the first step in rebooting the net neutrality rules. This week’s announcement by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler follows a major D.C. Circuit decision this year, which struck down the existing rules requiring that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat all data on the internet equally, while keeping the door open for future FCC action to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against or blocking certain websites or services.

State High Courts Realize It’s Not 1986 Anymore, Broaden Privacy Protections

Technology in the digital age has changed the way the government conducts surveillance against targets, and the law must change accordingly. So ruled two separate state supreme courts in decisions that take on the so-called ‘third-party doctrine,’ an outdated legal precedent that serves as the foundation for the federal government’s defense of NSA and FBI bulk records surveillance programs.

Status of Domestic Drone Legislation in the States

The United States is currently seeing an unprecedented surge of activity in state legislatures across the country aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. ACLU lobbyists in state capitols and policy strategists have been tracking this activity and working hard to make sure these privacy-protective bills become law. The chart here shows the current status of state legislation as the ACLU understands it.

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