Back to News & Commentary

This Week in Civil Liberties (11/18/2011)

The text, "Week in Review."
The text, "Week in Review."
Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
Share This Page
November 18, 2011

Guess who’s stalking you on the Internet?

Who is suing the Oakland Police Department to end violence against Occupy Oakland protesters?

Which amendment could the Stop Online Privacy Act impede?

Which presidential candidate thinks the ACLU is effectively running the CIA?

In which state does an anti-immigrant law put small businesses at risk?

The Social Network is Stalking You
A new web feature by USA Today details the ways Facebook stalks you around the Internet — even when you’re not logged in. Facebook’s tracking methods — in the guise of the innocent seeming “Like” button — record every web site its 800 million-plus members have visited during the previous 90 days, even if you never click on that button, or don’t have a Facebook account.

ACLU Sues Oakland Police Department to Stop Violence Against Protesters
The Oakland Police Department (OPD) was sued in federal court this week by the ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers Guild for trampling (repeatedly!) on the constitutional rights of Occupy Oakland demonstrators. The lawsuit asks for immediate relief from the court to stop police violence against political protesters, because the OPD has shown that it will continue to violate protesters’ rights unless a court intervenes (again).

Good Idea, Poor Follow-Through: Congress’ Mistakes with SOPA
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), while a well-intentioned effort to reduce online copyright infringement, is severely flawed and has much broader implications than its Senate predecessor, PROTECT IP. Copyright protection is absolutely vital to free speech in that it encourages innovations and assures creators that their work will be protected; however, it is extremely important that such protection remains consistent with constitutional principles and only impacts those who illegally use protected content. SOPA’s vague definitions could lead to the restriction of completely lawful non-infringing content. We agree that online infringement is a continuing problem, but we do not believe that it is acceptable to sidestep procedural protections, especially in cases that may involve non-infringing material protected by the First Amendment.

ACLU: If We Ran the CIA…
In what surely came as news to both venerable institutions, Michele Bachmann announced last Saturday that the ACLU is “running the CIA.” In a campaign full of absurd moments, this one managed to stand out. And it got us thinking:
This is what the ACLU would do if we did run the CIA.

Alabama’s Immigration Law Separates Long-Time Friends
For 12 years, James Pilgrim has managed a mobile home park in the Birmingham, Ala. area, getting to know families who have lived there for years. But since parts of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, H.B. 56, took effect, Pilgrim said the fear of racial profiling and other harmful aspects of the law forced many families to leave for other states or Mexico, he said.

As a small business owner, Pilgrim said he is very concerned about the law’s negative financial impact. Jefferson County, which is Alabama’s most populous county, this month declared bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. And Alabama has the 10th highest poverty rate in the nation, with more than 17 percent of the state’s residents living in poverty.

This is your week in civil liberties. Let us know if this is useful or if you’d like to see changes. Share your thoughts:

Learn more about your rights: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.