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This Week in Civil Liberties (12/13/2013)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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December 13, 2013

True or false: T-Mobile and AT&T received nearly 600,000 requests from law enforcement for customer information in 2012.

In which state did a judge rule that a bakery cannot discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing them service?

Which major tech companies came together to call for the end of pervasive government surveillance?

The name of what American football team is widely considered offensive, but legally free speech?

Which world leader who recently passed away continues to inspire the fight for justice, especially for the LGBT movement, according to a recent ACLU blog post?

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

Cellphones are the spies in our pockets, gathering information about whom we befriend, what we say, where we go, and what we read. That’s why Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently asked the nation’s major cellphone companies to disclose how frequently they receive requests from law enforcement for customer call records—including the content of communications, numbers dialed, websites visited, and location data. Sometimes police have a warrant, sometimes they don’t.

It Was Never About the Cake

In July of 2012 Deborah Munn joined her son and his fiancé at a bakery for a wedding cake tasting. What should have been a joyous occasion turned into humiliating moment when Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to bake a cake for a wedding for a same-sex couple.

This week Deborah is celebrating the decision from Colorado administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer who found that her son and his now-husband could not be discriminated against by the bakery.

Tech Giants Join the Fight for Our Constitutional Rights

This week, Google, Yahoo, AOL, LinkedIn, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter came together and issued a full-throated defense of our constitutional rights, recognizing that pervasive government surveillance “undermines the freedom we all cherish.” Government surveillance also harms human rights, privacy, and these companies’ bottom lines. As Microsoft has recognized, “People won’t use a technology they don’t trust.”

Redskins Wrong, But Legal

An earlier blog on this site argued, rightly, that Dan Snyder, owner of a certain Washington football club, should voluntarily change the name of his team. He should. It’s demeaning and wrong, full stop.

But there are a few proposals in Washington that would force Snyder to change the name, and they raise broader issues regarding the government’s troubling ability to censor offensive speech. These proposals should be resisted as unwise for reasons that go beyond the immediate issue.

Nelson Mandela’s Important Legacy for LGBT Movement

Last Thursday, the world mourned the death of former South African President and anti-apartheid freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. In death Mandela was beloved by all, but in life he had to fight for survival under a regime of globally supported racial apartheid and spent 27 years in prison as a political prisoner. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, people living with HIV/AIDS and those fighting for justice for our communities, Nelson Mandela’s leadership and lessons should continue to guide our work.

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