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Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (9/28/2012

Anna Salem,
ACLU of Northern California
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September 28, 2012

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.

Brown signs online privacy laws [Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy]
College students will have free digital access to many textbooks, receive more warning about tuition hikes and have their social media accounts protected from snooping university officials under measures approved by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. The new privacy laws also prohibit employers from asking workers or job applicants for their email or social media account passwords.

Justice Department’s Warrantless Spying Increased 600 Percent in Decade [Wired – David Kravets]
The Justice Department use of warrantless internet and telephone surveillance methods known as pen register and trap-and-trace has exploded in the last decade, according to government documents the American Civil Liberties obtained via a Freedom of Information Act claim.
See Also Feds snoop on social-network accounts without warrants [CNET – Declan McCullagh]

A third of public fears police use of drones [Associated Press – Joan Lowy]
More than a third of Americans worry their privacy will suffer if drones like those used to spy on U.S. enemies overseas become the latest police tool for tracking suspected criminals at home, according to an Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll.

U.S. Is Tightening Web Privacy Rule to Shield Young [New York Times – Natasha Singer]
Federal regulators are about to take the biggest steps in more than a decade to protect children online. The moves come at a time when major corporations, app developers and data miners appear to be collecting information about the online activities of millions of young Internet users without their parents’ awareness, children’s advocates say.

When GPS Tracking Violates Privacy Rights [New York Times– Editorial]
“For the right to personal privacy to survive in America in this digital age, courts must be meticulous in applying longstanding privacy protections to new technology. This did not happen in an unfortunate ruling last month by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”

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