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Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (10/5/12)

Anna Salem,
ACLU of Northern California
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October 5, 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.

California Governor Vetoes Landmark Location-Privacy Law [Wired – David Kravets]
“California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required the state’s authorities to get a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge to obtain location information from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones and laptops.”
See Also Governor Brown Vetoes Location Privacy Act [ACLU-NC – Chris Conley]

New Tracking Frontier: Your License Plates [Wall Street Journal – Julia Angwin & Jennifer Valentino-Devries]
“Until recently it was far too expensive for police to track the locations of innocent people…. But as surveillance technologies decline in cost and grow in sophistication, police are rapidly adopting them. Private companies are joining, too.”

California Social Media Privacy Laws Give Students, Employees Online Rights [ACLU-NC – Chris Conley]
On Thursday California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law that will protect the privacy of employee and college student social media accounts in the state of California. While these bills aren’t perfect, they are an important first step towards recognizing that our rights—including our fundamental right to privacy—apply just as much in the online world as in the offline.

Fan Sites for Pop Stars Settle Children’s Privacy Charges [New York Times – Natasha Singer]
“The operator of fan Web sites for pop stars Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Rihanna and Demi Lovato agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle federal charges that the sites had illegally collected personal information about thousands of children, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.”

Justice Dept. to defend warrantless cell phone tracking [CNET – Declan McCullagh]
“The Obama administration will tell federal judges in New Orleans today that warrantless tracking of the location of Americans’ mobile devices is perfectly legal.”

Lawmaker cites new cyber threats to financial networks [Reuters – Jim Wolf]
“A Senate bill backed by President Barack Obama that would have allowed for greater information-sharing between intelligence agencies and private companies has met opposition from both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which objected to additional regulation, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is worried about privacy issues.”

Why Facebook’s Argument Against Privacy For Minors Is Doomed [ReadWriteWeb – Dave Copeland]
“The Federal Trade Commission wants to protect the privacy of minors, but Facebook objects on First Amendment grounds. Here’s why the social network’s argument is weak, self-serving, and bound to fail.”

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