Back to News & Commentary

Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (8/10/2012)

Anna Salem,
ACLU of Northern California
Share This Page
August 10, 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.

Facebook and the ACLU Say Clicking ‘Like’ Is Free Speech [Associated Press]
“Attorneys for Facebook and the American Civil Liberties Union want a federal appeals court to rule that clicking “Like” on the social networking site is constitutionally-protected free speech.”
See Also Facebook, ACLU: Clicking ‘Like’ is free speech [Brock Vergakis]
See Also ACLU & Facebook Tell Appeals Court That “Like” Is Free Speech [ACLU – Josh Bell]

Bad News On Warrantless GPS Tracking [ACLU – Catherine Crump]
Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a disappointing but fortunately narrow decision in a case involving warrantless tracking of a vehicle with a GPS device. The three-judge panel refused to exclude GPS tracking evidence under what’s known as the “good faith” exception, ruling that when the tracking took place, law enforcement agents reasonably relied on binding circuit court precedent in concluding that no warrant was necessary. The tracking happened before the Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Jones that GPS device tracking triggers Fourth Amendment protections.
See Also GPS Tracking Case Upheld by Court [Wall Street Journal – Jess Bravin]

Appeals Court OKs Warrantless Wiretapping [Wired – David Kravets]
“The federal government may spy on Americans’ communications without warrants and without fear of being sued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision reversing the first and only case that successfully challenged President George W. Bush’s once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program.”
See Also 9th Circuit Dismisses Al Haramain Case [EFF – Cindy Cohn]
Twitter Withholds Information from Police After Troll Threatens Murder? Not Quite [EFF – Eva Galperin and Jillian C. York]
“Because Twitter’s policy is to require valid legal process before it will hand over user data, very few of these requests were granted in part or in whole. But if Twitter were to loosen this requirement—as many of yesterday’s commentators have suggested it ought to—it would make it far easier for governments to violate user privacy and demand information be censored.”
See Also Court Prompts Twitter to Give Data to Police in Threat Case [New York Times – Wendy Ruderman]
See Also Twitter hands over user data to NYPD after shooting threat tweet [Ars Technica – Casey Johnston]

Google Apparently Wants To Get Sued Again, Now Including Gmail Content In Search Results [Consumerist – Chris Morran]
“Because Google didn’t learn anything from the Google Buzz privacy debacle, the company has now decided to begin testing the integration of users’ Gmail content into general search results. So a search for Amazon on would also bring up a sidebar with e-mails from or related to your Amazon purchases.”
See Also Google to include people’s Gmail in search results [Associated Press]
NYC, Microsoft Team On Huge Surveillance System [Information Week – Dan Taylor]
“New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled Wednesday a new surveillance system, developed in partnership with Microsoft, that incorporates information from license plate readers, street cameras, and other sensors distributed around the city.”

Google to pay $22.5 million to settle FTC charges over tracking cookies in Apple’s Safari browser [Engadget – Mat Smith]
“Google has agreed to pay a $22.5 million penalty to settle its dispute with the FTC, over the company’s role in bypassing browser settings in Apple’s Safari web browser. Although it stated that it wouldn’t use tracking cookies or targeted ads in the web browser, a loophole was discovered, violating a previous privacy settlement between the FTC and Google.”
See Press Release Google Will Pay $22.5 Million to Settle FTC Charges it Misrepresented Privacy Assurances to Users of Apple’s Safari Internet Browser [FTC]
See Also Google $22.5 Million FTC Fine Has No Teeth [Information Week – Thomas Claburn]
See Also FTC: It’s not just about your privacy policy [Privacy Choice]

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

Learn More About the Issues on This Page