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Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (9/7/2012)

Anna Salem,
ACLU of Northern California
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September 7, 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.

Survey: cell phone users concerned about privacy [Associated Press]
“Many cellphone users say they have decided not to use an app on their phone because of concerns about privacy. More than half of Americans who use apps say they have decided not to install one once they found out how much personal information they’d have to share, according to a study released Wednesday from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.”

Smartphone apps track users even when shut down [Boston – Hiawatha Bray]
“Some smartphone apps collect and transmit sensitive information stored on a phone, including location, contacts, and Web browsing histories, even when the apps are not being used by the phone’s owner, according to two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Hackers Scour FBI Laptop, Find Data On 12 Million iOS Users [Read Write Web – Dan Rowinski]
“Hacker group Anonymous claims to have obtained 12 million iOS user IDs from the computer of an FBI agent and has released nearly 1 million of those IDs along with corresponding personal information. The claim, if it is true, raises important questions. For instance, what was an FBI agent doing with personal information about 12 million private citizens?”

See Also Anonymous Hackers Claim To Release One Million Apple Devices’ Unique Identifiers Stolen From FBI [Forbes – Andy Greenberg]

ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Reconsider Cell Phone Tracking Decision [ACLU – Catherine Crump]
Yesterday we asked the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the arguments in our amicus brief that it should rehear a case decided by a three-judge panel in a ruling last month that undermined the privacy rights of everyone who carries a cell phone.

See Also Groups seek to overturn ruling allowing warrantless phone tracking [Ars Technica – Timothy B. Lee]

FTC Releases Mobile App Guidance [The Lares Institute Blog – Andy Serwin]
The FTC has been focused on mobile apps and the legal issues they raise, and that focus continues to be shown by the most recent guidance from the FTC. Marketing Your Mobile App: Get it Right From the Start, offers guidance to app developers regarding what the FTC believes should be done to protect consumers in the mobile world.

See FTC Report Marketing Your Mobile App: Get It Right from the Start [PDF]

Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’ [Wired – David Kravets] The Obama administration told a federal court Tuesday that the public has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may obtain documents detailing a person’s movements from wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant.

Police seizure of text messages violated 4th Amendment, judge rules [Ars Technica – Jon Brodkin]
Savage’s decision in State of Rhode Island v. Michael Patino is a bold and interesting one, because the status of text messages in criminal investigations remains unsettled in the US. Savage wrote “this Court finds that it is objectively reasonable for people to expect the contents of their electronic text messages to remain private, especially vis-à-vis law enforcement.” Patino had a right to privacy for his text message conversations, whether police took them from his phone or Oliver’s, and a right to privacy in the apartment because he frequently stayed there, making it one of his residences.

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