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Civil Liberties in the Digital Age: Weekly Highlights (7/6/2012)

Anna Salem,
ACLU of Northern California
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July 6, 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.

Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn’t want to talk about it [MSNBC – Bob Sullivan]

“Does the U.S. government read your email? It’s a simple question, but apparently there’s no simple answer. And the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are reluctant to say anything on the topic.”

New York Court Denies Twitter Motion to Quash Occupy Protester Subpoena [ACLU – Aden Fine]

A New York criminal court judge has issued a decision denying Twitter’s motion to quash a court order requiring it to produce information about one of its users pursuant to a subpoena that the District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan issued in connection with the prosecution of an Occupy Wall Street protester. This decision is disappointing.

See Also Judge: Twitter must release account data of arrested user [CNET – Elinor Mills]

Judge approves Netflix privacy settlement [Marin Independent Journal – Jonathan Stempe]

“A federal judge has granted preliminary approval to Netflix’s (NFLX) $9 million settlement of class-action litigation accusing the video rental company of violating consumer privacy laws.”

Facebook Joins California Mobile App Privacy Program [Information Week – Mathew J. Schwartz]

“Facebook has agreed to abide by California guidelines that are meant to protect the privacy of mobile application users.”

Yes, The Cops Can Text You From Your Drug Dealer’s iPhone To Bust You [Forbes – Kashmir Hill]

“The Washington Court of Appeals was not sympathetic, ruling that the messages were private, but because Roden knew that his text messages were being sent to another device where they would be ‘recorded,’ i.e. saved, he had no ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ once they were sitting in his drug dealer’s text inbox.”

foursquare’s New App Needs New Privacy Controls [ACLU of Northern CA – Chris Conley]

In early June, the popular location based service foursquare overhauled its mobile app. As a result of these changes, users can now see all of their friends’ check-ins from the last two weeks. Many users may not understand how much of their location history is visible to their friends, and even those users aware of the details have no practical way to opt out. And while forcing users to share that sensitive information might be popular with hitmen, it might not be popular with foursquare users who now broadcast location history to their friends (and maybe soon to their friends’ intensely curious apps?) without expecting or intending to. Help us tell foursquare to give you the tools to control your own location history.

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