By Chris Conley, Technology and Civil Liberties Fellow, ACLU of Northern California
Imagine bringing a date home for dinner. You put the laptop away and mute your phone. You prepare a gourmet home-cooked meal for two, queue up a selection of romantic songs and pick out a movie to watch after dinner. As the evening winds down, your heart races a bit as you go in for a kiss and wonder how your night will end.
Now imagine that someone is monitoring each and every event of your evening. Oh, don't worry, they're not actually watching you or listening in on your conversation. They just know who you emailed or called just before you put your computer away. They know what you bought for dinner and how you prepared it. They know who came over, where he or she came from and how long he or she stayed. They know what time you started the movie and which songs you listened to. They even know what time you turned off the lights — and whether or not the music was still playing when you did.
And they know all of this without ever getting a search warrant.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too real. Government agencies from the NSA to local law enforcement have taken advantage of weak protections for "metadata" — including records about your phone calls, emails, purchases, location and more — to build huge databases about ordinary Americans. In thousands of cases, this information has been inappropriately accessed, potentially exposing a vast array of information about individuals: their attendance at a gay rights rally or addiction support group, their purchase of a home pregnancy test or a dating service subscription, or their calls to a suicide hotline or a job recruiter.
In response, the ACLU of California today released "Metadata: Piecing Together a Privacy Solution," a new policy paper that offers a way forward. It explains why lawmakers might have originally decided to give metadata less protection than content — and why the reasons for doing so are no longer valid in the modern world. It highlights the sensitive information that metadata can expose and provides evidence of actual abuses that have occurred in past years. Drawing from recent court cases, state laws, and analysis, it provides a simple roadmap for courts and lawmakers looking to enhance protections for metadata and ensure that our right to privacy remains alive and well in the modern era. Among other things, it is clear that we must:
- Protect all sensitive information, whether it is "content" or "metadata"
- Protect sensitive information held by third parties
- Protect sensitive information derived by aggregating and analyzing other data
- Provide law enforcement and other government agencies with clear rules and guidance
- Ensure that any collection or use of metadata is transparent and subject to independent oversight
The distinction between content (which receives stronger protection) and metadata might have made sense decades ago when technology to collect and analyze data was virtually nonexistent. But in the modern world, non-content does not mean non-sensitive. Indeed, the explosion of data mining, targeted advertising and other new technologies is driven by the realization that companies and the government can learn a great deal about an individual simply be recording their actions. We hope this paper will help make sure that all sensitive information receives the protection it deserves.
By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project
Technology Review has an article out on advances in lidar technology. The article is a reminder of just how many fronts there are where we’re seeing large technological advances with possible implications for surveillance.
Lidar is like radar except it uses lasers instead of sound waves—firing off bursts of lasers in quick succession to collect precise distance measurements in order to create a three-dimensional map of any space. Many good uses are being discovered for this—lidar is used by geologists to create highly detailed maps of the earth’s surface, for example. Archaeologists used the technology to discover clusters of architectural structures hidden in the Honduran rainforest, which some claimed to be the legendary lost city of La Ciudad Blanca (“the White City”). Lidar was also used to reveal Mayan ruins in the jungles of Peru and an ancient Khmer city in Cambodia. Lidar is also used by Google and other makers of robotic cars to help the vehicles sense their surroundings.
The technology is apparently advancing rapidly. In 2013, lidar was used to reveal vast hidden structures around the famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. “Amazingly,” Technology Review wrote in June 2013, the Angkor Wat scanning operation took only 20 hours to capture imagery “that would have taken many years to assemble on the ground, if at all.” The newer system that Technology Review is now reporting on, however, is four times faster and more detailed, going from one-meter resolution to a resolution of 30 centimeters. And in its latest story Technology Review reports on a new generation of the technology that is another 10 times better still, and could have done the Angkor Wat job in about half an hour.
Obviously one potential surveillance use of lidar is for manned or unmanned aerial surveillance. Lidar can be used not only for highly detailed 3D images—with the ability to see through some barriers such as foliage—but also for such functions as change detection, in which even small changes in a landscape, such as tire tracks, are automatically flagged.
Lidar can also be used to track people through different locations, including crowded spaces. Combined with other technologies such as face recognition or cell phone tracking, the technology could prove a powerful part of a tracking system. As this Raytheon video entitled “LIDAR People Tracking” boasts, “Lidar can segment, classify, and track people. Thee tracks can be used to determine people’s activity, steer other sensors, monitor violations of geo-fences, et cetera.”
There may well be other clever uses for this technology that nobody has thought of yet.
Of course we don’t know whether, given all the technologies we’re facing, lidar will be significant in the surveillance space. But the larger point here is, we have a lot of very powerful sensing and surveillance technologies coming at us from all directions. When it comes to our privacy laws and institutions, we’re in no way ready for the continuing onslaught.
How can people vote early if they can't get to their polling place? The answer is they can't.
But in Hamilton County, Ohio, following a vote to move the county's Board of Elections from its current location in densely-populated downtown Cincinnati, the county's only in-person early voting site may soon become inaccessible to thousands of Hamilton County residents. As the above map makes clear, for the members of the 40 to 55 percent of households in downtown Cincinnati who don't have access to a vehicle (many of whom are below the poverty line), moving the in-person early voting site to the remote suburb of Mount Airy could be tantamount to removing their access to the ballot.
You see, early in-person voting makes casting a ballot more convenient, and therefore more accessible, especially for voters on tight schedules, who tend to come from traditionally-underrepresented groups. In addition to extending the vote to the overextended, early in-person voting shortens Election Day lines, and reduces the administrative toll on poll workers and electors alike, thereby reducing the potential for mistakes. In fact, increased access to early-in person voting was one of the key recommendations of the bipartisan Presidential Commission of Election Administration (PCEA) report released last month. The PCEA was established last year, partially in response to complaints about long lines on Election Day in 2012. What makes early in-person voting such an important tool to increasing voter accessibility is that it's convenient; it is precisely this aspect that the proposed move most threatens.
In its current location, Hamilton County's early in-person voting site is within five miles of 59 percent of Cincinnati residents, and is easily accessible by public transportation. This site is also accessible to residents throughout the county, as over 80 percent of households in and around Mount Airy have access to a car. By contrast, the Mount Airy site is convenient to only 29 percent of Cincinnati's residents, and is a staggering 1.5 hour bus ride from downtown Cincinnati. This means that, for many downtown residents, early in-person voting comes at the cost of three-hour round trip bus ride.
State and municipal authorities have voiced their opposition to moving the early in-person voting site. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranely is so convinced that moving the county's early in-person voting site away from downtown will have a negative impact on downtown voters that he agreed to let the Board of Elections use a downtown Cincinnati building in lieu of a move. Secretary of State John Husted agreed that it would be the most "logical" decision to keep early in-person voting in downtown Cincinnati. We hope that the Hamilton County BOE applies Secretary of State Husted's logic and works to keep Hamilton County's in-person early voting convenient and accessible.
By Ashley Gorski, Nadine Strossen Fellow, National Security Project, ACLU
A federal judge in New Jersey dismissed a lawsuit last week brought by New Jersey Muslims who claim that the NYPD investigated and surveilled them based on little more than their Muslim faith. The plaintiffs in Hassan v. City of New York have good reason to believe they were the targets of unconstitutional discrimination — for years, New York's Muslims have known that they were subject to heightened police scrutiny because of their religion.
Among other things, the NYPD has installed police cameras outside mosques, recording congregants as they come and go, and it has dispatched informants and plainclothes officers to Muslim places of worship, organizational meetings, and social gatherings to ask unwarranted and unwanted questions. In a Pulitzer prize-winning exposé based on the NYPD's own documents, the Associated Press in 2011 confirmed the NYPD's discriminatory use of these techniques and more. Despite all this, the judge's decision denied the New Jersey plaintiffs any opportunity to prove their claims in court. Counsel in the Hassan case have indicated they will appeal.
The Hassan decision is troubling for many reasons, including the fact that the court blamed plaintiffs' injuries on the AP disclosures, rather than the NYPD's conduct. Another aspect of the decision is particularly disturbing and needs emphasis: the court's basic misunderstanding of what it means when law enforcement discriminates. The court concluded that the plaintiffs' claims of discrimination weren't "plausible" because it accepted, virtually without question, the NYPD's argument that the police sought to prevent terrorism. That conclusion, of course, completely ignores how the NYPD pursued this goal.
The Hassan lawsuit — and the ACLU's own ongoing case on behalf of New York Muslims — challenge an NYPD policy and practice of religious profiling. Both we and the lawyers in Hassan argue that the NYPD deliberately and wrongly used religion as a proxy for criminal suspicion. In short, our argument is that the NYPD violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection by going out and looking only for Muslims, rather than directing its spying at would-be terrorists.
By focusing on the NYPD's professed goal, rather than its core method, the New Jersey court embraced a dangerously narrow view of discrimination — one rightly rejected by other courts. The ruling suggests that the Constitution only forbids discrimination if it is based on the kind of deep and explicit prejudice or hostility that one might associate historically with anti-miscegenation laws, school segregation, or the denial of voting rights.
But discrimination isn't necessarily about malice, or even dislike. (Though when we're talking about the Muslim surveillance program, both are present: the NYPD's Radicalization Report, which provides a framework for its program, is based on crude, prejudicial, and false stereotypes.) A government decision need not be motivated by ill will in order to run afoul of the Constitution. When it comes to discrimination, the correct test is simply whether a police policy or practice targets individuals based on their race, religion, or any other constitutionally-protected status — regardless of whether that discrimination was part of law enforcement's original goal.
The NYPD's discredited stop-and-frisk policy is a prime example of this phenomenon of discrimination permeating an entire law enforcement process — a process that may have legitimate ends in mind. Under this policy, the NYPD disproportionately and discriminatorily targeted blacks and Hispanics for heightened police scrutiny. In her opinion ruling the policy unconstitutional, Judge Shira Scheindlin distinguished between the NYPD's ends and means, acknowledging that while the goal of deterring crime is laudable, the NYPD's process — targeting communities on the basis of race — violated bedrock equal protection principles.
The NYPD's Muslim surveillance program is no different. Even if the NYPD argues that it was motivated by a legitimate interest in thwarting terrorism, its use of religion as a proxy for criminal suspicion is unquestionably discriminatory. (Not to mention ineffective.) This type of discrimination is just as pernicious as any other. In the case of New York Muslims, the NYPD has cast a badge of suspicion on entire communities, causing profound harm to their religious goals, speech, and practice. By sowing anxiety, fear, and distrust, the NYPD has damaged the social fabric both of these Muslim communities and of the nation's most diverse city.
Some legislators in the Yellowhammer State seem intent on bringing the hammer down on Alabama women.
Less than a month into the new year, the Alabama House passed HB31 which would permit hospital staff, including any doctor, nurse, counselor, or lab technician, to refuse to participate in any phase of patient medical care related to ending a pregnancy, even if that is what a patient like this woman needs to protect her own health.
Not content with just one bill that poses a grave threat to women, some Alabama politicians are attempting to push through into law four additional anti-abortion measures.
Today, the Alabama House health committee passed a package of bills designed to roll back women's health by blocking access to abortion. The package includes:
- A bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even know they're pregnant;
- Two bills blocking care for 48 hours after a woman's initial consultation with her doctor (for no medical reason);
- And a bill that puts burdensome and needless restrictions on minors' access to abortion.
We are likely to see intense debate and media coverage of the proposed six-week ban, but these other proposals are also critical. While the end goal of anti-choice forces remains overturning Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal, politicians like the ones spearheading these efforts in Alabama have figured out that short of accomplishing this goal, they can effectively take away access by chipping away at access.
These extremists think we won't notice that they are trying to block access to safe and legal abortion care, regardless of a woman's circumstances. Let's prove them wrong.
By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project
The Verge had a story last week (expanding on an August report from the Chicago Tribune that I’d missed) that the Chicago police have created a list of the “400 most dangerous people in Chicago.” The Trib reported on one fellow, who had no criminal arrests, expressing surprise over having received a visit from the police and being told he was on this list. A 17-year-old girl was also shocked when told she was on the list.
The database, according to the Verge, is based on historic crime information, disturbance calls, and suspicious person reports. The CPD’s list is heavily based on social network analysis (which is interesting considering the debates now swirling around the uses of metadata and the analysis such data enables). A sociologist whose work inspired the list, Andrew Papachristos, told the author of a Chicago Magazine piece (which goes into some interesting depth on some of the theory behind the list): “It’s not just about your friends and who you’re hanging out with, it’s actually the structure of these networks that matter.”
The list was funded through a Justice Department grant known as “Two Degrees of Association.” (At least that’s one less hop than the NSA uses.)
I’m still consistently surprised how often things we worry about in the abstract actually show up in the real world. For years, privacy advocates have been warning about how databases might be mined by the authorities for information used to label, sort, and prejudge people. True, there are all too many precedents for this sort of thing, including the CAPPS II program proposed early in the Bush Administration, the nation’s terrorist watch lists, various police gang lists, and the Automated Targeting System. The TSA’s Pre-Check whitelist is also a cousin of this kind of program. All are based on using various information sources and grinding them through one or another logic engines to spit out a judgment about individuals and their supposed dangerousness or safeness as a human being. But still, this program amazes me in how starkly it replicates the kinds of things we have been warning about in many different contexts.
Just two weeks ago, for example, I was asked by several news outlets what we think about police officers using Google Glass. I told them that Glass is basically a body camera, and that the issues were the same as those outlined in our white paper on police use of that technology. The principal difference between Glass and the body cameras being marketed to police is that Glass can also display information. I said this shouldn’t be a problem—unless (I added almost apologetically because of the slightly fanciful nature of this point) the police started using them with face recognition to display some kind of rating or warning for individuals who have been somehow determined to be untrustworthy.
“Of course, that’s not a problem today,” I said, “it’s more of a futuristic concern.”
Ha! Barely a week later, that scenario doesn’t seem so futuristic any more to me, especially at a time when some want to use face recognition to warn them when someone on a blacklist tries to enter a store or school. (True, Google doesn’t currently permit FaceRec apps on Glass, but it’s unclear how long that will last.)
Some further points and questions about Chicago’s heat list:
- The principal problem with flagging suspicious individuals in this way may be the risk of guilt by association. Although we don’t know how valid, accurate, and fair the algorithm is, it’s important to note that even if its measures were valid statistically—that one particular individual really does have an increased risk of crime because of certain things about his or her life—it may still constitute guilt-by-association for a person who actually remains innocent. It is simply not fair for people to be subject to punishments and disadvantages because of the groups they belong to or what other people in similar circumstances tend to do. I keep going back to the example of the man whose credit rating was lowered because the other customers of a store where he shopped had poor repayment histories.
- Why should the police restrict their hotlist to 400? Why not 4,000 or 40,000? In fact, why not give every citizen a rating, between 1 and 100 say, of how “risky” they might be? Then the police could program their Google Glass to display that score hovering above the head of every person who comes into their field of vision. This is a path it’s all too easy to see the police sliding down, and one we should not take even the first steps towards.
- Remember too the point that (as I made here) there are a vast number of laws on the books, many complicated and obscure, and anyone who is scrutinized closely enough by the authorities is far more likely to actually be found to have run afoul of some law than a person who isn’t. In that respect inclusion on the list could become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
- Will the Chicago police carry out any kind of analysis to measure how effective this technique is? Will they look at the success of their predictions, search for any discriminatory effects, or attempt to find out whether these rankings become a self-fulfilling prophesy? The police often have little inclination to do any such things—to adopt rigorous criteria for measuring whether their new toys and gizmos are providing a good return on investment. Purely from an oversight point of view, every aspect of this program would ideally be made public so the world could scrutinize it—certainly the algorithm. Privacy concerns, however, suggest that the names of individuals who are (quite possibly totally unfairly) flagged by these algorithms not be made public, nor any personal data that is being fed into the algorithms.
- A Chicago police commander is quoted as saying, “If you end up on that list, there’s a reason you’re there.” This framing begs the question at the heart of this approach: is it valid and accurate? Such circular logic is genuinely frightening when it comes from a police officer talking about matters of guilt and innocence.
- It’s true that there could be a fine line between laudable efforts to identify and help “at-risk youth,” and efforts to tag some people with labels that are used to discriminate and stigmatize. Research on the “epidemiology of violence” could be valuable if used as part of a public health approach to crime. But if it’s part of a criminal justice “pre-crime” approach, then that’s where the problems arise.
Overall, the key question is this: will being flagged by these systems lead to good things in a person’s life, like increased support, opportunities, and chances to escape crime—or bad things, such as surveillance and prejudicial encounters with the police? Unfortunately, there are all too many reasons to worry that this program will veer towards the worst nightmares of those who have been closely watching the growth of the data-based society.
By Robert Hunter, Legal Assistant, ACLU, Racial Justice Program
In the spring of 1958, civil rights leader and future Georgia Congressman John Lewis met Jim Lawson, an organizer with a nonviolent organizing group called the Fellowship Of Reconciliation (FOR). Lawson introduced Lewis to the FOR's popular comic book The Montgomery Story, which provided a compelling graphic narrative of the Montgomery bus boycott, as well as an accessible outline of FOR's broad ethic of nonviolent civil disobedience. Lewis has recently described the comic as a "Bible" and "guide" for Southern civil rights organizers of the time—an invaluable source of both emotional inspiration and practical guidance to the growing family of nonviolent resistors.
Fifty-six years later, Lewis is hoping that his new graphic memoir March can provide a similar stimulus to a new generation of civil rights activists—the "past and future children" of the movement, as he refers to them in the dedication page. March is an autobiography in three parts, and Book One was released in August 2013. Books two and three are forthcoming, and a release date has not yet been set for either of them. Book one focuses on Lewis's upbringing in Pike County, Alabama and follows his evolution as a civil rights leader, especially as a participant in the Nashville food counter sit-ins of 1960.
March is a much longer narrative than The Montgomery Story, allowing it to both meaningfully testify to the lived experiences of Lewis and other activists while depicting in detail the overarching strategies and philosophy of the movement. Much of this is accomplished through the creative choices of illustrator Nate Powell, who excels at visually emphasizing the story's most important and heart-wrenching moments. Powell often utilizes broad, eye-catching images that transcend traditional panels and free small pieces of text to speak more loudly. His accessible and innovative artwork underscores the great potential of graphic novels to communicate deeply and directly to diverse audiences.
However, while March is perhaps the exemplar of recent graphic novels that bring civil rights and racial justice issues to light, it is far from the only one. In February, Marvel comics released issue 1 of Ms. Marvel, a new series about a 16-year old Pakistani-American teenager who develops superpowers. While Ms. Marvel has been perhaps the most high-profile step forward in integrating and even foregrounding racial justice issues into the comic book world, she too is not the first. She was preceded by countless, less successful twists on traditional comics' lore, many of which were printed by DC Comics' short-lived Milestone Comics imprint. Milestone, created in 1993 to address a lack of diversity in the DC universe, introduced the popular African-American teenage superhero Static, as well as more experimental works such as Blood Syndicate, a series about multiracial gangsters who develop superpowers after being mutated by experimental police teargas. Static and Blood Syndicate were also two of the first mainstream superhero comics to feature openly gay characters.
A number of artists have also released important graphic works in the last 10 years that deal more explicitly with black history and contemporary civil rights issues. Vertigo's Incognegro follows a light-skinned Black reporter in the deep south who must pass as white to investigate his brother's arrest. The book was inspired by the real-life experiences of Walter White, former head of the NAACP, who went undercover to report on lynchings. Kyle Baker's Nat Turner has also been critically acclaimed for its graphic depiction (in form and content) of the 1831 slave rebellion that provoked a wave of strengthened social control over slaves in Antebellum America. The New Press has even recently reissued in graphic form its 1999 study on mass incarceration and racial disparities, Race to Incarcerate.
Read in the context of this exciting and growing body of graphic work, one must be hopeful that March will broaden the public's familiarity with the lives of Congressman Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., and the countless other men and women of the Black freedom struggle. And it is through such exciting and innovative art that we might move closer to Congressman Lewis' wish to "imbue people with something – the young, the very young, and those not so young, [to] be ready to go out there, and push and pull."
By Shawn Jain, Media Strategist, ACLU
The 2014 Winter Olympics concluded last night in Sochi, Russia in spectacular, if not somewhat bizarre fashion, with the infamous giant bear mascot shedding a tear during the closing ceremony before the torch was passed to PyeongChang, South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Giant mascots may be allowed to cry at the Olympics, but there's no crying in Washington. Actually there is, but that's beside the point.
The point is Congress is back, and our legislative team is ready to continue tackling 2014 with a vengeance!
Here's just some of what we have on tap this week:
Tuesday, February 25th
The American Jewish Committee will host a conference, 50 Years On: A Defining Moment for Voting Rights. Senior Legislative Counsel Deborah Vagins will participate on a panel, "What Hath Shelby Wrought."
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a hearing titled "Reassessing Solitary Confinement II: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences." The ACLU will submit written testimony for the hearing.
Wednesday, February 26th
The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel will hold a hearing on sexual assault in the military.
Department of Homeland Security
The House Homeland Security Committee will host a hearing on Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson's vision for future priorities and challenges at the Department of Homeland Security.
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled "Enforcing the President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws."
Thursday, February 27th
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. Cyber Command's 2015 Defense Authorization Request. Gen. Keith Alexander will testify in his capacity as Commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
IRS Rulemaking on Non-Profit Political Speech
Legislative Counsel/Policy Advisor Gabe Rottman will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs.
By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
Dear Mr. President,
Do you remember any of your campaign ads from your 2000 Congressional campaign? I'm thinking specifically of a radio ad touting your support for a bill that required police officers to log the ethnicity of every driver they pulled over.
In the ad, you said, "Racial profiling is not only wrong and degrading: it's dangerous and can lead to unexpected confrontations. Not only that, it erodes confidence in law enforcement."
You've spoken against the humiliating practice of racial profiling many times since then. So why does your Administration continue to discriminate against Americans because of the color of their skin or the way they dress?
From stop-and-frisk in New York to Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona, you can't deny our country continues to struggle with this issue. And despite countless stories of innocent Americans accused of wrongdoing just because of the way they look, your Administration has yet to revise the Justice Department guidance regarding the use of race in federal law enforcement issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft more than a decade ago.
I know you alone can't stop racial profiling. It's going to take a lot of change in the hearts and minds of all Americans and from all levels of government before we can add racial profiling to the list of shameful practices our country has left in the past. But here's the truth: by eliminating the practice on the federal level, you can send a message to state and local officials that racial profiling has no place in law enforcement.
If you're going to succeed, you have to make sure you protect ALL individuals from harassment because of who they are. That means extending the guidelines to cover race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or sex (including gender identity and expression) to any degree and closing the loopholes for national security and border integrity investigations. They send the wrong message to all law enforcement officers that racial profiling is sometimes okay, even though you and I both know that's not the case.
It's long past time for you and your Administration to end this humiliating, ineffective, and unlawful practice. Racial profiling is at odds with our shared American values of fairness and justice, and it has no place in federal law enforcement.
The ball's in your court, Mr. President.
How many Japanese Americans were relocated to American concentration camps seventy one years ago?
A transparency report released by what major telecommunications provider reveals that the government requests large volumes of customer information, typically without a warrant?
What government agency took a first step this week to establish protections for net neutrality?
Jurists from the state supreme courts of which two states ruled that laws keeping surveillance in check must be updated as new technology changes the way the government conducts surveillance?
In how many states has legislation been proposed to enact privacy protections around drone use?
While My Grandfather Fought in WWII, My Grandmother Was Locked in a U.S. Concentration Camp
This week we honored the Day of Remembrance: seventy one years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized military officials to "evacuate" from their homes some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry (nearly two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens) and "relocate" these men, women, and children to desolate prison camps scattered all the way from Arkansas to California.
While the ACLU's Carl Takei's grandfather served in a racially segregated U.S. Army artillery unit during World War II, Carl's grandmother waited for him in an American concentration camp. He blogs on how his family's experience fueled his interest in fighting for the rights of prisoners and immigration detainees.
AT&T's First Transparency Report Reveals Warrantless Demands for Customer Data
In the wake of the ACLU's shareholder advocacy, AT&T has now joined Verizon and released its first transparency report. AT&T's report shows how federal, state, and local governments have requested large volumes of customer information, typically without a warrant. While we welcome AT&T's move, the American public remains in the dark about a lot of what's happening behind the scenes. Greater transparency is still needed from AT&T and the federal government.
Rebooting Net Neutrality
The Federal Communications Commission has taken the first step in rebooting the net neutrality rules. This week's announcement by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler follows a major D.C. Circuit decision this year, which struck down the existing rules requiring that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) treat all data on the internet equally, while keeping the door open for future FCC action to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against or blocking certain websites or services.
State High Courts Realize It's Not 1986 Anymore, Broaden Privacy Protections
Technology in the digital age has changed the way the government conducts surveillance against targets, and the law must change accordingly. So ruled two separate state supreme courts in decisions that take on the so-called 'third-party doctrine,' an outdated legal precedent that serves as the foundation for the federal government's defense of NSA and FBI bulk records surveillance programs.
Status of Domestic Drone Legislation in the States
The United States is currently seeing an unprecedented surge of activity in state legislatures across the country aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. ACLU lobbyists in state capitols and policy strategists have been tracking this activity and working hard to make sure these privacy-protective bills become law. The chart here shows the current status of state legislation as the ACLU understands it.