ACLU asks court to reveal 23 secret surveillance laws


The ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic have filed a motion demanding the release of 23 judgments from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret, closed courtroom that evaluates surveillance requests from America's spy agencies. Read the rest

Your medical data: misappropriated by health-tech companies, off-limits to you


Backchannel's package on medical data and the health-tech industry profiles three people who were able to shake loose their own data and make real improvements in their lives with it: Marie Moe, who discovered that the reason she was having terrifying cardiac episodes was out-of-date firmware on her pacemaker; Steven Keating, who created a website with exquisitely detailed data on his brain tumor, including a gene-sequence that had to be run a second time because the first scan wasn't approved for "commercial" use, which included publishing it on his own site; and Annie Kuehl, whose advocacy eventually revealed the fact that doctors had suspected all along that her sick baby had a rare genetic disorder, which she only learned about after years of agonizing victim-blaming and terrifying seizures. Read the rest

The ACLU has a roadmap for defeating President Donald Trump's signature initiatives


In The Trump Memos, a new 27-page document published by the American Civil Liberties Union, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization lays out its constitutional analysis of Trump's signature campaign promises, from mass deportations to a religious test for passing America's borders to torture to mass surveillance to abortion to "opening up libel laws." Read the rest

After Freddie Gray, Baltimore police take a tentative step away from lethal force


A new use-of-force policy from the Baltimore Police Department requires its officers to de-escalate violent situations, to report colleagues who use inappropriate force, and to respect the "sanctity of life." Read the rest

ACLU files a lawsuit to repeal the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, used to prosecute Aaron Swartz


The ACLU is suing to repeal parts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 1980s-vintage hacking law that makes it a felony to "exceed authorization" on a remote computer, and which companies and the US government have used to prosecute researchers who violated websites' terms of service. Read the rest

Snowden's flesh is trapped in Russia, but his mind roams the world in a robot body


The Snowbot -- a $14,000 Beampro telepresence robot that Edward Snowden pilots from Moscow -- is becoming a fixture at conferences, meetings, and in the halls of power in the USA, where Snowden is a frequent invited guest. Read the rest

Cleveland: "First Amendment zones" will fence protesters far away from RNC


The city of Cleveland has revealed its crowd control plan for next month's Republican National Convention, a heavily policed, fenced off 3.3 square-mile "event zone" -- the size of Baghdad's Green Zone -- with fenced-off protest areas far from the convention itself. Read the rest

Senior U.S. immigration judge says 3 and 4 year old children can represent themselves in court


The ACLU deposed Judge Jack H Weil, a senior judge responsible for training other immigration judges, in a case over whether 3- and 4-year-olds needed legal representation during deportation hearings. Judge Weil insisted that children as young as three could be taught the basics of immigration law and didn't need taxpayer-funded lawyers in order to get a fair hearing.

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Anaheim: the happiest surveillance state on earth


Orange County has many claims to fame: Richard Nixon, the S&L scandal, subprime boiler-rooms, Disneyland, an airport honoring a cowboy named Marion, and now, the revelation that its police force secretly uses low-flying surveillance aircraft to break the encryption of thousands of cellphone users, track their movements, and intercept their communications. Read the rest

NSA spying: judge tosses out case because Wikipedia isn't widely read enough


Wikimedia -- Wikipedia's parent org -- has had its case against the NSA dismissed by a Federal judge who said that the mere fact that the site is one of the most popular destinations on the net was not a basis for assuming that the NSA had intercepted data between Wikipedia and its users. Read the rest

CIA black-site torture survivors sue shrinks who made $85M overseeing CIA torture program


James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen are psychologists who took in almost $85 million in CIA contracts to design and oversee torture programs used on CIA prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and around the world. The contracts ran from from 2001 to 2010. The ACLU is representing Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman, three of the prisoners who were tortured at CIA black sites. Rahman was murdered by his torturers and the ACLU is representing his estate. Read the rest

What did the courts just do to NSA spying?

When a panel of federal judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA's bulk-phone records spying program was illegal, it was a legal game-changer, but what, exactly, does it all mean? Read the rest

Wikimedia sues the NSA

The Wikimedia Foundation -- which oversees Wikipedia -- eight other organizations, and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit against the DoJ and the NSA, contesting the spy agency's program of mass "upstream" surveillance. Read the rest

Should cops be allowed to see bodycam footage before filing reports?

As bodycams roll out in more and more American police departments, officers are asking to be allowed to review footage of shootings before they file their reports, on the grounds that fallible memories from high-stress moments can be augmented by footage -- but of course, this would also help an officer know how much he can lie without getting contradicted by the video evidence. Read the rest

NSA dumps incriminating documents on Christmas Eve

At 1:30pm on Christmas Eve, the NSA dumped a huge cache of documents on its website in response to a long-fought ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, including documents that reveal criminal wrongdoing. Read the rest

NSA conducts massive surveillance without ANY Congressional oversight

An ACLU Freedom of Information request reveals that the NSA considers Reagan's "Executive Order 12333" (previously) its "primary source" of spying authority -- and so it conducts this surveillance without reporting to Congress on it. Read the rest

OK Sheriff LARPs "Welcome to Nightvale"

Logan County, Oklahoma Sheriff Jim Bauman created an extensive set of secret files on the citizens in his jurisdiction, inadvertently recreating Welcome to Nightvale's running gag about the Sheriff's Secret Police -- but the ACLU isn't laughing, they're suing. Read the rest

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