The Ferguson uprising was triggered by the police assassination of Michael Brown, but even before that killing, the city was a powder-keg, thanks to the practice of financing the city government by levying fines on the poor and putting those who couldn't pay in debtors' prison to encourage the rest to cough up. Read the rest
After four years of Freedom of Information Act litigation, the ACLU has prevailed and forced the Customs and Border Patrol to release 1,000 pages' worth of training documents in which new agents learn when they can stop people and what they can do after they stop them. Read the rest
Facebook's terms of service require users to use their real names; though thiis has lots of potential downsides (including allowing dictators to identify and round up opposition figures), you'd hope that it would at least be evenly applied -- for example, to law enforcement agencies like the Memphis Police Department, who use "Bob Smith" accounts to befriend and entrap activists online. Read the rest
According to the ACLU, the nightmare perpetuated against immigrants and refugees attempting to find safe harbor in the United States has taken a new, unexpected turn for the worse: the parents, separated from their children as part of the Trump administration's drive to make migration into the United States as miserable as possible, are refusing to be reunited with their children. The reason is absolutely heartbreaking:
Immigrant parents separated from their children by the Trump administration and returned to their homes are refusing to be reunited with their children because their countries are so dangerous, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told a court on Friday.
Gelernt said parents who refused to be reunited tended to have older children who could be recruited by violent gangs if they returned home. In addition, some children have relatives in the United States and are unlikely to end up in foster care.
The ACLU contacted parents in Central America of 162 children and said 109 refused reunification, according to a court filing.
According to Reuters, Gelernt recently spent time in Guatamala attempting to help parents separated from their kids by U.S. Immigration officials to reunite their families. Of the 300 parents that Gelernt spoke to, roughly two-thirds preferred to let their kids take their chances in the United States where they'd have a greater expectation of safety and prosperity.
I'm not a parent, so I can't even begin to imagine the sort of painful parental devotion it would take to leave a child behind, in the name of keeping them safe, in a country that despises me enough to have torn my family apart rather than providing them with refuge from harm. Read the rest
Harvard grad student Zainab Merchant is detained and invasively searched every time she flies; she's tried extensively to end this harassment, applying for Global Entry and Precheck, writing to her members of Congress, and trying to run through the DHS's Redress procedure. Read the rest
After learning that Amazon was pushing the use of Rekognition, its facial recognition tool, for use in policing (a global phenomenon that is gaining momentum despite the material unsuitability of these tools in policing contexts), the ACLU of Northern California had a brainwave: they asked Rekognition to evaluate the faces of the 115th Congress of the United States. Read the rest
The Supreme Court has ruled in the closely watched Carpenter v. United States case, which questioned the constitutionality of warrantless location surveillance, a widespread practice among US law enforcement and surveillance agencies. Read the rest
Back in 2016, the ACLU and First Look (the publishers of The Intercept) sued the US government to force it to clarify that the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- the overbroad statute passed during over a panic sparked by the movie "Wargames" -- does not prohibit violations of terms of service. Read the rest
The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program identifies possible duplicate voters by looking at registrations by people with the same name and birthdate; a joint study by researchers at Harvard, Yale, and Microsoft found that 99% of the people it identifies as duplicate voters are not duplicate voters -- that is, it has a 99% false positive rate. Read the rest
The Cobb County Police department has trained a number of its officers to be "Drug Recognition Experts." Apparently this training allows them to declare people under the influence without any actual proof. The ACLU is suing on behalf of several non-marijuana using victims.
Via the ACLU of Georgia:
Read the rest
The Cobb County Police Department has embraced the so-called “Drug Recognition Expert” (DRE) program, a program used nationwide but has never been independently and rigorously validated. The protocol requires officers to perform medical examinations to detect drug influence without having relevant medical training, and it leads officers to believe that they have a special ability to detect marijuana use without concrete evidence.
“The people of Cobb County should be outraged that their police department wasted scarce resources harassing and jailing innocent people,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “The Cobb County Police Department needs to be held accountable for these flagrant violations of constitutional rights.”
The lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, seeks to vindicate the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful seizures and obtain compensatory and punitive damages.