EFF and ACLU triumph as federal judge rules that warrantless, suspicionless device searches at the border are illegal

Back in 2017, EFF, ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts sued the US government on behalf of 11 travelers whose devices had been subjected to warrantless, suspicionless searches by Customs and Border Protection at the US border. Read the rest

Virginia judge rules automated license plate data collection by police is illegal

A Virginia state judge ruled earlier this month that automated license plate data collection by police qualified as protected “personal information," and was illegal, because it included the following elements all combined: The license plate number, images of the vehicle and license plate and immediate surroundings, plus GPS location and time and date. Read the rest

Intelligence officials sue to end pre-publication government review of writings

The action was brought in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, against DNI Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, NSA Director Paul Nakasone, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

American towns survive by fining poor people, and use debtors' prisons to make them pay

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

The ACLU made the Border Patrol reveal its terrifying legal theories

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

The Get the Vote Out Humble Bundle: dozens of DRM-free ebooks to benefit ACLU

The latest Humble Bundle features up to 26 DRM-free ebooks (including In Real Life, the graphic novel Jen Wang and I created) at prices ranging from $1 (for 8 titles) to $18 (for all 26), with all proceeds to the ACLU to benefit voting rights litigation and action. Read the rest

Nation Park Service on the verge of blocking most White House protests: comments due by MONDAY!

Monday is the end of the comment period for a sweeping National Park Service proposal that will have a dramatic effect on the ability of Americans to protest in sight of their government. Read the rest

Facebook reminds America's cops that they're not allowed to use fake accounts

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

Migrant parents are refusing to be reunited with their kids, citing safety concerns

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:

From Reuters:

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

TSA racially profiles Muslim woman, makes her show her bloody sanitary towel

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

The ACLU showed that Amazon's facial recognition system thinks members of Congress are felons, so now Congress is taking action

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

Supreme Court: no government location tracking without a warrant

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

Amazon has been quietly selling its facial recognition system to US police forces, marketing it for bodycam use

Amazon bills its Rekognition image classification system as a "deep learning-based image and video analysis" system; it markets the system to US police forces for use in analyzing security camera footage, including feeds from police officers' bodycams. Read the rest

Victory! Fourth Circuit rules that border officials can't subject electronic devices to suspicionless forensic searches

Back in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Riley v California, holding that border guards do not have unlimited authority to search our personal electronic devices when we cross the border, requiring individualized criminal suspicion before a search can take place. Read the rest

Federal court will allow the ACLU to keep suing for the right to violate terms of service for legitimate purposes

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

ACLU steps in to defend anti-Trump mural in New Orleans

A mural quoting a sexual assault comment made by the President of the United States led to a threat of jail time from the city of New Orleans. Neal Morris, owner of the property and commissioner of the work, got the ACLU involved. Read the rest

As students take the lead in the gun control fight, check the ACLU's resources for students and their First Amendment rights

The ACLU's Josh Bell just wrapped up a livestreamed training session for students on their free speech rights and then released the video and slides; these are a great complement to the ACLU's existing know your rights guide for public school students. Read the rest

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