Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • US Supreme Court to decide GPS use in surveillance

    Source: Torque News. US Supreme Court to decide GPS use in surveillance by Richard Gray.
    The case began after FBI agents fitted a GPS devise on the Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by suspected Washington, D.C. drug trafficker Antoine Jones after obtaining a warrant from a federal judge. The judge, however, required the GPS tracking unit be installed within 10 days and when the Jeep was in Washington, D.C. But the agents took 11 days to install it and did so in a Maryland parking lot, not in the Capitol.

     
  • Microsoft Wins Patent For Internet Spying Technology

    Source: Information Week. Microsoft Wins Patent For Internet Spying Technology by Elizabeth Montalbano.
    Microsoft has been granted a patent for technology that acts as a wiretap of sorts for Internet communication, allowing governments or other law-enforcement authorities to record the data without detection. The technology intercepts Internet communications data so it can be recorded for the purposes of reviewing it later by, presumably, government or law-enforcement officials.

     
  • Supreme Court declines to take up Abu Ghraib detainee lawsuit

    Source: Christian Science Monitor. Supreme Court declines to take up Abu Ghraib detainee lawsuit by Warren Richey.
    The Supreme Court declined without comment the case of 250 former Abu Ghraib detainees whose lawsuit against private contractors, for allegedly abusing and torturing Abu Ghraib inmates, had been thrown out of federal court.

     
  • Is Warrantless GPS Tracking Constitutional?

    Source: Wall Street Journal. Is Warrantless GPS Tracking Constitutional? by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries.
    Can the government put a GPS tracking device on your car without a warrant? The Supreme Court is going to decide. The court agreed to hear the case of Antoine Jones, whose truck was tracked by police for a month before they got warrants to search for drugs in places he had visited.

     
  • New Patriot Act Controversy: Is Washington Collecting Your Cell-Phone Data?

    Source: Time. New Patriot Act Controversy: Is Washington Collecting Your Cell-Phone Data? by MARK BENJAMIN.
    The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is weighing fresh concerns about the sweeping nature of domestic spying using one controversial section of the Patriot Act. This particular part of that law is notable because it has been divisive for years — and because during those years President Obama has quietly moved from being a Senator skeptical of the provisions to being an enthusiastic spy chief whose Administration embraces them.

     
  • The New Civil Liberties Fight

    Source: Mother Jones. The New Civil Liberties Fight by Nick Baumann.
    Why shouldn’t we be consistent? Why are non-citizen terrorist suspects captured abroad “unprivileged belligerents” while those captured in the US are simply criminals? Why are American-born terrorists criminals and not unprivileged belligerents? Does the difference between committing a crime and being illegally at war with the United States really just depend on where you are captured or where you are born? The Obama administration does not have compelling answers to these questions.

     
  • GPS tracking without a warrant

    Source: UPI.com. GPS tracking without a warrant by MICHAEL KIRKLAND.
    The Obama administration, in a case firmly rooted in the 21st century, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that police do not need a warrant to use the Global Positioning System to track the movements of suspects. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed briefs in the GPS case in the lower courts, says it can’t. GPS technology is just too “invasive” to be used without a warrant.

     
  • Technology is trampling privacy rights, experts say

    Source: Detroit Free Press. Technology is trampling privacy rights, experts say by Gina Damron.
    Investigators are mining social networking sites and e-mails, placing tracking devices on vehicles and purchasing sophisticated technology of their own — like devices that can extract information from cell phones. And with many cell phones now more characteristic of computers than basic talk-and-text phones, there’s plenty of information to be found. Privacy-rights advocates, though, worry about constitutional violations and say laws aren’t keeping pace with changing technology.

     
  • FBI’s New Rules to Give Agents More Leeway on Surveillance

    Source: FOX News. FBI’s New Rules to Give Agents More Leeway on Surveillance by Judson Berger.
    “It’s the government saying we can know all about your private life, but you can’t know what the government is doing,” Michael German, a former FBI agent now working with the American Civil Liberties Union. For instance, the new rules would allow agents to look up people on various databases without opening up a low-level inquiry known as an “assessment.” Currently, agents have to take that formal step before looking into someone’s background and provide some semblance of justification.

     
  • F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds

    Source: NY Times. F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds by Charlie Savage.
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention. The new rules will also relax a restriction on administering lie-detector tests and searching people’s trash. Under current rules, agents cannot use such techniques until they open a “preliminary investigation,” which — unlike an assessment — requires a factual basis for suspecting someone of wrongdoing. But soon agents will be allowed to use those techniques for one kind of assessment, too: when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.