Tag Archives | ACLU

Michigan Police Device Can Reveal Drivers’ Phone Data, Texts and Pictures

Photo: Cellebrite

Photo: Cellebrite

CNET reports:

The Michigan State Police have a handful of portable machines called “extraction devices” that have the potential to download personal information from motorists they pull over, and the ACLU would like to know more about them.

The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.

The problem, as the ACLU sees it, is that accessing a citizen’s private phone information when there’s no probable cause could create a violation of the Constitution’s 4th Amendment, which protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures.

To that end, it’s petitioning the MSP to turn over information about its use of the devices under the Freedom of Information Act. The MSP said it’s happy to comply, that is, if the ACLU provides them with a processing fee in excess of $500,000.

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Bigfoot Sues State

From the “You can’t make this stuff up” department, via AP/Seacoastonline:

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — First there was a Bigfoot sighting. Now, there’s a Bigfoot suing.

A performance artist and amateur filmmaker who dressed as the mythical beast says New Hampshire park rangers didn’t have the right to kick him off a mountain where he had been scaring, or at least amusing, hikers while friends videotaped his antics.

Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Jonathan Doyle is suing the state…

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FBI Sued For Surveillance Of Muslims

FBI_logoFox News reports:

A former FBI informant who infiltrated a California mosque violated the constitutional rights of Muslims by conducting “indiscriminate surveillance” because of their religion, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles was filed by the ACLU of Southern California and the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It named the FBI and seven of its agents and supervisors, the Washington Post reported.

The lawsuit alleges ex-FBI informant Craig Monteilh was ordered by his supervisors to target Muslims for surveillance, violating their First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The lawsuit seeks class-action status, unspecified damages and a court order instructing the FBI to destroy or return the information Monteilh collected.

Monteilh infiltrated an Orange County mosque and helped build a case against an Afghan-born man who was arrested on terrorism-related charges in 2009.

The lawsuit claims that Monteilh’s handlers, FBI agents Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen, instructed him to collect e-mail addresses, phone numbers and other detailed information about Muslims and “explicitly told Monteilh that Islam was a threat to America’s national security,” according to the Post…

For more information, see original article.… Read the rest

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BU ACLU: ‘When Criticizing Rhetoric, Remember Freedom of Speech’

SarahPACToday I received an interesting email from the Boston University ACLU (text below). It’s also on their Facebook Page:

Jared Lee Loughner, charged with Saturday’s shootings, has invoked his right to silence, leaving us ignorant of his motives. Sources disagree on his politics — an acquaintance calls him an “extreme” liberal; a government memo links him to a “racial-realist” journal (one that denies any ties to him). His online writings point to an unhinged mind. But though much remains unclear, people are withdrawing some of their first theories, which rashly labeled the shootings a Tea Party / Republican plot.

Replacing those accusations is a broader look at how the shooter may have responded to intense political rhetoric. Critics again blame the right-wing, mainly Sarah Palin, whose PAC last year produced an image with crosshairs on congressional seats such as Giffords’. It was only a slight escalation from the usual manner of treating politics as war (Targeted districts, swiftboating, battleground states, political campaigns).

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U.S. Government Forced to Release Documents on Domestic Spying Program

American_Civil_Liberties_Union_logoThe Inter Press Service reports:

Last week’s release of 900 pages of U.S. government documents dealing with the implementation of the nation’s primary surveillance law suggests that the government has been systematically violating the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

How many citizens is unclear, since the documents were extensively redacted. The previously secret internal documents were obtained through a court battle by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The government declined to disclose the number of citizens who had their telephone calls, e-mail, or other communications intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008. They also declined to discuss any specific abuses, the ACLU said.

The 900 documents were delivered in keeping with a previously agreed schedule.

Alex Abdo, a senior attorney with the ACLU, told IPS, “For two years now, the government has had the authority to engage in the dragnet and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans’ communications with little to no oversight of its actual surveillance decisions.”

“This week’s disclosures confirm that the government repeatedly abused even the minimal, and unconstitutional, limits set out in this new surveillance authority,” he added.

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Obama Administration Claims Unchecked Authority to Kill Americans Outside Combat Zones

ACLU/CCRA joint statement by the ACLU and CCR, published recently on CommonDreams.org:

The Obama administration today argued before a federal court that it should have unreviewable authority to kill Americans the executive branch has unilaterally determined to pose a threat. Government lawyers made that claim in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) charging that the administration’s asserted targeted killing authority violates the Constitution and international law. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard arguments from both sides today.

“Not only does the administration claim to have sweeping power to target and kill U.S. citizens anywhere in the world, but it makes the extraordinary claim that the court has no role in reviewing that power or the legal standards that apply,” said CCR Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, who presented arguments in the case. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the government’s claim to an unchecked system of global detention, and the district court should similarly reject the administration’s claim here to an unchecked system of global targeted killing.”

The ACLU and CCR were retained by Nasser Al-Aulaqi to bring a lawsuit in connection with the government’s decision to authorize the targeted killing of his son, U.S.

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LA Prisons To Use Burning Heat Ray On Unruly Inmates

As if beatings from wardens and guards weren’t bad enough… from Salon.com:

A device designed to control unruly inmates by blasting them with a beam of intense energy that causes a burning sensation is drawing heat from civil rights groups who fear it could cause serious injury and is “tantamount to torture.”

The mechanism, known as an “Assault Intervention Device,” is a stripped-down version of a military gadget…

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Federal Judge Rules That CIA Can Cover Up Torture

Press release from the ACLU, via Common Dreams:

NEW YORK – July 15 – A federal judge today ruled that the government can withhold information from the public about intelligence sources and methods, even if those sources and methods were illegal. The ruling came in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union for Justice Department memos that authorized torture, and for records relating to the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of detainees at CIA black sites.

The government continues to withhold key information, such as the names of detainees who were subjected to the abusive interrogation methods as well as information about the application of the interrogation techniques. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ruled that the government can continue to suppress evidence of its illegal program.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“We are very dismayed by today’s ruling, which invests the CIA with sweeping authority to conceal evidence of its own illegal conduct.… Read the rest

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ACLU Fights Against Jail Time For Swearing In Pennsylvania

For those who like to pepper their speech with profanity (and don’t we all from time to time?), you might want to steer clear of Pennsylvania until the ACLU makes it safe for you: they are suing the police in Pennsylvania for issuing tickets, which carry a jail sentence, to people for swearing. Story via Reuters:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed the lawsuits earlier, argues that the right to use profanity is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“Unfortunately, many police departments in the commonwealth do not seem to be getting the message that swearing is not a crime,” said Marieke Tuthill of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The courts have repeatedly found that profanity, unlike obscenity, is protected speech.”

Obscenity, under the Supreme Court’s definition, refers to speech that mainly appeals to the “prurient interest” in sex, according to the ACLU.

One lawsuit involves an unidentified woman in Luzerne County in northeast Pennsylvania who was given a citation which carries a maximum penalty of $300 and 90 days in jail after she yelled an offensive word at a motorcyclist who swerved close to her in October 2008.

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TSA Detains Student for Arabic Study Cards; Asked By Agent ‘Do You Know Who Did 9/11?’

Arabic Study CardsRAW Story is reporting today the ACLU is filing a lawsuit on behalf of the student. Here’s the original report from Dave Davies in the Philadelphia Daily News:

EIGHT YEARS after 9/11, we’re used to changes in our routines. We show ID to get into office buildings, and take off our shoes at airports. But should a college student flying back to school be handcuffed and held for five hours because he has Arabic flash cards in his backpack?

That’s the way Nick George, a senior at Pomona College, in California, sees what happened to him at the Philadelphia airport two Saturdays ago. George, of Wyncote, Montgomery County, was about to catch a Southwest flight back to school when stereo speakers in his backpack caught the eye of screeners at the metal detector.

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