An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI)
is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program
, the police
, Chinese spammers
and spies all around Washington DC
and the world
to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in
all sizes and flavors, from tiny
professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions
, to Chinese DIY
(links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher
. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread
, with far-reaching constitutional
An appeals panel of the Seventh Circuit ruled yesterday (pdf
) that Wisconsin may immediately implement a photo ID law,
for the November 4th election. [more inside]
Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas
has been detained attempting to leave McAllen Airport in Texas.
As Mr. Vargas wrote in Politico on July 11, he had traveled to Texas to document the crisis of undocumented immigrants before realizing that he might, in fact, be stuck there.
His film, Documented
, which just began airing on CNN last month, "chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist; and his journey inward as he re-connects with his mother, whom he hasn't seen in person in over 20 years."
Roger Angell is the greatest of all baseball writers.
Today, the game has recognized the fact. This July, along with Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa, Roger
will be celebrated in Cooperstown, New York, the site of the Hall of Fame. He will receive the J. G. Taylor Spink Award,
which has previously gone to the likes of Grantland Rice
, Red Smith
, Ring Lardner
, and Damon Runyon
. [more inside]
Tim Gunn and the ACLU present "My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding"
, a contest for same-sex folks in non-marriage equality states to come up with the most creative ways to cross state lines into a marriage equality state and get married. The winning couples will receive $5,000 for their wedding expenses, assistance from a wedding planner and a trip to New York for an event, planned for March, styled like a wedding reception.
Curious as to what various legal and intelligence agencies can do with the data they are now currently collecting? They are collecting cell phone locations, there are currently license plate scanning vehicles in many larger cities, and Google Maps will gladly integrate with your location mapping systems to show you what type of business is at your coordinates. All state criminal databases are now nationally available. So the ACLU would like you to know what is going to happen
in the possible near future.
A LIVING DEATH
: Sentenced to die behind bars for what?
For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.
A LIVING DEATH: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
released by Glenn Greenwald from trove leaked by Edward Snowden show that the agency officially viewed arguments about 'due process' to be an 'adversary propaganda theme'
, listed alongside military threats to drones. [more inside]
trade association has been lobbying
, a bill the EFF describes
as a “misguided cybersecurity bill that would create a gaping exception to existing privacy law while doing little to address palpable and pressing online security issues” (previously
). Google's Eric Schmidt signed TechNet's letter supporting CISPA
. [more inside]
After a decade or so of legal back-and-forth between Utah-based Myriad Genetics and medical researchers, the ACLU, and the Public Patent Forum, the US Supreme Court will hear a case next week
which attempts to address whether genes — isolated (derivative) or original — can be patented
. The stakes are high on both sides: opponents use Myriad's actions to argue that giving short-term monopoly control over humanity's genetic constituency is not in the public interest, while proponents defend the use of patents to spur private research in biotech, alternative energy and other nascent industries.
The ACLU reports that the IRS claims in an internal document that it has the authority to access citizens' online communications without a warrant.
The IRS claimed in a 2009 document that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." It still retains that position even after the 2010 case of US v Warshak
which determined that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications. [more inside]
"When most Americans think of surveillance drones, it conjures up an image of a Predator drone in a far-off land unleashing a missile against a terrorist suspect. The last thing they think of is a flying surveillance vehicle over their own city. But an increasing number of federal, state, county and municipal police departments are purchasing drone surveillance vehicles of one sort or another to watch Americans. And a few have even discussed arming the drones."
- Drones over America
. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to more than double its fleet of Predator drones for surveillance missions inside the United States
. Despite Problems, there is a push to expand domestic use
. Much of that push comes from a "powerful" lobbying group that most Americans have never heard of: the Unmanned Systems Caucus
Drone Makers Push Congress to Move Up Domestic Deployment Date
(follow the money). More? ACLU blog posts related to domestic drones
. Here is a Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations
, last updated in April. Insiders assure You have nothing to worry about
, but a little remarked-upon court decision may bring the domestic drone age one flight closer to your doorstep
The Justice Department, after a legal battle with the ACLU to avoid having to admit it, recently released documents
showing that the federal government’s use of warrantless “pen register” and “tap and trace” surveillance has multiplied over the past decade. But the Justice Department is small potatoes. Every day, the NSA intercepts and stores 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, texts, and other electronic communications. [more inside]
The history of voter's rights in America
is treacherous. In this upcoming election, voter suppression continues and as before, it is racialized
, and targets traditionally marginalized
& left-leaning individuals
. The ACLU's Laura Murphy
on voter suppression this year. The NAACP
and Project South
both have a hand in the fight to be counted.
The DoJ drops all remaining investigation and prosecution of US War on Terror deaths/murders through harsh tactics/torture: "No Charges Filed on Harsh Tactics Used by the C.I.A." [NYT
] Glenn Greenwald reacts and describes the cases that just got dropped. [Guardian
] Second link is arguably a violence trigger, but is better and bothers to do things like talk to the ALCU.
Mark Ames (of the eXile
): The Left’s Big Sellout
– How the ACLU and Human Rights Groups Quietly Exterminated Labor Rights (via naked capitalism
) [more inside]
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act
) is a controversial
surveillance bill that proposes broad legal exemptions
for the U.S. government and private companies to share "cyber threat intelligence" that go well beyond the FISA Amendments Act
which legalized the NSA's warrantless wiretapping
program. [more inside]
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the Gregory Brothers and the ACLU have teamed up to bring attention to the issue photographer’s rights in public spaces, with an animated musical piece featuring the ghost of Benjamin Franklin
There are an increasing number of homeless military vets living in Los Angeles. The VA in Los Angeles has a 400 acre parcel of land meant to house vets. Slight problem: the VA has decided to lease the property to various area businesses instead of using the land for its intended purpose.
In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed 381 requests in 32 states with local law enforcement agencies seeking to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans
. So how long do American cell phone carriers retain information about your calls, text messages, and data use? According to data gathered by the US Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider
. (Via / More)
Student Protests Prayer at Graduation, Gets Divine Retribution Instead
A high school atheist in Bastrop, Louisiana tried to stop prayer at his graduation by writing to his superintendent and threatening to bring in the ACLU. The superintendent complied, but the student's name was leaked, and soon he was harassed by fellow students and a former Teacher of the Year, and was kicked out of his house. [more inside]
Should Cops Be Allowed to Scan Your Phone During a Traffic Stop? In Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint
[PDF letter here
] alleging that Michigan State Police officers used forensic cellphone analyzers to snoop in drivers' cellphones during routine traffic stops
. [Before they fulfill an ACLU FOIA request, the MSP wants a $272,340 deposit up front to cover their costs of retrieving analyzer data, which is obtained without the cellphone owner's knowledge.]
On the one
of wikileaks release of Collateral Murder
, Panorama has released a documentary
on the shooting featuring an interview
with Ethan McCord
The Netherlands' Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal commemorated the occasion by informing a Green MP that he "would not rule out extraditing Rop Gonggrijp to the US"
for Gonggrijp's role in the video's production. The ACLU and EFF are appealing
a U.S. subpoena of the twitter accounts belonging to Rop Gonggrijp, Birgitta Jonsdottir
, and Jacob Appelbaum
In late July the American Civil Liberties Union released
"Establishing a New Normal
, an 18 month review of national security, civil liberties and human rights under the Obama Administration.
The ACLU of Maryland
Anthony Graber for violating Maryland wiretap laws because he recorded a video
of a plain clothes officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop without first identifying himself as a police officer. The Maryland State Police raided Graber's parents' after learning of the video on YouTube. Another person has since been similarly charged under the same statute. [more inside]
ACLU launches "Spyfiles" to track domestic surveillance.
"The American Civil Liberties Union launched a new website
Tuesday to track incidents of domestic political surveillance by the government along with a report
(PDF) claiming such incidents have increased steadily since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to the report there have been 111 incidents of illegal domestic political surveillance since 9/11 in 33 states and the District of Columbia. The website, Spyfiles
, will serve as the ACLU's online home for all news and reports of domestic spying."
Constance McMillan, an 18yo lesbian graduating from high school in Itawamba County, Miss., was told she couldn't bring a female date to the prom because of county rules against bringing same-sex dates. The school district in fact canceled the prom
rather than let a same-sex couple attend. After a judge ruled that doing so violated Constance's civil rights
, Constance was told (after long evasions and no answers as to details of the party) that the prom would be held at a country club Friday night in Fulton, Miss.
When she got to the club with her date, she found out that the parents and rest of the students had scheduled second prom at a different, secret location
. Five other students were directed to the prom Constance & her date were sent to, including two students with learning disabilities. The school principal & 2 teacher acted as chaperones for the seven students at the country club.
Followup to this post:
A US District Court has ruled
that Myriad Genetic's patents on breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which allow them to hold exclusive rights
to a widely used genetic test for inherited breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility, are invalid
. Genomics Law Report analyzes the ruling
in two posts
. The decision is likely to be challenged in a legal appeal — but if upheld, it could have huge implications for the biotechnology industry. [more inside]
An American student learning Arabic was detained
for hours by the TSA
and questioned because he carried basic Arabic flash cards. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nick George a physics student at Pomona College
who was detained and aggressively interrogated by Transportation Security Administration authorities, by the FBI and by Pennsylvania police when he tried to board a plane carrying Arabic language flash cards.
Released detainees talk about life during and after their unlawful detention in the video Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo
which is part of an ACLU initiative against the practice of detention without due process
that violates fundamental principles of American justice. (Previously)
Internet Anonymity: A Right of the Past? | North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology
A newly designed Internet Protocol, restricting communication source autonomy, is being quietly drafted with detailed technical standards that “define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous” by a United Nations agency. The “IP Traceback” drafting group, which has declined to release key documents or allow their meetings to be open to the public, includes, among others, the United States National Security Agency. [more inside]
Torture Memos Released
As we explained in the Section 2340A Memorandum, "pain and suffering" as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering"... The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict "severe pain or suffering". Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat "suffering" as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe sufering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.
breaks it down, Greenwald rants
Curfew is declared in a 10 block area of a small Arkansas town
. [more inside]
The "a few bad eggs" theory crushed
- ACLU summarizes the Justice Department Inspector General's report. "This new report should become exhibit A at the next congressional hearing on the Bush administration's use of torture," said Christopher Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel to the ACLU. ... "The questions are who did what and what crimes were committed. This Justice Department report helps answer both questions." [more inside]
Catherine Roraback was the only woman in her class at Yale Law School. She was a founder of the Connecticut ACLU, and a president of the National Lawyers Guild
. During her long career she defended labor organizers, immigrants, civil rights organizers, Black Panthers, and maybe most famously, Estelle Griswold before the United States Supreme Court in the case that legalized the distribution of birth control. She died this week at age 87. [more inside]
From the guy
who brought you the Whitewater scandal and the impeachment of President Clinton
for lying about oval antics in the Oral Office, a legal push to make the Supreme Court just say no to "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."
Ken Starr's petition to the Court [PDF]
makes clear that Starr believes this is no laughing matter, but a chance for the Court to make a landmark ruling that will give school adminstrators the power to limit student speech: "This case presents the Court with a much-needed opportunity to resolve a sharp conflict among federal courts
(and to eliminate confusion on the part of school boards,
administrators, teachers, and students) over whether the First
Amendment permits regulation of student speech when such
speech is advocating or making light of illegal substances."
Surveillenve of everything you do online: "It was clear that they would go beyond kiddie porn and terrorism and use it for general law enforcement." Offline: "I'm John Doe, and if I had told you before today that the F.B.I. was requesting library records, I could have gone to jail
." Previously, here
. On your phone? We've already discussed that
The terrorists in New Jersey have been captured. They're, uhm, like 15 years old
. A fine example of how anti-terror laws like the Patriot Act can be subject to mission creep
. (The "terrorists" at the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice in Pittsburgh
seem to be still at large.)
Tired of standing in line at the airport? Worried that you might share a name with a known terrorist or subversive on the TSA's mysterious no-fly lists? Relax. Get fingerprinted and/or iris scanned. And pay $79.95 a year to become a Registered Traveler
, and fly Clear
in the fast lane. (And note how quickly conceptual art projects
become indistinguishable from reality
.) Meanwhile, the Feds settle an ACLU lawsuit
over the no-fly lists... while revealing no information about them. [Lists recently discussed here