Increasingly, the fight for civil liberties is the fight for our digital lives. It's about ensuring that all technology we love and depend on is working for us, not spying on us. The ACLU of Massachusetts has a big technology-for-liberty agenda: to protect our privacy wherever we go--in our cars, on our phones, at work, in school and on the streets.
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The more we do online, the more digital footprints we leave behind. Protections for our online activities – searches, purchases, mobile phone usage – have not been updated since 1986. That's before the World Wide Web and before most people even had a cell phone.
Please encourage your elected officials to support this legislation.
You can take action by sending an email. But it is more effective to make phone calls to Congressional offices.
Find out the telephone number of your Representative and Senators by entering your zip code on this website and then clicking on their names.
Call and explain that you are a constituent of Representative ______ or Senator ________ and are very concerned about the erosion of Constitutional rights. Ask to be transferred to a staff member who deals with privacy and civil liberties concerns.
Tell him or her that you are worried about increased government surveillance and indefinite detention, and would like your Member of Congress (or Senators) to support the legislation outlined below.
Introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley on 8/2/2011 (Sens. Ron Wyden and Jon Tester co-sponsoring).
This bill would reform the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to prevent intelligence agencies from using the warrantless wiretapping program to collect and store the emails and phone calls of American citizens. It establishes a new process for ensuring that if it is determined that information is being collected on Americans, that information cannot be accessed or searched until a proper search warrant is obtained.
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 sunsets at the end of 2012. In the House the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act with no privacy protections has been favorably reported out of committee. Passage of S. 3525 is essential if there is to be a chance of scaling back the Act’s warrantless wiretapping provisions.
Introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden on 6/15/2011 (Sen. Mark Kirk co-sponsoring). Related bill – HR 2168. Introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz. It has 25 co-sponsors. In Massachusetts the co-sponsors are Rep Ed Markey and Rep Niki Tsongas (if they are your representatives, please thank them for co-sponsoring this bill!)
These bills amend the federal criminal code to prohibit intentionally: (1) intercepting geolocation information pertaining to another person; (2) disclosing to any other person such information pertaining to another, knowing that the information was obtained in violation of this Act; (3) using geolocation information, knowing that the information was obtained in violation of this Act; or (4) disclosing to any other person the geolocation information pertaining to another person intercepted by means authorized under this Act, knowing that the information was obtained in connection with a criminal investigation, having obtained or received information in connection with a criminal investigation, with intent to improperly obstruct, impede, or interfere with a duly authorized criminal investigation. Sets penalties for violations.
Specific exceptions are made for interceptions involving: (1) information acquired by a provider of covered services (electronic communication service, remote computing service, or geolocation information service) in the normal course of business; (2) federal officers, employees, or agents conducting foreign intelligence surveillance; (3) persons having given prior consent; (4) public information; (5) emergency information; (6) theft; and (7) a warrant.
Introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaki on 1/18/2011. No cosponsors.
This bill amends provisions of federal law relating to privacy protections, including the Privacy Act of 1974 and the E-Government Act of 2002, to revise and expand such protections, including by: (1) redefining "system of records" to include any records maintained by, or otherwise under the control of, any federal agency and "routine use," with respect to the disclosure of a record, as the use of such record for a purpose that is compatible with the purpose for which it was collected and that is appropriate and reasonably necessary for the efficient and effective conduct of government; (2) expanding agency requirements for collecting, maintaining, and disclosing information on individuals; and (3) revising and increasing civil and criminal penalties for violations of privacy requirements.
Introduced by Sen. Mark Udall on 3/8/2012 (Sen. Patrick Leahy co-sponsoring). Related bill – H.R. 4192. Introduced by Rep. Adam Smith. It has 65 co-sponsors. In Massachusetts the co-sponsors are Reps. Capuano, Keating, McGovern, Tierney and Tsongas (if they are your representatives, please thank them for co-sponsoring this bill!)
This bill amends the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 to provide that, in the case of a person detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, disposition under the law of war shall only mean transfer for trial and proceedings in civilian courts with all due process provided under the Constitution.
It repeals the requirement of detention in military custody for individuals determined to be a member or part of al Qaeda or an associated force who has participated in planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
Please encourage your Member of Congress to back the following initiatives put forward by Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts in discussion draft form. If Rep. Markey is your representative, please call (202) 225 2836 to thank him for this draft legislation!
This bill would require regular disclosures from law enforcement on the nature and volume of requests they make to obtain information from telecommunications companies. It would curb sweeping information requests such as cell tower “dumps” that capture information on a large group of mobile phone users at a particular period of time, and require that any request be more narrowly tailored, whenever possible. It would require, in the case of emergency circumstances, a signed, sworn statement from law enforcement authorities after receipt of information from a carrier that justifies the need for the emergency access. This will establish needed accountability in these situations. It would mandate creation of regulations by the Federal Communication’s Commission (FCC) to limit how long carriers can keep consumers’ personal information. Right now, no such standards exist. Finally, it would require location tracking authorization only with a judge’s approval when there is probable cause to believe it will uncover evidence of a crime.
This bill would make the Secretary of Transportation conduct a study of privacy impacts of drone use in consultation with the Department of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office. A report must be issued to Congress. It would mandate the FAA to include privacy considerations in its overall rulemaking process for drone licenses, and prevent the FAA from issuing drone licenses unless the application includes a data collection statement that explains exactly what kind of data will be collected, how that data will be used, and how the licensee will protect privacy. Law enforcement agencies and their contractors and subcontractors must include an additional data minimization statement that explains how they will minimize the collection and retention of data unrelated to the investigation of a crime.