Privacy SOS

License plate readers, false transparency promises, misdirected terrorism resources and more

News you shouldn't miss, in case you did:

  • LICENSE PLATE READERS SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE NATIONWIDE, HARMING MOTORIST PRIVACY: The Wall Street Journal is back with another outstanding multi-media package on surveillance. This time the Journal is taking on automatic license plate readers, a problem well within our sights at the ACLU. I enthusiastically encourage you to spend some time with the WSJ's coverage, if you have some to spare. It consists of a fabulous article examining the privacy implications of both government and corporate license plate data harvesting; an interactive database of license plate records collected by the Riverside County Sheriff in San Diego, in which you can search for your own license plate; an outstanding series of interactive graphics depicting how we are pervasively monitored by government and corporations; and the following video: 


  • OBAMA ADMIN'S FOIA RECORD WORSE THAN BUSH'S: A Bloomberg study found that the Obama administration has utterly failed to live up to its promise to be the "most transparent administration in history." In fact, the study found, 19 of 20 federal agencies did not comply with Bloomberg requests for travel expenses within the 20 days required by law. Read more.
  • DOMESTIC TERRORISM RESOURCES DIRECTED ALMOST SOLELY AT MUSLIM VIOLENCE: Despite the FBI's own admission that 94% of terrorist attacks in the United States over the past ten years were committed by non-Muslims, the Department of Homeland Security only has one full time intelligence analyst investigating non-Muslim domestic terrorism threats. Read more.
  • DHS RELEASES ITS 2012 PRIVACY REPORT: The Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office's 2012 report to congress is out, and it's full of allusions to the office working on implementing privacy protections in DHS' many information sharing and biometrics programs — but very short on details explaining how those privacy protections actually work. For the masochists out there, you can read the full report here.
  • ANARCHISTS IN PORTLAND, OR HELD FOR REFUSING TO TESTIFY AT GRAND JURY: Three anarchists have refused to testify before a federal grand jury and two of them are currently in prison. The law allows the government to detain people who refuse to testify for the duration of the grand jury. While the government hasn't confirmed why it is investigating the young activists, the targets suspect the investigation is a "witch hunt" aimed to find out who was responsible for property destruction during a May 1st demonstration. Matt Duran has been in custody since September 13, 2012; his supporters say he has been in solitary confinement since then. Resister KteeO (Katherine) Olejnik was imprisoned on September 28, 2012. The third grand jury resister has not been incarcerated. Read more.
  • FUSION CENTER PLAYED COORDINATING ROLE IN POSSIBLE ENTRAPMENT CASE: Remember the case playing out in Austin, TX, wherein an undercover police officer infiltrated a non-violent direct action group, providing the group with lock boxes the activists used to block a road? The activists are facing felony charges centered around those lock boxes; the state is saying the boxes were "criminal instruments" — and "unlawful use of a criminal instrument" is a felony in Texas. Gonzo journalist Kit O'Connell writes that the Austin Regional Intelligence Center played a central role in coordinating the infiltration and arrests, suggesting that federal agencies may have been involved. Read more.

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