Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blog update

From day one, the Assault on Privacy blog has been documenting instances of government intrusions into citizens' privacy rights. Very rarely do we provide any commentary on the articles; rather, we provide an except and link you to the original article with the hopes that you will make up your own mind. While it feels nice to have the blog as a home, in reality it just becomes another click between you and the article we're trying to promote. Rather than post excerpts to articles on the blog, from here on out we will just tweet to the original article. We will leave the blog here for archival purposes and perhaps for occasional posts, but links to the articles will now be made exclusively through the Twitter account (@aopblog). The Twitter account is also the best place to suggest articles or provide feedback.

Thank you!

The Assault on Privacy staff

Saturday, August 20, 2011

North Dakota Supreme Court protects Fourth Amendment rights with decision this week

From the Minot Daily News:
Sometimes protecting our Fourth Amendment rights hurts a little bit, but the North Dakota Supreme Court did just that with a ruling this week.

Not long ago the Ward County Narcotics Task Force had evidence that suggested a man had received a shipment of controlled substances and had been dealing drugs. An officer tracked him down, saw the man leaving a local bar with two women, and tailed his car. The man had been foolish enough to have three registration tabs in different places on his license plate, which is illegal, and he obliged the police further by making an illegal left turn, giving them a reason to pull him over for a traffic violation.

The officer brought in the drug-sniffing dog to circle his car and, when the dog alerted, the cops had probable cause to search the man's vehicle. The search turned up a plastic bag with marijuana residue. The man kept looking to his right and making "furtive movements," in the officer's judgement. The officer performed a pat-down, felt something soft in the man's pocket, and performed a more invasive search, which turned up four bundles of cocaine, and the man was arrested and charged.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cell phone lawsuit against school board should be thrown out

This article from Troy Media concerns our friends to the north:
A recent lawsuit against a Saskatchewan school division threatens to undermine even more the ability of schools to establish a safe and orderly learning environment. The case directly pits the privacy rights of students against the right of administrators to maintain order in schools.

The circumstances behind this lawsuit started out with a routine matter of discipline. A 12-year-old student was caught using his cell phone in a Prince Albert school where such devices are banned. The teacher confiscated the student’s phone and turned it into the office.

However, things soon became more complicated when the vice-principal discovered text messages on the phone about a recently stolen vehicle. Because of the illegal activity involved, the vice-principal contacted and handed the matter over to police. Upon meeting with the student, the police told him to send a text asking about the location of the vehicle. The police used the response to track down the stolen vehicle and then released the student.

Washington Supreme Court determines that public has a right to police investigations

From KAYU:
The Washington Supreme Court issued a landmark decision Thursday concerning an individual’s right to privacy and the public's right to obtain government records through public records requests.

Specifically, the court ruled that two Washington cities, Puyallup and Mercer Island, must disclose two investigative reports — a criminal investigation and an internal investigation — of a police officer involved in alleged sexual misconduct.

The case was initiated after a woman, Kim Koeing, alleged that Bainbridge Island police officer Steven Cain sexually assaulted her during a traffic stop in September 2007.

Critics say bill co-sponsored by Wasserman Schultz, Deutch could ‘undermine’ Fourth Amendment

From the Florida Independent:
A new bill intended to crack down on child pornography and co-sponsored by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, is drawing criticism from Internet privacy advocates.

Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and Deutch co-sponsored the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 28.

The bill would amend U.S. code covering the obscene representation of children and financial transactions that involve child pornography, as well as penalties for child exploitation offenses. It also calls for Internet providers to ”retain for a period of at least 18 months the temporarily assigned network addresses the service assigns to each account.

Jim Porter: Can TSA airport security search for contraband?

From the SierraSun.com:
We have all been through airport security. With my knee replacement I get “wanded” every time with the full-on pat-down search. Getting to know the security guys up close and personal.

What if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, while looking for weapons or explosives, discover pot or child pornography or some other contraband? Can you be arrested? In other countries you would be arrested on the spot, but in the U.S. we have the Fourth Amendment. Simon McCarty knows.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monitoring School-Issued Email Accounts

From TeachPrivacy.coms:
A recent case provides some guidance about when schools can monitor email accounts they issue to students. In Reichert v. Elizabethtown College, 2011 WL 3438318 (E.D.Pa. August 5, 2011), a troubled student (Christopher Reichert) had a heated exchange with the chairman of the education department, Dr. Carroll Tyminski. Afterwards, Tyminski arranged for Reichert's email account to be monitored.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Judge Actually Recognizes The 4th Amendment: Says Police Can't Get Location Info From Telcos To Arrest You

From Techdirt:
With all the reports of law enforcement collecting tons of location info from telcos without a warrant, as well as a bunch of court rulings that seem to chip away at what's left of the 4th Amendment, it's somewhat surprising to see a magistrate judge say that police cannot use a warrant to find out your location from a mobile operator, for the purpose of arresting you.

When Is It OK to Take People's DNA Without Their Consent?

From The Atlantic:
If you're walking down the street and a police officer wants to swab your cheek for a DNA sample, you can refuse. But if you're convicted of a felony, you can't. At what point in the criminal process do you lose that right?

In California, until last week, the answer was the moment you were arrested for a felony. But a California state court has struck down the state statute that allowed such DNA collection, saying the measure 'unreasonably intrudes on such arrestees' expectation of privacy and is invalid under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.'

The decision comes at a crucial time in the legal battle over DNA evidence: Last summer, a three-judge panel on the federal Ninth Circuit heard arguments about California's law and has yet to issue its opinion. This fall, the circuit will sit en banc -- that means all of the judges not just three of them -- to decide whether a very similar federal law is constitutional. Another circuit court has already decided that it is. If the two circuits disagree (or even if they don't), the issue could come before the Supreme Court soon.

Courts Clash on Taking DNA Upon Arrest

From the WSJ.com:
Laws allowing DNA samples to be taken from people who are arrested—even those who haven't been charged—are sparking a passionate debate in the courts, pitting privacy concerns against crime fighting, and setting the stage for what could be a high-profile battle in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cheek swabs or blood samples from those arrested for felonies offer law enforcement officials unique identifying tags, much like fingerprints or bar codes on products. These tags are recorded in state and national databases and can be used later to match samples from the scenes of crimes that haven't been solved.

The practice of taking fingerprints of suspects upon arrest and storing them has been used for decades and has yet to face a serious constitutional challenge, according to David Kaye, a law professor at Penn State University and an expert on DNA evidence. And nearly every state in the union allows for DNA samples to be taken from at least some convicted felons.

RIC airport protester, federal officials present arguments in lawsuit

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Authorities involved in the arrest of a protester who removed his shirt and pants at a security checkpoint at Richmond International Airport were doing their jobs and acted appropriately, a government attorney argued Wednesday in Richmond federal court.

Carlotta P. Wells, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, argued in favor of a motion to dismiss Aaron B. Tobey's lawsuit, which claims his constitutional rights were violated. Wells said Tobey had made his point by removing his shirt to display words from the Fourth Amendment written on his torso but went too far when he disobeyed a command to pass through a security scanner.

But Anand Agneshwar, an attorney representing Tobey in his lawsuit against airport and federal officials, said the 21-year-old Charlottesville man obeyed the commands of authorities. Agneshwar said it was the authorities who went too far by detaining Tobey for 90 minutes or longer with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NYPD's Social Media Unit Will Track Criminals On Facebook, Twitter

From the Huffington Post:
The NYPD has formed a new social media unit, The New York Daily News reports, to catch criminals who use Facebook and Twitter to announce law-breaking plans or to brag about their latest crime.

In June, an overcrowded house party in East New York, Brooklyn that was advertised on Facebook as 'Freaky Friday' ended in a shooting that left one man dead and seven injured.

After that incident Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters 'We look at social networking. We’re very much focused on weekend parties, the type of parties that happened last weekend, and we visit them ahead of time. But not every one of these parties happen at a place we can readily identify... Our gang division, our borough personnel look at party advertisements. A lot of these things are at peoples’ apartments.'