Monday, February 28, 2011

Rep. Jimmy Patronis Supports Getting Rid of Traffic Cams

State Representative Jimmy Patronis wants to end the use of red light cameras.

State Senator Rene Garcia filed the bill earlier this month that would remove the cameras from state roads by July. The senator says they are an invasion of privacy. Patronis is the only co-sponsor of the bill.

There are currently 50 cameras scanning the streets of Bay County. However, their purpose Is to check for traffic flow. It is not to enforce the law.

Several Florida cities and counties, including Tallahassee are using the cameras to enforce the law. That generates money for local governments and also the state.

US citizen recalls 'humiliating' post-9/11 arrest

Handcuffed and marched through Washington's Dulles International Airport in his Muslim clothing, the man with the long, dark beard could only imagine what people were thinking.

That scene unfolded in March 2003, a year and a half after the September 11 terrorist attacks. One of the four planes hijacked in 2001 took off from Dulles. 'I could only assume that they thought I was a terrorist,' Abdullah al-Kidd recalled in an interview with The Associated Press.

Al-Kidd called his airport arrest 'one of the most, if not the most, humiliating experiences of my life.'

The humiliation had only just begun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Senate vote allows TSA to move ahead with collective bargaining

From the Washington Post:
The Senate on Tuesday rejected an amendment that would have blocked Transportation Security Administration employees from having collective-bargaining rights, handing a victory to Democrats and labor groups.

The amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)and attached to a Federal Aviation Administration funding bill, was defeated on a straight party-line vote, with all 47 Republicans voting in favor and all 51 Democrats present voting against the measure. Two Democrats, Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.), did not vote.

Senate Votes to Make Misuse of TSA Scanner Images a Felony

From CBS News:
When you walk through one of those new hi-tech full body scanners at TSA checkpoints at the airport, screeners can still see your private parts, but the Senate wants to make sure no one else does.

The Senate voted 98-0 to make it a felony for anyone to misuse those images, by copying them, collecting them or distributing them in any way. Violators would be subject to up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

Seattle-Area Restaurant Refuses To Serve TSA Agents

From The Consumerist:
Fed up with what he views as crappy treatment from the TSA, the owner of a restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has decided to put all TSA agents on his No-Eat List.

'We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren't allowed to come into our business,' one employee tells travel journalist Christopher Elliott. 'We have the right to refuse service to anyone.'

She says that whenever a TSA agent attempts to dine at the restaurant, 'we turn our backs and completely ignore them, and tell them to leave... Their kind aren't welcomed in our establishment.'

The restaurant claims that 90% of its patrons are in agreement with their stance and that the local police have actually helped escort TSA workers of the premises.

California Supreme Court Announces State Law Prohibits Marketing Requests for ZIP Codes

From JDSupra:
In a case with major implications for retailers and marketers, the Supreme Court of California ruled on February 10, 2011 that state law prohibits businesses from requesting and recording ZIP codes from consumers prior to credit card transactions, including requests for use in marketing. Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc., S178241 (Cal., Feb. 10, 2011). Numerous other states have laws similar to California’s that regulate merchant practices with respect to collecting and recording personal information in connection with a credit card purchase.

The impact of the Court’s decision is not limited to future practices. The Court also held that its interpretation of the statute applies retroactively, thereby opening the door to class action consumer lawsuits based on businesses’ prior requests for ZIP codes for marketing purposes. Within days of the Court’s ruling, over a dozen cases have already been filed in California against major retailers. Courts can impose statutory damages of up to $1000 per violation of the law.

Correctional officer is suing Maryland DOC over Facebook login

From the
Robert Collins, who is a correctional officer for the Maryland Department of Corrections, is suing the Department of Corrections with the help of the ACLU for violation of his privacy rights.

Robert Collins was going through a recertification after being gone from his job for four months and part of this recertification included giving his employers his facebook sign-in and password so they could browse through his Facebook.

US Customs digital searches could violate the 4th amendment

From MyCE:
There has been plenty of controversy surrounding the pat-downs and scans that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials have been conducting in airports throughout the United States. Now, Customs and Border Protection officers are also coming under fire for searches that are being conducted of travelers’ computers in the interest of “national security.”

While 293 million people entered the United States during the year ending September 30, 2010, only about 3000 American citizens have had electronic devices searched upon their arrival back to the US in the past two years. That is certainly a small fraction of the arrivals, but civil rights lawyers are questioning whether these searches violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights protecting them against “unreasonable search and seizure.”

SCOTUS to decide parental rights when kids are interviewed & examined for abuse

From the
The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear an extremely important case involving the rights of parents and children when caseworkers decide to interview and medically examine children for alleged abuse without a search warrant or the consent or involvement of their parents.

The case began in 2003 when Bob Camreta, a caseworker for Oregon's Department of Human Services, interviewed a young girl about alleged sexual abuse by her father at her school without her mother's consent. Camreta also allegedly refused to allow the mother to be present or nearby when her daughter was examined for sexual abuse by medical personnel.

The mother brought suit, saying that the caseworker had violated her and her child's Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. A district court granted a summary judgment in favor of Camreta and the other defendants. The case ended up eventually in the Ninth District Federal Court, which reversed parts of the district court's ruling but also said that the caseworker had quasi-judicial immunity so that he was not liable for the breach of rights.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Warrant needed before taking children

From The Columbus Dispatch:
Sandra Day O'Connor wrote 10 years ago that the 'interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests.' But how fundamental? Does this interest shelter families from the prying eyes of social workers? Can investigators take young children without parental consent in order to perform tests and ask questions? Does the Fourth Amendment protect families?

The Supreme Court will address these questions on March 1, when it hears oral arguments in Camreta vs. Greene. An Oregon social services investigator, accompanied by a deputy sheriff, removed a 9-year-old girl from her elementary school in order to interview her about alleged sexual abuse by her father. They did not have probable cause, a warrant or parental consent, only an unsubstantiated tip. Two hours later, the investigator and deputy emerged from behind closed doors with the answers they sought: the girl had been abused. She was removed from her home and placed in foster care.

It took several weeks, but the girl's mother was eventually able to have her returned. Charges against the father were dropped. The girl was not abused after all.

Washington Woman Files Suit Against Local Jail Over Alleged Illegal Strip Search

From Avvo News:
A Washington woman has filed a civil rights lawsuit against a jailhouse and officers in connection with an alleged illegal strip search following a 2008 arrest.

The Olympian reports that the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Cynthia Brown, who claims that she was shot with a Taser when she refused to undress in front of male corrections officers after she was arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges, which were later dismissed.

Should Employers Be Allowed to Ask for Your Facebook Login?

From The Atlantic:
The American Civil Liberties Union has taken up the cause of a Maryland man who was forced to cough up his Facebook password during a job interview with the Department of Corrections in that state.

According to an ACLU letter sent to the Maryland Department of Corrections, the organization requires that new applicants and those applying for recertifications give the government 'their social media account usernames and personal passwords for use in employee background checks.'

Can You Frisk a Hard Drive?

If you stand with the Customs and Border Protection officers who staff the passport booths at Dulles airport near the nation’s capital, their task seems daunting. As a huge crowd of weary travelers shuffle along in serpentine lines, inspectors make quick decisions by asking a few questions (often across language barriers) and watching computer displays that don’t go much beyond name, date of birth and codes for a previous customs problem or an outstanding arrest warrant.

The officers are supposed to pick out the possible smugglers, terrorists or child pornographers and send them to secondary screening.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Suit Charges D.C. Police Executed Search Warrant at Wrong Apartment

From The Blog of Legal Times:
A man and his wife are suing the Metropolitan Police Department for $1 million in damages for allegedly barging into and searching the wrong apartment during a drug investigation last year in Southeast Washington.

The suit, filed in Washington's federal trial court this week, alleges civil and constitutional violations. The police did not take anything from the home of Danny Costello and his wife, Gai Nguyen, according to court records.

“The police officers had a duty, before attempting to execute their search warrant, to make sure that they were executing the warrant only for the apartment the warrant authorized entry,” the couples’ attorney, Wendell Robinson, said in the complaint [.pdf]. “But the police officers negligently, intentionally, willfully, wantonly, and maliciously, forcibly entered the plaintiffs’ apartment without sufficient evidence that it was apartment #305.'

TSA Source: Armed Agent Slips Past DFW Body Scanner

From NBC Dallas-Fort Worth:
An undercover TSA agent was able to get through security at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with a handgun during testing of the enhanced-imaging body scanners, according to a high-ranking, inside source at the Transportation Security Administration.

The source said the undercover agent carried a pistol in her undergarments when she put the body scanners to the test. The officer successfully made it through the airport's body scanners every time she tried, the source said.

'In this case, where they had a test, and it was just a dismal failure as I'm told,' said Larry Wansley, former head of security at American Airlines. 'As I've heard (it), you got a problem, especially with a fire arm.'

TSA Agents Charged With Grand Larceny

From the New American:
The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has once again found itself embroiled in controversy, as two of its agents were discovered stealing $39,000 from passengers’ checked luggage, and were charged Wednesday. A law enforcement source reports that TSA agents Couman Perad and Davon Webb both admitted to looting a total of up to $160,000 from a variety of passengers in a period of several months at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and that the two agents committed the theft of $39,000 on January 30, the same day the investigation into their theft began.

Our view: How much would you give up to quicken airport security lines?

From the Tucson Citizen:
Now that the outrage over airport pat-downs and full body scans has died down and the government is trying to tweak the scans to provide more modest images, travelers are still left with everything they never liked about screening.

Taking off coats and shoes, pulling out laptops, packing only 3.4-ounce bottles of liquid for carry-on and waiting in line to be swabbed, scrutinized and undressed by an X-ray remains as distasteful as it has been since strict screening was ushered in after 9/11.

So airline and travel associations, as well as the Transportation Security Administration, are on a never-ending quest to make the experience less unpleasant, but just as secure. TSA chief John Pistole has talked about moving his agency toward a “more identity-based” system, where the level of screening might vary by passenger depending upon the risk each poses. We wish him well.

Interpreting the Fourth Amendment: The line between students’ rights and the administration’s duties

From Inklings News:
It’s 1984.

Two girls, a freshman and her friend, take a quick smoke in the school bathroom, violating a school rule. Upon discovering the girls’ actions, a teacher sends them to the office where the assistant principal askes to see the freshman’s purse.

When he searches her purse, he finds not only cigarettes, but also rolling papers, commonly used for marijuana. This gives the assistant principal reasonable suspicion to continue searching through her bag, where he then discovers marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a substantial amount of money, an index card with a list of names of students who owe her money, and two letters that implicate her involvement in drug dealing. What was an accusation of smoking tobacco has become a charge of delinquency and an important case regarding search and seizure.

Fourth Amendment Rights Disappearing?

The Law School at West Virginia University hosted a talk Thursday about your Fourth Amendment Rights and how they might be disappearing.

'The Vanishing Fourth Amendment: Irrelevance and Consent' was the topic of discussion that afternoon. One of the speakers, WVU Law Professor Gerald Ashdown, says that reasonable search and seizure rights protected under this amendment are getting slimmer thanks to higher courts allowing Police more freedoms when it comes to searching someone.

Ashdown adds that Fourth Amendment protection started withering away thanks to the wars on drugs and terrorism.

Attention Mall Shoppers! The 4th Amendment Does Not Apply Here

From JDSupra:
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides limits to law enforcement search and seizure procedures in order to protect individuals' privacy. Under the 4th Amendment, unreasonable searches and seizures carried out by law enforcement officials are forbidden, Perhaps most importantly, any evidence gathered in violation of the 4th Amendment is inadmissible in Court.

The 4th Amendment prohibits police officers from entering your house or your workplace, searching your backpacks, purses, or any other private personal item, among other private matters, in the absence of either probable cause or consent to the search.

Unfortunately, the protections of the 4th Amendment do not extend to illegal searches and seizures by non-governmental agents. Essentially, individuals may be subject to unreasonable and otherwise illegal search and seizure at the hands of a host of private actors such as landlords, employers, store employees, private security guards and the like. The New Mexico Supreme Court held as much in State v. Luis Santiago.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Police Obtain Warrant to Search “All Persons” Who Enter Apartment Parking Lot Where Drug Selling Commonly Occurs

From The Volokh Conspiracy:
In Sarasota, Florida, a vacant lot next to an apartment building has become a vibrant open-air drug market. The police are having trouble cleaning it up. So the police tried something they had never tried before: The applied for, and obtained, a warrant to search “all persons” who parked or set foot in the apartment building parking lot.
During the two-hour raid, a dozen people were searched and, even though officers justified the wide search by telling a judge no “innocent persons” congregated in the abandoned lot, only four people were charged with drug crimes. An 80-year-old man was among those detained, then released, during the operation
I haven’t seen the actual warrant, and all we have is a press report, but it sounds pretty plainly unconstitutional to me.

The Man’s Best Friend

From Reason Magazine:
When the local drug dog shows up to sniff lockers, cars, and backpacks at Temple City High School in Southern California, senior Jonathan Huynh takes immediate notice. His heart rate jumps, his breathing slows, his hands start to sweat.

But Huynh isn’t nervous because he has something to hide. His wariness stems from firsthand knowledge that drug dogs aren’t the infallible sniffing machines imagined by the U.S. Supreme Court and much of the public. When Huynh was an eighth-grader at Oak Avenue Intermediate School in Temple City, a drug dog picked out his gym locker during a random search. When Huynh returned to the locker room at the end of class, a school administrator opened his locker in front of him and the rest of his classmates. The detection dog immediately lunged for the backpack and took hold of it, but when the administrator subsequently searched it, he found no drugs or other contraband. When the administrator and the canine team left, all the other students started laughing at Huynh. “I felt completely humiliated,” he later wrote on an online message board.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Franken to Chair New Judiciary Subcommittee

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) announced in a press release today the creation of a new Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has been chosen to lead the committee. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will be Ranking Member.

“The explosion of new technologies and activities online, including social media, has unleashed new questions about how to protect Americans’ privacy in the digital age,” said Leahy. “As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I have made privacy a top priority, and that will continue in the 112th Congress. The important work of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will complement the work that the full Committee will continue this year. I welcome Senator Franken as the chair of this subcommittee, and look forward to continued progress in protecting Americans’ personal privacy.”

TSA refusal to release body scanner safety reports has many crying foul

From Natural News:
Two months after lawmakers ordered the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to release safety reports about the levels of radiation being emitted by baggage X-ray machines, naked body scanners, and other airport security equipment, the agency has yet to make this information public. The reports, which remain in the hands of TSA officials, are allegedly being retained to protect 'sensitive security or privacy-protected information.'

FW Eyes Limehouse Bill

From FITSNews:
Obviously last month’s shooting in Tucson, Arizona involving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was a tragic event. Violence should never be used to convey any type of political message, and this was no exception. However this shooting wasn’t political – it was the direct result of a madman with a gun. That means there is virtually nothing that could have been done to prevent it because the actions of madmen are unforeseeable.

Good luck telling that to State Representative Chip Limehouse though.

Last month, the Charleston “Republican” proposed legislation that would force campus police departments in South Carolina to report all students who have been expelled, suspended or who dropped out due to “disruptive or anti-social behavior.”

James Bovard at CPAC: Repeal Patriot Act

From the New American:
During the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Liberty PAC, Ron Paul’s possible presidential campaign PAC, sponsored an event entitled “Repeal the ‘Patriot’ Act” that included (among others) libertarian authors and speakers Ivan Eland and James Bovard (photo at left). Earlier in the week, the U.S. House of Representatives had defeated legislation to extend expiring sections of the Patriot Act. But the vote occurred under a suspension of the rules that required a two-thirds majority for passage, and the House is expected to vote on the Patriot Act renewal again on Monday, February 14, this time with a simple majority required for passage.

Stratford woman sues U.S. border guards

From The Beacon Herald:
A Stratford woman has filed a lawsuit against two American female border guards alleging she was subjected to an unjustified strip-search and groped by one guard as the other watched.

Loretta Van Beek, 46, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday with the Detroit federal court stating the search violated her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Van Beek has a property in Georgia and crosses at the Ambassador Bridge several times a year. When she attempted to cross last March, she was taken aside when raspberries she didn't declare were discovered in her car by border protection agents.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Pitfalls of Unionizing the TSA

Robert Verbruggen wrote recently about the downside of unionizing the TSA in the National Review, taking issue with the Obama Administration’s decision to allow the agency to unionize even though past TSA heads regarded unionization as a threat to national security. As he notes, “after a mere nine years in existence, the Transportation Security Administration rivals the DMV and the Postal Service as a played-out comedy cliché. And now the TSA is adding union bureaucracy to the mix.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

WVU College of Law hosts talk on 'The Vanishing Fourth Amendment'

From the West Virginia Record:
The WVU College of Law will host a discussion titled 'The Vanishing Fourth Amendment: Irrelevance and Consent.'

The discussion is scheduled for noon Thursday, Feb. 17 in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom at the WVU Law Center in Morgantown.

'The people of the United States do not realize how much their Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure has been eroded,' says WVU College of Law Prof. Gerald G. Ashdown who along with University of Pittsburgh Prof. John M. Burkoff will discuss the topic of the Fourth Amendment with Ashdown remarking on the growing irrelevance of the Fourth amendment and Burkoff addressing the issue of consent.

Calif. Court: 4th Amendment Protects Your Car's Computer

From Opposing Views:
A California appellate court has handed down a fascinating opinion today in State v. Xinos on whether and how the Fourth Amendment regulates government access to data stored in a car’s internal computer that controls the airbags and seatbelts.

After a fatal car accident, the police downloaded the data from the impounded car and used it to help reconstruct the accident and convict the driver of vehicular manslaughter. The information from the computer “showed information captured during the five seconds before defendant’s vehicle experienced a change in velocity.

Sen. Paul Statement on PATRIOT Act Renewal

From Senator Paul's website, a video of Sen. Paul Statement on PATRIOT Act Renewal.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ACLU challenges Twitter subpoena in WikiLeaks probe

The unfolding battle between the United States government and WikiLeaks over the publication of hundreds of thousands of once-secret U.S. documents moved into a new phase Tuesday with the unsealing of court motions asking a federal magistrate in Virginia to quash a subpoena for the Twitter records of three people with ties to WikiLeaks.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan ordered the motions unsealed at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed them on behalf of a member of Iceland's parliament whose Twitter records were among those sought, apparently as part of a criminal investigation into how secret U.S. documents allegedly downloaded by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning found their way to WikiLeaks. Two private law firms joined in the filing on behalf of the other two Twitter users.

In addition, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked Buchanan to make public any subpoenas issued to other Internet services as well as the U.S. government's original request for the records. Buchanan did not act on those motions, however. She set a hearing on the matter for Feb. 15.

Can The Government Seize Your Email Without A Warrant? You’ll Be Surprised

From Forbes:
Is your email safe from a warrantless seizure thereof by the federal government?

The Fourth Amendment provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause.” U.S. Const. amend. IV.

Not all government actions are invasive enough to implicate the Fourth Amendment. Rather, an unreasonable search occurs when the government infringes upon an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable. Determining whether an unreasonable search has occurred depends on two discrete yet highly related inquiries. First, did the investigated party have a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search? Second, is society willing to recognize that expectation as reasonable? Both of these questions must be answered in the affirmative.

Historical ruling on truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights; Judge rules Minnesota fatigue program violated truckers rights

From the OOIDA Press Release:
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) says a recent ruling by a federal judge is a major historical victory for truckers’ rights.

U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank ruled that the Minnesota State Patrol’s inspections to determine fatigue violated truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights. The court held that the fatigue inspections are beyond the scope of CVSA’s (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) Level III inspections.

OOIDA, which represents small-business truckers and professional truckers, and its member plaintiff Stephen K. House, filed the lawsuit against the Minnesota State Patrol and individual officers in May 2009. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of truck drivers placed out of service after patrol officers consulted a checklist and arrived at the conclusion the drivers were “fatigued.”

Daley Defends City’s Camera Network

From CBS Chicago:
Mayor Richard M. Daley has rejected a call from the American Civil Liberties Union to stop expanding use of surveillance cameras and to require authorities to have probable cause before zooming in on anyone with a city camera.

On Monday, the ACLU of Illinois issued a report claiming there are about 10,000 cameras in Chicago, including cameras operated by police, public schools, public transit and private businesses linked to the city’s 911 Center.

The ACLU said the city shouldn’t add any more cameras to the city’s surveillance network, because it’s an invasion of privacy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Do TSA security measures make you feel safer when you fly?

As the uproar over the government's use of pat-downs and full-body scanners at airports ebbs, new technology is being tested that is designed to allay privacy concerns over the grainy nude images produced by the machines.

Scanners being tested in three U.S. airports will only display for screeners a generic stick figure, and any suspicious object on a passenger's body will be flagged for inspection by a pale red box on the drawing. A passenger cleared to go will see the screen flash green and read 'OK.'

Yet even as the new software debuts, the brief public outcry over the new measures during the holiday travel season did not produce a significant surge in complaints by air travelers. While 100 million fliers have passed through airport checkpoints since Nov. 1, the Transportation Security Administration has received fewer than 5,500 complaints about the procedures, or less than .01 percent.

Republicans Will Try to Stall TSA Unionization on Monday

From the Sunshine State News:
Thanks to the Obama administration, the federal government's airport gropers -- er, screeners -- are moving closer to unionizing.

The administration cleared the way last week for airport screeners to organize and bargain on workplace issues. If screeners vote to unionize, as expected, it will lead to the formation of one of the largest federal sector unions.

On Monday, Republicans will try to block the TSA unionization effort as part of a bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration.

'With the airport screening force mushrooming from 16,500 in 2001 to now nearly 63,000, this will be President Obama's biggest gift to organized labor,' House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, D-Fla., told the Wall Street Journal.

The Insanity With Security Gadgets Must End

Last Friday, after arriving at the airport, I stood in the check-in line for security check. I took out my laptop computer from the carry-on bag; I also took out my shoes, jacket, etc. Then I stepped in through the body scan area. As expected, no beeping sound was heard, which would warrant a pat-down search. When I was about to collect my carry-on belongings from the conveyor belt, the mean-spirited TSA (Transportation Security Administration) personnel standing near the scan machine whispered something into the ears of a TSA colleague, who pulled me out for a pat-down search. I felt humiliated. Minutes later, I saw another south Asian also pulled for a thorough search. No other persons were randomly checked for such a humiliating experience. After the search was over, I could not avoid stating that it was a clear case of discriminatory racial profiling.

iPhones transmit personal data, unique user IDs, suit says

From Westlaw News & Insight:
Devices that run Apple’s iPhone operating system secretly send users’ personal information to advertisers, according to a putative class-action lawsuit filed in a California federal court.

Plaintiff Anthony Chiu sued Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Jan. 27. His 10-count complaint includes allegations of invasion of privacy; breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and violations of California consumer protection laws and the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701.

Chiu hopes to lead a nationwide class of all iOS device users who have downloaded and used an application from Apple’s App Store.
The case is Chiu et al v. Apple Inc., No. 11-CV-407-HRLU.S, District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs are represented by Jeff S. Westerman and Sabrina S. Kim of Milberg LLP in Los Angeles.

GOP joins campaign against TSA scanners

From WorldNetDaily:
Members of the Travis, Texas, County Republican Party have joined a campaign against the federal Transportation Security Administration's new invasive airport pat-down procedures and nude-imaging scanners at airports.

'These scanners are a very personal invasion of privacy, exposing anatomically detailed images of airline passengers to strangers,' said chairman Rosemary Edwards. 'These graphic scans and the intimate physical searches which are offered as the only alternative, are completely inappropriate and a violation of our Constitutionally protected right to privacy.'

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers Provide Guidance on a Person's Rights Regarding Searches and Seizures at the International Border

The San Diego criminal defense lawyers at the United Trial Group ( would hereby like to provide a brief explanation of the legal rights afforded to those who are attempting to cross the border between Mexico and the United States in regards to privacy, searches and seizures and how these situations apply to the United States Constitution.

Generally, courts and legislatures have acted in recent years to strip down the protections against searches and seizures provided by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution when such searches and seizures are conducted at an international border. As a result, searches and seizures conducted in these locations can usually be conducted without a search warrant and without reasonable suspicion, which are the usual requirements for searches and seizures that are conducted in other settings or locations.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Effect of Technology on the Fourth Amendment

A Press Release from the Law Offices of Howard A. Snader, LLC:
The events of September 11th have permanently changed the way law enforcement fights crime. The Fourth Amendment has long offered protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, but slowly, those protections are being minimized by new laws and court decisions upholding invasive investigatory tactics by state and federal agencies.

Many rules have been passed to help prevent terrorism from spreading, to allow officials to detect those who would do harm to our country. While these rules have helped officials keep track of potential terrorists, it also allowed law enforcement agencies to aggressively monitor our daily lives.

Most large cities, Phoenix included, now have 'fusion centers' in place which were created to lead the fight against terrorism. The centers consist of local law enforcement agencies working in concert with FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force personnel. Phoenix serves as the headquarters for the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center.

Does the Fourth Amendment Protect You?

From the City on a Hill Press:
If you’ve ever watched the TV show “Cops,” you’re familiar with how this scene plays out. A suspect is found, arrested upon reasonable suspicion of a crime and taken away. This is standard procedure for criminals across the United States.

But what if the picture is much broader than that? What happens when the police need more evidence to convict you after arrest? In recent years, it’s become extremely easy to get that extra evidence, no further effort required.

Three years ago, a man was pulled over for being involved in an ecstasy drug deal in Ventura County. He was arrested and interviewed, and his personal belongings were taken from him, including his cell phone. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department then proceeded to search through the phone and came upon an incriminating text message that officers showed to the man, causing him to admit his guilt in the drug deal.

Woman wins strip-search suit against Woodbury County

From the Sioux City Journal:
A jury has awarded a South Sioux City woman who was strip-searched at the Woodbury County Jail over $250,000 in damages.

Maureen Rattray claimed in her civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Sioux City that her Fourth Amendment rights were violated when corrections officers allegedly performed a body cavity search on her at the Woodbury County Jail in August 2006 following a drunken-driving arrest.

Since the 1970s, the Woodbury County Jail used strip-searches on all inmates charged with serious misdemeanors or greater offenses. The jail stopped the practice on Oct. 15, 2007, eight months after Rattray filed her complaint.

Flight From Officer Held Cause to Stop and Search

From the Metropolitan News-Enterprise:
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled that a Las Vegas man who attempted to flee from a police officer who called out to him to stop was not unconstitutionally seized since he did not submit to the officer’s show of authority, and his flight gave the officer reasonable suspicion to handcuff and search him after the foot chase ended.

Judge Ronald M. Gould, in his decision for the panel, acknowledged that “circumstances where a person’s flight has a perfectly innocent and reasonable explanation” may exist. But Jermaine Smith’s reaction was suggestive of wrongdoing, the judge concluded.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bill would limit red-light cameras in Virginia

From the Washington Examiner:
A bill in the Virginia House of Delegates could halt the installation of red-light cameras across the state, but experts say claims that the program is abusive and needs to be scaled back are overblown.

Introduced by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, the bill would prevent any locality from installing new red-light cameras, which photograph and ticket drivers who run red traffic lights, after July 1, 2011. While red-light cameras installed before the cutoff date would be allowed to remain, cities and counties that now have the cameras would be barred from installing any more.

Lingamfelter has been battling red-light cameras in the General Assembly for years, arguing that while the cameras promote safety they also infringe on civil rights by invading the privacy of drivers.

DEA Agent Pushes Privacy Claim in Appeals Court

From The Blog of Legal Times:
A federal agent who accidentally shot himself during a videotaped drug education presentation in Florida is pressing forward with his suit against the government, urging a federal appeals court to find the public disclosure of the video marked an invasion of privacy.

The plaintiff, Lee Paige, wants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn a ruling in December that terminated the suit. Paige said in the complaint [.pdf], filed in Washington’s federal trial court in April 2006, that the disclosure of the video harmed his reputation. The court picked up the appeal earlier this week.

Is spying on teenage drivers an invasion of privacy or a parent's right?

From Network World:
Teenage drivers crash nine times more often than adults. Teens drive more safely when parents are riding in the car with them, but parents can't always ride with them. So some turn to technology to capture audio and video of teenage drivers in an effort to make them feel watched, as if their parents were there.

Although American Family Insurance has offered theTeen Safe Driver Program for years, this recent commercial caught my eye. Two video cameras with audio are installed on the rearview mirrors, recording footage of the driver and of the driver's view of the road ahead. When triggered by erratic driving, 20 seconds of video are sent to a safety analyst at DriveCam who reviews it and writes a critique. If the video is especially disturbing, mom and dad are sent an email alert. The videos are posted online where parents can login and view them. Parents are to 'coach' their teen on better driving habits. American Family reports, 'Parents also receive a weekly driver report card showing their teen's performance compared to their peers.'

Warrantless GPS Tracking Facing Fourth Amendment Challenges

Recent federal and state court decisions that overturned narcotic convictions of suspected drug dealers as a result of law enforcement using warrantless GPS tracking devices to watch suspects have triggered an intense debate over the Fourth Amendment, which provides citizens against unreasonable search and seizures.

The GPS controversy is at the center of a raging legal discussion over privacy rights: Should law enforcement be allowed to install a GPS on a vehicle without a warrant during criminal investigations to track a suspect’s movement 24-7, and does warrantless tracking violate a person’s privacy although they are being watched by the police in public?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TSA debuts new full-body scanners

From the Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock blog:
New airport security scanners designed to be less intrusive than machines that captured near-naked images will debut at the Las Vegas airport Tuesday.

They'll look just like the controversial scanners that were introduced last fall, but instead of sending a revealing image to be examined in a private security booth, new software will project a non-gender-specific silhouette on a small screen attached to the booth.

If the passenger is carrying any contraband items a red box will appear on the screen. Otherwise it will flash a green okay.

The Cops and Your Garbage

From Chicago's Real Law Blog:
The cops can look through your garbage. It's considered a legal search that doesn't violate your rights, and it happens all the time in Illinois. It came up recently in a Deerfield murder case, the one where the victim was the pregnant girlfriend of former Bears player Shaun Gayle.

After the police identified the defendant - a Chicago woman who was supposedly jealous of the girlfriend - as a person of interest, they began collecting her garbage. For more than three months, they went to her home every Thursday night around midnight (because trash pickup was Friday mornings) and took her bags of garbage.

The defense attorney was trying to get trash-can evidence thrown out, saying it was a violation of privacy for the cops to go through her garbage. The judge said the search was legal, which wasn't surprising. The law is pretty clear in this area.

Protecting Against Five Common Gaps in Healthcare Data Security and Privacy

From the PRNewswire:
Gaps in the security and privacy of healthcare data still exist, even though the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act's (HIPAA) rules for security and privacy safeguards were extended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. For many healthcare providers, these gaps could be the cause of a major security breach, according to Raj Chaudhary, the leader of the Security and Privacy practice at Crowe Horwath LLP, one of the largest public accounting and consulting firms in the U.S.

'The HIPAA Security Rule has three sets of security standards. Each set has several safeguards, and each safeguard has one or more implementation specifications,' said Chaudhary. 'Providers need to assess their controls and infrastructure against these standards in order to avoid penalties.'

As part of compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Chaudhary also suggests that providers evaluate their risk of compromising all forms of protected health information (PHI) for improper use or disclosure, loss of data and breach of confidentiality.

FBI in hundreds of privacy violations, report finds

From the Washington Post's SpyTalk blog:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported nearly 800 violations of privacy laws and regulations to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board from 2001 to 2008, according to records obtained by a watchdog group.

The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said it had also uncovered “indications that the FBI may have committed upwards of 40,000 possible intelligence violations in the 9 years since 9/11.” It said it could find no records of whether anyone was disciplined for the infractions.

The group drew its findings from about 2,500 documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Politician Offers 'How-To' for Ransacking Your Kids' Rooms

From ParentDish:
Not to be paranoid or anything, but your little girl could be hiding a small-caliber weapon in her jewelry box.

And that baby doll she loves so much? There's a reason she's always hugging it. It's where she keeps her drugs. You might want to rip the doll's head off. Just to be safe.

New York State Sen. Eric Adams says this is just good parenting.

Adams spent 22 years on the New York Police Department before representing Brooklyn in the State Senate. He has a five-minute video on YouTube about how to spy on your kids. Don't worry about their rights, he tells the New York Daily News. They don't have any.

'There is no Fourth Amendment or First Amendment or any amendment right inside your household,' Adams tells the paper. 'Parents write the constitution for what rights are in their homes, and one right they must understand is the right to protect all members of their household.'