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Surveillance

The advance of technology presents both opportunities for and challenges to liberty. As new technologies are implemented, their impacts on civil liberties must be considered. The ACLU supports uses of technology that enhance privacy and freedom while opposing those that undermine liberty and move us closer to a surveillance society.

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Topic Resources

Published: 
Thursday, December 23, 2010
  Big Brother is watching, and you might not even realize that you are the one being watched!  A recent story on Wired.com revealed that:  “Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations” without the subscriber ever finding out – when the administrative subpoena is served with a Court Order for Non-Disclosure. That’s right: the government is keeping tabs on your credit card purchases.
Published: 
Friday, December 10, 2010
As an attorney who graduated from both Gonzaga (J.D.) and the University of Washington (LL.M.), I recently joined the ACLU-WA staff as a government surveillance fellow.  I’d like to introduce myself and let you know why I care about the impact of technology on civil liberties.
Published: 
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
In 2008, when the City installed the police surveillance cameras at Cal Anderson Park, the ACLU warned of the dangers of government cameras recording the activities of law-abiding citizens, and noted that without safeguards for privacy, inappropriate uses of such cameras likely would result. Sure enough, the cameras were misused to zoom in on park users and were not used by the police to prevent or solve any crimes. Thankfully, last week the City Council passed legislation to remove the cameras – but only from Cal Anderson Park. The City now needs to remove the cameras from the Garfield Community Center as well. Email the Seattle City Council today. Read more
Published: 
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This week, the Seattle Times is running a Washington Post expose on the vast American intelligence bureaucracy. Called Top Secret America, the series delves deep into the underbelly of the intelligence world and exposes a runaway freight train that costs a pretty penny and does little to keep us safe. Of particular significance to ACLU-ers, the series documents official frustration with data overload, notes the high cost and low efficacy of the expanding network of programs and agencies, and highlights concerns with the increasing role of private intelligence contractors. Those familiar with our work on surveillance and privacy will recognize these issues as common refrains.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Public records obtained by the ACLU-WA show that the University of Washington Police Department authorized an undercover officer to attend, participate in, and collect information about meetings student activists on campus. ACLU-WA executive director Kathleen Taylor and recent UW Law School graduates Salmun Kazerounian and Sarah White discussed concerns at a press conference at the ACLU office.
Published: 
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Recently obtained documents show that the University of Washington Police Department authorized an officer to spy on, collect information about, and participate in meetings of the UW Student Worker Coalition, without any suspicion of criminal activity. The ACLU of Washington is working with the SWC to uncover the extent of surveillance, and to encourage the University to take the steps necessary to prevent suspicionless surveillance in the future.   Read more
Published: 
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I spent a week in Detroit attending workshops, plenaries, meeting lots of new people, and discussing ideas. This may sound like a typical conference, but the US Social Forum (USSF) is more than workshops and networking. The USSF is a movement building process where activists and advocates from across the country gather to share ideas, cultivate relationships for effective action, engage in dialogue on how to create "another world" - one that is free from racism, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of inequality and unfairness. Throughout the week, my activist spirit was rejuvenated and inspired – and the energy continues. Read more
Published: 
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Well, that settles it – government surveillance without suspicion is a costly endeavor. The case surrounding the false arrest of Phil Chinn –the Olympia activist targeted for surveillance based on his political associations – has come to a close. Unfortunately, a new ACLU report on political spying shows that coordinated efforts to target political activists for surveillance persist not only throughout Washington, but throughout the country.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, June 28, 2010
Three law enforcement agencies in Washington are paying a total of $418,000 to resolve a lawsuit over the wrongful arrest and covert surveillance of an Olympia activist who was prevented from participating in a lawful demonstration.
Published: 
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Government surveillance of political activists without any suspicion of wrongdoing is unfortunately all too familiar, but recent events and evidence show that the problem is increasingly widespread. The ACLU-WA is working to keep its fingers on the pulse of the surveillance state and ensure that laws and policies are in place to safeguard our civil liberties. To help you see the big picture, we’ve created a new feature on our website highlighting what we've learned so far. Read more

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