The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech, whether written or spoken. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures, without probable cause and without a Warrant. The Fourteenth Amendment, which states that "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...." applies these protections in the states.

Click here to learn more about the ACLU's work in privacy and technology at the national level and in other states.

 

60485 cinotsoprivate01 webf 1First Wednesdays in Bloomington, Dec. 2, 2015: "The Not-So-Private Lives of Hoosiers: How Technology is Threatening our Privacy." Panel included (L-R) Indiana University Professors Christine Von Der Haar, Fred Cate, Scott Shackelford and Kelly Eskew (not pictured). Photo by Katelyn Rowe, The Indiana Daily Student.

By Christine Von Der Haar

One early summer morning, Christine Von Der Haar, a faculty member at Indiana University, was seized and detained by United States Customs and Border Protection officers at Indianapolis International Airport. She was twice interrogated about deeply personal matters by an armed female officer while an armed male officer stood blocking the doorway. She was never advised of her right to leave, nor was she told of her right to refuse to answer questions. She reasonably believed that she could not choose to leave. Later, the officers would admit that she had committed no crime and had not even been suspected of criminal activity. In telling her story to attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana who represented Dr. Von Der Haar in her subsequent lawsuit, she revealed how intensely hurtful and humiliating this experience had been. The officers had clearly violated Dr. Von Der Haar's Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. So why was she detained? And why did the government later have such difficulty explaining its actions? Here, in her own words, is Chris's story:

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The privacy implications of drones continue to raise concern around the country. Since the ACLU's 2011 report and before, we have been warning about the potential privacy implications of this technology. Mainly, we've focused on the danger that they will be used in systems of mass suspicionless surveillance of entire cities and towns. But there is also a lot of discussion around the country—and some actual legislative efforts—to regulate private-sector drones.

While private drones do definitely raise privacy issues, they are a separate set of issues, and we have not called for any privacy regulation of private drones at this time. Click here to read a blog post on this issue by Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project.

May 7, 2015

NEW YORK – In a landmark decision, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled today that the NSA's phone-records surveillance program is unlawful.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the statute the government is relying on to justify the bulk collection of phone records – Section 215 of the Patriot Act – does not permit the gathering of Americans' sensitive information on such a massive scale. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union in June 2013, immediately after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of the program.

"The current reform proposals from Congress look anemic in light of the serious issues raised by the Second Circuit," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. "Congress needs to up its reform game if it's going to address the court's concerns."

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In June 2012, Christine Von Der Haar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University, accompanied a friend to the Indianapolis International Airport Office of Customs and Border Protection to pick up computer equipment that had been shipped to Indianapolis a few days earlier. The customs agent, after asking the pair if they were planning to marry, questioned them separately about email communications and the nature of their relationship, and confined Dr. Von Der Haar in a guarded room for more than 20 minutes.

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In the 2014 legislative session, the ACLU of Indiana supported two bills protecting Hoosiers' privacy that were passed by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence on March 26.

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