Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's Been Awhile Since I've Applauded The ACLU...

And it's been for good reason that it's been awhile, but I now have something positive I can say about them:
Here’s how phone metadata can reveal your affairs, abortions, and other secrets

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance of Americans’ phone calling records. On Monday, the ACLU asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction halting the program while its legality is litigated.

The program only collects metadata about Americans’ phone calls—who they call, when, and how long the calls last. In defending the program, the government has cited a controversial 1979 Supreme Court decision that held that phone records are not protected by the Fourth Amendment because consumers do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their calling records.

But Ed Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton University (and, full disclosure, my former graduate school advisor) argues that this intuition is wrong. In a legal brief supporting the ACLU’s request, Felten argues that the distinction between call “contents” and “metadata” isn’t always clear. Sometimes, the mere fact that someone called a particular number reveals extremely sensitive personal information.

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