FROM Jay Stanley
License Plates, Law Enforcement and Violations of Privacy The National License Plate Recognition Program was begun by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2008 to track the movement of drugs and drug money along the Mexican border. It has been buried in secrecy. But documents obtained by the ACLU and interviews by the Wall Street Journal reveal that it’s been vastly expanded, and US Senators are among those worried about significant violations of privacy all over the country. License plate scanners in search of drug traffickers and stolen cars often identify the occupants of automobiles—revealing how ordinary Americans go about their business. It’s unclear how long the pictures stay in the files of federal and local police… or who else has access. But concerns about privacy are being raised.
Drones Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You Unmanned aerial vehicles, known as UAV's or drones, are commonly associated with the military, but commercial drones are already here and are quickly becoming a hot commodity. This week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas features some small models that have hobbyists, photographers and journalist very excited, not to mention law enforcement. The FAA has selected six sites around the US for testing civilian versions of drones, with the goal of integrating them into national airspace by 2015. They could be used for search and rescue missions or monitoring pipelines for leaks. While no one disputes the FAA's regulatory role, some legal experts question whether it has authority over private drones that operate below 400 feet, and privacy advocates worry they could also be used for surveillance.
Does Facial Recognition Technology Threaten Your Privacy? Fingerprints for identifying suspects is old news. Now the US Supreme Court says law enforcement can make databases that include DNA. Another advancing technology is raising familiar questions about the expectation of privacy. Thirty-seven states are putting drivers' license photographs into databases that use facial-recognition technology. That's according to a study by the Washington Post . We here more from reporter Craig Timberg and from Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project .
Airline Security: Nine Years after September 11 Some $40 billion worth of security measures were defeated on Christmas Day when a man boarded an airplane with explosives sewn into his underwear. New procedures announced since Friday have already been revised as the Obama Administration struggles to reassure the traveling public. Today, the President vowed to "continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks" against the US. We hear what it's like now to fly into the US. Will high-tech scanners or behavioral profiling be the wave of the future? Is Yemen now a greater threat to the US than Afghanistan?
Nationalism's appeal on both sides of the Atlantic Nationalism, Populism, concerns about immigration and outright racism are part of election campaigns from the US to Europe. We hear how today's election in Holland reflects the recent past and may forecast the future.
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."
East Asia: President Trump's first foreign policy test Starting with North Korea's latest test of nuclear missiles, a chain of events is causing instability in Asia. Could it turn into the first real foreign policy crisis of the Trump Administration?
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?