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?
Truth and Lies in Trumpland Donald Trump is using mis-information like no President has before him. It's an unprecedented challenge to the news media, and a potential threat to democracy. We hear how the "leader of all the people" is dividing Americans and confusing the rest of the world.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.