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?
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey Vice President Mike Pence took the Administration's lead today in explaining why the President fired the Head of the FBI, saying, "The president made the right decision at the right time." Trump's action is being compared to the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1973.
Trump's Russia ties intensify with Comey firing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe contradicted the Trump White House today, insisting the Bureau had not lost faith in former Director James Comey. He promised to notify the committee of any interference into investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Vladimir Putin's Russia. What do we know about those contacts… and how they relate to Trump's business interests and those of his family?
Should we 'hack the climate' to fight global warming? The Paris Agreements won't be enough to reverse global warming, whether President Trump pulls the US out or not. Is it time to try altering the atmosphere by what's called "geoengineering?" We hear about unintended consequences, international relations… and ethics.