Plaintiffs who challenged an Alabama immigration law reached a settlement with the state Oct. 29 that permanently blocks parts of the law. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found several provisions unconstitutional in two rulings in August 2012. The law, known as HB 56, was signed into law in 2011.
A bill introduced Oct. 29 in the House and the Senate would restrict intelligence community data collection and storage, although intelligence officials that same day continued their defense of the status quo, with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warning a House panel of "potential negative long-term impact of overcorrecting the authorizations granted to the intelligence community."
Police body cameras could serve as a check against police abuse of powers as long as privacy policies are put in place, an Oct. 9 American Civil Liberties Union paper says. When a New York judge found that the NYPD's stop and frisk tactics violated the constitution, one of the remedies was for the department to begin testing wearable police cameras.
A special envoy for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is set to begin work Nov. 1. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that Paul Lewis, currently the minority general counsel for the House Armed Services Committee, was chosen for the role. One hundred sixty-four prisoners remain at Guantanamo Bay, some of whom have been cleared for release since the mid-2000s.
On Sept. 25, CBP announced a range of actions it has begun to take or plans to take to address use-of-force issues. Video cameras on Border Patrol agents and expanded basic training are among the possibilities. Eventually, CBP plans to pilot the use of cameras mounted on its agents and their vehicles to reduce use of force and also protect employees against false allegations.
The database that tracks complaints of misconduct by Customs and Border Protection employees doesn't include a category for allegations of use of force, the Homeland Security Department office of inspector general says. "As a result, we were unable to determine the total number of excessive force allegations and investigations involving CBP employees," the OIG says.
Documents from a border crossing laptop seizure case show the Homeland Security Department using the international passenger alert system to seize the digital equipment of Americans without a warrant. "There's strong circumstantial evidence that they did this precisely to avoid the warrant requirement," said ACLU legal fellow Brian Hauss.
Obama administration assurances that only transactional records and not the content of Americans' phone calls are being monitored by the National Security Agency overlooks the revealing potency of those records, says Edward Felten, a Princeton computer science professor.
A federal appeals court ruled July 30 in a 2-1 ruling that location data gleaned through historical cell phone call records is not protected by the Fourth Amendment.
After more than a year of work, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration published July 25 a draft mobile app code of conduct (.pdf). The code establishes a standard format for developers to incorporate a privacy "short form notice" for consumers to review prior to downloading or purchasing an app.