This Is Mass Justice: SJC Requires Warrants For Cellphone Tower Data

by Alex Marthews on February 26, 2014

On February 18, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared that here in Massachusetts, state cops actually do have to get a warrant if they want to access your cellphone location data. This is what an independent judiciary looks like. The Justices of our Supreme Judicial Court have withstood over half a century of New England […]

Boston PD Suspends ALPR Program After Massive Privacy Violation

by Alex Marthews on January 15, 2014

Just before Christmas, Muckrock and the ACLU of Massachusetts brought out excellent articles based on a full year of Muckrock’s investigative reporting into Boston PD’s use of automated license plate recognition technology. ALPR systems automatically photograph and store in a police database the license plates of any car an ALPR-equipped police vehicle passes. The car […]

MA-05: In their only debate, Clark and Addivinola spar over surveillance

by Alex Marthews on December 9, 2013

Democratic nominee Katherine Clark and Republican nominee Frank Addivinola spent a substantial portion of their only televised debate sparring over privacy and surveillance. It has been great to see these issues playing such an important role in a Congressional campaign. However, there have been two less good outcomes, independent of who wins. First, it’s still […]

Sauce for the Gander: Boston Police Officers Apparently Don’t Like Being “Followed All Over The Place”

by Alex Marthews on November 19, 2013

From the ACLU of Massachusetts: Boston Police Department bosses want to install GPS monitoring devices in every patrol car, to enable dispatch to more efficiently process 911 calls. But police officers and their union are outraged, saying that the ubiquitous tracking is too invasive of their personal privacy. Tracking the location of officers as they […]

SJC Reviewing Warrant Requirement for Historic Cell Phone Location Data

by Alex Marthews on September 24, 2013

Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court is soliciting amicus briefs from interested parties in two cases highly relevant to electronic privacy. First up is Commonwealth vs. Shabazz Augustine, where they seek to establish: “whether there is a warrant requirement for cell phone records collected and held by the phone company, namely historic cell site location information, sought […]

Cambridge debates switching on its surveillance cameras after Marathon attacks

by Alex Marthews on August 9, 2013

The city of Cambridge, MA is considering whether to switch on its network of surveillance cameras. Councillor Craig Kelley, who chairs the Public Safety Subcommittee [UPDATE: and whom, I should make clear, is skeptical about the merits of surveillance camera systems, scheduled seven public hearings on the newly proposed Security Camera Policy, but like most […]

Ray of Light in Massachusetts: Supreme Judicial Court Rules in Commonwealth v. Rousseau that GPS Tracking Requires Probable Cause, Mere Fact of Surveillance Establishes Standing

by Alex Marthews on June 13, 2013

In a week of devastating disclosures about government surveillance, here’s one ray of light. The ACLU of Massachusetts reports the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court‘s verdict in Commonwealth v. Rousseau.┬áIn separate trials, John Rousseau and Michael Dreslinski were each convicted of four charges relating to a spree of burning and vandalizing properties. As part of their […]

Can You Hear Us Now? Colonial-Style General Warrants Return To America

by Alex Marthews on June 6, 2013

Glenn Greenwald in the British newspaper The Guardian has published a leaked Top Secret order dating from the day of the Boston Marathon bombings providing evidence of intrusive cellphone surveillance dating from at least 2007. In the order, the NSA directs Verizon to send to it daily the metadata on ALL CELLPHONE CALLS – the […]

Microscope Monday: Analysis of Massachusetts’ proposed License Plate Privacy Act, H 3068 / S 1648

by Alex Marthews on June 4, 2013

One of the curious things about digitization is that it allows data to be circulated and shared almost effortlessly. New, cheap ways of sharing and storing data can turn data collection that was previously quite innocent into a serious threat to our ability to be free from government surveillance. Historically, the law has recognized no […]