We received very good news today out of Washington when a federal judge ruled that the National Security Agency’s phone collection program is likely unconstitutional. Although the ruling is stayed pending appeal, the message from the bench was clear and we’re hopeful this is a sign of even bigger things to come in the legal fight over mass government surveillance.
The incredible thing about the information provided by Edward Snowden is that it shows just how incredibly broad and deep the U.S. government's surveilance programs are. There has hardly been a week in the past six months in which we haven't learned new information about what the government has been doing with our private information.
Over the last forty years we have seen an 705% increase in the size of our prison population. With 2.3 million people behind bars, we are now the number one incarcerator in the world – followed by China with 1,640,000 and Russia with 618,600. Furthermore, we have an additional 6.9 million people under some sort of correctional supervision. With our prisons and jails overcrowded, our court systems clogged and corrections budgets soaring, our criminal justice system is maxed out - due largely to low level, non-violent drug offense that carry excessive sentences.
December 10 marks Human Rights Day, an occasion to renew our individual and collective commitments to advancing civil and human rights for all people. This year, Human Rights Day coincides with a worldwide day of remembrance and celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela - an international beacon of human rights who passed away last week.
If you follow our blog then you know that Maine’s privacy laws are among the best in the country. Earlier this year we led the successful effort requiring law enforcement in Maine to get a warrant before accessing data created on or generated by your cellphone.
Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
Long Live the Spirit of Nelson Mandela
Our flags are flying at half staff until sunset Monday in honor of Nelson Mandela, the revered international symbol of freedom, who passed away on December 5th. In the words of ACLU director Anthony Romero,
Today, the ACLU of Maineis joining a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the federal law that says the government can access your email and documents in the cloud without a warrant.