Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.


Regulating the Prison Telephone Industry

The ACLU has been leading the push for the regulation of prison phone companies and their unfair extortion of inmates and their loved ones. The few companies in control of prison phone lines have been known to charge extremely high rates to prisoners’ families, sometimes reaching as high as $17 for a 15-minute call.

 As of late, however, Global Tel*Link, the country's biggest provider of prison phone services, has had trouble staying on the line. Last year’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to cap the price of 15-minute calls at $3.75 has put GTL in check. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that GTL is being put up for sale by the firm that owns it, American Securities.

 Read more about the ACLU efforts to stop the prison telephone industry from profiteering off of the human need to connect here. 


ACLU wary of Facebook’s New App, “Nearby Friends”

In the coming weeks, Facebook will introduce an app in the coming weeks for users to receive notices when they are near friends. Chris Conley, a policy attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said Facebook should keep users “regularly aware” of everyone with whom they’re sharing location. Users will be able to opt in, and agree to give Facebook permission to track them at all times, even when not logged into Facebook. Read more about this new feature here.


ACLU of Arkansas Files Suit to Block New Arkansas Voter ID Law

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed the suit in Pulaski County court this week to halt a law requiring voters in Arkansas to show photo ID at the pools. The previous law stated that election workers must ask for photo ID but voters would not have to show it to cast a ballot. Under the new law, voters without photo identification can cast provisional ballots, but those ballots would only be counted if the voters provide ID to election officials on the Monday following an election.

“This puts more burdens on the voter than the Arkansas constitution permits...It only creates more trouble for people who have been voting all their lives,” Rita Sklar, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas, stated Wednesday. “It throws hurdles in front of them instead of making it easier for them to participate in the democratic process.”

Read more about the ACLU’s challenge to Arkansas’ new ID requirements here.