Victory! Brookline Selectmen reject state funding for license plate scanners

"This is a substantial victory for privacy advocates and for ordinary people in Brookline who don't want their travel information to be shared broadly with the state and federal governments," said Kade Crockford, privacy rights coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

Read the news release | Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) page

The Secret Truth

Listen to the latest Civil Liberties Minute, "The Secret Truth"

One truth we should be able to agree on about government surveillance since 9/11 is that the government makes it almost impossible to find out the truth. The story of New York's secret squad operating out of the city and in the tri-state area.

Listen now | podcast page

Flight Risk?

The following guest blog originally appeared on

The ACLU is always concerned about ways in which ordinary Americans get inconvenienced by "security" measures that actually make us no safer, and less free. TSA's unpopular and invasive scanners and "pat-down" searches, which began frustrating travelers at Logan and nationwide last year, are a perfect example.

Recent reports of what happened to Arlington-based musician Vance Gilbert, who was questioned after reading a book about vintage airplanes on a flight out of Boston, seems to bear out that concern. Mr. Gilbert made it past TSA scanners and screeners, but then found himself being questioned after boarding his flight. We are reposting here Mr. Gilbert's open letter to the ACLU about what he experienced. He titled it "Racial Profiling First Hand".

Leaders in Northampton, Springfield join opposition to S-Comm

In July 2011, the Springfield City Council passed a resolution urging Mayor Sarno to refuse to participate in the federal S-Comm anti-immigrant dragnet, and on Sept. 1, the Northampton City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution expressing the city's desire to opt out as well. The ACLU worked with the American Friends Service Committee and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee on the campaign.

Gov. Patrick announced in June that he would not sign an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to implement S-Comm, and Mayor Menino of Boston told ICE that the city needs answers before Boston would continue participating. The program's future remains unclear.

The ACLU of Massachusetts opposes S-Comm for three main reasons:

- S-Comm, also known as "Secure Communities," doesn't do what it says it will--in fact, it makes us less secure.

- Violent criminals already get deported. S-Comm, instead, rounds up people who haven't been convicted of any crime. It clogs jails and diverts resources from solving or stopping violent crime.

- S-Comm undermines community trust in police. When any interaction with a local police officer can get you deported, it makes witnesses and crime victims from immigrant communities afraid to come forward--and that's why many police say they oppose it.

Victory! Appeals Court unanimously affirms right to videotape police

"This is a resounding victory for the First Amendment right to openly record police officers carrying out their duties in a public place," said Sarah Wunsch, ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney. "It will be influential around the country in other cases where people have been arrested for videotaping the conduct of the police."

Read the news release | Case page