Here are a few updates on privacy issues that I've covered as of late, in addition to a few new items of interest.
*** First, I'd previously posted about a pending lawsuit against AT&T which alleges that the company violated state and federal laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants. As reported here, the government has now stepped into the lawsuit and is requesting that the judge dismiss the lawsuit since it may reveal state and federal secrets.
*** Quite recently, I'd posted about the government's admission that it was monitoring law student's protests against military recruitment. One of the concerns about the TALON program that had been mentioned in the linked articles from my post is that the information regarding the protests had been retained for excessive amount of time in the TALON system.
I came across another document that sets forth a number of anti-war groups that were monitored by the government and the disposition of the surveillance, which can be found here.
A similar issue has arisen regarding the Pentagon's alleged excessive retention of information regarding potential recruits. As reported here, a number of potential recruits have now filed suit against Donald Rumsfeld alleging that:
(T)he Pentagon improperly collected data on people as young as 16 and kept it beyond a three-year limit, and said that the law does not allow for keeping records on race, ethnicity, gender or social security numbers.
*** As reported here, the Justice Departmnet has now released specific data indicating that last year the FBI sought information regarding 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval or a grand jury subpoena by using an administrative subpoena called a National Security Letter (NSL).
It was also reported that:
The department also...received a secret court's approval for 155 warrants to examine business records last year under a Patriot Act provision that includes library records. However, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said the department has never used the provision to ask for library records.
The number was a significant jump over past use of the warrant for business records. A year ago, Gonzales told Congress there had been 35 warrants approved between November 2003 and April 2005.
*** Finally, I recently discovered an interesting web site, The National Security Archive, which collects and publishes documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. The documents include a number of interesting items relating to privacy rights. Check it out.