"If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his house, what books he may read or what films he may watch."
--Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
The word "privacy" means many different things to different people. One widely accepted meaning is "the right to be let alone," as it was described by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Yet under the USA Patriot Act, hastily passed just 45 days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the government has the power to search your home without telling you they were there, collect information about what you read and what you buy, seize your medical and financial records and track your email activity and website visits. This sweeping legislation must be fixed if Americans are to preserve our basic freedoms and protect ourselves from broad government searches of our personal records and information.
Additionally, the United States is at risk of turning into a full-fledged surveillance society. From using the telephone to applying for a job or sending an e-mail, our right to information privacy is in peril. Our personal and business information is being digitized through an ever-expanding number of computer networks in formats that allow data to be linked, transferred, shared and sold, usually without our knowledge or consent. DNA has the power to disclose not only private personal and medical information about any individual but also blood-relatives. The same technological advances that have brought enormous benefits also make us more vulnerable than ever before to unwanted snooping. As technology provides new ways to gather information and databases proliferate, the need for privacy protections becomes more urgent. The ACLU is a national leader in working to guarantee that individuals may determine how and when others can gain access to their personal information.
The ACLU of South Dakota advocated against two bills that would have forbidden anonymous blog postings and other anonymous speech on the internet during the 2010 Legislative Session. HB 1277 and HB 1278 mandated that websites in South Dakota that allow for unnamed posting of comments, opinions and other speech items must track those who are posting on their web pages and keep records of IP addresses and other potential identifying and private information."These bills sought to address issues of defamation on internet websites but do so in a way that was so excessively broad that it would suppress South Dakotans' rights to freedom of expression and infringe on their right to privacy," stated Robert Doody, Director of the ACLU of SD. Both bills were defeated in committee.
Bigger Monster,Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance Society
Science Under Siege
Unpatriotic Acts: The FBI's Power to Rifle through
Your Records & Personal Belongings
without Telling You
Bust Cards: What to do if you're
stopped by the police.