Thursday, July 1, 2010

ACLU Study Highlights U.S. Surveillance Society

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Welcome to the surveillance society.

That's what the American Civil Liberties Union concluded Tuesday with a report chronicling government spying and the detention of groups and individuals "for doing little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights."

The report, Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity (.pdf), surveys news accounts and studies of questionable snooping and arrests in 33 states and the District of Columbia over the past decade.

The survey provides an outline of, and links to, dozens of examples of Cold War-era snooping in the modern age.

"Our review of these practices has found that Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints and engage in normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public," Michael German, an ACLU attorney and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, said in a statement.

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