Closure Of DHS Domestic Spy Satellite Program A Positive Step, Says ACLU

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org 

Closure Of DHS Domestic Spy Satellite Program A Positive Step, Says ACLU

Aerial Surveillance Still Threatens Americans’ Privacy

WASHINGTON - In
the wake of strong criticism by the American Civil Liberties Union and
members of Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
announced Tuesday the end of the National Applications Office (NAO),
which maintained a troubled program created to share domestic satellite
imagery for homeland security and law enforcement purposes. DHS had put
the program under review at the request of House Intelligence Committee
members Jane Harman (D-CA) and Norman Dicks (D-WA).

“We
welcome Secretary Napolitano’s decision to shut down DHS’s spy
satellite program,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the American
Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. “From the very
beginning, the National Application Office’s program was ill-conceived
and invasive and it has threatened Americans’ privacy rights.”
 
The
ACLU testified before Congress in opposition to the NAO program in
2007, telling Congress that reasonable interpretations of Fourth
Amendment privacy protections have failed to keep pace with new
technologies and that lawmakers need to impose limits on aerial
surveillance in order to preserve the privacy that Americans have
always expected and enjoyed. 
 
“Despite
this welcome announcement, Americans should be aware that aerial
surveillance still poses a threat to privacy,” said Jay Stanley, Public
Education Director for the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program.
“Technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles mean that the
authorities can increasingly peer down on civilians without the expense
and intrusion of a police helicopter, and robotic flying surveillance
cameras may become cheap enough to be deployed routinely over American
skies.” 
 
Because
the Supreme Court has ruled that Americans do not have a right to
privacy from the air even on their own property, Americans’ privacy
will continue to be at risk until U.S. jurisprudence catches up to
available technology..
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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