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Category Archives: Congress

Abortion Surveillance After Roe

Surveillance Technology Oversight Project Report, May 24, 2022: “Abortion rights will soon be a thing of the past for millions of Americans. At the time of publication, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion shows a majority of justices are poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and any federal constitutional right to abortion. But repealing a half century of reproductive rights won’t transport Americans back to 1973, it will take us to a far darker future, one where antiquated abortion laws are enforced with cutting edge technology. Sweeping abortion laws are already on the books in many states, primed to go into effect the moment the Supreme Court’s decision is published. But those sprawling bans won’t enforce themselves. Police, prosecutors, and private anti-abortion litigants will weaponize existing American surveillance infrastructure to target pregnant people and use their health data against them in a court of law. This isn’t speculation—it’s already happening. Abortion opponents surveil pregnant people and abortion providers to chill their reproductive freedoms. Hospitals track pregnant patients with suspicionless drug testing. while police harness surveillance to enforce existing abortion laws. Nearly every aspect of pregnant peoples’ online lives is already targeted—including search histories, online purchases, and messages—while cellphone location data is used to track their movements in physical space. If this is the state of surveillance today, in an America with abortion rights, what surveillance will we see in a post-Roe future? Lawmakers will likely pressure police and prosecutors to use all of the tracking tools they have to target health providers, pregnant people, and anyone helping them to access care. And with all mass surveillance, there will be countless bystanders targeted, too, those who will be jailed because of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and inaccurate data. This is a bleak forecast for the future, but there are still steps that providers, lawmakers, and members of the public can take to protect pregnant people from this looming surveillance state, if only we act now.

Current Analog Surveillance of Pregnant People – For 49 years, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey promised pregnant people significant reproductive autonomy. Although states dramatically expanded abortion access restrictions in the decades since Roe was decided, its core holding—granting pregnant people the right to determine whether to seek abortion prior to viability—remained a key pillar of American constitutional law. However, abortion rights have often been far more limited in practice than they appear on paper. Non-state actors use surveillance as one of many tactics to harass pregnant people and providers, chilling their exercise of reproductive rights. Activists film and publicly identify abortion seekers and medical staff. They map patients’ social networks and contact their families, leading to familial coercion and even violence. They track the license plates of people entering clinics.  One anti-abortion advocate even created a website listing the names, addresses, phone numbers, and photographs of reproductive healthcare providers…labeling each doctor as “working,” “wounded,” or “fatality.” While courts later ruled this website was an unlawful threat, all the other surveillance described was perfectly legal, even in a world where Casey and Roe remained the law of the land. It’s impossible to know just how many pregnant people were intimidated not to pursue abortion care through surveillance, even though it’s their right…”

DOJ snapshot of Jan 6 investigation as of Friday, May 6, 2022

DOJ: “Friday, May 6, 2022, marked 16 months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol that disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the presidential election results. The government continues to investigate losses that resulted from the breach of the Capitol, including damage to the Capitol building and grounds,… Continue Reading

Capitol attack panel to hold six public hearings as it aims to show how Trump broke law

The Guardian UK – “Panel aims to publicly outline the potentially unlawful schemes that tried to keep the former president in office despite his defeat  The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to stage six public hearings in June on how Donald Trump and some allies broke the… Continue Reading

How much longer can Google own the internet?

“The synonym for search finds itself in big antitrust trouble. This story is part of a Recode series about Big Tech and antitrust. Over the last several weeks, we’ve covered what’s happening with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Google. “There’s a new Big Tech antitrust bill in town, and this one is especially painful for… Continue Reading

Understanding Federal Legislation: A Section-by-Section Guide to Key Legal Considerations

CRS Report – Understanding Federal Legislation: A Section-by-Section Guide to Key Legal Considerations, Updated May 19, 2022 [97 pages]: “Federal bills are increasingly complex, making them difficult to understand for the average reader and the seasoned practitioner alike. What a congressional drafter understands to be the import of a given provision could later be discussed… Continue Reading

Big Tech in Financial Services

CRS Report – Big Tech in Financial Services, May 16, 2022: “For the past decade or so, “Big Tech”—which hereinafter refers to the large technology companies Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook (now Meta Platforms), unless otherwise noted—has been offering a variety of financial services products to retail customers. Big Tech uses advanced data analysis and… Continue Reading

Algorithmic Stablecoins and the TerraUSDCrash

CRS Insight, Algorithmic Stablecoins and the TerraUSD Crash, May 16, 2022: “…TerraUSD (UST) stablecoinuses an arbitrage mechanism typical of some algorithmic stablecoin arrangements consisting of two coins or tokens: the stablecoin, in this case UST, meant to maintain a stable value or “peg,” and a balancer token, in this case,LUNA, the value of which can… Continue Reading

The Post-Roe Battleground for Abortion Pills Will Be Your Mailbox

Wired – “If regulation of abortion access falls to the states, it will unleash legal havoc over pregnancy-ending medications that are shipped across state lines. The draft legal opinion leaked from the Supreme Court that promises to overturn the right to abortion in the United States says it will “return that authority to the people… Continue Reading

Confronting Misinformation in the Age of Cheap Speech

LawFare: “In 1995, Eugene Volokh published a law review article in which he predicted that the rapidly growing internet would “dramatically reduce the costs of distributing speech” and that “the new media order that these technologies will bring will be much more democratic and diverse than the environment we see now.” The concept, which Volokh… Continue Reading

Watch Recordings of Law Library Webinars and Events You May Have Missed

In Custodia Legis: “Over the past six months, the Law Library has held many webinars on topics concerning foreign, comparative, and international law, Law Library collections, as well as our recurring orientations on how to research U.S. case law, federal statutes, and federal regulations. The Law Library also presented its annual Supreme Court Fellows Lecture and Human Rights Day… Continue Reading

Finding Legislative Information on Topics of Interest Using the Library of Congress

Teaching with the Library of Congress: “The best place to start for insights into the workings of the U.S. Congress is is the official source of information on Congress, and includes searchable records of legislation from 1973 to the present. For example, a quick search on “technology” for the current Congress produces a… Continue Reading