Archive for the ‘law’ Category

Appeals Court Backs EFF Push for Telecom Lobbying Documents Disclosure

c/o EFF

Panel Rules Law Does Not Protect Identities of Lobbyists
San Francisco – Today a federal appeals court rejected a government claim of “lobbyist privacy” to hide the identities of individuals who pressured Congress to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the government’s warrantless electronic surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans.
As the court observed, “There is a clear public interest in public knowledge of the methods through which well-connected corporate lobbyists wield their influence.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been seeking records detailing the telecoms’ campaign for retroactive legal immunity under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Telecom immunity was enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

“Today’s ruling is an important one for government and corporate accountability,” said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. “The court recognized that paid lobbyists trying to influence the government to advance their clients’ interests can’t hide behind privacy claims to keep their efforts secret.”

This decision is the latest setback for the government in its long-running attempt to delay disclosure of the documents EFF seeks. So far, EFF has obtained thousands of pages of records through this litigation.

“AT&T, Verizon and Sprint expended millions of dollars to lobby the government and get an unconstitutional grant of retroactive immunity for their illegal spying on American citizens,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “The public deserves to know how our rights were sold out by and for telecom lobbyists.”

The appeals court sent part of the case back down to the district court for further consideration, including whether disclosure of the lobbyists’ identities would reveal intelligence sources and methods and whether communications between the agencies and the White House can be withheld under the presidential communications privilege or other grounds.

This week on Waking Up Orwell we will be speaking LIVE with Jim Turner, a Washington attorney representing Citizens for Health, an organization suing the FDA for approving the H1N1 swine flu vaccines to be administered before they were properly tested.

Citizens for Health is very involved with actions in New York to address the voluntary- compulsory policy requiring health care workers to take the Swine Flu vaccine as a condition of their employment.

Waking Up Orwell airs on from 9 – 10 AM CST. Please click the icon in the top right hand corner of to be directed to the show site.

NEXT WEEK: The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) wasted no time developing a plan for local government to push back against unconstitutional compliance requirements in the PATRIOT Act. BORDC’s National Director, Shahid Buttar, will be with us LIVE for details on local government campaigns and their plan for to address government transparency. They will have some D.I.Y. government tips on to assert yourself right where you live.


A national DNA databank can help an investigator handling a blind crime, but human rights concerns and a huge backlog of cases are major hurdles.

A recent case in the U.S. highlights how a well-managed national DNA databank can come to the rescue of an investigator handling an otherwise blind crime. It relates to the disappearance of Laura Garza, a 25-year-old Brooklyn woman, in December 2008. (According to a MySpace notice, she is yet to be traced.) She was last seen alive in the company of one Michael Mele (23), who was arrested a few days after Laura went missing for an entirely unrelated offence of lewd sexual behaviour in public and in the immediate presence of a child. Mele was found to have a criminal record for sexual deviance, and traces of DNA picked up from his car (in which he travelled with Laura) and the damaged carpet of his house cooked his goose. Laura or her remains, if Mele did murder her, are yet to be traced. But all evidence points to Mele’s participation in the episode. There are any number of such clueless cases having been solved by the police in many parts of the world, and courts have been convinced with the DNA evidence adduced by the prosecution.

However, two major problems make the use of DNA evidence a tortuous exercise: a huge backlog of cases awaiting laboratory results and human rights concerns of the ever-enlarging DNA databases. In these days of extreme mobility, it does not make sense to construct and manage a narrow database of only local criminals and suspects.

Both the U.K. and the U.S. have nationwide databases of DNA profiles, in addition to local ones. Notwithstanding India’s population of more than a billion, it seems expedient to attempt such a database in India. Nandan Nilekani’s Unique ID number project can possibly throw up ideas for the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for designing a national DNA database. :::MORE HERE:::


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