Archive for the ‘warrentless wiretapping’ Category

And they are enforceable!

BTC –  With the sheer volume of reporting I read daily about the loss of privacy sandwiched between the private and business sectors, it’s beginning to seem more like an invisible electronic cage than a free society.  When you fold in governments continuous legal bids for powerful technologies to surveill the public this might amplify your clipped and cagey responses on social media.

It happens at every level of public life. Corporate competitors spy on each other.  Political opponents spy on each other.  Family members spy on each other. Nosey degenerates who are bored spy on each other.      Why not?

Before I completely lose my mind, I have to be reminded that the only thing standing in the way of chaotic super surveillance societies …are laws. Privacy and technology laws do exist.  How up to date and effective these laws are will be an ongoing matter of “legal upgrades” and interpretation.

With so much up in the air I wonder – how any product marketed to the general public to surveill anyone for ~$60.00 can be legal.  You can post a digital camera anywhere.  If the government is prohibited from watching us, what stops creepy political opponents, frenemies or power trippers from getting a hold of your digital information to try to hurt you and your life?

Let’s look at the one case of a Google engineer who lost his way, and so the tale is told according to Tech Eye…

“Remember that 27 year old ex Google engineer, David Barksdale, who’s allegedly been hassling minors, not miners, with cyber-stalking and snooping? The great and mighty ‘Ogle fired him, but here’s exactly how he’s in trouble according to federal law in the US.”

There simply isn’t anything in the Constitution that protects someone’s perceived right to super surveill another’s private actions.

However, there are people who have forgotten how to care about things like laws or privacy, like the makers of digital “cookies for cars”, BUMP!

 [Did we ever mention how many of us hate it when the government wants to automatically run our license plates?]


For the record, the people who invented BUMP!’s ability to text a license plate are probably sponsors of the Darwin Awards. Combining the experience of texting and driving [illegal already in California] is a way to harm yourself.

Wait until someone registers you without your knowing, like your insurance agency or that creepy guy from statistics class.  See?  

That’s why you need privacy laws.

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Yahoo Issues Takedown Notice for Spying Price List

Wired.com


BTC – Cryptome.org needs an award.

Yahoo isn’t happy that a detailed menu of the spying services it provides law enforcement agencies has leaked onto the web.

IN OTHER WIRED ACCOUNTS: YAHOO! , VERIZON: “Our spy capabiltes would “shock”, “confuse” customers

Shortly after Threat Level reported this week that Yahoo had blocked the FOIA release of its law enforcement and intelligence price list, someone provided a copy of the company’s spying guide to the whistleblower site Cryptome.

The 17-page guide describes Yahoo’s data retention policies and the surveillance capabilities it can provide law enforcement, with a pricing list for these services. Cryptome also published lawful data-interception guides for Cox Communications, SBC, Cingular, Nextel, GTE and other telecoms and service providers.

But of all those companies, it appears to be Yahoo’s lawyers alone who have issued a DMCA takedown notice to Cryptome demanding the document be removed. Yahoo claims that publication of the document is a copyright violation, and gave Cryptome owner John Young a Thursday deadline for removing the document. So far, Young has refused.

Yahoo’s letter was sent on Wednesday, within hours of the posting of Yahoo’s Compliance Guide for Law Enforcement at Cryptome. In addition to copyright infringement, the letter accuses the site of revealing Yahoo’s trade secrets and engaging in “business interference.” According to the letter, disclosure of its surveillance services (.pdf) would help criminals evade surveillance.

The Compliance Guide reveals, for example, that Yahoo does not retain a copy of e-mails that an account holder sends unless that customer sets up the account to store those e-mails. Yahoo also cannot search for or produce deleted e-mails once they’ve been removed from a user’s trash file.

The guide also reveals that the company retains the IP addresses from which a user logs in for just one year. But the company’s logs of IP addresses used to register new accounts for the first time go back to 1999. The contents of accounts on Flickr, which Yahoo also owns, are purged as soon as a user deactivates the account.

Chats conducted through the company’s Web Messenger service may be saved on Yahoo’s server if one of the parties in the correspondence set up their account to archive chats. This pertains to the web-based version of the chat service, however. Yahoo does not have the content of chats for consumers who use the downloadable Web Messenger client on their computer.

Instant message logs are retained 45 to 60 days and includes an account holder’s friends list, and the date and times the user communicated with them.

Young responded to Yahoo’s takedown request with a defiant note:

I cannot find at the Copyright Office a grant of copyright for the Yahoo spying document hosted on Cryptome. To assure readers Yahoo’s copyright claim is valid and not another hoary bluff without substantiation so common under DMCA bombast please send a copy of the copyright grant for publication on Cryptome.

Until Yahoo provides proof of copyright, the document will remain available to the public for it provides information that is in the public interest about Yahoo’s contradictory privacy policy and should remain a topic of public debate on ISP unacknowledged spying complicity with officials for lucrative fees.

—–

Note: Yahoo’s exclamation point is surely trademarked so omitted here.

The company responded that a copyright notice is optional for works created after March 1, 1989 and repeated its demand for removal on Thursday. For now, the document remains on the Cryptome site.

Threat Level reported Tuesday that muckraker and Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian had asked all agencies within the Department of Justice, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, to provide him with a copy of the pricing list supplied by telecoms and internet service providers for the surveillance services they offer government agencies. But before the agencies could provide the data, Verizon and Yahoo intervened and filed an objection on grounds that the information was proprietary and that the companies would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public.

Yahoo wrote in its objection letter that if its pricing information were disclosed to Soghoian, he would use it “to ’shame’ Yahoo! and other companies — and to ’shock’ their customers.”

“Therefore, release of Yahoo!’s information is reasonably likely to lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security, which is a competitive disadvantage for technology companies,” the company added.

The price list that Yahoo tried to prevent the government from releasing to Soghoian appears in one small paragraph in the 17-page leaked document. According to this list, Yahoo charges the government about $30 to $40 for the contents, including e-mail, of a subscriber’s account. It charges $40 to $80 for the contents of a Yahoo group.

VOA News

The Obama administration is urging lawmakers to extend three provisions of the controversial domestic surveillance law known as the USA Patriot Act.

The U.S. Justice Department issued a letter Tuesday asking Congress to renew provisions of the law that allow authorities to conduct roving electronic eavesdropping, or wiretaps, access business records and track so-called “lone wolf” suspects with no known links to foreign powers or terrorist groups.

The roving wiretaps would let agents track the communications of suspects who change their cell phones or other devices.

The provisions are due to expire on December 31.

Some lawmakers and civil libertarians have criticized the provisions, saying they infringe on Americans’ right to privacy. The Justice Department says the administration is willing to consider stronger privacy protections as long as they do not “undermine the effectiveness” of the provisions.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from the northeastern state of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, says it is important for the administration and Congress to work to protect both national security and civil liberties.

c/o Wired Magazine’s THREAT LEVEL

You may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it.

That’s the upshot of the rules the agency has followed for years to monitor licensed television and radio stations, and to crack down on pirate radio broadcasters. And the commission maintains the same policy applies to any licensed or unlicensed radio-frequency device.

“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske. That includes devices like Wi-Fi routers that use unlicensed spectrum, Fiske says.

The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts. That’s largely because the FCC had little to do with average citizens for most of the last 75 years, when home transmitters were largely reserved to ham-radio operators and CB-radio aficionados. But in 2009, nearly every household in the United States has multiple devices that use radio waves and fall under the FCC’s purview, making the commission’s claimed authority ripe for a court challenge.

“It is a major stretch beyond case law to assert that authority with respect to a private home, which is at the heart of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure,” says Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Lee Tien. “When it is a private home and when you are talking about an over-powered Wi-Fi antenna — the idea they could just go in is honestly quite bizarre.”

George Washington University professor Orin Kerr, a constitutional law expert, also questions the legalilty of the policy.

“The Supreme Court has said that the government can’t make warrantless entries into homes for administrative inspections,” Kerr said via e-mail, refering to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that housing inspectors needed warrants to force their way into private residences. The FCC’s online FAQ doesn’t explain how the agency gets around that ruling, Kerr adds.

The rules came to attention this month when an FCC agent investigating a pirate radio station in Boulder, Colorado, left a copy of a 2005 FCC inspection policy on the door of a residence hosting the unlicensed 100-watt transmitter. “Whether you operate an amateur station or any other radio device, your authorization from the Commission comes with the obligation to allow inspection,” the statement says.

The notice spooked those running “Boulder Free Radio,” who thought it was just tough talk intended to scare them into shutting down, according to one of the station’s leaders, who spoke to Wired.com on condition of anonymity. “This is an intimidation thing,” he said. “Most people aren’t that dedicated to the cause. I’m not going to let them into my house.”

But refusing the FCC admittance can carry a harsh financial penalty. In a 2007 case, a Corpus Christi, Texas, man got a visit from the FCC’s direction-finders after rebroadcasting an AM radio station through a CB radio in his home. An FCC agent tracked the signal to his house and asked to see the equipment; Donald Winton refused to let him in, but did turn off the radio. Winton was later fined $7,000 for refusing entry to the officer. The fine was reduced to $225 after he proved he had little income.

Administrative search powers are not rare, at least as directed against businesses — fire-safety, food and workplace-safety regulators generally don’t need warrants to enter a business. And despite the broad power, the FCC agents aren’t cops, says Fiske. “The only right they have is to inspect the equipment,” Fiske says. “If they want to seize, they have to work with the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

But if inspectors should notice evidence of unrelated criminal behavior — say, a marijuana plant or stolen property — a Supreme Court decision suggests the search can be used against the resident. In the 1987 case New York v. Burger, two police officers performed a warrantless, administrative search of one Joseph Burger’s automobile junkyard. When he couldn’t produce the proper paperwork, the officers searched the grounds and found stolen vehicles, which they used to prosecute him. The Supreme Court held the search to be legal.

In the meantime, pirate radio stations are adapting to the FCC’s warrantless search power by dividing up a station’s operations. For instance, Boulder Free Radio consists of an online radio station operated by DJs from a remote studio. Miles away, a small computer streams the online station and feeds it to the transmitter. Once the FCC comes and leaves a notice on the door, the transmitter is moved to another location before the agent returns.

Tonight, Olbermann continued his exploratory conviction against the “bipartisan” stronghold over the U.S. government’s assumed right to our privacy.

The argument surround’s Jewel vs. NSA , filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The fate of the imperiled court case below.

Please support the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s legal defense fund here to help defend our right to retaliate against government mandated stalking.


April 6th, 2009
c/o EFF.org


San Francisco – The Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration’s position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA late Friday.

In Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging the agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. The Obama Justice Department claims in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged “state secrets.” These are essentially the same arguments made by the Bush administration three years ago in Hepting v. AT&T, EFF’s lawsuit against one of the telecom giants complicit in the NSA spying.

“President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration’s cover-up of the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a ‘secret’ that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again.”

For the full motion to dismiss:
http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/jewel/jewelmtdobama.pdf

For more on Jewel v. NSA:
http://www.eff.org/cases/jewel