Archive for January, 2007

“Full-Pipe” Tapping of Internet

31 January 2007

The FBI has been using a “full-pipe” technique to monitor the internet, according to ZDNet, meaning that, instead of picking up just what is on the warrant and examining it, they pick up that and whatever else happens to get in with it, then sort it out later. If they find that, for one reason or another, they can’t monitor a single IP address, they monitor everything. It is sometimes described as a “vacuum-cleaner” approach.

Paul Ohm, former trial attorney at the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, says that this has become the default method. “What they’re doing is even worse than Carnivore,” said Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation “What they’re doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets.”

Federal law says that agents must “minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception” and keep judges informed of what is happening. Apparently though how exactly this works is a somewhat unclear issue.

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Brits Want X-Ray Cameras on Streets

30 January 2007

The British government wants to install more cameras on the streets, according to Daily India, which wouldn’t be a big deal given the massive numbers of cameras already all over Britain. The difference is that the cameras the British government wants now can see through clothes.

The British Home Office suggests placing them on lampposts. Obviously, there is concern that many in the country may object to being filmed minus their clothing just for walking down the street. The Home Office has offered a solution though: only allow female officers to observe female passerby, though they admit this might be difficult to do with crowds. Of course, no male could possibly have a problem with this new form of security, and no woman will have a problem with it so long as they can rest assured that only other women will look at the film.

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Colorado May Ban Requiring Microchips

29 January 2007

A Colorado state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would prohibit requiring implanted microchips for any purpose, according to Rocky Mountain News. Wisconsin became the first state to ban requiring it in May, and 17 other states are considering similar legislation.

It has become a bigger issue, according to librarian Michael Sawyer, since health secretary Tommy Thompson began supporting medical information implants, after he joined the board of a company that makes them. The President of Columbia has also suggested using implants to track migrant workers and a Wisconsin lawmaker has pushed for a bill to use the chips to track sex offenders (or kids, with their parents’ permission), though unsuccessfully.

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Canada Compensates Arar, Asks for Removal From Watchlist

28 January 2007

The Canadian government has compensated Maher Arar with $8.9 million (US), according to BBC News, after an inquiry found that US authorities were probably acting on information from Canadian authorities. Mr. Arar was detained in the US while returning to Canada from Tunisia, when he tried to change planes in New York. He was then deported to Syria (he holds dual Syrian-Canadian citizenship), where he says he was imprisoned and tortured for nearly a year. The Canadian inquiry supported his claims that he was tortured.

Though the Canadian government has requested it, the US refuses to take Arar off its watchlist. Canada has cleared him of any terrorist connections, but the US government claims it has reasons of its own.

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Moving of Wiretapping Cases Would Delay Decisions

27 January 2007

The government is pushing to consolidate five cases brought by ACLU affiliates (in New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, and Missouri), and move them to California, according to the ACLU. If this happened, it could be more than a year before a decision was made.

24 state affiliates asked state Public Utility Commissions to investigate phone companies’ cooperation with the program, and the government filed federal lawsuits to prevent four PUC’s from doing so, as well as filing a different lawsuit in New Jersey to prevent subpoenas.

In the only court opinion thus far on the wiretapping program’s legality, a district court said that it was unconstitutional.

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Maine Lawmakers Against REAL ID

26 January 2007

Maine recently became the first state to pass a resolution in favor of repealing the federal REAL ID Act, according to Yahoo. The REAL ID Act would basically federalize the driver’s license by setting national requirements like digital photos and machine-readable technology, as well as require increased verification of identity for getting a license and the linking of state databases to a single network. Maine’s lawmakers said that it would cost too much, increase risk of identity theft, and do nothing to improve security.

Some supporters of REAL ID say the current license system is insecure due to identity theft, which is ironic since opponents say that the REAL ID’s would be insecure because of their machine-readable technology and database system, which would increase risk of identity theft.

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Habeas Corpus Can’t be Suspended Because it Doesn’t Exist?

25 January 2007

Surely that is not what the writers of the Constitution meant, but it’s what Alberto Gonzales thinks. According to SFGate, while he concedes that the constitution does prohibit the taking of habeas corpus, nowhere does it grant it in the first place. The writers of the constitution, apparently ahead of Mr. Gonzales’ time, might have taken the right for granted, since it has been established since at least 1215, in medieval England.

As Arlen Specter (R-PA) said, “You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.”

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EU States Knew About Flights

24 January 2007

European Union states were aware of the CIA flights over Europe, according to BBC News. A European Parliament committee has approved reports that says that states knew of the flights, and that the UK, Italy, and Poland were less than fully cooperative with the investigation, though it does not confirm reports of a secret prison in Poland.

It also says that, of the over 1,000 flights, the traffic was heaviest in Germany, the UK, and Ireland.

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Convention Material Can be Made Public

23 January 2007

A federal judge ruled recently that the NYCLU can release information regarding the policing of the 2004 Republican National Convention, during which mass arrests occurred, according to the NYCLU. The NYCLU has collected thousands of pages of city documents and testimonies, as well as videotapes.

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Journalist Called to Testify in Court Martial

22 January 2007

Journalist Sarah Olson was recently called to testify in a court martial against Ehren Watada, according to the Progressive. Watada has called the Iraq War “illegal and unjust,” and is refusing to deploy there.

Olson, a freelance writer, was one of the first to cover the story, and is now being called to testify in the court martial. Though the military says that it is not asking for notes or tapes, others say it is wrong to make her essentially testify against her source, and on January 8th the Los Angeles Times said that “No prosecutor should be able to conscript any reporter into being a deputy by compelling testimony made by a source—or go fishing for information beyond what a reporter presents in a story—unless it’s absolutely vital to protect U.S. citizens from crime or attack.”

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