Archive for the ‘Electronic Rights’ Category

YouTube Offers Blocking to Thailand

7 April 2007

YouTube has offered to allow the Thai government to block specific items, according to BBC News, saying that would be better than the country having the entire site blocked. Thailand currently has a ban on YouTube, because of material deemed offensive to the monarch.

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Court Rules Against COPA

22 March 2007

A federal district court has ruled that the government cannot censor online speech under the Child Online Protection Act, according to the ACLU. The law was enacted in 1998, but courts immediately prohibited enforcement.

COPA would impose large fines and up to six months imprisonment for publishing material online that’s deemed “harmful to minors,” even if it might be extremely useful (safe sex information might fall under this, for instance). It was found that even some of the worst blocking programs would be more effective at protecting children from sexually explicit material than COPA.

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EFF Sues for Court Order Documents

27 February 2007

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Department of Justice for records regarding secret court orders that DoJ says allow it to continue its wiretapping program, according to the EFF’s website. Last month Alberto Gonzales said that FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) had authorized some surveillance and that the wiretapping would continue under this approval.

The Department of Justice did not respond to the EFF’s FOIA request for information on changes in the program, so the EFF is now suing for the FISC orders.

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Egypt Jails Blogger

22 February 2007

Egypt has sentenced blogger Abdel Kareem Soliman to four years in prison, according to BBC News, three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition, and one year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak. Apparently the court session lasted a mere five minutes.

Others say that it will not prevent Egyptians from blogging, since it is nearly impossible to control.

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Bill Would Require Storage of Internet Data

15 February 2007

Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced legislation to require Internet Service Providers to store records of their customers’ activities online, according to the ACLU. It would allow Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to decide what data the ISP’s would have to store and for how long.

From Marvin Johnson of the ACLU:

Legislation like this is like swatting a fly with a bazooka. Such sweeping measures do little to stop online crime; instead, they overwhelm law enforcement agents with mountains of raw data and have a chilling effect on ISP subscribers’ First Amendment rights.

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BBQ Violates Viacom Copyright?

11 February 2007

Viacom sent 100,000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube users recently, according to EFF, in a kind of dragnet operation targeted against use of Viacom-copyrighted material, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Among the 60 mistakes they have so far admitted were a home-video filmed in a BBQ joint and a music video about karaoke in Singapore.

Though these videos were obvious mistakes, the EFF is concerned that other fair-uses of Viacom material will not be admitted as mistakes.

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Press Freedom 2007 Report

2 February 2007

Reporters Without Borders published its annual survey on press freedom yesterday. It covers 98 countries and is available in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

Among other things, it notes that “A disturbingly record number of journalists and media workers were killed or thrown in prison around the world in 2006.” Also, six journalists and four media assistants were killed in January of this year alone.

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Blogs Surveilled

1 February 2007

Though there is obviously good reason to ensure that military secrets aren’t on the web, there is also good reason to ensure that free speech for the soldiers is protected. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the DoD is monitoring soldiers’ blogs, and the EFF is requesting information on the process, to see if opinions are also at risk.

The EFF’s lawsuit is part of its FLAG Project.

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“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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AT&T Shareholders Want Accountability

19 January 2007

A group of AT&T shareholders are requesting that the company issue a report on its involvement in NSA wiretapping, according to the ACLU. AT&T has appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying that it would interfere with “ordinary business matters” and referred to a declaration from John Negroponte which cited the “state secrets privilege.”

The “state secrets privilege” has been very much overused by the Bush administration, according to the ACLU. It has been used in regards to torture, a racial discrimination lawsuit, and other matters.

Also, I have to wonder how a report on government wiretapping would interfere with “ordinary business matters.”

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