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Current Topic: Internet Civil Liberties

N.Y. attorney general forces ISPs to curb Usenet access | The Iconoclast - politics, law, and technology - CNET
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:01 pm EDT, Jun 10, 2008

Time Warner Cable said it will cease to offer customers access to any Usenet newsgroups, a decision that will affect customers nationwide. Sprint said it would no longer offer any of the tens of thousands of alt.* Usenet newsgroups. Verizon's plan is to eliminate some "fairly broad newsgroup areas."

This has to be the largest act of government coerced censorship in United States history. Granted, many of these newsgroups are still available via web interfaces like Google Groups, but the precedent set here is worse than the result. It is inevitable that if allowed to stand other content and protocols will be added to this regime. It is worth noting that the ISPs weren't required to block all of these newsgroups, just filter them with a government hash list. A hash list that would have inevitably expanded to include other verboten content that the government recommends that communications services "voluntarily" censor. Its likely that is not a business these ISPs wish to be in.

More here and here.

I have a feeling that June 10th, 2008 may replace February 8th, 1996 as the most infamous day in the history of the Internet.

N.Y. attorney general forces ISPs to curb Usenet access | The Iconoclast - politics, law, and technology - CNET

Network Solutions Pre-Censors Anti-Islam Site - Security Fix
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 9:28 am EDT, Mar 24, 2008

Web site name registrar Network Solutions is blocking access to a site
owned by a controversial Dutch politician known for his confrontational views about Islam and Muslim immigrants. The move by one of the largest companies in the domain registration business is notable, experts say, because it may be the first documented case of Internet pre-censorship by a major U.S.-based Web registrar.

Network Solutions Pre-Censors Anti-Islam Site - Security Fix

A Wave of the Watch List, and Speech Disappears - New York Times
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 7:59 pm EST, Mar  4, 2008

It turned out, though, that Mr. Marshall’s Web sites had been put on a Treasury Department blacklist and, as a consequence, his American domain name registrar, eNom Inc., had disabled them.

This raises an interesting question. U.S. law prohibits U.S. persons from doing business with embargoed companies or persons. But what if that business primarily facilitates a speech activity? Does the first amendment supercede?

A Wave of the Watch List, and Speech Disappears - New York Times

RIAA Juror: 'We Wanted to Send a Message' on Threat Level
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 5:16 pm EDT, Oct  9, 2007

I am cross posting my own response to this article. Scroll up from the linked anchor to read the story.

Sharing copyrighted material on Kazza IS actually illegal. Its really unlikely that someone coming from your IP using an account name that is the same as yours is someone other than you. Its possible but its unlikely. The guilty verdict is probably right.

As to the EFF's point, if its necessary as a matter of law to prove that the copyrighted material was actually distributed and was not simply offered for distribution, this will likely get fixed by the legislature. Otherwise it would be the equivalent of saying that its legal to offer drugs for sale as long as no one actually buys them.

The thing that is shocking about this case is the penalty, and the leeway offered to the jury in determining it. The penalty could have been anywhere between $18 thousand dollars, and $3.6 million! Frankly the minimum penalty seems barbaric, but one's life could recover from such a financial blow. It certainly would have "sent a message." The maximum penalty would completely destroy the vast majority of individuals in the U.S. and most small businesses. The given penalty would certainly destroy the finances of most American households.

The bottom line is that absolutely none of these penalties is in any way proportionate to the crime. The RIAA has advocated for these laws and our legislatures have passed them, and now a crime which is far less serious in fact than moving violations in an automobile bares penalties that can ruin futures.

We shouldn't be angry at this jury. We should be angry at the legislators who put them in the position of having to make this decision.

RIAA Juror: 'We Wanted to Send a Message' on Threat Level

Email 4th Amendment Ruling
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:10 pm EDT, Jun 18, 2007

Some of you who say my talk at Phreaknic might recall my observation that the 4th Amendment doesn't apply on the Internet. Interestingly enough, an appeals court today decided that it does. The EFF is touting this as a big win. However:

On remand, therefore, the preliminary injunction shall allow seizures of e-mail in three situations: (1) if the government obtains a search warrant under the Fourth Amendment, based on probable cause and in compliance with the particularity requirement; (2) if the government provides notice to the account holder in seeking an SCA order, according him the same judicial review he would be allowed were he to be subpoenaed; or (3) if the government can show specific, articulable facts, demonstrating that an ISP or other entity has complete access to the e-mails in question and that it actually relies on and utilizes this access in the normal course of business, sufficient to establish that the user has waived his expectation of privacy with respect to that entity, in which case compelled disclosure may occur if that entity is afforded notice and an opportunity to be heard.

The later part is the kicker. I think any ISP can show that they use email headers to route messages. In reading the decision this might be insufficient for the judge. In that case it could be quite interesting.

Email 4th Amendment Ruling

Substitute Teacher Granted New Trial in Porn Case - Security Fix
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 11:32 pm EDT, Jun  6, 2007

There is a lot tied up in the Amero case. I think it really represents frustration over the excesses of the moral panic involving children and the Internet coming to a head.

Jack Malone, a state lawmaker representing Connecticut's 47th assembly district, which includes Norwich, called the case an embarrassment for the state.

"Frankly, it makes us look like real hard-liners on the social issues, and I think most folks would agree that stands in contrast to the kind of state we are and the kind of philosophy we have here."

Actions speak louder than words. This 40 year sentence thing is, in fact, the law in CT. That means you ARE hardliners.

The judge in the case today criticized bloggers who covered the trial, saying they tried to "improperly influence" the court, according to the Courant story.

Grave injustice results in public reaction. How is this improper?

Substitute Teacher Granted New Trial in Porn Case - Security Fix

Russia calls for an end of Whois in Dot RU � DomainTools Blog
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 2:17 pm EDT, May  2, 2007

Russia has better Whois privacy laws than the U.S. or ICANN. Russia. RUSSIA!

Russia calls for an end of Whois in Dot RU � DomainTools Blog

Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 5:59 pm EDT, Apr 30, 2007

John Young
Cryptome Org
251 West 89th Street
New Yor, NY 10024


Dear Mr. Young,

This letter is to notify you that we are terminating your service for violation of our Acceptable Use Policy, effective Friday May 4, 2007. We are providing you with two week notice to locate another service provider.


an NTT Communications Company

!! Absolutely no explanation given. The site is EXTREMELY slow right now, I suspect a number of people are attempting to mirror it prior to it's disappearence. Cryptome is one of the most important anti-censorship resources on the Internet. Its existance on the net is certainly a canary in the first amendment rights coal mine. Expect a widespread reaction when it finally goes away this Friday.

Press coverage at IDG, and on Slasdot.

Update: OK, if I was a Verio customer I'd now be hopping mad. I don't agree with JYA's interpretation that this is a government conspiracy. This sounds like yet another authoritarian fool who got a job in the abuse department of an ISP and thinks they're the center of the universe.

We do not provide the customer with any details regarding the termination of our AUP - we can refer them to the AUP and more than likely they already know why -

Best Regards,
Danna Thompson
Legal Department

Danna Thompson has obviously never run a website. No, we don't always know everything that happens on our sites and we certainly can't predict what sort of arbitrary offense might be taken to a particular piece of content. Furthermore, as JYA has proved time after time, complaintants aren't always in the right. Message: Don't do business with Verio/NTT.

Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT

Appeals Court Misfired in Hack-Counterhack Dispute
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 3:01 am EDT, Apr 12, 2007

Whatever his motivation, Savoy logged on to the 120 machine using the "temp/temp" username and password he had found on Mail2. He spent 15 minutes there, looking at a phonebook file, and a list of account names, and found information that led him to believe Heckenkamp had an account on the machine. He also saw what he called "computer hacking tools" and files that Qualcomm had described. Savoy made screen-print copies of these files as evidence.

Jennifer Granick has more information about the University hacking case.

Appeals Court Misfired in Hack-Counterhack Dispute

slight paranoia: How The RIAA and MPAA Unknowingly Assist Child Pornographers
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 11:39 am EDT, Mar 12, 2007

P2P enforcement forced anonymity and evasion technologies to evolve far faster than they ever would have if the FBI had been the only 'threat' to privacy online.

I agree with this conclusion. You don't really want mostly innocent people resorting to these technologies. Pressures such as RIAA enforcement have helped create these networks, and ISP Data Retention as well as laptop border searches will push it further along. If you are creating a policy situation where most people fear monitoring and prosecution you've done something wrong.

slight paranoia: How The RIAA and MPAA Unknowingly Assist Child Pornographers

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