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Current Topic: Surveillance

N.J. justices call e-privacy surfers' right
Topic: Surveillance 2:14 pm EDT, Apr 23, 2008

The Supreme Court of New Jersey became the first court in the nation yesterday to rule that people have an expectation of privacy when they are online, and law enforcement officials need a grand jury warrant to have access to their private information.

The unanimous seven-member court held that police do have the right to seek a user's private information when investigating a crime involving a computer, but must follow legal procedures. The court said authorities do not have to warn a suspect that they have a grand jury subpoena to obtain the information.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said: "We now hold that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy protected by Article I ... of the New Jersey Constitution, in the subscriber information they provide to Internet service providers -- just as New Jersey citizens have a privacy interest in their bank records stored by banks and telephone billing records kept by phone companies."

"This decision reflects the reality of how ordinary people normally use the internet," he said. "'It's very nice to have the court recognize that expectation is reasonable."

This is a great result, but I fear that it is unlikely to become a national standard.

N.J. justices call e-privacy surfers' right

Feds Tout New Domestic Intelligence Centers | Threat Level from
Topic: Surveillance 9:07 am EDT, Apr  3, 2008

Federal, state and local cops are huddling together in domestic intelligence dens around the nation to fuse anti-terror information and tips in ways they never have before, and they want the American people to know about it -- sort of.

The dominant catchphrase from the officials was that the centers need to focus on "all threats, all hazards." Officials say the centers must look at even the most mundane crimes, since they can be used to fund terrorism.

Total surveillance, justified by the threat of terrorism, but applied in absolutely every context.
More here.

The fusion centers have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans' locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.

Pennsylvania buys credit reports and uses face-recognition software to examine driver's license photos, while analysts in Rhode Island have access to car-rental databases. In Maryland, authorities rely on a little-known data broker called Entersect, which claims it maintains 12 billion records about 98 percent of Americans.

"There is never ever enough information when it comes to terrorism" said Maj. Steven G. O'Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. "That's what post-9/11 is about."

Feds Tout New Domestic Intelligence Centers | Threat Level from

Help Name the Homeland Security Privacy Pig | Threat Level from
Topic: Surveillance 12:55 am EDT, Mar 20, 2008

The mascot of the DHS privacy office is a flying pig. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Help Name the Homeland Security Privacy Pig | Threat Level from

Cellphone Tracking Powers on Request -
Topic: Surveillance 10:08 am EDT, Mar 19, 2008

Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data so they can pinpoint the whereabouts of drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects, according to judges and industry lawyers.

In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime.

Cellphone Tracking Powers on Request -

House Passes Surveillance Bill -
Topic: Surveillance 3:55 pm EDT, Mar 14, 2008

The legislation, approved 213-197, would update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to expand the powers of intelligence agencies and keep pace with ever-changing communications technologies.

But it challenges the Bush administration on a number of fronts, by restoring the power of the federal courts to approve wiretapping warrants, authorizing federal inspectors general to investigate the administration's warrantless surveillance efforts, and establishing a bipartisan commission to examine the activities of intelligence agencies in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Most provocatively, the House legislation offers no legal protections to the telecom companies that participated in warrantless wiretapping and now face about 40 lawsuits alleging they had breached customers' privacy rights.

House Passes Surveillance Bill -

CQ Politics | Secret Session Brings House Members No Closer Together on Surveillance
Topic: Surveillance 2:26 pm EDT, Mar 14, 2008

“It was a total waste of time,” Jerrold Nadler , D-N.Y., said of the secret session. “Frankly, we think the whole thing was a bluff. But we called it. They thought, ‘We’ll call a secret session and the Democrats will reject it, then we can say they didn’t want to hear all the information.’ ”


A dispute broke out when an unnamed Republican started to talk about a topic that Democrats considered off limits under the ground rules for the session, since it was at a higher security clearance level than the discussion up to that point. But one Republican lawmaker said the discussion was in bounds. “We tried to give them the information, but they didn’t want to hear it,” the lawmaker said.


Tom Price , R-Ga., said he was disappointed by the partisanship on the floor during the closed session. “There were two different camps in the approach. One camp was interested in talking about issues. The other camp was talking about . . . politics,” Price said.

Will someone please tell me where Republicans have discussed the issues? Have they explained why President Bush thinks the Electronic Frontier Foundation sees "a financial gravy train" in these lawsuits? Is there a place where they describe just exactly how the system they have established prevents their domestic surveillance apparatus from being abused for domestic political purposes? Have they explained why amnesty will not create perverse incentives for telecoms to comply with unwarranted surveillance in the future?

CQ Politics | Secret Session Brings House Members No Closer Together on Surveillance

House Dems Proposing Commission to Investigate Warrantless Spying, Still Reject Amnesty | Threat Level from
Topic: Surveillance 8:15 pm EDT, Mar 11, 2008

Title 2: Litigation Procedures for Telecommunication Company Liability

• Does not confer retroactive immunity on telecom companies alleged to have assisted in the President’s warrantless surveillance program.

• Provides telecom companies a way to present their defenses in secure proceedings in district court without the Administration using “state secrets” to block those defenses.

Title 3: National Commission on Warrantless Surveillance

• Establishes a bipartisan, National Commission – with subpoena power – to investigate and report to the American people on the Administration’s warrantless surveillance activities, and to recommend procedures and protections for the future.

Its very rare that I see a proposal in Congress that genuinely makes me happy. This is one of those moments.

House Dems Proposing Commission to Investigate Warrantless Spying, Still Reject Amnesty | Threat Level from

Report: NSA's Warrantless Spying Resurrects Banned 'Total Information Awareness' Project | Threat Level from
Topic: Surveillance 8:39 am EDT, Mar 11, 2008

They ran every American through their algorithms, searching for targets in our phone calls and internet searches, trying to make sense of who called who, in order to find some sleeper cell inside the United States.

That is to say the Bush Administration ordered NSA turned its formidable capabilities upon Americans.

And now the Congress is set to legalize, bless and grant amnesty to this drift-net program.

There's been no real debate in Congress or in the press about whether the government should be allowed to track every Americans phone calls, emails and web browsing.

The debate shouldn't be about whether the government can wiretap purely foreign to foreign phone calls without court approval, since as we've just learned, that's never been the case.

Report: NSA's Warrantless Spying Resurrects Banned 'Total Information Awareness' Project | Threat Level from

RE: WSJ | Bush Looks to Beef Up Protection Against Cyberattacks
Topic: Surveillance 9:41 am EST, Jan 29, 2008

noteworthy wrote:
DNI certainly intends to include the greater Internet. They seem willing to start off with the government systems. But McConnell also said that "95% of the problem lies with the private sector." The implication with this entire initiative is that the private sector isn't competent to handle this on its own, but the government is.

Its really hard to square that perspective with Republican rhetoric about how the Government isn't competent to do anything. I'm being a bit histrionic, but clearly, "socialized" managed security services will seriously diminish or eliminate the existing competitive market for these services. If its not OK for healthcare how could it be a good idea for firewalls? The Internet doesn't even kill people!

Furthermore, if we have to have the discussion, there are obviously serious civil liberties concerns with having the federal government impose a monitoring system on all private networks that examines domestic traffic without a warrant. Clearly these people believe that the word "reasonable" in the 4th amendment means anything that they want it to mean, and while there is a perscription for what is required to obtain a warrant, warrants themselves need never actually be required. This view is extremely radical and is unlikely to withstand judicial review. You won't even be able to appoint conservative lawyers who will accept it.

Both of these problems are elminiated by simply making this a private sector endevour motivated with the right economic incentives.

federally operated, highly centralized operation was not scalable

I don't agree with this. There are a number of companies who provide managed security services for thousands of customers from centralized NOCS, customers who include Fortune 500 companies who have extremely complicated infrastructures. I think its practical, particularly if you have billions at your disposal.

and in any case would be duplicated by the customers who take their industrial security seriously.

Unless they feel like the government is doing an adequate job cleaning their pipes. If the state posted armed guards in front of your Bank would you hire your own guards too on the presumption that the ones the state hired are incompetant? I think its unlikely that their level of incompetance would allow enough fraud to justify hiring private equivelents.

Nevertheless (at risk of being considered provocative) I can see why a vendor would salivate at the prospect of such a windfall, especially if, as a market leader, they would expect to win the competition for such services. How much better to sell 30B in systems and services at one fell swoop, instead of going about all onesy-twosy for years on end!

And what of the vendors who loose? Is this to be a one size fits all solution, wherein the government selects a single... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

RE: WSJ | Bush Looks to Beef Up Protection Against Cyberattacks

RE: WSJ | Bush Looks to Beef Up Protection Against Cyberattacks
Topic: Surveillance 8:05 pm EST, Jan 28, 2008

Rattle wrote:

President Bush has promised a frugal budget proposal next month, but one big-ticket item is stirring controversy: an estimated $6 billion to build a secretive system protecting U.S. communication networks from attacks by terrorists, spies and hackers.

Could it be related to this?

RE: WSJ | Bush Looks to Beef Up Protection Against Cyberattacks

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