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Current Topic: Internet Civil Liberties

Prepare to go BLACK
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:22 pm EST, Dec 29, 2011

When the home pages of,,, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you'll know they're finally serious.

Anyone here remember when the CDA was passed? I do. Very clearly.

Prepare to go BLACK

‘Anonymous’ Declares War on Australia Over Internet Filtering | Threat Level |
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 3:37 pm EDT, Sep 10, 2009

Hackers identifying themselves as “Anonymous” launched a denial-of-service attack Wednesday against a web site for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to protest a government proposal to filter internet content, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Decius's comments:

This seems like a stupid stunt, but then again, the news reports caused me to notice the issue. I'm dismayed that the UK has allowed this kind of filtering scheme to be deployed with hardly a whimper of protest, at least as far as I heard over here. That success has emboldened censors in numerous western countries who want to deploy similar systems. I have the impression that the filter list that is running in the UK is fairly carefully managed such that most Internet users don't know its there. The only controversy that I've heard of was over that Scorpions album, which is obviously an edge case. The Australian filter list was leaked, and reports seem to indicate that it contains material that should not have been listed. Making matters worse, the Australian government has tried to censor the list.

I don't think goverments should filter the internet. If they insist, there is something to be said for doing it transparently.

‘Anonymous’ Declares War on Australia Over Internet Filtering | Threat Level |

Its not a 'Search.' Its just a search.
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 5:30 pm EST, Dec 15, 2008

For some reason, the government did not appear to make the argument invited by the Supreme Court by its rulings in the FedEx and dog-sniff cases. The government could have argued that -- if the EnCase scan for a particular MD5 hash matches -- that the search is constitutionally permissible without a warrant because it revealed nothing except the existence of contraband. And, because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in contraband, the government might argue, a search which only reveals the existence of contraband invades no legitimate privacy right.

In the Crist case, however, the court never addressed that critical issue, because it never had to. The government merely argued that an automated search was no search at all.

This unanswered question -- whether a scan of hash values looking for contraband is a permissible search -- is really the rub.

If the government may conduct warrantless searches as long as they only reveal the presence of contraband, then they could lawfully put automated sniffers on any computer, searching for the presence of files for which the MD5 hash matched that of contraband. While the software categorizing the files might be considered to be conducting a search -- and I think it is -- the contents of this search are not revealed unless the program believes it is contraband.


... ... How did I not see this earlier? Pretty sure this is the same guy writing about how data stored "in the cloud" can be legally searched without a warrant because you have involved a 3rd party who can consent to the search.

And don't think about kiddie porn. Think about the MPAA.

This is a HUGE question that will be one of the defining civil liberties battles of the next decade. I wrote about this case here.

The bottom line becomes, any technology that we can develop to collect information about crimes is A-OK so long as it never provides any information to a human being unless an actual crime has been committed...

Eventually in the distant future, you reach a point... where you've replaced your human police officers with robots... These robots are artificially intelligent and never report the results of their investigations to humans unless a crime has been committed.

Under this analysis I cannot see how the Constitution would prohibit these robots from doing all of the tyrannical things that the 4th amendment was intended to prevent the police from doing, and I don't see how this state of affairs would be materially different from not having any 4th amendment at all.

Therefore, if the 4th amendment is to have any meaning at all, there must be some reason that this kind of automated search is not reasonable.

Scalia offered the following in reference to Caballes: "This is not a new technology. This is a dog." I find that explanation extremely unsatisfying.

Its not a 'Search.' Its just a search.

Former Justice Dept. Prosecutor Joins Defense in MySpace Suicide Case | Threat Level
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 11:25 pm EDT, Oct 21, 2008

A former federal prosecutor has decided to take on his ex-employer in defending a woman against charges that she violated federal laws in allegedly creating a MySpace account used to bully a teenage girl who committed suicide.

Orin Kerr, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, was a criminal trial attorney in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the Department of Justice as well as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

But earlier this year when federal prosecutors in Los Angeles indicted a woman named Lori Drew with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act — an anti-hacking law — for allegedly violating the MySpace terms of service in providing false information to set up the MySpace account used to harass the teen, Kerr didn't hide his disagreement with the charges.

Kerr wrote on the Volokh Conspiracy blog that the government was essentially charging Drew with criminal trespassing on MySpace's server for allegedly providing false information to open a MySpace account under the false identity of a nonexistent teenage boy. Kerr said this essentially made it a federal crime to violate any online terms of service contract.

"Since everyone who uses computers violates dozens of different [Terms of Service] every day, the theory would make everyone who uses computers a felon," he wrote at Volokh Conspiracy.

Today Kerr announced he's joined Drew's defense team as pro-bono co-counsel.

Kerr didn't want to discuss the pending litigation too much, but told Threat Level he decided to take on the case with Drew's current attorney, Dean Steward, because, "The stakes here are very high."

"If the government succeeds in this case," he said, "they can pretty much bring charges against anybody who uses the internet. And Congress never intended that. This is a case with really important civil liberties stakes for anyone who uses the internet."

A federal judge so far has refused to dismiss the case, though many legal experts agree with Kerr that the federal charges are based on an alarming premise and constitute a misuse of the federal hacking statute.

Former Justice Dept. Prosecutor Joins Defense in MySpace Suicide Case | Threat Level

Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:19 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.

Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT

Indiana Court: MySpace postings are free speech - Yahoo! News
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 12:32 pm EDT, Apr 10, 2007

A judge violated a juvenile's free-speech rights when he placed her on probation for posting an expletive-laden entry on MySpace criticizing a school principal, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

"While we have little regard for A.B.'s use of vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message constitutes political speech," Judge Patricia Riley wrote in the 10-page opinion.

In February 2006, Greencastle Middle School Principal Shawn Gobert discovered a Web page on MySpace purportedly created by him. A.B., who did not create the page, made derogatory postings on it concerning the school's policy on body piercings.

The state filed a delinquency petition in March alleging that A.B.'s acts would have been harassment, identity deception and identity theft if committed by an adult. The juvenile court dropped most of the charges but in June found A.B. to be a delinquent child and placed her on nine months of probation. The judge ruled the comments were obscene.

Indiana Court: MySpace postings are free speech - Yahoo! News

Net porn ban faces another legal setback | CNET
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 9:21 am EDT, Mar 23, 2007

Congress' efforts to muzzle pornography on the Web were dealt another serious setback on Thursday, when a federal judge ruled a 1998 law was unconstitutional and violated Americans' First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed in Philadelphia permanently barred prosecutors from enforcing the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, saying it was overly broad and would undoubtedly "chill a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech for adults." The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Even though politicians enacted COPA nearly a decade ago as part of an early wave of Internet censorship efforts, the courts have kept it on ice and it has never actually been enforced. The law makes it a crime for commercial Web sites to make "harmful to minors" material publicly available, with violators fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months.

Net porn ban faces another legal setback | CNET

slight paranoia: How The RIAA and MPAA Unknowingly Assist Child Pornographers
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 3:00 pm EDT, Mar 12, 2007

How the Media Companies did more to spread cryptography, anonymity preserving technology and general knowledge about good online privacy hygiene than an army of activist cypherpunks ever could have

Perspective from Chris Soghoian... I completely agree. The battle against piracy has had many side effects.

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

Wendy's Blog: Legal Tags: My First DMCA Takedown
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 2:08 pm EST, Feb 21, 2007

That didn't take long. On Feb. 8, I posted to YouTube a clip taken from the Super Bowl: not the football, but the copyright warning the NFL stuck into the middle of it, wherein they tell you it's forbidden even to share "accounts of the game" without the NFL's consent.

Their copyright bot didn't seem to see the fair use in my educational excerpt, so YouTube just sent me their boilerplate takedown. Time to break out that DMCA counter-notification.

Wendy's Blog: Legal Tags: My First DMCA Takedown

MemeStreams response to Georgia Senate Bill 59 - 2007
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:14 pm EST, Feb  4, 2007

A bill has been proposed in the Georgia State Senate which would require social networking websites, possibly including MemeStreams, to verify that minors who create accounts have parental permission. In practice this would mean that any Georgia website, no matter how benign, which allows users to create profiles, would be required to implement as yet undefined age validation procedures for all new users.

We believe that this proposal is a bad idea for a number of different reasons. We composed the following open letter to the sponsors of the legislation in an attempt to articulate our concerns.

Our response has been noted on the MemeStreams Defense website.

We don't do much with the defense website, and we like it that way. We would prefer not to have to do anything with it, but it's there.

MemeStreams response to Georgia Senate Bill 59 - 2007

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