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Current Topic: Internet Civil Liberties

Wired News: E-Mail Snooping Ruled Permissible
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 7:12 pm EDT, Jul  3, 2004

] E-mail privacy suffered a serious setback on Tuesday when
] a court of appeals ruled that an e-mail provider did not
] break the law in reading his customers' communications
] without their consent.

I intended to comment on this in some detail, but I'm not even sure where to start. This is one of those things I have trouble believing happened, and sickens me as I'm preparing to enjoy Independence Day festivities.

It matters who hosts the services you use. Always has. That being said, it still doesn't make this any less of an attack on personal privacy.

Wired News: E-Mail Snooping Ruled Permissible

South Korea blocks major weblog services. | Metafilter
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:28 pm EDT, Jul  1, 2004

In its quest to block access to the video of Kim Sun-Il's execution video, South Korea is now blocking access to Blogger, Blogspot, TypePad, and LiveJournal.

South Korea blocks major weblog services. | Metafilter

Congress Eyes Idiotic Whois Crackdown
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 3:49 pm EST, Feb  5, 2004

] "The Government must play a greater role in punishing
] those who conceal their identities online
, particularly
] when they do so in furtherance of a serious federal
] criminal offense or in violation of a federally protected
] intellectual property right," (Lamar) Smith said at a hearing on
] the topic today.

Congress wants to make it a federal crime to lie on your domain name registration. If you do not make your real address, telephone number, and email available to everyone on earth you can be sentenced to federal prison time (in this version you'd have a sentence for another crime extended). This came up in last years legislative session as well. The thing that makes my blood boil about this is that the spin is totally wrong. The copyright people are lying through their teeth, this journalist can't see through it, and the CDT/ACLU don't understand EITHER so they are providing the wrong counterpoints, almost assuring that this will pass!

This article lets slide absolute lies like:

] Smith and Berman drafted the bill after receiving complaints
] from the entertainment and software industries that much of
] their material is made available for free on Web sites whose
] owners are impossible to track down because their domain
] name registrations often contain made-up names.

No web site owner is "impossible" to track down!

DNS whois information is made available for reference. It is intended to assist communication between administrators who run networks, for security or network management related reasons. It was not designed for lawyers or police. It was also not designed with the modern spam and stalker infested internet in mind, and therefore often people fill it out with false information, especially if they aren't a business entity.

If you want to track down someone on the internet for a legal reason, you do not use the DNS whois system. That is not what the DNS whois system is for. You do a nslookup on the domain name and get the IP address. Then you use the ARIN whois system, (a completely different and totally unrelated database that used to run on the same software) which tells you what ISP an IP address has been issued to. ARIN whois is usually correct. If it is not correct you can complain to ARIN and they can check their records. Their records are always correct unless the IP addresses have been stolen (and if you're dealing with stolen IP addresses you're way past the point where DNS whois is going to help you, federal crime or not). Either way you'll get an ISP. You then go to a court and get a subpoena, and send that subpoena to the ISP, and the ISP produces contact information for the customer. This always works.

Let me be absolutely clear about this. Requiring people to keep accurate dns whois records has absolutely nothing at all to do with being able to track down domain holders on the internet. You can always do that today. Forcing people to keep accurate dns whois records is about being able to track down domain holders on the internet without court authorization. We should not allow that.

What really pisses me off here is that no one on "our side of the fence" in this debate is making that point. We're going to loose this one if the discussion isn't forced back into the realm of reality. If this is about people committing crimes on internet sites that can't be tracked down by any means, we'll be passing laws based on a complete fantasy.

Kids, this is exactly how bad law happens.

Congress Eyes Idiotic Whois Crackdown

FCC chief frowns on VoIP regulations | CNET
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 8:38 am EST, Jan 24, 2004

] "It is not a telephone service; it is a voice
] application, completely indistinguishable from any other
] kind of application that can run on an IP network," he
] said.
] "If you're going to say to me that voice over IP is
] something that needs regulation, then you're going to
] have to explain to me why e-mail isn't also, or streaming
] video or instant messaging is not also," Powell added.

No, no.. Don't stop there. Those sound like words from a sane man, but the very next words out of his mouth are:

] What's my approach?

This is where I scream.

FCC chief frowns on VoIP regulations | CNET

Chilling Effects Analysis of the Blackboard Case
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 12:51 pm EST, Dec  6, 2003

I'm still quite frustrated that this did not get more attention when it happened. It was a clear case of a company using the law to suppress speech, and it went off without a hitch..

] In the end, Blackboard was able to use the law to ban two
] students from speaking at a conference, conducting
] security research and publicly criticizing its product.
] As long as such efforts prove effective, other
] individuals and corporations will continue to misuse the
] law in order to censor speech and other legitimate
] activities. Those concerned with chilling effects should
] take note.

Chilling Effects Analysis of the Blackboard Case

EFF - Take action on the broadcast flag
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 11:18 am EDT, Oct 19, 2003

] I am writing to voice my opposition to any FCC-mandated
] adoption of "broadcast flag" technology for digital
] television. As a consumer and citizen, I feel strongly
] that such a policy would be bad for innovation, consumer
] rights, and the ultimate adoption of DTV.

EFF Action Center petition.

EFF - Take action on the broadcast flag

Yahoo! News - Charter Sues to Block RIAA from Getting Names
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 6:46 pm EDT, Oct  7, 2003

] LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Broadband service provider
] Charter Communications Inc. on Tuesday said it has sued
] the recording industry to block it from getting names of
] its customers for alleged song-swapping on the Internet.

Yahoo! News - Charter Sues to Block RIAA from Getting Names

Boing Boing | Verisign's SiteFinder hijacks your privacy as well as your typos
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 1:00 am EDT, Sep 23, 2003

] Not only has Verisign betrayed their trust by hijacking
] all the .NET and .COM typos, they've also tossed out the
] privacy of every fumblefingered netizen by putting a
] web-bug on their SiteFinder page, so that anyone whose
] session is stolen by Verisign is thereafter marked with a
] tracker-cookie that is used to spy on you as you traverse
] the Web.
]] The query string of the URL contains the usual things
]] such as the Web page URL, the referring URL, browser
]] type, screen size, etc. This query string is built on the
]] fly by about 50 lines of JavaScript embedded in the
]] Verisign Web page.
] The Omniture server sets a cookie so that people can be
] watched over time to see what typos they are making.
] Link (via Dan Gillmor)

I was bitching about this a week ago.

Boing Boing | Verisign's SiteFinder hijacks your privacy as well as your typos

A good example of a bad DMCA subpoena
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 10:46 pm EDT, Aug 12, 2003

] The short of it is, their DMCAbot(TM) found
] /distfiles/, picked out the
] words "Pac" and "Man", and is now threatening us under
] the DMCA for distributing a pirated version of Pacman.

In this case they simply asked that the material be taken down, but this is all that it takes to get someone's personal contact information.

A good example of a bad DMCA subpoena

The FBI's insidious CALEA strategy
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 9:47 pm EDT, Aug 11, 2003

] FCC Chairman Michael Powell has indicated that he would
] like to move more Internet access services into the
] category of "information services," which have fewer
] regulations and likely would not be subject to CALEA.
] That alarms DSL providers such as EarthLink, which fear
] that deregulation means that former Baby Bells such as
] Verizon and BellSouth will raise their rates for access
] to the copper wire that runs to telephone subscribers'
] homes.

(Comments from Decius)

As CALEA was originally written, it would have required anyone building any kind of network to provide the FBI with access at the location of the FBI's choice. I.E. run a cable between two computers in your house, and you'll have to run a third cable to Kansas for the FBI. And, as originally written, you pick up the tab for it.

Well, the phone companies managed to get the feds to agree to pick up the tab, and the EFF managed to get the law to only apply to telecom services and not information services. Of, course, the EFF did this by agreeing to support the law if it only applied to telecom. This was the endorsement the FBI needed to get the law passed, and the internet community was very unhappy with this compromise. The result was that the EFF split in two. Part of it (the anti-compromise piece) retained the name EFF and moved to San Francisco (it was felt that actually living in Washington had corrupted them), the other part (pro-compromise) stayed in Washington and became known as the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).

Now, the impracticalities of connecting small computer networks to some sort of central monitoring center aside, when I, and I think most people, read the resulting compromise, it was clear that CALEA applied to POTS telephone service and that is all.

While it was inevitable that this would come up again, additional Congressional action is required. The way that they are attempting to avoid this oversight by confusing the issue with that of telecom competition is clearly dishonest, and I am very disappointed to see Earthlink, of all companies, gleefully jumping on the bandwagon.

The FBI's insidious CALEA strategy

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