Heady Internet freedom in China as Great Firewall falls -- briefly - latimes.com
4:39 pm EST, Jan 4, 2010
Web users reported an outage of China's strict Internet controls, known as the Great Firewall, for several hours this morning, allowing them brief access to banned websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
But by the time many woke up, strict restrictions had returned. Error messages once again flashed across computer screens for sites blocked by the nation's censorship filter.
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."
Feds Tout New Domestic Intelligence Centers | Threat Level from Wired.com
11:19 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."
Recent reports in this paper and others allege the existence of broad intelligence programs run by the National Security Agency to process wide-ranging personal data on Americans' activities. One of us (Eshoo) sees this as the latest in a string of troubling accusations about the erosion of privacy and civil liberties since 9/11. The other (McConnell) sees it as more hyperbole and inaccurate press reports designed to mislead the public into thinking that the intelligence community is acting against American law and values. Honest people can differ on these tough issues. We think it is healthy. This is America, after all.
Despite our diverging opinions, it would be useful to set forth those areas where we agree...
A cyber attack could be more devastating economically than Sept. 11. Preventing a cyber attack will require tremendous cooperation between the government and the private sector, and above all, a common understanding that our liberty and our security go hand in hand.
Comments like "our liberty and our security go hand in hand" are usually made by people when they are doing away with liberty.
Finally, no cyber-security plan will succeed without congressional support. Checks and balances are essential in a democracy, particularly when the matter concerns secret government programs that rightly remain out of the public view. Active congressional oversight gives the public confidence that their rights and their security are being properly attended to, and such oversight allows Congress to say so confidently and publicly.
This, I assume, is as opposed to judicial review... I give you Arlen Specter.
CQ Politics | Secret Session Brings House Members No Closer Together on Surveillance
3:16 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?
Whistle-Blower: Feds Have a High-Speed Backdoor Into Wireless Carrier | Threat Level
4:57 pm EST, Mar 5, 2008
A U.S. government office in Quantico, Virginia, has direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier's systems, exposing customers' voice calls, data packets and physical movements to uncontrolled surveillance, according to a computer security consultant who says he worked for the carrier in late 2003.
According to his affidavit, Pasdar tumbled to the surveillance superhighway in September 2003, when he led a "Rapid Deployment" team hired to revamp security on the carrier's internal network. He noticed that the carrier's officials got squirrelly when he asked about a mysterious "Quantico Circuit" -- a 45 megabit/second DS-3 line linking its most sensitive network to an unnamed third party.
Quantico, Virginia, is home to a Marine base. But perhaps more relevantly, it's also the center of the FBI's electronic surveillance operations.
"The circuit was tied to the organization's core network," Pasdar writes in his affidavit. "It had access to the billing system, text messaging, fraud detection, web site, and pretty much all the systems in the data center without apparent restrictions."
FBI officials this week are expected to announce a $1 billion contract for the creation of a massive database of people's characteristics -- from eye patterns to palm prints. The agency says it's needed to track terrorists and other criminals. One privacy advocate says it's the start of "surveillance society."
This "security and privacy are a zero-sum game" shit has got to stop.
Putting aside those concerns for a moment, I expect this to become a fiscal spending nightmare. If FBI's attempt to modernize it's records system is any indication, this will wind up costing $5 billion before it's used in a single case.
WSJ | Bush Looks to Beef Up Protection Against Cyberattacks
2:55 pm EST, Jan 28, 2008
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.
Bush Order Expands Network Monitoring - washingtonpost.com
6:13 pm EST, Jan 26, 2008
President Bush signed a directive this month that expands the intelligence community's role in monitoring Internet traffic to protect against a rising number of attacks on federal agencies' computer systems.
The directive, whose content is classified, authorizes the intelligence agencies, in particular the National Security Agency, to monitor the computer networks of all federal agencies -- including ones they have not previously monitored.
The NSA has particular expertise in monitoring a vast, complex array of communications systems -- traditionally overseas. The prospect of aiming that power at domestic networks is raising concerns, just as the NSA's role in the government's warrantless domestic-surveillance program has been controversial.
This continues to be like watching a worst case scenario play out.
Supporters of cyber-security measures say the initiative falls short because it doesn't include the private sector -- power plants, refineries, banks -- where analysts say 90 percent of the threat exists.
"If you don't include industry in the mix, you're keeping one of your eyes closed because the hacking techniques are likely the same across government and commercial organizations," said Alan Paller, research director at the SANS Institute, a Bethesda-based cyber-security group that assists companies that face attacks. "If you're looking for needles in the haystack, you need as much data as you can get because these are really tiny needles, and bad guys are trying to hide the needles."
So we want the NSA to monitor private sector domestic networks too?