Posts tagged law

Under 18, Live in California and Want to Get Stupid Stuff You Posted Off the Internet? There's a Law for That

Via VentureBeat:

On January 1, 2015, being a minor on the Internet will get a lot less embarrassing.

That’s the date the Golden State’s revision to the so-called California Online Privacy Protection Act, or CalOPPA, goes into effect. The tweak is being referred to as the so-called “Internet Eraser Law.”

Websites – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and yes, even Craiglist – take notice:

The revision allows for Californians 18 and younger to wipe content and personal information posted to any website. That content can include, for example, online chats, audio, and photographs. The law will effect websites incorporated in different states that minors access from California…

…The update means 18 year-olds and younger can remove incriminating party pictures or most other content they’ve posted in the past that could someday come back to haunt them.

Let it be so for all ages.

Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.

On its 25th birthday, Web creator Tim Berners-Lee calls for an online bill of rights. The Guardian, An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web.

Via the Web We Want:

March 12 2014 is the World Wide Web’s 25th Birthday. On this day in 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee filed the memo that led to the creation of the Web.

To mark this occasion, Berners-Lee and two organisations close to him, the World Wide Web Foundation and the World Wide Web Consortium are inviting everyone, everywhere to wish the Web a happy birthday using #web25. They have also joined forces to create webat25.org, a site where a selection of global birthday greetings will be displayed and worldwide events to celebrate the anniversary will be publicised.

And back to The Guardian:

Berners-Lee has been an outspoken critic of the American and British spy agencies’ surveillance of citizens following the revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the light of what has emerged, he said, people were looking for an overhaul of how the security services were managed.

His views also echo across the technology industry, where there is particular anger about the efforts by the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ to undermine encryption and security tools – something many cybersecurity experts say has been counterproductive and undermined everyone’s security.

Principles of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity would be explored in the Magna Carta scheme. “These issues have crept up on us,” Berners-Lee said. “Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.”

The web constitution proposal should also examine the impact of copyright laws and the cultural-societal issues around the ethics of technology.

As The Guardian notes, “While regional regulation and cultural sensitivities would vary, Berners-Lee said he believed a shared document of principle could provide an international standard for the values of the open web.”

Bonus: Read Berners-Lee’s birthday announcement at WebAt25.org where he briefly outlines some challenges and opportunities for the next 25 years.

Nilay Patel considers the end of Network Neutrality at The Verge:

Massive companies like AT&T and Comcast have spent the first two months of 2014 boldly announcing plans to close and control the internet through additional fees, pay-to-play schemes, and sheer brutal size — all while the legal rules designed to protect against these kinds of abuses were struck down in court for basically making too much sense. “Broadband providers represent a threat to internet openness,” concluded Judge David Tatel in Verizon’s case against the FCC’s Open Internet order, adding that the FCC had provided ample evidence of internet companies abusing their market power and had made “a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.” Verizon argued strenuously, but had offered the court “no persuasive reason to question that judgement.”
Then Tatel cut the FCC off at the knees for making “a rather half-hearted argument” in support of its authority to properly police these threats and vacated the rules protecting the open internet, surprising observers on both sides of the industry and sending new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler into a tailspin of empty promises seemingly designed to disappoint everyone.

Looking for a recommendation to bring Network Neutrality back? Make your voice heard by emailing and calling FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Looking for a different perspective? Try GigaOm where Mathew Ingram pulls together a Twitter conversation between Marc Andreessen and assorted journalists about how enforcing Network Neutrality is a lost cause. Instead, Andreessen argues, bandwidth isn’t infinite and the focus should be on the cable monopolies that erode innovation.
Looking for more background? Try the EFF, Why the FCC Can’t Actually Save Network Neutrality; or these posts from the Free Press on the FCC and media policy.
Image: How to Unfuck the Internet, via The Verge. 

Nilay Patel considers the end of Network Neutrality at The Verge:

Massive companies like AT&T and Comcast have spent the first two months of 2014 boldly announcing plans to close and control the internet through additional fees, pay-to-play schemes, and sheer brutal size — all while the legal rules designed to protect against these kinds of abuses were struck down in court for basically making too much sense. “Broadband providers represent a threat to internet openness,” concluded Judge David Tatel in Verizon’s case against the FCC’s Open Internet order, adding that the FCC had provided ample evidence of internet companies abusing their market power and had made “a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.” Verizon argued strenuously, but had offered the court “no persuasive reason to question that judgement.”

Then Tatel cut the FCC off at the knees for making “a rather half-hearted argument” in support of its authority to properly police these threats and vacated the rules protecting the open internet, surprising observers on both sides of the industry and sending new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler into a tailspin of empty promises seemingly designed to disappoint everyone.

Looking for a recommendation to bring Network Neutrality back? Make your voice heard by emailing and calling FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Looking for a different perspective? Try GigaOm where Mathew Ingram pulls together a Twitter conversation between Marc Andreessen and assorted journalists about how enforcing Network Neutrality is a lost cause. Instead, Andreessen argues, bandwidth isn’t infinite and the focus should be on the cable monopolies that erode innovation.

Looking for more background? Try the EFF, Why the FCC Can’t Actually Save Network Neutrality; or these posts from the Free Press on the FCC and media policy.

Image: How to Unfuck the Internet, via The Verge

How to spot the difference between a terrorist and a journalist

A note to governments from Index on Censorship:

Index on Censorship here. We’ve noticed some you have had trouble telling the difference between terrorists and journalist lately (yes, you too Barack: put the BlackBerry down). So we thought as people with some experience of the journalism thing, we could offer you a few handy tips to refer to the next time you find yourself asking: journalist or terrorist?

Have a look at your suspect. Is he carrying a) a notebook with weird squiggly lines on it, or b) an RPG-7. If the latter, odds on he’s a terrorist. The former? Most likely a journalist. Those squiggly lines are called “shorthand” – it’s what reporters do when they’re writing things down for, er, reporting. It might look a bit like Arabic, but it’s not, and even if it was, that wouldn’t be a good enough reason to lock the guy up.

Still not clear? Let’s move on to the questioning part.

Background: In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalists are on trial for having links to a “terrorist organization”; in England, a court ruled that the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner at Heathrow Airport was legal because carrying the Edward Snowden NSA documents is, um, terroristy; in Morocco, a journalist was charged last fall with “inciting terrorism” because he linked to an Al Qaeda video; and in the United States the government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws as they do their jobs (see here, here, and here for all things depressing). 

We could go on.

When Doves Cry

Prince is suing 22 people for $1 million each for linking to bootlegs of his live shows.

Via Spin:

His Purpleness has filed a copyright lawsuit against 22 different users of Facebook and Google’s Blogger platform…

…According to the 21-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco (via Antiquiet), the defendants “engage in massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince’s material.” The lawsuit targets Dan Chodera, Karina Jindrova, and 20 anonymous defendants. Chodera and Jindrova allegedly operated a no-longer-online Facebook account that posted a bunch of bootleg Prince videos. The other defendants — “Does” 1 through 20 — are accused of similar infractions, such as pointing to a 1983 Chicago set from WorldofBootleg.blogspot.com.

According to the complaint:

The Defendants rely on either Google’s Blogger platform or Facebook, or both, to accomplish their unlawful activity… Defendants, rather than publishing lawful content to their blogs, typically publish posts that list all the songs performed at a certain Prince live show and then provide a link to a file sharing service where unauthorized copied of the performance can be downloaded. Defendants use their Facebook account to post similar unlawful content directly to their Facebook accounts or to direct users to their blogs, or both.

So, the Blogger and Facebook users aren’t accused of making, uploading or hosting the actual recordings. Instead, the alleged copyright infringement comes from linking to them.

When doves cry, indeed.

Guardian journalists could face criminal charges over Edward Snowden leaks

Via The Telegraph:

Employees of The Guardian newspaper could face criminal charges over their role in publishing secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has signalled.

Cressida Dick, an assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, confirmed for the first time that detectives were examining whether staff at the newspaper had committed an offence.

She also told MPs that her officers are looking at potential breaches of a specific anti-terrorism law which makes it unlawful to communicate information about British intelligence agents. The offence carries up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Rationale? Exactly what you’d think: “[L]ast month Sir John Sawers, the MI6 chief, said terrorists were ‘rubbing their hands with glee’ at the Snowden disclosures.”

Seven months ago, the world began to learn the vast scope of the National Security Agency’s reach into the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe, as it collects information about their phone calls, their email messages, their friends and contacts, how they spend their days and where they spend their nights. The public learned in great detail how the agency has exceeded its mandate and abused its authority, prompting outrage at kitchen tables and at the desks of Congress, which may finally begin to limit these practices…

…All of this is entirely because of information provided to journalists by Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency’s voraciousness. Mr. Snowden is now living in Russia, on the run from American charges of espionage and theft, and he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.

Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community…

When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government.

New York Times Editorial. Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower.

FJP: First, good on The New York Times.

Second, as the Times points out, Snowden’s been charged with two violations of the Espionage Act “involving unauthorized communication of classified information, and a charge of theft of government property.”

While the editorial suggests Snowden should receive clemency or, at the very least, a reduced sentence compared to the decades he faces under the current charges, take a look at the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s analysis of what Snowden would be able to present in his defense should he wind up in court. Basically, nothing:

If Edward Snowden comes back to the US to face trial, he likely will not be able to tell a jury why he did what he did, and what happened because of his actions. Contrary to common sense, there is no public interest exception to the Espionage Act. Prosecutors in recent cases have convinced courts that the intent of the leaker, the value of leaks to the public, and the lack of harm caused by the leaks are irrelevant—and are therefore inadmissible in court…

…[I]n Snowden’s case, the administration will be able to exclude almost all knowledge beneficial to his case from a jury until he’s already been found guilty of felonies that will have him facing decades, if not life, in jail.

This would mean Snowden could not be able to tell the jury that his intent was to inform the American public about the government’s secret interpretations of laws used to justify spying on millions of citizens without their knowledge, as opposed to selling secrets to hostile countries for their advantage.

If the prosecution had their way, Snowden would also not be able to explain to a jury that his leaks sparked more than two dozen bills in Congress, and half a dozen lawsuits, all designed to rein in unconstitutional surveillance. He wouldn’t be allowed to explain how his leaks caught an official lying to Congress, that they’ve led to a White House review panel recommending forty-six reforms for US intelligence agencies, or that they’ve led to an unprecedented review of government secrecy.

Chilling, and worthwhile to keep in mind when people say he should return from Russia and make his case to court.

Visualizing Our Drone Future

Via Alex Cornell:

Our Drone Future explores the technology, capability, and purpose of drones, as their presence becomes an increasingly pervasive reality in the skies of tomorrow.

In the near future, cities use semi-autonomous drones for urban security. Human officers monitor drone feeds remotely, and data reports are displayed with a detailed HUD and communicated via a simulated human voice (designed to mitigate discomfort with sentient drone technology). While the drones operate independently, they are “guided” by the human monitors, who can suggest alternate mission plans and ask questions.

Specializing in predictive analysis, the security drones can retask themselves to investigate potential threats. As shown in this video, an urban security drone surveys San Francisco’s landmarks and encounters fierce civilian resistance.

Run Time: ~3:00.

Privacy as a Human Right?

Point, via The Guardian: The United Nations moved a step closer to calling for an end to excessive surveillance on Tuesday in a resolution that reaffirms the “human right to privacy” and calls for the UN’s human rights commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the impact of mass digital snooping.

Counterpoint, via Foreign Policy: The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable.

Meantime, via Techrunch: Sir Tim Berners-Lee Blasts “Insidious, Chilling Effects” Of Online Surveillance, Says We Should Be Protecting Whistleblowers Like Snowden.

NSA Hacks Yahoo, Google Data Centers
Via the Washington Post:

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.
By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

As the Post notes, this program, called MUSCULAR, is unusual because while “the agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, [it] has not been known to use them routinely against US companies.”

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.
Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.

Image: SSL Added and Removed Here! :). Slide from a NSA presentation demonstrating where an exploitation between the “Public Internet” and the “Google Cloud” can occur. Via Washington Post.

NSA Hacks Yahoo, Google Data Centers

Via the Washington Post:

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

As the Post notes, this program, called MUSCULAR, is unusual because while “the agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, [it] has not been known to use them routinely against US companies.”

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.

Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.

Image: SSL Added and Removed Here! :). Slide from a NSA presentation demonstrating where an exploitation between the “Public Internet” and the “Google Cloud” can occur. Via Washington Post.

Tumblr Goes to Washington

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in a campaign finance case. At issue is whether total caps on direct individual giving to candidates and PACs violate First Amendment rights.

As CNN puts it, “The competing arguments are stark: supporters of campaign finance reform say current federal regulations are designed to prevent corruption in politics. Opponents said it would criminalize free speech and association.”

While oral arguments run today with a decision on the case expected next spring, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig submitted a brief in September in the form of a Tumblr.

First: Via Fred Wilson:

Professor Larry Lessig has submitted a brief to the Supreme Court in a case arguing that limiting large political contributions is Constitutional and exactly what the Framers had in mind when they used the word corruption.

As part of the evidence he has submitted in his brief, Larry created a Tumblr with 325 citations from the Framers themselves showing that they had a very broad understanding of the word corruption. This will be the first time that a Tumblr has been submitted as evidence in a Supreme Court case.

Second: So what’s Lessig doing? Via “Corruption,” originally.

According to the Supreme Court, the First Amendment does not limit Congress’s power to pass laws narrowly tailored to attack “corruption” or the “appearance of corruption.” (Buckley v. Valeo). But by “corruption,” the Court increasingly speaks as if it means “quid pro quo” corruption only. 

This modern understanding of the term “corruption” struck me as odd, at least for the originalists on the Court. Because it seemed to me clear that the Framers of the Constitution had a different conception of “corruption” than one limited to “quid pro quo” alone. For the Framers, “corruption” could predicate of an individual (“Aaron Burr is corrupt.”) as well as of an institution (“Parliament is corrupt.”). And when it predicates of an institution, that institution is not only corrupt because its members have engaged in “quid pro quo” corruption. Instead, according to the Framers, an institution could also be corrupt when it develops an “improper dependence.”

In other words, the Framers’ “main focus (or most common usage) was institutional corruption. And one prominent example of the institutional corruption they were concerned about was an institution developing an improper dependence. Like — to pick just one totally random example — a Congress developing a dependence upon its funders, rather than the dependence the framers intended — ‘on the People alone.’”

Third: Need help sifting through the "Corruption," originally site? Tumby, the social discoverability engine, has added its search magic to Lessig’s Tumblr to help you go through tags and keywords. To use and experience it, grab the tumbyHover Chrome Extension here.

We are confident that viewers won’t tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won’t pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’

Julie Henderson, a spokeswoman for FX Networks, to Ad Age. ExxonMobil Sues FX Networks Over Interlocking XX Logo.

Or, as Salon’s David Sirota puts it:

Underscoring the ridiculousness of a company claiming to own a letter of the alphabet, Deadline notes, “This double-cross brawl may come as a surprise to Dos Equis, which also has a double-X logo, and we assume the legal wrangling will be be watched with considerable interest by the XX chromosome, and the roman numeral for 20.” Same thing for any clothing companies that make  t-shirts marked double extra large.

Shield Law Protecting Established Journalists and Bloggers Passes Senate Committee

Wikileak-type organizations, not so much.

Via the Los Angeles Times:

Journalists and bloggers who report news to the public will be protected from being forced to testify about their work under a media shield bill passed by a Senate committee Thursday.

But the new legal protections will not extend to the controversial online website Wikileaks and others whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.”…

…The final hurdle for the Judiciary Committee was defining who is a journalist in the digital era.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website.

"I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there," she said.

Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a “covered journalist” as someone who gathers and reports news for “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any “legitimate news-gathering activities.”

But the bill also makes it clear that the legal protection is not absolute. Federal officials still may “compel disclosure” from a journalist who has information that could stop or prevent crimes such as murder, kidnapping or child abduction or prevent “acts of terrorism” or significant harm to national security.

FJP: TL;DR? Seventeen year olds are on their own. Ditto sites that host primary source documents like Wikileaks. Because there must be a responsible adult intermediary (read: liable) between information and the public.

For what it’s worth, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says that while the bill isn’t as inclusive as it would have liked, it generally likes the bill.