Senator Feinstein Revives Stupid Idea That Internet Companies Are 'Materially Supporting Terrorism' If ISIS Members Use Their Sites

from the not-how-it-works dept

Last year, FBI Director James Comey floated a ridiculous idea that retweeting ISIS tweets could be seen as "material support" for terrorism. Indeed, an American teenager got sentenced to 11 years in jail for pro-ISIS tweets, with the "material support" being that some of those tweets linked to pages that taught people how to use Bitcoin. Some have taken this idea even further, and argued that internet companies can be slapped with "material support for terrorism" claims or charges if they let ISIS members or other terrorists make use of their services.

This is ridiculous for many, many reasons, not the least of which is that (like in the encryption debate) it seems to presume that there's some algorithm to magically determine who is good (not a terrorist) and who is bad (terrorist!). And just like ridiculous and impossible arguments for "kicking ISIS off the open web" -- it would be ridiculously counterproductive. Not only would it be ridiculously costly to internet companies, but it would actually take away a major source of intelligence about terrorist groups, since they often reveal useful things on social media.

But guess who's seriously thinking about looking to see if it's possible to slap "material support of terrorism" charges on internet companies? Why, it's a Senator who actually is supposed to be representing many of their interests as California companies, Senator Dianne Feinstein. Jenna McLaughlin, a national security reporter for The Intercept, noted that Feinstein floated the idea this week, as if Feinstein had just thought of it:
We've already discussed how dumb an idea this is (even more so that it comes from a California Senator), but ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer had an excellent response as well, highlighting the sheer stupidity of Feinstein's suggestion:

Filed Under: dianne feinstein, first amendment, intermediary liability, internet companies, isis, material s upport, material support for terrorism, terrorism


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  • icon
    Jessie (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 10:47am

    On that same note, the states require seat belt use. If there are terrorists in the US, the government has taken steps to keep them alive long enough to carry out an attack. Isn't that supporting terrorism? If we're going to go crazy, we might as well dive in head first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jeff, 10 Mar 2016 @ 5:49pm

      Re: also using roads, electricity etc

      We had better build some big jails as the "terrorists" are also using roads, electricity & other services to spread their message or transport material. USD is also the currency of choice for most criminals (no not the banks.....the terrorist) so the US gov is also supporting terrorist by printing money.

      The schools are teaching the kids to read, so they are also in on the conspiracy to train terrorists.

      Finally we had better arrest the last few presidents and CIA directors, as pretty well every anti-West terrorist organisation in existence today was funded or trained either directly or indirectly by the US administration.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 14 Mar 2016 @ 1:39am

      Re:

      If a terrorist has ever received food stamps or other government assistance, it would indeed mean government officials would have to go to prison for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 10 Mar 2016 @ 10:57am

    Jaffer's response doesn't even begin to cover it. Terrorists use cars, clothing, electricity, gasoline... why isn't Feinstein calling for prosecution of all of those companies too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      why isn't Feinstein calling for prosecution of all of those companies too?

      Feinstein hates the internet because that's where people like to expose her for the two-faced, hypocritical idiot she is. (The car, clothing, electricity and gasoline companies don't do that or she would be after them too)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:03am

    " heard that terrorists use hotels, credit cards, and phones, too. We're going to need a lot of indictments."

    lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      But, can't those hotels, credit card companies, and phone providers decide who the terrorists are just as easily as internet companies?

      Oh, wait. I think the answer actually is, Yes.
      Which is to say, not at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sigalrm (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 12:21pm

      Re:

      I bet they use cash, too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 7:16pm

        Re: Re:

        The FBI has said as much in those circulars that they circulated that they say they didn't circulate... Of course, "terrorists use cash" is just a McGuffin in their hope for a 100% electronic (traceable) transaction society per se.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:05am

    Di Fi provides material support for terrorisim

    As she has been representing the San Bernardino shooters in the Senate for years, it appears she has been providing material support too.

    Don't think that is going to be the outcome she was expecting...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:05am

    Between her surveillance state cheerleading and ignorant shit like this, Dianne Feinstein should be charged with materially supporting terrorists. Christ, she's bending over backwards to destroy the country for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:13am

      Re:

      This!

      Dianne Feinstein has broken her oath to defend the Constitution by supporting the idea that certain groups of individuals do not have the right to free speech. I believe that makes her a traitor.

      ISIS members only wish they could terrorize as good as Dianne Feinstein.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Socrates, 10 Mar 2016 @ 2:42pm

        Propaganda

        When concentration camps is regarded as a PR problem it is evident that USA has lost it.

        I believe we are at a cross roads.

        TIIP/TPP, torture, attacks on the occupy movements, spreads in nations that were considered to be "good guys". Attacks on common citizens and students that once were a trait of dictatorships. And a lot of oblivious people.

        At the same time, SOPA did show that the citizens might reign in the regime in USA and other western nations. This gives hope.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:18am

    We should start calling her "Mom".

    Think Futurama...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:27am

    Well if you want to take it to ridiculous proportions, Terrorists breath air so all Air breathers need to be ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:36am

    Looks like ISIS hacked Amazon...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jilocasin (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:37am

    You're thinking too small........

    I think folks are thinking too small.

    If letting terrorists use your website, app, hardware [think encrypted iPhone] means that you can be charged with providing material support for terrorism, them they don't need to rely on the All Writs Act.

    Just like any other completely ethical and above board plea deal, if you unlock this iPhone, then maybe we won't have you arrested for providing material support for terrorism.

    The government operates on many levels and is willing to play the long game....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:38am

    Political Material Support

    I heard terrorists send contributions to politicians to enact stupid laws to support them. Guess we are going to need to start arresting politicians.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:58am

      Re: Political Material Support

      If internet companies are materially supporting terrorism when an ISMS member uses their site, . . .

      then voters are materially supporting stupidity when they vote for Feinstein.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:39am

    Can someone just smash that piece of shit cunt in the face with baseball bat and get it over with?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nathan F (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:40am

    We need to slap material support charges on every single Congressional Representative, member of the Executive Branch, and Judicial branch then because I am almost positive that ISIS uses their websites to keep abreast of what they are doing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 11:48am

    Wait a minute....terrorists watch the news!
    Fox News supports terrorists!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 12:19pm

    So Few Bell Towers and Grassy Knolls...

    ...so many wacko politicians.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 10 Mar 2016 @ 12:32pm

    Terrorists Use Guns And Bombs

    What’s say we try to keep the actual damaging stuff away from them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 10 Mar 2016 @ 2:59pm

      Re: Terrorists Use Guns And Bombs

      But they did help with the war on Syria, and the war on Libya, and the war on ...

      We want someone that is illoyal enough to go to war against their own nation, aggressive enough to topple governments, murderous enough that they kill enough to seize power for themselves in entire regions or nations; but otherwise loyal docile peaceful serfs!

      This time it will work better!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 12:44pm

    The government materially supports terrorists too

    So if the IRS sends a refund check to a terrorist who filed their taxes, that would be a more clear-cut example of material support, right?

    Living in Silicon Valley, I am embarrassed that she is my "representative".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 12:57pm

      Re: The government materially supports terrorists too

      There are a lot of idiots in SillyCon Valley.

      Just because someone works in high technology does not mean they are not mentally high when it comes to politics. You will find that people like corrupt politicians... well as long as that corrupt politician does them favors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 10 Mar 2016 @ 1:01pm

    By all means, let's do that

    But let's start with the biggest terrorist threat -- which is not ISIS, despite all the blather. ISIS and other international terrorists have barely managed to kill any US citizens: 9 in 2009, 15 in 2010, 17 in 2011, 10 in 2012, etc. As has been pointed out many times, US citizens are more likely to be killed by their own furniture than by international terrorists.

    So let's not waste time with ISIS. Let's focus on a far more deadly terrorist organization -- one that's been around for over a century and a half. One that has killed thousands of Americans (and that number may be an underestimate by an order of magnitude). One that maimed, raped, mutilated, and tortured many more. One that has destroyed property on a large scale. One that is still a potent and dangerous organization. One that has recently been considerably emboldened by the rhetoric of a leading Presidential candidate.

    I'm talking about the Klan, of course.

    Which is of course not on DiFi's radar because they don't (usually) go after white people -- and because it's easier for DiFi to grandstand about oh-so-scary ISIS on the other side of the world than to confront the racism in her own state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 1:04pm

    From the government that has funded, supported, supplied weapons to and trained ISIS all to fight against Assad in Syria.

    Feinstein is a very good example of the blatant hypocrisy that runs the American government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2016 @ 1:57pm

    I don't understand why United and American weren't slapped with material support charges for 9/11.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy2020 (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 3:11pm

    This country gets scarier by the day

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Mar 2016 @ 4:03pm

    Oh please just fucking do it, then arrest yourselves.

    The actions of Congress provide material support to a huge number of sins in the world.

    We can call them out about their stupidity, but it appears this no longer works. See Also: Candidate Trump.

    Actions of Congress have placed many citizens in jeopardy merely because they think they might lose a vote.
    We have a resurgence in diseases we claimed we beat... because they refused to take on the anti-vax lobby.
    We have tons of people in jail because they refuse to honestly look at the drug problem & keep wasting resources in a 'war' that is unwinnable.
    We have shitty infrastructure because of giving tax breaks to corporations who buy their influence.
    We have leaders who place themselves above the laws they inflict on others.
    We have them pushing the country towards an Orwellian nightmare because a movie plot tells them its possible to spy enough to stop all the bad things.

    They provide material support to undermine country, shouldn't they go first?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 11 Mar 2016 @ 6:26am

    Feinsteine in an idiot. no, the system is idiotic.

    When WBC can exercise their free speech (though i may disagree with it) is considered an American virtue, but supporting (even loosely) is un-american, there is something VERY VERY VERY wrong with the system.

    There is a difference between giving material support, ie. giving material. support. like guns, and bombs, and such, as opposed to giving immaterial support, such as tweets, blog posts, etc.

    Sounds like there could be a technicality on that teenager.

    and feinstein is an idiot, every time she opens her mouth, she proves it more and more.

    also Welcome to the Red Scare 3.0

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 11 Mar 2016 @ 1:26pm

      Material support

      When WBC can exercise their free speech (though i may disagree with it) is considered an American virtue, but supporting (even loosely) is un-american, there is something VERY VERY VERY wrong with the system.

      Yes. And Westboro Baptist Church often go beyond speach, making problems at funerals of fallen gay soldiers and such.


      There is a difference between giving material support, ie. giving material. support. like guns, and bombs, and such, as opposed to giving immaterial support, such as tweets, blog posts, etc.

      Sounds like there could be a technicality on that teenager.

      The US regime is scared of a spontaneous regime change. The citizens have reason to be discontent. Most of the citizens know they were shafted in the "to big to fail" bailout. The last thing the regime needs is someone saying concentration camps is bad, or being a possible rallying point against the regime ... because the US regime has lost the moral high ground. There is nothing the regime can say to counter the sentiment.

      The police is too scared to do their job properly. And much of their budget comes from looting the public, giving fines for walking strangely, for sitting on a milk crate, for sagging, ... .

      This gives a perverse result, where police officers that actually does their job is an expense, while looters generate surplus.

      Prosecuting twitter users, sifting through private teen sexting communication, and manufacturing plots is perverse in other ways too. Though it is safe and rewarding for bent cops. It were not what the west was about.


      And then the US regime gives actual material support to the bat shit crazy fundamentalists in north east Libya.

      The US domestic and foreign policy makes as much sense as smoking in a supermarket garage containing a leaking hydrogen fuel cell car!


      also Welcome to the Red Scare 3.0

      Sad but true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vehemently Opposed, 11 Mar 2016 @ 9:19am

    Obscurity & Obsolescence

    In the end, obscurantismn may be what she will be remembered for. In the mean time, I believe she plans on making us all suffer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2016 @ 1:46am

    Last time I checked we had children going to sleep hungry right here in the US of A. Elderly citizens not getting their medications because of their need to eat. Our rate of infant mortality is shameful. We have the highest prison population in the world. This cunt needs to come down out of her ivory tower and get her priorities straight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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