by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 8:13pm
by Michael Ho
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Rambus is developing a super tiny camera that could be embedded in almost anything. The imaging from this lensless sensor is pretty low resolution, but it's good enough for many situations, and it could even record video. [url]
- Capturing 3D images with a single lens camera can be done without moving the camera. The trick is done by taking a picture of the same object but focused at different depths. The technique is called "light field moment imaging" and uses an algorithm to create the stereoscopic images. [url]
- Bell Labs is working on single pixel, lensless cameras. The technique used here is called "compressive sensing" and relies on a randomized array of apertures to collect multiple snapshots that can re-create a high-resolution image. The applications aren't exactly obvious, but perhaps astronomers or photographers of slow-moving subjects would be interested. [url]
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 4:12pm
from the can-they-both-lose? dept
As the times continue to change, the past few years have seen a notable increase in LGBT characters appearing in video games. Not that this is any kind of major victory, of course, but it is probably an imperfect barometer for public tolerance of our fellow human beings. There's obviously still a long way to go, and not everyone is embracing tolerance as much as I would personally prefer, but that's okay. These things take time and it's important that we listen to all sides and engage in the debate with integrity, honesty, and respect.
What can make this difficult and challenging is when the worlds of two different, but important, issues you have collide. Such is the case with an upcoming mobile game called Ultimate Gay Fighter, which is finding itself forced to change that name due to legal pressure, likely over a trademark.
According to Handsome Woman Productions, the company in question "believes the UGF brand and related mobile gaming product threatens one of their reality TV series/fighting competition brand." As a result, the developer is unable to defend the game's current name against what founder Michael P. Venker calls a billion-dollar company.You don't need to be a master at reading between the thinly-veiled lines to understand that Venker is almost certainly referring to the UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, and their reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter. They're really the only ones that fit the parameters here. And, while UGF is going ahead and caving to the name change, and looking to crowdsource a new name from their fanbase, it seems likely that they'd at least have a case in challenging the threat in court. Trademark, after all, was built to prevent customer confusion, and it's unlikely that any UFC fan is going to think that UGF is affiliated with the fighting company. In addition, the whole concept behind the game appears to be one of parody, which would be protected as fair use.
"We have a trademark pending, but the prospect of a potential lawsuit is very intimidating," Venker said. "We don't have the funds to compete with their take-no-prisoners approach. We offered them solutions, but this company remains firm in believing our Ultimate Gay Fighter brand threatens their brand, despite vast differences in our customer base and product."
Where this all gets tricky is that there's a whole lot to hate in Ultimate Gay Fighter.
In Ultimate Gay Fighter, a forthcoming brawler for iOS and Android, players take on the role of a variety of iconic gay caricatures, including a drag queen, a butch lesbian, an Asian 'twink', a gym bunny, a golden-chain wearing African-American rapper and a drunken bisexual woman. Each character wields a comedic 'gaytality' move that makes reference to common LGBT jokes.The caricatures are crude at best and, in my opinion, not particularly funny. That said, my opinion means eff-all when it comes to free speech and my sense of allowing speech to rule the day outweighs my offense: UFC shouldn't be bullying this game out of their name. And no, before everyone gets started on my regular attacks on the Washington Redskins organization, this isn't even close to being the same thing. There's nothing inherently offensive in the name Ultimate Gay Fighter, "gay" isn't recognized as having a detrimental definition, and in this case we're talking about taking away speech rights, not opening them up to everyone.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 3:06pm
from the this-isn't-over dept
As Sanchez notes, this creates a dilemma for those who discover such flaws. Normally, they should want to reveal such things to the NSA to help with protecting networks. But doing so now might expose more risk. And, in fact, it seems likely that the NSA was aware of the bug prior to its revelation to the public. Note that in its denial of the Bloomberg story, it just says it wasn't aware prior to "April 2014," but not on which date in April it found out about it. Thus, it's likely the NSA had a heads up, and could collect a bunch of private keys to use against its encrypted data store for a few days before everyone else was informed to fix the vulnerability.
Here, however, is the really crucial point to recognize: NSA doesn't need to have known about Heartbleed all along to take advantage of it.
The agency's recently-disclosed minimization procedures permit "retention of all communications that are enciphered." In other words, when NSA encounters encryption it can't crack, it's allowed to – and apparently does – vacuum up all that scrambled traffic and store it indefinitely, in hopes of finding a way to break into it months or years in the future. As security experts recently confirmed, Heartbleed can be used to steal a site's master encryption keys – keys that would suddenly enable anyone with a huge database of encrypted traffic to unlock it, at least for the vast majority of sites that don't generate new keys as a safeguard against retroactive exposure.
If NSA moved quickly enough – as dedicated spies are supposed to – the agency could have exploited the bug to steal those keys before most sites got around to fixing the bug, gaining access to a vast treasure trove of stored traffic.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 1:59pm
from the he-never-got-a-pulitzer-for-appeasing... dept
His main beef is his supposed belief that Snowden and anyone reporting on the facts he revealed are somehow "appeasing" terrorists. Of course, that's quite ironic, given King's history as a major terrorist appeaser in supporting the IRA decades ago, even as they were blowing up buildings that resulted in death and injury to many.
However, it's long been clear that King has no self-awareness and no understanding of his own hypocrisy. Within minutes of the Pulitzers announcing that one of its prizes was being given to the publications that reported on the Ed Snowden documents, King angrily tweeted his disgust:
Awarding the Pulitzer to Snowden enablers is a disgrace— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) April 14, 2014
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 12:55pm
from the good-for-them dept
For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material, a gold medal.Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Bart Gellman and Ewan McCaskill (among others at both publications) should be congratulated for the work they put into the original stories and for all of the followup in the face of ridiculous levels of criticism from those who were embarrassed by Snowden's whistleblowing. Separately, with the Pulitzers recognizing that such reporting was a public service, can we finally stop people from claiming that Snowden was a "traitor" and admit that what he did was clearly whistleblowing in the furtherance of the public interest?Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.
Awarded to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 12:03pm
from the hammers-all-the-way-down dept
Here comes another story highlighting the danger of schools "outsourcing" their disciplinary problems to law enforcement. As we've stated before, this does nothing more than turn routine misconduct into criminal behavior, which is a great way to derail a student's future.
A Pennsylvania teen, who claimed to have been bullied constantly (and ignored by school administration), made an audio recording of his tormentors using a school-supplied iPad. He brought this to the school's attention, which duly responded by calling the cops… to have him arrested for violating Pennsylvania's wiretapping law. (h/t to Techdirt reader btr1701)
[The student's mother, Shea] Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of Associate Principal Aaron Skrbin and Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. The defendant testified before Judge McGraw-Desmet that he was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. Love says by the time she arrived at the school, her son was surrounded by school officials and the police officer and was visibly distraught. She says Milburn defended the teacher's response to the classroom disturbance.The administration, rather than consider targeting the recorded bullies, instead called the cops believing (on advice from district lawyers, no less) that they had a felon in their office.
Kurta testified before the magistrate that Milburn requested his presence at the school on February 12 at 8:20 a.m. The officer said, “He believed he had a wiretapping incident.” Upon his arrival, Kurta said Milburn advised him that Silhanek fielded a call that morning from Love notifying him “that she planted a recording device in her son’s backpack to record the activities in one of his classes.” According to Kurta’s testimony, after Milburn consulted with the school district’s attorney, he advised reporting the incident to the police and treating it as a crime.As Scott Greenfield points out, calling a cop in to handle a school disciplinary problem doesn't leave the officer with many choices.
At that moment, it was certainly within Lt. Kurta’s ability to pull the principal aside and tell him, “hey, you scared the crap out of the kid, which should do the job. You realize that this isn’t a crime of any sort, and so I’m just going to back away slowly, not embarrass you for bringing me here to waste my time, and you can go back to doing whatever it is you do in this big building. Have a nice day.”That's one option. But as these things go, that's rarely, if ever, the option chosen. The officer, having been summoned, needed to find something to charge the bullied student with.
Kurta said, “After I left the school, I wasn’t sure what charge to file so I contacted the district attorney’s office. This would fall under a wiretapping violation, which is a felony.” He later answered as to why he thought the disorderly conduct charge applied to this case by saying, “Because his (the student’s) actions — he engaged in actions which served no legitimate purpose.” He then read the statute as, “Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by acts which serve no legitimate purpose.”Because capturing evidence of bullying "serves no legitimate purpose," apparently.
As Greenfield puts it, the officer was a hammer. Therefore, the bullied student must be a nail. This brought the student in front of yet another authority who could finally apply some common sense to the situation -- the magistrate judge. But that was not to be. The judge dragged in her own faith in the malfunctioning system as justification for nailing the student for disorderly conduct. In fact, Judge Maureen McGraw made her statement in defense of the school before the student could make his statement.
“Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know [...] Because it’s not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me.”Greenfield again, pointing out just how wrong the judge's statement is:
While this may not be a unique reaction, whether with school officials or police, it is decidedly flagrant. Where a judge’s function is so fundamentally undermined from the outset, that an accuser is so virtuous that it cannot be wrong, the prejudice can neither be ignored nor excused. The die was cast by dint of the school having “brought [the student] in front of” the judge.The last part of the "unholy trinity" was the final hammer, coming down on the "nail" placed in front of it by school administrators (who can do no wrong) and a police officer (who is beyond fault). Guilty as charged.
The judge's statement is particularly egregious, considering the situation in front of her. First off, the judge's faith in the school's ability to combat bullying is obviously misplaced. She saw no fault in her reasoning and, using that as her platform for the rest of her statement, she went on to act on her own
But further than appealing to her own authority, the judge stated how these things should be handled, apparently completely unaware (or unwilling to recognize) that following the prescribed steps is what resulted in a bullied child standing in front of her, facing a BS "disorderly conduct" charge.
The judge said that bullying victims should first bring the problem to their parents -- which this student did. Next, she says the parents should let the school administrators know -- which she did. Finally, she says, let the school handle it -- which it did. And now, the student faces her -- having followed all the proper steps -- charged with disorderly conduct. And yet, despite this, she asserts that the system works and, indeed, has always worked in regards to this particular school. Logical fallacy piled on top of logical fallacy until a bullied kid is charged with a crime while his recorded tormentors remain unpunished.
The judge refused to believe that any one of these esteemed administrators could have screwed up, failing to believe that they, too, are human and as prone to failure as anyone else. If they've never screwed up in the past, all future misdeeds are forgiven (and forgotten) in advance. This is the sort of rationale that should never be deployed by a supposedly impartial overseer like a judge, because it's just as wrong as assuming every authority figure involved here is an irredeemable monster.
[P]eople are not so one-dimensional that they are horrible in every instance, to every person, under every circumstances. The cop who beats a man one day may have saved a kitten in a tree the day before.Maybe the school has had an admirable track record on curtailing bullying. Maybe Officer Kurta doesn't always seek to find something to charge a person with when put in this position. But everyone here came together to make a string of regrettable decisions that led to a bullied student being punished, rather than the aggressors. Maybe the future holds better outcomes, but for right now, everyone involved had a chance to stop this from reaching this illogical conclusion, but no one -- from the administrators to their legal team to local law enforcement to the presiding judge -- was interested in reining this in. In the end, it looks as though an innate desire to punish someone was satisfied every step of the way.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 11:02am
Hollywood Has Been Pressuring Australian Attorney General To Pressure ISPs Into Being Copyright Cops
from the because-of-course-they-are dept
Of course, Hollywood (AFACT is Australian-in-name-only -- a Wikileaks State Department cable revealed it to be an operation wholly controlled by the MPAA in Hollywood) continued to freak out, leading the Australian government to hold "stakeholder" meetings between the entertainment industry and the ISPs (note: no public representatives, even though they're the real stakeholders), to try to broker an agreement to make ISPs act as copyright cops. Of course, because Hollywood's position is inherently ridiculous, the ISPs noted that it was like negotiating with a brick wall, and talks soon broke down. The ISPs made it clear that it was silly to blame them when Hollywood itself was to blame by not making works available.
But, of course, Hollywood never stops. AFACT rebranded as the Australian Screen Association, and apparently has been very busy pumping new Australian Attorney General George Brandis full of misleading information and pure propaganda. We recently noted that Brandis was supporting website blocking and three strikes like programs, despite them failing elsewhere. And, he's also come out against fair use, because, fuck the public, Hollywood is upset.
Josh Taylor over at ZDnet used the Freedom of Information Act to get emails from between Neil Gane -- the "contractor" who ran AFACT and now the Australian Screen Association -- and Brandis, showing an ongoing campaign in which Gane continued to push Brandis with a series of one-sided misleading emails about how anti-consumer programs in other countries were the way forward:
In nine emails from Gane to the Attorney-General's department secretary, Roger Wilkins, and first assistant secretary in the civil law division, Matt Minogue, sent between the election and this year, obtained by ZDNet under Freedom of Information, Gane appears to be providing education notices of his own to the department, offering insights into how copyright infringement is being dealt with in other countries.There are a number of other emails, including a few that regular Techdirt readers may find especially amusing, including one mocking the "vocal minority" who were complaining that draconian copyright enforcement on things like Game of Thrones downloading might have serious unintended consequences. Update: The "vocal minority" has responded.
In one email pointing out Canada's moves, he notes that the Canadian government was not buying into the notion that ISPs should be compensated for having to warn customers for downloading infringing content.
Meanwhile, Brandis -- who has also been vehemently defending the NSA -- recently took a trip to the US, in part to explore issues around copyright. Did he meet with copyright scholars or other experts on these issues? Nope. Instead, he met with the director of the Center for Copyright Information, who runs the US's "six strikes" program. Brandis seems to have made up his mind, after being pushed on it by the MPAA, and with no respect at all to facts or reality.
All in all, Brandis appears to be only listening to one exceptionally biased party, even as a very long and thorough review process by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) found that fair use was important, and that copyright reform needed to be modernized to pay attention to the important rights and uses of the public. But apparently, that all gets thrown out the window because a Hollywood spokesperson has a direct email line to the Attorney General.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 10:03am
from the it's-a-problem dept
However, the claim late last week that the NSA knew about and exploited Heartbleed, followed by the quick denial by the NSA, really puts an exclamation point on how untenable this dual role is for the NSA. It's difficult to take the NSA seriously given the competing interests within it. Add to this, President Obama basically giving his broad approval for the NSA to exploit security flaws it finds, and you have a very dangerous setup for your average internet user. The NSA, despite its job, will have little interest in actually protecting internet users.
Julian Sanchez summarizes the issue nicely by pointing out that the two roles are simply incompatible:
But the denial itself serves as a reminder that NSA's two fundamental missions – one defensive, one offensive – are fundamentally incompatible, and that they can't both be handled credibly by the same government agency.The NSA's history of being less than forthright in the past, as well as many of the Snowden revelations, combined with its dual role, simply means that most people won't believe the NSA's denial about Heartbleed, even if it was much more strongly worded than earlier denials. If the NSA's role, however, were made much clearer, such that it was only focused on protecting systems, without the offensive elements, then it would be both a lot more believable, and a lot more trustworthy. However, the very fact that the administration (and the NSA) appear to have little interest in moving in this direction says a lot about how much they really prioritize protecting our computer systems.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 9:02am
FBI Abruptly Walks Out On Senate Briefing After Being Asked How 'Insider Threat' Program Avoids Whistleblowers
from the because-the-whole-program-is-about-whistleblowers dept
Given all of that, Senator Grassley expressed some concern about this Insider Threat Program and how it distinguished whistleblowers from actual threats. He asked the FBI for copies of its training manual on the program, which it refused to give him. Instead, it said it could better answer any questions at a hearing. However, as Grassley explains, when questioned about this just 10 minutes into the hearing, the FBI abruptly got up and left:
Meanwhile, the FBI fiercely resists any efforts at Congressional oversight, especially on whistleblower matters. For example, four months ago I sent a letter to the FBI requesting its training materials on the Insider Threat Program. This program was announced by the Obama Administration in October 2011. It was intended to train federal employees to watch out for insider threats among their colleagues. Public news reports indicated that this program might not do enough to distinguish between true insider threats and legitimate whistleblowers. I relayed these concerns in my letter. I also asked for copies of the training materials. I said I wanted to examine whether they adequately distinguished between insider threats and whistleblowers.And yes, it's equally troubling that the FBI insists that as long as someone "registers" as a whistleblower, the FBI will suddenly, magically agree to stop investigating them as a "threat." We already know that's almost certainly bullshit. The stories of Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou are both clear examples of whistleblowers, who then had the DOJ search through basically everything they'd ever done to try to concoct some sort of Espionage Act case against them. In both cases, the eventual charges were totally ridiculous and unrelated to the whistleblowing they had done, but clearly the only reason they had been investigated was because of their status as whistleblowers. Drake was charged with having a classified document, which was just a meeting agenda and was both improperly classified and then declassified soon after. Kiriakou was charged with revealing the name of a CIA operative to a reporter, where the person in question was already widely known to journalists as working for the CIA.
In response, an FBI legislative affairs official told my staff that a briefing might be the best way to answer my questions. It was scheduled for last week. Staff for both Chairman Leahy and I attended, and the FBI brought the head of their Insider Threat Program. Yet the FBI didn’t bring the Insider Threat training materials as we had requested. However, the head of the Insider Threat Program told the staff that there was no need to worry about whistleblower communications. He said whistleblowers had to register in order to be protected, and the Insider Threat Program would know to just avoid those people.
Now I have never heard of whistleblowers being required to “register” in order to be protected. The idea of such a requirement should be pretty alarming to all Americans. Sometimes confidentiality is the best protection a whistleblower has. Unfortunately, neither my staff nor Chairman Leahy’s staff was able to learn more, because only about ten minutes into the briefing, the FBI abruptly walked out. FBI officials simply refused to discuss any whistleblower implications in its Insider Threat Program and left the room. These are clearly not the actions of an agency that is genuinely open to whistleblowers or whistleblower protection.
Meanwhile, while Grassley still hasn't come out in support of Snowden as a whistleblower, he does seem reasonably concerned that James Clapper's plans to stop the next Snowden will have severe consequences for whistleblowers:
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seems to have talked about such procedures when he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 11, 2014. In his testimony, he said:As Marcy Wheeler notes in her post (linked above, which called my attention to all this), by declaring war on whistleblowers, the administration is almost guaranteeing that many fewer will use "official channels" to blow the whistle. That just makes them targets with the likelihood of getting no results. Instead, all this does is incentivize people to go the Chelsea Manning/Ed Snowden route of going directly to journalists to make sure the stories get out.We are going to proliferate deployment of auditing and monitoring capabilities to enhance our insider threat detection. We’re going to need to change our security clearance process to a system of continuous evaluation. . . . What we need is . . . a system of continuous evaluation, where . . . we have a way of monitoring their behavior, both their electronic behavior on the job as well as off the job, to see if there is a potential clearance issue. . . .Director Clapper’s testimony gives me major pause. It sounds as though this type of monitoring would likely capture the activity of whistleblowers communicating with Congress.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 7:40am
from the a-bias? dept
However, the NY Times had a story this weekend about how this move has forced the administration to clarify its position on zero day exploits. It's already known that the NSA buys lots of zero day exploits and makes the internet weaker as a result of it. Though, in the past, the NSA has indicated that it only makes use of the kinds of exploits that only it can use (i.e., exploits that need such immense computing power that anyone outside of the NSA is unlikely to be able to do anything). However, the NY Times article notes that, following the White House's intelligence review task force recommendation that the NSA stop weakening encryption and other technologies, President Obama put in place an official rule that the NSA should have a "bias" towards revealing the flaws and helping to fix them, but leaves open a massive loophole:
But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.Amusingly, the NY Times initially had a title on its story saying that President Obama had decided that the NSA should "reveal, not exploit, internet security flaws," but the title then changed to the much more accurate: "Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say."
Of course, the cold war analogy used by people in the article seems... wrong:
“We don’t eliminate nuclear weapons until the Russians do,” one senior intelligence official said recently. “You are not going to see the Chinese give up on ‘zero days’ just because we do.”Except, it's meaningless that no one expects the Chinese (or the Russians or anyone else) to give up zero days. The simple fact is that if the NSA were helping to stop zero days that would better protect everyone against anyone else using those zero days. In fact, closing zero days is just like disarming both sides, because it takes the vulnerability out of service. It's not about us giving up our "weapons," it's about building a better defense for the world. And yet the NSA isn't willing to do that. Because they're not about protecting anyone -- other than themselves.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 5:31am
from the questions,-questions dept
And while the legacy entertainment industry continues to take a "zero tolerance" approach to infringement, by pretending that their various (extremely limited) online services are good enough, the simple truth is that it's ridiculously expensive for folks who just want to watch Game of Thrones online. The good folks at TorrentFreak took a look at what it would cost in a bunch of different countries to watch the authorized version of the show if you were a cord cutter who wasn't interested in anything else in a cable subscription. The Australian result may be the most shocking:
That's a bit of an understatement. And this is especially interesting, given that the US ambassador and the MPAA have repeatedly pointed to Game of Thrones piracy as a top priority that the Australian government needs to "fix." Perhaps, instead, there should be a focus on making it so that each episode is actually reasonably affordable. The situation, of course, is equally ridiculous in most other countries that TorrentFreak explored. And, yes, as HBO has said over and over again, it has good business reasons for doing this (it makes a ton of money from cable and satellite companies for each subscriber -- likely more than they'd pay individually). But the end result is that it should hardly be surprising that plenty of people choose an alternative route -- and it shouldn't be something that has US ambassadors up in arms.
When we look at the packages offered on the website the cheapest option appears to be the movie and drama combo, which costs $74 AUD (~ 70 USD) per month. However, the minimum subscription term is six months, which with the added costs adds up to $520 AUD (~ 590 USD). Assuming that someone’s only interested in watching Game of Thrones, an Australian fan will have to pay $52 AUD (~ 49 USD) per episode, which is rather expensive
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 3:33am
from the now-they're-OUR-secrets dept
Throw the words "national security" around frequently enough and you might start to believe it actually means something. The EFF's battle against the government's use of National Security Letters (NSLs) is being fought mostly under seal (the EFF can't even reveal whom its clients are). To be sure, there is sensitive material being discussed, but the government's paranoia has extended so far as to seal documents written by entities with no access to classified or sensitive material. (h/t to Trevor Timm)
The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (RCFP) recently filed an amicus brief in this case on the EFF's behalf, arguing that the non-disclosure demands of NSLs are a form of prior restraint, something that is clearly unconstitutional. It also notes the chilling effect this has had on journalism.
The information at issue is not just important for its own sake, but because, as recent reports have shown, fear of government surveillance has deterred confidential sources from speaking to journalists about a wide range of topics. The brief emphasizes that more knowledge about the NSL program can give sources and reporters confidence that their communications are confidential.The government's desire for secrecy extends even further than the NSLs' gag orders. This secrecy has now spilled over into what would normally be the public's domain.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s challenge involves three cases, all of which are under seal. The Reporters Committee was required to file its briefs under seal, but submitted a motion to the Ninth Circuit asking it to unseal its brief.Whatever the government's stated reasons for requiring the brief to be filed under seal, it's clearly wrong.
“The Court cannot constitutionally seal this brief,” the Reporters Committee wrote in the motion. “Amici have had no access to confidential materials in the case; the brief only includes information that is already public; and there are clear public policy reasons for requiring that the materials be open.”The government doesn't know when to quit. It's sealed brief requirement makes about as much sense as government agencies' initial reactions to the first few leaked NSA documents -- instructing their employees to not look at publicly-available information because the documents were supposedly still "classified." As if that designation made any sense under the circumstances.
This is the same sort of reasoning: NSLs are super-secret and therefore, anything related to these should be withheld from the public, even if the brief contains nothing more than publicly-available information.