by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 8:05pm
by Michael Ho
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Grammar nerds (or nazis) are fuming at a new definition of "literally" which actually makes the word into a synonym for "figuratively" -- so now people who previously used "literally" incorrectly can now point to the dictionary and say they're using the word correctly. Three different dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster, have added this informal definition as a way to use the word literally for emphasis or as hyperbole. [url]
- In the 1660s, the word terrific meant frightening or horrible, but by the late 1800s, it started to mean excellent or great. The English language actually has several examples of words that have become to mean the opposite of their original definitions. [url]
- Words aren't the only components of language that can evolve different meanings -- some punctuation marks have moved beyond their formerly limited roles. The word "slash" is now a new conjunction or conjunctive adverb. It used to be funny how punctuation could change the meaning of words.... [url]
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 4:02pm
Latest Addition To Surveillance Review Board Doesn't Address Technology Issue But May Provide Another Adversarial Perspective
from the 'mostly-not-bad'-is-probably-the-best-we-can-hope-for dept
Another name has been added to the so-called "Surveillance Review Board," which is stocked with mainly sympathetic insiders. (The one exception is Peter Swire, who has previously argued against both the PATRIOT Act and the NSA's phone metadata program.) The new addition is University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone.
Emptywheel points out one of the main problems with the composition of this group: there's not a single technologist included, something that's a problem when the FISA court is relying on the NSA's own "depictions" of its processes. From the president's statement as quoted at Emptywheel:
Technology moves at a pace much faster than the oversight (Congress, the FISA court) can parse it. Several of our representatives have, over the years, spoken proudly of their technical ineptitude. The FISA court, which grants the NSA broad, sweeping court orders, has stated that it relies heavily on the NSA's explanations of its programs -- which is pretty much admitting that it nods along with brow furrowed while an agent speedily clicks through a Powerpoint en route to securing a rubber stamp on the latest request.These individuals bring to the task immense experience in national security, intelligence, oversight, privacy and civil liberties. The Review Group will bring a range of experience and perspectives to bear to advise the President on how, in light of advancements in technology, the United States can employ its technical collection capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties, recognizing our need to maintain the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure.So in spite of the fact that the White House highlights technology in its mandate, that didn’t lead them to find even a single technologist.
Beyond the technical limitations of the group, Geoffrey Stone also brings with him an attitude seemingly predisposed against people like the man who started this all in motion -- Ed Snowden.
Here's a quote dug up by emptywheel, from an article written for the Huffington Post by Stone in June.
[W]hat should Edward Snowden have done? Probably, he should have presented his concerns to senior, responsible members of Congress. But the one thing he most certainly should not have done is to decide on the basis of his own ill-informed, arrogant and amateurish judgment that he knows better than everyone else in government how best to serve the national interest. The rule of law matters, and no one gave Edward Snowden the authority to make that decision for the nation. His conduct was more than unacceptable; it was criminal.Reported it to which "senior, responsible" members of Congress? Mike Rogers? Other members of the Intelligence Committee -- the same ones who withheld information from their fellow Congress members? All that would have done is guaranteed the NSA's abuses would remain uncovered.
An interview Stone gave on June 13th (pointed out by Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy) pulls back a slight bit from his initial take, while still retaining the assertion that Snowden is a criminal -- and should be punished as one.
Well, there is a federal statute that makes it a crime for public employees who have been granted access to classified information to reveal that information to persons who are unauthorized to receive it. So, from a simple, straightforward, technical legal standpoint, there's absolutely no question that Snowden violated the law. And from that standpoint, if he's tried, he will be convicted, and he is in fact, from that perspective, a criminal. Whether one admires what he did is another question, but it doesn't have anything to do with whether or not what he did was unlawful.Later in the interview, Stone pointed out that what Snowden had exposed to that point was above board.
[T]he fact is, he's just an ordinary guy with absolutely no expertise in public policy, in the law, in national security. He's a techie. He made the decision on his own, without any authorization, without any approval by the American people, to reveal classified information about which he had absolutely no expertise in terms of the danger to the nation, the value of the information to national security. That was a completely irresponsible and dangerous thing to do. Whether we think it was a positive thing in the long run or not is a separate question, but it was clearly criminal.
[T]here is, so far as I can tell from everything that’s been revealed [by Edward Snowden], absolutely nothing illegal or criminal about these programs. They may be terrible public policy—I’m not sure I approve of it at all—but the fact is the claim that they’re unconstitutional and illegal is wildly premature.Sadly, that part is true. Most of what's been exposed is legal, as far as the courts have determined the protections of the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, various behind-the-scenes laws and interpretations have allowed the NSA to extend its reach without committing criminal acts.
Then there's this bit, which is rather troubling, but syncs up nicely with the narrative the NSA's defenders have been pushing.
Let me make another point about civil liberties here, by the way, that it’s extremely important to understand that if you want to protect civil liberties in this country, you not only have to protect civil liberties, you also have to protect against terrorism, because what will destroy civil liberties in this country more effectively than anything else is another 9/11 attack. And if the government is not careful about that, and if we have more attacks like that, you can be sure that the kind of things the government is doing now are going to be regarded as small potatoes compared to what would happen in the future. So it’s very complicated, asking what’s the best way to protect civil liberties in the United States.This just isn't true, at least not in the sense that trimming civil liberties is the only response to a large-scale terrorist attack. Allowing the reaction to the 9/11 attacks to set the precedent for future reactions is a terrible idea. But Stone is right about this: the government reacted that way once, rushing the PATRIOT Act through the legislative process, and there's very little to indicate that future representatives won't overreact this way in the future.
Ultimately, though, Stone's argument relies on accepting the claims of intelligence agencies at face value: that what they do prevents terrorism. And if you buy that, then the agencies win.
Going beyond this issue, other writings by Stone suggest that he may more often side with odd-man-out Peter Swire than with the administration when it comes to reining in the NSA. Here's a particularly relevant quote from his piece on the FISA court, which he unfortunatley sets up with a rather lame "it could be worse" argument:
It is important to note, though, that without the existence of a FISA court to which Executive Branch officials are answerable, there is little doubt that the NSA and the FBI would be authorizing all sorts of investigations that would not meet the standards now imposed by the FISA court. In that sense, the existence of the FISA court plays a critical role.
Second, there are major deficiencies in the way the FISA court now operates. When the judges on the FISA court review the government's submissions, there is no one on the other side to advocate against the arguments of the government... In practical effect, there is no opportunity for adversarial review in the FISA context.An adversarial model has been suggested several times, but those opposed to this suggestion often choose to frame approved requests as the equivalent of search warrants -- a process that is also non-adversarial. But Stone punctures that thinking by noting that regular search warrants are subject to post-facto litigation if the targets feel there's been abuse of the process. As it stands right now, subjects of NSA surveillance and National Security Letters simply don't have that option.
There is a simple -- and necessary -- solution. Whenever the government seeks a warrant from the FISA court, an independent government lawyer, with a security clearance, should have the responsibility of arguing the other side. In a sense, this would be something like a public defender's office, where the "client" is not only the target of the proposed surveillance (who would know nothing about what is happening), but also the national interest in reaching the best outcome in these matters. Our legal system is premised on the merits of adversarial presentation of arguments, and there is no good reason why the FISA process should not adopt that model.
Stone also makes some good points on the balance of privacy and security in an article written shortly after the Boston Bombing.
[W]here the government is involved, there is a special dimension to the right of privacy. If the government could learn everything it wants about every one of us, it would be difficult if not impossible for citizens to keep in mind that the government works for them, rather than the other way around. The right of privacy is thus an essential element is preserving the citizen's own sense of dignity and autonomy vis a vis the government. This is critical to maintaining a system of political self-governance. Indeed, it is for these reasons that the Fourth Amendment expressly guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures..."His suggestion? Install the cameras if you must, but make the recordings only available via a search warrant.
Here, I think it is important to consider what I have called the principle of conservation of privacy. With the development of technology, the government has a much greater ability to learn things about us than it could in past. As a practical matter, it was impossible for the government to follow all of our actions in public all the time. That gave us a sense of security and normalcy that in all likelihood the government was not monitoring our every movement and activity. This gave us a certain freedom to move about in public without having to worry that "Big Brother" was watching. A network of pervasive surveillance cameras would destroy that freedom. It therefore, it my view, does intrude upon a reasonable expectation of privacy, as it existed in the past.
And, finally, here are a few thoughts from Stone on government secrecy, another post written shortly after Snowden's first leak hit.
[I]n a self-governing society, government secrecy is presumptively illegitimate. Our elected representatives are just that -- our representatives -- and we are entitled to know what they do in our name. This is at the very heart of self-governance.Stone's take on Snowden notwithstanding (but not entirely notwithstanding because he's the reason this board is even being formed), his general stance on privacy, secrecy and the government leans more towards a civil libertarian perspective than towards the administration. Adding another dissenting opinion will help balance this board a bit, but ultimately the findings will end up being filtered by a very pro-NSA James Clapper before being routed to an administration predisposed towards taking the NSA's side.
The notion that we should blindly "trust" our public officials to do what is best for us is naïve, reckless and irresponsible. Such an approach invites illegitimate, inefficient and self-interested governance. Even well-meaning public officials make bad policy decisions because of political and personal self-interest.
Indeed, if government officials are permitted to keep their actions secret from the American people, all sorts of mischief is possible. Human nature being what it is, we can be sure that, in the long run, secrecy can -- and will -- be used by public officials (who are no better or worse than the rest of us) to hide stupidity, corruption, partisan abuse, discrimination, ineptitude, and outright criminality...
The problem is that, in the real world, government officials, like all of us, often have mixed motives for our actions. Sorting them out is extraordinarily difficult. Nonetheless, because of the demands of a self-governing society, we should operate on the assumption that government secrecy is presumptively illegitimate and that the government should be legally authorized to act in secret (this includes classifying information) only when there is a clear and overriding justification for secrecy. This requirement should be taken seriously.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 3:13pm
from the secondary-liability:-watch-out dept
The specific details of the ruling will be important, because it's very important to see on what basis Judge Kathleen Williams found as she did, but the risk of massive harm to innovation and the safe harbor protections under the DMCA is very, very real. Stupidly, the MPAA is cheering on this decision, despite the fact it will likely create chilling effects that will harm the kind of innovation the movie industry needs the most these days.
I know that some people will, undoubtedly, argue that Hotfile was used for a lot of infringement -- and there's evidence to suggest that's true. But, copyright owners have always had a remedy there: go after the actual infringers. Putting liability on the cyberlocker itself now puts just about any online cloud provider at risk of getting sued. Dropbox, Box.net, Flickr, YouTube, Google and many others need to pay close attention to what comes out of this case, because pinning liability on a third party storage company will make it much more expensive for any such service to be in business. This is sad, and stupidly counterproductive for the MPAA, because what it should be doing these days is embracing services that help fans access the kind of content they want when they want it. Instead, they're actively trying to shut down innovations via copyright law.
I'm sure we'll have a more thorough analysis of the full details of the ruling once they're out.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 2:50pm
Former White House IP Czar Immediately Jumps Ship To Microsoft-Driven Anti-Piracy Lobbying Group BSA
from the shameful dept
As you may recall, every year the BSA puts out a laughably ridiculous "global piracy study" that argues every infringing copy should count as a "lost sale." The BSA has a long history of using those reports to mislead the public and policy makers. The BSA also has a long history of raiding companies, tying them up in ridiculous "audits" where if you can't find the specific paperwork for the software you licensed years ago, you may be forced to pay huge sums. The organization has been widely criticized for the practices which often push small businesses to the edge of bankruptcy just because they can't find the right paperwork. The program also relies on bribing employees and former employees to rat out their companies based on completely bogus promises of payouts of "up to $1 million," when they almost never pay out more than $5,000. We once promised to pay out "up to $1 million" if anyone could prove a BSA $1 million payout. We never had to pay out a dime.
The BSA also, of course, was a strong supporter of SOPA until Microsoft realized that its users were angry and that SOPA might cause tremendous problems for the internet... and magically, the BSA suddenly changed its mind. The BSA has always had a close relationship with the federal government, of course. For years, its "anti-piracy" efforts were run by Neil MacBride who, like Espinel, once worked for Joe Biden. MacBride left the BSA after President Obama was elected to become the a top Justice Department official, later switching to become the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virgnia, where he's been involved in a number of high profile cases, including those involving copyright enforcement -- such as the case against Kim Dotcom and Megaupload. Just last week MacBride announced he was stepping down.
It is worth noting that, while I often disagreed with the position of the administration and Espinel on IP enforcement issues, she was much more willing to actually listen to complaints and have pretty open and wide ranging discussions on the issues. In the time she was in office, she was more than willing to reach out and discuss concerns and complaints that I and others had raised about the administration's positions, and some of her more recent efforts showed that she was certainly willing to take such constructive criticism into account. I hope that she will be willing to do the same in this new position, but I have concerns, since the role is not about pushing for the most effective policy position, but the one that benefits a few giant legacy companies the most. And the BSA is so tainted on that front, it would take a pretty miraculous shift to make the organization a "good" player on these issues.
Of larger concern: Espinel was intimately involved in a number of the discussions on "voluntary" agreements between various industries over how to deal with copyright infringement, meaning that she knows quite well the positions and plans of those whom she now may be fighting against in her new role, where she obviously has strong connections to those still in the government. Considering the massive concern about the "revolving door" between IP maximalist organizations and the government, the risk of bad results here seems quite high. Espinel was quite successful in bringing in a variety of viewpoints and trying to find common ground. Unfortunately, that's not what her new position likely calls for.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 1:49pm
Manhattan Lasik Threatens Yelp Reviewer For Calling Them Scumbags Who Used Groupon As Bait-And-Switch
from the slappity-slapp-slapp dept
A few weeks went by and Linden received a letter written by Abramson, claiming that the review was defamatory, though without saying how it was defamatory. Levy called up Abramson and found him unwilling to point out anything actually defamatory:
When I first contacted Abramson to ask what parts of the letter were allegedly false, he began by blustering that everything was defamatory, but when I laughingly asked whether it was false that the doctor “was very nice,” he quickly focused instead on the use of words like “scumbag.” Linden, he complained, had come in with a Groupon, the service covered by the Groupon would not have been right for his condition, and Linden, he said, simply refused to accept that he needed to buy a different kind of service even though, Abramson said, the reasons were given to him repeatedly. So Abramson was admitting that the underlying factual statements were true, but complaining about the opinion words used. In a similar case, a judge in Manhattan ruled that the words “scam” and “bait-and-switch” plainly reflected the consumer’s personal opinion of his dealings with a business. Abramson knows about this case, having blogged about it himself a few years ago.I like the fact that Levy calls out the fact that Abramson himself blogged about the very case that destroys his own arguments. That's a nice touch. Levy also notes that Abramson has a bit of a reputation for copyright trolling -- and got smacked down by a judge in a case we wrote about. So it's probably not a huge surprise to find out that Abramson tried the laughable trick of putting this at the bottom of his threat letter:
Abramson also complained that discount coupons were a major source of his client’s business, and have been a source for years, and he stands to suffer serious harm if consumers learn from Yelp that his discount coupons might not be worth a four-figure investment. But as Med Express recently learned the hard way, companies can't sue for defamation just because criticism can hurt business, the criticism has to be based on deliberate falsehood. And once the words are deemed opinion, they are constitutionally protected. And by the same token, I pointed out to him that if consumers needed to worry about whether the $1700 they would be spending up front for a Groupon might not do them any good, that was valuable information for consumers that ought not be suppressed.
Please be aware that this letter is copyrighted by our law firm, and you are not authorized to publish this in any manner. Use of this letter in positing, in full or in part, will subject you to further causes of action.Oh really now? It's a pretty despicable practice by some lawyers to try to claim that copyright prevents the public discussion of questionable legal threat letters designed to silence criticism. Levy notes that it appears some lawyers have been lined up to support Linden should this progress -- with one of them raising the question of whether or not Manhattan Lasik is guilty of false advertising with its Groupon promotions. Levy and that lawyer sent the NY Attorney General's office some info for them to investigate.
Of course, Levy also notes that, yet again, this is one of those unfortunate situations where NY doesn't have a very good anti-SLAPP law to hit back on these kinds of threats. It's yet another reminder why we need a strong and comprehensive federal anti-SLAPP law that will help protect people who are expressing their opinions and presenting factual information in reviews from legal bullying.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 12:48pm
from the pointless-flexing-of-rapidly-atrophying-political-muscle dept
So, there's one major blow to Bloomberg and Kelly's
Two bills recently passed by the New York City Council target stop and frisk as well, by scaling back police powers and installing an Inspector General to ensure the NYPD doesn't violate the public's rights. Bloomberg, of course, threatened to veto these bills and then boldly went ahead and did exactly that, briefly pausing to tell council members that he'd be throwing tons of campaign dollars at anyone who wanted to switch sides. The only problem with Bloomberg's plan was that both bills arrived on his desk with enough "yea" votes to be veto-immune.
Now Bloomberg's angry all over again, assuming he stopped being angry at any point during the last couple of weeks. The council pointed out that stop and frisk unfairly targeted minorities, which it does. 88% of those stopped over the past 10 years have been minorities. Here's a map of last year's 532,911 stop-and-frisks color-coded by race and geolocated by Damien Spleeters. (Guess which race is represented by the color blue. If you can't figure it out, click through to this post from the Village Voice for the answer key. Complicating matters is the fact that red represents whites and orange represents Hispanics.)
The data and the district court have come to the same conclusion: stop and frisk unconstitutionally targets minorities. And yet, Bloomberg's statement on the targeted program echoes Chief Kelly's bizarre defense of stop and frisk from a week ago:
Mr. Bloomberg disagreed, claiming “minority communities across our city” would suffer, the Post reported.Just how will the minorities "suffer" from this lack of harassment? Too much freedom of movement? Hands going soft and uncalloused from the lack of contact with nearby surfaces? The disruption of day-to-day routine? Future minority youths being constantly annoyed by their parents' stories about how back in THEIR day, the walk to school was up against the wall BOTH WAYS?
“The City Council adopted legislation that will make it harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime,” he said.
As for "continuing" to drive down crime? Well, while New York's violent crime rate has declined significantly since highs in the late 80s-early 90s, the murder rate -- a statistic both Bloomberg and Kelly have promised will skyrocket if stop and frisk is curtailed -- has remained relatively flat over the last decade. If this program is so successful in getting guns off the street and curtailing violent crime, one would expect steadier trend downward. At best, the program is maintaining the status quo. Murder rates in New York are still above the national average (per 100,000 persons), along with robberies and assaults. Property crime has decreased dramatically but you wouldn't know it from Bloomberg's go-to defense of the program. According to Bloomberg, killing off stop and frisk will kill off thousands of New Yorkers, and whoever takes his position next year will be the new mayor of Murderville, USA, a position currently held by Rahm Emanuel.
One final point: Bloomberg and Kelly are both surveillance fanatics who harbor the desire to turn New York City into London in terms of number of cameras per square foot. Surveillance proponents like these two often make light of the public's concerns, offering up the much abused phrase, "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear."
When it comes to appointing an Inspector General to do a bit of internal surveillance on the NYPD, both the mayor and police chief are vehemently against it. Why? Public servants surely have no "expectation of privacy," especially if the surveilled public doesn't. And certainly the mayor's faultless personal army has nothing to fear from some additional oversight… at least not if it doesn't have anything to hide.
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 11:46am
Man Who Raped 14-Year-Old Sentenced To 30 Days In Jail Because Girl Looked Kinda Old And The Internet Is Mean
from the well-okay-then dept
We've seen ridiculous requests and results stemming from the concept of how "mean" the internet is. Recall that Prenda Law wanted all manner of documents sealed because the internet was a cruel, cruel place. To be fair, it isn't like we haven't seen our share of stories about jerks on the web. Still, I'm pretty sure the internet housing a bunch of meanie poopy-heads probably shouldn't factor into the decision to have a former high school teacher who raped a 14 year old girl serve only 30 days in jail.
Now, I know what you're thinking: that didn't happen. A guy did not rape a 14 year old student and then only do a month in the pen. Sorry, you're wrong, and the reasons for it are as absurd as they come.
A Yellowstone County district judge Monday ordered a former Senior High teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old female student who later committed suicide to spend 30 days in jail. Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Stacey Dean Rambold to 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended, for sexual intercourse without consent.Okay, let's take these in order. First, doesn't even 15 years for a teacher raping a student seem on the light side, particularly when that student subsequently killed herself? Secondly, reducing the sentence from 15 years to 30 days for any reason is insane, but when those reasons are that the rapist has lost his family and job while suffering the wrath of a pissed off internet, the justice train has gone off the rails somewhere. One would think any stories of the internet being so cruel to Captain Rapey as to warrant a reduced sentence would have made it into the public light without the defense attorney's help. To even make this argument is an insult to our concept of justice and accountability.
Rambold's attorney, Jay Lansing, argued Monday for the suspended sentence. He said Rambold lost his career, his marriage and his home and has suffered a "scarlet letter of the Internet" as a result of publicity about the case. The judge also said Morales was "older than her chronological age."
Finally, what the hell difference does it make that the girl may have looked older than her peers? Several news pieces on this story have shown the young lady, who certainly did look mature for her age, and I can imagine some nightmare scenario in which an adult unwittingly hooks up with a mature looking young person who is underage and faces the wrath of the court as a result, but this isn't that scenario. Rambold taught at the girl's school and had every reason to know and/or believe that her age should have come into question, setting aside entirely the fact that teachers probably shouldn't be banging their students no matter what age they are.
The internet can be a cruel world, but it isn't as cruel as a teacher raping a 14-year-old girl. It just isn't.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 10:44am
Modest Proposal: Use NSA's Metadata Collection To Create A Public Social Graph To Compete With Facebook & Google
from the everyone-wins! dept
Now that Edward Snowden has blown the whistle on the extensive spying operations of the National Security Agency, this question seems obsolete. Take the NSA's much-discussed collection of metadata—the seemingly benign (or so they claim) information about who calls whom and when. It's precisely this kind of metadata that is needed to build a better publicly run social graph. In fact, the NSA has probably already built it—and not just for America but probably for users in many other countries as well—often with tacit cooperation from intelligence services and telecommunication providers of those countries....You might say that all this data should be private, but, hell, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook took a ton of data that you thought was private as well, and flipped a switch to make most of it public, so why not the NSA? Jonathan Swift, eat your (poor childrens') heart out.
[....] The NSA has all this data, and it's not going away. (If anything, the much-discussed data storage center that the NSA is building in Utah suggests otherwise.) It would be a colossal mistake not to come up with a global institutional arrangement that would make at least chunks of that data available for public use. At the very (utopian) minimum, it should be possible to produce a rudimentary social graph and make it globally available—to be supervised by a civil agency, perhaps within the United Nations. The United States, which has always preached free markets to the rest of the world, can, perhaps, take the lead in making markets for search and social networking more competitive.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 9:53am
Let Freedom Ka-Ching! On The 50th Anniversary Of 'I Have A Dream,' AT&T Can Use The Speech To Sell Phones, But You Can't Post It
from the belongs-in-the-public-domain dept
Of course, they're more than happy to license the speech to the highest bidder -- which is why the speech has been used to sell cars and mobile phone service -- but if you were to post it yourself to share it and honor his memory, expect a DMCA takedown. This should bother you. The speech and the legacy of Dr. King are not available for you and I to use, but giant telcos can pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. While there's a strong fair use argument that the speech can be used as "a historical artifact" in such situations as today, very few people feel like testing that theory in court.
Law professor James Boyle finds the whole situation quite ridiculous, and has expressed his dismay with the fact that this speech is now tied to commercialism, rather than for the celebration of civil rights. In response, he's penned a "revised" version of the speech, entitled, (EM)I Has A Dream in honor of the fact that the King family has partnered with EMI to "administer" the copyright on the speech. The whole thing is worth reading, but here's a snippet:
Five tens of years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, wrote this speech. This momentous oratory came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of African-Americans. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. Fifty years later, that speech still is not free. Fifty years later, the life of the speech is still sadly crippled by the manacles of corporate ownership and the chains of take-down letters. Fifty years later, the speech lives on a lonely island of property rights in the midst of a vast ocean of the culture it influenced. And I say, let freedom ring. Not the chirpy ring of the Cingular wireless phone his words were actually used to advertise, but the idea of freedom for which he stood.Today should be a day on which we celebrate this speech. It's a depressing statement of the state of copyright law that doing so in the most appropriate way may actually be against the law.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and actually use the words of this speech.
Then, and only then, we will be able to say, “We have a dream. And no one owns it. Free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 8:42am
from the you'd-think-the-head-of-an-intelligence-committee-would-know-how-to-quit-som dept
- Leak reveals evidence of NSA overreach or wrongdoing.
- NSA issues statement explaining how leak is being misinterpreted or is an aberration.
- NSA attends hearings and issues statements declaring it doesn't abuse its power. (Frequently qualified with "not under this program.")
- New leak reveals evidence of NSA overreach or wrongdoing, proving NSA's most recent statements were pretty much "incomplete lies" or "least untruthful" answers.
The most remarkable aspect of this cycle is the unwavering support Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein continue to provide the agency. No matter how damaging the leak or how egregious the lies, Rogers and Feinstein stand by their beloved NSA like severely co-dependent spouses, firmly believing against all available evidence that the most recently disclosed act of malfeasance will be the NSA's last.
If it weren't so sad, it would be almost comical. (Granted, it is a little comical, in part because it's so sad.)
It all began back with the first leak -- the order demanding Verizon cough up metadata on millions of customers. The response from Dianne Feinstein?
"I knew -- hell, EVERYONE knew -- about the NSA's shady past when I hooked up with it. Why's everyone so outraged?"A few days later, Feinstein (and others) attempted to justify PRISM's collection efforts by claiming it had prevented the NYC subway bombing, when actual, non-defensively-deployed evidence suggested otherwise.
"Look, the NSA has had an 'interesting' life, but it's also theoretically done good things."It all came to a head a little over a week ago. Feinstein, standing by her
Even this failed to diminish Feinstein's devotion. Her response?
"Sure, the agency cheated, but it was, like, once a year."
NSA: "Um, don't be mad, but it was slightly more than that. But these thousands of violations meant nothing to us, baby! You gotta believe that!"Actually, it was way more than "slightly more," and even Feinstein seems to be a bit nonplussed (or at least quieter), glaring as the agency explained further:
"Cheating over 2,000 times may LOOK bad, but you're not taking into account those millions of times we didn't! Perspective. That's the key."Mike Rogers' relationship with the agency seems just as needy, but his reactions are uglier. Rogers doesn't rely on swiftly debunked denials. Instead, Rogers believes the real problem is everyone else -- all these jealous haters who have it in for the agency.
At first, it was just other pesky Congress members looking for details on the NSA. None of their business. This isn't their battle. Rogers is the one in the relationship and if there's anyone who should be worried, it's Rogers. And he's not worried.
But we're worried, Mike, they'd say. Let us in. Let us know what's going on. No deal. Then, finally, something emerges.
"Leave it alone! It needs its freedom! If it doesn't have that, then it can't be the agency it wants to. You hurt not just me and the agency, but all of us when you question its actions. Stop driving us apart!"But we don't think it should be acting this way, they say. This isn't how a helpful agency acts. This is how an abusive agency acts.
"Shut up. You're all jealous. Just a bunch of social media know-nothings and internet freaks. You have no idea how complex the situation really is."And as the evidence of wrongdoing continues to pile up, Rogers not only covers his own ears and shouts nonsensical syllables over the concerned crowd, but covers the ears of the crowd as well.
The deep-seated denial continues despite thousands of violations being uncovered. Rogers may be hurt but he's not willing to kick his faithless agency to the curb. He's almost vanished completely, off composing justifications that restore the agency's trustworthiness.
If nothing else, he rationalizes, the agency has just maybe prevented a bad thing or two from happening. Surely that's enough to excuse its egregious abuse of the nation's trust? Besides, it's not as if you can trust the opinion of shut-ins and Facebook users. They don't know what it's like out there in the real world, where everything is a big gray area.
Relationships are never simple, especially for those on the inside. Feinstein and Rogers have both had their trust abused greatly by an agency they seem to worship, and that can't feel good. Unfortunately, they seem unable (or unwilling) to make a clean break, which makes one wonder exactly what it would take to separate them from the NSA, and how unfortunate that revelation would be for the citizens they're supposed to be representing.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 7:43am
from the taxpayer-money dept
Woods failed to disclose in his letter that a significant portion of TARP funds had been used to acquire the condominium. Failure to disclose the purchase of the condominium was a material misrepresentation of facts relating to the true use of TARP funds.Of course, it still took another four years before this guilty plea. Woods will also face some jail time, have to repay the money, plus pay a fine of up to $100,000, and is barred from working in banking or finance. Of course, this was just small fry. $1 million to a tiny local bank, with about 40% of it being abused. Just imagine what some of the big banks did with the many billions they got. It's just they're a bit more sophisticated in how they went about spending the money.
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 5:36am
from the fake-gun,-real-witch-hunt dept
When it comes to linking violence and video games, there is plenty of stupid to go around. The only unifying factor we can typically notice is that said stupid seems to come from someone talking to the media. Whether it's Dr. Oz, cherry-picked citizens, or just your average grand-standing politician, you'll usually get big, scary claims about how a game will turn your child to the dark side, or send them straight to Hell, followed up by exactly no valid evidence. But where does all of this come from? Why do some of our fellow citizens labor under the belief that a link between violence and video games is settled science?
Well, mostly because of equally fallacious headlines and stories, with all the pre-suppositions that should have been beaten out of journalists when they were college freshman. Case in point, you may have heard recently that a young man shot his elderly caretaker in the head after (cue the scary music) playing Grand Theft Auto. Ooooooh! With a headline like "8-Year-Old Intentionally Shot And Killed Elderly Caregiver After Playing 'Grand Theft Auto': Louisiana Police", you know you're going to get equally, if vaguely, scary copy in the piece itself.
"Although a motive for the shooting is unknown at this time, investigators have learned that the juvenile suspect was playing a video game on the Play Station III "Grand Theft Auto IV", a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred," a statement issued by the Sheriff's Office said.Make no mistake, that kind of inclusion sets the tone for the entire story. While the article doesn't specifically come out and say that the game caused the violence, it might as well have. There's nearly as much copy dedicated in some way to mentioning the game as the incident itself. So, the reader is given the framework: kid shoots old lady after playing violent game, there's almost certainly a link.
Experts have long debated -- and are still divided on -- the matter of whether or not violent video games, TV shows and movies trigger aggressive behavior in young people.
The problem is the few lines written about how nobody really knows why what happened happened. Those lines themselves aren't the problem, rather the issue is that they're probably the most truthful lines in the entire piece. As the authorities later discovered, the child thought the gun was a toy after getting his hands on it from the woman's purse.
"He's distraught. It's really taken a toll on him. He looks visibly shaken," said East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Samuel D'Aquilla. "It was determined that he did the shooting and it was an accident. He thought it was a toy gun, a play gun," D'Aquilla told CNN.Oops. So, because the media first rushed the story out with the most eyeball-grabbing headline it could, seizing upon the inclusion of an already controversial game, readers are left with a lie while the truth goes mostly unreported and under-reported where it even saw the light of day. When GTA could be blamed, it was front page news. When it couldn't, not so much.
Thanks a lot, news.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 3:36am
from the deny-and-disrupt dept
As many have already observed, the detention of David Miranda comes across as an act of blatant intimidation, as does the farcical destruction of the Guardian's hard drives. But something doesn't ring true about these episodes: spooks may be cynical and ruthless, but they are not generally clueless idiots.
They would have guessed that Miranda would not possess the keys for any encrypted files that he was carrying, so seizing his equipment simply left them with a bunch of ones and zeroes that they were unable to read (unless strong encryption has been broken and we don't yet know about it). Equally, they would have assumed that the Guardian had made backups of its files on the hard drives, so destroying them was literally quite pointless. What's really going on here? A brilliant post by author Barry Eisler, who used to work for the CIA, offers perhaps the most plausible explanation so far:
The purpose was to demonstrate to journalists that what they thought was a secure secondary means of communication -- a courier, possibly to ferry encrypted thumb drives from one air-gapped computer to another -- can be compromised, and thereby to make the journalists' efforts harder and slower.
The same is true for the destruction of the Guardian's hard drives:
The point was to make the Guardian spend time and energy developing suboptimal backup options -- that is, to make journalism harder, slower, and less secure.
What is particularly chilling, as Eisler notes, is that this technique is not new:
Does this sort of "deny and disrupt" campaign sound familiar? It should: you've seen it before, deployed against terror networks. That's because part of the value in targeting the electronic communications of actual terrorists is that the terrorists are forced to use far slower means of plotting. The NSA has learned this lesson well, and is now applying it to journalists. I suppose it's fitting that Miranda was held pursuant to a law that is ostensibly limited to anti-terror efforts. The National Surveillance State understands that what works for one can be usefully directed against the other. In fact, it's not clear the National Surveillance State even recognizes a meaningful difference.
The US and UK governments' equating of journalism and whistleblowing with terrorism is becoming clearer by the day.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 28th 2013 12:18am
Congress Asks Eric Holder To Explain Why NSA Supplies DEA Info Which It Then Launders To Go After Americans
from the about-time dept
It appears that a bunch of folks in Congress want some answers about this program, and so Eric Holder has been sent yet another letter with questions from a bunch of Senators and Representatives, and there will be yet another briefing where I'm sure he'll promise a full investigation into the practice and maybe promise some internal changes to guidelines, but where nothing will actually change. It really does seem like a very significant portion of Eric Holder's job these days is to respond to the latest scandal of government overreach by promising that he'll fix it, and nothing much ever seems to change.