"That the NY Times would publish such a piece highlights, yet again, how the famed newspaper so frequently appears to have little actual knowledge of the subjects it covers, often being a useful propaganda engine for certain special interests who can "place" a bogus story in a way that can have an impact on policies."
...OR the NY Times knows exactly what it's doing and siding with copyright maximalists :(
To broadcast or not to broadcast, that is the question
While the rationale for the ruling certainly seems screwy (technical term ;), it feels like the distinction here is that WiFi interactions aren't purely broadcast, in that a user initiates a request with the intent being for the response to only come back to them. The fact that someone else is packet sniffing, which is likely being done without the requester's knowledge or approval, makes this the surreptitious activity that is likely being called out.
By way of analogy, sending a sealed envelope by "snail mail" offers no real protection beyond that which the seal's glue can provide. One could argue that it's not much protection, and yet we have developed laws as a means of building trust in that form of communication, that an opened sealed envelope by someone other than who it was originally addressed to, is a federal offense, and this carries harsh penalties. In other words, just because it's technically feasible to open an envelope (or to sniff a data stream) doesn't mean it should be legal. For their to be a modicum of trust in these communications, there needs to be disincentives. Of course, my disincentive logic fails immediately when we learn that the NSA isn't subject to any of this ;)
Again, while I believe their ruling's justification is a kludge, I can't disagree with its intent.
Of specific interest are Clapper's statements like:
But in an interview with NBC News, portions of which aired on Sunday, he called the disclosures "literally gut-wrenching" and said they had caused "huge, grave damage" to US intelligence capabilities.
"The NSA has filed a crimes report on this already," Clapper told NBC, referring to the leaks to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
He said he was "profoundly offended" that a disgruntled intelligence officer was a source for the leak to the Post. "This is someone who for whatever reason has chosen to violate a sacred trust for this country," he said.
Wow! Someone should explain to him that "deeply offended" is an understatement of how we feel about his actions and that lying to Congress should more than offend him, it should incarcerate him ;)
First a question, why in Rep. Sensenbrenner do his opinion piece on a British news site (The Guardian) rather than an 'merican one?
As for his version of what was intended, there was no lack of warnings from all of the public advocacy groups (EFF, ACLU, EPIC, CCR, et. al.), that the language rushed through in the Patriot Act could easily be interpreted as it has. They chose to ignore and fight vehemently to get this Act through at all costs with their most earnest convictions. To all of the Congress people who helped pass the Patriot Act, we should simply turn and give them the big middle finger knowing that regardless of their "intentions", they've messed with this country in more ways than imaginable.
In reading this post, I was quickly reminded of the old SNL with Dan Ackyroyd's line to Jane Curtin in Weekend Update's point-counterpoint segment, with a slight modification: "Human Synergistics International, you ignorant slut!" :)
I too think the impact will be low but for slightly different reasons. Now that more and more software is being delivered in a SaaS implementation, even where there is a client component to the application, these will need to "dial home" this aspect will be where the gatekeeping will take place. We are already seeing the software being distributed for free, with the licenses really tied to the "service" rather than to the actual app software code. Having said that, it is good to see this ruling and it would be nice to see U.S. courts recognize this too.
Unfortunately, given the recent attitude and irresponsible positions that Rep. Issa has taken with the "Fast & Furious" debacle, I can see this issue as being politicized as well. In other words, Issa has been showing a streak of political animosity towards the Administration, and I can imagine that his positions are now viewed with great apprehension by the various federal departments. While we may want to view his request as being on the side of angels, as clearly the transparency issue should be viewed, the fact that it's him doing it may be what's making the USTR very uncomfortable if not downright confrontational. Note that Issa's gesture here may have nothing to do with his nobility, but rather with his desire to detract Administration's objectives (however flawed).
This may be a case of context, where Rep. Issa's interactions with the various federal departments is now being viewed in a larger context than the issues of any single department. Something to consider.
What our gov't has failed to appreciate is that as it has continued to violate our trust in how it applies various laws and how its representatives have behaved, we can no longer provide it a free pass on interpretations. To date, we cannot get the Dept. of Justice to provide its interpretation of the Patriot Act, which has been law for quite some time now. We also have seen threats of applying the Espionage Act in overly broad manners.
Yes, it's clear there are issues that need to be addressed in order to properly deal and coordinate on "cyber" threats, but providing our gov't carte blanche cannot be an option, they have proven themselves unworthy of the trust endowed upon them.
"The best we can do is to encourage people to think through the consequences of taking this road before we set off down it, accompanied by our swarm of personal drones."
I'm not sure I understand this statement. To what end? So they think about it and our privacy is still invaded. Not just that of the drone owners' but also that of anyone who may not be a drone owner who is now being picked out by all the drones in the sky. Add facial recognition tech and now things get goofy. Gov't can get access to everyone's feed and piece together the movements of anyone whether they own a drone or not (oh yeah, try to stop them ;). Heck, this beats the London and NYC's efforts to stick surveillance cameras everywhere and relies on individuals' fears (oh yeah, it's for the children ;) much like the Patriot Act did, in order get this to happen w/o gov't mandate.
What's even more ironic is that the control we hope to gain from having such surveillance is a fiction. What actually happens is that we lose greater control over deciding how this new information about our person is used. Don't forget, once digitized information is very very hard to control with or without laws guarding its use. We learned this lesson with how info about us is currently collected, stored, aggregated and disseminated online through all of these social services. The entertainment industry also learned this lesson with music, books and movies. It will happen with this drone data too.
Hence, thinking about how we deal with our info online hasn't done any good other than increase its reach and distribution.
Three words, OVER-THE-TOP. If you consider that a good part of carriers' revenues come from voice and SMS traffic, and both of these are being disrupted by IP level services (ie. Skype, BBM, et. al.), then the carriers are looking at a bleak future where some very important revenue is slowly disappearing. If they don't capture this, then one day they could see all their users on the lowest level voice plan and taking advantage of the unlimited data plan to do everything they used to pay for before. From a carrier's perspective, I have to believe this is a tough situation to be facing, and it's not easy to see how they might address more gracefully. Of course, lying about their reasons isn't helpful, and telling the truth certainly won't gain them any sympathy, but thems the facts ;)
Wouldn't that lead to just a different set of eventually predictable behaviors (how people react to knowing certain info)? Separately, the idea of people reviewing the data presumes that they all know how to read it the same way and come to the same or similar conclusions. That intuitively feels unlikely, much the same way as stock market models lead different investors to different conclusions. The predictability concept also fails to inspire since it's always about what data is being analyzed and while there may be times that it correlates well, short of having perfect data sets for everything, it's unlikely that predicability will hold over the long term. Again, I hold hedge funds and other stock investors as demonstrations of this sort of systemic failure.
"We need to recognize that the internet, free speech and copyright are all connected."
I would actually go further than that Mike. As a result of the digitization of information the drastic reduction in cost and friction around creating, distributing, aggregating and combining content (whether this be copyrighted material, personally identifiable information, software code, etc...), has thrown most of our economic, regulatory, social, and legal constructs into disarray. The oft used "paradigm shift" has never been more evident than in these past 7 yrs. We keep trying to describe what's happening online to physical world metaphors, but these are no longer working hence it's getting more and more difficult to understand what's happening.
Whether it be copyright and patent issues, privacy issues, secrecy issues, funding issues, all of these are no longer what they once were and indeed we need to rethink the structures of the various systems for how we move ahead. I find it tough to discuss copyright issues in a bubble that doesn't include a discussion on the free-flow of private info (or for that matter, what the heck does "private info" mean?).
Just some additional thoughts to include in your mix.