posted about 2 hours ago on techdirt
Late last year, Thomas Fox-Brewster of Forbes uncovered a strange search warrant among a pile of unsealed documents. The warrant -- approved by a magistrate judge -- allowed law enforcement officers to demand that everyone present at the searched location provide their fingerprints to unlock devices seized from the same location. In support of its request, the government cited cases dating back to 1910, as though they had any relevance to the current situation. The most recent case cited was 30 years old -- still far from easily applicable to today's smartphones, which are basically pocket-sized personal data centers. The judge granted it, stating that demands for fingerprints, passwords, or anything (like encryption keys) that might give law enforcement access to the devices' content did not implicate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments. While the magistrate was correct that no court has found the application of fingerprints to unlock devices to be a violation of the Fifth Amendment, the other access options (passwords, encryption keys) might pose Fifth Amendment problems down the road. Riana Pfefferkorn has uncovered a similar warrant request, but this one has been rejected by the magistrate judge. Pretty much across the board, the order is the antithesis of the one revealed last year. The judge finds [PDF] that the broad request to force everyone present at the residence to apply their fingerprints to seized devices to unlock them implicates multiple Constitutional amendments. The issues presented in this warrant application are at the cross section of protections provided by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Essentially, the government seeks an order from this Court that would allow agents executing this warrant to force "persons at the Subject Premises" to apply their thumbprints and fingerprints to any Apple electronic device recovered at the premises. (See Attach. B, tT 12.) The request is neither limited to a particular person nor a particular device. And, as noted below, the request is made without any specific facts as to who is involved in the criminal conduct linked to the subject premises, or specific facts as to what particular Apple-branded encrypted device is being employed (if any). The judge notes the government is able to detain and search persons located at the premises being searched, but that does not extend to forcing every single person in a residence at the time of a search to comply with attempts to unlock seized devices. Because the warrant affidavit contained no particularity about the devices or who in the household the government suspected of engaging in criminal activity, the court can't find anything that justifies the broad, inclusive language contained in the request. This Court agrees that the context in which fingerprints are taken, and not the fingerprints themselves, can raise concerns under the Fourth Amendment. In the instant case, the government is seeking the authority to seize any individual at the subject premises and force the application of their fingerprints as directed by government agents. Based on the facts presented in the application, the Court does not believe such Fourth Amendment intrusions are justified based on the facts articulated. The court has other problems with the affidavit -- beyond the government's unwarranted extension of Fourth/Fifth Amendment jurisprudence to cover any devices/fingerprints encountered at a searched location. Early in the order, it notes the government is deploying boilerplate nearly as outdated as its case citiations. Despite the apparent seriousness of the offenses involved, the Court notes that some of the "boilerplate" background information included in the warrant is a bit dated, such as its explanation that "[t]he internet allows any computer to connect to another computer [so] [e]lectronic contact can be made to millions of computers around the world;" its explanation that a "Blackberry" is a common "Personal Digital Assistant" and its suggestion that the use of "cloud technology" is the exceptional way of transferring files and that transferring images to a computer by directly connecting a cable to a camera or other recording device is the expected means of data transfer. The judge notes outdated boilerplate isn't enough to undo probable cause assertions, but it certainly doesn't help -- especially not when the government is requesting this sort of broad permission. The inclusion of this somewhat dated view of technology certainly does not distract from the application's goal of establishing probable cause. However, the dated "boilerplate language" is problematic for what is not included. There is absolutely no discussion of wireless internet service and the possibilities and capabilities that wireless service presents in this context. For example, an unsophisticated intemet user, or a careless one, may fail to properly encrypt his wireless service or may share the password injudiciously. Such practices leave open the possibility that it is not an inhabitant of the subject premises that has used the internet to gather and distribute child pornography, but rather it is a person who has access to the internet service at the subject premises. Obviously, this possibility holds true in all investigations that track the investigation outlined in the instant application. The limitations of this investigation are not fatal to establishing probable cause, but, in the Court's view, these limitations do impact the ability of the government to seek the extraordinary authority related to compelling individuals to provide their fingerprints to unlock an Apple electronic device. Then there's the other assertions. The government's application does nothing to narrow down which resident it's seeking or what device(s) might contain evidence of criminal activity. What it does appear to be certain about -- for reasons not included in the application -- is that the devices it seeks are Apple products. A footnote in the order questions this assertion. Why Apple devices are likely to be found at the premises is not explained. The Court is aware that Apple has a large market share in online hardware, but Microsoft's Windows operating systems continue to dominate the overall market share of operating systems used. What makes these broad, unsupported assertions even worse, especially when combined with the outdated boilerplate, is that this is apparently the direction the government is heading with its search warrants. In closing, upon presentation of the warrant application to this Court, the government identified for this Court that the warrant application was seeking the forced fingerprinting discussed herein. The government further noted "[t]his is the language that we are making standard in all of our search warrants." This declaration of standardization is perhaps the crux of the problem. As the Court hopes it is plain from the above, the issues presented here require a fact-intensive inquiry both for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment. More particularity, better probable cause, and fewer assumptions about the Fourth and Fifth Amendment's application in a post-Riley world are what's needed from the government, according to this order. Even though this application was rejected, it's safe to say this same approach has worked elsewhere. We've seen one approved warrant already and there are likely several more safely hidden from the public eye in the government's multitudinous sealed cases. What's troubling about the government's assertions in this application is its apparent belief it's found an encryption workaround: one that blows past Fourth and Fifth Amendment concerns using little more than boilerplate that still considers cables to be an essential part of "cloud computing," and magistrate judges willing to buy its outdated legal arguments. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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"Every vote counts." "Throw the bastards out." "Election platitude #10." Every bit as meaningless as Trump's promise to "drain the swamp." The Beltway Swamp is drain-proof. The process that populates the swamp is rigged. Not in the "millions of illegal votes from illegals" way... or even the "I can see the Russians hacking the election from my house" way. It's rigged because the only federal agency charged with making sure the election process is fair and equitable can't -- actually, won't -- do a single thing to ensure the process' integrity. Two years ago, the Federal Election Commission Chairwoman had this to say about the FEC's powerlessness/uselessness: “The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.” Post-election, this diagnosis has been confirmed. As government accountability research site MapLight reports, an FEC member has decided to exit the dysfunctional commission. On her way out the door, Ann Ravel released a letter and a report [PDF] plainly stating the FEC effectively serves zero purpose. Ann Ravel, an FEC member appointed to the six-member regulatory panel in 2013 by former President Barack Obama, said the commission’s routine deadlocked votes are sending clear signals that campaign finance laws won’t be enforced. “This incredibly significant Commission is not performing the job that Congress intended, and violators of the law are given a free pass,” Ravel wrote in “Dysfunction and Deadlock,” a 25-page report released with her resignation letter to President Donald Trump. “Because of this, candidates and committees are aware that they can ignore the laws enacted to protect the integrity of our elections.” Partisan politics aren't limited to the halls of Congress. The FEC is composed of six members -- three from each side of the political aisle. (Third parties/independents aren't recognized as possible participants in this process.) Reported campaign finance violations received by the Commission can only be addressed if a majority of members agree on moving forward. Because of the ideological split, fewer and fewer violations are being addressed. From the report: The bloc has used the four vote requirement to take most action as unchecked veto power to delay and dismiss flagrant violations, impose significantly lower penalties, and leave major cases without resolution. In 2006, commissioners deadlocked in just 2.9% of substantive votes in Matters Under Review (“MURs”—also known as enforcement cases) closed that year. For MURs closed in 2016, the Commissioners deadlocked on 30% of all substantive votes taken in those matters. In 2006, only 4.2% of MURs closed had at least one deadlocked vote. However, in 2016, 37.5% of all MURs closed had at least one deadlocked vote. This partisanship undercuts the commission's singular purpose. The Supreme Court may hand down rulings on campaign finance transparency, but the court's word is meaningless when no one's willing to enforce it. As the report points out, since the court's 2010 Citizens United decision, more than $800 million has flowed to federal election campaigns without its sources being disclosed. Over the past ten years, the FEC has just become another inhabitant of the swamp it was supposed to help drain -- long before President Trump made it a campaign platform. The FEC has devolved into separate factions glaring at each other over a stack of campaign finance violations neither is willing to address if it might adversely affect "their" party. Suck it up, voters. The system only works as well as those who benefit from it most will allow it to. A house divided against itself cannot stand stands to profit from years and years of two-party status quo. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The $39 Hacking for National Security Training courses are designed to help you prepare to get the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential and to get the Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA) certification. There are 19 modules covering topics from routing out worms and viruses to network reconnaissance and more. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 4 hours ago on techdirt
Building legislation on top of the political equivalent of an urban myth is never a good idea. Fold in something routinely abused by law enforcement and you've got a proposed bill whose short name should be "Shit Sandwich." That's the (tentative) plan in Arizona, where the existential threat of "paid protesters" has resulted in a terrible bill that promises to use a handful of Constitutional amendments as a doormat. (via Raw Story) SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others. Nothing good can come from the expansion of racketeering laws, which are already abused by government agencies and citizens alike. But it gets worse. A lot worse. It doesn't just apply to protesters who damage property. It applies to anyone possibly connected to a protest in which damage occurs, even if they don't induce or encourage the destruction. (Perhaps even if they speak out against violent acts, but still support the demonstration's premise.) And, to top it all off, police officers would not only be authorized to arrest people engaged in First Amendment activity just because someone down the street broke a window, but also to enrich themselves in the process. But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side. Supporters of asset forfeiture always claim it's a great tool for defunding criminal ventures. I can only imagine the verbal gymnastics that will need to be deployed to justify taking cash, cars, whatever from protesters, especially when the state's existing laws already criminalize rioting but without the added "bonus" of depriving rioters of their cash, homes, cars, etc. Do the legislators actually believe protesters are being paid in small, unmarked bills and mid-priced sedans? The "guilt by association" aspect allows law enforcement to apply its discretion, which is seldom a good thing. The moment anything is damaged, it's open season on protest attendees. In fact, it's open season on non-attendees as well, if cops can dredge up anything that appears to be evidence of protest planning. Acquiring a permit pre-demonstration is no longer an act of good faith. It's self-incriminating. One supporter of this truly stupid legislation believes the state's existing riot laws don't work because… wait for it… the bail system exists. Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said the new criminal laws are necessary. “I have been heartsick with what’s been going on in our country, what young people are being encouraged to do,’’ she said. She agreed with Quezada that there already are laws that cover overt acts. But Allen said they don’t work. “If they get thrown in jail, somebody pays to get them out,’’ she said. “There has to be something to deter them from that.’’ I don't often can't even, but... here we are. People have argued against the bail system because it's stacked against the poorest criminal suspects, but I've never heard the system portrayed as faulty because it works exactly the way it's intended to. And the new law wouldn't change anything this legislator is concerned about. Brand new criminal charges stemming from the stupid bill would still allow suspects to post bail. The only difference is they may not have the cash to do it or a car to drive home if they make bail. Maybe that's what Allen is referring to: extra layers of punitiveness because most current protests are targeting the senator's party -- which also happens to be the party in power at the moment. This made it past a House vote in Arizona, suggesting the state's craziness isn't confined to Maricopa County. It won't survive a Constitutional challenge if it somehow manages to stumble out the governor's desk without being vetoed. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 5 hours ago on techdirt
A federal judge has just let a plaintiff know there's a big difference between providing hosting for infringing content and actually participating in copyright infringement. ALS Scan sued basically everybody for copyright infringement after discovering adult images that it owned posted all over the web. In addition to Steadfast Holdings -- the defendant just dismissed from this suit -- ALS Scan sued Cloudflare, Juicy Ads, and a number of other hosting services and Does. One by one, these defendants have been excused from the suit. The underlying logic for the dismissals is solid. Providing web hosting is not the same thing as contributory infringement, no matter how much ALS Scan wants it to be. In the Steadfast ruling, Wu said that merely hosting a pirate site does not make the hosting service liable for any copyright infringement actions the site may be guilty of. In its motion to dismiss, Steadfast argued that it did not manage or operate the Imagebam site, and that it only provided computer storage. "The court is unaware of any authority holding that merely alleging that a defendant provides some form of 'hosting' service to an infringing website is sufficient to establish contributory copyright infringement," Wu wrote. “The court would therefore find that the [complaint] fails to allege facts establishing that Steadfast materially contributed to the infringement,” Wu wrote. There's a lot more Steadfast (and the other hosting companies) would have to do to be considered contributory infringers, and the hosting companies are doing none of those things. ALS Scan wants hosting sites to do more than they're legally obligated to do. But it can't sue just because it doesn't agree with their practices. From the opinion [PDF]: [T]he only allegations specific to Steadfast that are raised in the SAC are that Steadfast “hosts” pirate sites, including Imagebam, and that Plaintiff has sent numerous notifications to Steadfast of infringing content on Imagebam, but Steadfast has failed to implement or enforce a repeat infringer policy by removing Imagebam from its servers. Beyond that, ALS's complaint contains nothing that shows evidence of its claims. Steadfast also contends that the SAC fails to allege material contribution or inducement. The Court would agree. The SAC alleges only that Steadfast “hosts” pirate sites that feature infringing content. It is entirely unclear what services Steadfast provides to Imagebam; what type of infringing activity Imagebam conducts (or even what Imagebam is); or how Steadfast contributes to or facilitates that infringing activity. As such, the Court would find that the SAC fails to plead material contribution. The same goes for the rest of the allegations. Steadfast did not induce or contribute to infringing activity at hosted sites, nor did it somehow violate ALS's trademarks by hosting sites where infringing images could be found. As Judge Wu's opinion points out, it's not up to the court to determine whether sued websites are "responsive enough" to rightsholders' demands. The law rightsholders wanted -- the DMCA -- sets the rules and as long as sites and hosts follow the statutory requirements, they're insulated from most infringement claims. It appears ALS is engaging in pray-and-spray litigating. Beyond the Does, there's been no attempt made to target those actually participating in copyright infringement. Instead, ALS sued a bunch of hosting companies (and an ad network) in hopes of landing a settlement or two before its allegations were exposed as weak and baseless by the presiding judge. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 7 hours ago on techdirt
So when we last checked in with Comcast, the company was whining about a now deceased FCC plan to bring some much-needed openness and competition to your dusty old cable box. The FCC had proposed requiring that cable providers let users pick the cable box of their choice, later modifying the plan (after endless industry pearl-clutching) to simply requiring that cable providers bring their existing content in app form to existing streaming boxes. Granted, Comcast was at the heart of a massive, bizarre disinformation effort claiming the plan would end civilization as we know it. Of course, what it would have ended was not only $21 billion in cable box monopoly rental fees, but a cornerstone of the closed, locked down walled garden that helps prop up the cable industry's gatekeeper power. Comcast, for what it's worth, claimed that bringing its content to third-party devices would harm copyright, increase piracy, hinder cable industry "innovation," and was technically impossible anyway. Regardless, the FCC's plan is dead, and it's not coming back any time soon. But Comcast still has to drive the impression that it's listening to consumers and driving innovation, so the cable giant recently announced it would be bringing its Xfinity cable TV service to Roku streaming hardware. The app, currently in beta, lets users access their existing Comcast TV content without the need for a cable box, highlighting, Comcast insists, the company's innovation in the TV space: "Featuring an immersive guide with rich graphics, imagery, personalized recommendations and detailed information for tens of thousands of movies and TV shows, the app will allow Xfinity TV customers to watch live and on demand programming, including local broadcast and Public Educational and Governmental channels, as well as their cloud DVR recordings, delivered over Comcast’s secure private managed network, on Roku devices in the home." On its surface this sounded great. But this being Comcast, the company couldn't allow itself to be innovative without saddling customers with entirely unnecessary fees. Reports quickly began to emerge that Comcast would be charging customers that use Roku in this fashion an additional $7.95 every month, for no coherent reason whatsoever: "What makes this fee striking is that it's not designed to pay for any particular cost to Comcast's business. The $9.95 fee that 99 percent of cable customers pay for set-top boxes is listed on bills as an equipment "rental fee." Even the Cablecard fee includes a bit of hardware from the cable operator. But the Roku app is purely software. It doesn't require a piece of equipment supplied by the cable company, nor does it require a technician to come to your home to set it up." But Gigi Sohn, who served as a senior adviser to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, said she knows why. "It's gravy to them," Sohn said. "You're already paying handsomely for the service. And now they're making you pay a second time." It is, in effect, a $7.95 "because we can" fee, and a big reason the FCC wanted to standardize this process to keep cable executive "creativity" under control. Of course, this being Comcast, the company was also quick to make sure this service wouldn't count against the completely unnecessary broadband usage caps it continues to deploy across the least competitive portions of the company's footprint. Comcast's FAQ on the new Roku beta correctly notes that this technically isn't a net neutrality violation, because this traffic never actually touches the general internet: The Xfinity TV service delivered through the Xfinity TV Beta app is not an Internet service and does not touch or use the Internet. Rather, it is a Title VI cable service delivered solely over Comcast's private, managed cable network, so it will not count toward your Xfinity Internet Data Usage Plan. So yeah, while not technically a violation of net neutrality (not that those rules will be around long anyway), it still gives Comcast a competitive advantage. If you're trying to choose between a new streaming live TV service like Sony's Playstation Vue or Dish's Sling TV or Comcast's offering, the fact that those services will erode your Comcast usage cap could very likely drive you back into the arms of Comcast. Of course, that's quite by design, and is a perfect example of how every "innovation" Comcast pushes into the market tends to have a nasty underlayer of price gouging and anti-competitive shenanigans. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 10 hours ago on techdirt
Remember the good old days, when trade deals were so boring nobody even cared they were happening? That started to change with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, (ACTA), where the copyright industries rather foolishly tried to slip in some proposals that would have had big impacts on the online world. As Techdirt reported at the time, that led to an unprecedented awareness of, and resistance to, ACTA that ultimately caused its defeat in the European Parliament. After that, things were never the same again in the world of trade deals, because digital activists were now on the lookout for the bad stuff hidden in the stultifyingly dull language. They soon found it in TPP, which people realized was basically "Son of ACTA," but worse. Then came TAFTA/TTIP, which publicly dropped its ACTA-like elements in a desperate attempt to stave off criticisms and mass protests. That didn't work, of course; TTIP soon ground to a halt, and remains in limbo. Even though TPP was eventually concluded after years of delays, it was derailed by the election of Donald Trump as US President, who promptly withdrew from the deal. But if you thought things had finally quieted down for a while -- TISA too has dropped off the radar recently -- think again. There's a new twist in the global trade deal saga, as the Handelsblatt newspaper reports: The European Union is positioning itself to fill any vacuum left behind by the United States as the Trump administration spurns trade deals in Asia and Latin America. E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said Brussels has been in close contact with several Asia-Pacific countries since the White House decided to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "We have seen that many of the TPP countries are now approaching us and saying 'we still want to do deals,' " Ms. Malmström told Handelsblatt. "We are engaged with basically all of them, either negotiating or have a deal or preparing negotiations." Yes, those wily Europeans are trying to take advantage of the US's apparent withdrawal from multilateral trade negotiations to stitch up deals with the other Pacific rim countries that have just been left at the TPP altar. An agreement with the EU, whether individually or as a bloc, could be a good option for the ex-TPP nations. It would allow each of them to move forward with a trade deal after expending so much political capital on the failed TPP, and it would show that being jilted by the US is not the end of the world. For the EU, it would signal that it can take the initiative and become the flag-bearer for free trade at a time when Trump seems to be embracing protectionism, and turning his back on Europe. It's early days yet, and if the previous five years have taught us anything, it is that nothing is certain in the world of trade deals. It's still possible that the Trump administration will perform a U-turn and embrace TPP, perhaps with some token changes to justify the move. But of one thing we can be sure: we're not going back anytime soon to the days when trade deals were boring. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 15 hours ago on techdirt
As Techdirt has noted, the UK's Investigatory Powers Act, better known as the Snooper's Charter, has been dubbed "the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy." It may be the worst, but it's not an isolated case. Governments around the world are bringing in laws that grant them powers to spy on innocent citizens using "bulk collection" of information -- mass surveillance, in other words. As the Dutch site Bits of Freedom reports, the latest country to join the super-snooper club is the Netherlands, where the lower house has just passed the bill for the new Intelligence and Security Services Act: The controversial new law will allow intelligence services to systematically conduct mass surveillance of the internet. The current legal framework allows security agencies to collect data in a targeted fashion. The new law will significantly broaden the agencies' powers to include bulk data collection. This development clears the way for the interception of the communication of innocent citizens. Another worrying trend is for spies around the world to pass on information they have gathered to intelligence services in other countries. The Dutch law is particularly bad in this respect, for the following reason: Under the passed bill, Dutch security agencies may also share collected data without having analyzed it first. But when we hand over data to foreign governments without performing some form of data analysis prior to the exchange, we run the risk of not knowing what potentially sensitive information falls into foreign hands, and the consequences that might have for citizens. The Bits of Freedom post also notes that much in the proposed law has yet to be defined, which is hardly a happy state of affairs. That includes limitations on the powers and how oversight will be carried out. However, more positively, among the revisions made to the bill when it was put out for public consultation in 2015 are some important improvements. Here's what happens next: It's now the Senate's turn to review the bill. A bill that, in all likelihood, will not meet the minimum safeguards dictated by European law. If the parliamentary groups in the upper house abide by those in the lower house, the bill will be cleared with a comfortable majority. The mention of the safeguards of European law is significant. As we reported in December, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed that general and indiscriminate data retention is illegal in the EU. Assuming the Dutch law is passed as expected, a legal challenge at the CJEU could follow, and would seem to stand a good chance of getting the law struck down in its present form. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 21 hours ago on techdirt
Here is something you, the dear Techdirt reader, may not have known about me: I had always thought that there was only one proper spelling for the name "Lindsey." I'm not sure why I thought that, but I was certain that name was only spelled with an "e" before the "y." But, it turns out, spelling it as "Lindsay" is a perfectly common and accepted alternate spelling for the name. And the only reason that I now know that is because Linsday, with an "a," Lohan will not let her lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive -- for appropriating her likeness for several characters, which didn't actually happen -- die its final death. First, a refresher. Lohan decided that a side quest character in Grand Theft Auto 5, which was actually an amalgam of several Hollywood starlet tropes, violated her publicity rights. She also claimed that an entirely different character that was used on some of the game's marketing and packaging was also her and also violated her publicity rights. The case wove its way through the past half-decade, largely with the court and Take-Two casting narrow eyes at the mountains of paperwork Lohan's legal team was able to produce while somehow maintaining an inability to come up with claims that were in any way credible, before the court finally tossed the lawsuit entirely. The court at the time made it clear that Take-Two's characters weren't direct appropriations of Lohan's likeness and that the parody amalgam starlet it had created was clearly protected by the First Amendment. But, for some reason, it appears that LiLo's legal team was, like, "nuh uh!" Lindsay Lohan has been granted an appeal in her lawsuit against the maker of the Grand Theft Auto video games. Last year, the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State tossed the case, stating it was without merit. Her appeal was accepted by the New York Court of Appeals on 16 February. It must be nice to have the kind of money required to keep the legal team going on a lawsuit that's been a loser at every turn. Still, it's perplexing that this lawsuit hasn't been put out of its misery at this point. The nature of the characters and their status as protected speech seems as clear cut as it gets. And, perhaps more importantly, the character that Lohan is desperate to associate herself with for the purposes of this lawsuit is one that is depicted engaging in sex acts in a public setting and being photographed doing so. I'm struggling to understand why one would want to engage in this kind of legal reach under those circumstances. Her legal staff should be informing her that it's time to give this whole thing the Ol' Yeller treatment. Why they aren't doing so is beyond me. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted about 23 hours ago on techdirt
For a while now, we've discussed how your children's toys are quickly becoming the latest and greatest privacy threat courtesy of cryptic or half-cooked privacy policies and the treatment of device security as an afterthought; rather part and parcel now for the privacy dumpster fire that is the internet of not-so-smart things era. Numerous privacy groups have complained that smart Barbies and other toys not only now hoover up and monetize childrens' prattle, but leave the door open to the devices' being used nefariously by third parties. The problems culminated in a lawsuit last December here in the States against Genesis Toys, maker of "smart" toys like the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot. The lawsuit accuses the company of violating COPPA (the Childrens' Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998) by failing to adequately inform parents that their kids' conversations and personal data collected by the toys are being shipped off to servers and third-party companies. The privacy policy for the toys does warn users that companies like Nuance Communications, also a government defense contractor, will receive this data for analysis: "We may use the information that we collect for our internal purposes to develop, tune, enhance, and improve our products and services, and for advertising and marketing consistent with this Privacy Policy." It continues, “If you are under 18 or otherwise would be required to have parent or guardian consent to share information with Nuance, you should not send any information about yourself to us." The lawsuit alleges the toys are violating COPPA because they're marketed to "ages 4 and up" and being mostly used by kids under age 18. Under COPPA, companies gathering kids' data have to provide notice to, and obtain consent from parents regarding data collection. They also have to provide parents tools to access, review and delete this data if wanted, as well as the parental ability to dictate that the data can be collected, but not shared with third parties. The complaint suggests neither Nuance or Genesis Toys are doing any of this. But Genesis is also under fire for the fact that these toys just aren't all that secure. A report by the Norwegian Consumer Council (pdf) found that a lot of the data being transmitted by these toys is done so via vanilla, unencrypted HTTP connections that could be subject to man-in-the-middle attacks. While Genesis faces a lawsuit here in the States, the FTC has yet to act against the company. Overseas however, German regulators are taking a different tack and urging parents to destroy the data-collecting dolls entirely: "An official watchdog in Germany has told parents to destroy a talking doll called Cayla because its smart technology can reveal personal data. The warning was issued by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), which oversees telecommunications. Researchers say hackers can use an unsecure bluetooth device embedded in the toy to listen and talk to the child playing with it. As it stands, German regulators say that a bluetooth-enabled device could connect to Cayla's speaker and microphone system within a radius of 33 feet. As a result, the doll is being effectively treated as a "concealed transmitting device," illegal under an article in German telecom law. A spokesman for the Federal Network Agency said it doesn't really matter what shape the device took; "it could be an ashtray or fire alarm" and would still be illegal. While demanding destruction of the dolls may be overkill, it's just another example of how privacy and security apathy continue to haunt the IoT space. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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California's IMDb-targeting "ageism" law looks as though it won't be able to survive the website's Constitutional challenge -- an outcome that should have been foreseen while the bill was still in its crafting phase. The law was passed to address apparent age discrimination by movie studios. For whatever reason, the California legislature decided the best way to handle this was to force a web site to stop publishing actors' ages, rather than just, you know, enforcing the state's existing anti-discrimination laws. Sure, other similar sites would also (theoretically) be affected, but IMDb is the only one that's actually been sued by an aggrieved actress over its publication of facts. Politico's Josh Gerstein reports the presiding federal judge doesn't see much to like in the new law and has granted a temporary restraining order to IMDb while everything gets sorted out it rolls to its inevitable victory. A federal judge has barred the State of California from enforcing a new law limiting online publication of actors' ages. Acting in a case brought by online movie information website IMDb, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ruled Wednesday that the California law likely violates the First Amendment and appears poorly tailored to proponents' stated goal of preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. The order [PDF] is only three pages long, but it's more than enough space to detail the serious problems with California's law. With respect to the first part of the preliminary injunction test, it's difficult to imagine how AB 1687 could not violate the First Amendment. The statute prevents IMDb from publishing factual information (information about the ages of people in the entertainment industry) on its website for public consumption. This is a restriction of non-commercial speech on the basis of content. Going beyond the First Amendment issue, Judge Chhabria goes on to attack the premise underlying the ridiculous legislation. To be sure, the government has identified a compelling goal – preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. But the government has not shown how AB 1687 is "necessary" to advance that goal. In fact, it's not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all. And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal antidiscrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end. For example, although the government asserts generically that age discrimination continues in Hollywood despite the long-time presence of anti-discrimination laws, the government fails to explain why more vigorous enforcement of those laws would not be at least as effective at combatting age discrimination as removing birthdates from a single website. Because the government has presented nothing to suggest that AB 1687 would actually combat age discrimination (much less that it's necessary to combat age discrimination), there is an exceedingly strong likelihood that IMDb will prevail in this lawsuit. The Screen Actors Guild, which supports the new law, expressed its disappointment in the judge's ruling and stated it was "looking forward" to presenting evidence that targeting IMDb for publishing actors' ages will somehow reduce discriminatory practices by movie and TV studios. I'm looking forward to that as well, although for very different reasons than SAG is. Defending indefensible laws isn't much fun for those doing the defending, but it's an incredibly entertaining spectator sport. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Perhaps no entity generates more fake news than the FBI's counterterrorism unit. Several times a year, a press release is issued announcing the bust of a so-called terrorist. Almost invariably, the "terrorist" has been handcrafted through the relentless intercession of undercover FBI agents. Here's how the DOJ website describes its latest self-crafted anti-terrorism coup: Robert Lorenzo Hester, Jr., 25, of Columbia, Missouri, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Hester was charged in federal court based on his role in making preparations to launch a terrorist attack with persons he believed were associated with ISIS, who were actually undercover law enforcement personnel. And here are the far more mundane and sad details behind the official statement, as provided by Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept. Robert Lorenzo Hester of Columbia, Missouri, didn’t have the $20 he needed to buy the 9-volt batteries, duct tape, and roofing nails his new FBI friends wanted him to get, so they gave him the money. The agents noted in a criminal complaint that Hester, who at one point brought his two small children to a meeting because he didn’t have child care, continued smoking marijuana despite professing to be a devout Muslim. This is the supposed terrorist who would have killed hundreds of people on President's Day if the FBI hadn't stepped in to intervene. But the FBI's "intervention" looks suspiciously like "encouragement…" or "entrapment." [T]he only contact Hester had with ISIS was with the two undercover agents who suggested to him that they had connections with the group. The agents, who were in contact with him for five months, provided him with money and rides home from work as he dealt with the personal fallout of an unrelated arrest stemming from an altercation at a local grocery store. Undercover agents began working with/on Hester shortly after this arrest. Seizing on his anti-government social media posts [good lord], the agents told Hester they could put him in touch with someone with direct terrorist connections. This "direct connection" was just another FBI agent. It was the FBI that suggested acquiring weapons. And it was the FBI who chose to take Hester seriously, despite his nonexistent terrorist group ("the Lion Guard") sporting a name that had been pulled from a cartoon his children watched. It was also an FBI agent who suggested that even thinking about planning a terrorist attack was an irrevocable act -- and that entertaining second thoughts about committing acts of violence would be rewarded with acts of violence. The agent cautioned Hester that once he decided to proceed there was “no turning back.” He also told Hester that under no circumstances was he to do conduct any sort of operation on his own. The agent, referred to in the complaint as UC-2, then “threatened to come back and find HESTER if he learned that HESTER reneged on the promise. For emphasis, and for the purpose of mitigating the security threat posed by HESTER, UC-2 displayed a knife and reminded HESTER that UC-2 knew where HESTER and his family lived, among other forceful words.” After threatening his family, FBI agents continued to push Hester forward with "his" plan to commit an act of terrorism. His plans required $20 worth of supplies… which Hester couldn't afford. But Hester did promise to be more materially-supportive in the near future: Hester promised that he would help buy ammunition for the weapons once he had received the money from his tax refund. A lot of the FBI's standard counterterrorism M.O. is on display here. The agency prefers to work with people in desperate or dire circumstances -- people who don't have the financial independence or mental toughness needed to create and carry out plans on their own. And when they get cold feet, agents apparently suggest their dire circumstances will be made even worse. The end result is the government congratulating itself for rounding up "terrorists" that likely never would have gone beyond anti-government Facebook posts if they'd been left alone. And for the few who appear capable of committing violent acts, the government pushes these people towards extremism rather than attempt to pull them back from this precipice. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Google, being the search giant that it is, has been banging the drum for some time about the silly way the DMCA has been abused by those that wield it like a cudgel. Here at Techdirt, we too have described the many ways that the well-intentioned DMCA and the way its implemented by service providers has deviated from its intended purpose. Still, the vast majority of our stories discuss deliberate attempts by human beings to silence critics and competition using the takedown process. Google, on the other hand, has been far more focused on statistics for DMCA takedown notices that show wanton disregard for what it was supposed to be used for entirely. That makes sense of course, as the abuse of the takedown process is a burden on the search company. In that first link, for instance, Google noted that more than half the takedown notices it was receiving in 2009 were mere attempts by one business targeting a competitor, while over a third of the notices contained nothing in the way of a valid copyright dispute. But if those numbers were striking in 2009, Google's latest comment to the Copyright Office (see our own comment here) on what's happening in the DMCA 512 notice-and-takedown world shows some stats for takedown notices received through its Trusted Copyright Removal Program... and makes the whole ordeal look completely silly. A significant portion of the recent increases in DMCA submission volumes for Google Search stem from notices that appear to be duplicative, unnecessary, or mistaken. As we explained at the San Francisco Roundtable, a substantial number of takedown requests submitted to Google are for URLs that have never been in our search index, and therefore could never have appeared in our search results. For example, in January 2017, the most prolific submitter submitted notices that Google honored for 16,457,433 URLs. But on further inspection, 16,450,129 (99.97%) of those URLs were not in our search index in the first place. Nor is this problem limited to one submitter: in total, 99.95% of all URLs processed from our Trusted Copyright Removal Program in January 2017 were not in our index. Now, because Google is Google, the company doesn't generally have a great deal of sympathy hoisted upon it by the public, never mind by copyright protectionists. But, come on, this is simply nuts. When the number of claims coming through the system that don't even pertain to listed results by Google can be logically rounded up to 100%, that's putting a burden on a company for no valid reason whatsoever. Even if you hate Google, or distrust it, it should be plain as day that it's unfair for it to have to wade through all this muck just to appease the entertainment industries. And, it's important to note that this isn't all of the notices received, but just those coming through the Trusted Copyright Removal system -- meaning that these are organizations that supposedly are supposed to have at least some credibility not to be submitting totally bogus notices. But, apparently, they don't actually give a damn. The problem, as you may have already guessed, is that most of these claims are being generated through automated systems designed to shotgun-blast DMCA notices with reckless abandon. These numbers of simply staggering with only a tiny number of millions of requests reflecting actual pages in the search index. Rather, 99.95% of the processed URLs from Google’s trusted submitter program are machine-generated URLs that do not involve actual pages in the search index. Given that data, Google notes that claims that the large number of requests correlates to infringing content on the Internet is incorrect: Nor is the large number of takedown requests to Google a good proxy even for the volume of infringing material available on the Internet. Many of these submissions appear to be generated by merely scrambling the words in a search query and appending that to a URL, so that each query makes a different URL that nonetheless leads to the same page of results. The claim by the entertainment industry that one can see what a problem piracy is by looking at the sheer volume of DMCA notices sent to search engines shall hereby be declared dead, having been buried by the industry's fellow takedown-notice-filers. That claim never made much sense, but these stats sever any link between takedown notice numbers and actual piracy completely. And there needs to be a remedy for this, whether its punishment upon the abusers or rules for how notices can be filed. Because these numbers are ridiculous. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Python is a simple, yet powerful programming language that allows developers to build complex websites without complex code. The $44 Python Power Coder BONUS Bundle is a series of 8 courses designed to take you from the basics of Python to more advanced concepts and uses. Over 70 hours of content and hands-on projects will have you feeling confident in your coding skills. This bundle is a part of a special collection of courses we're highlighting with an extra deal this week. Select this course or any from the collection and type in the code LEARN50 at checkout to receive an additional 50% off of your purchase. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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There aren't many rights extended to anyone in the "Constitution-free zones" we like to call "borders." You may have rights 100 miles inland, but the government's needs and wants outweigh citizens' and non-citizens' rights wherever immigration officers roam. According to the Supreme Court, warrants are required for cell phone searches. But neither the Constitution nor Supreme Court rulings apply within 100 miles of the border, where the government's needs and wants are considered more important than the protections they can avail themselves of everywhere else in the country. Senator Ron Wyden is looking to change that. Rather than cede more ground to the rights-swallowing concept of "national security," Wyden is looking to change the laws governing the "Constitution-free zones." Sen. Ron Wyden will soon introduce legislation to prevent Customs and Border Patrol agents from demanding the passwords to online accounts and mobile devices from American travelers without a warrant. In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly dated Feb. 20, the Democratic senator from Oregon said border searches that take place without a warrant circumvent the right to privacy and “weaken our national and economic security.” We'll see how that sits with John Kelly. Kelly appears to be on board with the new administration's "extreme vetting" immigration stance. He's offered to take the DHS's requests for immigrants' social media account info to the next level -- moving it from a voluntary request on visa application forms to mandatory demands for account passwords. Chances are, Kelly has about as little use for citizens' rights as he has for non-citizens in general. The security of the nation is prized above presenting the appearance of a Constitutional republic to the outside world. Given the current climate in the White House, the legislation will be facing a steep uphill grade. But while we wait for the security vs. privacy legislative fistfights to commence, perhaps DHS head John Kelly will help us pass the time by explaining exactly what it is that he feels gives him the right to search devices without a warrant and/or demand this country's visitors hand over their social media account passwords. From Wyden's letter [pdf]: 1. What legal authority permits CBP to ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose their social media or email account password traveler? 2. How is CBP use of a traveler's password to gain access to data stored in the cloud consistent with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? 3. What legal authority permits CBP to ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person turn over their device PIN or password to gain access to data? How are such demands consistent with the Fifth Amendment? 4. How many times in each calendar year 2012-2016 did CBP personnel ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose a smartphone or computer password, or otherwise provide access to a locked smartphone or computer? How many times has this occurred since January 20, 2017? 5. How many times in each calendar year 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 did CBP personnel ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose a social media or email account password, or otherwise provide CBP personnel access to data stored in an online account? How many times has this occurred since January 20, 2017? Then again, perhaps not. Government officials are kind of used to ignoring questions they don't feel like answering. This will put Wyden back in a familiar position: repeatedly asking unanswered questions of agency officials at any Congressional hearing his opponents can't keep him from attending. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The Copyright Office's study concerning Section 512 of the DMCA (the notice-and-takedown/safe harbors part of the law) had its second comment period end this week -- which is why you're seeing stories about how the RIAA is suddenly talking about piracy filters and notice-and-staydown. Via our think tank arm, the Copia Institute we filed our own comments, pointing out the already problematic First Amendment issues with the way the current notice-and-takedown system works. Remember, there's a very high standard set by the Supreme Court before you can take down expressive content. But the notice-and-takedown system ignores all of that: Because this takedown system functions as a system of extra-judicial injunctions it is critical that the speech they target have at least as much protection as speech targeted by any request for injunctive relief. Ordinarily someone seeking to enjoin speech would need to properly plead and then prove that the targeted speech was indeed actionable. Under present practice, however, senders of takedown notices have not needed to overcome these sorts of hurdles prior to effecting the removal of targeted content via their takedown demands. A significant reason takedown notice senders have been able to evade these constitutional requirements is because there is no effective consequence for sending non-meritorious takedown demands. Unfortunately, the likes of the RIAA and others are pushing to make the system even worse, and we point out to the Copyright Office how that would exacerbate the First Amendment issues from the DMCA: Under no circumstance should the Copyright Office advocate for exacerbating any of the consequences to speech that the DMCA already inflicts. For instance, any proposal to increase the power of a takedown notice, such as by turning it into a permanent injunction through “takedown-and-staydown” proposed by Question #12, would only increase the severity of the Constitutional injury the DMCA inflicts, as would requiring any additional delay in restoring content after receiving a counter-notice, as proposed by Question #5. If the Copyright Office is to do anything it should only be to encourage alleviation of the incursions on free speech that these unchecked takedown notices allow. In our comment, we also note our concerns about some of the recent court decisions that seem to expand the DMCA in very dangerous ways that could also have serious free speech implications: ... those recent cases have also suggested that these takedown notices effectively start a clock on the intermediary, where once it learns too much about a user’s predilection for potentially infringing activities it must act to remove that user’s access to its systems entirely. These cases are troublesome for several reasons, not the least of which being that, like jurisprudence relating to Section 512(f), they also infer a statutory requirement not actually in the statute. Section 512(i) only says that an intermediary must have a policy for terminating repeat infringers; it is otherwise silent as to what that policy should be, and post-hoc decisions by a court threaten to make safe harbor protection illusory, given that a platform can never be sure if it has complied with the statute or not. They are also troublesome because they give the takedown demand a sort of power that such demands would never have outside of the DMCA. As discussed above, and in prior comments and proceedings, infringement allegations can often be false (or even merely mistaken), which is why injunctions are not granted without due process. Due process allows the allegations to be tested, so that only the meritorious accusations can result in any penalty. Allowing a penalty for unproven allegations, particularly with respect to speech, amounts to prior restraint, which is itself anathema to the First Amendment. A penalty that censors speech is bad enough, but a penalty that censors speakers altogether raises the constitutional injury to a whole other level. We have already seen malevolent actors abuse takedown notices to try to suppress criticism. We should not also be handing them the power to use takedown notices to suppress critics’ ability to speak out at all. It's unfortunate that there has been little to no review at all of the First Amendment implications of the DMCA. And, no, we're not saying that infringement is free speech (heading off the comment that we're sure someone is already itching to make below). But we are saying that any system that removes expression has to take into account the First Amendment. But the DMCA doesn't discriminate and is regularly used to take down content that is clearly not infringing, as well as lots of content where it's not truly determined if it is actually infringing. And without that analysis exploring the First Amendment implications, we now have the RIAA, MPAA and their friends trying to make the powers to censor even stronger, which is quite ridiculous coming from two organizations that often highlight their commitment to the First Amendment. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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21 states have passed laws hamstringing the rights of local communities when it comes to improving broadband infrastructure. Usually dressed up as breathless concern about the taxpayer -- these bills have one purpose: protect the telecom mono/duopoly status quo -- and the campaign contributions it represents -- from the will of the people. Countless towns and cities have built their own next-generation networks, usually because nobody else would. But these bills, usually ghost written by ISPs for politicians with ALEC's help, either ban locals from making this decision for themselves, or saddle these operations with enough restrictions to make them untenable. Missouri's just the latest state to either pass a new protectionist bill, or update old laws so they're more restrictive. Like many of these bills SB 186 does its best to impose all manner of restrictions on towns and cities looking to bring better broadband to under-served state communities. SB 186 is actually the third time in as many years that incumbent ISPs have tried to pass expanded community broadband restrictions. Last year, a similar Missouri bill got "unwanted" attention when AT&T got a lawmaker to try and bury it in an unrelated traffic proposal. Like the last few iterations, SB 186 words itself in such a way to avoid the impression of an outright community broadband "ban," even if that's effectively what it is. Usually this is done by stating a community can't build and operate a broadband network if an existing provider already services the area, intentionally ignoring the fact that said "existing provider" is usually a fat and lazy telco trying to sell users 2002-era 3 Mbps DSL speeds at next-generation prices. SB 186 also saddles these operations with all manner of restrictions on how these networks can be funded, marketed, and expanded. Often, the bills require a protracted additional public comment period, during which deep-pocketed lobbyists use push polls and other disinformation to convince locals that community broadband is one step up from devil worship, even if it's really just an organic reaction to telecom market failure. The history of these disinformation efforts goes back decades, with ISPs resorting to push polls with questions implying that taxpayer funds would be used for pornography, and government would ration your TV usage. Should the networks actually get built, they'll then often face incumbent ISP lawsuits. When said lawsuits inevitably saddle these local efforts with delays and added costs, ISPs are quick to point to the problems they caused as proof positive that community broadband doesn't work. But community broadband is like any business plan: if the plan itself is sound, the network succeeds (as is the case in places like Chattanooga, Tennessee). Historically, most of the twenty-one protectionist state laws have been passed quietly with minimal controversy, in large part thanks to an either misinformed or apathetic public. But as companies like Google and Ting have more recently attempted to disrupt the telecom market, reporters have highlighted not only the lack of broadband competition -- but the protectionist laws responsible for keeping things that way. Last month, Google, Netflix and Ting fired off a letter to Missouri lawmakers (pdf) highlighting the absurdity of such laws: "SB 186 would amount to a virtual ban on local choice, harming both the public and private sectors, stifling economic growth, preventing the creation or retention of jobs around the State, particularly in rural areas, hampering work-force development, and diminishing the quality of life in Missouri. In particular, SB 186 will hurt the private sector by derailing or unnecessarily complicating and delaying public-private partnerships, by interfering with the ability of private companies to make timely sales of equipment and services to public broadband providers, by denying private companies timely access to advanced networks over which they can offer business and residential customers an endless array of modern products and services, and by impairing economic and educational opportunities that contribute to a skilled workforce from which businesses across the state will benefit." The companies also point out that, hey, maybe local infrastructure decisions should be left up to locals, not AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink and other ISP lawyers and lobbyists with a vested interest in turf protection: "These are fundamentally local decisions that should be made by the communities themselves, through the processes that their duly elected and accountable local officials ordinarily use for making comparable decisions. They should also be able to use their own resources as they deem appropriate to foster economic development, educational opportunity, public safety, and much more, without having to comply with the restrictive bottlenecks that SB 186 would impose." ISPs seriously worried about towns and cities getting into the broadband business could have pre-empted these efforts by offering better service at better prices. But given the pay-to-play nature of most state legislatures, it's much easier to just throw money at politicians, who'll happily throw the public interest -- and their state's economic welfare -- in the toilet to fund their next election campaign. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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As we've noted before, China's grip on the domestic Internet seems so complete that it's hard to think how the authorities there might tighten control yet further. But the Chinese government is nothing if not resourceful, and has managed to come up with a new group to target, as this report on the Sixth Tone site explains: Multiple foreign users have received suspension notices from major live-streaming apps, including Blued, China's most popular gay social networking app, and Yizhibo, which is backed by microblog platform Weibo. This seems to be as a result of the new regulations governing the Internet in China, brought in at the end of last year. Among the measures there is one that requires online broadcasts to be "beneficial to the promotion of socialist core values", while another stipulates that platforms should not allow hosts from outside mainland China to create channels without first asking permission from the country's Ministry of Culture. That's where the difficulty arises: According to an employee of one of the biggest streaming companies, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, the problem with the new regulations is that there are no details on how to apply. Live-broadcasting platforms have dealt with the uncertainty in a variety of ways. At the employee's company, old users are allowed to continue broadcasting, but new foreign users cannot sign up for the time being. However, other services have decided to play it safe by taking all non-Chinese users offline until the new rules have been clarified. A Yizhibo employee told Sixth Tone that a key issue was a requirement for real-name verification -- something that Techdirt has discussed before. Apparently, it's not a straightforward process when it comes to foreigners. The crackdown on live-streaming services is not the only recent move by the authorities that targets foreigners. Last week, China made another announcement, much more far-reaching in its effect than the live-streaming ban: China is to begin taking fingerprints of all foreign visitors as it steps up security on its borders, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday. Perhaps the Chinese government feels that it has the domestic population sufficiently under control now that it can move on to tightening up the rules for foreign visitors. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, along with his Senatorial counterpart Ron Wyden, is tackling something he promised to act on after he was finished excoriating the leaky Office of Personnel Management for ruining the lives of millions of Americans: Stingray devices. A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday requiring police agencies to get a search warrant before they can deploy powerful cellphone surveillance technology known as "stingrays" that sweep up information about the movements of innocent Americans while tracking suspected criminals. “Owning a smartphone or fitness tracker shouldn’t give the government a blank check to track your movements," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who introduced the bill with Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and John Conyers, D-Mich. "Law enforcement should be able to use GPS data, but they need to get a warrant. This bill sets out clear rules to make sure our laws keep up with the times." What the bill would do is codify the DOJ's "Stingray Best Practices" policy, which implemented a warrant requirement for cell site simulator deployment -- albeit one that wasn't really a requirement because it wasn't statutorily-required. This would be the statutory requirement the DOJ's better-late-than-never approach to constitutionality was missing. But the bill doesn't limit itself to cell tower spoofers. It also would add a layer of protection to data the DOJ has long argued isn't covered by the Fourth Amendment. The legislation introduced Wednesday, called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, would require a warrant for all domestic law enforcement agencies to track the location and movements of individual Americans through GPS technology without their knowledge. It also aims to combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for secretly using an electronic device to track someone's movements. This legislation is the sort of thing courts are apparently looking for when they kick crucial issues down the road. When outdated statutes present opportunities to redefine the Fourth Amendment's confines, judges are frequently willing to tell plaintiffs and defendants to take it up with Congress if they don't like the answer/non-answer they're presented with. The Supreme Court is no exception. When it (sort of) found warrants might be a good idea when deploying GPS devices for long-term tracking, it never went quite so far as to say a warrant should be a requirement in all cases. It seemed concerned about the length of the tracking but left it at PROBABLY when all was said and done. The DOJ has often argued that several outdated statutes should be updated to reflect the changing contours of today's connected, always-online world. But this is not the sort of thing it's ever argued for. It would much prefer to see its power and reach expanded at the expense of Americans' privacy. This bill, if passed, wouldn't necessarily fix what's wrong with past legislation and jurisprudence. But it will at least prevent multiple law enforcement agencies from deploying these invasive devices on a whim, or using them to engage in mass surveillance just because they can. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Starting last summer, we noted that the Department of Homeland Security had quietly tested the waters to expand the information it requested of travelers entering the United States, to "optionally" include social media handles. By December it was officially in place. And then, just days into the new administration, the idea was floated to expand this program even further to demand passwords to social media accounts. In other words: that escalated quickly. We went from "hey, maybe we could ask people to volunteer what their social media profiles are" to "hey, let's demand all social media accounts, including passwords" in, like, six months. In response, a ton of human rights and civil liberties organizations have posted an open letter condemning this dangerous plan. This proposal would enable border officials to invade people’s privacy by examining years of private emails, texts, and messages. It would expose travelers and everyone in their social networks, including potentially millions of U.S. citizens, to excessive, unjustified scrutiny. And it would discourage people from using online services or taking their devices with them while traveling, and would discourage travel for business, tourism, and journalism. Demands from U.S. border officials for passwords to social media accounts will also set a precedent that may ultimately affect all travelers around the world. This demand is likely to be mirrored by foreign governments, which will demand passwords from U.S. citizens when they seek entry to foreign countries. This would compromise U.S. economic security, cybersecurity, and national security, as well as damage the U.S.’s relationships with foreign governments and their citizenry. Policies to demand passwords as a condition of travel, as well as more general efforts to force individuals to disclose their online activity, including potentially years’ worth of private and public communications, create an intense chilling effect on individuals. Freedom of expression and press rights, access to information, rights of association, and religious liberty are all put at risk by these policies. The first rule of online security is simple: Do not share your passwords. No government agency should undermine security, privacy, and other rights with a blanket policy of demanding passwords from individuals. There are lots of reasons why the proposal is bad -- but the security one is probably the biggest. People should never share passwords with anyone, but most especially foreign governments who have no interest in protecting them. And the letter is accurate that this will just encourage other countries to do this back to Americans (and others) and create a massive security nightmare. And that doesn't even touch on the chilling effects created by such promised surveillance. Of course, one hopes that this kind of insane policy will get people to recognize that passwords suck as a security system. At the very least, it should encourage people to use multifactor authentication that can't just be handed over to some random border control person demanding your passwords. But that's no excuse for DHS going down this path in the first place. It's a bad proposal that won't help DHS protect us, but will cause tremendous harm and create serious security problems. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Unless the Supreme Court decides to weigh in on this long-running SLAPP lawsuit (highly unlikely -- and unlikely to be appealed to that level), it looks like it's finally the end of the line for Dr. Edward Tobinick and his quest to silence a critic of his questionable medical practices. Quick recap: Dr. Tobinick claimed he could treat Alzheimer's, strokes, and other neurological maladies by repurposing an immunosuppressant drug. Dr. Steven Novella disagreed with Tobinick's unsubstantiated claims and wrote a few blog posts detailing his problems with Tobinick's treatments. Tobinick is not a neurologist, and yet he feels it is appropriate for him to treat multiple neurological conditions with an experimental treatment. It is generally considered unethical for physicians to practice outside of their area of competence and expertise. He is trained in internal medicine and dermatology and is certified in those specialties. He has never completed a neurology residency nor is he board certified in neurology. Despite his lack of formal training and certification, he feels he has ushered in a “paradigm shift” in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease – a disease that has proved challenging for actual neurologists for decades. Novella is not alone in his criticism of Tobinick's untested treatment methods. Early on in the case, Marc Randazza summarized the general medical community mood. Dr. Novella’s critical opinions of the Plaintiffs are not outlier views. In fact, the prevailing view seems to be that Dr. Tobnick is, at best, irresponsible. On the first page of Google alone, there are numerous other articles written by other authors, entirely unrelated to the article at hand, that also express critical and unflattering opinions of Tobinick and Plaintiffs’ “medical” practice. Hoping to avoid an anti-SLAPP ruling or the judicial scrutiny that normally comes with defamation complaints, Tobinick tried to frame his censorship pleas as trademark law violations, claiming Novella's blog posts were "commercial speech" designed to interfere with his ability to earn an income treating people with questionable drug repurposing. The lower court didn't care much for Tobinick's arguments. It found no merit in his severely-stretched Lanham Act claims and, better yet, applied California's anti-SLAPP law to the lawsuit Tobinick filed in Florida. Tobinick appealed. And all he's really succeeded in doing is generating more legal fees he'll be responsible for. The Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court has upheld [PDF] the lower court's decision, handing Dr. Novella, attorney Marc Randazza, and the First Amendment a significant win. (If you're a fan of oral, the arguments can be found here.) Appellants Edward Lewis Tobinick, MD (“INR CA”), INR PLLC (“INR FL”), and M.D. Edward Tobinick (“Dr. Tobinick”) (collectively, the “Tobinick Appellants”) appeal the district court’s orders striking INR CA’s state law claims pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute, twice denying amendment of the Tobinick Appellants’ complaint, denying relief pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 37, 56(d), and 60 due to potential discovery-related abuses, and granting summary judgment against the Tobinick Appellants on their Lanham Act claim. We affirm the district court in all respects. As for Tobinick's attempt to keep an anti-SLAPP law from another state from killing his Florida lawsuit, the appeals court points out that if this was an issue Tobinick wanted addressed, he needed to raise it with the lower court, rather than use the appeals process to develop unexplored options. The Tobinick Appellants waived their challenge to the district court’s application of California’s anti-SLAPP statute based on the Erie doctrine. The Tobinick Appellants did not raise the Erie claim in their response to Dr. Novella’s special motion to strike INR CA’s state law claims, nor do the Tobinick Appellants now contend that they ever raised the issue before the district court. Moreover, when asked by the district judge “what about the issue of anti-SLAPP statutes applying in diversity cases in federal court?” the Tobinick Appellants’ counsel responded “[t]here seems to be a plethora of case law that suggests that it is allowable in diversity actions in federal court.” No exception to waiver saves the Tobinick Appellants’ claim. The Tobinick Appellants have not identified any miscarriage of justice resulting from a finding of waiver, nor do we see one, given the weakness of the Tobinick Appellants’ state law claims. The appeals court is even less kind to Tobinick's Lanham Act violation accusations -- all of which hinge on defining Novella's blog posts as commercial speech. Not only did Tobinick repurpose trademark law in an attempt to turn a baseless libel lawsuit into something that might survive the first motion to dismiss, but his Lanham Act arguments rely on a conspiracy theory Alex Jones himself might find implausible. As a preliminary matter, there is no factual dispute as to where the articles were displayed online, how the websites were set up, and whether the websites generated revenue through advertisements and membership subscriptions. The Tobinick Appellants describe a complex “funneling” scheme to generate profit for Dr. Novella, in which the Tobinick Appellants claim that the two articles are connected to other websites through hyperlinks in a way that readers are directed to websites that generate revenue for Dr. Novella, such as through advertising or membership subscriptions. This funneling theory, which attempts to connect the articles to revenue sources, relies on such a level of attenuation that it fails to demonstrate economic motivation in the commercial speech context. Even if it were more easily-connected, Novella's speech would still be protected and not in violation of the Lanham Act. The court points out Novella's medical practice has no overlap with Tobinick's. Furthermore, the content of Novella's articles -- the examination of a potentially-dangerous misapplication of immunosuppressant drugs -- is very much in the public interest, which only strengthens its First Amendment protections. As the court points out, finding critical speech that results in revenue a violation of the Lanham Act would do serious harm to the most famous beneficiaries of the First Amendment. To be sure, neither the placement of the articles next to revenue-generating advertising nor the ability of a reader to pay for a website subscription would be sufficient in this case to show a liability-causing economic motivation for Dr. Novella’s informative articles. Both advertising and subscriptions are typical features of newspapers, whether online or in-print. But, the Supreme Court has explained that “[i]f a newspaper’s profit motive were determinative, all aspects of its operations—from the selection of news stories to the choice of editorial position—would be subject to regulation if it could be established that they were conducted with a view toward increased sales. Such a basis for regulation clearly would be incompatible with the First Amendment.” Furthermore, as our sister circuits have recognized, magazines and newspapers often have commercial purposes, but those purposes do not convert the individual articles within these editorial sources into commercial speech subject to Lanham Act liability. This puts Dr. Tobinick back where he was in October 2015: on the hook for legal fees because he figured the best response to speech he didn't like was a bogus Lanham Act lawsuit. And, as is of particular relevance given recent events, more courts are applying states' anti-SLAPP laws to baseless lawsuits, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they're filed. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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[The following post was contributed by Fault Lines (a Scott Greenfield/Lee Pachia joint) columnist David Meyer Lindenberg, a self-described "wannabe 1-L" and actual German. The last fact explains his in-depth knowledge of German speech laws, which Mike Masnick has graciously allowed him to dump all over Techdirt's pages. Enjoy! {And possibly NSFW around the middle-ish.}] Remember Jan Böhmermann? The guy who caused a major diplomatic spat back in April when he read out a satirical poem about Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the notoriously thin-skinned Turkish president, on a German comedy show? Usually, what happens on Central European state-run TV stays on Central European state-run TV. Not this time. “Erdogate” went massively viral: there were protests in the streets of Istanbul. Techdirt covered it at length. Even a guy named John Oliver did a segment on it. Now Erdogate’s back in the news, with a number of media outlets reporting that a German court just permanently enjoined Böhmermann from reciting his own poem. Sucks for him, right? Actually, no. Bad as it is, things are usually a hell of a lot worse for people in his position. First, a little historical context. Böhmermann’s poem came at an inopportune time for the German government, which relies on Turkey to help stem the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe. And Erdogan, the Turkish strongman who was himself imprisoned in 1997 for reading a political poem out loud, is exactly the kind of guy to endanger a bilateral agreement over his hurt feelz. These feelz of his are very sensitive, indeed. For example, he doesn’t like it when you compare him to Gollum. (There are some alleged similarities between the two.) If you’re a Turk and ask him to guess what you’ve got in your pocketses, he’ll have you convicted of a crime. On the other hand, if you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere with freedom of speech, the worst he can do is block you on Twitter. What if you live in a foreign country that nevertheless has archaic, repressive speech laws? As a lot of surprised Germans found out in mid-April, it may mean Erdogan and other delicately minded people can reach out to your government and get it to punish you for them. On or around April 15, German prosecutors indicted Böhmermann on a count of insulting a foreign head of state, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison under Article 103 of the federal criminal code. Erdogan also sued -- something he does a lot -- and in May, a Hamburg court issued a preliminary injunction blocking Böhmermann from saying the poem out loud. Of course, that just had the effect of Streisanding the comedian and his poem into the stratosphere. I wasn’t totally happy with the non-rhyming translation floating around the web, so I came up with one of my own. That Erdogan, the President’s, a dumb, repressed, repressive gent. He reeks of bad kebab. Your nose will think a pig’s fart was a rose once you’ve inhaled his scent. He beats up helpless women in the streets behind a mask. He gets his kicks from fucking goats and watching flicks of child abuse. Christians and Kurds are made to lick his fetid turds. Instead of sleep, it’s his delight to blow a hundred sheep a night. Compared to theirs, the President’s cock is limp and floppy as a sock. As any Turk will tell you, “Yup, his tiny nuts are shriveled up.“ From Istanbul to Ankara town, the guy’s a fag of great renown, a lousy perv, a devotee of vilest bestiality. He forces women to his bed, his balls as empty as his head. No bunga-bunga party can be called complete without the man: his lust for sex is quite unique. He fucks ‘til, when he takes a leak, his penis burns like phlogiston. That’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President. Fast forward to this year. On February 10, the Hamburg court ruled in Erdogan’s favor, making the preliminary injunction permanent and ordering Böhmermann to pay $2000 in legal fees. Bad? Yes. Illiberal? Totally. Anywhere near as bad as it would’ve been if the Streisand effect hadn’t made Böhmermann famous? No. To understand why, we need to understand how insult prosecutions work in Germany. Something that attracted a lot of attention during the Erdogate coverage was Merkel’s promise to repeal Article 103 as soon as Böhmermann’s case was resolved. The law came in for its share of criticism, including at Techdirt. And rightly so. Laws that criminalize making fun of heads of state are an undemocratic throwback to lèse-majesté, the idea that it’s wrong to offend the king. What’s more, the German government has a long, sad history of using Article 103 to silence people who criticize foreign despots like the Shah of Iran and Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. While people’s attention was focused on the absurdities of German law, the actual case against Böhmermann died a slow death. On October 4, prosecutors in Mainz announced they were dismissing the charges, allegedly because they didn’t think they could prove the poem was a criminal insult.1 This cleared the way for Merkel to make good on her promise, and in January, the German cabinet announced it was going to follow through and scrap Article 103. To be sure, it all looks incredibly reform-y. Erdogan got his ass kissed, Böhmermann got away by the seat of his pants and people get to applaud the government for championing free speech. But appearances can be deceiving. You see, Germany can easily afford to lose Article 103. The state has dozens of speech statutes at its disposal, laws criminalizing everything from US-style defamation to what, in America, would be indisputably protected expression. What’s more, many of these laws cover the same conduct. The result is that some of the more specific statutes work like sentencing enhancements.2 Article 103’s exactly that kind of law. It makes insulting foreign heads of state a felony, but repealing it wouldn’t decriminalize making fun of the likes of Erdogan. If it does, the government can simply prosecute under Article 185, Germany’s misdemeanor-insult statute, one of the most vague, expansive and authoritarian pieces of legislation ever devised. A classic example of an offense under Article 185 -- and I’m not kidding here -- is using an insufficiently formal pronoun to address a cop. Worse, the law practically invites selective prosecutions. Officially, Article 185 makes it a crime to insult anyone. However, under Section 153 of the federal code of criminal procedure, prosecutors are free to throw out misdemeanor cases if they decide there’s no “public interest” in pursuing charges. It’s prosecutorial discretion at its worst. The predictable result is that prosecutors only pursue insult cases when you offend a famous person, a government official or someone the prosecutor likes. Conversely, famous people and government officials who insult others are almost never charged. Everyone knows it, too. The colloquial term for an Article 185 case is “Beamtenbeleidigung” (lit. “insulting an official,”) and when Germany’s economy minister flipped off a bunch of right-wing protesters in August, the media treated it as a hilarious joke. Things get more interesting, and weird, when you look at what happens when celebrities and government officials insult each other. In 2005, an undeservedly famous singer-songwriter got in a fight with a Hamburg cop over a parking spot. Because failing to respect a police officer’s authoritah is an actual crime in Germany, the cop charged him with insult. The same court that banned Böhmermann from saying his poem found for the celebrity in 2006, ruling that because he was habitually rude, what he said to the cop was generalized “impoliteness” that didn’t rise to the level of insult.3 This, to put it mildly, is the kind of break no judge would ever cut a less well-connected defendant. And in December of last year, a cop was charged when he called Merkel “criminal” and “insane.” That case hasn’t been resolved yet, but the fact that some random cop’s a lot less important than the wrath of the Chancellor suggests it’s unlikely he’ll be acquitted. Because Article 103 duplicates the elements of an offense under Article 185, the same unofficial rules for who gets charged and convicted apply. Böhmermann, a minor celebrity in his own right, was only charged in the first place because he offended an extremely well-connected person. If he’d written his poem about some bum in the street instead of a man with significant value to the German government, the authorities would’ve laughed at the joke and moved on. But it’s not all bad. The main reason Böhmermann’s case was dismissed, in a country where homeless men are occasionally imprisoned for saying rude things to bureaucrats on the phone, is that people all over the world responded to the Streisand effect and turned him into an international free-speech martyr. With each retweet of a story about him and his poem, you helped make him more important than Erdogan’s ego. The fact that he’s not a felon right now isn’t on the government and its promise to scrap a law it doesn’t need. It’s on you. And those of us who love free speech appreciate it. 1 If that’s true, they may want to find a new line of work. 2 For example, while Articles 186 and 187 criminalize defamation, 188 covers defaming a government official and provides a steeper sentence. Article 90, one of several lèse-majesté laws, makes it a felony to insult the President of Germany, something that’s already a misdemeanor under Article 185. 3 Did I mention German speech laws are incredibly vague? Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Get your Copymouse t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and more » It's Fair Use Week — time to celebrate the all-important safety valve on copyright law and oppose those who want to see it clogged up or removed entirely! Of course, for us that's pretty much every week, but this still seemed like a good time to launch our newest t-shirt design: Copymouse (also available as a v-neck, hoodie, women's tee, mug or sticker). As most of our readers know, Mickey Mouse has a real talent for evading the public domain (even if he has to drag the rest of our culture down with him) and this t-shirt lets you remind everyone of that fact — and the fact that we likely haven't seen the last of that fight. Also, while all our gear artwork is available on request, for Fair Use Week we figured it was a good idea to make a vector SVG version of the artwork available from the get-go. (P.S. don't forget to check out the Techdirt store on Teespring for our logo gear (in two styles) and our still-available I Invented Email gear.) Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Those who thought the domestic surveillance Ed Snowden exposed was perfectly acceptable and lawful are finding it much harder to stomach with Trump in charge. The Lawfare blog, which routinely hosts articles supportive of government surveillance activities, has taken on a new tone over the past few months. The lesson being learned: if a power can only be trusted in certain people's hands, then it really can't be trusted in anyone's. This belated realization is better than none, but one wonders if the drastic change in tone would have followed an election that put Hillary Clinton in the White House. That's not to say the first month of Trump's presidency has borne any resemblance to a "peaceful transition of power." The federal government isn't just leaking. It's hemorrhaging. Underneath the recent ouster of Mike Flynn, Trump's former National Security Advisor, is something disturbing. What's disturbing isn't the surveillance -- although in "normal" circumstances it might be. Flynn was dumped because recorded phone calls captured him discussing sanctions with Russian officials. This domestic surveillance isn't unheard of. The fact that this information -- including the content of the calls -- was leaked to the public is more notable. Calls to foreign officials are fair game for US surveillance efforts. The last-minute removal of restraints on sharing unminimized US persons data/communications by the Obama administration just served to ensure Flynn's calls would end up in the hands of multiple federal agencies. The timing of the loosened restrictions is worth noting though, as Marcy Wheeler does in this post about the Flynn ouster. Finally, remember that for a great deal of SIGINT, FBI wouldn’t need a warrant. That’s because Obama changed the EO 12333 sharing rules just 4 days after the IC started getting really suspicious about Flynn’s contacts with Russia. That would make five years of intercepts available to FBI without a warrant in any counterintelligence cases, as this one is. But what Lawfare's Adam Klein is concerned with isn't the sharing of unminimized communications between agencies. As he points out in his post, all of that's perfectly legal. What he's more concerned with is the actions of the intelligence community, which has made all of this public. [T]his case illustrates why surveillance law treats U.S.-person information with the same healthy fear we associate with nuclear waste and biohazard material—that is, with the vigilance reserved for things that are inherently dangerous if not closely guarded. As Eli Lake wrote this week in Bloomberg View, selective leaking of U.S.-person information “gives the permanent state” (or political appointees entrusted with the information) “the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity.” Even if not leaked to the press, such information can be misused: J. Edgar Hoover and his subordinates infamously used salacious information gleaned from FBI surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr., to pressure King to retreat from public life. That's what's happening and that's a cause for concern. The NSA and others have always had these powers, but we were assured they wouldn't be abused. In this case, the abuse isn't in the collection or dissemination (all of it now "lawful"), but in the use of leaked information to kick out a National Security Advisor. Trump has made few friends in the intelligence community since he became president, comparing the CIA to Nazis and making comments about unprofessional behavior. The problem for Trump is he's fighting with agencies particularly well-armed to take him down. But that's not what we want from our intelligence agencies. They're not tools of government accountability. They're tools for totalitarianism restrained only by oversight and a rigorous set of rules. (I mean, in theory...) But the IC appears to be ignoring the checks and balances put in place to guard against the destruction of the government's head by its body. It's one thing to cheer for the public flailing of a President you don't like. It's quite another to cheer on the dangerous, easily-abusable network of domestic surveillance that makes it possible. So, the issue here is more the leaks than the surveillance. The surveillance has its own problems, but the willingness to leak information damaging to US persons -- even if it prevented someone who possibly shouldn't be a National Security Advisor from keeping his job -- is a disturbing indicator of just how much power these agencies (at least 16 of them) now wield, thanks to information sharing. The other problem is the hypocritical way Trump and his supporters are dealing with the leaked info. Trump wants an investigation to uncover the source of the leaks. Fair enough (albeit somewhat hypocritical, given his love of Wikileaks...). But the House Oversight Committee and Trump himself have no interest in taking a deeper look into the allegations against Mike Flynn. Nonsensically, House Oversight Committee head Devin Nunes said the recording of the phone calls was itself "disturbing." This is something someone involved in intelligence oversight should already know is a perfectly lawful interception under statutes he helps shape and define. It's a dangerous time to be a whistleblower, as the administration appears far more interested in going after leaks it doesn't like than potentially-illegal behavior by its own staff. And it's just as dangerous to be the target of intelligence committee animosity. No more dangerous than it's always been, but in recent days, we've been given a pretty clear picture of how quickly lawful surveillance can ruin a person's life. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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If you are looking to learn more about app development, the $39 Ultimate Android N Development Bundle has what you need to get started. The five courses start off with an introduction to the Android operating system and then progresses to more advanced topics. At the end of the 45 hours of instruction, you'll have the knowledge you need to start building your own Android 7 apps. Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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