posted 16 days ago on techdirt
Dashcams can catch some pretty amazing footage. A dashcam in Taiwan captured dramatic and frightening footage of a plane crashing into the river. Some of the videos posted from Russia show just how crazy drivers and pedestrians can be. But sometimes these dashcams can also capture some awe-inspiring moments, like when the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over the Ural Mountains in February 2013: Today's Daily Deal on the GT-ZO1 Touchscreen Dashcam could be what you need to capture your own amazing videos, while also helping to protect yourself from insurance fraud and legal disputes. For $165 (36% off of the original price), you get a compact camera that attaches to the windshield with a suction cup, which can record location, speed, and date information into video clips using the GPS-enabled mapping system. This deal ends soon. Note: We earn a portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
For years now, we've been talking up the importance of open access to scientific research. Big journals like Elsevier have generally fought against this at every point, arguing that its profits are more important that some hippy dippy idea around sharing knowledge. Except, as we've been trying to explain, it's that sharing of knowledge that leads to innovation and big health breakthroughs. Unfortunately, it's often pretty difficult to come up with a concrete example of what didn't happen because of locked up knowledge. And yet, it appears we have one new example that's rather stunning: it looks like the worst of the Ebola outbreak from the past few months might have been avoided if key research had been open access, rather than locked up. That, at least, appears to be the main takeaway of a recent NY Times article by the team in charge of drafting Liberia's Ebola recovery plan. What they found was that the original detection of Ebola in Liberia was held up by incorrect "conventional wisdom" that Ebola was not present in that part of Africa: The conventional wisdom among public health authorities is that the Ebola virus, which killed at least 10,000 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, was a new phenomenon, not seen in West Africa before 2013. (The one exception was an anomalous case in Ivory Coast in 1994, when a Swiss primatologist was infected after performing an autopsy on a chimpanzee.) But, as the team discovered, that "conventional wisdom" was wrong. In fact, they found a bunch of studies, buried behind research paywalls, that revealed that there was significant evidence of antibodies to the Ebola virus in Liberia and in other nearby nations. There was one from 1982 that noted: "medical personnel in Liberian health centers should be aware of the possibility that they may come across active cases and thus be prepared to avoid nosocomial epidemics." Then they found some more: Three other studies published in 1986 documented Ebola antibody prevalence rates of 10.6, 13.4 and 14 percent, respectively, in northwestern Liberia, not far from its borders with Sierra Leone and Guinea. These articles, along with other forgotten reports from the 1980s on antibody prevalence in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea, suggest the possibility of what some call “sanctuary sites,” or persistent, if latent, Ebola infection in humans. So why did the conventional wisdom continue to insist that Ebola wasn't likely to be the issue when Liberians started getting sick and dying? Well, a big part of it may have been the fact that the research was locked up: Part of the problem is that none of these articles were co-written by a Liberian scientist. The investigators collected their samples, returned home and published the startling results in European medical journals. Few Liberians were then trained in laboratory or epidemiological methods. Even today, downloading one of the papers would cost a physician here $45, about half a week’s salary. Yes, it still would have required the knowledge to be passed along to Liberian doctors and health officials, and one can argue that that might not have happened. But it seems a lot more likely that the information would have been more easily accessible and the knowledge passed around if it didn't cost half a week's salary just to download decades old research warning of just such a threat. And, of course, the results were catastrophic. Even once people started dying, doctors had a tremendous amount of difficulty figuring out what the issue was: ...it was months before Ebola was identified as the culprit pathogen. That made it impossible for the region’s few doctors and nurses to deliver effective care. Open access isn't just some "free culture" refrain. It really matters and can save lives.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
If you've read Techdirt for any length of time, you'll have noticed that intellectual property laws have been decoupled from logic for several years now. Because the entities heavily-reliant on IP protections (and who mostly serve as gatekeepers and middlemen, rather than perform any creative work of their own) have trouble producing evidence that extended copyright terms or increased enforcement efforts are actually instrumental to the creation of future artistic works, they have tended to fall back on assertions that various governments have a "duty" to protect their interests. It's not an assertion borne of data or extensive research. It's a statement of faith. Record labels and movie studios spend millions every year issuing takedowns and lobbying for favorable laws. And every year, they fail to point out where these efforts have added to the bottom line. When confronted with this lack of evidence, they'll often declare this is only because we're not doing the things that aren't working hard enough or often enough or with enough severity. Mark Lemley, whose work -- especially that focused on the broken patent system -- has been featured here before, has just published a paper examining this thought process: Faith-based Intellectual Property. Lemley opens by noting that we supposedly live in an "age of reason," with a wealth of information and powerful data tools at our fingertips. But when the data fails to produce the desired evidence for increased IP protections, reason is swiftly abandoned and replaced with nothing more than unfounded beliefs. This isn't just a post-file sharing phenomenon. This dates back more than a half-century. Fritz Machlup, commissioned by Congress in the 1950s to evaluate the patent system, came to the strikingly wishy-washy conclusion that if we didn’t have a patent system, the evidence wouldn’t justify creating one, but since we had one the evidence didn’t justify abolishing it. There's more evidence available now than there was 60 years ago, but nothing's improved. The upshot of all this evidence is something rather less than a complete vindication of the theory of IP regulation... This doesn’t mean that we are no better off than we were in Fritz Machlup’s day. The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough evidence, or the right kind of evidence. The problem is that the picture the evidence paints is a complicated one. The relationship between patents and innovation seems to depend greatly on industry; some evidence suggests that the patent system is worth the cost in the biomedical industries but not elsewhere. Copyright industries seem to vary widely in how well they are responding to the challenge of the Internet, and their profitability doesn’t seem obviously related to the ease or frequency of piracy... Money doesn’t seem to be the prime motivator for most creators, and sometimes it can even suppress creativity. And an amazing number of people seem perfectly happy to create and share their work for free now that the Internet has given them the means to do so. Despite the lack of clear indicators that strengthened IP laws result in more creativity, or at least, more profitability for industries which rely heavily on IP protections, the push for expanded terms and more draconian IP-enforcement penalties hasn't let up. When the available data doesn't support held beliefs, there are options. Shoot the messenger: A lesson I learned early in my academic career is that while people will dispute, ignore, or shrug off policy arguments they disagree with, they get really incensed when the data disagrees with them. And one way they can justify ignoring that data is to persuade themselves that the source of that data must be biased in some way and so their numbers cannot be trusted. The most vitriolic attacks I have experienced in more than twenty years as a law professor were directed at the most innocuous-seeming papers—papers that presented data that revealed some uncomfortable facts about the status quo. Someone can be paid to produce data that agrees with held views. A second reaction to data you don’t like is to try to go out and buy some of your own. Companies with a vested interest in a system that empirical evidence calls into question have been spending a great deal of money to fund studies written (sometimes preposterously) to lead to the conclusion they support. Or, you know, 'find God," as it were... Participants on both sides of the IP debates are increasingly staking out positions that simply do not depend on evidence at all. That is, their response to evidence that doesn’t accord with their beliefs is not to question their beliefs, or even to question the evidence, but to retreat to a belief system that doesn’t require evidence at all. Lemley quotes Berkely's Rob Merges, a leading patent scholar -- one who turned to faith when the data didn't support his predispositions. After decades at the forefront of economic analysis of the patent system, Merges threw up his hands: “Try as I might, I simply cannot justify our current IP system on the basis of verifiable data showing that people are better off with IP law than they would be without it.” While one might think that the logical thing to do if the evidence doesn’t support one’s theory is to question the theory, Merges instead observes that “through all the doubts over empirical proof, my faith in the necessity and importance of IP law has only grown.” With adherents like these, who needs evidence? What were once a limited rights, granted for the betterment of all, are now an expansive rights, benefitting only a select few. Any lack of supporting evidence is no longer germane to the argument. IP rights are now being controlled by those who "feel" or "believe" in the fundamental "rightness" of their arguments. Data need not apply. The adherents of this new religion believe in IP. They don’t believe it is better for the world than other systems, or that it encourages more innovation. Rather, they believe in IP as an end in itself—that IP is some kind of prepolitical right to which inventors and creators are entitled. There's a reason why religions and governments shouldn't be allowed to intermingle. This adherence to the "moral" rights of creators plays hell with the system. It intervenes in the market to interfere with the freedom of others to do what they want in hopes of achieving the end of encouraging creativity. If we take that purpose out of the equation, we are left with a belief system that says the government should restrict your speech and freedom of action in favor of mine, not because doing so will improve the world, but simply because I spoke first. When the faithful guide the creation of legislation, bad things happen -- things that undermine the societal benefits of limited rights for a limited amount of time. Those limits are no longer in place, and supposed protections like "fair use" give more value to intellectual property than freedom of expression. The system is broken and those exploiting it the most don't want it fixed. Trademark rights extend to prevent uses that would happily have coexisted fifty years ago. We have added a slew of new copyright statutes, expanding the term as well as the scope of protection, increasing penalties, and reaching conduct further and further removed from actual infringers. We issued six times as many patents in 2014 as we did three decades before, and most of the patent suits filed are brought by patent trolls, a category of plaintiffs that didn’t even exist forty years ago and that one might think has a weaker moral claim on IP than people who actually make products. Unfortunately, Lemley realizes the ultimate futility of his research. While small factual misconceptions can often be corrected, adherents to any form of faith-based system (whether they be pro- or anti-IP) are almost impervious to arguments that run contrary to their beliefs -- no matter how much data is provided. If you are a true believer, we have nothing to say to each other. I don’t mean by that that I am giving up on you, deciding that you’re not worth my time to persuade. Rather, I mean that we simply cannot speak the same language. There is no principled way to compare one person’s claim to lost freedom to another’s claim to a right to ownership. Nor is there a way to weigh your claim of moral entitlement against evidence that the exercise of that right actually reduces creativity by others. Faith-based IP is at its base a religion and not a science because it does not admit the prospect of being proven wrong. This where we are today: subject to laws written to accommodate true believers. The faithful that have been indulged in their expansion efforts even while a whole host of supposed "industry killers" have risen and fallen with little to no discernible damage done to entrenched IP-reliant industries. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 16 days ago on techdirt
As I'm sure you were carefully anticipating, on Tuesday, April 7th, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued patent 9,000,000. As you of course are already aware, over the past few decades, the USPTO has been rapidly ramping up the number of patents it approves. That's why, even though patents only have a lifetime of 20 years from the date of application, 1/3 of all issued patents are still in force today. Think about that. So, if you're wondering if patent 9,000,000 is a bad, trollish patent, you'll be happy to note that it's not a software or business method patent, but rather a kind of windshield washer system. Not only that, but there's a real company behind it that appears to be making a real product. Well, phew. The USPTO must be happy about that... Or, actually, the USPTO probably went through all the damn patents scheduled to issue on Tuesday to find one that wasn't controversial and magically named it number 9,000,000, though in any other week it would have been in a different batch. As patent blog 1201 Tuesday notes: Because patents issue at discrete, weekly intervals, the PTO has time generally to group patents of the same “class” together in contiguous blocks of numbers. That’s why you usually don’t see a floor wax patent immediately next to a dessert topping patent. (Unless, of course, it's for both.) Patent 9,000,000 today is in class 210, “Liquid purification or separation”. Yet, it interrupts a block of patents from class 514, “Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions”: One of these patents is not like all those others... and it just so happens to be patent 9,000,000. Oh, and in case you're wondering, there were a bunch of other patents from class 210 "Liquid purification or separation" issued on Tuesday as well -- it's just that they're patents 8,999,153 to 8,999,176, all in a row. So it looks like the USPTO found that one nice, non-controversial patent and plucked it out of the 8,99,160ish range and plopped it directly in the middle of all of those "drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions" and declared it, magically, 9 million, knowing that it might get a bit of attention.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
Last year Time Warner Cable and the Los Angeles Dodgers struck a twenty-five year, $8.35 billion deal giving Time Warner Cable the exclusive broadcast rights to all Dodgers games in Los Angeles via its creatively-named regional sports network, Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA. Time Warner Cable then immediately turned around and demanded massive price hikes (rumored to be around $5 per subscriber) for any other pay TV provider that wanted to offer the channel. All of the regional cable operators (including AT&T, Cox, Dish and DirecTV) balked at the hike, resulting about 70% of fans in Dodgers territory being unable to watch the final six games of last season. All sides had ample opportunity during the offseason to negotiate a fair price, but by all accounts Time Warner Cable simply refused to move on the price tag (though the fact it's in a holding pattern over a Comcast acquisition also likely played a role). As such, the new baseball season kicked off this week and Dodgers fans remain unable to watch their favorite team's games. Making matters worse, Time Warner Cable has refused to seriously answer questions about the logjam, offering some variation of the same statement over and over again:"We want all Dodger fans to have access to SportsNet LA. Despite our repeated attempts, other providers are unwilling to engage in any discussions. If Dodger fans want to enjoy SportsNet LA this season, we encourage them to switch to a provider that carries the network."The problem with that logic? Time Warner Cable is the only cable operator offering access to its own sports network, and 70% of Los Angeles lives in an area where they can't get Time Warner Cable. As such, Time Warner Cable's recommendation is not only useless, it's insulting. When that's pointed out, the company just refuses to comment. When asked why it refuses to compromise on the price, the company provides similarly epic non answers:"SportsNet LA is available on fair terms consistent with its value. We know that the rates for the network owned by this iconic franchise are in line with what other RSN’s around the country charge, including DirecTV’s own regional sports networks."While it's understandable that Time Warner Cable wants to recoup its investment, the total inflexibility here is pretty well in character for a company that actually has worse customer satisfaction ratings than even the much-hated Comcast. The growing cost of sports programming and the steady increase in annoying retransmission fee dispute blackouts usually help drive cord cutting, but in this case there's absolutely nowhere else to go to watch the content in question. Even over the air broadcasts aren't an option thanks to the nature of the Time Warner Cable, Dodgers arrangement. So far, regulators have chosen to treat these kinds of programming rate standoffs as just "boys being boys," but it's unclear how much longer they're going to be willing to stand on the sidelines given how much politicians love to earn cheap, sports-related political brownie points. Last year FCC boss Tom Wheeler sent a letter to Time Warner Cable claiming that "inaction is no longer acceptable" and the FCC was "monitor(ing) this situation closely in order to determine whether intervention is appropriate and necessary." But the FCC has said little since. Given that three of the companies involved in the standoff (AT&T, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable) are awaiting merger approval, conditions might be used to force the issue over the next few weeks.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
Space travel isn't easy. It's risky and involves quite a bit of preparation if the trip is going to last more than a few minutes or hours. But if humanity is really going to commit to space exploration, there are a few problems to solve. Life support systems are obviously going to need to protect our fragile bodies from radiation and the vacuum of space. On top of that, we also need to counteract the negative effects of microgravity on our health. Some people are thinking about these problems, but it's likely that we won't have solutions until at least 2030. NASA officially forbids pregnancy in space due to the unknown hazards it presents to the unborn. If humans are going to colonize other worlds, we're going to need to figure out how to procreate in different environments -- and bring along 10,000-40,000 astronauts to keep the genetic diversity high (unless space explorers opt to do far more genetic engineering experiments than we do on earth). [url] Plenty of people have volunteered for the Mars One mission -- a one-way trip to the red planet. A short documentary of a few of the people willing to die on Mars (or on the way) shows that these folks are a bit weird, but that they're not so crazy, either. [url] Astronauts haven't been to the moon in a while, so we've almost forgotten all of the things they've done and left behind on the moon. Astronauts have slept for 8 hours on the moon. They've left behind all kinds of waste -- but not bags of vomit, apparently. [url] After you've finished checking out those links, if you have some spare change (or more) and would like to support Techdirt, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
If you've spent any time on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can appreciate the hazards of the digital jungle. And even if you can fend for yourself out there, what about your kids? As well as I know the jungle's safe paths, I constantly worry about my three sons as they begin to navigate social platforms. The alternate world of our social media identities – profiles, handles, accounts, "friends" – has ruined reputations and ended careers, even lives. Adolescents and teenagers see this daily in the form of online bullying. For adults, the harassment usually comes from the anonymous vitriol spewed across the web. The question becomes then: Will it get better? Or is this simply the new normal of our increasingly all-digital world? The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case of a man convicted of threatening on Facebook to kill his wife. The defendant argues that he never meant what he wrote online. The prosecution argues, in effect, that intent is not the issue. Rather, a reasonable person would have felt threatened and that should be standard for a crime committed. What would you – or did you – think if someone dropped a death threat on your profile page? How the Court decides Elonis v. United States could lead the way toward stemming online abuse. The Justices may uphold the conviction, but as Justice Sonia Sotomayor said during oral arguments, "We've been loathe to create more exceptions to the First Amendment." It's a comment that might leave the floodgates wide open for online abuse, granting online bullies and trolls even greater latitude under the cover of the First Amendment. No matter what the Court decides, it still would be exceedingly hard to prosecute online offenders whose abuse doesn't include physical threats. Ask any teenager or adolescent if online attacks like, "You're so ugly; you should kill yourself," hurt any less than verbal assaults. The Court's decision won't stem the online harassment of adult victims either, whose tweets, posts or pictures done in poor taste can cause serious digital backlash. The fact is social networks have changed the way we see ourselves, just as email once changed the way we communicated. Whether it's bullying or harassment, there still exists a sense of comfortable anonymity in the digital-social world. We have our "offline" selves, who would never say such things to someone's face, and our "online" selves, who can't stop from piling on our targets. In many ways, it's no different than the violent mobs of yesteryear – people in a mob find themselves doing things they would never contemplate on their own. But Court cases like Elonis are helping to erode this digital wall between our online and offline identities. Since its foundation, the Internet has revealed its unique place in society – a place where people are free to be whoever they want. As the classic New Yorker cartoon featuring two canines puts it, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." This freedom has found its purest expression in social network sites. Yet the nature of the Internet is changing. We hardly even talk about "being online" anymore, because we're always online through our smartphones and mobile devices. And today, more and more of our cars are online. Our televisions are online. Even our clock radios are online. There will be a time in the not-so-distance future when most of our household appliances will be connected to the web – and not in the way we now know them: using the Internet for one application, such as navigation for cars. They will be "communicating" with other connected devices, constantly gathering data through sensors on us, the users, and on our surroundings. As the Internet evolves, so too will the way in which we see ourselves. Social networks will no longer be confined to our screens – laptops, tablets or smartphones. They will be as seamlessly integrated into our daily lives as the Internet itself. In this digital future, it will be much harder to cyberbully and torment people online, because the anonymity of the Internet will give way as we circle back to a world of singular identity – online and off. The chasm that once existed between our online selves and our offline selves is shrinking. Given the trends of digital devices and the ubiquity of the Internet we see today, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks will no longer be separate places where our actions live without consequence. They will be as real as our brick-and-mortar reality, where civility and restraint still govern. "Welcome to the jungle" will no longer be a dire warning, but a digital whisper. Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., is the chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association and the author of the forthcoming book, "Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate" (Regnery, 2015). Follow Shawn on Twitter @ShawnDuBravacPermalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
Most people would agree that cops slapping a GPS device on a suspect's vehicle for months or years at a time would have Fourth Amendment implications. It's often the length of the intrusion that has bothered courts the most (and mostly at state level, not federal), not the initial surreptitiousness of the GPS placement. Once it starts resembling a long-term tracking of a person's movements, some courts (including the Supreme Court) have declared a warrant requirement should be in place. When it comes to tracking recidivist sex offenders for the rest of their lives, most people -- and most courts -- don't see this as much of an issue. Both involve the long-term tracking of individuals, but more people can stomach the idea of permanent tab-keeping on known sex offenders than on people only suspected of criminal activity. The context matters -- at least in terms of how much of the population views the potential intrusion. But context doesn't matter when it comes to the Fourth Amendment, as the US Supreme Court recently ruled. If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina, before sending the case back to that state’s high court. The Court’s short but unanimous opinion helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government. What's interesting about this recent unanimous ruling is that it extends Fourth Amendment protections to convicted criminals, rather than just to suspected criminals. It's also a very short opinion -- partially due to the lack of dissent -- that gets straight to the heart of why the lower court's decision was wrong, starting with its rejection of the ruling in US v. Jones. The only explanation provided below for the rejection of Grady’s challenge is the quoted passage from State v. Jones. And the only theory we discern in that passage is that the State’s system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court’s precedents. The State further argued that the Jones decision did not apply because the monitoring program is civil in nature, rather than criminal. The Supreme Court corrects this misconception. It is well settled,” however, “that the Fourth Amendment’s protection extends beyond the sphere of criminal investigations,” Ontario v. Quon, 560 U. S. 746, 755 (2010), and the government’s purpose in collecting information does not control whether the method of collection constitutes a search. A building inspector who enters a home simply to ensure compliance with civil safety regulations has undoubtedly conducted a search under the Fourth Amendment. More ridiculously, the State tried to claim that a lifetime monitoring program may not actually collect information about the subject's movements and whereabouts -- a non-conclusion it reached by dumping the burden of proof on the plaintiff. This, too, is treated harshly by the Justices. Without evidence that it is acting to obtain information, the State argues, “there is no basis upon which this Court can determine whether North Carolina conducts a ‘search’ of an offender enrolled in its SBM program.” Ibid. (citing Jones, 565 U. S., at ___, n. 5 (slip op., at 7, n. 5) (noting that a government intrusion is not a search unless “done to obtain information”)). In other words, the State argues that we cannot be sure its program for satellite-based monitoring of sex offenders collects any information. If the very name of the program does not suffice to rebut this contention, the text of the statute surely does: “The satellite-based monitoring program shall use a system that provides all of the following: “(1) Time-correlated and continuous tracking of the geographic location of the subject . . . . “(2) Reporting of subject’s violations of prescriptive and proscriptive schedule or location requirements.” N. C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §14–208.40(c). The State’s program is plainly designed to obtain information. And since it does so by physically intruding on a Cite as: 575 U. S. ____ (2015) 5 Per Curiam subject’s body, it effects a Fourth Amendment search. While the Supreme Court didn't go so far as to rule all such tracking programs as Fourth Amendment searches, it did vacate the state Supreme Court's decision and makes it clear that lower courts are to address this issue, rather than gloss over potential Fourth Amendment ramifications. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
Assuming you have a passing interest in politics and were awake for the past week or so, you've likely already heard all about Indiana's recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Designed similarly to laws in several other states, including my home state of Illinois, the bill was designed to confer religious expression rights (further than the federal protection that already exists for individuals) onto business owners and the companies they operate. Depending on what you read and where you read it, there has been a great deal of confusion over what this law does and where it departs from similar laws in other states. The one distinction that appears to really matter, should you be interested, is that most of these kinds of laws include language that forbid their invocation as a defense at trial for discrimination in which the government is not a party, whereas Indiana's law didn't make that distinction. Indiana has since amended the law to protect the LGBT community, which has been particularly vocal in its opposition. Since the right of refusal on religious grounds to serve that community was really the impetus for this law to begin with, that pretty much leaves us where we were before the law was in place at all. Whether you agree with the law or think it legalized bigotry is a discussion for another place. What interests me is whether now, in the age of a democratized message available via the internet, the outcry to change the law was the most efficient course of action at all. When discussing the benefits of the First Amendment, free speech, and the right to freely express ideas, most often the focus is placed on the value of protecting speech for the sake of the speakers. After all, should we begin to allow censorship of some speech, we might some day find that speech we wish to use has become censored. It's a perfectly valid argument, but an incomplete one, because the other benefit of free speech is that, assuming it's exercised, we don't have to wonder about the stances and positions people take. What Indiana's law did, in its original form, was offer business entities the same right to expose their opinions in the same way. And, in the age of Yelp reviews and online activism, are we really better off taking actions that push free speech, even speech we detest, underground, or are we better off giving companies an avenue for exposure. Think again about Yelp reviews and recall the general trend for the stories we cover about them at Techdirt. Those posts tend to be of a couple varieties. Many are the sort that involve business owners suing over negative Yelp reviews. A couple of things to note about this when framed by a discussion on the Indiana law: First, this reaction to Yelp reviews means that online reviews matter to businesses, and with good reason. Customer reviews are often a first-stop on the consumer's road to deciding where to spend their dollar. Online reviews are a powerful thing, in other words. As for suing over negative reviews, I think the case that such actions are valid would be diminished by a law that confers more expression rights to companies than not. After all, either you're for free speech or you aren't, Mr. Indiana Company. The road is traveled in both directions. The other kind of Techdirt post you see concerning online customer reviews is of the activist sort, where a company has acted positively or poorly in one way or another and the general public took to review sites, such as Yelp, Google Plus, or Facebook pages, to express their support or disgust. You may recall the the whole Amy's Baking Company fiasco that started with some crazy customer stories on Yelp, spun out of control on the show Kitchen Nightmares, and then exploded all over social media and review sites shortly thereafter. There, too, the owners of the establishment blamed Yelp reviews and "haters" for their misery, showing the power of the platform. If activism is a valid tool at all, it's perhaps at its most powerful in the online world, where connections exist everywhere and activism can be democratized across city, state, and national lines. So, in light of all that, the question for both sides of the argument on the Indiana law is whether either side was best served by amending the law and responding to the backlash, or if we would have all been better off trusting that enough information is shared at this point, and our country has made enough progress, generally speaking, to simply trust the combination of market forces and online speech and let the law stand as it was originally written. It feels strange to argue this, I'll admit, but I think the latter might be true. Were I the one making these decisions, I would be tempted to let Indiana's companies have their way and all the speech and rights to refuse service they might choose to take advantage of. Not because I would agree with their theology or their politics, but because I would trust the general public and the internet to work as a market force and solve the problem without further legislation.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
We all know we should be backing up our important files and memories from our hard drives, but how many of us remember to do so regularly? With today's Daily Deal of 67% off of the SOS Online Infinite Cloud Backup: 2 years subscription you can back up your data with limitless space. The subscription is good for 1 computer (Mac or PC) and unlimited mobile devices (iOS or Android) and includes all program updates. SOS Online runs in the background, encrypts all data with UltraSafe, SOS’s triple-layer privacy technology, can geo-locate and remotely wipe lost/stolen devices, and can even back up old print photos & home movies with its Scan-to-Cloud service. Taking advantage of this deal could start you down a path to digital peace of mind. Note: We earn a portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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posted 17 days ago on techdirt
Late in 2013, Paul Hansmeier, formerly of Prenda Law's Legal Buffoonery on Wheels Copyright Death Suicide Squad, realized that participating in a multi-jurisdictional legal train wreck had left him oddly unfulfilled. If the promise contained in his law degree was ever to be fulfilled, he would need to reassess his shakedown-focused lawyering. After an indeterminable amount of thought, Hansmeier apparently arrived at the conclusion that -- unfulfilled promise or no -- he was really only good at one thing: shaking people down. And, sadly, he wasn't even all that great at that. But "sue what you know," as they say, and Hansmeier went about rebranding himself as a Champion of the Weak and Underprivileged. No longer would he be throwing shaky demand letters and even shakier lawsuits at Household Members Voted Most Likely To Download Porn by the loose confederation of shakedown artists d/b/a An Actual Law Firm ("Come see our letterhead!"). That was the old Paul Hansmeier. The new Paul Hansmeier would instead be throwing shaky lawsuits and demand letters at any company whose towel racks were located more than 32" above the ground or whose entry threshold was a ¼" above the legally-mandated height. The smaller the company the better, as they rarely even bothered to show up in court and would instead settle for a small fee. The new Paul Hansmeier's operations were so efficient he could barely keep himself stocked in A4. Filings were submitted so fast not even the plaintiffs were aware they were listed as plaintiffs. And it was working, to a limited extent. Hansmeier was able to knock over a few mom-and-pop businesses for a few grand each. But now he's run into Kahler Hotels, which not only isn't interested in his ADA shakedown claims, but is countersuing him for $50,000+. (h/t to Dan Browning of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune) In its response to Hansmeier's complaint, Kahler denies a majority of the allegations before moving on to its own complaints. COUNT I - ABUSE OF PROCESS 1. Defendants are owners of real property located in Rochester, Minnesota. 2. Plaintiffs filed and served the instant action alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act and unfair discrimination. 3. Plaintiffs have an ulterior purpose in pursuing the claims set forth in their Complaint. 4. Plaintiffs’ Complaint misuses and perverts the purpose of a civil action. 5. As a direct and proximate result of Plaintiffs’ abuse of process, Defendants have sustained damages in excess of $50,000. COUNT II - CIVIL CONSPIRACY 6. Defendants incorporate in this paragraph the allegations set forth in Paragraphs 1 through 5 as though they were fully set forth herein. 7. The Plaintiffs are engaged in a civil conspiracy to accomplish some concerted action, which injures Defendants. 8. The Plaintiffs did commit, and executed certain acts in pursuance of certain torts as previously delineated against the Defendants. 9. That as a result of the Plaintiffs’ tortious conduct alleged herein, Plaintiffs did conspire and agree to commit such acts. 10. As a direct and proximate result thereof, Defendants have sustained damages in excess of $50,000. WHEREFORE, Defendants pray for entry of judgment as follows: 1. Plaintiffs take nothing by their Complaint as alleged; 2. Defendants are awarded damages in excess of $50,000 together with interest, costs, disbursements and attorney’s fees; and 3. The court order such further relief as it deems just and equitable. Whether or not the counterclaims (which are really, really vague) hold up remains to be seen, but this motion should give Hansmeier second thoughts about trolling this particular venue for easy ADA cash. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Say what you will about the Baltimore PD and its cell tower spoofers (like... "It would rather let accused criminals go than violate its [bogus] non-disclosure agreement with the FBI…" or "It hides usage of these devices behind pen register/trap and trace warrants and then argues the two collection methods are really the same thing…"), but at least it's making sure the hundreds of thousands of dollars it's spent on the technology isn't going to waste. On Wednesday, Baltimore police Det. Emmanuel Cabreja said the department has deployed the device, called Hailstorm, and similar technology about 4,300 times since 2007. As the AP notes, the number of deployments admitted to here is the largest ever made public. This doesn't necessarily mean the rate of usage (more than once a day, on average) is out of the ordinary, however. Thanks to the very restrictive non-disclosure agreement the FBI forces law enforcement agencies to sign (while falsely claiming "the FCC made us do it!"), information on cell tower spoofers has very rarely been disclosed. Det. Cabreja confirmed the ultra-restrictive terms of the FBI's NDA, which forbids law enforcement agencies from producing any information on Stingray devices, no matter who's asking for it. Cabreja said under questioning from defense attorneys that he did not comply with a subpoena to bring the device to court because of a nondisclosure agreement between the Baltimore police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Does it instruct you to withhold evidence from the state’s attorney and the circuit court of Baltimore city, even if upon order to produce?” asked defense attorney Joshua Insley. “Yes,” Cabreja replied, saying he spoke with the FBI last week about the case. There's nothing quite like hearing confirmation that two law enforcement agencies worked together to withhold information from a party being prosecuted by directly violating a court order. But it gets even better. The Baltimore PD's NDA was made public, and it shows the State's Attorney's office signing off on withholding Stingray information from judges and defendants, as well as agreeing to toss cases if exposure seems unavoidable. In contrast, the Erie County Sheriff's Department's agreement obtained by the NYCLU only contained signatures from law enforcement officials. The courts -- at least in Baltimore -- seem to be tiring of this secrecy. Baltimore judge Barry Williams has previously questioned the Baltimore PD's citation of its non-disclosure agreement with the FBI, with one memorably pointing out that the PD "doesn't have a non-disclosure agreement with this court." Unfortunately, if the Baltimore PD prioritizes its NDA over its obligation to obey court orders and turn over requested evidence, then it does actually have an NDA "with the court," albeit one the court never agreed to. If the FBI says Stingray info isn't going to be turned over -- no matter who's asking for it -- that information will remain hidden, even if it means tossing criminal cases. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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As the pressure is finally on over renewing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (and the mass surveillance programs enabled by the law), there are some interesting questions being raised: such as why doesn't the intelligence community seem to care about whether or not its programs work. That link takes you to a great article by former FBI agent (and now big time defender of civil liberties) Michael German, investigating the issue in the context of cybersecurity legislation. Here's just a snippet in which he notes that basically everyone agrees that these programs won't help at all, and yet some are still pushing for them: There is a strong argument for ending these programs on the basis of their high cost and lack of effectiveness alone. But they actually do damage to our society. TSA agents participating in the behavioral detection program have claimed the program promotes racial profiling, and at least one inspector general report confirmed it. Victims unfairly caught up in the broader suspicious activity reporting programs have sued over the violations of their privacy. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board concluded the telephone metadata program violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and raised serious constitutional concerns. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act passed by Senate Intelligence Committee last week is yet another example of this phenomenon. Experts agree that the bill would do little, if anything, to reduce the large data breaches we’ve seen in recent years, which have been caused by bad cyber security practices rather than a lack of information about threats. If passed by the full Congress, it would further weaken electronic privacy laws and ultimately put our data at greater risk. The bill would add another layer of government surveillance on a U.S. tech industry that is already facing financial losses estimated at $180 billion as a result of the exposure of NSA’s aggressive collection programs. He also details some of the over-inflated claims of other surveillance programs in the past -- all of which were later shown to be false. But, the article doesn't really attempt to answer the question -- just raise it. In the past, we've noticed that the entire concept of a cost-benefit analysis seems antithetical to the way the surveillance state does business. But why is that? There are a few theories. The most obvious one is the one put forth by the ACLU's Kade Crockford a few months ago, highlighting a statement by former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes in a documentary about the FBI's fake plots, The Newburgh Sting, in which he basically admits that keeping the public scared is how you get your budgets approved: If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the war on terror and everything’s great,’ cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive. In other words, it's the bureaucratic momentum that leads the surveillance state to just keep pushing the "fear" story, and never wants anyone to look at whether or not that story is true or if the cost related to it makes sense. That's certainly supported by the fact that many of the earliest hypers of "cybersecurity" were those who stood to profit handsomely from it (and have done so). In our recent podcast with Barry Eisler (himself a former CIA agent), he suggested a similar, but slightly different rationale, pointing to the "streetlight effect" based on the old joke of a drunk man searching for his lost keys under a streetlight, while admitting they were actually lost somewhere else. When questioned about this, he notes that he's searching under the light because "that's where the light is." In other words, the surveillance state collects all this useless data because they can -- and the costs associated with it (not just the direct costs, but all the damage done to US companies, trust in government and more...) don't really matter. There's probably a combination of both of those factors at work here, but I'll toss another one on the list which may be at work as well: the CYA theory. That is, most of the people in the surveillance state know pretty damn well that these programs are useless. But they don't want to be the one left holding the bag when the music stops on the next big attack, and the press and politicians are pointing to them and asking why they didn't do "X" to prevent whatever horrible thing just happened. So those officials need to "cover their ass" in being able to claim that they did everything possible -- and that always means more surveillance, because they don't want to be told that they could have gotten some information but didn't (even if having more information obscures finding the important information.) In other words, many of those involved are doing a cost-benefit analysis, not for the safety of the country or national security but for their own reputations. And that's how bad policy gets made. They don't do the right thing because no one wants to stand up there after there's some sort of attack or problem, and say "well, we didn't know those bad people were doing this because we didn't want to violate everyone's rights." That just doesn't play well, unfortunately. That's why the point that Bruce Schneier has been trying to make for years is so important: we need to bring society back to a place where people accept that there's some risk involved in everything. That's the nature of being alive. If we can rationally come to terms with that fact, then people don't need to freak out so much. But, unfortunately, it doesn't seem like that societal shift is going to happen any time soon.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Back during the SOPA fight, in a discussion with someone who was working with the politicians pushing SOPA, I pointed out that such a law would encourage much more encryption -- and the response was "that's no problem, because we'll just ban encryption next." As stupid and impossible as such a statement is, it shows the mindset of some copyright extremists. Thus, it should be no surprise that they're actually starting down just such a path in New Zealand. As we noted last year, Kiwi ISPs, frustrated that their users kept running up against geoblocks, have started offering VPN services that get around geoblocks as a standard feature there. Basically, this is nothing more than a recognition that the internet really is global and attempts to pretend otherwise are pretty fruitless. However, the big media companies are not happy about this turn of events. A week or so ago, a bunch of them (Lightbox, MediaWorks, SKY, and TVNZ) teamed up to threaten New Zealand ISPs that if they didn't stop offering "global mode" VPN services to customers, that the media companies would sue -- arguing that merely offering such a service was copyright infringement. The letter is full of the usual bluster: “Offshore providers, such as Netflix US, Hulu, Amazon Prime and BBC iplayer do not have the right to exploit the copyright works in New Zealand,” the letter says. Licenses they hold apply only to specific overseas locations and prohibit customers from circumventing geo-blocking measures and other content protections. That may be true, but whether or not those companies are operating in New Zealand is not an issue that is of concern to the ISPs, who are providing internet access to the entire internet. If Netflix US, Hulu, Amazon and the BBC were the ones sneaking around the geoblocks, the companies might have a point. But arguing that merely offering a VPN service to users somehow violates the law seems like a crazy interpretation of copyright laws. But, of course, crazy interpretations of copyright laws are the norm these days, and there are always some lawyers who will insist the media companies have a case, such as the lawyer quoted in that article. The basic argument seems to be a variation on felony interference of a business model: The four are claiming that Global Mode, offered by Slingshot and Orcon, and similar services offered by other providers, are ‘unlawful’ for several reasons. Top of the list is infringement of the Copyright Act 1994, ‘either directly or as a joint tortfeasor’. The four are also claiming the services are unlawful in providing ‘misleading representations’ in stating or implying ‘without a proper basis’ that it is lawful for New Zealand based users of the services to access content from the offshore providers, and that ‘circumvention of geo-blocking measures in this way is permitted by New Zealand law (just like parallel importing of DVDs)’. The four are also claiming that use of the services constitutes a clear breach of the terms and conditions of the offshore providers – being the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer. From a loose reading of this it seems like they're really arguing three things: (1) that offering such a service is a form of "inducement" to infringement, (2) that this is a form of circumvention of restrictions, which violates anti-circumvention clauses and (3) that this violates the terms of those video services. The third argument is meaningless since that's an issue between those services and the ISPs, not the media companies and the ISPs. The first one seems like a stretch but probably depends on a few factors, including how the services are marketed and whether or not merely viewing geoblocked content is a form of direct infringement (which seems like a stretch to me). The circumvention issue also seems like a stretch, but may depend on the specifics of New Zealand's Copyright Act, which I'm not as familiar with. You can read it here though to see which sections might apply. Either way, with the threat looming, at least one ISP has caved, saying it's not worth the fight: Unlimited Internet director Ben Simpson says that while his company doesn’t necessarily agree with that assertion, it has taken down the service nonetheless. “Geo-unblocking services are a direct result of consumer demand for access to content that is not made available to the New Zealand market,” Simpson says. “To be on the safe side, we have taken legal advice on this matter and I have made a firm call that we will sit on the sideline until a legal precedent has been set.” Of course, whether or not offering such a service technically violates copyright law is kind of besides the point, as the very idea that offering such a service should be against the law is crazy. Such services provide real value to consumers not just in getting around pointless geoblocks, but also in protecting privacy. Trying to outlaw VPN services like that just to protect obsolete business models of media companies pretending the world is not global these days, just seems like yelling at the tide. But, given that it's big old media companies we're dealing with, they still haven't figured out that going with the tide is much easier than ordering it not to come in...Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Given that the lack of competition keeps broadband prices sky high, it's really no surprise that most ISPs make their pricing as confusing as possible, either hiding what you'll pay behind a prequalification wall, or sacking users with a bevy of bizarre fees to covertly jack up the advertised rate post sale. While the industry is quick to issue a slew of press releases every time they bump their downstream speeds a few megabits, they'll usually do their best to avoid mentioning what customers pay for the honor of these faster services, well aware that they're only drawing additional attention to competitive shortcomings. Still, even with layers upon layers of obfuscation, broadband ISPs will usually tell you what they charge users when pressed. Not so with Frontier, a telco that's been growing by leaps and bounds as it acquires a growing number of DSL customers that Verizon and AT&T don't deem profitable enough to upgrade. When an industry outlet recently reached out to Frontier as part of a series trying to compare prices, Frontier actually refused to tell the news outlet how much it charges for DSL service. When pressed, the company would only provide what has to be one of the most long-winded non-answers I've ever seen:"We offer internet access to both consumer and business customers through a variety of technologies leveraging both copper and fiber infrastructure, including digital subscriber line ('DSL'), dedicated fiber and lit buildings throughout our footprint," FairPoint said in an e-mailed statement. "Certain of these services provide speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. In select markets, we also offer cable modem internet service, 'Fiber to the Home', and wireless internet access. We sell Internet service as both a standalone, managed or packaged solution. Many customers like to simplify vendors and utilize our packaged and bundled solutions to meet their communications needs."That's code for saying that Frontier faces so little competition in its territories, it not only doesn't have to disclose how much it charges for service, it doesn't have to care whether you find that kind of stonewalling obnoxious. If you need Frontier's broadband service, there's a pretty good chance that Frontier service is your only option, so you'll have to wait until you've actually signed up to truly learn how much you'll get to pay.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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One of the most wonderful sights to see in the gaming community, particularly in the PC gaming community, is what a combination of a loyal fan-base and a strong modding community can produce. This is particularly so when the mods released are clear and active attempts at doing nothing more than making the original product even better. You see this all the time in PC gaming -- old games being yanked into the present, an increase the replayability of a classic, and even all-new sub-games created out of the original. All of this done through a modding community that loves the original work produced by game designers. Some gaming companies embrace the modding community, while some don't. Which way they go is typically decided by just how much control the company generally wants to exert over its product. Guess which way Microsoft tends to go? Well, they tend to be the protectionist sort, but a recent story about the release of a new free-to-play Halo game, Halo Online, both puzzled me and amused me. The puzzled part came from Microsoft firmly insisting that the release would be available for play in Russia only, which...what the hell? Even the excuse of a long testing period in a Russia-only beta setting is, well, kind of strange. Microsoft: Right now our focus is on learning as much as we can from the closed beta period in Russia. Theoretically, any expansion outside of Russia would have to go through region-specific changes to address player expectations. Note that availability of the game to markets outside of Putin-ville is theoretical at this point. Except not really, of course, and that's where the amusement came from. Because if the alchemy ingredients for mods is a loyal fan-base, something begging for modification, and a capable modding community, everyone had to know that restricting this to Russia was going to be a barrier tested by the public before too long. It turns out that "before too long" meant in the past few weeks, because modders were already posting information on their work to free Halo from Russian imprisonment when Microsoft caught wind and fired off a DMCA notice to the host site. Modders have been mucking about with the leaked Halo Online files to unlock features, with one team creating a game launcher called ‘ElDorito.’ But all that work came to screeching halt yesterday after Microsoft sent a DMCA takedown notice to Github, who was hosting the files. The site quickly complied. Microsoft sent the following notice to Github: "We have received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to, copyrighted works published by Microsoft," the company wrote in a DMCA notice to Github. Under other circumstances, that might be the end of the story, except that these are game modders we're talking about. When they commit, they're committed, and their work tends to mean that they're the sort of types who know how to route around these sorts of attacks. Now, to be clear, Microsoft certainly has the right to try to kill off these modders' work, but they're going to have to try a lot harder than a single DMCA if they want to really have this battle. "In terms of DMCA/C&D mitigation, we have made redundant git backups on private and public git servers. This is to ensure we will always have one working copy. These are being synchronized so that data is always the same," [modder] Woovie explains. "Further DMCAs may happen potentially, it’s not really known at the moment. Our backups will always exist though and we will continue until we’re happy." Team member Neoshadow42 says that, as a game developer himself, he sympathizes with Microsoft to a point about protecting ones copyrighted material: "As someone involved in game development, I’m sympathetic with some developers when it comes to copyright issues. This is different though, in my opinion,” the dev explains. "The game was going to be free in the first place. The PC audience has been screaming for Halo 3 for years and years, and we saw the chance with this leak. The fact that we could, in theory, bring the game that everyone wants, without the added on stuff that would ruin the game, that’s something we’d be proud of." Making the moral equation here slightly more complicated is that the things that "would ruin the game" don't only refer to the geo-restrictions, but to other game "features" as well, such as in-game microtransactions that almost uniformly piss off the PC gaming community. The modding team has aimed at removing those from the game as well, which, given that this is a free-to-play game, might break the business model Microsoft set up for the game. I expect Microsoft to continue battling for control of its product, as well as for the game's restrictions and microtransactions. Ultimately, this is a damned shame, because there's a lesson to be learned from all of this and that lesson is not that the modding community is the enemy of the game designer. This is pure market testing at its finest. What this entire episode clearly outlines for Microsoft, were it willing to listen, is that potential customers want wider availability for the beta version of the game (as in, not restricted along national borders) and don't want annoying microtransactions in a Halo game. And if they want those things, fans will be willing to pay for them. Should Microsoft continue with its plan to not meet customer demand, those customers likely won't go unfulfilled, they'll simply find their pleasure in the form of a mod from a strong modding community that Microsoft wants to play whac-a-mole with, rather than listen to the wants of its customers. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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The mosaic of interlocking political, economic and civil society groups at multiple levels -- local, national, regional and continental -- makes decision-making within the European Union extremely complex. That means the European Parliament's decision whether or not to ratify TAFTA/TTIP at the end of the negotiations is subject to a vast array of contrasting forces and opinions, which can lead to the outcome of that final vote shifting dramatically in a very short space of time, as the ACTA saga demonstrated so clearly. The European Parliament's committees play a key role in determining policy, and one of the most important -- for civil liberties -- has just formally adopted an "opinion" on TAFTA/TTIP that will feed into the final position of European politicians. It re-iterates many of the points the committee made last year, and places great emphasis on protecting the personal data of Europeans: The European Commission should incorporate in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as a key priority, an unambiguous horizontal self-standing provision that "fully exempts the existing and future EU legal framework on the protection of personal data from the agreement", says the Civil Liberties Committee in its TTIP opinion adopted on Tuesday. That "horizontal provision" basically means across the entire agreement, and not just in certain chapters. To achieve that, the Civil Liberties MEPs call on the Commission: to incorporate, as a key priority, "a comprehensive and unambiguous horizontal self-standing provision based on Article XIV of the GATS [general exceptions] that fully exempts the existing and future EU legal framework on the protection of personal data from the agreement, without any condition that it must be consistent with other parts of the TTIP". Article XIV of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) says: Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where like conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on trade in services, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any Member of measures: ... (c) necessary to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement including those relating to: ... (ii) the protection of the privacy of individuals in relation to the processing and dissemination of personal data and the protection of confidentiality of individual records and accounts; The Committee points out that this threat to data protection is present not only in TTIP, but also in TISA, as Techdirt has discussed before: Ongoing negotiations on international trade agreements, such as TTIP and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), also touch upon international data flows, while excluding privacy and data protection entirely, which will be discussed in parallel track within the framework of the US-EU Safe Harbor and the data protection "umbrella agreement". Safe Harbor, as we've noted, is major point of contention between the US and EU. Another, of course, is the mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden, and the Civil Liberties Committee is not shy about mentioning that, too: The negotiators should keep in mind that that the consent of the European Parliament to the final TTIP agreement "could be endangered as long as the blanket mass surveillance activities are not completely abandoned and an adequate solution is found for the data privacy rights of EU citizens, including administrative and judicial redress", MEPs say This is only one committee, albeit a key one. But at the very least it gives an indication of some of the serious issues that will be raised if and when it comes to a vote on ratifying TAFTA/TTIP -- and of the difficulty of gaining enough support among MEPs to do so. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+ Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Peer reviewed publications have been under some additional scrutiny lately, as some of the practices of peer review aren't quite as honest and reliable as they once might have been. Fortunately, there are some solutions that create alternatives to the peer review process that involve opening up the content for more reviewers to study, question and verify results. Having reliable information more widely available to the public sounds like it can't go wrong, but it's not easy to build a reputation on a small database of preprints. However, as more and more significant results come from unlikely people, the process of peer review will need to adapt and account for unexpected authors. Academic journals are a multi-billion-dollar industry with a handful of dominant publishers. These paywalled systems could be disrupted by more open publishing schemes used by organizations such as PLOS, arxiv.org and academia.edu -- if the next generation of peer review turns out to be effective and economical. [url] PubPeer creates an anonymous forum for criticizing technical papers -- offering a kind of alternative to the traditional peer review process to help weed out unreliable publications. However, the anonymous nature of PubPeer may be threatened by a court order to reveal a commenter's identity over alleged defamation. [url] A scientific publication that's peer reviewed by kids (age 8-16yo) is getting children into the game of science early. Frontiers for Young Minds isn't exactly the cutting edge of science, but it's free for submissions and has no paywall. The business model probably doesn't scale too well, but nobody is likely getting tenure based on papers published before they could legally drive. [url] After you've finished checking out those links, if you have some spare change (or more) and would like to support Techdirt, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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In the nearly two years since the first of the Ed Snowden revelations, Congress has proceeded to carefully avoid fixing anything. There have been some votes that have come close, and some attempts to reform the program, but, in part because nothing gets through Congress, nothing has really happened. This is even though the author of the PATRIOT Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, has said that the Act is being misinterpreted to allow mass surveillance and while President Obama himself has called for the program to be changed (though he has failed to step up and stop it himself, even though he has the power to do so). As we've mentioned a few times, however, much of this comes to a head in the next month and a half -- because Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act officially sunsets as of June 1st -- so if Congress doesn't pass legislation renewing it, the program dies. Admittedly, this is just one program -- and there are many other problematic programs that are covered by other parts of the law... but one thing at a time. A bunch of activist groups have gotten together to now launch a campaign looking to convince Congress to not renew Section 215 and you can (and should) use it to contact your elected officials. Meanwhile, Trevor Timm has a good overview concerning what's at stake: The massive phone dragnet is not the only thing Section 215 is used for though. As independent journalist Marcy Wheeler has meticulously documented, Section 215 is likely being used for all sorts of surveillance that the public has no idea about. There are an estimated 180 orders from the secret Fisa court that involve Section 215, but we know only five of them are directed at telecom companies for the NSA phone program. To give you a sense of the scale: the one Fisa order published by the Guardian from the Snowden trove compelled Verizon to hand over every phone record that it had on all its millions of customers. Every single one. While the government claims that its other uses of Section 215 are “critical” to national security, it’s extremely hard to take their word for it. After all, the government lied about collecting information on millions of Americans under Section 215 to begin with. Then they claimed the phone surveillance program was “critical” to national security after it was exposed. That wasn’t true either: they later had to admit it has never stopped a single terrorist attack. Of course, you may notice that even though this supposedly "critical" program is set to sunset in under two months there has so far been absolutely no debate whatsoever about the renewal. Don't be surprised. This is totally par for the course. Back in 2011 -- the last time these parts of the PATRIOT Act were extended -- there was no debate and Congress rushed it through with 74 Senators voting against even allowing a debate over the provisions. Similarly, at the end of 2012, when the FISA Amendments Act was up for renewal, surveillance state defenders waited until the very end, and then insisted there was no need for debate. Senator Ron Wyden finally forced some debate by threatening to put a hold on the bill. And so, with just days to spare, the Senate held a very weak last minute debate in which a bunch of our elected officials made blatantly false or misleading statements -- peppered with the usual FUD about "terrorism! national security!" -- until the extension passed. Things are at least a little different this time around, as the Snowden revelations have made this issue a bigger deal. But, history has shown that Congress will do almost anything to avoid debating the issue, and then at the last minute will scream about how we're all going to die if the program isn't renewed. Just watch: it's what's going to happen this time again. That is, unless enough people reach out to their Congressional Representatives and Senators to let them know this is unacceptable. The surveillance state hawks will always defend the program. And the civil liberties supporters will always fight against it. But there's a huge group in the middle that really hasn't taken a stand on this issue -- and it's imperative that they know that their constituents don't want them to continue supporting the NSA's mass surveillance programs.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Well, that was quick. As we noted, just yesterday, USA Today published a detailed takedown of the DEA's massive phone records mass surveillance program that was actually started more than two decades ago. And this morning, the EFF, representing Human Rights Watch, filed a lawsuit over the program. Of course, the program had actually been revealed years ago, and back in January, the US government revealed some details itself about the program, which is what prompted the new lawsuit. As the EFF notes in its press release about the lawsuit: “The DEA’s program of untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of Americans’ international telephone call records—information about the numbers people call, and the time, date, and duration of those calls—affects millions of innocent people, yet the DEA operated the program in secret for years,’’ said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “Both the First and Fourth Amendment protect Americans from this kind of overreaching surveillance. This lawsuit aims to vindicate HRW’s rights, and the rights of all Americans, to make calls overseas without being subject to government surveillance.” I recommend reading the full complaint which has more details. It details why the program violates both the First and Fourth Amendments. The basic First Amendment argument: By their acts alleged herein, Defendants have violated and are violating the First Amendment free speech and free association rights of Plaintiff and its staff, including the right to communicate anonymously, the right to associate privately, and the right to engage in protected advocacy free from government interference. And the Fourth Amendment argument: By the acts alleged herein, Defendants have violated Plaintiff’s reasonable expectation of privacy and denied Plaintiff its right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It seems likely that the government will pull out all the usual stops to try to end this lawsuit, arguing "national security" and "state secrets" and all that jazz. However, as the USA Today report noted, Eric Holder agreed to kill off this program after realizing that it was nearly impossible to defend in the same manner as the feds were trying to defend the NSA's bulk phone records collection...Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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Phone and tablet batteries always seem to die when you're nowhere near an outlet. Grab today's Daily Deal and you may not have to worry about that again. $39.99 nabs you the powerful and sleek Innori 22400mAh Portable Battery Pack with 3 USB ports. Two of the ports are optimized for phones, with the other ready to charge a tablet or other USB-powered device. Take advantage of the 42% off deal (with free shipping to the US and UK) to get this lightweight power bank. If you're not aware, 22400mAh is huge for a portable battery -- and it's enough to charge smartphones many times over (most smartphone batteries range between 1500 and 3000mAh, so this can charge multiple phones many times over on a single charge). Also, usually when you get batteries with that much power, the price is ridiculously high -- generally much closer to $100. Note: We earn a portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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We already covered the fact that the DEA had a phone tracking program similar to the NSA's that we've been debating. As we noted in our post, that DEA phone tracking program was actually revealed years ago in a NY Times report, though it didn't get that much attention at the time. Yesterday, USA Today's Brad Heath did a much more detailed report on the details of the program -- including how massive it was, how little oversight there was (basically none) and how widely it was used (all the time). But there was one element that seemed important enough to call out separately: this program has been ended and it's entirely because of Ed Snowden. While there's still a fight going on over whether or not the NSA program will continue after June 1st (when Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act expires), Heath's reporting notes that the DOJ realized the DEA program could not continue -- once it realized how similar it was to the NSA program: Holder pulled the plug on the phone data collection in September 2013. That summer, Snowden leaked a remarkable series of classified documents detailing some of the government's most prized surveillance secrets, including the NSA's logging of domestic phone calls and Internet traffic. Reuters and The New York Times raised questions about the drug agency's own access to phone records. Officials said the Justice Department told the DEA that it had determined it could not continue both surveillance programs, particularly because part of its justification for sweeping NSA surveillance was that it served national security interests, not ordinary policing. Eight months after USTO was halted, for example, department lawyers defended the spy agency's phone dragnet in court partly on the grounds that it "serves special governmental needs above and beyond normal law enforcement." Three months after USTO was shut down, a review panel commissioned by President Obama urged Congress to bar the NSA from gathering telephone data on Americans in bulk. Not long after that, Obama instructed the NSA to get permission from the surveillance court before querying its phone data collection, a step the drug agency never was required to take. The DEA stopped searching USTO in September 2013. Not long after that, it purged the database. "It was made abundantly clear that they couldn't defend both programs," a former Justice Department official said. Others said Holder's message was more direct. "He said he didn't think we should have that information," a former DEA official said. Think about this, though: the program lasted for more than two decades before anyone bothered to even consider this idea. And it was only once the other database (which actually had a lot more strict access controls) started getting negative press that Justice Department officials realized they had no real legal basis for the DEA program. Who, again, is watching the watchers? While some have argued that Snowden's revelations have not (yet) resulted in the NSA's surveillance programs being stopped, it seems pretty clear that he was directly responsible for this DEA program being shut down completely and the data purged.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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You have a First Amendment right to film police officers and other public figures during their performance of public duties… except when you don't. Police officers are given the most deference in these matters, despite a handful of circuit courts upholding this right and the DOJ itself stepping in to inform police departments around the nation that, yes, citizens have a right to record police officers in public. But the "right" is loaded with exceptions, and it's not backed up by circuit court decisions in several states. To date, most courts have given law enforcement officers plenty of leeway to shut down recordings as they see fit and stay one step ahead of accountability. In February of last year, Pedro Rivera overheard a police scanner call for respondents to a serious traffic accident in Hartford, Connecticut. Rivera, a cameraman for a local news station, headed to the crash site and attempted to gather footage using his personal drone. This drew the attention of responding officers, who forced Rivera to remove himself and his drone from the scene. (They also suggested his employer could stay in their "good graces" by punishing Rivera for hovering by proxy 150 feet above the scene of the accident.) Rivera sued, claiming the police violated several of his rights, including his First Amendment right to film police officers performing their public duties. Connecticut's federal court has sided with the police officers, in effect declaring that those within the Second Circuit's coverage area don't have a right to film police -- at least not with a drone. As for his First Amendment claims, the court found that there was no recognized right to record police activity. While other circuits have split on the issue -- there is such a right in the First, Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh circuits -- the Second has never addressed the question, meaning that there could be no clearly established right as needed for the officers to waive their qualified immunity. The district court also went out of its way to note that, had Rivera even been in a jurisdiction which protected the right to film police activity, he may have fallen outside the scope of those protections. He wasn't standing by with a camcorder, after all, but sending "a flying object into a police-restricted area ... effectively trespassing onto an active crime scene." Similarly, because there was no constitutional violation, the court dismissed Rivera's retaliation complaint, as you cannot retaliate against the exercise of a right that doesn't exist. Specifically, the court seems to have an issue with the type of camera used, rather than the act itself. Moreover, the Court notes that in cases where the right to record police activity has been recognized by our sister circuits, it appears that the protected conduct has typically involved using a handheld device to photograph or videotape at a certain distance from, and without interfering with, the police activity at issue. [...] By contrast, here Plaintiff directed a flying object into a police-restricted area, where it proceeded to hover over the site of a major motor vehicle accident and the responding officers within it, effectively trespassing onto an active crime scene. See, e.g., U.S. v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256, 266 (1946) (holding that invasions to airspace situated within ―the immediate reaches of land—including airspace so close to the land that invasions of it affect the use and enjoyment of the surface of the land—are in the same category as invasions to the land itself). Even if recording police activity were a clearly established right in the Second Circuit, Plaintiff‘s conduct is beyond the scope of that right as it has been articulated by other circuits. The case cited quotes Congress as defining "public domain" airspace as somewhere between 500-1000 feet above the ground, depending on location, time of day, weather, etc. In the 1946 case, military planes were buzzing Causby's farm at less than 100 feet above the ground. The Supreme Court found in Causby's favor. This raises the question: would Rivera's photography have been protected if it had occurred above 500 feet? The district court has basically declared that an altitude of 150 feet is an "invasion" of the ground below it. Would going higher restore rights? Or would deference to law enforcement make an accident scene off-limits to aerial photography? This is where older rulings clash with new technology. The court plainly states that it would have viewed Rivera's photography more charitably had he been using a handheld camera, placing him closer to the accident scene than his drone ever was. Somehow, the fact that it was overhead seems to be what's holding the district court back from upholding Rivera's First Amendment rights. A height of 150 feet likely interfered with nothing more than the officers' sense of control. Because the police couldn't "rope off" the sky, they had to do the next best thing: order the flying camera and its operator away from the scene. The court says the camera "trespassed" into an active crime scene. But cameras do that all the time. The yellow tape may keep observers further away horizontally from crime scenes, but it does not prevent them from observing or filming any visible part of it. This decision gives police control over the skies, even when the circumstances don't demand it. They certainly have every right to ground a citizen's drone if it's interfering with police or medical aircraft, but otherwise it's just another camera -- in this case a camera 150 feet away from the nearest police officer. There's no interference happening here, and yet, the "right" to film police has been limited to only certain earthbound photography equipment -- and even then, still subject to any number of restrictions imposed arbitrarily by police officers. Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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While the FCC's decision to raise the base broadband definition to 25 Mbps, its ruling on municipal broadband and the agency's new net neutrality rules have seen the lion's share of media attention, there's another potentially important FCC plan underway that has largely managed to fly under the radar. The FCC has recently been fielding comments on whether the agency should reclassify linear over-the-top (OTT) Internet video providers as multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs), giving these companies FCC-enforced access to vertically integrated programming. The full order can be found here (pdf). The idea is that by giving Internet video providers formal protections and the right to negotiate content deals like cable companies, we'll see a surge in Internet video service competition and a reduction in the logjam surrounding content licensing. Note that this would only really impact subscription-based, prescheduled content (live TV), and as a result wouldn't really apply to on-demand catalogs like Netflix or YouTube. Not too surprisingly, the cable industry, still sore from the FCC's Title II ruling and wary of new competitors, doesn't think modernizing cable regulations to include Internet video is a great idea:"[H]aving recently adopted what was once understood to be the 'nuclear option' of Title II regulation of broadband Internet access service to address a hypothetical threat to the openness of the Internet," NCTA told the commission, "the Commission in this proceeding is proposing to apply an arsenal of regulations from the Cable Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, purportedly to promote competition in the already competitive and well-functioning online video marketplace."Some of the new wave of Internet video giants similarly aren't happy with the idea. Even though the rule change likely wouldn't impact the company's on-demand services specifically, an Amazon filing with the FCC argues it doesn't really want the FCC's help, either:"In light of the excellent results achieved over the last several years, Amazon does not see why the commission would risk interfering with the OTT marketplace, which is still growing and changing, at this stage in its development," the company said. Amazon argued that services offered by Amazon, Netflix and Apple represent a whole new ballgame, not another team in the MVPD league. It said that planned services from Dish and HBO are an effort to be players in this new space, a space it and others have been building for years."Amazon's likely wary for two reasons: the company's already seeing success and is justly nervous about regulatory good intentions, and the FCC's proposal could actually go both ways -- as in it might help cable operators looking to deploy an out-of-footprint streaming service (giving them mandated access to regional sports networks, for example), generating additional competition for Amazon. Meanwhile, broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC support the measure, pleased that it would force OTT upstarts into gaining consent out of the gate for retransmitting their broadcasts (read: they think it will help thwart piracy or force the next Aereo to the negotiations table). Consumer advocates like Public Knowledge quite like the rule change, suggesting it could ramp up competition and bring down prices "without subjecting most kinds of online video services to additional regulation." The updating of the definition of an MPVD could provide Internet video companies with protections they didn't have previously:"That interpretation meant that none of the protections that MVPDs have against other MVPDs, and that programmers have against MVPDs, applied to online video. That means that programmers could be prevented through contracts or incentives from selling video to online services, and that programmers affiliated with cable companies could discriminate against online services. Actions like this can add up to starve online video services of content--which is why most of the most popular services offer video that is complementary to traditional MVPD service (back catalog programming, and original and user-generated content) instead of the same lineup of things like first-run shows and live sports."For an agency that spent decades paying empty lip service to competition, the FCC's focus in this case really does appear to actually be on modernizing regulations to help foster competition and protect the smaller Internet video providers of tomorrow. Reclassifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II protects upstart companies from discrimination by broadband and cable companies, and reclassifying Internet video providers as cable companies would provide them additional protections and programming negotiations rights they don't currently have. In short, for the first time in fifteen years or so the FCC actually appears to be focusing on competition as a real policy goal. That's in stark contrast to the expectations most people had (myself included) when we learned that a former wireless and cable industry lobbyist would be the latest to run the FCC.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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One of the big arguments trotted out repeatedly by surveillance state defenders concerning the NSA's Section 215 program to collect records on all phone calls is that such a thing "would have prevented 9/11" if it had been in place at the time. Here's former FBI boss Robert Mueller making just that argument right after the initial Snowden leaks. Here's Dianne Feinstein making the argument that if we had that phone tracking program before September 11th, we could have stopped the attacks. And here's former NSA top lawyer and still top NSA supporter Stewart Baker arguing that the program is necessary because the lack of such a program failed to stop 9/11. Except, it turns out, the feds did have just such a program prior to 9/11 -- run by the DEA. As you may recall, back in January it was revealed that the DEA had its own database of phone call metadata of nearly all calls from inside the US to foreign countries. Brad Heath at USA Today came out with a report yesterday that goes into much more detail on the program, showing that it dates back to at least 1992 -- meaning that the feds almost certainly had the calls that Feinstein and Mueller pretended the government didn't have prior to 9/11. The now-discontinued operation, carried out by the DEA's intelligence arm, was the government's first known effort to gather data on Americans in bulk, sweeping up records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. It was a model for the massive phone surveillance system the NSA launched to identify terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks. That dragnet drew sharp criticism that the government had intruded too deeply into Americans' privacy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked it to the news media two years ago. But, you might say, perhaps the DEA didn't share that info with the NSA. Well... if we go back to some of the NY Times award-winning reporting on the NSA's surveillance programs from 2007, we see that it actually mentions this DEA program... and notes that the NSA worked with the DEA on it: In the drug-trafficking operation, the N.S.A. has been helping the Drug Enforcement Administration in collecting the phone records showing patterns of calls between the United States, Latin America and other drug-producing regions. The program dates to the 1990s, according to several government officials, but it appears to have expanded in recent years. Officials say the government has not listened to the communications, but has instead used phone numbers and e-mail addresses to analyze links between people in the United States and overseas. Senior Justice Department officials in the Bush and Clinton administrations signed off on the operation, which uses broad administrative subpoenas but does not require court approval to demand the records. That's from 2007 reporting by James Risen, Eric Liechtblau and Scott Shane. Heath's reporting fills in some additional gaps: The data collection began in 1992 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, nine years before his son, President George W. Bush, authorized the NSA to gather its own logs of Americans' phone calls in 2001. It was approved by top Justice Department officials in four presidential administrations and detailed in occasional briefings to members of Congress but otherwise had little independent oversight, according to officials involved with running it. The DEA used its data collection extensively and in ways that the NSA is now prohibited from doing. Agents gathered the records without court approval, searched them more often in a day than the spy agency does in a year and automatically linked the numbers the agency gathered to large electronic collections of investigative reports, domestic call records accumulated by its agents and intelligence data from overseas. The result was "a treasure trove of very important information on trafficking," former DEA administrator Thomas Constantine said in an interview. The report also shows how the DEA got this info from telcos using the simple process of an administrative subpoena, so there was no court review. Telcos could have protested and gone to court, but the DOJ urged them not to do so: The DEA obtained those records using administrative subpoenas that allow the agency to collect records "relevant or material to" federal drug investigations. Officials acknowledged it was an expansive interpretation of that authority but one that was not likely to be challenged because unlike search warrants, DEA subpoenas do not require a judge's approval. "We knew we were stretching the definition," a former official involved in the process said. Officials said a few telephone companies were reluctant to provide so much information, but none challenged the subpoenas in court. Those that hesitated received letters from the Justice Department urging them to comply. After Sprint executives expressed reservations in 1998, for example, Warren, the head of the department's drug section, responded with a letter telling the company that "the initiative has been determined to be legally appropriate" and that turning over the call data was "appropriate and required by law." The letter said the data would be used by authorities "to focus scarce investigative resources by means of sophisticated pattern and link analysis." And, of course, the DEA kept this whole database of metadata a secret by... using parallel construction: To keep the program secret, the DEA sought not to use the information as evidence in criminal prosecutions or in its justification for warrants or other searches. Instead, its Special Operations Division passed the data to field agents as tips to help them find new targets or focus existing investigations, a process approved by Justice Department lawyers. Many of those tips were classified because the DEA phone searches drew on other intelligence data. That practice sparked a furor when the Reuters news agency reported in 2013 that the DEA trained agents to conceal the sources of those tips from judges and defense lawyers. Reuters said the tips were based on wiretaps, foreign intelligence and a DEA database of telephone calls gathered through routine subpoenas and search warrants. As a result, "the government short-circuited any debate about the legality and wisdom of putting the call records of millions of innocent people in the hands of the DEA," American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Patrick Toomey said. Heath's report also notes that the NSA metadata collection under Section 215 was very much modeled on the DEA's collection that began a decade earlier. If there are any differences between the two it seems that the NSA was actually much more restrained in how it used all the phone call metadata. For one thing, DEA analysts queried their data collection far more often. The NSA said analysts searched its telephone database only about 300 times in 2012; DEA analysts routinely performed that many searches in a day, former officials said. Again, this DEA program isn't really a new revelation, but Heath's reporting sheds a lot more light on how widespread it was and how it was used over the years. And, also, as we are less than two months away from the big fight over renewing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, you can be sure that some surveillance state defender is going to cite 9/11 as a reason why we need to keep the program. Hopefully, people can remind them that it appears we had just such a program (which was even more widely used) at the time, and it did not stop 9/11. Furthermore, Heath's reporting shows that once the program disappeared, while the DEA claims it missed the program, it was quickly able to build a more reasonable followup by just targeting specific numbers: The DEA asked the Justice Department to restart the surveillance program in December 2013. It withdrew that request when agents came up with a new solution. Every day, the agency assembles a list of the telephone numbers its agents suspect may be tied to drug trafficking. Each day, it sends electronic subpoenas — sometimes listing more than a thousand numbers — to telephone companies seeking logs of international telephone calls linked to those numbers, two official familiar with the program said. In other words, targeted surveillance, rather than mass surveillance. As many have been arguing for years, there's no reason why the NSA can't adopt a similar program. So don't believe the intelligence community and its apologists when they wrongly insist that such a mass surveillance program is necessary.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

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