Sign the ACLU petition to reform American electronic spying laws

Sandra from the ACLU writes, "As the scope and depth of the NSA's spying continues to grow, we cannot forget about similar privacy violations committed by state and local police. The primary law protecting against such violations -- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) -- was passed in 1986. Technology has evolved quite a bit since then, as you may have noticed. ECPA, unfortunately, has not, allowing local, state, and federal law enforcement to access our sensitive data in the cloud without a warrant."

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Feds subject drug suspect to vaginal/anal probe, X-ray, CT Scan, without a warrant -- find nothing


The ACLU is representing a New Mexico woman in her fifties who was subjected by federal agents to a two-handed (!) vaginal and anal examination, an involuntary X-ray and CAT scan, and was forced to defecate in front of strangers. The woman was suspected of being in possession of drugs, on the basis of a drug-dog alert at the Juarez/El Paso border-crossing. No drugs were found. The federal agents -- it's not clear what agency they were with -- did not obtain a warrant. The doctors at University Medical Center in El Paso performed the procedures without the victim's consent, including the CT scan, which subjects people to a high dose of potentially harmful radiation.

The ACLU of New Mexico is certainly developing some deep expertise on the subject of involuntary, drug-war anal probes: see this earlier story by Mark.

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Letter from a Chinese forced-labor camp found in Kmart Hallowe'en decorations


Since last Hallowe'en, a woman in Oregon has been circulating a letter she found in a box of decorative tombstones she bought at Kmart. The letter was written by a prisoner in a forced labor camp in China's Masanjia camp; he was imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong, a banned religion whose members have long been targetted for brutal suppression by the Chinese state. CNN located the ex-prisoner and interviewed him as he narrated a story of "inhumane torture" at the camp.

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EFF shows how "metadata" collection is bad for freedom of association

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed 22 declarations in First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA. The briefs are from a wide variety of groups -- environmentalists, gun-rights activists, religious groups, human-rights workers, drug-policy advocates -- who all have one thing in common: "hey each depend on the First Amendment's guarantee of free association. EFF argues that if the government vacuums up the records of every phone call—who made the call, who received the call, when and how long the parties spoke—then people will be afraid to join or engage with organizations that may have dissenting views on political issues of the day."

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EFF: being forced to decrypt your files violates the Fifth

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a brief in the case of Leon Gelfgatt, arguing that forcing the accused to decrypt a file violates the Fifth Amendment, which makes you secure against self-incrimination.

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Bruce Schneier: how to make the world freer with the Internet

Bruce Schneier's TEDxCambridge talk "The Battle for Power on the Internet" is a fascinating analysis of how networks have magnified, in turn, the power of individuals, then companies, then governments. Importantly, it neither dismisses the Internet as insignificant in the service of fair and free societies, nor does it presume that the Internet automatically makes the world better. Rather, it offers a prescription for using the Internet to make the world better, and to resist the use of technology to confiscate liberty.

The Battle for Power on the Internet: Bruce Schneier at TEDxCambridge 2013 (Thanks, Bruce!)

EFF: the NSA has endangered us all by sabotaging security

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cindy Cohn and Trevor Timm look at the NSA's Bullrun program, through which the US and UK governments have spent $250M/year sabotaging computer security. Cindy is the lawyer who argued the Bernstein case, which legalized civilian access to strong cryptography -- in other words, it's her work that gave us all the ability to communicate securely online. And so she's very well-situated to comment on what it means to learn that the NSA has deliberately weakened the security that ensures the integrity of the banking system, aviation control, embedded systems in everything from cars to implanted defibrillators, as well as network infrastructure, desktop computers, cloud servers, laptops, phones, tablets, TVs, and other devices.

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Russian Pastafarian parade disrupted by cops, Orthodox hooligans


Robbo sez, "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster members who held a procession in Moscow were dispersed by riot police and Orthodox activists; some were detained for holding an 'unsanctioned rally.' Best quote in the news post: 'We were detained for simply walking,' a message posted by another Pastafarian said. 'In particular, I was taken in for a sieve on my head.'

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Cops accidentally record themselves admitting they harassed activist at rodeo owners' request: "God, we're gonna get sued"

An anti-rodeo/animal right activist was subjected to a blatantly illegal, harassing traffic stop after he was asked to leave an Oregon rodeo. How do we know it was illegal? Because the cops who stopped him forgot to turn off their own cameras and recorded themselves admitting that the rodeo (which is a major donor to the Malheur County Sheriff's Department) had demanded the traffic stop. The same cops who participated in the stop were previously at the center of a lawsuit that the county settled in which they were alleged to have fabricated evidence, so they've got form for this. Some dialog highlights:

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Danny O'Brien on civil liberties groups, the NSA and Bruce Sterling

Yesterday, I posted my reaction to Bruce Sterling's essay The Ecuadorian Library, where Bruce described activists as "living in a pitiful dream world where their imaginary rule of law applies to an electronic frontier." Danny O'Brien, who recently returned to a job at the Electronic Frontier Foundation after a stint at the Committee to Protect Journalists, has written an excellent essay on the way that civil liberties and civil society groups and activists have devoted their lives, and risked their safety, in the cause of civil liberties online.

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Sterling's "The Ecuadorian Library" vs civil liberties groups

Earlier today, Xeni blogged Bruce Sterling's latest essay, "The Ecuadorian Library." I thought this piece had a lot of merit, but was brought up short by one passage that made me think that despite Bruce's keen observations, he hasn't been paying very close attention to what groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been doing since 2005. Indeed, when it comes to the view he presents of Internet activists, Bruce is just plain, flat-out, factually wrong.

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Little Brother-themed team scavenger hunt coming to San Francisco!

My novel Little Brother is the "One City One Book" pick for the San Francisco Public Library this year; and in its honor, they've put together an amazing city-wide scavenger hunt called "Rogue Agent." It features fiendish puzzles and awesome clues, and kicks off on September 14. It's a team-sport, so start thinking about your teammates now; I'll be at the SFPL at the end of September to read from the book and talk about it.

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Pirate Cinema wins the Prometheus Award

I could not be happier to announce that my novel Pirate Cinema has won the Libertarian Science Fiction Society's Prometheus Award, along with Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. I won the Prometheus in 2008 for my novel Little Brother, and it's among my proudest honors. My sincere thanks to the judges and the members of the society for this honor. Cory 2

EFF's guide to Comic-Con

Headed to San Diego? The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con is a thorough guide to where to go to hear about comics and free expression, meet friends of the EFF, learn about surveillance and privacy, and find like-minded civil liberties comic geeks. Cory 1

Glenn Greenwald's keynote at Freedom to Connect 2013

Joly sez, "On March 4-5 2013 the Internet Society's North America Bureau webcast the Freedom to Connect 2013 conference in Washington DC. One keynote speaker was Glenn Greenwald, who has recently come to international attention as the journalist who broke the NSA surveillance story. In his hour long speech, he talks about Aaron Swartz, the imbalance of justice, the growth of the surveillance state, the nature of power in the digital age, and its implications for Internet freedom. There are a couple of small glitches in the recording, for which we apologize."

VIDEO: Glenn Greenwald keynote at Freedom to Connect 2013 #f2c #netfreedom #prism (Thanks, Joly!)