Paul sez, "Man is illegally detained at an internal border patrol checkpoint in New Mexico for nearly a half hour, not being allowed to leave and at first told that he wasn't being detained until the border patrol eventually told him he was being detained for unspecified reasons. He recorded the entire exchange on video, and spends most of the time asking when he is free to go. Eventually the patrol gives up and allows him to leave, but not before making threatening gestures, warning him that New Mexico police were on their way, and accusing him of criminally blocking traffic when he was asking to leave and wasn't given permission."
Abusive Border Patrol Agents NM Checkpoint
Ruth from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "Open Rights Group have launched a campaign to fund a legal officer position and intervene in the courts. The link is a page which gives more details about the kind of cases we want to take on and encourages supporters to join. We want in the first place 150 new supporters for a part time job and 300 for a full time. It will allow the Open Rights Group to expand from policy work to challenging government in the courts, facilitate legal advice on digital rights issues and prepare ammendments to section 127 used to prosecute Paul Chambers in the twitter joke trial. It's an exciting prospect for protecting digital rights in the UK."
ORG is ready for legal action
(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and volunteer on its advisory board)
Ot sez, "Bits of Freedom is organizing its annual donation campaign today. Why? Because privacy and freedom on the internet are under threat and we need to defend our rights online. We can only do so with your help. If you want to help, you can write a blog, use one of our banners on your own site or become a supporter. Thanks!"
Bits of Freedom is the Netherlands' answer to groups like EFF, Open Rights Group, Netzpolitik, La Quadrature du Net, and many others (thankfully, there's more than can be readily enumerated here -- it's a global movement). They really deserve your support.
Bits of Freedom is een onafhankelijke beweging, en dat willen we blijven. We kunnen alleen bestaan dankzij donaties van Nederlanders die geven om hun vrijheid en privacy. Wil jij ook meehelpen om internetvrijheid te beschermen? Word dan donateur.
Met jouw steun kunnen we doorgaan met:
* Schendingen van online rechten signaleren en aanpakken
* Slecht beleid terugdraaien en goed beleid stimuleren. Zowel in Den Haag als in Brussel
* Tools ontwikkelen en kennis delen waarmee jij je eigen internetvrijheid kunt beschermen
* Elk jaar de Big Brother Awards uitreiken aan de grofste privacyschenders
Do your bit!
This is a Russian beard tax token from the reign of Peter the Great, who set out to modernize Russia by getting everyone to shave. Anyone who wanted to keep a beard had to buy one of these tokens (which bore the legend "the beard is a superfluous burden"). Costs varied by profession -- nobles and officers paid 60 rubles, top merchants paid 100, and so on. Additionally, everyone passing into a city while wearing a beard had to pay a kopek's worth of face-fur-toll.
Update: You can buy replica beard tokens, too.
Beard Tax Token, 1705
When your Kindle is wiped by Amazon without explanation, refund, or appeal, it’s time to wake up and realize the truth: ebook readers treat you as a tenant-farmer of your books, not an owner. You have no rights, only a license-agreement that runs to thousands of words, and that you’ll never fully satisfy.
Read the rest
Citing my talk on General Purpose Computing and regulation (and many other works), Olia Lialina describes a "General Purpose User... that was formed through three decades of adjusting general purpose technology to their needs":
General Purpose Users can write an article in their e-mail client, layout their business card in Excel and shave in front of a web cam. They can also find a way to publish photos online without flickr, tweet without twitter, like without facebook, make a black frame around pictures without instagram, remove a black frame from an instagram picture and even wake up at 7:00 without a “wake up at 7:00” app.
Maybe these Users could more accurately be called Universal Users or Turing Complete Users, as a reference to the Universal Machine, also known as Universal Turing Machine — Alan Turing’s conception of a computer that can solve any logical task given enough time and memory. Turing’s 1936 vision and design predated and most likely influenced von Neuman’s First Draft and All-purpose Machine.
But whatever name I chose, what I mean are users who have the ability to achieve their goals regardless of the primary purpose of an application or device. Such users will find a way to their aspiration without an app or utility programmed specifically for it. The Universal user is not a super user, not half a hacker. It is not an exotic type of user.
There can be different examples and levels of autonomy that users can imagine for themselves, but the capacity to be universal is still in all of us. Sometimes it is a conscious choice not to delegate particular jobs to the computer, and sometimes it is just a habit. Most often it is not more than a click or two that uncover your general purpose architecture.
The whole thing is a refreshing addition to the long debate and discussion over users, user experience design, and interfaces.
Turing Complete User
(via Beyond the Beyond)
Chris Matyszczyk on CNet rounds up a variety of reports on the outrage over the schools in San Antonio, Texas, which have insisted that their students wear radio-tag trackers. The schools are using every conceivable technique for coercing their students into submitting to wearing the technology, which reminds me of the tracker anklets that paroled felons wear. For example, one student was told she couldn't cast a vote for homecoming queen unless she submitted to the tracking regime. The schools say that the students are being tracked to reduce truancy, which will make them money -- presumably by saving them on the cost of tracking and punishing students. The practice is old hat in Houston, where students have been chipped for some time.
What some might find truly beastly, though, is that his daughter, Andrea, claims that she was told by a teacher that without the ID badge, she couldn't vote for homecoming king and queen. At least that's what Catholic Online reports.
Some might find it odd that Hernandez also reportedly claimed that the school only wanted to co-operate with his feelings if he stopped publicly criticizing the tagging.
His daughter told The Alex Jones Channel that the tags don't make her feel safer.
"I feel completely unsafe knowing that this can be hacked by pedophiles and dangerous offenders," she said.
She added: "I walk home. Dangerous offenders can pick up on my signal."
For the record, I don't think that this is a very realistic fear. On the other hand, I think that there are very good reasons to want to enjoy the privacy of being un-tracked -- for example, the fundamental freedom of association is compromised if your snitch-tag tells the administration who you hang out with.
No homecoming queen vote if you don't wear RFID tag?
Tiffiniy from the SOPA-killing activist group Fight for the Future sez,
Remember when we worked together and beat back internet censorship and SOPA, and changed the world earlier this year? 2012 is a historic year for our basic rights on the web - the year the internet came alive and fought for free speech and freedom. Sites like Boing Boing depend on an open and free web, and so doesn't much of what you love and do on the web.
Unfortunately, Congress still only cares about the opinions of likely voters. If everyone who cares about internet freedom stays at home this election, Congress will bring back SOPA. That's why we've been working on a campaign to turn out a massive number of internet users at the polls, and we're asking people to join us tomorrow for Internet Voter Registration Day, right before a bunch of state deadlines, by pledging that you'll vote, and register if you need to: internetvotes.org.
Washington insiders thought SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA were all 'certain to pass.' How did the internet win against those bills? Because people stood up to protect free speech and the transformative power of the internet in their lives.
Let's dramatically increase the number of people egging each other on to vote, which has shown to get people to the polls. The first thing we're asking people to do is to get our friends to pledge and register to vote starting Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day (right before a bunch of state deadlines with time to send in your forms). Then we'll work together to mobilize millions of internet users to get to the polls. People can use our tools to see which of their friends are voting and registered, mobilize their audiences into voting blocks for their cause, site, or group, get important voting information, and make sure their friends go vote.
Promise to vote for the internet in 2012
Here's a video of Pussy Riot's lawyers lecturing at NYU Law.
Joly sez, "September 21 2012: Having in the morning received the John Lennon Peace prize from Yoko Ono on behalf of the band, Petya Verzilov, husband of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and the group's Russian attorneys speak at NYU School of Law."
Pussy Riot's Russian Attorneys at NYU Law School - Sep 21 2012
The Ninth Circuit is hearing arguments today about the privacy implications of gathering and retaining "junk" DNA, which has been treated as merely identifying, like a fingerprint, and not unduly invasive. Modern genetics shows that it's possible to extract information about health, ancestry, and other potentially compromising traits. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation's blog:
In this case, Haskell v. Harris, the ACLU of Northern California is challenging the California law, arguing that it violates constitutional guarantees of privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. This is the first court hearing to address DNA privacy since the research on “junk” DNA has become widely known, and in its role as amicus, EFF asked the court to consider the ground-breaking new research. The oral argument is open to the public at the federal courthouse at 95 7th Street in San Francisco. The hearing starts at 10am, in courtroom 1 on the third floor.
Wednesday Hearing in 9th Circuit Tackles DNA Privacy
Marilyn sez, "The Democrats criticized Bush for suspension of civil liberties and guaranteed them in their 2008 platform. In their 2012 platform, those guarantees have all been erased." Trevor Timm from the Electronic Frontier Foundation has the whole sad story in Al Jazeera:
Listening to Obama's famous keynote address from the 2004 DNC - his springboard onto the national stage - Obama sounded like an entirely different politician. Then he argued, "If there's an Arab-American family being rounded-up, without benefit of an attorney, or due process," he said, "that threatens my civil liberties."
Ironically, on the same day Obama gave his latest DNC speech this year, a federal judge in DC issued a ruling excoriating his administration's recent decision to unilaterally restrict Guantanamo detainees' access to attorneys, saying "this country is not one ruled by executive fiat".
In fact, his administration's position on due process has been the most controversial of his presidency. Last year, he signed the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), which contains provision authorising the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects that could potentially be used against American citizens. Another federal judge recently blocked the implementationof that law, saying it violated both the free speech and due process clauses of the Constitution. The Obama administration has predictably appealed.
In-depth coverage of the US presidential election
When it came to defending US drone strikes that have extrajudicially killed at least three American citizens in Yemen - including a 16 year old who has never even been accused of terrorism - the administration has tried to change the definition of "due process" all together. Attorney General Eric Holder put forth a unique legal theory, claiming "due process" and "judicial process" are not one in the same. Given the executive branch debated and weighed evidence against the victims of the drone strikes internally, due process was satisfied and they didn't need a court, Holder explained.
This mangling of the founding fathers' words led to widespread rebuke in legal circles, but it was satirist Stephen Colbert who most aptly summed up the absurdity of Holder's definition: "Due process and judicial process are not one and the same. The Founders weren't picky. Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock-paper-scissors - who cares? Due process just means there's a process that you do."
The DNC was a win for Obama, but a loss for civil liberties
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has blasted the UK government's Draft Communications Bill, which will allow bulk, warrantless, unaccountable surveillance of all Internet traffic by government agencies in the UK. TBL rightly points out that this will overturn the whole UK tradition of freedom and privacy. The Open Rights Group has a campaign to kill the bill, and you can help.
“If the UK introduces draconian legislation that allows the Government to block websites or to snoop on people, which decreases privacy, in future indexes they may find themselves farther down the list,” he said.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee accuses government of 'draconian' internet snooping
Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 Magazine sez, "H2K2 was an historic hacker conference that took place in 2002 in New York City. It happened a mere 10 months after 9/11 shook the city and changed the country. The threat of the PATRIOT Act was one of the main themes here, along with visions of future technology being used to suppress freedom worldwide. This really is an incredible time capsule that shows how hackers understood from the beginning the implications of increased government power, and the use of fear to drive new policies that would wind up affecting the world. There are 67 videos now restored and online for the first time, discussing everything from crypto for the masses to airport security to steganography."
H2K2 VIDEO ARCHIVE NOW ONLINE
Rebecca from EFF sez, "EFF is proud to announce the winners of this year's Pioneer Awards
: hardware hacker Andrew (bunnie) Huang, anti-ACTA activist Jérémie Zimmermann, and the Tor Project -- the organization behind the groundbreaking anonymity tool Tor. These winners have all done truly important work to protect our digital rights. Join us at the award ceremony on September 20 in San Francisco.
In 2008, Finbar McGarry, a grad student at the University of Vermont, was arrested on gun charges. While he was awaiting trial, his jailers ordered him to work for $0.25 in the jail laundry or be condemned to solitary confinement. He's now suing for violations of his 13th amendment rights, saying that this amounted to slavery. The case was dismissed but that's been overturned by a higher court and is steaming forward. If he wins, it will have huge repercussions for America's jails, where pre-trial prisoners who have not been convicted of any charge are forced into hard labor.
Eventually, McGarry relented and chose to work in the laundry rather than face a prolonged and brutal spell in “the hole.” During the course of his work, McGarry says he contracted a serious MRSA lesion on his neck—a potentially deadly bacterial infection.
McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. In 2009, he pressed a suit against his former captors in Brattleboro, Vermont, federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The Brattleboro judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.
McGarry’s suit brings new life to the issue of pre-trial detention—the incarceration of people who are awaiting trial, yet to be convicted of a crime—which was already mired with debate and controversy.
A recent report by corrections expert Dr. James Austin, examining the jails of Los Angeles County (which suffer from notorious violence and overcrowding), found that upward of 1,000 inmates trapped in jail pre-trial posed little to no danger to the public—more than five percent of the county jail population. They were simply being held because they were too poor to pay for bail.
Pre-Trial Slave Sues Jail for $11 Million—in Vermont