Blogging History: NSA audit shows 1000s of privacy violations; RECAP for US law launches; Wiretapping the Web

One year

Internal audit shows NSA often breaks privacy rules, made thousands of violations a year: In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a "large number" of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a "quality assurance" review that was not distributed to the NSA's oversight staff.

Five years

RECAP, a Firefox plugin that frees US caselaw one page at a time: Earlier this year, 20 million pages of the U.S. Federal Court's PACER database were downloaded, audited for privacy violations, and submitted as evidence to the Judicial Conference, the policy-making body of the courts. That incident led to a Senate investigation, clean-up by 30 district courts, and PACER now requires each lawyer to click at each login that they understand their privacy requirements.

Ten years
Wiretapping the Web: [T]wo recent legal developments have raised further fears among Web privacy advocates in the United States. In one case, the Federal Communications Commission voted 5-0 last week to prohibit businesses from offering broadband or Internet phone service unless they provide Uncle Sam with backdoors for wiretapping access. And in a separate decision last month, a federal appeals court decided that e-mail and other electronic communications are not protected under a strict reading of wiretap laws. Taken together, these decisions may make it both legally and technologically easier to wiretap Internet communications, some legal experts told NEWSWEEK. "All the trends are toward easier to tap," says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.