The fight against surveillance capitalism and mass state surveillance has reached a tipping point, the peak-indifference moment, when new privacy advocates are self-radicalizing as they witness firsthand the undeniable risks of overcollection, over-retention, and secret manipulation of personal data.
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It's been five years since America's super-concentrated telcoms sector announced their "voluntary Copyright Alert system" (AKA Six Strikes), a system that said that if your someone in your household was accused of six acts of copyright infringement, everyone in your house would get the internet death penalty, having your net connection terminated.
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I was one of the keynote speakers at last week's Ethereum Devcon in Prague, where I gave a talk called "Decentralize, Democratize, or Die," about the way that bad tech policy (crypto backdoors, the DMCA's ban on security disclosures, etc) come from weak states where the super-rich get to call the shots, and how things like money-laundering creates these weak states. The core message: if you don't figure out how to make more pluralistic, less plutocratic states, you will never get the kind of information security you need for your blockchain systems to thrive.
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The Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia have filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, asking it to reinstate the Network Neutrality rules killed by Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
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ICE have become house-flippers, using the notorious and discredited "civil asset forfeiture" process to steal houses from people they say were involved in crime, then selling the houses to fund their operations, and more seizures of more houses. Read the rest
Two CBP officials boarded a Delta flight from New York to SFO after it landed on Wednesday and demanded that passengers show government-issued "documents" before they would be allowed to debark. Read the rest
As trumpism metastasizes, I've taken some comfort in the American system of checks and balances, especially the independent judiciary and the strong Constitutional tradition, which lets impact litigators like EFF and ACLU leverage the courts to overturn the executive branch; I've seen this work many times with EFF and other civil liberties organizations. Read the rest
US District Judge Andre Birotte Jr (Central District of California) heard a plea from 28 Yemeni-born US citizens, and ruled that: Read the rest
Update: they fired her. No foreign surveillance warrants until further notice.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has ordered Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments in the court challenges to Trump's ban on Muslims entering the USA. Read the rest
Lessig compares the current constitutional crisis -- a lawless, reckless president; law enforcement officers flouting federal court orders -- with previous crises, such as the impeachment of Nixon, and says the major difference between then and now: then, Congress had a bipartisan consensus that "they were engaged in the most serious job a member of Congress could have — because they knew that in a critical sense, the very stability of the Republic depended on them behaving as adults." Read the rest
The US is a nation of laws, not men, and that means that unconstituional actions by lawmakers end up being struck down by judges -- so when populist leaders of small towns come to power by promising racist legislation to harass "illegals," everybody loses. Read the rest
Last July, the European Court of Jutice's Advocate General ruled that the UK's mass surveillance regime was unconstitutional, triggering an appeal to the ECJ itself, which has affirmed that under European law, governments cannot order retention of all communications data; they must inform subjects after surveillance has concluded; must only engage in mass surveillance in the pursuit of serious crime; and must get independent, judicial authorization. Read the rest
The Tor Project's "Ten Principles for User Protection in Hostile States" is both thoughtful and thought-provoking -- it's a list that excites my interest as someone who cares about the use of technology in improving lives and organizing political movements (principle 1 is "Do not rely on the law to protect systems or users" -- a call to technologists -- while number 7 is aimed at companies, "Invest in cryptographic R&D to replace non-cryptographic systems" and principle 2 says "Prepare policy commentary for quick response to crisis," which suggests that the law, while not reliable, can't be ignored); and also as a science fiction writer (check out those tags! "Acausal trade," "Pluralistic singularity" and "Golden path"! Yowza!) Read the rest
Dave Maass from Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "A coalition of social justice and digital rights groups are tweeting at Gov. Jerry Brown today to demand he sign A.B. 2298, a bill that would bring new accountability measures to CalGang, the state's troubled gang database. Read the rest
On Friday, Facebook started deleting posts containing "The Terror of War," Nick Ut's photo depicting a young Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack on her village; Facebook approach this photo with a scorched earth (ahem) policy, even deleting it when it was posted by the Prime Minister of Norway. Read the rest
A USA Today investigation has discovered a network of paid informants working for Amtrak and nearly every US airline who illegally delve into passengers' travel records to find people who might be traveling with a lot of cash: these tip-offs are used by the DEA to effect civil forfeiture -- seizing money without laying any charges against its owner, under the rubric that the cash may be proceeds from drug sales. One Amtrak secretary was secretly paid $854,460 to raid her employer's databases for the DEA. Read the rest
Stingrays -- the trade name for an "IMSI catcher," a fake cellphone tower that tricks cellphones into emitting their unique ID numbers and sometimes harvests SMSes, calls, and other data -- are the most controversial and secretive law-enforcement tools in modern American policing. Harris, the company that manufactures the devices, swears police departments to silence about their use, a situation that's led to cops lying to judges and even a federal raid on a Florida police department to steal stingray records before they could be introduced in open court. Read the rest