Tag Archives: Surveillance

Morning Stories (1-4-2012)

  • Yesterday there was a great deal of ballyhoo over news that Belarus had passed a law to prevent its citizens from browsing foreign websites. The law is a bit more nuanced than that, but nevertheless concern is warranted. Glyn Moody at TechDirt and Gavin Clarke at The Register give good breakdowns on what we know about the law.
  • John Dunn at CIO discusses Japan’s development of a new “virus cyberweapon” that can be used to back trace attacks and shut down offending systems.
  • Brendan Sasso at The Hill reports that the ACLU is suing a Missouri public library after it blocked websites related to Wicca.
  • Want to know where your representatives in Congress stand on PIPA and SOPA? Check out SOPA Track – you can see whether your lawmakers are actively supporting or opposing the legislation, and how much money they’ve raised from groups in favor of and opposed to the legislation.
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Morning Stories (12-27-2011)

  • David Rusenko at Startup Adventures gives a brief anecdote of what the Internet will look like under SOPA.
  • Meanwhile, conservative opposition to SOPA continues to grow, and includes the well-known think tank the Heritage Foundation.
  • Do companies have a property right in the social media accounts of their employees? NY Times reports on the interesting case of Noah Kravitz and PhoneDog.com.
  • Andy Greenberg at Forbes has a story on Telecomix, a group dedicated to exposing those who fight against free speech on the Internet.
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Morning Stories (12-20-2011)

  • AT&T announced it will scrap its planned merger with T-Mobile. ars technica gives a good rundown on the story. Some expressed relief that the merger bid was abandoned, while others suggest that the result will mean more harm for consumers in the long run.
  • Sprint, one of the merger’s most vocal opponents, was jubilant at the news, but nonetheless continues to face its own difficulties.
  • The Senate Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee is at it again, calling for the FTC to give a “hard look” to Google’s search practices, which Sens. Kohl and Lee suggest may be anti-competitive.
  • FastCompany has a profile of Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) efforts at promoting citizen involvement in politics and government transparency through his “Project Madison” project and other efforts.
  • Despite the resiliency of the Internet, government actions are nonetheless doing much to undermine its robustness and threaten long term harm.
  • The Brookings Institute has an interesting report on how the explosive growth of  digital storage is proving to be a valuable tool for repressive governments. (H/T @jenvalentino)
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Do Sony PlayStation Network Subscribers Have Legal Claims for Violations of Their Privacy Arising Out of the Data Breach?

The California federal courts may have an opportunity to resolve this question in ruling on a class action complaint alleging claims of negligence, unjust enrichment, unfair competition, and other claims against Sony.  The negligence count states:

50. Defendants breached their duty when they failed to properly protect their data systems from unauthorized access by third parties.

51. Defendants reasonably should have known about the security defect to their data systems before Plaintiffs’ and the other members of the Class’ personal and financial information was obtained by an unauthorized third party. Had Sony properly designed, inspected, and tested their data security system, it would have discovered and remedied the security defect.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Christopher McKewon and Christoper Wilson by the law firms of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, in San Diego and Chicago, Doyle Lowther LLP in San Diego, and Goldfarb Branham LLP, in Dallas, Texas.

A similar class action involving a data breach on a much smaller scale, but similar legal theories, was allowed to go forward in Maine in 2009.  Another was rejected by the Seventh Circuit in 2007.  The Mass. Supreme Judicial Court rejected another one against BJ’s Wholesale Club in 2010.

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Amnesty International May Sue Attorney General Holder and Other Officials, US Appeals Court Says

The Second Circuit has ruled that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Global Fund for Women, The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association, SEIU, the Pen America Center, The Nation magazine, and a couple of individuals have standing to assert First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Articles I-III of the Constitution violations by the federal government, when engaged in unregulated monitoring of Internet speech.  The court concluded, among other things:

[A new law] does not require the government to submit an individualized application to the FISC identifying the particular targets or facilities to be monitored. Instead, the Attorney General (“AG”) and Director of National Intelligence (“DNI”) apply for a mass surveillance authorization by submitting to the FISC a written certification and supporting affidavits attesting generally that “a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information” and that that information will be obtained “from or with the assistance of an electronic communication service provider.” ….

Here, the fact that the government has authorized the potentially harmful conduct means that the plaintiffs can reasonably assume that government officials will actually engage in that conduct by carrying out the authorized surveillance.  It is fanciful, moreover, to question whether the government will ever undertake broad-based surveillance of the type authorized by the statute.  The FAA was passed specifically to permit surveillance that was not permitted by FISA but that was believed necessary to protect the national security.  See, e.g., 154 Cong. Rec. S227, 227-28 (daily ed. Jan. 24, 9 2008) (statement of Sen. Rockefeller) (explaining “why it is necessary for us to update” FISA); id. at 235 (statement of Sen. Hutchison) (explaining why surveillance authorization  procedures must be updated).  That both the Executive and the Legislative branches of government believe that the FAA authorizes new types of surveillance, and have justified that new authorization as necessary to protecting the nation against attack, makes it extremely likely that such surveillance will occur….

Journalist Naomi Klein reports on a wide variety of international topics, and in order to do so she communicates with sources abroad, including Mexican individuals regarding military activity in Chiapas, Argentinian advocates for indigenous rights, and indigenous Colombian groups who oppose U.S. trade policies.  Likewise, journalist Chris Hedges, whose writing focuses on American and Middle Eastern politics and society, maintains regular contact with academics, journalists, politicians, and activists in places such as Iran, Syria, Libya, Kosovo, Bosnia, and Sudan….

Furthermore, the plaintiffs have good reason to believe that their communications, in particular, will fall within the scope of the broad urveillance that they can assume the government will conduct.  The plaintiffs testify that in order to carry out their jobs they must regularly communicate by telephone and e-mail with precisely the sorts of individuals that the government will most likely seek to monitor – i.e., individuals “the U.S. government believes or believed to be associated with terrorist organizations,” “political and human rights activists who oppose governments that are supported economically or militarily by the U.S. government,” and “people located in geographic areas that are a special focus of the U.S. government’s counterterrorism or diplomatic efforts.”

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