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Today the White House, without confirming the Guardian article about the FISA order requiring Verizon to turn over call detail records for all of Verizon's customers for at least three months, defended such an action in the name of terrorism and keeping us safe. The order is here. The Guardian reports:
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
According to an unnamed White House Official: [More...]
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Attorney General Eric Holder says he recused himself from the investigation into the leak of Undiebomber Wannabe II that resulted in the Justice Department subpoenas of telephone toll records of Associated Press Reporters. Apparently, the subpoenas were authorized by Deputy AG James Cole.
Deputy AG James Cole wrote this letter today to the Associated Press. He says each of the phone numbers for which records were sought were associated with AP personnel involved in the reporting of classified information. The investigation is ongoing.
The Associated Press has issued this statement in response.
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The Justice Department has disclosed to the Associated Press that it subpoenaed more than two months of phone records of several AP editors and reporters in 2012. The AP, as well as civil liberties groups, are angry.
Obtaining a broad range of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power. Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy, and that freedom often depends on confidential communications between reporters and their sources."
This foiled airline plot from Yemen in May, 2012 appears to be what triggered the phone records searches.
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Via Blog at the Legal Times, the Department of Justice has filed this brief seeking to prevent an Office of Legal Counsel memo of advice to the FBI on electronic surveillance from being released to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The DOJ document "establishes the scope of the Executive Branch’s authority under federal law to obtain private communications records without legal process or a qualifying emergency, in spite of apparent statutory prohibitions to the contrary," the EFF lawyers said in their court papers.
Here is the amicus brief filed by several groups, including the ACLU, CREW, the Brennan Center and Washington Post.
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While the sand slipped through the opening
And their hands reached for the golden ring....
CNet reports Apple has been so swamped with law enforcement demands to decrypt iPhone data, it has created a waiting list.
For background on the decryption, see here and this earlier article. I've uploaded the two pages of the October, 2012 ATF search warrant discussing Apple's ability to bypass security codes and provide the information to law enforcement here. (Obtained from Pacer in the Kentucky case, it's a poor copy but readable.)[More...]
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Via Wired's Threat Level: Buried in the 800 page proposed immigration reform bill is a provision creating a biometric database for all Americans, not just immigrants.
The bill, titled Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is here.
Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.
Privacy advocates say "Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in." [More...]
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The ACLU has received a new batch of documents from the Justice Department, FBI and Executive Office of the US Attorney in response to FOIA requests.
New documents from the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ offices paint a troubling picture of the government’s email surveillance practices. Not only does the FBI claim it can read emails and other electronic communications without a warrant—even after a federal appeals court ruled that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment—but the documents strongly suggest that different U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are applying conflicting standards to access communications content
You can access the documents at these links:
- 5/8/13 - Documents released by FBI
- 5/8/13 - Documents released by EOUSA
- 5/8/13 - Documents released by DOJ Criminal Division
Released Last month:
- 4/10/13 – Documents released by IRS
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Cindy Cohn and Trevor Timm have an excellent article at Electronic Frontier Foundation explaining why more government surveillance is not the appropriate response to the Boston bombings or terrorism.
The capture of the Boston suspect was made possible by old-fashioned police work and the willingness of the public to help in such a trying time. Technology surely assisted in this effort, but it’s important to note where it was and was not helpful, and to ensure that we don’t let the few dramatic situations lead us to downgrade our own privacy in everyday law enforcement situations.
Also, see Bruce Schneier in The Atlantic, who wrote after the bombing:
“When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail.”
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The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed a bill, originally proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and require law enforcement to get a search warrant for emails that have been in electronic storage for more than 180 days. (A search warrant is currently required for emails in storage less than 180 days.)
Here is a copy of the bill.
Contrary to Republican disinformation, it would not affect terror cases, since there a provision that explicitly excludes FISA. [More...]
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Senior Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications carried on portions of networks operated by AT&T and other Internet service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.
The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors' Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover all critical infrastructure sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.
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The ACLU sent an FOIA request to the IRS to determine if it has changed its policy (in effect as late as 2009) about reading emails. The IRS believed that a warrant wasn't necessary.
Based on the response to its request, and reading between the lines, the ACLU is not convinced the IRS has changed its position. [More...]
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Via CNet, the DEA is complaining it can't access Apple iMessages with a pen register or wiretap order. Here's the text of the memo CNET obtained:
In 2011, Apple® Inc. developed iMessage®, an instant messaging service capable of sending plain text, pictures, movies, locations, and contacts. On February 21, 2013, the DEA San Jose Resident Office (SJRO) learned that text messages sent v1a iMessages® between Apple products (iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, and iMao:ID) are not captured by pen register, trap and trace devices, or Title Ill interceptions. iMessages between two Apple devices are considered encrypted communication and cannot be intercepted, regardless of the cell phone service provider.
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What happens when you refuse to comply with a request for information about your citizenship at an immigration checkpoint within the U.S.? Apparently, they have to let you continue on your way and you don't have answer questions or go to the secondary area. At least, that's what happens to those stopped in this video that refused -- the agents backed down.
Good to know. But why are there immigration checkpoints 30 miles from the border?
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Through a Freedom of Information request, the ACLU has obtained documents about a U.S. Marshal's experimental project to employ the use of drones for domestic surveillance. The documents are here. One states:
USMS Technical Operations Group's UAV Program provides a highly portable, rapidly deployable overhead collection device that will provide a multi-role surveillance platform to assist in [redacted] detection of targets.
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Republicans will make a political issue out of anything, even the implementation of existing legal and humane policies concerning undocumented immigrants.
Here is the December, 2012 Detainee Guidance Policy. It limits the use of detainers to individuals who meet the Department's enforcement priorities and restricts the use of detainers against those arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes. The policy is intended to ensure that available resources are focused on apprehending felons, repeat offenders and other ICE priorities. [More...]
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