... and linked an innocent man to a 20-year-old murder case. Analysis by the EFF of the case of Michael Usry, a New Orleans filmmaker whose father's DNA profile in a non-profit DNA database, which he had been assured would remain private, dragged him into a grisly unsolved murder case. [more inside]
1966 BBC documentary predicts challenges of electronic privacy. BBC's 1966 documentary "California 2000", besides being a fascinating flashback in itself, features an amazingly prescient interview with internet pioneer Paul Baran, in which he warns of the risks of government centralized use -- and misuse -- of state-run digital surveillance, 24 years before the EFF was founded.
The TechNet trade association has been lobbying for CISPA, a bill the EFF describes as a “misguided cybersecurity bill that would create a gaping exception to existing privacy law while doing little to address palpable and pressing online security issues” (previously). Google's Eric Schmidt signed TechNet's letter supporting CISPA. [more inside]
The ACLU reports that the IRS claims in an internal document that it has the authority to access citizens' online communications without a warrant. The IRS claimed in a 2009 document that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." It still retains that position even after the 2010 case of US v Warshak which determined that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications. [more inside]
The Justice Department, after a legal battle with the ACLU to avoid having to admit it, recently released documents showing that the federal government’s use of warrantless “pen register” and “tap and trace” surveillance has multiplied over the past decade. But the Justice Department is small potatoes. Every day, the NSA intercepts and stores 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, texts, and other electronic communications. [more inside]
"Now we have three former NSA officials confirming the basic facts. Neither the Constitution nor federal law allow the government to collect massive amounts of communications and data of innocent Americans and fish around in it in case it might find something interesting. This kind of power is too easily abused. We're extremely pleased that more whistleblowers have come forward to help end this massive spying program." - the EFF announces that three former employees of the NSA have come forward to testify in their lawsuit against the NSA over the domestic spying program.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is a controversial surveillance bill that proposes broad legal exemptions for the U.S. government and private companies to share "cyber threat intelligence" that go well beyond the FISA Amendments Act which legalized the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program. [more inside]
Today the Supreme Court in ruled 8-0 in FCC v. ATT that corporations have no "personal privacy" exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. The opinion ended the speculation that the Supreme Court would use this case to take yet another step towards equating corporations with actual people. For links to the various briefs, lower court decisions, and a summary of the underlying facts and opinion, visit the SCOTUSblog. [more inside]
... Apple will know who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and saying and even how fast your heart is beating. ... This patent is downright creepy and invasive— certainly far more than would be needed to respond to the possible loss of a phone.
You had to live -- did live, from the habit that became instinct and the assumption that every sound you made was overheard.
For Your Eyes Only? Allegations that the government is reading your e-mails, with the help of AT&T. The latest episode of NOW did a good piece on the NSA's domestic surveillance program (previously discussed here.) It can be viewed on their website. Meanwhile, Canadian human rights attorney Maureen Webb has written a new book on the scope of government surveillance, and found that the use of sophisticated methods to search for terrorists is not identifying the right suspects.