Tag Archives: Corruption

NSA PRISM, Writs of Assistance, Rattlesnakes, and the Fourth Amendment

British Crown dragnets of information against smuggling led to the U.S. Fourth Amendment, and U.S. defense against those dragnets was the origin of the Gadsden rattlesnake flag. Those colonial Writs of Assistance were much like that FISA court order for Verizon call logs and the NSA PRISM wide-range domestic communications dragnet, while Senators Feinstein and Chambliss act like the colonial royal governors who issued those Writs.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Senators Feinstein and Chambliss admit there is no probable cause, and no particular description of the place to be searched or the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment was proposed because of things very like that FISA court order to Verizon back in colonial times, namely writs of assistance to stop smuggling:

In 1760, governor [Francis] Bernard of Massachusetts authorized the use by revenue officers of writs of assistance. Writs of assistance were Continue reading

Senators Feinstein and Chambliss shuffle their feet about FISA

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) lamely tried to defend the Verizon call log wiretapping, which they full well know is actually part of a dragnet of all U.S. communications. Ed O’Keefe wrote for the Washingtohn Post yesterday, Transcript: Dianne Feinstein, Saxby Chambliss explain, defend NSA phone records program,

Dianne Feinstein:

As far as I know, this is the exact three month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the FISA Court under the business records section of the Patriot Act. Therefore, it is lawful.

It has been briefed to Congress and the letters that we have distributed — and you’ll note on the dates, this is prior to the Patriot Act amendments coming before the body, each of those. As you know, this is just Continue reading

NSA domestic spying: we stopped it in 1977 and we can stop it again

After seven years or more, it’s good people are finally noticing the NSA spying program: now maybe enough people will do something about it like we did in 1977.

Don’t believe it’s just limited to who calls who: since at least 2005, AT&T (and most likely all the other telcos) has been sending all telecommunications to NSA. This stuff started after 9/11 and was legalized by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Before 9/11 NSA respected a rigorous wall between it and domestic spying. Time to put that wall back up. Bruce Schneier wrote 29 December 2005, Project Shamrock,

Decades before 9/11, and the subsequent Bush order that directed the NSA to eavesdrop on every phone call, e-mail message, and who-knows-what-else going into or out of the United States, U.S. citizens included, they did the same thing with telegrams. It was called Project Shamrock, and anyone who thinks this is new legal and technological terrain should read up on that program.

Project SHAMROCK…was an espionage exercise that involved the accumulation of all telegraphic data entering into or exiting from the United States. The Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) and its successor NSA were given direct access to daily microfilm copies of all incoming, outgoing, and transiting telegraphs via the Western Union and its associates RCA and ITT. Operation Shamrock lasted well into the 1960s when computerized operations (HARVEST) made it possible to search for keywords rather than read through all communications.

Project SHAMROCK became so successful that in 1966 Continue reading

Economists still calling computer networks “virtual” while interconnectivity is exposing economic externalities

While artists and designers have discovered there’s no sharp distinction between “real” and “virtual” (aka the New Aesthetic), economists are still talking about “virtual”, even as the networks of computers they’re referring to are exposing the economic externalities the greed of the “first economy” is built on.

Bill Davidow wrote for the Atlantic 10 April 2012, How Computers Are Creating a Second Economy Without Workers,

“Twenty years ago, if you went into an airport you would walk up to a counter and present paper tickets to a human being. That person would register you on a computer, notify the flight you’d arrived, and check your luggage in. All this was done by humans.”
Well, except for that part about “a computer”. And the flight computers in the airplane. And the FAA computers. And….

This is also true:

“Today, you walk into an airport and look for a machine. You put in a frequent-flier card or credit card, and it takes just three or four seconds to get back a boarding pass, receipt, and luggage tag. What interests me is what happens in those three or four seconds. The moment the card goes in, you are starting a huge conversation conducted entirely among machines. Once your name is recognized, computers are checking your flight status with the airlines, your past travel history, your name with the TSA (and possibly also with the National Security Agency). They are checking your seat choice, your frequent-flier status, and your access to lounges.”
While Bruce Sterling can (rightly, I think) say that’s not AI, nonetheless it all happens without much human intervention. And pixelated images of airplanes don’t start to indicate what’s going on in there.

The punchline:

“Here’s the challenge: In the past, every million-dollar increase in economic output generated on the order of ten jobs. In the future, in the productive Second Economy, it may generate only one or two.”
That’s not new. I’m a farmer, and 90% of farm jobs in this country Continue reading

SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It —Adam Savage

Congress reconvenes in January and will take up the Internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA again. The House only deferred SOPA because of widespread public outcry. Proponents of SOPA, funded by big corporate money, are probably just hoping opponents will be distracted by the holidays. Adam Savage reminds us why we need to be vigilant and keep flooding Congress with calls to vote down those bills or anything like them.

MythBuster Adam Savage wrote for Popular Mechanics 20 December 2011, SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It

Right now Congress is considering two bills—the Protect IP Act, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—that would be laughable if they weren’t in fact real. Honestly, if a friend wrote these into a piece of fiction about government oversight gone amok, I’d have to tell them that they were too one-dimensional, too obviously anticonstitutional.

Make no mistake: These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the “good faith” assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.

I’m not kidding.

He goes on to correctly compare SOPA and PIPA unfavorably to the already bad Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. You remember, the DMCA that big copyright holders used to sue pre-teen video and audio “pirates” and to take down websites on suspicion. Savage cites a case where somebody with no copyright still got YouTube vidoes taken down under DMCA. Yes, SOPA and PIPA are even worse.

If you like YouTube, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc., it’s time to speak up. Call your Senators and House members. Send them email. Write them paper letters. Petition them. Show up at their offices. Petition the White House to veto it if Congress passes it, and any other bills like it. Right now we still have the Internet to organize these things.


Eyes on their lobbyists’ bank accounts

The plutocrats and their bought politicians don’t care about Internet free trade, but we should.

Scott Bradner almost gets it about the opposition to net neutrality in Eyes in their ankles: The congressional view of network neutrality:

If you work at a company that uses the Internet to sell to customers or to buy from suppliers you should care about the net neutrality discussion.
You should, but you probably don’t have the money to buy some politicians to do something about it, and unfortunately the biggest companies do, and they’re busy doing just that: Continue reading

Selling Out Has Its Party: AT&T Fetes Blue Dogs

2793874065_fd20bc4453.jpg Glenn Greenwald has video of attendees refusing to say who they were or why they were there or what the party was for:
Amazingly, not a single one of the 25-30 people we tried to interview would speak to us about who they were, how they got invited, what the party’s purpose was, why they were attending, etc. One attendee said he was with an “energy company,” and the other confessed she was affiliated with a “trade association,” but that was the full extent of their willingness to describe themselves or this event. It was as though they knew they’re part of a filthy and deeply corrupt process and were ashamed of — or at least eager to conceal — their involvement in it. After just a few minutes, the private security teams demanded that we leave, and when we refused and continued to stand in front trying to interview the reticent attendees, the Denver Police forced us to move further and further away until finally we were unable to approach any more of the arriving guests.

AT&T thanks the Blue Dog Democrats with a lavish party, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Monday Aug. 25, 2008 11:15 EDT (updated below (with video added) – Update II) Thursday, Aug 28, 2008

The video includes Denver police repeatedly asking accredited press to move away from a public sidewalk.

At another party, an ABC News reporter was arrested while “attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.”

Parties like this are part of the lobbying revolving door that makes the U.S. look like a banana republic. I’m picking on Democrats, here, but at least 75% of Senate Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, but not Barack Obama) voted against the recent bad FISA bill. A much higher percentage of Republicans voted for it.

If he were alive today, Robert Burns would say:

‘We are bought and sold for telecom gold’
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


Banana Republic, DC: Telecom Lobbying Revolving Door

800px-Banana_republic.svg.png Greenwald notes that AT&T spends more in three months for lobbying than EFF’s entire budget for a year. Then he spells out how the lobbying revolving door works, and concludes:
The “two sides” referenced there means the House Democratic leadership and the telecoms. Congressional leaders are “negotiating” with the telecoms — the defendants in pending lawsuits — regarding the best way for immunizing them from liability for their lawbreaking, no doubt with the help of the former Democratic members and staffers now being paid by the telecoms to speak to their former bosses and colleagues about what they should do. To describe the process is to illustrate its oozing, banana-republic-like corruption, but that’s generally how our laws are written.

None of this is particularly new, but it’s still remarkable to be able to document it in such grotesque detail and see how transparent it all is. In one sense, it’s just extraordinary how seamlessly and relentlessly the wheels of this dirty process churn. But in another sense, it’s perhaps even more remarkable — given the forces lined up behind telecom amnesty — that those who have been working against it, with far fewer resources and relying largely on a series of disruptive tactics and ongoing efforts to mobilize citizen anger, have been able to stop it so far.

How telecoms are attempting to buy amnesty from Congress, Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, Saturday May 24, 2008 06:48 EDT

Remember, AT&T and the other telcos and cablecos are the same companies that want to nuke net neutrality in the name of competition and progress; two other flags they behind, just like the banana republic flag of national security.