Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘United States House Committee on the Judiciary’

Bill Approved To Create Massive Surveillance Database Of Internet Users

In Activism, Big Business, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society on July 30, 2011 at 1:32 am


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Privacy busting legislation a “stalking horse for a massive expansion of federal power”

Massive Surveillance Database

Internet User Surveillance

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Legislation that will force Internet providers to store information on all their customers and share it with the federal government and law enforcement agencies was significantly beefed at the last minute yesterday and approved by a U.S. House of Representatives committee.
Under the guise of protecting children from internet pornographers, the House Judiciary committee voted 19-10 to approve a bill that will require Internet Service Providers to store temporarily assigned IP addresses for future government use.
In addition, the bill was re-written yesterday to also include the enforced retention of customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
As Declan McCullagh of CNet reports, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.
“The bill is mislabeled,” said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”
It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who led Democratic opposition to the bill. The Californian Representative described the legislation as a “mess of a bill” and a “stalking horse for a massive expansion of federal power”.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted that the bill would open a Pandora’s box of government abuse.
“This is not about child porn. It never has been and never will be,” Issa said. “This is a convenient way for law enforcement to get what they couldn’t get in the PATRIOT Act.”
Advocates for the legislation include the National Sheriffs’ Association, which has said it “strongly supports” mandatory data retention. The bill has also attracted endorsements from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as the FBI.

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In a last ditch effort to derail the bill, the ACLU, along with dozens of other privacy watchdog groups penned a letter (PDF) to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith earlier this week, noting that “any data retention mandate is a direct assault on bedrock privacy principles.”
“The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized,” Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said.
“Requiring Internet companies to redesign and reconfigure their systems to facilitate government surveillance of Americans’ expressive activities is simply un-American. Such a scheme would be as objectionable to our Founders as the requiring of licenses for printing presses or the banning of anonymous pamphlets.” Bankston added.
“This is China-style law enforcement, treating everyone as a potential suspect and requiring the collection of personal information just in case it might later be useful to the government,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel for the Washington based Center for Democracy and Technology, in an interview with Bloomberg.
A fortnight ago, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) appealed before the House Judiciary Committee, asking that Congress recognize the fact that retaining identifying information would put at risk “99.9% of Internet users.”
EPIC President Marc Rotenberg pointed out that it is more prudent to seek data minimization rather than data retention, in the wake of increased risk of data breaches and identity theft. Rotenberg noted that enforced data retention would make ISPs more vulnerable to hackers, citing the LulzSec group, which recently claimed responsibility for temporarily shutting down a CIA website and other high-profile hacks.
“Minimizing stored user data reduces incentives for hackers to attack data storage systems by reducing the amount of data available to steal. Minimization also reduces the costs of data breaches,” Rotenberg said in prepared testimony.
Rotenberg suggested that the data could be used to bring criminal charges that were unrelated to child pornography, noting that any mandatory retention of data would be accessible to police investigating any crime.
“Although this data retention requirement has been introduced as part of a bill focused on child sexual exploitation, there is no evidence to suggest that the majority of law enforcement requests for customer subscriber information relate to child protection cases.” Rotenberg argued.


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The Fourth Amendment is Going Dark

In Internet Censorship on February 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm


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In 1994 the FBI decided it needed a surveillance system built into the telephone network to enable it to listen to any conversation with the flip of a switch. Congress obliged by passing the Communication Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), forcing the telecoms to rebuild their networks to be “wiretap ready.” Seventeen years later, law enforcement is asking to expand CALEA to include the Internet, claiming that its investigative abilities are “going dark” because people are increasingly communicating online.

The parameters of this proposal are very unclear, but some scary ideas have been bandied around.

Expanding CALEA would force companies to re-engineer all of their communications software to have a surveillance back door that could be easily accessed by law enforcement. This back door would apply to every form of peer-to-peer communication; from email, to social networking, to video games. The government would have to get a search warrant to utilize the back door, but imagine a world where the government required every home to be built with cameras and microphones pre-installed. Even knowing they could only be “tapped” after probable cause was established, how comfortable would you be?
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Then there is the message this would send to the rest of the world. If this comes to pass, other governments — including repressive regimes like China and Iran — could follow suit, justifiably claiming they were just following our lead. We have seen the role the Internet can play in human rights movements, such as the Green Revolution and the recent demonstrations in Egypt. These would not have been possible if the Internet did not allow for private and anonymous communication.

Nor is it clear this is necessary. Current law provides more than sufficient means for law enforcement to demand assistance of anyone — from a landlord to an internet service provider — in executing a wiretap order. Any company that refused to comply could be held in contempt of court.

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Applying CALEA to online communications would be a sweeping expansion of law enforcement surveillance powers that is unnecessary and chills our First and Fourth Amendment rights. Many of the civil liberties benefits of the Internet — ability to read provocative materials, associate with non-mainstream groups, and voice dissenting opinions — are based on the assumption of practical anonymity. If a surveillance structure is built into the Internet, individuals will lose the freedom and openness that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

Tell Congress to oppose any effort to make the Internet wiretap ready.

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FBI Calls for Backdoor to Snoop Web

In Internet Censorship on February 19, 2011 at 1:41 am


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Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
February 18, 2011

The FBI is once again calling for the internet to be converted into a Stasi-like spy grid. “Web-based e-mail, social-networking and peer-to-peer services are frustrating law enforcement wiretapping efforts, a lawyer for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation told lawmakers Thursday,” reports PCWorld.

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The Obama administration will attempt to bribe, coerce, or intimidate web-based services not covered by traditional wiretap laws into helping the government turn the medium into a sprawling high-tech surveillance platform.

Valerie Caproni, general counsel at the FBI, reminded the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, does not cover the internet. CALEA requires traditional telecom carriers to allow law enforcement agencies real-time access to communications.

Instead of forcing ISPs to adopt CALEA, the government will attempt to convince communication providers to build in so-called back doors allowing law enforcement access to their software. Caproni said she’s optimistic the U.S. government can find “incentives” for companies to “have intercept solutions engineered into their systems.”

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“We are not looking for any new authority,” she said. “We are concerned we are losing ground in actually being able to gather the information we are authorized to have.”

Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement that the FBI plan “will actually change the structure of the Internet, providing the government with a master key to our online communications.”

Caproni said the FBI is concerned about the internet being used for criminal activity. “That criminal may be a massive drug dealer, they may be an arms trafficker, they may be a child pornographer or a child molester,” she said. “We need the actual ability to conduct the wiretaps so we can keep the streets safe.”

The FBI has a long history of using its authority to monitor and harass political activists. A report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals that since 9/11, the FBI has been responsible for at least 40,000 violations of the law. It has functioned primarily since its inception in the early 1900s as a political police force tasked with going after political activists of all stripes.

“In many cases, many of those now under surveillance by the FBI are ordinary American citizens doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment right to free speech by criticizing the government,” writes constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead.

Ms. Caproni has sheepishly admitted that the internet continues to stump the FBI and the government. It has allowed activists to coordinate and announce their protest activities. It also represents the greatest single threat to the ruling elite and the government because it allows unfettered dissemination of alternative news that is not reported by the corporate Mockingbird media.

Caproni told the House committee the FBI would have recommendations for Congress soon. Representative Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, said Congress is ready to oblige. “What are you seeking here today?” he asked. “What is it exactly that you would want Congress to do?”

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The FBI wants Congress to turn the internet into the largest and most efficient Stasi snoop grid in history. It wants a legal fig leaf to cover its effort to neutralize the opposition through surveillance and ultimately harassment, intimidation, and in the case of the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement activists in the 1960s and 70s, assassination.

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