Sunday, November 4, 2007

If You Drive, You Consent...

THIS from the Daily Oklahoman:

"A joint operation between the Oklahoma County Sheriff's department and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to cut down on traffic violations and thwart other criminal activity netted 102 arrests in a 12-hour period during the weekend, a sheriff's spokesman said. ...

"Checkpoints were set up in six locations across the metro area, and the officers were looking for everything from drivers with no state licenses to drunken drivers to other criminal activity. ...

"[The OK County Sheriff] said the sweeps are going to become a staple in Oklahoma County, with similar events scheduled in the future."

Apparently we've come to the point where it's acceptable to be stopped for any reason. Anyone who can comment on the legal basis for dragnet checkpoints would be greatly appreciated.

For those of you interested in journalism, the only quotes in the piece came from, you guessed it, the Oklahoma County Sheriff.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Implementing Domestic Surveillance

From the Federation of American Scientists' "Secrecy News" e-newsletter:

IMPLEMENTING DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCEUpon lawful request and for a thousand dollars, Comcast, one of thenation's leading telecommunications companies, will intercept itscustomers' communications under the Foreign Intelligence SurveillanceAct.The cost for performing any FISA surveillance "requiring deployment ofan intercept device" is $1,000.00 for the "initial start-up fee(including the first month of intercept service)," according to a newlydisclosed Comcast Handbook for Law Enforcement.Thereafter, the surveillance fee goes down to "$750.00 per month foreach subsequent month in which the original [FISA] order or anyextensions of the original order are active."With respect to surveillance policy, the Comcast manual hews closely tothe letter of the law, as one would hope and expect."If your [FISA intercept] request pertains to individuals outside theU.S., please be sure you have complied with all the requirements in 50U.S.C. sections 105A and/or 105B," the manual says, referring toprovisions of the Protect America Act that was enacted last month. "Requests such as these can not be honored after one year and must bedated prior to February 5, 2008, unless extended by Congress."Comcast will also comply with disclosure demands presented in the formof National Security Letters. However, the manual says, "Attentionmust be paid to the various court proceedings in which the legal statusof such requests is at issue."In short, "Comcast will assist law enforcement agencies in theirinvestigations while protecting subscriber privacy as required by lawand applicable privacy policies."At the same time, "Comcast reserves the right to respond or object to,or seek clarification of, any legal requests and treat legal requestsfor subscriber information in any manner consistent with applicablelaw."

A copy of the manual was obtained by Secrecy News.See "Comcast Cable Law Enforcement Handbook," September 2007:'

The role of telecommunications companies in intelligence surveillanceis under increased scrutiny as the Bush Administration seeks to shieldthe companies from any liability associated with their cooperation inwhat may be illegal warrantless surveillance.

Also, there are new indications that the unauthorized warrantlesssurveillance program pre-dated 9/11. The Rocky Mountain News, theWashington Post, and others reported allegations that the governmentmay have penalized Qwest Communications for refusing to participate ina pre-9/11 National Security Agency surveillance program that thecompany believed might be illegal.

The Washington Post editorialized yesterday that the telecommunicationscompanies should indeed be immunized against liability, as the Bush Administration desires. Even though it is not known exactly what thecompanies did, the Post said, they "seem to us to have been acting aspatriotic corporate citizens in a difficult and uncharted environment."

Writing in, Glenn Greenwald disputed that view, arguing thatpatriotism lies in compliance with the law, not in mere obedience toexecutive authority.

Quote of the Day

From the platform of the Swiss People's Party:

La culture est ce à quoi les hommes aspirent et ce qu’ils créent pour réaliser des valeurs spirituelles et intellectuelles. Elle ne peut être imposée par l’Etat.

Roughly translated (forgive my weak skills):

Culture is that to which humans aspire and that which they create to realize spiritual and intellectual values. It cannot be imposed upon by the State.

There will be plenty more quotes from the People's Party.

The New National I.D.

With the "Real ID Rebellion" in full swing (so much so that the debate has largely died down), it is interesting to watch how politicians are trying to win public approval for a national ID by arguing for a special "card" for immigrants.

Regardless of one's position on the immigration issue, we ought to take pause to consider the dangers of profiling a minority for purposes of distributing federally-controlled cards. We also must consider the unintended consequences for those who belong to targeted groups but are in the country legally.

Rep. Frank Lucas (Oklahoma District 3) advocated this type of I.D. card in at least one townhall meeting last spring. In response, I contacted his office to clarify his stance on the issue. I was cleaning out the ODFP email account today and found a great example of responsive politics at work: I sent my last message to Lucas' office on May 9th and still have received no response. I post below the email conversation in full.

Wed, 9 May 2007 07:40:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: View Contact Details Add Mobile Alert
RE: Lucas stance on immigration
"Perry, Craig"

Hi Mr. Perry,

No worries on the delay. My specific interest was on what specific proposals Mr. Lucas supports concerning stricter standards for driver's licenses and Social Security card access. I am happy to call, but in my past contact with congressional offices I have generally found that policy statements are often available in written form. Nonetheless, I am happy to do whatever is easiest for you.

Thank you for being in touch,

"Perry, Craig" wrote:

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Are there specific questions that you have concerning these issues? My direct line is 202-226-4695 if that would be more convenient.

Craig Perry
Legislative Assistant
Office of Congressman Frank D. Lucas (OK-03)
2311 Rayburn Building
p. (202) 225-5565
f. (202) 225-8698

From: [] Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 2:19 PMTo: Perry, CraigSubject: Lucas stance on immigration

Dear Mr. Perry,

I am a resident of Stillwater , which is also where my organization is based. I have been reading in the papers about Mr. Lucas' position on immigration reform, especially as concerns stricter standards for keeping driver's licenses and Social Security cards out of the hands of illegal immigrants. I am interested in learning more about his specific proposals on this issue. Your office's main switchboard told me you were the person who deals with this issue.

Thank you very sincerely for your help,

Some things socialism just can't buy...

For those who think socialized medicine will answer America's healthcare ills:

"Name that drug -- many patients can't" (AP/Yahoo News):

Our only way forward as a nation is to get people more involved in their own care and to start thinking of being a "patient" more like being a "consumer."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

OSU fires employee for explicit files and email

Full text HERE.

OSU had been detecting various types of illicit internet use for quite some time and sent out a threatening employee newsletter about how employees can expect no right to privacy at work. This firing is one of hundreds of thousands of cases that cause us to reconsider the boundaries of personal invasion at the work place.

Most employers with massive computer networks use the same type of network monitoring as OSU: a network monitor (kind of like in the Matrix) that can see all network activity in real time. I've always wondered, if they didn't want people downloading porn at work, why they don't just block those sites. OSU had already blocked peer-to-peer file transfer sites (e.g., the old Napster).

Great read on the subject of privacy at work: The Unwanted Gaze, by Jeffrey Rosen

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Death of Liberty By a Thousand Fingerprints

There's nothing like having a society that justifies everything "for the children". In this case, it's an overeager food service manager wanting to make sure students have enough time to eat. The solution? An expensive biometric system with which kids pay for lunch, naturally:,8599,1665119,00.html

Apparently schools have used this system in other ways in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Best/worst line in the article:
"Now Tom McCraley, the 760-student school district's superintendent, says that before considering finger scanning, 'I'd want to make sure parents had a full understanding about it.'"

It's the same old line, time and again: If people just understood [fill in the privacy invasion], then suddenly they'd be OK with it. What's so hard about the idea that parents don't want their children tracked, scanned, monitored, and controlled by other people? Before Tom McCraley or any other superintendents take up their posts on the taxpayer doll, I'd want to make sure they have a full understanding about privacy rights and parental choice.

Personally, I think this is a great case study in how one error leads to another. For example:

"Allen says the system has helped add at least 10 minutes to lunch periods that in some schools last just 20 minutes. "

My first thought about this article was: what's so hard about giving the students 10 extra minutes for lunch?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are our rights going up in smoke?

Oklahoma State University recently announced that it will become a tobacco-free campus as of July 1, 2008, making it the first Big 12 University to carry that distinction.

The policy has become a heated source of debate about the nature and limit of rights. Opponents of the policy have talked about the "rights" of smokers. Advocates of the policy have talked about the dangers of secondhand smoke, pointing out that a person's rights do not allow them to harm the rights of another person.

As an opponent of the policy, I am forced to point out a few issues:

1. The policy deals ONLY with smoking and smokeless tobacco use at least 25 feet from the entrance to a building. In compliance with state law, no smoking is allowed in university buildings or within 25 feet of an entrance or air intake.
2. I have been making the argument that a person is far more likely, in the open air, to inhale toxins and carcinogens far worse than catching a whiff of a passing cloud of secondhand smoke. Now I can prove the claim HERE; compare this with the much-touted 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's report which addresses the dangers of indoor secondhand smoke.
3. The real issue here, as it is with all issues pertaining to public health, the effort to create a zero-risk environment, even when this environment is paternalistically enforced. Nowhere is this paternalism more evident than with OSU banning smokeless tobacco -- a form of tobacco use that does harm only to the user.

Also present in the University's statements is the buzzword "wellness." The public health arguments take in this case a familiar shape:

a) You can't let your actions hurt others (because of secondhand smoke)
b) It's for the children (think of all the children and elderly that come on campus)
c) We want to create a culture of wellness (even if it means forcing you to do so), and the kicker:
d) We know what's best for you

What place is there in such a scheme for differences in value? Everyday people use products made in sweatshops, tested on animals, and harmful to others -- but because of a decades-long PR campaign, smoking suddenly has suddenly become an intolerable behavior.

The protection of the non-smoker's rights is, of course, important. The inconvenience of indoor secondhand smoke may have been forgiveable before the toxicity of the smoke had been established. But the protection of rights cuts both ways. There may be no "right to smoke"; but there is a right to be left alone unless your actions directly and seriously harm another person. As a society, we undertake actions everyday that are more harmful to others than a cigarette could ever be. To a degree, these harms are a risk of a free society. But under the growing public health regime, such harms are impermissible. Every authority is legitimate, to the public health warrior, in order to create a zero-risk society.

Please discuss.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

2007 Legislative Wrap-Up

Gov. Henry signs SB 464; Anti-Microchipping bill dies in conference committee
May 31, 2007

The Oklahoma legislative session has come to a close with some very positive results. The highlight was that Governor Brad Henry signed into law SB 464, which bans the implementation of the Real ID Act in Oklahoma (unfortunately, there is no known news link to this story from the media!). According to Oklahoma state records posted online, Governor Henry signed the bill on May 23rd. Visit current events for more information.

Also, SB 47, which would have prevented forcible human microchipping, died in the final days of the session in a conference committee. For the ODFP this was a somewhat mixed blessing, as the bill had picked up an irrelevant amendment pertaining to the seizure of property of criminal suspects. This amendment had somewhat questionable provisions.

ODFP submits comments to DHS
May 8, 2007

The ODFP submitted official comments to the Department of Homeland Security concerning its proposed regulations to implement the Real ID Act. The ODFP stated for the official record its contention that the Act is “repugnant to the Tenth Amendment, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Bill of Rights of the Oklahoma Constitution.” Read the full 7-page comment HERE.

Anti-Real ID Legislation Passes the Full House
April 30, 2007

The full House passed an amended version of SB 464 on a unanimous 97-0 vote and sent the bill back to the Senate to approve the amendments. The House version strengthens the requirement to forbid implementation of the Real ID Act (rather than merely allowing the governor to delay implementation, as in the original version). Additionally, the House version calls for the end of the digital finger image system currently in place under state law.

Also of note, SB 47 also passed the full House and has also been re-engrossed in the Senate. This language was strengthened in the House as well, adding a prohibition on forcibly applying any permanent visible mark.

Anti-Real ID Legislation Passes House Committee
April 20, 2007

Last week the House Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary recommended SB 464, which allows for the Governor to delay the implementation of the Real ID Act, to the full House. The bill will come to a full vote before the end of the legislative session on May 25 (more details to follow).

ODFP Informational Meeting in Norman on March 28th
March 19, 2007

On March 28th at 7:00 PM in room 304 Adams Hall on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, the ODFP, sponsored by the Jeffersonian Society, will introduce its mission and the major issues of National ID cards, eminent domain, and the future of liberty in Oklahoma. OU campus map is available at:

Anti-Real ID Legislation Passes State Senate
March 14, 2007

On the same day that Sen. Randy Brogdan joined as co-sponsor of SB 464, which allows for the Governor to delay the implementation of the Real ID Act, the bill passed with a unanimous 45-0 vote in the full Senate. The bill awaits referral to committee in the House.

Microchip Bill Sent to House; Anti-Real ID Legislation Waiting for Full Senate
March 9, 2007

An amended version of SB 47 passed the full Senate on a 35-13 vote on March 5. The bill is currently in the House Public Health Committee.

Anti-Real ID Legislation Passes Committee
February 14, 2007

SB 464 passed the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security without amendment on Tuesday, February 13th.

Sen. Constance Johnson introduced this legislation which would allow the Governor to delay the state’s compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005. The bill makes compliance contingent upon the promulgation of official rules by the Department of Homeland Security guaranteeing the protection of “economic privacy and biological integrity” of license holders.

While the bill stops short of forbidding compliance with the Real ID Act, it is a positive step forward to ensure that there is a minimum of accountability for personal privacy. The bill also allows for open debate over an act of the U.S. Congress which received no such scrutiny at the federal level.

Read State Sen. Johnson’s bill HERE
To get involved in supporting this measure, click HERE

Bill Forbidding Human Microchip Implantation Passes Senate Committee
Feburary 13, 2007

Sen. Brian Crain authored SB 47, mking the forcible implantation of human microchips punishable by a fine of $10,000 per day. Despite opposition on the committee, the Committee recommended that the bill pass as amended. The bill will come to the full Senate soon. Rep. Tibbs of the House is joining as an author.

Despite claims that the bill is a “solution in search of a problem,” SB 47 takes Oklahoma in the same direction as other states which have cast a wary gaze at technologies which might threaten individual liberties. New Hampshire, for example, has already placed a 3-year moratorium on the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Read the most current version of State Sen. Crain’s bill HERE

State Sen. Brogdan Authors “The Religious Freedom and Privacy Act of 2007”

Sen. Randy Brogdan has introduced legislation which would forbid the collection and dissemination of biometric data except in cases in which citizens are convicted of crimes. In effect, this bill would overturn Oklahoma’s current finger image system and would prevent future biometric “dragnet” systems.

This bill will be coming to committee soon in the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. It is another opportunity for those whose Senators are part of this committee to get involved.

Read State Sen. Brogdan’s bill HERE
To get involved in supporting this ameasure, click HERE