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