Archive for Privacy

Are Cameras the New Guns?

In which we compare and contrast:

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

via Gizmodo and

Accountability and privacy are both relatively new inventions; villagers three centuries ago knew little of either. But of the two, accountability is much more precious, and it is hard to enforce when a large swath of public life is shrouded in secrecy.

via David Brin.

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Senate Joins House in Caving to White House Immunity Demands | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Senate Joins House in Caving to White House Immunity Demands | Electronic Frontier Foundation
“We thank those senators who courageously opposed telecom immunity and vow to them, and to the American people, that the fight for accountability over the president’s illegal surveillance is not over,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “Even though Congress has failed to protect the privacy of Americans and uphold the rule of law, we will not abandon our defense of liberty. We will fight this unconstitutional grant of immunity in the courtroom and in the Congress, requesting repeal of the immunity in the next session, while seeking justice from the Judiciary. Nor can the lawless officials who approved this massive violation of Americans’ rights rest easy, for we will file a new suit against the government and challenge warrantless wiretapping, past, present and future.”

Here’s hoping that the EFF and ACLU can smack some sense into enough judges to get this tragedy of a law thrown out.

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A faint glimmer of hope in FISA delay

A faint glimmer of hope in FISA delay
“As you can see,” cackled House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer D-MD, “your netroots friends have failed. Now witness the surveillance power of this fully approved and operational FISA compromise”

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We have everything to fear from ID cards – Telegraph

A very quotable bit from an article in the UK’s consie tabloid The Telegraph. Just goes to show that they aren’t all neocons.

We have everything to fear from ID cards – Telegraph

The compulsory ID card scheme is a sickness born of too much suspicion and too little regard for the meaning of tolerance and privacy in modern life.

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McCullagh’s Law: When politicians invoke the do-this-or-Americans-will-die argument | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET

McCullagh’s Law: When politicians invoke the do-this-or-Americans-will-die argument | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET

This leads me to propose McCullagh’s Law of Politics:
As the certainty that legislation violates the U.S. Constitution increases, so does the probability of predictions that severe harm or death will come to Americans if the proposal is not swiftly enacted.

Ah, Declan. From time to time your cold libertarian heart produces gems.

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Oh nothing, certainly not state secrets!

So in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, a US federal judge in Michigan has ruled that the NSA program of warrantless wiretapping of US citizens is unconstitutional and must be halted. Reading the actual ruling, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor reviews a large number of cases where the government has asserted what is known as the “State Secrets Privilege.” This is a common law legal doctrine that allows a government to ask for evidence to be ruled inadmissible in court if the revelation of the evidence would be harmful to the state. There is a wikipedia article on state secrets. Judge Taylor’s ruling cites cases going back as far as 1875: “The seminal decision in this line of cases is Totten v. United States 92 U.S. 105 (1875)” – a US civil war spying case. Judge Taylor quotes the imporant 1953 US Supreme Court ruling in United States vs Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1 (1953)

The privilege belongs to the Government and must be asserted by it; it can neither be claimed nor waived by a private party. It is not to be lightly invoked. There must be formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has control over the matter, after actual personal consideration by that officer. The court itself must determine whether the circumstances are appropriate for the claim of privilege, and yet do so without forcing a disclosure of the very thing the privilege is designed to protect. Reynolds, 345 U.S. at 8.

The Chief Justice further wrote:

In each case, the showing of necessity which is made will determine how far the court should probe in satisfying itself that the occasion for invoking the privilege is appropriate. Where there is a strong showing of necessity, the claim of privilege should not be lightly accepted, but even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that military secrets are at stake. Reynolds, 345 U.S. at 11.

A quick glance through the Canadian and U.S. constitutions shows a distinct lack of any mention of the phrases “National Security” and “State Secrets” but there appear to be a large number of people who don’t think the ideas are abhorrent and reprehensible so I guess they are unlikely to go away any time soon. Right. Given that they are going to be around, I think their use needs to be made more difficult and high profile. I personally think that any attempt to use them in a legal sense should require a document approving the use, signed by the elected head of government, the leader of the opposition, and at least one member of a group of judges who are cleared to see anything relating to the use of such a tool.

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