This is hardly a surprise, but more reports are coming out revealing that the US's ongoing strategy in negotiating the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) agreement is to not take into account the many, many concerns about the US's hardline, maximalist position on both intellectual property issues and efforts to give corporations sovereignty over national laws under the misleadingly named (and purposely boring) "investor state dispute settlements" (ISDS). You would think that with widespread dissection and concerns expressed about the leaked intellectual property chapter, that the USTR might possibly ease up on its crazy maximalist demands. Not so -- but that's to be expected when you have Stan McCoy as the lead negotiator on intellectual property issues. McCoy is a famed extreme maximalist on IP issues who has more or less admitted to having no interest at all in hearing from public interest groups, while lapping up any opportunity to parrot bogus claims from the industry. McCoy was the same guy behind the embarassing disaster known as ACTA, which flopped so miserably. You'd think he'd take a hint, but instead it appears he's decided to dig in his heels and make sure the US continues to live up to its reputation as an obnoxious bully.
Multiple reports have called out the US (and McCoy in particular) for its aggression and "bullying" in the negotiations. Others have accused the US of engaging in a "negotiation by exhaustion," in which US negotiators seem to figure if they just stand their ground forever, everyone will eventually be bullied into agreeing to the US's positions.
‘The US has adopted a strategy of exhaustion in its bullying of negotiators on the crucial intellectual property chapter to force countries to trade away health in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations in Salt Lake City’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, who is monitoring the negotiations.
‘The US has stepped up its aggression as they move towards their "end point" of the TPPA ministerial meeting in Singapore from 7 to 10 December’, said Professor Kelsey.
[....] ‘This is a loaded game’, Professor Kelsey said. ‘McCoy sets the agenda and timetable. Negotiators are working from morning until late at night and preparing to work all night, if necessary.’ The second link above, from a publication in Australia, notes something similar and complains about the Australian government's seeming willingness to side with the US on these issues:
The United States has been accused of negotiation by exhaustion in last-minute talks in Salt Lake City ahead of the final ministers' meeting that will decide the makeup of the Trans Pacific trade deal between Australia and eleven other nations.
Information leaking from the closed official-level talks suggests the United States is giving no ground on questions of intellectual property and medicines and is insisting each nation sign up to so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions that would allow global corporations to sue sovereign governments.
[....] “What is happening is not a negotiation,” said Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade Network. “The United States is dictating the terms and it seems the Australian Government is not prepared to join other governments which are resisting these demands While Stan McCoy plays out his own last stand game, pushing for policies that may help a few of his friends in the industry at the expense of the public, hopefully that last point -- about other governments resisting McCoy's attempt to bully them into a really bad deal -- stays true. An analysis of the positions on the IP Chapter, done by Gabriel Michael, highlighted how the US's position is a lot more isolated than it might like. That may explain the bullying behavior. It looks like the USTR is getting desperate, realizing its usual tricks and games aren't fooling most of the other negotiators. As Michael's analysis showed, the US and Japan (two of the strongest supporters of maximalism) appear to be fairly isolated -- issuing a lot more proposals that no one else supports.
Of course, the USTR is somewhat famous for its ability to start horse trading, promising bogus sweetheart deals if people just agree to awful language that will do massive harm to the public, so it's still something to be quite nervous about until any final text is revealed. Of course, just the fact that the USTR has still refused to reveal the text itself should be reason enough to recognize that this deal is a joke designed to screw over the public. Those acting in the interest of the public don't hide their efforts from the public.By Mike Masnick
Tennessee dad Jim Howe didn’t think it was safe — or logical — for “traffic [to be] backed up over a mile on a busy highway” just to pick up kids from South Cumberland Elementary School. But when he walked into the school, protesting a new rule that parents have to hang out in a line of cars to get their kids, he got arrested. If you like arguing and Southern accents, watch the situation unfold:
Apparently kids can be released to parents in cars or can take the bus home, but they are not allowed to walk home with their parents. (Don’t even TRY picking your kid up by bike.) Although Howe signed the school’s special form giving his kids permission to walk home with him, deputy Avery Aytes won’t have it:
Howe: They’re walking with me when school is dismissed.
Aytes: No, they’re not.
Howe: Per state law, yes, they are. After a bit more arguing, Aytes cuffs Howe, proving that the best reason to go into law enforcement is so you can arrest people you lose arguments with.
Some commenters say Howe parked on the highway and then walked into the school, and why should he get special treatment when everyone else was waiting patiently in line? But the real question is, can we pleeeease make more walkable cities and make schools easily accessible by rail, bike, and foot? Then NO ONE will have to sit in traffic.By Holly Richmond
The musician Moby has long been an outspoken critic of the old recording industry. He's been a big fan of giving away works for free (and noting that he's made quite a bit of money from music he's made available for free) and has argued strongly against the old gatekeepers. He's criticized their anti-innovation views, suggested the RIAA should disband for suing music fans, and said he can't wait for the major label gatekeepers to die.
So it shouldn't be too surprising that Moby happily teamed up with BitTorrent to release his latest album as a BitTorrent bundle for free (you just have to provide an email address). But here's the more surprising part. Not only is he happily making it available for free, but he's actually fine with people profiting from potential remixes or other uses of the music. As he explained in a recent interview with Mashable:
Are people really free to do whatever they want? Can they sell their recordings?
I met with the BitTorrent people and they were asking, "What if someone comes up with their own remix and they sell it?" They were wondering what I would want them to do with the money. And my response was that they could take their friends out to dinner or give money to their favorite charity. Even if I make the stems, if they made the effort to make the remix, they should be the ones to profit from it. This is a really enlightened view. Even among people who are accepting of how to use free in a business model, we still see artists get uptight about "commercial use" -- even though it's often not entirely clear what qualifies as commercial use. We've long advocated that more people should be open to the idea of allowing commercial use of their works, as the potential benefits for everyone -- including the artist and fans -- could be great. I recognize this still makes some artists (who otherwise support remix and open culture) nervous, but I think as we get more examples of artists who allow for commercial use, and see how well it works, that we'll see more artists get comfortable with allowing others to profit as well.
The rest of the Moby interview is worth reading as well. He points out that artists who adapt aren't worried about infringement:
Artists who are adaptable are doing fine. A musician who makes records, tours, DJs, remixes, does music for video games and films is doing fine. If you can learn how to adapt — it's really weird and unhealthy when people talk about restricting progress to accommodate the inability of people to adapt. Every industry has been impacted by [changes in technology] in both negative and positive ways, but I feel like to complain is pointless. I love Thom Yorke, but when I heard him complaining about Spotify, I'm like, "You're just like an old guy yelling at fast trains." I love anything that enables people to have more music in their lives. He also talks about how great other services like Spotify, SoundCloud and Pandora are -- and notes that he's actively lobbied Congress not to restrict such services. He also talks about how ridiculous it was when his old label, EMI, tried to control everything to prevent infringement:
It was about 7 or 8 years ago when I was on EMI, and someone at EMI business affairs contacted my manager and told him that I wasn't allowed to play my own music when I DJ'ed because they didn't want people in the audience pirating it. This was back in the days of the Nokia flip phone. If someone recorded a song in a nightclub it would be the worst sounding recording you could possibly imagine. You probably wouldn't even be able to identify the song. That seemed like nonsense to me. Instead, he notes, that wonderful things happen when you stop focusing so much on control, and let creativity and innovation flow:
My approach is to not try and control it at all. I really like the idea of not just giving people finished content. It's giving them something that if they choose to they can manipulate and play with however they want. There's absolutely no restrictions on it and that makes me happy. When people try to control content in the digital world, there’s something about that that seems kind of depressing to me. The most interesting results happen when there is no control. I love the democratic anarchy of the online world. This kind of stuff is very refreshing after the latest round of artists on the wrong side of history trying to hold back creativity, culture, innovation and progress.By Mike Masnick
Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "One of the most important public safety laws in Europe is Dir. 2001/95/EC which regulates general product safety. Public.Resource.Org, in our ongoing quest to make legally-mandated public safety codes available, purchased the German instantiation of 40 of these essential codes and made them available on the Internet. Every country in the EU is required to implement and publish these standards.
"Imagine our surprise when we were served notice to appear in Hamburg District Court in Germany."
You can read the docket here, but some of the highlights are that not only is Public.Resource.Org being sued, but “the person of” Carl Malamud is being sued in an individual capacity. The code people are asking for €50,000 in damages. Additional fines of €250,000 are being requested and, if I can't pay, a maximum total period of detention of two years is possible. I am very pleased to say that the premier German public interest law firm, iRights.Law, will be representing us. The iRights.Law group, and their affiliate iRights.Info, play a similar role to that of EFF in the United States and I'm very grateful for their help.
The code people picked 4 specific standards to sue on, including—believe it or not—the EU-mandated standard DIN EN 1400-1, “Child use and care articles - Soothers for babies and young children - Part 1: General safety requirements and product information.”
That's right, we're being sued for the .DE standard for the safety of the Binky® and other brands of baby pacifiers. Before we posted this important safety standard, you could only read the document if you spent €103.90 for the .DE Binky Code, £140.00 for the .UK Binky Code, or €90.26 for the .FR Binky Code.
“Babies fall asleep faster when they can suck on a soother. However, the consequences could well be fatal if a child were to swallow its dummy. Safety requirements relating to the physical and chemical quality of soothers are dealt with in DIN EN 1400-1 ff. Soothers wishing to conform to this standard must have a shield with at least two holes allowing the baby to continue to breathe in the event of the soother becoming lodged in its mouth.” Sounds kind of important, don't you think?
The standards we posted for product safety from Germany are just one of several such collections we've posted that are mandated by the European Union:
* From Bulgaria, we've posted the EU-mandated standards for agricultural and forest machinery as well as train safety and interoperability.
* From France, the EU-mandated standards for toy safety and green packaging.
* From Ireland, the EU-mandated standards for medical implants.
* From Italy, the EU-mandated standards for food processing machinery.
* From Latvia, the EU-mandated standards for earth-moving machinery, garden equipment, and hand-held tools.
* From Serbia, the EU-mandated standards for personal protective equipment.
* From the United Kindom, all UK national annexes to the Eurocode and crucial standards for the safety of baby carriages and access to buildings by disabled people.
* The entire EU-mandated building code, the Eurocode, which has been transformed into valid HTML with SVG graphics and properly-encoded mathematical formulas.
Citizens of the world have the right to read the public safety codes that govern the safety of our modern technical society. Our work in Europe joins the complete collection of standards from India and our extensive collection of US-mandated public safety standards at the Federal and state levels, as well as numerous standards from around the world. Our goal is that all of the standards that are required by law become available to the citizens of the world so that the rule of law becomes real for all of us. You can't require a license to speak the law, you shouldn't have to have a credit card to read the law.
A whiny Assistant District Attorney General of Tennessee asked the judge in the case of Tennessee v Powell to order Mr Powell and his lawyer to stop calling her "the Government." The prosecutor complained that being called "the Government" made him look bad. The reply brief is nothing short of genius: as Lowering the Bar has it: You don't get many chances to do this kind of thing, so it is nice to see someone hit it out of the park."
Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions.... First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called "the Defendant." This rather archaic term of art obviously has a fairly negative connotation.... At trial, Mr. P. hereby demands to be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title "Mister."
Alternatively, he may be called simply "the Citizen Accused." This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal "Defendant." The designation "That innocent man" would also be acceptable.
Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a "lawyer," or a "defense attorney." Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the "Defender of the Innocent." This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent.
Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation "Guardian of the Realm."
Further, the Citizen Accused humbly requests an appropriate military title for his own representative, to match that of the opposing counsel. Whenever addressed by name, the name "Captain Justice" will be appropriate. While less impressive than "General," still, the more humble term seems suitable. After all, the Captain represents only a Citizen Accused, whereas the General represents an entire State.
Along these same lines, even the term "defense" does not sound very likeable. The whole idea of being defensive comes across to most people as suspicious. So to prevent the jury from being unfairly misled by this ancient English terminology, the opposition to the Plaintiff hereby names itself "the Resistance."
* * *
WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis. Alternatively, the Citizen Accused moves for an order in limine modifying the speech code as aforementioned, and requiring any other euphemisms and feel-good terms as the Court finds appropriate. Captain Justice Responds to Government's Motion to Ban the Word "Government"By Cory Doctorow
CREDIT: KIII NEWS A Texas district judge who has been voting for the past five decades was almost barred from the polls Tuesday, thanks to the state’s newly implemented, stricter voter ID law. The law kicked in on Tuesday as early voting in Texas’ November 5 election began.
As she told local channel Kiii News, 117th District Court Judge Sandra Watts was flagged for possible voter fraud because her driver’s license lists her maiden name as her middle name, while her voter registration form has her real middle name. This was the first time she has ever had a problem voting in 49 years. “What I have used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I went to vote,” she said.
Watts worried that women who use maiden names or hyphenated names may be surprised at the polls. “I don’t think most women know that this is going to create a problem,” the judge said. “That their maiden name is on their driver’s license, which was mandated in 1964 when I got married, and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional ballot when I’ve been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years?”
Many married women do not update their IDs after taking their spouse’s surnames, as the process is arduous and costly. Women must present original documents verifying their name change, such as a marriage license, or pay $20 to obtain new copies. Under the new voter ID law, these women are potential voter fraud risks.
Watts is hardly the only woman who has encountered problems. ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes interviewed 84-year-old Dorothy Card, who was denied a voter ID three times even though she has voted for more than 60 years and provided extensive proof of identity.
While Watts, as an experienced judge, is familiar with the intricacies of election law, the people most likely to be stopped at the polls will be less informed about their rights. Low-income voters, minorities, students and seniors disproportionately lack the required identification — a fact that prompted the Justice Department and several federal judges to block the law under now-defunct provisions in the Voting Rights Act. After public outcry, Texas officials said they would distribute a free voter ID to eligible recipients who applied for one. As of this week, however, just 41 people received free IDs, out of the 1.4 million Texas voters who lack the required documents.By AVIVA SHEN
So, we just discussed how it appears that Dianne Feinsteinaccidentally confirmed what was widely suspected: that the NSA is tapping the internet backbone to get access to emails. This is interesting on many levels, not the least of which is that Feinstein herself has been famously harsh against any kind of leak, regularly arguing that the leaks themselves are more damaging than what the leaks may reveal about US government abuse. In the past, Feinstein has raged against leakers:
In a televised interview Wednesday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein repeatedly vented her ire over leaks of classified information and she signaled that she favors a more aggressive crackdown on those who are passing national security secrets to the press.
"What we're seeing...is an Anschluss, an avalanche of leaks. And it's very, very disturbing. You know, it's dismayed our allies. It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation's security in jeopardy," Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on CNN's "Situation Room" program. Similarly, she has argued that Ed Snowden is a "traitor" for revealing information, though unlike her, he didn't reveal this particular program (or at least it hasn't been reported on yet).
The Senate Office of Security and the House counterpart are charged with investigating or coordinating investigations of suspected security violations by employees. In addition, investigations by the House and Senate Ethics Committees of suspected breaches of security are authorized by each chamber’s rules, directly and indirectly. The Senate Ethics Committee, importantly, has the broad duty to “receive complaints and investigate allegations of improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate, violations of law, violations of the Senate Code of Official Conduct, and violations of rules and regulations of the Senate.” The panel is also directed “to investigate any unauthorized disclosure of intelligence information [from the Senate Intelligence Committee] by a Member, officer or employee of the Senate.” If, for example, Senator Wyden had ever actually revealed the details of any classified program (as some had urged him to do), you can rest assured that such an investigation (along with a public tarring and feathering) would likely have occurred. It's also unlikely that he would be allowed to remain on the Intelligence Committee.
So, will Senator Feinstein call for an investigation into her own leak? Will she call herself a traitor? We'll see...By Mike Masnick
Dilma Rousseff's scathing speech to UN general assembly the most serious diplomatic fallout over revelations of US spying
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff speaks at The United Nations general assembly. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, has launched a blistering attack on US espionage at the UN general assembly, accusing the NSA of violating international law by its indiscriminate collection of personal information of Brazilian citizens and economic espionage targeted on the country's strategic industries.
Rousseff's angry speech was a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own address to the UN general assembly, and represented the most serious diplomatic fallout to date from the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Rousseff had already put off a planned visit to Washington in protest at US spying, after NSA documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the US electronic eavesdropping agency had monitored the Brazilian president's phone calls, as well as Brazilian embassies and spied on the state oil corporation, Petrobras.
"Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the centre of espionage activity.
"Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the permanent mission to the UN and the office of the president of the republic itself, had their communications intercepted," Rousseff said, in a global rallying cry against what she portrayed as the overweening power of the US security apparatus.
"Tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations. A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation. The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating fundamental human rights of citizens of another country."
Washington's efforts to smooth over Brazilian outrage over NSA espionage have so far been rebuffed by Rousseff, who has proposed that Brazil build its own internet infrastructure.
"Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable," she said.
"The arguments that the illegal interception of information and data aims at protecting nations against terrorism cannot be sustained. Brazil, Mr President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbour terrorist groups," Rousseff said.
"As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country," the Brazilian president said. She was imprisoned and tortured for her role in a guerilla movement opposed to Brazil's military dictatorship in the 1970s.
"In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations."
Rousseff called on the UN oversee a new global legal system to govern the internet. She said such multilateral mechanisms should guarantee the "freedom of expression, privacy of the individual and respect for human rights" and the "neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, rendering it inadmissible to restrict it for political, commercial, religious or any other purposes.
"The time is ripe to create the conditions to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries," the Brazilian president said.
As host to the UN headquarters, the US has been attacked from the general assembly many times in the past, but what made Rousseff's denunciation all the more painful diplomatically was the fact that it was delivered on behalf of large, increasingly powerful and historically friendly state.
Obama, who followed Rousseff to the UN podium, acknowledged international alarm at the scale of NSA snooping revealed by Snowden. He said: "Just as we reviewed how we deploy our extraordinary military capabilities in a way that lives up to our ideals, we have begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so as to properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies, with the privacy concerns that all people share."
Brazilian officials said that Washington had told them about this review but had noted that its results would not be known for months and that Rousseff believed it was urgent to raise the need for an international code of ethics for electronic espionage.
Rousseff will leave New York tomorrow without meeting Obama but Brazil's new foreign minister, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, will remain at the UN throughout the week and will meet his opposite number, John Kerry, Brazilian officials said, in an attempt to start mending the rift between the two countries.By Julian Borger
We mentioned in our post about the newly declassified FISC ruling, explaining the secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act that allows for bulk data collection of all phone records, that the FISC notes (in its own support) that telcos like Verizon and AT&T have chosen to never challenge the bulk collection orders:
To date, no holder of records who has received an Order to produce bulk telephony metadata has challenged the legality of such an Order. Indeed, no recipient of any Section 215 Order has challenged the legality of such an Order, despite the explicit statutory mechanism for doing so. This is hardly a surprise. We'd already pointed out that, while the internet companies had been very vocal about the NSA surveillance efforts, there had been a deafening silence from the likes of Verizon and AT&T. In fact, it later came out that the telcos actually volunteered to share this information, and when the tech companies reached out to get them to sign onto a letter asking the government to be more transparent, AT&T and Verizon refused to sign on.
Given all of this, it's hard to imagine any worse timing than the very same day that the FISC ruling was unclassified for a Verizon exec to finally speak out on this. Specifically Verizon Enterprise Solutions president John Stratton decided to talk about this... by mocking Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for "grandstanding" on this issue, and to pretend that Verizon had to just shut up and hand over the records for the sake of national security.
"I appreciate that the consumer-centric IT firms that you referenced [Yahoo, Google, Microsoft] that it's important to grandstand a bit, and waive their arms and protest loudly so as not to offend the sensibility of their customers," Stratton said.
"This is a more important issue than that which is generated in a press release. This is a matter of national security."
Stratton said the larger issue that failed to be addressed in the actions of the companies is of keeping security and liberty in balance.
"There is another question that needs to be kept in the balance, which is a question of civil liberty and the rights of the individual citizen in the context of that broader set of protections that the government seeks to create in its society." Of course, the internet companies have done more than issue press releases. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are all currently suing the government concerning the gag order on Section 702 Orders. Yahoo fought back on a FISA Court order in 2008. Google is still in the process of fighting back against questionable National Security Letters, while Twitter, which turned down a request to be a part of the PRISM program has also fought hard against a so-called 2703(d) letter for info on its users.
And, yet, when faced with a much broader demand from the government, seeking info on every single phone call, neither AT&T nor Verizon lifted a finger in protest. And, contrary to Stratton's claims, as the FISC ruling makes clear, both AT&T and Verizon had a clear legal path to appeal to make sure that the privacy of their customers was being protected. But they didn't do that. And now Verizon wants to mock the internet companies? Stratton just couldn't help himself it seems:
Stratton said that as a company, Verizon follows the law, and those laws are set by governments.
"The laws are not set by Verizon, they are set by the governments in which we operate. I think its important for us to recognise that we participate in debate, as citizens, but as a company I have obligations that I am going to follow." Again, one of those "obligations" is to protect the privacy of your customers, and as the court notes, Section 215 allows Verizon to challenge these orders and make sure they are appropriate. Verizon never did so. I agree that if it had challenged and then lost in court, Verizon would have had little recourse other than to hand over the info, but the facts remain that Verizon didn't even take that basic step. And now it mocks those who have, pretending that all they've done is send out press releases, when the evidence shows they've done what Verizon has refused to do: go to court, in an effort to protect the privacy of their users.
Then there's this laugher:
"This is not a question that will be answered by a telecom executive, this is not a question that will be answered by an IT executive. This is a question that must be answered by societies themselves.
"I believe this is a bigger issue, and press releases and fizzy statements don't get at the issue; it needs to be solved by society." And just how is "society" supposed to answer that question when the whole program is kept secret from the American public? And part of that secrecy is because Verizon failed to do what it is allowed to do by law, and challenge the Section 215 bulk data collection orders?
Then he goes back to the bullshit talking points of the NSA:
"Verizon, like every communications company on the planet, operates in many jurisdictions, and our obligation in operating in those jurisdictions is to comply with the law in those places where we do business. So whether that be in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Japan, whoever it is that we have a licence with to operate our business, we have these obligations," he said.
"As it relates to the NSA — as has been discussed, the information was conveyed under a very rigorous process that had oversight by all three branches of the United States government." No, it was not a vigorous process, in large part because of Verizon's own failure to challenge the Section 215 orders it got. In that case, at least there would have been an adversarial hearing. There hasn't been one because Verizon failed to do so. There's a difference between just "complying with the law" and "rolling over and submitting" when the government comes to you with a bogus request, which even explains exactly how to challenge it in court. Verizon chose to roll over.
Already, we've seen that the vaunted "oversight by all three branches" is simply not true. It's been revealed that Congress was not aware of large parts of the program, in part because some NSA defenders purposely kept their colleagues in the dark. The judicial system -- the FISC -- has admitted that it relies on what the NSA tells it, in part because of the lack of any adversary in court. And, once again, Verizon could have been that adversary, but instead, made the conscious decision not to do so.
"Verizon is not unique in the world in terms of its need to comply with the laws of the countries in which it operates. These requirements that are put upon it by governments, duly elected governments, are something that we are very careful about, very thoughtful about, and we work vigorously to protect the privacy of our customers data." A company that is "very careful" and "very thoughtful" and which works "vigorously to protect the privacy or our customer data" does not first volunteer to hand it over to the government, and then when given a broad order demanding every phone record choose to ignore the stated process by which it can challenge that order.
Perhaps this is why Verizon has been so quiet throughout all of this. When one of its execs opens his mouth, it just makes the company look worse.By Mike Masnick
Michael Hayden is the former NSA and CIA boss, whose claim to fame is that he oversaw the illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans under President George W. Bush. He's pretty consistently managed to stick his foot in his mouth concerning everything regarding the latest NSA leaks every time he speaks. He claimed that Ed Snowden was worse than every American revealed spy in history (despite the fact that, unlike actual spies like Benedict Arnold and the Rosenbergs, Snowden focused on informing the public, rather than selling secrets to our enemies). He brushed off Snowden's supporters as internet shut-ins who can't get laid. Though, perhaps he should talk to a geek or two, because he doesn't even understand what data mining means.
His latest is no better. On Sunday he gave a speech where he revealed that (he claims) terrorists love Gmail:
"Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide," presumably meaning online service rather than the actual provider of Internet service. He added: "I don't think you're going to see that in a Google commercial, but it's free, it's ubiquitous, so of course it is." Of course, if this is true (and seeing as he hasn't been in the government for a while, I'm not sure how he'd actually know that), it would seem like that statement alone is much worse than anything that Snowden revealed, because General Hayden basically just told every terrorist "don't use Gmail any more, because we're on to you." Of course, from all reports so far of the way that Al Qaeda brass communicates, it appears they learned that lesson since before Gmail existed. It seems highly unlikely that any sophisticated terrorist would be using a service like Gmail, since it's long been suspected that the US government monitored it anyway.
Hayden didn't stop there. He also flat out admitted that the US was "militarizing" the internet (though he called it the web), which is another thing that the government has been trying to deny until Hayden just blurted it out.
Hayden also conceded that the United States. "could be fairly charged with the militarization of the World Wide Web." Hayden also reveals the rather ridiculous sense of entitlement that the intelligence community has towards snooping on the internet. He argues, effectively, that since the internet rose out of a US government project, then of course it should be able to spy on everything on it.
"We built it here, and it was quintessentially American," he said, adding that partially due to that, much of traffic goes through American servers where the government "takes a picture of it for intelligence purposes." Of course, that totally ignores the status of the internet today, and how much has changed since the old ARPANET days. Also, as the Washington Post notes, having intelligence community officials say ridiculous crap like that is more or less telling the rest of the world (and many Americans) to stop doing business with American internet companies. Is whatever minor intel the NSA picks up really worth losing many billions to the US economy?
And, of course, Hayden once again made it clear that if he had his way, the NSA would be able to track anything and everything, because anonymity is bad.
At one point, Hayden expressed a distaste for online anonymity, saying "The problem I have with the Internet is that it's anonymous." Given that, I'd like to challenge Michael Hayden to release his browser history from the past three months. After all, I'm sure he wouldn't want anyone to think he's a hypocrite who surfed the web anonymously, now would he?By Mike Masnick