Tag Archives | Law

Wikimedia Sues NSA Over Mass Surveillance

Frankfurt Am Main-Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen-Detail-Justitia von Nordwesten-20110411

Justice presides with her scale and sword at Frankfurt am Main. Photo by Roland Meinecke, licensed under a Free Art license.

One of our favorite Internet resources, Wikimedia, is suing the NSA. Here’s their statement:

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation is filing suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States [1]. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s mass surveillance program, and specifically its large-scale search and seizure of internet communications — frequently referred to as “upstream” surveillance. Our aim in filing this suit is to end this mass surveillance program in order to protect the rights of our users around the world. We are joined by eight other organizations [2] and represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The full complaint can be found here.

“We’re filing suit today on behalf of our readers and editors everywhere,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.… Read the rest

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Life in Prison for Selling $20 of Weed

Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)

Torben Hansen (CC BY 2.0)

This is awful.

Abby Haglage via The Daily Beast:


On September 5, 2008, Fate Vincent Winslow watched a plainclothes stranger approach him. Homeless and hungry, on a dark street rife with crime, the 41-year-old African American was anxious to make contact, motivated by one singular need: food.

Another man, this one white, stood next to Winslow. He is referred to in court documents exclusively as “Perdue.”

It was nearly 9:20 p.m., hours after the sun had dipped below the abandoned buildings surrounding them. The lights of downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, flickered in the distance as the plain-clothes man—unbeknownst to them, an undercover cop—arrived.

“What do you need?” Winslow asked. “A girl and some weed,” Officer Jerry Alkire replied.

Perdue remained silent as Winslow and Alkire negotiated the costs. Winslow wanted a $5 delivery fee for the $20 (two dime bags) of pot. Fine. Money settled, he grabbed Perdue’s bike and took off.

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Canada to allow doctor-assisted suicide

Partha S. Sahana (CC BY 2.0)

Partha S. Sahana (CC BY 2.0)

Via BBC News:

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable medical conditions to die, overturning a 1993 ban.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the law impinged on Canadians’ rights.

The case was brought by a civil rights group on behalf of two women, Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor, with degenerative diseases. Both have since died.

The government now has a year to rewrite its law on assisted suicide.

If it does not, the current law will be struck down.

Assisted suicide is legal in several European countries and a few US states.

In Canada is it illegal to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, and the offence carries up to 14 years in prison.

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EFF’s Game Plan for Ending Global Mass Surveillance

We have a problem when it comes to stopping mass surveillance.

The entity that’s conducting the most extreme and far-reaching surveillance against most of the world’s communications—the National Security Agency—is bound by United States law.



That’s good news for Americans. U.S. law and the Constitution protect American citizens and legal residents from warrantless surveillance. That means we have a very strong legal case to challenge mass surveillance conducted domestically or that sweeps in Americans’ communications.

Similarly, the United States Congress is elected by American voters. That means Congressional representatives are beholden to the American people for their jobs, so public pressure from constituents can help influence future laws that might check some of the NSA’s most egregious practices.

But what about everyone else? What about the 96% of the world’s population who are citizens of other countries, living outside U.S. borders. They don’t get a vote in Congress. And current American legal protections generally only protect citizens, legal residents, or those physically located within the United States.… Read the rest

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Rapper Tiny Doo Facing Long Prison Sentence Over Lyrics

So now you can go to prison because of the lyrics of a song? In California, the answer may be “yes” reports CNN:

Song lyrics that glorify violence are hardly uncommon. But a prosecutor in California says one rapper’s violent lyrics go beyond creative license to conspiracy.

San Diego-based rapper Tiny Doo has already spent eight months in prison, and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a little-known California statute that makes it illegal to benefit from gang activities.

The statute in question is California Penal Code 182.5. The code makes it a felony for anyone to participate in a criminal street gang, have knowledge that a street gang has engaged in criminal activity, or benefit from that activity.

It’s that last part — benefiting from criminal activity — that prosecutors are going after the rapper for.

Tiny Doo, whose real name is Brandon Duncan, faces nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy because prosecutors allege he and 14 other alleged gang members increased their stature and respect following a rash of shootings in the city in 2013.

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The Supreme Court’s Billion-Dollar Mistake

Anyone who’s been a regular visitor to this page knows that we deplore the Pay 2 Play political system in place in the United States. Much of the blame for this must be laid at the steps of the US Supreme Court, as described in the New York Review of Books:

Five years ago this week, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court decided to allow unlimited amounts of corporate spending in political campaigns. How important was that decision? At the time, some said criticism of the decision was overblown, and that fears that it would give outsize influence to powerful interests were unfounded. Now, the evidence is in, and the results are devastating.


US SupremeCourt West Facade by UpstateNYer (CC)

To coincide with the decision’s fifth anniversary, eight public interest organizations—the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Demos, U.S. PIRG, Public Campaign, Justice at Stake, and the Center for Media and Democracy—have simultaneously issued reports that demonstrate the steadily growing influence of money on elections since the Court’s decision.

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Dr. Ingrid Walker: Drugs & Desire

What do you think of when you think of the term, ‘drug user’? Do you think of crusty people on skid row, or perhaps wall street tycoons doing blow off of the butts of their secretaries? Whatever your vision is, it might be very different from the truth. Chances are, you are a drug user. Dr. Ingrid Walker explains further and offers some interesting insights into our biases and misconceptions on drugs.

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The Revenge of the CIA: Scapegoating Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling

This week, in a federal courtroom, I’ve heard a series of government witnesses testify behind a screen while expounding on a central precept of the national security state: The CIA can do no wrong.

Those CIA employees and consultants are more than mere loyalists for an agency that soaks up $15 billion a year and continues to loosen the bonds of accountability. The docket says “United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling,” but a more discerning title would be “National Security State v. The Public’s Right to Know.”

For the first time in 30 years, a case has gone to trial in a civilian court under the Espionage Act with charges that the defendant gave classified information to news media. Not far from the CIA headquarters in Northern Virginia, legal jargon is flying around the courtroom, but the law has very little to do with this case.

Aerial view of CIA headquarters, langley, virginia 14760a

Aerial view of the CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia.

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A Bot Purchased Illegal Drugs — Who’s to Blame?


When bots break the law, who pays the price?

UPDATE 1/16 via the !Mediengruppe Bitnik blog (the Random Darknet Shopper):

On the morning of January 12, the day after the three-month exhibition was closed, the public prosecutor’s office of St. Gallen seized and sealed our work. It seems, the purpose of the confiscation is to impede an endangerment of third parties through the drugs exhibited by destroying them. This is what we know at present. We believe that the confiscation is an unjustified intervention into freedom of art. We’d also like to thank Kunst Halle St. Gallen for their ongoing support and the wonderful collaboration. Furthermore, we are convinced, that it is an objective of art to shed light on the fringes of society and to pose fundamental contemporary questions.

via Fusion.net:

Maybe it’s a sign that robots are growing up, and thus hitting the rebellious stage.

The Random Darknet Shopper, an automated online shopping bot with a budget of $100 a week in Bitcoin, is programmed to do a very specific task: go to one particular marketplace on the Deep Web and make one random purchase a week with the provided allowance.

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U.S. Supreme Court To Weigh New Religious Rights Case

One of the Good News signs at issue.

One of the Good News signs at issue.

Should we expect further expansion of pro-religious law from the Roberts Supreme Court today? Reuters via Yahoo News reports on its latest opportunity to roll back the decades:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will take up a new religious rights case when it considers whether a town in Arizona discriminated against a local church by forcing it to remove signs notifying the public of its worship services.

The nine justices are set to hear a one-hour argument in an appeal filed by the Good News Community Church, which objected to its treatment by town officials in Gilbert, Arizona. The church says its free speech rights, protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, were violated.

The conservative-leaning court’s last decision on a religious-themed issue came last June. The justices ruled 5-4 that owners of private companies can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that requires employers to provide insurance covering birth control for women.

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