Tag Archives | rights

Warrantless Government Requests For Your Twitter And Google Data Continue To Increase

It seems that using email or social networks, nothing is actually private. The Atlantic Wire reports:

Twitter has released its second biannual Transparency Report and — what do you know? — Twitter is still giving away more user information requested by the U.S. government than ever, and without a warrant.

Twitter got 815 total requests in the last six months, and more than 80 percent of the U.S. government’s asks on user data came without a warrant. Google, too, has seen an uptick in government requests, reporting a total 21,389 requests for information in 2012.

U.S. officials are asking for more of what we’re doing from more of our daily Internet activities — typically without getting a court’s permission. Google, however, is lobbying [for better privacy protection], and this year the Senate will vote on an updated version of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that requires a warrant for all email and private communication stored over the cloud.

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Arkansas Town Enacts Martial Law, ID Checks Of Everyone In Public

The mayor explains that normal constitutional protections don’t apply, because, due to the high rate of property crime, anyone walking outdoors in his city is a criminal suspect. Via Russia Today:

In order to curb the rising crime rate in this town of barely 25,000, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting. “We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said.

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Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have Nothing to Hide

Via the Chronicle of Higher Education, law professor Daniel J. Solove reveals all:

The nothing-to-hide argument is everywhere. In Britain, for example, the government has installed millions of public-surveillance cameras in cities and towns, which are watched by officials via closed-circuit television. In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

But the problem with the nothing-to-hide argument is the underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things. By accepting this assumption, we concede far too much ground and invite an unproductive discussion about information that people would very likely want to hide. As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes, the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty “premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong.” Surveillance, for example, can inhibit such lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.

One such harm, for example, which I call aggregation, emerges from the fusion of small bits of seemingly innocuous data.

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Louisiana Supreme Court Upholds Police Right To Seize Motorists’ Cash

The burden of proof is on the driver to explain how they earned their money — otherwise, it belongs to the police. Information Liberation reports:

Drivers in Louisiana unable to document the source of every dollar they carry could find their money seized by police. The state Supreme Court yesterday ruled officers were right to grab $144,320 from motorist Tina Beers because, in the high court’s opinion, she was unable to come up with a credible explanation of where the funds came from.

On January 10, 2009, State Trooper Dupuis pulled over Beers’ minivan on Interstate 10. Beers traveling with her three children. The court record no longer preserves the cause of the original traffic stop because Dupuis quickly lost interest once he obtained permission to search the vehicle. The trooper found nine bundles of cash in compartment on the minivan floor. Dupuis knew his department might be able to keep the money, [which they did], but there were no drugs in the minivan nor did prosecutors ever find a criminal charge to lodge against Beers.

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What’s Wrong About Rights

Picture: Darjac (PD)

Nicholas Farrell writes at Taki’s Magazine:

One of the reasons the West is in such deep trouble is that it has allowed “rights” to kill off what’s “right,” as in “that which is right.”

Rights are used to justify a whole series of wrongs, from the declaration of unwise or unjust wars to the condemnation of smokers to a life on the streets.

Rights do not merely kill other people’s liberty; they kill other people.

Rights conflict all the time. Some are more sacred than others, so someone must decide which are more sacred. The case of the Duchess of Cambridge’s topless photographs illustrates this. She has the right to privacy and the press to freedom of expression. Whose right wins?

Your right to this, that, or the other has become sacred, regardless of whether it is right and quite often when it is plain wrong, and regardless of the cost and damage to me.

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California Outlaws Violating Workers’ And Students’ Electronic Privacy

It blows my mind that companies and universities would require employees and students to hand over the log-ins to their personal email and Facebook accounts — in short, demanding access to people’s love lives, friendships, private conversations, bank accounts, and everything else. TechHive reports:

It’s officially illegal for employers and universities in California to request social media log-in information—that is, user names and passwords for Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail—from employees and students.

On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two privacy bills, Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349. These laws prohibit employers, universities employees, and university representatives from requiring or requesting the social media log-in information of their respective employees, prospective employees, students, prospective students, or student groups.

The privacy question came up earlier this year when reports suggested that employers (and universities) were requiring employees and students give up their log-in credentials. [San Jose Democrat Nora] Campos’ office says that 129 cases relating to employer social media policies are currently before the National Labor Relations Board.

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Stand Your Ground: Taking Photos In Public

The London Street Photography Festival had six photographers attempt to take pictures in various locations on public streets in Britain's capital. Despite being perfectly within their rights, all six were stopped by private security forces who made vague allusions to "terrorism" and "security" and tried to intimidate them. The Festival filmed the encounters and what happened when the photographers politely refused to back down:
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President Obama Endorses ‘Respect For Marriage’ Act

President_Obama_addresses_the_nation_on_the_military_efforts_in_Libya,_March_28,_2011It’s not often that the White House endorses a bill before it goes through the Senate or House, but President Obama did just that when he endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act today. With same-sex marraiges becoming legal in more and more states, this bill is a step towards equal taxation and social security survivor benefits, since there are “more than 1,000 federal rights and responsibilities gays and lesbians do not have access to because of DOMA.” From Joe Mirabella at Change.org:

Today President Obama endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would strike down DOMA and give legally married gays and lesbians the same federal rights and responsibilities as married straight couples.

Shin Inouye, a spokesperson for the White House, told Change.org, “The President has long called for a legislative repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” which continues to have a real impact on the lives of real people – our families, friends and neighbors,” Inouye said.

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US, Russia, China Faulted For ‘Serious Deficiencies’ In Rule Of Law

Protesters clash with riot police on 7 November 2007 during Georgian demonstrations. Photo: Diaoha, Georgia Today

Protesters clash with riot police on 7 November 2007 during Georgian demonstrations. Photo: Diaoha, Georgia Today

How well has America upheld ‘justice for all’ this year? Via Solidarity Institute:

An annual survey of the rule of law around the world released Monday sees weak protections for fundamental rights in China, “serious deficiencies” in Russia, and problems with discrimination in the United States.

Sweden and Norway scored highest on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, which ranks countries on such key areas as whether the government is held accountable, there is access to justice, rights are protected and crime and corruption is prevented.

“Achieving the rule of law is a constant challenge and a work in progress in all countries,” said Hongsia Liu, the executive director of the project, which was funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

He said the index was “not designed to shame or blame, but to provide useful reference points for countries in the same regions, with comparable legal cultures and similar income levels.”

[Continues at Solidarity Institute]

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Justices Ordered California To Reduce Amount Of Prisoners By 30,000

800px-A-Block_at_Alcatraz_(2206096229)

A Block in Alcatraz. Photo: Nonie

What do we do when prisons become overcrowded? According the new Supreme Court ruling (for California), we can release a few thousand early, transfer them to another state (make it some other place’s problem) or build bigger prisons. At no point was there any suggestion about how to reduce the amount of people sent to prisons (violent vs nonviolent offenses, helping crime-rich communities, etc.). The rule was a decision for immediate action of reducing prisoners in hope to better their standard of living. The New York Time reports:

Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A.

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