Print 42 comment(s) - last by Misty Dingos.. on Sep 22 at 8:49 AM

The EFF and NSA will square off in court yet again

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), representing AT&T customers, filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies responsible for "massively illegal" warrantless surveillance of internet and telephone communications over the past several years.

Along with the NSA, the EFF is accusing President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and several others in the lawsuit.  The EFF hopes by naming the president, vice president and other high-ranking government officials will help ensure similar action does not take place in the future.

"In addition to suing AT&T, we've now opened a second front in the battle to stop the NSA's illegal surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans and hold personally responsible those who authorized or participated in the spying program," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston said in a statement.  

"For years, the NSA has been engaged in a massive and massively illegal fishing expedition through AT&T's domestic networks and databases of customer records. Our goal in this new case against the government, as in our case against AT&T, is to dismantle this dragnet surveillance program as soon as possible."

The NSA reportedly created a wiretapping center in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Atlanta, and Bridgeton, where the government agency monitored data from millions of phone conversations and internet chat logs by AT&T users, with the phone company's help.

The program was first unveiled by former AT&T technician Mark Klein, who first leaked information about the program two years ago.

There are more than 35 active lawsuits against the U.S. federal government due to its warrantless wire tapping.

In February, the FISA bill passed, which ensured telecommunication conglomerates cannot be held liable from litigation if they provided assistance to the NSA or other government agencies.  But the EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are trying to prove the law is unconstitutional, and want to have it changed so the major telecommunication companies can be held responsible.

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RE: Good Luck EFF
By Misty Dingos on 9/22/2008 8:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
First off I apologize for the length of this post but privacy issues are not easily contained or debated in quaint sound bite posts.

Alright I will try one more time here. While many of you would love to live in complete anonymity, it isn’t going to happen. I sympathize with your desire to wander through life leaving no trace as to your wanderings except that which you choose to. But that is not going to happen. I am going to use email, text messaging and social networking sites as examples.

Email has never been a private means of communication. It can be intercepted at any point along its electronic route with little expertise or hardware. Treating email as a private means of communication is a flawed concept. While it nice that scanning an individuals email an act requiring a warrant, it is a bit like requiring a police officer to get a warrant to listen to you shout across the public square to a friend. Unless you take the pains necessary to encrypt your email with sufficient care your email is for the world to see. If you are at work and emailing, even if you don’t use your companies email system all you need do is use their access to the internet, they have the right to see every word and act on what they find. So your private personal email is only private and personal if it transpires from your home from your own PC through your own paid or free email accounts. How many of you go to those lengths to protect your email? And how many of you are not bothered by something scanning your email for code words or possible information of intelligence value? Many of us are not bothered by that. This shows that the very concept of privacy in this area is not clearly defined in the public mind. And just because you scream louder does not make your argument more convincing or compelling.

Text messages. How many of you really think that these are private in anyway? They live forever in the servers of your cell service provider. Cell phones are easily cloned. Once your cell phone is cloned you are an open book to whoever has your clone. This doesn’t even begin to cover the ability to only virtually clone a cell phone. Something that would likely only be in the arena of governmental agencies. Again unless you go to great lengths your cell phone is like a caribou on the tundra waiting the wolves.

As you can see with these two examples I use here the reality of privacy is different than our perceptions of privacy.

How many of you use social networking sites? How many of you have information or data on them that you would not want an employer or possible employer to know? Yet it is becoming common place for employers to monitor and include in background checks into these sites on prospective and current employees. Is that fair for them to do? Is it wise for people to place information or data on a site that might limit your employability? What does that do to your privacy or your perception of your privacy?

If someone walked down your street and started taking pictures of every house would you stop and ask them what they were doing? Could you stop them legally? Typically anything that happens outside your house is fair game. How private is your home now?

The concept of privacy is changing and has always changed throughout history. Many of you railed against my previous posts because you possibly imagined that I support the efforts to monitor these forms of communication by my government. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would love for the government to be curtailed and boxed to a very restricted form. But it is not going to happen. Why? Because most people are sheep and they are very frightened sheep. And our politicians and media spend a great deal of time ensuring that they stay frightened.

So our concept of privacy is going to change and change radically over the upcoming decades. If we are not ready to ask the right questions at the right time we will not be able to meet the challenges our changing technology will bring.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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