Not only do we have to worry about the government spying on us, but also the private sector:
Google doesn’t believe that people can reasonably expect their emails to stay private.
At least, that’s what the internet giant articulated in a brief that was filed last month in federal court and recently surfaced by Consumer Watchdog. The document was written in response to a class-action lawsuit accusing Google of violating wiretap law when it scans emails to serve up targeted ads.
Plantiffs accuse Google of violating the privacy of its users by mining their personal messages for information that it uses to inform which targeted ads it displays. The suit calls for Google to fully disclose exactly what information it’s taking from emails, and to pay damages for these alleged violations of privacy. (You can read a redacted version of the complaint here).
The company argued in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit that “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.” (You can read the full motion here).
Google asserts that, in principle, if you entrust your personal messages to a third party, you can’t expect that the third party won’t touch any of that information…
At least one social media outlet put up a fight against the government’s unconstitutional spying on the American people:
Yahoo fought an order to help the government spy on foreign users arguing it would violate the Fourth Amendment protections from unwarranted search and seizure by incidentally collecting the communications of American citizens, but a 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISC) ruling rejected their argument calling their concerns “overblown,” the New York Times reported Friday. Under the ruling, Yahoo was legally required to participate in the PRISM program.
The opinion previously came to light in 2009, but the name of the company was not revealed at the time due to a gag order. Sources have now confirmed the company’s identity to the New York Times. In the ruling, the court chided Yahoo for offering “no evidence of any actual harm, any egregious risk of error, or any broad potential for abuse in the circumstances of the instant case,” and said that the government’s “reasonable” efforts to minimize incidental data collection made the company’s points moot.
…At least one FISC opinion within the last few years ruled some aspect of government surveillance unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, but the government has been fighting against releasing that opinion.
It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined – in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week’s controversy over the DOJ’s pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general.
New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ’s attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests – something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist – something done every day in Washington – and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for “espionage”.
via Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.
This demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of the left and civil libertarians. They would rather drink the Obama Kool-Aid than criticize his assault on the constitution:
Appearing on “The Young Turks” Wednesday night, host Cenk Uygur called Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) a “constitutional hero” for his filibuster of President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Paul’s 13-hour talking filibuster, a rarity in the U.S. Senate, was joined Wednesday by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), all of whom spoke in opposition to the secrecy surrounding the CIA’s drone program.
The confirmation of John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, was advanced Wednesday by a 12-3 vote of Senate Intelligence Committee members — a tally brokered by the administration’s disclosure of secret legal memos underpinning the president’s so-called terrorist “kill list,” including justifications for killing American citizens abroad.
In what’s being described as a Kafkaesque decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a group of human rights organizations and journalists cannot challenge the government’s warrantless domestic surveillance program because they can’t prove they are targets of it. The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of human rights groups and journalists filed the lawsuit in 2008 hours after President Bush signed amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which gave the National Security Agency almost unchecked power to monitor international phone calls and emails of Americans. We’re joined by the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before the Supreme Court. [includes rush transcript]
A third instance of fraudulent voter registration has been uncovered in the important swing state of Virginia, where a Republican consultant has been arrested and thousands of discarded voter registration forms were recovered from a dumpster earlier this week. According to the Not Larry Sabato blog, a law student at James Madison University registered to vote on campus, but found when she tried to verify the change online, found that her form had never been submitted.
On Thursday, Raw Story reported that 31-year-old Colin Small, a Republican operative employed by Pinpoint, a firm contracted by Republican Party of Virginia, was arrested and charged with “four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of disclosure of voter registration application, and one count of obstruction of justice” for throwing active voter registration forms into a dumpster.
via Third instance of voter registration dumping found in Virginia | The Raw Story.
Three National Security Agency whistle blowers told Viewpoint host Eliot Spitzer on Monday that the agency was gathering information on every person in the United States.
The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 gave the NSA broad powers to monitor international phone calls and emails, and granted legal immunity to telecommunication companies that had participated in the Bush administration’s wiretapping program prior to 2008. But former senior official Thomas Drake, former senior analyst Kirk Wiebe, and former technical director William Binney said the NSA was not only monitoring international communications — the agency had been spying on “the entire country.”
Drake said there was a “key decision made shortly after 9/11, which began to rapidly turn the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for dragnet blanket electronic surveillance.”
via NSA whistle blowers allege data being collected on every American | The Raw Story.
Does the U.S. government read your email? It’s a simple question, but apparently there’s no simple answer. And the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are reluctant to say anything on the topic.
In March, the American Civil Liberties Union caused a nationwide stir when the advocacy group released the results of its year-long investigation into law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data. After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information. The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone’s whereabouts for months. In most cases, law enforcement obtains the data without applying for a search warrant; generally, subpoenas are issued instead, which require law enforcement to meet a lower legal standard.
via Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn’t want to talk about it – Red Tape.
We assume that we live in a free country. Think again. Our freedoms are under attack. And it’s happening under Republicans and Democrats alike. That includes the current Occupant in the White House:
What a frightening thought: save the Internet from the U.S. Yet that is the message of AVAAZ.org(AVAAZ, the group tells us, means “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages). How did a country that enshrines ideals of privacy and freedom of speech come to be the big bad bully with regards to the Internet?
You remember SOPA, of course. That’s been defeated though not dead. Undead might be a better word, given that it hasn’t quite stopped moving. Look what Chris Dodd (former D-CT), now the CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been up to lately, bragging to the Hollywood Reporter that he’s working on an insider deal to push through SOPA-like legislation.
We are losing our freedoms without putting up much of a fight. Only a matter of time before you or I write an article critical of the assault on freedom without being sent to prison:
Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.
Two Democratic senators are slamming the government’s secret interpretation of its surveillance powers under the USA PATRIOT Act. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said Americans would be “stunned” to learn what the government believes they can do under the law.
ProPublica: NYPD docs: ‘Focus’ scrutiny on Muslim Americans http://goo.gl/mag/8kC9M
King Bloomberg doesn’t need to consult with anybody:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has sharply criticized the New York Police Department for not informing federal law enforcement agencies — at least to his knowledge — about their secret surveillance of Muslims in Newark.
Christie doesn’t recall being briefed about the spying in 2007, while he was the state’s top federal prosecutor. He says the Department of Justice’s Joint Terrorism Task Force should have been advised.
The White House has a lot of explaining to do. If the administration does not repudiate the NYPD policy of spying on Muslims then that means they support it:
Millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance.
The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA.
Some of that money — it’s unclear exactly how much because the program has little oversight — has paid for the cars that plainclothes NYPD officers used to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighborhoods. It also paid for computers that store even innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.
It’s a victory for the Constitution. But it should not have happened in the first place. It is frightening that a major law enforcement agency in America would have felt comfortable in violating the rights of citizens, even if they were fighting crime. Despite the court decision civil liberties continue to come under attack. And this White House is a major threat. The silence from liberal-left is deafening in denouncing this administrations contempt for our rights and freedoms:
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.
Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.
These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.
After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.
Mr. Weissmann said that the FBI is now working to develop new guidelines for the use of GPS devices. He said the agency is also working on guidelines to cover the broader implications of the court decision beyond GPS devices.
King Bloomberg is being called out for his contempt for civil liberties abuses in New York. This is not Syria or Iran. You can’t violate people’s rights and expect to be denounced:
The mayor and police director of New Jersey’s largest city said Wednesday the New York Police Department misled their city and never told them it was conducting a widespread spying operation on Newark’s Muslim neighborhoods. Had they known, they said, they never would have allowed it.
“If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said.