The next time you're in California, you might not want to bring your cell phone with you. The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can search the cell phone of a person who's been arrested -- including text messages -- without obtaining a warrant, and use that data as evidence.
The ruling opens up disturbing possibilities, such as broad, warrantless searches of e-mails, documents, and contacts on smart phones, tablet computers, and perhaps even laptop computers, according to legal expert Mark Rasch.
. . . Rasch, former head of the Justice Department's computer crime unit, pulled no punches in his reaction to the ruling.
"This ruling isn't just wrong, it's dangerous," said Rasch, now director of cybersecurity and privacy at computer security firm CSC in Virginia. "It's remarkable, because it simply misunderstands the nature of these devices."
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley: "The Court has left the Fourth Amendment in tatters and this ruling is the natural extension of that trend." Other lawyers weigh in in the comments section. There's disagreement about whether this ruling will be overturned on appeal, and what will happen if it makes it to the Supremes.
From Al Franken's column in the Huffington Post:
This Tuesday [today] is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.
. . . The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don't do that at all. They're worse than nothing.
. . . Although Chairman Genachowski's draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.
. . . Here's what's most troubling of all. Chairman Genachowski and President Obama -- who nominated him -- have argued convincingly that they support net neutrality.
But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we've been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.
No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate -- and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules . . . .
In a perfect melding of the Keystone Kops Meet O'Brien, Janet Napolitano is coming to a Walmart near you. Her video, urging "If You See Something, Say Something," is rolling out at W emporia all across the country:
The message will be continuously looped on TV monitors at the 588 Walmarts in the U.S. One can only imagine the hilarity that will ensue when one gun-buying customer doesn't like the looks of another. But then maybe Napolitano doesn't really know the People of Walmart that well, after all.
"Report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff. If you need help, ask a Walmart manager for assistance.” Ah, yes, ask a manager for assistance! Next time you get in a tug-of-war with another customer over the last Game Boy in the store, just report that sucker to management for "suspicious activity."
Ballgame just brought this column by Naomi Wolf to our attention in another thread, but I think it deserves its own post. Excerpt (bolds mine):
. . . These two Senators, and the rest of the Congressional and White House leadership who are coming forward in support of this appalling development, are cynically counting on Americans' ignorance of their own history -- an ignorance that is stoked and manipulated by those who wish to strip rights and freedoms from the American people. They are manipulatively counting on Americans to have no knowledge or memory of the dark history of the Espionage Act -- a history that should alert us all at once to the fact that this Act has only ever been used -- was designed deliberately to be used -- specifically and viciously to silence people like you and me.
The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 -- because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens -- educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists -- who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted 'crime' of their exercising their First Amendment Rights. A movie producer who showed British cruelty in a film about the Revolutionary War (since the British were our allies in World War I) got a ten-year sentence under the Espionage act in 1917, and the film was seized; poet E.E. Cummings spent three and a half months in a military detention camp under the Espionage Act for the 'crime' of saying that he did not hate Germans. Esteemed Judge Learned Hand wrote that the wording of the Espionage Act was so vague that it would threaten the American tradition of freedom itself. Many were held in prison for weeks in brutal conditions without due process; some, in Connecticut -- Lieberman's home state -- were severely beaten while they were held in prison. The arrests and beatings were widely publicized and had a profound effect, terrorizing those who would otherwise speak out.
. . . I call on all American citizens to rise up and insist on repeal of the Espionage Act immediately. We have little time to waste. The Assange assault is theater of a particularly deadly kind, and America will not recover from the use of the Espionage Act as a cudgel to threaten journalists, editors and news outlets with. I call on major funders of Feinstein's and Lieberman's campaigns to put their donations in escrow accounts and notify the staffers of those Senators that the funds willonly be released if they drop their traitorous invocation of the Espionage Act. I call on all Americans to understand once for all: this is not about Julian Assange. This, my fellow citizens, is about you . . . .
According to this press release from the State Department, the U.S. will host next year's UNESCO World Press Freedom Day:
The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.
The mind, it reels.
The only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act:
“Some have said rather cavalierly that in these difficult times we must accept some reduction in our civil liberties in order to be secure.
“Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists.
“But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America.”
Thank you, Russ Feingold, and thank you, Kelly Vlahos.
Well, I've been saying it from the beginning. But what the hell.
I just got back from a business trip requiring me to fly through BWI (Baltimore-Washington International). BWI was one of the first airports in the country to implement the TSA strip-search scanners, but it's the most convenient airport for me. Besides, as the TSA itself tells us in several different places on its website, "advanced imaging technology screening is optional to all passengers."
Many of us on this blog have already discussed the bullshit-o-rama that is airport security, especially the pointless and invasive strip-search scanners. Costing taxpayers billions of dollars, they are the biggest boondoggle to come down the pike in a long time. Like so many of the other procedures we go through at airport checkpoints, they don't make us any safer, they just provide a showy bit of theater in which we all play our parts: we pretend we're actually doing something to protect ourselves from The Terrorists. Because The Terrorists are always On The Verge of Getting Us.
So of course I was prepared to step into my starring role along with everyone else, except that I knew I was going to decline the strip-search scanner.
The Yahoo! Research organisation presents:
Scientists at Yahoo! today released Ideological Search, allowing users to control the ideology of their search results for the first time in search technology history. Until now, many Web search users were offended by the facts, pages, articles, and blogs in their search results that contradicted their own personal beliefs and values. [..] Rather than try to comply with a hard-to-define “search fairness doctrine”, Yahoo! Ideological Search will allow its users to personally control the ideological perspective of their search. Users can now search with confidence, knowing that their search results will perfectly match their ideology, and no results will offend them.
The team applied the latest research from the fields of sentiment analysis, intent detection, eye tracking, clustering, and empathetic reasoning to create Ideological Search. [..] The motivation for Ideological Search originated largely from the Microeconomics group. "It is not just deep science, it is also a strategic move to accelerate the fractionalization of the search marketplace which can only benefit us," said Preston McAfee, head of the group. [..]
(Somehow I had totally missed the scandal about Obama stiffing Alabama condoms in favour of Chinese knock-offs ...)
This article will appear in the NYT Magazine on Sunday. Being, like litbrit, a linguaphile, I love a good turn of phrase. So hats off to the copywriter who came up with "malwebolence" to describe that particular brand of immaturity, cowardice, cruelty, and outright viciousness that has come to define a certain cadre of sad sacks on the web. Not able to shove somebody on the playground, and too stupid to do anything productive with their lives, they turn to tormenting strangers, sometimes to the point of criminality. One wonders what Socrates, Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, Hume, et. al. would've made of this development? Maybe nothing. Maybe, they would say, the technology's changed, but human nature hasn't.
I often find myself turning to Ellen and Julia Lupton's blog, Design-Your-Life.org, for inspiration. They are celebrated designers and academics, and I've learned from them how design affects every aspect of our lives. In fact, the whole notion of design is too broad and expansive to encapsulate in a few words or a single definition.
A recent posting by Julia addresses the phenomenon of blogging (about which I, for one, feel deeply ambivalent). Both she and her commenters bring up some good points that should provoke spirited discussion. We hear all the time about how the blogosphere has created a new kind of community -- it's that word "community" that gets bandied about the most -- but does it really? One wonders.
The real question facing the next rev of Apple TV is whether or not Apple can join the 21st century of home theater and add an on-off button to the remote control. On the iPod, reducing the number of buttons to a bare minimum makes sense: you don't want to deal with a lot of buttons on the go. But while sitting in front of your TV, having to press the play/pause button for five seconds makes no sense, and, more importantly, makes it impossible to control the Apple TV with any programmable or universal remote. You'd think that noted genius Steve Jobs would have figured this out the first time.
From the ever-fascinating, ever-mindblowing Edge:
The Edge Annual Question — 2008
When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that's faith.
When facts change your mind, that's science.
WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? WHY?
Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?"
164 contributors; 111,530 words
Change your mind, or not, here.