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September 28, 2010

TSA goes through woman's wallet, accuses her of embezzlement with no evidence

Daniel Rubin: An infuriating search at Philadelphia International Airport | Philadelphia Inquirer | 08/18/2010
What happened next, she says, was more than embarrassing. It was infuriating. That same screener started emptying her wallet. "He was taking out the receipts and looking at them," she said. "I understand that TSA is tasked with strengthening national security but [it] surely does not need to know what I purchased at Kohl's or Wal-Mart," she wrote in her complaint, which she sent me last week. She says she asked what he was looking for and he replied, "Razor blades." She wondered, "Wouldn't that have shown up on the metal detector?" In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000. Her thought: "Oh, my God, this is none of his business." Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not. "It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn't before that moment, she says. She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money." At this point she told the officers that she had a good explanation for the checks, but questioned whether she had to tell them. "The police officer said if you don't tell me, you can tell the D.A."

4chan attacks law firm that sued The Pirate Bay, leaks the names of thousands of porn-sharers

BBC News - Adult video-sharing list leaked from law firm
The personal details of thousands of Sky broadband customers have been leaked on to the internet, alongside a list of pornographic movies they are alleged to have shared online. The list, seen by BBC News, details the full names and addresses of over 5,300 people thought by law firm ACS:Law to be illegally sharing adult films. It appeared online following an attack on the ACS:Law website. The UK's Information Commissioner said it would investigate the leak. Privacy expert Simon Davis has called it "one of the worst breaches" of the Data Protection Act he had ever seen.

September 27, 2010

The War on Privacy: Obama picks up where Bush left off

This is one of the few areas where Obama and Bush are following the same extremist policies, much like how Obama is also using our military might to assassinate Americans abroad without trial. Look, Obama has accomplished some great things. But his attacks on American privacy threaten to make Nixon look like the ACLU. The Times illustrates his next step pretty clearly. They are petitioning Congress to put forward a bill that would require that all communications technologies include government backdoors to allow government snooping. Until Bush took office, the legal philosophy behind surveillance was that it was only legal to surveill and to search people who were suspected (with evidence) of committing crimes. This is why cops needs warrants before they toss every inch of your house. It's why they need(ed) warrants before listening to your phone calls. The PATRIOT ACT changed all this. For the worse. The Obama administration's war on privacy - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
In early August, two dictatorial (and U.S.-allied) Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- announced a ban on the use of Blackberries because, as the BBC put it, "[b]oth nations are unhappy that they are unable to monitor such communications via the handsets." Those two governments demand the power to intercept and monitor every single form of communication. No human interaction may take place beyond their prying ears. Since Blackberry communication data are sent directly to servers in Canada and the company which operates Blackberry -- Research in Motion -- refused to turn the data over to those governments, "authorities [] decided to ban Blackberry services rather than continue to allow an uncontrolled and unmonitored flow of electronic information within their borders." That's the core mindset of the Omnipotent Surveillance State: above all else, what is strictly prohibited is the ability of citizens to communicate in private; we can't have any "uncontrolled and unmonitored flow of electronic information." That controversy generated substantial coverage in the U.S. media, which depicted it as reflective of the censorship and all-consuming surveillance powers of those undemocratic states. But the following week, The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Richard Falkenrath -- a top-level Homeland Security official in the Bush administration and current principal in the private firm of former Bush DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff -- expressing support for the UAE's Blackberry ban. Falkenrath asserted that "[a]mong law enforcement investigators and intelligence officers [in the U.S.], the Emirates’ decision met with approval, admiration and perhaps even a touch of envy." New Internet technologies -- including voice-over-Internet calls (such as Skype) and text messaging -- are increasingly difficult for governments to monitor, and Falkenrath noted, correctly, that the UAE "is in no way unique in wanting a back door into the telecommunications services used inside its borders to allow officials to eavesdrop on users." The U.S. Government is every bit as eager as the UAE and Saudi Arabia to ensure full and unfettered access to everyone's communications . . .