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June 20, 2009

Nokia built cellphone surveillance system for Iranian government

Fed contractor, cell phone maker sold spy system to Iran - Washington Times
Two European companies — a major contractor to the U.S. government and a top cell-phone equipment maker — last year installed an electronic surveillance system for Iran that human rights advocates and intelligence experts say can help Iran target dissidents. Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), a joint venture between the Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia and German powerhouse Siemens, delivered what is known as a monitoring center to Irantelecom, Iran's state-owned telephone company. A spokesman for NSN said the servers were sold for "lawful intercept functionality," a technical term used by the cell-phone industry to refer to law enforcement's ability to tap phones, read e-mails and surveil electronic data on communications networks.

June 18, 2009

Appeals court upholds man's conviction for emailing explicit story to friends

Appeals Court Backs Prison for E-Mail Obscenity | Threat Level | Wired.com This guy--who never actually harmed a child--has been given more time in prison than most people who actually molest children are sentenced to.
Sharing an obscene sexual fantasy over e-mail is a federal crime that enjoys no protection under the First Amendment, a federal appeals court said Monday, in a decision that drew sharp dissent from one judge and potentially set the stage for a Supreme Court appeal. In a 10-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear the case of Dwight Whorley, a Virginia man whose criminal trial marked two firsts for the American justice system: the first conviction for possession of obscene Japanese manga, and the first for authoring pornographic fiction and sending it over e-mail. . . . “I am hard-pressed to think of a better modern day example of government regulation of private thoughts than what we have before us in this case: convicting a man for the victimless crime of privately communicating his personal fantasies to other consenting adults,” Gregory wrote. Whorley was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, in part for possessing genuine child pornography. But the Justice Department — perhaps sensing a chance to smuggle bad law onto the back of an unsympathetic defendant — also charged Whorley for having unsavory manga under the recently-enacted Protect Act, which outlaws obscene cartoons depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

June 13, 2009

Insurance industry goes after docs who help the uninsured

City Brights: Doc Gurley : Insurance industry goes after docs who help the uninsured
For those of us who don't live in the rarefied world of "concierge" anything, here's how a concierge doc works: you, as a doc, sign up people for a fixed monthly amount, then you offer them hand-held service for that monthly payment. Also part of the arrangement is a (sometimes explicit, sometimes assumed) limit on the total number of patients the doc will see - say, 600 people total [for more on this secretive and explosive healthcare topic - called panel size - check out tomorrow's Doc Gurley post titled "Can't get an appointment with your doc? Here's the secret reason why..."]. So what kind of hand-held service are we talking about? Besides getting all your medical visits (sometimes unlimited, sometimes with a co-pay or capped number), you usually also get 24-hour access to your doctor by some combo of cell/email, no wait for appointment times, and even, when desired, you can be accompanied to visits with specialists. Patients who choose this route are expected to own at least catastrophic health coverage, in case of hospitalization or a specialist-heavy illness like a new cancer diagnosis. The shocker for most of us is finding out just how relatively cheap these concierge docs are - we're talking monthly basic cable numbers. Specifically, anywhere from $39 a month to around $139 a month, usually scaled based on age, with wide variations depending on the doctor's demand, reputation, and geography. It turns out, some of these free-wheeling docs got sick and tired of waiting for Washington to solve the healthcare crisis, and decided to offer their services for the same price - even if the patient did not have catastrophic (or other) insurance coverage. In other words, for the working healthcare-coverage denied/poor.
The insurance industry is claiming the doctors are acting essentially as unlicensed insurance companies, which is clearly bullshit.