EFF, ACLU Demolish "It’s Just Metadata" Claim in NSA Spying Appeal

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Andrew Crocker
Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
+1 415 436-9333 x139

EFF, ACLU Demolish “It’s Just Metadata” Claim in NSA Spying Appeal

Americans Deserve Full Protection of the Fourth Amendment
for their Telephone Records, Groups Argue

Washington, DC – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today filed
an amicus brief in Klayman v. Obama, a high-profile lawsuit
that challenges mass surveillance, arguing that Americans’
telephone metadata deserves the highest protection of the
Fourth Amendment.
Larry Klayman, conservative activist and founder of
Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, was among the first
plaintiffs to sue the National Security Agency (NSA) over
the collection of telephone metadata from Verizon customers
that was detailed in documents released by Edward Snowden.
In December 2013, Judge Richard Leon issued a preliminary
ruling that the program was likely unconstitutional, and
the case is currently on appeal before the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In the new amicus brief in Klayman v. Obama, the EFF and
ACLU lawyers repudiate arguments by U.S. officials that the
records are “just metadata” and therefore not as sensitive
as the contents of phone calls. Using research and new
case law, the civil liberties groups argue that metadata
(such as who individuals called, when they called, and how
long they spoke) can be even more revealing than
conversations when collected en masse.
“Metadata isn’t trivial,” EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker
says. “Collected on a massive scale over a broad time
period, metadata can reveal your political and religious
affiliations, your friends and relationships, even whether
you have a health condition or own guns. This is exactly
the kind of warrantless search the Fourth Amendment was
intended to prevent.”
The brief explains that changes in technology, as well as
the government’s move from targeted to mass surveillance,
mean that the holding of the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith
v. Maryland that the government relies on (often called the
“third-party doctrine”) does not apply. Instead, EFF and
the ACLU point to a series of recent key
decisions–including the Supreme Court decisions in United
States v. Jones in 2012 and Riley v. California in 2014–in
which judges ruled in favor of requiring a warrant for
electronic search and seizure.
“Dragnet surveillance is and has always has been illegal in
the United States,” says ACLU Staff Attorney Alex Abdo.
“Our country’s founders rebelled against overbroad searches
and seizures, and they would be aghast to see the liberties
they fought hard to enshrine into our Constitution
sacrificed in the name of security. As even the president
himself has recognized, we can keep the nation safe without
surrendering our privacy.”
EFF and the ACLU have each litigated numerous First and
Fourth Amendment lawsuits related to NSA surveillance and
together represent Idaho nurse Anna Smith in a similar case
currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
called Smith v. Obama. The ACLU is a plaintiff in a case
currently pending before the Second Circuit Court of
Appeals, ACLU v. Clapper, to be heard on Sept. 2. EFF has
two cases–Jewel v. NSA and First Unitarian Church of Los
Angeles v. NSA–before the U.S. District Court for Northern
District of California.
For the amicus brief:
For this release:

XRay, first step in understanding how personal data is being used on web services

New tool makes online personal data more transparent

8/18/14 Columbia Engineering researchers develop XRay, first step in understanding how personal data is being used on web services like Google, Amazon, and YouTube

New York, NY—August 18, 2014—The web can be an opaque black box: it leverages our personal information without our knowledge or control. When, for instance, a user sees an ad about depression online, she may not realize that she is seeing it because she recently sent an email about being sad. Roxana Geambasu and Augustin Chaintreau, both assistant professors of computer science at Columbia Engineering, are seeking to change that, and in doing so bring more transparency to the web. Along with their PhD student, Mathias Lecuyer, the researchers have developed XRay, a new tool that reveals which data in a web account, such as emails, searches, or viewed products, are being used to target which outputs, such as ads, recommended products, or prices. They will be presenting the prototype, which is designed to make the online use of personal data more transparent, at USENIX Security on August 20. The researchers have posted the open source system, as well as their findings, online for other researchers interested in studying how web services use personal data to leverage and extend.
“Today we have a problem: the web is not transparent. We see XRay as an important first step in exposing how websites are using your personal data,” says Geambasu, who is also a member of Columbia’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering’s Cybersecurity Center.
We live in a “big data” world, where staggering amounts of personal data—our locations, search histories, emails, posts, photos, and more—are constantly being collected and analyzed by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and many other web services. While harnessing big data can certainly improve our daily lives (Amazon offerings, Netflix suggestions, emergency response Tweets, etc.), these beneficial uses have also generated a big data frenzy, with web services aggressively pursuing new ways to acquire and commercialize the information.
“It’s critical, now more than ever, to reconcile our privacy needs with the exponential progress in leveraging this big data,” says Chaintreau, a member of the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering’s New Media Center. Geambasu adds, “If we leave it unchecked, big data’s exciting potential could become a breeding ground for data abuses, privacy vulnerabilities, and unfair or deceptive business practices.”
Determined to provide checks and balances on data abuse, XRay is designed to be the first fine-grained, scalable personal data tracking system for the web. For example, one can use the XRay prototype to study why a user might be shown a specific ad in Gmail. Geambasu and Chaintreau found, for example, that a Gmail user who sees ads about various forms of spiritualism might have received them because he or she sent an email message about depression.
Developing XRay was challenging, say the researchers. “The science of understanding the use of personal web data at a fine grain—looking at individual emails, photos, posts, etc.—is largely non-existent,” Geambasu notes. “There really isn’t anything out there that can accurately pinpoint which specific input—which search query, visited site, or viewed product—or combination of inputs explains which output. It was clear that we needed to come up with a new, robust auditing tool, one that can be applied effectively to many different services.”
How it Works
“We knew from the start that our biggest challenge in achieving transparency would be scale—how do we continue to track more data while using minimum resources?” Chaintreau says. “The theoretical results were encouraging, but seemed too good to be true. So we tested XRay in actual situations, learning from experiments we ran on Gmail, Amazon, and YouTube, and refining the design multiple times. The final design surprised us: XRay succeeded in all the experiments we ran, and it matched our theoretical predictions in increasingly complex cases. That is when we finally thought that achieving web transparency at large is not a dream in a distant future but something we can start building toward now.”
The current XRay system works with Gmail, Amazon, and YouTube. However, XRay’s core functions are service-agnostic and easy to instantiate for new services, and they can track data within and across services. The key idea in XRay is to use black-box correlation of data inputs and outputs to detect data use.
To assess XRay’s practical value, the researchers created an XRay-based demo service that continuously collects and diagnoses Gmail ads related to a set of topics, including various diseases, pregnancy, race, sexual orientation, divorce, debt, etc. They created emails that included keywords closely related to one topic and then launched XRay’s Gmail ad collection and examined the targeting associations. XRay’s data is now available online to anyone interested in sensitive-topic ad targeting in Gmail.
“We’ve just started to peek into XRay’s targeting data and even at this early stage, we’ve seen a lot of interesting behaviors,” Geambasu says. “We know that we need larger-scale experience to formalize and quantify our conclusions, but we can already make several interesting observations.”
The researchers note that (1) It is definitely possible to target sensitive topics in users’ inboxes, including cancer, depression, or pregnancy. (2) For many ads, targeting was extremely obscure and non-obvious to end-users, which opens them up to abuses. (3) The researchers have already seen signs of such abuses, for instance, a number of subprime loan ads for used cars targeting debt in users’ inboxes. Examples of ads and their targeted topics can be found on the XRay website.
The tool can be used to increase user awareness about how their data is being used, as well as provide much needed tools for auditors, such as researchers, journalists, and investigators, to keep that use under scrutiny. Geambasu and Chaintreau, who recently won a Magic Grant from the Brown institute for Media Innovation to build better transparency tools, have made the XRay prototype available for auditors at http://xray.cs.columbia.edu.
“Our work calls for and promotes the best practice of voluntary transparency,” says Chaintreau, “while at the same time empowering investigators and watchdogs with a significant new tool for increased vigilance, something we need more of every day.”

Big Data, Internet Surveillance, and 4th Amendment.
Who watches the watchers? Big Data goes unchecked Washington

Educational CyberPlayGround: Surveillance Technology in the Work Place .
networking would presumably be the domain of PRISM. How Much Big

Parents fight Big Data Collection and Surveillance
Education Surveillance and Big Data Big Data If you’re OK with

Privacy Concerns over selling K-12 Student Datainformation is a common practice.
Department has been a major proponent of big data . It has used

Educational CyberPlayGround: Knowledge Management
Crunch your way through big data on your iPad? Lucky Sort , is

Learn how to protect your privacy when you are online.
The ethics of data and power. BIG DATA The data all of these

Educational CyberPlayGround: State Associations of School Administrators Alabama ,…
Who watches the watchers? Big Data goes unchecked Washington
Educational CyberPlayGround: Future Trends in Computing.
makezine.com/ 2012 BIG DATA When scientists publish their

Federal K12 Department of Education in America FAIL.
Education Surveillance and Big Data Is your company product or

Predictive Technology – Darpa develops cognitive fingerprint.
Big Data And You: How Your ‘Likes’ Reveal Sexuality, Race, Drug


7 Pages That Gave President Obama Cover to Kill Americans

7 Pages That Gave President Obama Cover to Kill Americans
A newly released memo from the Office of Legal Counsel calls the wisdom of David Barron’s lifetime appointment to a federal judgeship into question.
Before David Barron was confirmed this year to a lifetime seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, his critics objected that the cover he gave President Obama to carry out extrajudicial killings of American citizens ought to disqualify him from the bench. “I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill an American citizen not involved in combat and without a trial,” Senator Rand Paul declared in remarks opposing the nomination. “I rise to say that there is no legal precedent for killing citizens not involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a president is not worthy of being one step away from the Supreme Court.”
Barron, who wrote his controversial memo while at the Office of Legal Counsel, was confirmed anyway, before the public was permitted to see the legal reasoning he used to weaken the Fifth Amendment as well as an executive order banning assassinations and a statute prohibiting the murder of American citizens abroad. Now that analysis is available for review.
One memo was released with significant redactions on June 23. Charlie Savage ofThe New York Times, who has fought alongside the ACLU for the release of all such memos, set forth what it revealed about Team Obama’s legal reasoning. Then on Friday, the administration released an even earlier Office of Legal Counsel memo. Also heavily redacted, it nevertheless gives us insight into Barron’s initial attitude toward one of the most fraught questions in American constitutional law. The memo, co-written with Marty Lederman, is here. And it coveys disturbing information about an Obama-appointed federal judge.

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.
It’s not the police, but the people they stop, who can prevent a detention from turning into a tragedy. By Sunil Dutta August 19
Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, has been an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years. The views presented here are his own and do not represent the LAPD or CTU.

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.

Policing by consent
Compare and contrast that with Kottke’s post discussing the core principles of the original Bobbies:
At the heart of the Metropolitan Police’s charter were a set of rules either written by Peel or drawn up at some later date by the two founding Commissioners: The Nine Principles of Policing. They are as follows:
1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

Ken White at PopeHat has an excellent take on this:
http://www.popehat.com/2014/08/19/sunil-dutta-tells-it-like-it-is-about-american-policing/The money quote from Ken:

[Dutta’s] core message is this:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

The outrageous thing is not that he says it. The outrageous thing is that we accept it.

Would we accept
“if you don’t want to get shot, just do what the EPA regulator tells you”?
Would we yield to
“if you don’t want your kid tased, do what the Deputy Superintendent of Education tells you”?
Would we accept
“if you don’t want to get tear gassed, just do what your Congressman tells you?” No.

Our culture of individualism and liberty would not permit it.
Yet somehow, through generations of law-and-order rhetoric and near-deification of law enforcement, we have convinced ourselves that cops are different, and that it is perfectly acceptable for them to be able to order us about, at their discretion, on pain of violence.
It’s not acceptable. It is servile and grotesque.
Chris Beck

US police given billions from Homeland Security for 'tactical' equipment

The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson
The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”
The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.
US police given billions from Homeland Security for ‘tactical’ equipment
With little oversight, federal agency awarded billions to local police for spending on drones, drugs, vehicles and ‘animals and plants’, among eligible purchases

Under existing federal requirements, police departments and state law enforcement agencies do not need to spend much of that money on preventing terrorism or preparing for disaster relief.
The Department of Homeland Security would not say whether it plans to review any of its grant programs in light of the controversy surrounding the deployment of military-style gear on the streets of Ferguson. One of its main congressional overseers told the Guardian he plans to “continue” scrutiny of the grants, while praising them as necessary.
During the current fiscal year, DHS plans to award $1.6bn in grant money for state, local and tribal agencies, mostly to aid them with counterterrorism, border security and disaster preparedness, it announced last month. By contrast, the Defense Department’s “1033” program to transfer surplus military gear gave out less than $500m worth of equipment in fiscal 2013.
SHOCKING 1 in 7 Americans are starving 
Explained by Lauren Bush granddaughter of George H and niece of George W bush
Humans Need Not Apply 15:00 TOTAL



“Abundance, for little effort.” 
That the way we live better is by producing more per unit of labor. Robert Solow’s (Nobel-winning) insight.
FROM 60- or 70-hour weeks.
TODAY with productivity increases from technical advance, decent livings are possible with 40-hour weeks.
TOMORROW  2-hour weeks
Of course, the _real_ issue, then, is wealth distribution.
Who ‘takes home’ the benefits from such dramatic labor-saving?
  The way things are going in the US, for example, the answer is:  A good bit less than 1 percent of the population.  Of course the world’s north-south divide illustrates this injustice at the global level.
Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy
Alison Young, USA TODAY 5:25 p.m. EDT August 17, 2014
Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy More than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving potential bioterror germs were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, reports show. Details of what happened are cloaked in secrecy.
More than half these incidents were serious enough that lab workers received medical evaluations or treatment, according to the reports. In five incidents, investigations confirmed that laboratory workers had been infected or sickened; all recovered. In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected due to practices that violated federal regulations, resulting in regulators suspending the research and ordering a $425,000 fine, records show.
But the names of the labs that had mishaps or made mistakes, as well as most information about all of the incidents, must be kept secret because of federal bioterrorism laws, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates the labs and co-authored the annual lab incident reports with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The issue of lab safety and security has come under increased scrutiny by Congress in recent weeks after a series of high-profile lab blunders at prestigious government labs involving anthrax, bird flu and smallpox virus. On Friday, a CDC investigation revealed how a rushed laboratory scientist had been using sloppy practices when a specimen of a mild bird flu virus was unwittingly contaminated with a deadly strain before being shipped to other labs. Earlier this summer, other researchers at CDC potentially exposed dozens of agency staff to live anthrax because of mistakes; nobody was sickened. Meanwhile, at the National Institutes of Health, long-forgotten vials of deadly smallpox virus were discovered in a cold-storage room where they weren’t supposed to be.

The new lab incident data indicate mishaps occur regularly at the more than 1,000 labs operated by 324 government, university and private organizations across the country that are registered with the Federal Select Agent Program. The program is jointly run by the USDA and the CDC, which are required by law to annually submit short reports with incident data to Congress.

Such secrecy is a barrier to improving lab safety, said Gigi Kwik Gronvall of the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore, an independent think tank that studies policy issues relating to biosecurity issues, epidemics and disasters.

“We need to move to something more like what they do in aviation, where you have no-fault reporting but the events are described so you get a better sense of what actually happened and how the system can be fixed,” said Gronvall, an immunologist by training and anassociate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Gronvall notes that even with redundant systems in high-security labs, there have been lab incidents resulting in the spread of disease to people and animals outside the labs.

Ban DHS's National ID effort it is Unconstitutional

John Gilmore Aug 8, 2014 7:43 PM
US demands citizens show ID to access public transport, courts, buildings
“State driver’s licenses from these 12 states and 2 territories are no
longer good enough, because those states did not sign up for DHS’s
National ID effort”, says DHS.  As of July 21, 2014, people from these
states can no longer enter federal property where the public can’t go
(e.g. they can’t get inside NASA facilities); and next year, can’t
enter federal property at all.  In 2016, they can’t be passengers on
The refusenik states: Alaska, Arizona, Kentunky, Louisiana, Maine,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma,
Washington.  Praise these state legislatures & administrations for
refusing to conspire with the feds against their own citizenry to
construct a National ID system.  Ask your Congresspeople to repeal the
Real ID Act, which is what DHS is using to try to club these states
into complying.
Of course all of this is unconstitutional; the feds can’t claim
that citizens aren’t allowed to travel, or attend “public” trials,
because they don’t have or show a document.  That would be, uh,
I’m groping for the word… Stalinistic?  Totalitarian?
It can’t happen here.  So what is this DHS page about?
And this one from the National Conference of State Legislatures?

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China regulates WeChat instant messaging services

China regulates instant messaging services

BEIJING, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — The Chinese government has passed a regulation that will require users of instant messaging services to use real names when registering in an effort to hold users responsible for content.
Targeting China’s 5.8 million public accounts on subscription-based mobile apps such as Tencent’s mobile text and voice messaging service WeChat, the new regulation will take immediate effect.
Registrants of public accounts are obliged to register with real names and reviewed by service providers before being qualified to release information.
First time users will be required to provide their real name, while users who have previously registered accounts will experience limited access to the instant messaging service.
Users shall abide by laws and regulations, the socialist system, national interests, the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, public order, social morality and ensure the authenticity of the information they provide, the regulation states.
Should users of such services break the terms, regulators will warn violators, limit their rights to release information, suspend their renewals or even close their accounts, based on the degree of the violation.
“Cyberspace cannot become a space full of disorder and hostility,” Jiang said.”No country in the world allows dissemination of information of rumors, violence, cheating, sex and terrorism.”
Continue reading “China regulates WeChat instant messaging services”

The Real Tonkin Gulf Deception Wasn't by Lyndon Johnson

For most of the last five decades, it has been assumed that the Tonkin Gulf incident was a deception by Lyndon Johnson to justify war in Vietnam. But the US bombing of North Vietnam on August 4, 1964, in retaliation for an alleged naval attack that never happened, was not a move by LBJ to pave the way for war in Vietnam.
The real deception on that day was that Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara’s misled LBJ by withholding from him the information that the US commander in the Gulf who had initially reported an attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on US warships had now expressed serious doubts about the initial report and was calling for a full investigation by daylight. That withholding of information from LBJ represented a brazen move to usurp the president’s constitutional power of decision on the use of military force.
McNamara’s deception is documented in the declassified files on the Tonkin Gulf episode in the Lyndon Johnson library, which this writer used to piece together the untold story of the Tonkin Gulf episode in a 2005 book on the US entry into war in Vietnam. It is a key element of a wider story of how the national security state, including both military and civilian officials, tried repeatedly to pressure LBJ to commit the United States to a wider war in Vietnam.
Continue reading “The Real Tonkin Gulf Deception Wasn't by Lyndon Johnson”