Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

By Declan McCullagh
November 20, 2012
Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans’ e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.
A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.
CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.
Revised bill highlights
✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.
✭ Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.
✭ Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim “emergency” situations exist.
✭ Says providers “shall notify” law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.
✭ Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.
Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge. (CNET obtained the revised draft from a source involved in the negotiations with Leahy.)
It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill “provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.”
Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to “reconsider acting” on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

H.R.2471 – To amend section 2710 of title 18, United States Code, to clarify that a video tape service provider may obtain a consumer’s informed, written consent on an ongoing basis and that consent may be obtained through the Internet.

H.R. 2471 – To Amend Section 2710 of Title 18, United States Code, to Clarify That a Video Tape Service Provider May Obtain a Consumer’s Informed, Written Consent on an Ongoing Basis and That Consent May Be Obtained Through the Internet.

$$ Contributions by vote

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy’s original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an “adverse impact” on criminal investigations.
Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said requiring warrantless access to Americans’ data “undercuts” the purpose of Leahy’s original proposal. “We believe a warrant is the appropriate standard for any contents,” he said.
An aide to the Senate Judiciary committee told CNET that because discussions with interested parties are ongoing, it would be premature to comment on the legislation.
Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that in light of the revelations about how former CIA director David Petraeus’ e-mail was perused by the FBI, “even the Department of Justice should concede that there’s a need for more judicial oversight,” not less.

Open Source Policy Versus the Last Telecom Monopolist by Daniel Berninger

Open Source Policy Versus the Last Telecom Monopolist by Daniel Berninger
Daniel Berninger
Founder, Voice Communication Exchange Committee
The founding of the Voice Communication Exchange Committee (VCXC)
offers a competitive alternative to the Federal Communication
Commission (FCC) and the first example of a startup addressing policy
questions. The decision to target the FCC reflects the government
agency’s status as the last monopolist on the telecom landscape and
the failure of other means of policy reform. The number of companies
regulated and the FCC’s funding doubled since the arrival of the
public Internet and VoIP in 1995. VCXC leverages the transition to
all-IP networks to setup an end game for the telecom regulator as the
100th anniversary of the first government intervention into telecom
arrives next year.
The FCC presides over a domestic telecom industry generating almost a
trillion in revenue and employing over a million people. The
relatively tiny FCC budget of $335 million and staff of 2000 indicates
either striking efficiency or a worrisome concentration of power. The
reality seems unlikely to be the former as there exists no company
among the 6000+ obligated to file the FCC Form 499 or public interest
advocate satisfied with the result. This type of performance usually
makes a monopolist irresistible for entrepreneurs, but startups do not
usually target government agencies. A plan for influencing government
usually involves paying a registered lobbyist.
VCXC applies the same means of disrupting the FCC as Linus Torvalds
applied in the case of the Microsoft operating system hegemony.
Publish the starting point for a competitive alternative and issue an
open invitation for incremental contributions. The open source process
benefits from the energies of people and organizations seeking relief
from an oppressive monopolist. Open source initiatives do not always
succeed and may even rarely succeed, but they do tend to advance the
cause of meritocracy. The collective impact of the open source
movement transformed the software business, and VCXC seeks to test the
approach on questions of governance.
The roots of telecom regulation in the US trace to an agreement
between AT&T President Theordore Vail and President Woodrow Wilson as
outlined in a December 19, 1913 letter from AT&T Vice President Nathan
Kingsbury to the Attorney General. The agreement settled an antitrust
complaint against AT&T and made America the exception as every other
country in the world nationalized telephone networks. The Kingsbury
Commitment represents the first example of a theme repeated over and
over in the subsequent 100 years – government policy makers recognize
the importance of communication as an input to economic and political
power and the resulting policy interventions tend to prove counter
The most successful communication policy also represents something of
an embarrassment and further illustration of the benefits of
non-regulation. The invention of the transistor at AT&T Bell
Laboratories in 1947 and the awarding of a Nobel Prize did not prevent
the Department of Justice from excluding the AT&T monopoly from
pursuing information technology revenue in a 1956 Consent Decree. The
FCC maintained a separation between the transistor driven
communication and information technology industries through the
Computer Inquiries in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and through the Telecom
Act of 1996 as well as in rulings such as the Free World Dialup
Decision in 2004.
The nascent information technology industry regulators sought to
protect from the AT&T in 1956 now enjoys equivalent revenue, profits,
and 4x the collective enterprise value of the still heavily regulated
telecom industry. There exist no differences between the worlds of
information and communication technology sufficient to account for the
outcome aside from the relative benefits of regulation and
non-regulation. The expansion of information technology includes a
wholesale takeover of communication via the Internet and creates a
dilemma for the FCC VCXC seeks to exploit. The transition to all-IP
networks makes telecom and information technology indistinguishable.

BITAG Announces Next Technical Topic on Port Blocking

BITAG Announces Next Technical Topic on Port Blocking

Denver, CO (November 7, 2012):  The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) is pleased to announce the launch of a new technical review on the topic of Port Blocking best practices. BITAG’s Technical Working Group elected to take up this topic through a self-initiated vote, as Port Blocking is of interest to many stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem.

Find Free #Wifi HotSpots

Find Free WiFi hotspots in PA, NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, WV, MA, NH and ME.

Why We Have An Open Wireless Movement
EFF believes open networks are crucial in hurricane-affected areas
Oct 30, 2012
In troubled times, it’s important to help each other out. Right now, we’re witnessing an unprecedented hurricane hitting the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and the ensuing damage and power outages are crippling rescue efforts, businesses large and small, and personal communications.
Communication is critical in time of crisis, and the Internet allows for the most effective way of getting information in and out. With readily available networks, government officials could use tools like Twitter to quickly spread information, citizen reports could help focus assistance where it is needed most, and social media updates could help reassure friends and loved ones—keeping mobile phone lines open for emergencies.
To take advantage of the Internet, people should not have to attempt to skirt restrictive Terms of Service to attempt to tether their smartphones. And tethering would not be necessary if there were ubiquitous open wireless, so that anyone with a connection and power can share their network with the neigborhood.
Last year, we wrote a post titled “Why We Need An Open Wireless Movement.” Today, EFF is proud to announce the launch of the Open Wireless Movement—located at—a coalition effort put forth in conjunction with nine other organizations: Fight for the Future, Free Press, Internet Archive, NYCwireless, the Open Garden Foundation, OpenITP, the Open Spectrum Alliance, the Open Technology Institute, and the Personal Telco Project.
Aimed at residences, businesses, Internet service providers (ISPs), and developers, the Open Wireless Movement helps foster a world where the dozens of wireless networks that criss-cross any urban area are now open for us and our devices to use.
Imagine a future with ubiquitous open Internet
XFINITY WiFi hotspots in the affected markets to anyone who needs them ­ including non-Comcast subscribers in PA, NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, WV, MA, NH and ME. Non-XFINITY Internet customers should search for the ³xfinitywifi² network name and click on the ³
Not a Comcast subscriber? ² link at the bottom of the Sign In page. Then select
the ³ Complimentary Trial Session² option from the drop down list. Users
will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every 2 hours through
Wednesday November 7th.
For a map of XFINITY WiFi hotspots, which are located both indoors and outdoors in malls, shopping districts, parks, and train platforms, please visit (Note: Complimentary XFINITY WiFi service may not be available in Partner WiFi Hotspot locations).”

#Hurricane Sandy Disaster Plan Educational CyberPlayGround

Connectivity and telecommunications will breakdown.

Hurricane, Typoon, Earthquake Weather Disaster Emergency Communication
The main problem is no communication.

Connectivity and telecommunications will breakdown.


Typhoon, Earthquake Weather Disaster Emergency Communication Check List

Learn to use a Ham Radio, become an operator and own the airwaves.

FCC offers $50,000.oo to Kill Robocallers

submit your idea from October 25 to January 17.

FTC offers $50,000 to robocall killers

Be a hero. Help the FTC block illegal robocalls. Accept our challenge today.

Entrants keep the intellectual property rights of their submission.
The Federal Trade Commission is offering a cash reward of $50,000 to whoever develops a solution to block robotic calling on both landlines and mobiles. Entries can be in the form of idea proposals, fully functional solutions, and proofs of concept.
The solution has to be tailored for illegal robocalls, and so must permit legal calls including being reached out to by political parties, charities, and health care providers. It must not block reverse-911 calls.
The FTC Robocall Challenge = robo-marketeers can submit their idea from October 25 to January 17.
The FTC is asking these basic questions: does it work? Is it easy to use? And can it be rolled out? In addition, your idea will be marked on ease of customer use, the variety of consumer phones that can be protected, and whether it can be used by those with disabilities. The flexibility of an idea is also important, as the FTC wants to know how easily robocallers could adapt or counter a scheme if it were rolled out nationwide.
From a commercial perspective, ideas will gain hefty points if they are compatible with today’s marketplace — in other words, would an idea require changes to all phone switches worldwide — or could it simply be distributed by line providers?
The winner will get $50,000 and a trip to D.C, where the creator or team will present the winning solution.

Internet providers to begin warning customers who pirate content

Internet providers to begin warning customers who pirate content
(“We accuse you, and even if we’re wrong, you need to pay us $35 to research the case.” which means for Hollywood, “heads they win, tails, they get something anyway.”
The Center for Copyright Information says a new system AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, or Verizon will warn users when accounts are used to illegally download content.
The entire system will be overseen by an organization called the Center for Copyright Information, which includes content owners, such as the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America, as well as individual members including Disney, Sony Pictures, Fox, EMI and Universal. Each ISP will have a slightly different version of the system.
Continue reading “Internet providers to begin warning customers who pirate content”

Agency aims to rate mobile broadband service performance across the U.S.

Measuring Broadband America, that gauges residential broadband performance.

Agency aims to rate mobile broadband service performance across the U.S.

September 06, 2012
How fast is data access on your smartphone? The Federal Communications Commission wants to find out.

The agency announced plans Wednesday to measure the performance of wireless broadband services across the country. Under the program, called Measuring Mobile America, the FCC will work with major wireless carriers, research and public interest groups, and other parties to assess the performance of wireless services.
The program will be modeled after an existing initiative, Measuring Broadband America, that gauges residential broadband performance. In a report released in July, the FCC said consumers have used the data generated by that program for comparison shopping, leading to increased competition among service providers.
According to the FCC, the residential broadband survey has led to improvements in three areas: Internet service providers (ISPs) are making more accurate promises about network performance; ISPs are more consistent in delivering promised speeds; and consumers are subscribing to higher-speed tiers. [SNIP]