A reminder to iPhone owners cheering Apple’s latest privacy win: Just because Apple will no longer help police to turn your smartphone inside out doesn’t mean it can prevent the cops from vivisecting the device on their own.
“I am quite impressed, Mr. Cook! That took courage. But it does not mean that your data is beyond law enforcement’s reach.”
– iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski
On Wednesday evening Apple made news with a strongly-worded statement about how it protects users’ data from government requests. And the page noted at least one serious change in that privacy stance: No longer will Apple aid law enforcement or intelligence agencies in cracking its users’ passcodes to access their email, photos, or other mobile data. That’s a 180-degree flip from its previous offer to cops, which demanded only that they provide the device to Apple with a warrantto have its secrets extracted.
In fact, Apple claims that the new scheme now makes Apple not only unwilling, but unable to open users’ locked phones for law enforcement. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [your personal] data,” reads the new policy. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
“I can do it. I’m sure the guys in suits in the governments can do it. And I’m sure that there are at least three or four commercial tools that can still do this, too.”
But as the media and privacy activists congratulated Apple on that new resistance to government snooping, iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski offered a word of caution for the millions of users clamoring to pre-order the iPhone 6 and upgrade to iOS 8. In many cases, he points out, the cops can still grab and offload sensitive data from your locked iPhone without Apple’s help, even in iOS 8. All they need, he says, is your powered-on phone and access to a computer you’ve previously used to move data onto and off of it. Read the rest of this entry »
You’ve Been Served: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Mails First Amendment Warning to More Than 300 CollegesPosted: September 19, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 17, 2014—In a national certified mailing sent today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) warns the leaders of more than 300 of our nation’s largest and most prestigious public colleges and universities that they risk First Amendment lawsuits by continuing to maintain speech codes that violate student and faculty rights. The letters are being mailed from the main post office near Independence Hall in Philadelphia today to mark the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
“FIRE prefers to secure students’ and faculty members’ free speech rights by working cooperatively with colleges and universities. However, FIRE will not hesitate to turn to the courts when necessary.”
“58 percent of our nation’s public colleges and universities restrict student and faculty speech with blatantly unconstitutional policies, and 38 percent more enforce policies that are too easily abused to silence campus speech,” said Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy. “In July, FIRE launched our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project by announcing four lawsuits against institutions that have violated student and faculty First Amendment rights. Now we’re putting public colleges and universities across the country on notice—and inviting them to work with FIRE to fix flawed policies before they’re challenged in court.”
“Throughout our 15 years defending student and faculty rights, FIRE has consistently coordinated successful First Amendment challenges against unconstitutional speech codes.”
The U.S. Justice Department investigation into New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie’s role in “Bridgegate” has thus far uncovered no information he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.
— olliander (@ollieblog) September 18, 2014
The September 2013 closures — where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee were shut down causing a traffic nightmare for commuters — has been the subject of several federal and state investigations.
Federal officials caution that the investigation begun nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that after nine months authorities have uncovered no information Christie either knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes.
According to one former federal prosecutor, who had no involvement in any of the probes into the bridge closure, investigations of this kind will often turn up a solid connection early in the inquiry. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Activists who organized the dormant Occupy Wall Street movement are suing another activist for control of the main Twitter account, and one of the plaintiffs says there was no other option but to turn to litigation to solve the dispute.
“We can either go and beat him up or we can go to court.”
– Marisa Holmes, video editor, part of the core organizing team of Occupy
The conflict centers around @OccupyWallStNYC, one of the main Twitter feeds that distributed information during the movement’s heyday in 2011. The OWS Media Group filed a lawsuit against organizer Justin Wedes on Wednesday, which is also the third anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Wall Street. The group, led by activist Marisa Holmes, is seeking control of the Twitter account as well as $500,000 in damages.
The Twitter account, which used to be shared among several activists, is now under the control of Wedes, who explained his decision to take over the Twitter feed in a blog post in August:
A thread about “self-promotion” became just another shaming session. If we start from a place of assuming bad intentions – i.e. discouraging “self-promotion” over encouraging solid, relevant content – we will end up with rules that shame rather than empower. Group members took on the task of limiting others to “1 to 2 tweets per day” (or week) on a topic, a form of censorship that would never have been allowed in the earlier days of the boat. I had to say enough!
“We can either go and beat him up or we can go to court,” Holmes, a video editor who was part of the core organizing team of Occupy, told BuzzFeed News. “And quite frankly if we go and beat him up then we could end up with countersuits against us, and that puts us in a more damaging position and we don’t really want to do that anyway.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Washington Post reports: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.
Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud. Read the rest of this entry »
ABA Journal: Washington State Prosecutor Whose Bikini Photo was Reportedly Found in Inmate’s Cell Resigns $83,000-a-Year JobPosted: September 14, 2014
Martha Neil reports: A Washington state prosecutor whose bikini photograph wound up in the cell of a prison inmate has resigned from her $83,000-a-year job.
Marriya Wright also allegedly texted and called Matthew Baumrucker over 1,200 times during a period of a little over one month earlier this year. Authorities are now investigating whether Wright helped him avoid being taken into Spokane County custody on a warrant in a felony drug case at a time when he was otherwise lawfully at large, according to the Spokesman Review and KXLY. An earlier Spokesman Review article provides additional details.
At issue is a period in March when police were reportedly investigating an assault case and trying to serve the warrant in the drug case. A warrant says a witness told police that Baumrucker had spoken with a woman named Marriya in a car at a gas station.
“He came to her, asking for help, and she tried to bring him into the church to help him make better decisions in the future.”
The witness said she overheard Marriya tell Baumrucker that he “needed to get his warrant taken care of.”
“Unfortunately she was in a position in her own life where this got out of control.”
– Wright’s attorney Chris Bugbee
Police said they later obtained surveillance footage showing that Baumrucker had entered Wright’s vehicle at that gas station. She allegedly did not turn him in. Read the rest of this entry »
Judge Strikes Down Ohio Law Criminalizing False Political Speech: Amicus Curiae Brief Filed on Behalf of the Plaintiff by P.J. O’RourkePosted: September 13, 2014
An Ohio federal judge landed a blow for free-speech advocates on Thursday, striking down a law that gave the state government the right to regulate political speech it deemed false.
Under the law, it was illegal to “post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, if the statement is designed to promote the election, nomination, or defeat of the candidate.” According to U.S. District Court judge Timothy Black’s decision: “We do not want the government (i.e., the Ohio Elections Commission) deciding what is political truth – for fear that the government might persecute those who criticize it. Instead, in a democracy, the voters should decide.”
Then there’s this:
I noted [above] U.S. District Court judge Timothy Black’s ruling yesterday striking down an Ohio law that allowed the state election commission to censor “false” political speech.
The judge’s decision is a good one, but the best reading in the case is an amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of the plaintiff — by none other than right-wing humorist P.J. O’Rourke. “The case concerns amici,” he writes, “because the law at issue undermines the First Amendment’s protection of the serious business of making politics funny.” Read the rest of this entry »
The public is getting a broader glimpse at the still-secretive world of government data collection
Yahoo said Thursday it won release of 1,500 pages of documents filed in a secretive surveillance court. It said the documents stem from an unsuccessful lawsuit it brought in 2008 challenging the government’s right to demand user information.
“At one point, the U.S. Government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply.”
– Ron Bell, Yahoo’s lawyer
The company won a victory last year when portions of previously-closed documents were ordered public. As it noted Thursday, disclosures from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are “extremely rare.”
The documents are a public relations victory for Yahoo: They show it resisting orders to comply with the surveillance programs.
“Yahoo has not complied with the directives because of concerns that the directives require Yahoo to assist in conducting warrantless surveillance that is likely to capture private communications of United States citizens located in the U.S. and abroad,” Yahoo wrote in a legal document, arguing the orders violated “the privacy of U.S. citizens.”
The government put great pressure on Yahoo to comply with its order, the company said. Read the rest of this entry »
George F. Will writes: Since Barry Goldwater, in accepting the Republicans’ 1964 presidential nomination, said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” Democrats have been decrying Republican “extremism.” Actually, although there is abundant foolishness and unseemliness in U.S. politics, real extremism — measures or movements that menace the Constitution’s architecture of ordered liberty — is rare. This week, however, extremism stained the Senate.
Forty-eight members of the Democratic caucus attempted to do something never previously done: Amend the Bill of Rights. They tried to radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech. They evidently think extremism in defense of the political class’s convenience is no vice.
The italicized names are of senators on the ballot this November.
Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Benjamin Cardin (Md.), Thomas Carper (Del.), Robert Casey (Pa.), Christopher Coons (Del.), Richard Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Angus King (Maine), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.),Edward Markey (Mass.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Harry Reid (Nev.), John Rockefeller (W.Va.), Bernard Sanders (Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Udall (Colo.), John Walsh (Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.).
But all 48 Senate co-sponsors are American rarities — real extremists.
The 48 senators proposing to give legislators speech-regulating powers describe their amendment in anodyne language, as “relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.” But what affects elections is speech, and the vast majority of contributions and expenditures are made to disseminate speech. Read the rest of this entry »
The territory’s citizens must not give up demanding full democracy—for their sake and for China’s
Chinese officials have called it a “leap forward” for democracy in Hong Kong. Yet their announcement on August 31st of plans to allow, for the first time, every Hong Kong citizen to vote for the territory’s leader has met only anger and indifference. Joy was conspicuously absent. This is not because Hong Kong’s citizens care little for the right to vote, but because China has made it abundantly clear that the next election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, due in 2017, will be rigged. The only candidates allowed to stand will be those approved by the Communist Party in Beijing, half a continent away.
“Xi Jinping, the party chief and president, had the opportunity to use Hong Kong as a test-bed for political change in China. Had he taken this opportunity, he might have gone down in history as a true reformer. Instead, he has squandered it.”
At its worst, this risks provoking a disaster which even China cannot want. Democrats are planning protests. It is unclear how many people will join in, but the fear is that the territory’s long history of peaceful campaigning for political reform will give way to skirmishes with police, mass arrests and possibly even intervention by the People’s Liberation Army. That would disrupt one of Asia’s wealthiest and most orderly economies, and set China against the West. But even if, as is likely, such a calamity is avoided, this leap sideways is a huge missed opportunity not just for Hong Kong but also for the mainland. A chance to experiment with the sort of local democracy that might have benefited all of China has been missed. Read the rest of this entry »
South Africa has no jury system. Masipa weighed the evidence and reached her verdict with the help of two assistants, called assessors. The judge had the last say on questions of law, while the decision of the majority held sway on questions of fact
SOUTH AFRICA – Robyn Dixon reports: Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian who shot and killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year, was found “negligent” in the killing Thursday, but was acquitted of murder charges before the court recessed for the day without a final verdict.
Judge Thokozile Masipa halted the proceedings before delivering a ruling on a lesser charge of culpable homicide and said she would resume the proceedings on Friday.
“It’s clear that his conduct was negligent,”
Masipa said. But the judge said she did not find sufficient evidence to prove the prosecution’s contention that Pistorius intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp after the couple had an argument, though she did conclude that the athlete was negligent in firing his weapon four times through the door of the bathroom in his residence, in which Steenkamp had locked herself.
Pistorius admitted to firing four expanding bullets into the toilet cubicle off his bathroom. But he had insisted that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, fired unintentionally and not meaning to kill anyone.
“During the trial, Pistorius at times retched and vomited as the court heard testimony on Steenkamp’s horrific injuries, including a massive head wound, a shattered hip, a broken arm and a hand injury.”
In a nearly daylong hearing, Masipa found that Pistorius was negligent in firing his weapon and must have foreseen his actions would result in the death of the person inside. She also concluded that he failed to take reasonable steps to avoid that person’s death.
“At other times, he wept loudly, slumped with his head in his hands, or covered his ears.”
However, the judge stopped short of declaring Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide before concluding proceedings for the day.
After the initial finding clearing him of murder charges, Pistorius bent over and sobbed. Relatives and supporters crowded around him, and his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, one of his closest mentors, hugged him fervently. Read the rest of this entry »
Corrupt New Orleans Ex-Mayor Ray Nagin Reports to Prison, Pre-Sold to Leo ‘Big Daddy’ Jackson for a Carton of Lucky StrikesPosted: September 8, 2014
“Normally a new inmate would go for four, five cartons of cigarettes, more if he’s a celebrity. Nagin may be famous, but he’s a boring little bitch, he talks too much, and he has a bony ass.”
– Whitey Fitzgerald, inmate, former hedge fun manager
Nagin, a Democrat who left office in 2010, was convicted on 20 counts ranging from bribery and fraud to tax evasion. He reported to a federal prison in Texas on Monday.
“Competition for high-profile inmates is usually robust, with former elected officials being among the most desirable among bidders.”
– FCI prison guard
Pre-checkin bidding for the former New Orleans Mayor was less active than anticipated, according to prison guards. “Competition for high-profile inmates is usually robust, with former elected officials being among the most desirable among bidders.” No conclusive explanation was given for the lackluster interest in Nagin, though some speculate the overall prison economy might be a factor.
“I don’t care what the press says about him. Or my fellow inmates. I’m glad I won the bid for Ray. I think he’s cute.”
– Leo “Big Daddy” Jackson
“Less than favorable institutional access to tobacco products make it harder for our inmate population to negotiate effectively”, said Mark McGriffin, a convicted embezzler and former Clinton Administration advisor. “And other tradable commodities like gum, and playing cards don’t have the same intrinsic value.”
Whitey Fitzgerald, a former hedge fun manager, disagreed. Read the rest of this entry »
The documents show Lerner’s efforts to persuade Treasury auditors that there was no institutional bias at the IRS, the agency’s attempts to head off a damaging investigation with a pre-emptive apology, and Lerner’s pep talk to her staff after the apology.
WASHINGTON — Gregory Korte reports: The day that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner publicly apologized for using “inappropriate criteria” to delay tax exemptions for Tea Party groups, she told her colleagues that they were being “beaten up by the press for all the wrong reasons.”
It was only going to get worse, she told them in an e-mail, and there was no way around it other than to “ride it through.”
Then she left for a week’s vacation in Canada.
That e-mail comes in 1,706 pages of newly released documents that shed light on the damage control happening at the IRS — and at the watchdog agency investigating it — as the scandal blew up last year. Read the rest of this entry »
IRS says it has lost emails from FIVE MORE employees associated with Tea Party targeting scheme
Associated Press reports: The Internal Revenue Service has lost emails from five more employees who are part of congressional probes into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, the tax service disclosed on Friday.
The IRS said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status during the time that the targeting of Tea Party groups occurred.
That revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.
On Friday, the IRS issued a report to Congress saying the agency also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.
Not only did the IRS lose former former tax-exempt director Lois Lerner’s emails, it said today it lost the emails of five other employees associated with a Tea Party targeting scheme.
The disclosure came on the same day the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations released competing reports on how the IRS handled applications from political groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The Democratic report, released by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said both liberal and conservative groups were mistreated, revealing no political bias by the IRS. Read the rest of this entry »
The red and black colors do not signify anything relevant to this demonstration. The federal government releases partial updates to the CFR on a quarterly basis and changes the color from one year to the next.
Book stacks for 1950, 1970, and 1990 are represented using the average size volume in 2013, which is roughly 750 pages long. Stack size is calculated by dividing the page count in those years by 750 pages. The data for page counts in the CFR comes from here.
French man jailed for texting and calling his ex-girlfriend 21,807 times http://t.co/St8Pp0FQLT
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 5, 2014
A First Amendment Education
The selective investigation of the political speech of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker‘s allies goes to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals next week, and with any luck the judges will vindicate a district court’s preliminary injunction that has shut down the probe. They should do so before the November election because this unconstitutional exercise is being exploited by Mr. Walker’s enemies to defeat him.
“Neither collaboration among independent groups nor communication between independent groups and a political campaign is illegal. On the contrary, it is speech protected by the First Amendment.
The latest media misinformation concerns emails that show Mr. Walker raised money for the Wisconsin Club for Growth. But raising money for Super Pacs and 501(c) groups is routine political behavior, as President Obama and Harry Reid routinely demonstrate.
“The prosecution brings to mind the abuses against the late Ted Stevens, who was convicted of corruption in office only weeks before an election because prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence. In Wisconsin the prosecution has used a secret probe and selective leaks to make legal fund-raising appear illegal.”
Prosecutors pursuing Mr. Walker have been pushing a theory of campaign-finance law that the state’s own campaign finance regulator, the Government Accountability Board, has admitted is unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent. The theory has also been rejected by the Seventh Circuit and by two judges in the Walker probe.
You’d never guess any of this from reading the anti-Walker press. Legal activity is made to look nefarious with loose references to terms like “coordination” that have precise definitions for what qualifies as political advocacy under the law. Read the rest of this entry »