In the wake of the U.K.’s most recent terrorist attacks, its prime minister is talking tough on Internet regulation, but what she’s suggesting is impractical.
Tragically, there have been three major terrorist attacks in the U.K. in less than three months’ time. After the second, in Manchester, May and others said they would look into finding ways to compel tech companies to put cryptographic “back doors” into their services, so that law enforcement agencies could more easily access suspects’ user data.
May repeated her stance in broaders terms Sunday, following new attacks in London. “The Internet, and the big companies” are providing “safe spaces” for extremism, she said, and new regulations are needed to “regulate cyberspace.” She offered no specifics, but her party’s line, just days from the June 8 national election, is clear: a country that already grants its government some of the most sweeping digital surveillance powers of any democracy needs more and tougher laws to prevent terrorism (see “New U.K. Surveillance Law Will Have Worldwide Implications”).
The trouble is, this kind of talk ignores how the Internet and modern consumer technology works. As Cory Doctorow points out in a detailed look at how you would actually go about creating services with cryptographic holes, the practicalities of such a demand render it ludicrous bordering on impossible. Even if all of the necessary state-mandated technical steps were taken by purveyors of commercial software and devices—like Google or Apple, say—anyone who wanted to could easily skirt their restrictions by running open-source versions of the software, or unlocked phones.
That isn’t to say that May and the Conservatives’ general idea that the government should be able to probe user data as part of an investigation should be dismissed out of hand. The balancing act between national security and digital privacy has become one of the central themes of our digital lives (see “What If Apple Is Wrong?”). And while there are advocates aplenty on both sides, simple answers are hard to come by. Read the rest of this entry »
Natalie Andrews reports: Here is the list of lawmakers who say they won’t attend, which has been updated as more lawmakers issue statements. Republican Senator Roy Blunt is also not attending, but not for political reasons. He is at a funeral for Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who died Thursday.
Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)
Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.)
Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.)
Rep. André Carson (D., Ind.)
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas)
Rep. Katherine Clark (D., Mass.)
Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.)
Rep. Lacy Clay (D., Mo.)
Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.)
Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D., N.J.)
Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.)
Rep. Danny K. Davis (D., Ill.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D., Colo.)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.)
Rep. Martha Fudge (D., Ohio)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D., Ill.)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif)
Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D., Minn.)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D., Calif.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D., Maine)
Rep. David E. Price (D., N.C.)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D., La.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.)
Rep. John Yarmouth (D., Ky.)
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 »
Robert Wilde reports: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) are gathering colleagues’ signatures on a letter to networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox expressing their disapproval at the lack of global warming discussion on the channels’ Sunday shows.
According to Sanders, “It is beyond my comprehension… that their shows have discussed climate change in 2012, collectively, for all of eight minutes.” Sanders is using liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America as his source. MMfA‘s data indicates that, in 2009, the Sunday shows covered climate change topics for over an hour, and in 2012, Sunday show coverage dropped to less than eight minutes on climate change.