I remember back in the early 90s watching a news report in which people were being interviewed about lightpost cameras their city had installed. When asked if they were bothered by giving up a little freedom and privacy for the safety these cameras ostensibly provided, the majority of people said they were fine with it. I saw a dangerous slippery slope.

Later, after the attacks of 9/11, when the whole nation turned into one big prideful fear-biter, came the so-called “Patriot Act“. It contains numerous provisions that turn our country into a more unaccountable, authoritarian, surveillance state. Relatively few people seemed to share my concerns about this at the time, or to share my concerns about the burgeoning bureaucratic police-state behemoth that went along with this new law.

Ten years down the road, both the majority of Democrats and the majority of Republicans continue to use the words “freedom” and “liberty”, and yet to support the War Machine, the Police State, and the insidious surveillance that’s now allowed and conducted on citizens at an ever-growing rate, all in the name of security.

The US government has ceased to respect the Bill of Rights, and the only people talking and trying to do anything about it are either the same ones who always have (like the ACLU, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, etc), libertarians who typically have a childishly simplistic understanding of society and economics, and hard-core, right-wing neofascists (faux libertarians in that they say this is what they are, when in fact they are nothing more than neocons and social conservatives) like the so-called “Tea Party” who have exactly the wrong ideas about where the threats lie.

Hopefully the awakening that the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together movement seems to represent will include an awakening about the real diminution of our civil liberties overseen by the MIC, the Imperium Bureaucracy, and neocon ideology. I guess we’ll see.

Secret Orders Target Email

WikiLeaks Backer’s Information Sought

by Julia Angwin

The U.S. government has obtained a controversial type of secret court order to force Google Inc. and small Internet provider Sonic.net Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. [WIKILEAKS] Associated Press

Attorney General Eric Holder has said the U.S. is pursuing an ‘active criminal investigation’ of WikiLeaks.

Sonic said it fought the government’s order and lost, and was forced to turn over information. Challenging the order was “rather expensive, but we felt it was the right thing to do,” said Sonic’s chief executive, Dane Jasper. The government’s request included the email addresses of people Mr. Appelbaum corresponded with the past two years, but not the full emails.

Both Google and Sonic pressed for the right to inform Mr. Appelbaum of the secret court orders, according to people familiar with the investigation. Google declined to comment. Mr. Appelbaum, 28 years old, hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing.

The court clashes in the WikiLeaks case provide a rare public window into the growing debate over a federal law that lets the government secretly obtain information from people’s email and cellphones without a search warrant. Several court decisions have questioned whether the law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

WikiLeaks is a publisher of documents that people can submit anonymously. After WikiLeaks released a trove of classified government diplomatic cables last year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. was pursuing an “active criminal investigation” of WikiLeaks.

Passed in 1986, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is older than the World Wide Web, which was dreamed up in 1989. A coalition of technology companies—including Google, Microsoft Corp. and AT&T Corp.—is lobbying Congress to update the law to require search warrants in more digital investigations.

The law was designed to give the same protections to electronic communications that were already in place for phone calls and regular mail. But it didn’t envision a time when cellphones transmitted locations and people stored important documents on remote services, such as Gmail, rather than on their own computers.

Law enforcement uses the law to obtain some emails, cellphone-location records and other digital documents without getting a search warrant or showing probable cause that a crime has been committed. Instead the law sets a lower bar: The government must show only “reasonable grounds” that the records would be “relevant and material” to an investigation.

As a result, it can be easier for law-enforcement officers to see a person’s email information than it is to see their postal mail.

Another significant difference: A person whose email is inspected this way often never knows a search was conducted. That’s because court orders under the 1986 law are almost always sealed, and the Internet provider is generally prohibited from notifying the customer whose data is searched. By contrast, search warrants are generally delivered to people whose property is being searched.

The secrecy makes it difficult to determine how often such court orders are used. Anecdotal data suggest that digital searches are becoming common.

In 2009, Google began disclosing the volume of requests for user data it received from the U.S. government. In the six months ending Dec. 31, Google said it received 4,601 requests and complied with 94% of them. The data include all types of requests, including search warrants, subpoenas and requests under the 1986 law.

At a Senate hearing in April on whether the 1986 law needs updating, Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker cautioned Congress “that raising the standard for obtaining information under ECPA may substantially slow criminal and national security investigations.”

In May, the ECPA’s author, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), said the original law is “significantly outdated and outpaced by rapid changes in technology.” He introduced a bill adopting many of the recommendations of the technology coalition lobbying for changes to the law.

Some federal courts have questioned the law’s constitutionality. In a landmark case in December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained 27,000 emails without a search warrant.

“The police may not storm the post office and intercept a letter, and they are likewise forbidden from using the phone system to make a clandestine recording of a telephone call—unless they get a warrant,” Judge Danny Boggs wrote in the 98-page opinion. “It only stands to reason that, if government agents compel an [Internet service provider] to surrender the contents of a subscriber’s emails, those agents have thereby conducted a Fourth Amendment search.”

In August, the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York over-ruled a government request to obtain cellphone location records without a warrant, calling it “Orwellian.” Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote: “It is time that the courts begin to address whether revolutionary changes in technology require changes to existing Fourth Amendment doctrine.” The government has appealed.

The WikiLeaks case became a test bed for the law’s interpretation earlier this year when Twitter fought a court order to turn over records from the accounts of WikiLeaks supporters including Mr. Appelbaum.

Mr. Applebaum is a developer for the Tor Project Inc., a Walpole, Mass., nonprofit that provides free tools that help people maintain their anonymity online. Tor’s tools are often used by people living in countries where Internet traffic is monitored by the government. Tor obtains some of its funding from the U.S. government.

Mr. Appelbaum has also volunteered for WikiLeaks, which recommends people use Tor’s tools to protect their identities when submitting documents to its website. In April 2010, Mr. Appelbaum’s involvement in WikiLeaks was inadvertently disclosed publicly in a blog post on the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The reporter, Danny O’Brien, said Mr. Appelbaum had thought he was speaking anonymously. Mr. O’Brien said he later offered to remove Mr. Appelbaum’s name from the post.

WikiLeaks was founded by Julian Assange.

After the blog post appeared, Mr. Appelbaum became a public advocate for WikiLeaks. In June, he gave a speech at a Northern California technology camp where he called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange one of the “biggest inspirations in my life.”

On Dec. 14, the U.S. Department of Justice obtained a court order for information from the Twitter account of people including Mr. Appelbaum and WikiLeaks supporters Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament, and Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch computer programmer. Neither has been charged with wrongdoing.

The order sought the “Internet protocol,” or IP, addresses of the devices from which people logged into their accounts. An IP address is a unique number assigned to a device connected to the Internet.

The order also sought the email addresses of the people with whom those accounts communicated. The order was filed under seal, but Twitter successfully won from the court the right to notify the subscribers whose information was sought.

On Jan. 26, attorneys for Mr. Appelbaum, Mr. Gonggrijp and Ms. Jonsdottir jointly filed a motion to vacate the court order. They argued, among other things, that because IP addresses can be used to locate a person in “specific geographic destinations,” it constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment and thus required a warrant.

The government argued that IP addresses don’t reveal precise location and are more akin to phone numbers. At a Feb. 15 hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney John S. Davis said, “this is a standard… investigative measure that is used in criminal investigations every day of the year all over this country.”

On March 11, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan denied the WikiLeaks supporters’ motion. They have appealed.

Twitter hasn’t turned over information from the accounts of Mr. Appelbaum, Ms. Jonsdottir and Mr. Gonggrijp, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The court orders reviewed by the Journal seek the same type of information that Twitter was asked to turn over. The secret Google order is dated Jan. 4 and directs the search giant to hand over the IP address from which Mr. Appelbaum logged into his gmail.com account and the email and IP addresses of the users with whom he communicated dating back to Nov. 1, 2009. It isn’t clear whether Google fought the order or turned over documents.

The secret Sonic order is dated April 15 and directs Sonic to turn over the same type of information from Mr. Appelbaum’s email account dating back to Nov. 1, 2009.

On Aug. 31, the court agreed to lift the seal on the Sonic order to provide Mr. Appelbaum a copy of it. Sonic Chief Executive Mr. Jasper said the company also sought to unseal the rest of its legal filings but that request “came back virtually entirely denied.”

Original post on WSJ.com

40 Responses to “The Surveillance State”

  1. The Tory-Lib Dem government scrapped EMA and raised university tuition fees to £9000,betraying election pledges effectively pricing many of us out of education.Last year students, pupils and workers fought back with mass protests, strikes and waves of direct action. We aren’t going away. On November 9th thousands of us will march in London. Assemble:12 noon at the University of London Union,Search facebook for “National Demo Defend Education, Fight Privatisation for more details

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  3. stra calvaille says:

    Personhood USA, the group behind ballot initiatives that aim to define life as beginning at the moment of conception, has unveiled a new video, comparing its to ban to the civil rights movement.

    Fresh off the sound defeat of Mississippi’s “fetal personhood” amendment, Personhood remain More…

  4. During the colonial era there were millions of white slaves as well. Some were indentured servants while others were life long. Britain would coral it’s undesirables and send them to the new world to work as slaves.

  5. stelemeyer borgan says:

    I am not sure that is 100% correct ACROSS the board, sure it may be 95%..

    However, how about legit butch STRAIGHT women? Or effeminent men? it unrealistic to tell them to play their “natural roles” if they are essentially mutants?

  6. Actually, there is strict gun control in Mex. but you can own a gun.You people seem to misunderstand my arguement here. I own a pistol, I’ve had a Hunters Safety card for 30 years, my husband owns fire arms, we both have hunted (game for food). My point is just like you said–take away our ability to defend ourselves, and, yes, I am talking about even these police methods like in the video, then you have a state like Mex. I don’t see why law abiding people see these as a threat.

  7. Every enlightenment period in history have had a span of 100’s of years. By sheer determination & righteousness all has succeeded

  8. The Justice charges that Latinos were illegally arrested and abused in jail repeatedly in the Arizona county and that hundreds of sexual assaults weren’t investigated.
    Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix-based repeatedly arrested Latinos illegally, abused them in the county jails and failed to investigate hundreds of sexual assaults, the Justice charged after a three-year civil rights investigation.

  9. . Aisha thugged an ipod charger for me from the library . Good thing they don’t have surveillance cameras on there . Haha .

  10. Look Michael Jackson Advocates! Moamar Ghadiffi is now a civil rights hero! VOTE VOTE VOTE 4 a real hero. Vote 4 MJ!

  11. being dishonest? On another video, you claim that the video longshot of the second strike shows the “airplane”. That longhshot is out quite a distance HORIZONTALLY from the WTC. It is not so any claim of “dive velocity” is irrelevant if you are being consistent.

    I sourced my quote concerning the “flight envelope or performance envelope” to wikipedia; It “refers to the CAPABILITIES of a design in terms of airspeed and load factor or altitude”.

  12. stumann ire says:

    Photo: 5 WikiLeaks Hits of 2011 That Are Turning the World on Its Head And That the Media Are Ignoring 1)…

  13. 10 years of GITMO. Time to review some of the stories from the GTMO files run by l’ESPRESSO + la REPUBBLICA

  14. “We should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote subject to the sentiments of the day.” Amen.

  15. It can be a tough decision when you are considering getting a video surveillance camera for your home due to the…

  16. I’ve just renamed my wifi network to “Police Surveillance Van That should keep my pikey neighbours on their toes for a while..

  17. RT “If a massive attack on Iran happens soon, then the attack will
    have political and oil reasons and not nuclear.” #Iran

  18. urchumerli sakalanek says:

    Everyday police use too much force. Everyday police make false arrests. Everyday police violate civil rights. When will the injustice end?

  19. The CIA wants to kill people for their metadata without even knowing who they are or what they have really done:

  20. thaliarown says:

    “Sources close to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have told “The FBI is apparently collecting evidence to indict Julian Assange before a grand jury. Sweden must not be the final destination of the designed extradition.””

  21. gang nah says:

    Gore & the rest of leftist AGW people have no business playing race card given their stance in trying to block civil rights in 60s

  22. “*I would much rather call the U.S. Congress regressive for moving away from individual rights towards more collective rights.* Ron Paul has proposed legislation on numerous occasions that would strip Americans of their civil rights and bar the Supreme from hearing challenges to repressive laws. Would you call that regressive? I would. *But you do appear quite trollish on the economics/ethics Ron Paul has been voting against economic prosperity for years. Ron Paul has invested his personal money in precious metals. Those investments would be much more if our economy were to collapse. Ron Paul has stated repeatedly that he is for smaller government but has added pork spending to every spending bill that he can get his hands on. Ron Paul made millions of dollars publishing a newsletter that contained racist and homophobic rants apparently written by Ron himself. Ron Paul has accepted campaign donations from neo-Nazi organizations. Ron Paul double dips on air…”

  23. Wikileaks releases over 2 million Syrian e-mails – Washington Post Wikileaks has released more than two million e-mails exchanged among senior members of the… –

  24. Singer Holly Tannen asked her British aunt Sophie to write a letter to her local MP about Julian –

  25. haver alowski says:

    Karayipler’de bulunan Turks ve Caicos Adaları’nda satın aldığı adalarla ve kurduğu dev turizm sirketleriyle tanınan Magiclife’ın eski sahibi işadamı Cem Kınay hakkında İngiltere ve Turks ve Caicos Adaları tarafından kırmızı bülten çıkarıldı. Adalarda rüşvet skandalının patlamasının ardından başbakan Michael Misick’in birçok işadamlarından rüşvet aldığı çıkmış, belgeler bir süre sonra Wikileaks’te yayınlanmıştı.

  26. hforent kitcomski says:

    ddenis: Rien n’est laissé au hasard pour les soirées du Ramadhan. La capitale est placée sous haute surveillance par la poli –

  27. The GOLD SKDVR04 is one of our favorite DVRs. This 4 channel DVR is a great solution for all kinds of surveillance.

  28. Cat 5 vs. Cat 6 Cable for CCTV: Travis Chaffin Travis Chaffin – Sales Manager – 2M CCTV 877-926-2288 x 6049   CC…

  29. Wikileaks воюет с Россией немного похоже на жизнь в космической станции”, – сказал основатель WikiLeaks. Он следит за физической формой и загорает под уль… –

  30. why black american’s, who’ve lived through the civil rights activism of the 20th century, believe weed is the problem …

  31. Look at yesterday, they knew I detected & tweeted about 2 of their men on I get more

  32. El fundador de WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, cumple este 19 de diciembre seis meses de aislamiento en la embajada de Ecuador en Londres, donde se refugió para evitar ser extraditado a Suecia y, posteriormente, a EE.UU.

  33. LMAO a UPS man stole an iPad mini that the FedEx man dropped off and got caught on the home’s surveillance

  34. havent U guys learned that is a POS company. I had to have my bank/credit card company go after them for their dishonesty –

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  36. After I finish Prime time tweeting FBI Special Surveillance Gang thug pics/videos I’m getting offline for evening do something non FBI

  37. chadopkina froe says:

    CIB R401M60A Full D1 High Resolution H.264 4 CH Network Security Surveillance DVR. Eagleeyes software. No hard disk driver included –

  38. okuo willetter says:

    Religious conviction would only be relevant if marriage were a purely religious institution. It isn’t. That makes it a civil rights issue.

  39. googled some Guardian related wikileaks stuff and I do think D. Stevens will be there, as he’s playing the chief editor

  40. scobbische ros says:

    … Wikileaks as a last Manning in many ways has been a proxy for Assange, often cast as a sinister “co-conspirator” in a form…

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