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May 26, 2014

EFF Report- Who is Protecting Your Data from Government Requests?

EFF-Report---Who-is-Protecting-Your-Data-from-Government-Requests-PFTR

EFF-Report---Who-is-Protecting-Your-Data-from-Government-Requests-PFTR

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) constantly fights for our right to privacy on the Internet. It’s an organization every single person who values privacy ought to support financially, as they are continually beating back Leviathan when it comes to issues of personal privacy online.

In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies—including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites—to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business.

Their report titled “Who Has Your Back” (download PDF version) is a detailed investigation of which companies actively fight for your right to privacy and which companies don’t. They evaluated companies based on six criteria:

1. Require a warrant for content of communications.
2. Tell users about government data requests.
3. Publish transparency reports.
4. Publish law enforcement guidelines.
5. Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts.
6. Publicly oppose mass surveillance.

It’s a valuable report for you if you’re looking to vote with your dollars, something I highly recommend you do, and support only those companies who will support you, their customer.

These questions are even more important in the wake of the past year’s revelations about mass surveillance, which showcase how the United States government has been taking advantage of the rich trove of data we entrust to technology companies to engage in surveillance of millions of innocent people in the US and around the world. Internal NSA documents and public statements by government officials confirm that major telecommunications companies are an integral part of these programs. We are also faced with unanswered questions, conflicting statements, and troubling leaked documents which raise real questions about the government’s ability to access to the information we entrust to social networking sites and webmail providers.

There were some surprises on the list for me, as I was not aware of the pro-privacy stance of some of the companies listed. Others, like Twitter, Google and Microsoft, are companies I’ve written about repeatedly when their refusal to give up private information takes them to court at their own expense. That’s the true test of a company’s commitment to privacy really, isn’t it? Do they merely pay lip service to the notion or will they back it up with cold hard cash.

I was appalled but not surprised that both AT&T and ComCast routinely give up personal information without a warrant and pleased to see Amazon.com, Apple and Dropbox (among many others) all required a warrant first. All three of these companies also back up their belief in privacy with their own cash when they fight the government in court.

That’s a good thing.

The next largest single factor in the privacy battle is whether the company you deal with will tell you if the government is after your personal information. A shocking number of companies will not tell you this, including both the aforementioned AT&T and ComCast. For me, the fact ComCast “fights for users’ rights in court” is meaningless since they don’t require a warrant and won’t tell me if some government goon is after my personal information. But that’s just me, and I don’t use ComCast. Or AT&T.

We are pleased to announce that nine companies earned stars in every category: Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo. In addition, six companies earned stars in all categories except a court battle: LinkedIn, Pinterest, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Wickr, and WordPress. We are extremely pleased to recognize the outstanding commitment each of these companies has made to their users.

EFF-Privacy-Chart-Final

 

 

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February 22, 2013

A Victory for Privacy Rights! Conservatives Kill Bill C-30

Bill-C-30-Does-Vic-Toews-Now-Stand-With-Child-Pornographers

Bill-C-30-Does-Vic-Toews-Now-Stand-With-Child-Pornographers

When the Conservatives introduced Bill C-30, titled the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, Vic Toews said anyone who didn’t agree with the bill was standing “with the child pornographers”.

In light of that stand, I suppose it’s reasonable to conclude Vic Toews is now standing “with the child pornographers” in the wake his government’s decision to kill off the bill.

In the wake of massive public outcry and social media campaigns against Bill C-30 Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced, almost a year to the day Vic Toews introduced Bill C-30 to parliament, he was putting the final nail in the coffin of a bill that would have stripped Canadians of one of their most fundamental Rights: the Right to be Free from Unreasonable Search and Seizure.

Here is an excerpt of the Ottawa Citizen article on this announcement:

Almost one year after introducing its controversial Internet-surveillance bill, the federal government has conceded the measure is officially dead due to public outrage.

Shortly after tabling new legislation that incorporates some of the less contentious elements of Bill C-30 related to emergency wiretaps, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson admitted Monday that the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act will not proceed.

“We will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures in C-30, including the warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability in their systems,” he said Monday.

“We’ve listened to the concerns of Canadians who’ve been very clear on this and we’re responding to that.”

This is great news.

Governments only change direction when they learn it will cost them votes. Politicians don’t care about anything else.

So the next time your elected officials try implementing more anti-Freedom legislation, make sure they know it will cost them dearly… when we do it’s amazing how fast they stop dead in their tracks.

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December 26, 2012

Who needs the Constitution when you can have a Police State instead?

Who-needs-the-Constitution-when-you-can-have-a-Police-State-instead

Who-needs-the-Constitution-when-you-can-have-a-Police-State-instead

You’ve heard the saying many times before…

The solution is worse than the problem it’s supposed to solve.

police-state-thugs-225x250That’s precisely the state of affairs in Paragould, Arkansas, a small town roughly 90 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee, today. Citizens of this small town, population 26,000, stripped of their Constitutional Rights, are now subject to unlawful search and seizure at the whim of police officers, all in the name of “crime prevention”.

Where have we heard this garbage before?

I think Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

That’s precisely the state of affairs in Paragould, Arkansas where Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall just tore up the United States Constitution.

“[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Chief Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.

Mayor Mike Gaskill went on to say,

They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” he said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”

Innocent until proven guilty? Don’t be so ridiculous. Guilty until proven otherwise is now the law of the land in Paragould, Arkansas.

How can this happen in an American town? How can this happen in a US State, whose constitution specifically states (pdf):

Police_man-250x22915. Unreasonable searches and seizures.

The right of the people of this State to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized.

This can happen in a state whose Constitution says this when men, drunk with power, decide their whim of the moment is more important than the Constitutional Rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. This happens when men violate the very Oath they swore when they became police officers… namely:

…to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help me God.

The awesome organization OathKeepers was formed precisely to stop this type of Constitutional violation. From the Oathkeepers website:

Oathkeepers-Logo Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, veterans, peace officers, and firefighters who will fulfill the oath we swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God.

Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and we will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders, such as orders to disarm the American people or to place them under martial law and deprive them of their ancient right to jury trial.

We Oath Keepers have drawn a line in the sand. We will not “just follow orders.”

Our motto is “Not on our watch!”

If you, the American people, are forced to once again fight for your liberty in another American Revolution, you will not be alone. We will stand with you.

This entire plan is clearly 100% unconstitutional, but that makes no difference to Paragould Police Chief Todd Stovall.

To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

This police state thug even admitted that he didn’t bother to ask for a legal opinion about the constitutionality of his plan. He doesn’t care. He cares about one thing only: exercising his power. Astoundingly, he even admitted that what he planned was Martial Law.

I don’t know that there’s ever been a difference“, he said, between his proposals and martial law.

I’ve got to give these police state ghouls credit for one thing… They’re not shy about their intention to violate the Constitutionally-protected Rights of the citizens of Paragould, Arkansas.

They’ve come right out and said they don’t care about the Constitution. They don’t care about your Rights. They don’t care about anything except doing what they want, when they want, to whom they want.

SWAT Teams are a means of inflicting fear. They are a show of State Power. They are used to instill in citizens the idea that the State can violate your Constitutional Rights with impunity, and without recourse.

Every jurisdiction in the United States has a SWAT Team, and while these teams were created as a response to specific crimes, police forces across the nation have turned this former specialized force into a unit that is used for the most routine of police investigations.

Do you remember the murder of Jose Guerena, the former US Marine who served 2 tours in Iraq?

His killers were the Pima County SWAT Team, allegedly serving a search warrant for drugs, even though there was no basis for that warrant. There certainly wasn’t any justification for murdering a man in front of his wife and children, but that didn’t stop these thugs from pu mping 60 bullets into Jose’s body and then leaving him for over an hour to bleed to death on the floor of his home.

Not one of Jose Guerena’s killers have ever seen the inside of a courtroom, let alone a prison, and they never will. They are Agents of the State; agents who are literally above the law.

Am I saying the Paragould SWAT Team will murder people like this?

Of course not.

I’m saying something far worse.

I’m saying that when we use highly trained police teams designed for high-risk situations for routine and mundane police tasks and then remove all Constitutional Protections from mere citizens, we shouldn’t be surprised when the blood of innocent Americans flows freely in the streets.

One last note before I show you a video of how real men behave in the face of unconstitutional orders…

Isn’t it ironic that the Paragould SWAT Team will use the AR-15 when it terrorizes innocent Americans on the Streets of Paragould, Arkansas? Yes, this is the same firearm an insane young man used to murder 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, and is currently being demonized in the national press.

Funny how there’s no media outcry over it being used here…

This video, from Oathkeepers, is required viewing for any current serving member of the military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters in Paragould, Arkansas. Clearly they have lost their way, and this video will show them the path back to reason and sanity.

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March 14, 2012

Castle Doctrine Rebounds in Indiana after stupid Indiana State Supreme Court ruling

Indiana-Supreme-Court

The Indiana State Supreme Court made a ridiculous ruling last year in Barnes v. State (May 12, 2011).  That decision said that Indiana state residents had no right to obstruct illegal police invasions of their homes.

Folks who actually comprehend the Rights and Freedoms declared in the Magna Carta were up in arms (pun intended) over the ruling that essentially overturned centuries of common law legal precedent.  It was absurd to declare that agents of the state can invade someone’s home for any reason or even no reason at all, and a citizen has no right to defend against it.

“We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” Justice Steven David said.

“We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”

That is called a Police State, and unfortunately the Indiana Supreme Court saw absolutely nothing wrong with declaring that Indiana was indeed a Police State.

If the police don’t want to face “unnecessary resistance” when invading someone’s home, there is a very simple solution: Don’t do it.  Don’t invade someone’s home illegally.  Then you won’t have to worry about unnecessary resistance.

Home invasions deserve, indeed demand that they be repelled by all available force.  It matters not if the home invader has a badge to go along with his gun when his actions are illegal.

To quote William Grigg,

“When a cop invades a home without legal authority, he is acting as a criminal, rather than a peace officer.”

(more…)

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March 1, 2012

Police overwhelmingly support C-30’s warrantless searches and violation of privacy

Come Back with a Warrant

It really isn’t a shock to see police chiefs from across Canada coming out in support of the warrantless search and privacy violations contained in Bill C-30, disingenuously named “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act”.  The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) even go so far as calling it a “reasonable tool” in the battle against crime.

Obviously they use a very different dictionary than I do, since mine doesn’t classify warrantless searches and privacy invasion as “reasonable.”  Then again, there isn’t a lot the CACP and I agree on.  If a law or proposed law violates yours and my Charter Rights, then it’s a lock that the CACP will be for it and I will be against it.

Bill C-30 is no different.

Dubbing it “lawful access” as if simply calling warrantless searches “lawful” can make them so, police do themselves and Canadians a great disservice by playing these types of semantic games.  There is nothing “lawful” about violating our Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Under the title “Why we are asking for “Lawful Access,” the CACP says the following:

The Global Internet, cellular phones and social media have been widely adopted and enjoyed by Canadians, young and old. Many of us have been affected by computer viruses, spam and increasingly, bank or credit card fraud. These new media are also being used as a safe haven for serious criminal activity – identity theft, child and sexual exploitation, gangs, organized crime and national security threats.

I have no doubt that all of these things are happening, and that police should be doing what they can to prevent them where possible and prosecute the offenders where it is not, there is still this pesky little thing called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada.

The CACP and the police forces it represents would be much happier, I am sure, if the government would simply tear up that document so police could do whatever they want. (more…)

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February 24, 2012

Bill C-30’s invasions of privacy and warrantless searches are outrageous, but all the other Acts are just fine?

big-brother-is-watching-you

Bruce Cockburn wrote a famous song that contained the line “The trouble with normal is it only gets worse.”

The same can be said for governments.  They always get worse, too.  The current so-called Conservative government is a perfect example of this, and Vic Toews unwittingly tried using this to his advantage.  He quickly discovered, much to his dismay, that Canadians weren’t quite as dumb as he had hoped.

Speaking to Ezra Levant on the Sun TV show “The Source” Vic Toews said with a straight face,

“Well, right now regulatory authorities have the power to do warrantless searches. That is very standard practice.”

Vic Toews is absolutely correct.  It is standard practice in numerous laws on the books:

  • The Firearms Act,
    the Fisheries Act,
    the Wheat Board Act and I’m sure many others.

Vic Toews clearly believes that it SHOULD be standard practice to have Canadians subjected to warrantless searches whenever it suits him, despite the so-called “conservative” nature of his government.

Unfortunately we do not actually have a conservative government in Canada right now.  We haven’t had one for a very, very long time.  The last truly conservative Canadian government probably predates the existence of anyone alive today.

You see, a truly conservative government would place the sanctity of our Rights and Freedoms ahead of any momentary and passing “need” of government.

A truly conservative government would repeal the laws that place the burden of proof on Canadians to “prove a negative”, something Ian Thomson is being forced to do right now in an Ontario courtroom.

(more…)

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