Friday, November 30, 2001

*** FLASH *** FLASH *** FLASH *** FLASH *** FLASH ***

In an opinion piece in the National Review, Robert Bork makes his case for military tribunals. Mr. Bork brings up all the arguments for such tribunals, and, as the blurb in OpinionJournal points out, goes further in saying "If there is a problem with Bush's order, it is the exemption of U.S. citizens from trials before military tribunals... The trial of American terrorists in criminal court would pose all the problems of trying foreign terrorists there." In other words, whenever there is a chance of jury members being threatened by a "criminal", or if the cops fear for the safety of an "informant", one's right to trial by jury should be tossed down the oubilette.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Flashback - Carnivore.

This article from Wired News came out the day after the September 11th attack, and details the FBI's efforts to place monitoring hardware in the central offices of most major ISPs. It further quotes a technician, who tells us they planned to place high-performance versions in all the Tier-1 backbone sites. In other words, ever since shortly after the Twin Towers fell, your email and more has been monitored.

You may feel this is of minimal concern; that the FBI is not allowed to monitor your communications without a warrant, so you couldn't possibly be investigated or charged based on a misinterpreted communication, or on the basis of your web-browsing habits. Unfortunately, this just isn't so. The police don't need a warrant to monitor your actions on the net.

The reason is that no warrant is necessary if the person being monitored does not have any expectation of privacy. It is analogous to having a loud conversation in a crowded restaurant; anyone could overhear what you are saying, and a law-enforcement officer who is having a cup of coffee three tables away could take down your words and use them against you, if he wished to.

An email message bounces between dozens of servers and routers before it reaches your machine; the same is true of the address of any web page you browse. The operator of any one of those machines could listen in on your messages or browsing habits if he wished (and I strongly suspect many of them do). Most people who know this simply grit their teeth and use email anyway, as its convenience, and the lack of a good alternative, outweigh the odds of some Little Brother misusing your information.

Unfortunately, the Federal Government has the resources to parse through the heavy volume of routine communications looking for things they find interesting. And they have the power to SERIOUSLY misuse information they come across. Anything you put in email could be used against you, should they ever decide you were a Bad Man.

And the only solution -- to keep both Big Brother and Little Brother out of our net -- will be to ROUTINELY use encryption to mask our habits.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Larry Ellison is further promoting National ID cards, holding discussions with John Ashcroft and top FBI and CIA officials. While It may benefit Oracle to get a contract to run a national ID system, the fact is, like the USA/Patriot Act, it will do very little to improve national security while tromping on Americans' freedoms. Most of the terrorists involved in the September 11th attack came into this country legally and, if such a system had been in place, would have had these ID cards; those who did not have cards would merely have needed to fly on the same plane as one who had a card and could smuggle weapons on board. So the only purpose these cards will serve is to track everything US citizens do.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Thought Police come to Britain -- Scotland Yard will be creating a secret registry of children, some as young as 3 years of age, of whom they believe may grow up to become criminals. Their progress as they grow up will then be specially monitored.