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FBI's "NSL" Threaten Online Speech and Privacy

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FBI's "NSL" Threaten Online Speech and Privacy PostFri Aug 05, 2005 5:40 pm  Reply with quote  

Every member of this community should be aware of the following:

New York, N.Y. - infoZine - The Electronic Frontier Foundation, joined by several civil liberties organizations and online service providers, filed a friend-of-the-court brief yesterday in the case of Doe v. Gonzales arguing that National Security Letters (NSLs) are unconstitutional. NSLs are secret subpoenas for communications logs, issued directly by the FBI without any judicial oversight. These secret subpoenas allow the FBI to demand that online service providers produce records of where their customers go on the Web, as well as what they read and with whom they exchange email. The FBI can even issue NSLs for information about people who haven't committed any crimes.

A federal district court has already found NSLs unconstitutional, and the government is now appealing the case. In its brief to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, EFF argues that these secret subpoenas imperil free speech by allowing the FBI to track people's online activities. In addition, NSLs violate the First and Fourth Amendment rights of the service providers who receive the secret government demands. EFF and its cosigners argue that NSLs for Internet logs should be subject to the same strict judicial scrutiny applied to other subpoenas that may reveal information about the identities of anonymous speakers - or their private reading habits and personal associations.

Yet NSLs are practically immune to judicial review. They are accompanied by gag orders that allow no exception for talking to lawyers and provide no effective opportunity for the recipients to challenge them in court. This secret subpoena authority, which was expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, could be applied to nearly any online service provider for practically any type of record, without a court ever knowing.

"The Constitution does not allow the FBI to secretly demand logs about Internet users' Web browsing and email history based on vague claims of national security," said EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works/Bruce J. Ennis Fellow Kevin Bankston. "The district court's decision that National Security Letters are unconstitutional should have been a wake-up call to the House of Representatives, which just voted to renew the PATRIOT Act without adding new checks against abuse."

Although such protections are lacking in the PATRIOT renewal bill that the House of Representatives recently passed, they are included in the Senate bill. It is not yet clear whether those protections will be included in the final bill when it reaches the President's desk.

EFF was joined on the brief by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Online Policy Group, Salon Media Group, Inc., Six Apart, Ltd., the US Internet Industry Association, and ZipLip, Inc.
"If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."
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PostFri Aug 05, 2005 6:29 pm  Reply with quote  

And then you have people like Bill O'reilly that will sit there and say all day long that civil rights groups like these that are only trying to protect the rights of the American people are really only on the side of the terrorists. He's been saying that the ACLU is actually responsible for killing American troops and not Bush who actually sent them to their peril? He also claims (on a nightly basis) that the ACLU's arguing for the release of the secretive Abu Ghraib photos that the Bush cabal doesn't want us to see is treasonous and will only result in the killing of more troops.

He never seems to offer a rational explanation for why we aren't able to view the caskets of our own soldiers though. OR, why Bush doesn't feel the need or even desire to bother to attend a single damn funeral to pay his respects to those that gave their lives for his cause. They also never seem to complain when these same civil rights groups protect their own kind as the ACLU did with Rush Limbaugh and his medical records. Not so evil then eh?
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PostFri Aug 05, 2005 7:02 pm  Reply with quote  

Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I'm willing to bet that O'reilly will be covering this one in order to attack the ACLU and rap music, both of which he hates equally. Now I don't care for rap (or hip-hop as it's now called) personally but I do respect free speech. I really don't see what the school even had to do with this since it was done at home and on his own damn computer. I take the position of the kids father.

ACLU calls expulsion bad rap

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was expelled from middle school for rap music that he wrote at home and posted on the Internet.

The Riverside Beaver School District in Beaver County had no right to discipline Anthony Latour for music that he composed at home and that posed no disruption to classroom activities at the district's Riverside Middle School, state ACLU Legal Director Witold Walczak said at a news conference attended by Latour and his parents.

"School officials are not parents, and they cannot control what students read and write in their own homes,'' Walczak said. "You don't have to like this music or listen to this music, but you can't make it a criminal offense for Anthony to do so.''

John Latour, Anthony's father, said he doesn't like the rap music his son writes but supports his right to artistic expression.

In early May, North Sewickley police escorted Latour from school in handcuffs and then charged him with terroristic threats and harassment because of his rap lyrics. Some of the lyrics referred to a female student with whom he had problems in the past, Walczak said.

You know how many rappers, and musicians in general would have to also be imprisoned if this were the case?
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