When the Justice Department announced in March that it intended to sue Apple and five book publishers for collusion over the pricing of eBooks, David Boaz of the Cato Institute could be heard to say “Here we go again.” Boaz wrote about Washington regulators and busybodies two years ago, calling them “parasites” and expressing the hope that Apple would avoid the absorption into the Washington “Borg” suffered first by Microsoft and then Google.
A new service offered by Google is raising some eyebrows, as users now have access to monthly reports that reveal all their online activities using Google products (Gmail, YouTube, Google+ social network, online search, etc.). Called "Account Activity," the new feature will allow users to "step back and take stock of what you’re doing online," Google product manager Andreas Tuerk noted in a blog post. "Knowing more about your account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account."
Maybe now we know the true purpose for that giant domestic spy complex being built by the NSA in Utah. Attorney General Eric Holder approved a new list of guidelines for how long agencies of the federal government tasked with combatting “terrorism” may retain data gathered about American citizens. Basically, this information may be saved even if it contains no connection to criminal activity whatsoever.
Founder Julian Assange of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks plans to run for a seat in the Australian Senate while under house arrest in the United Kingdom, according to an announcement made by his organization over the weekend. The next election is expected sometime late in 2013 at the earliest.
The lead story in Wired magazine for April exposed the Stellar Wind program for its intended purpose: to spy on every jot and tittle of every American citizen’s life all the way down to his “pocket litter:” parking-lot stubs, receipts from McDonalds, tickets from his haircut at Cost Cutters, as well as all the way up to the content of his every e-mail, every Google search, every telephone or cellphone conversation.
Last week PFC Bradley Manning’s lawyer submitted a motion to dismiss the case against his client. Manning, who is accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks, is charged with 22 crimes, including giving aid to the enemy as defined in the Espionage Act (18 USC Chapter 37).
In the little town of Bluffdale, Utah, between the Wasatch Range and the Oquirrh Mountains, the National Security Agency (NSA) is building what will be the nation's largest spy center, reports Wired, a print magazine and online publication reporting on technological developments and their effects, including electronic privacy. Dubbed the Utah Data Center, the project is already employing thousands of hardhat workers in its construction and will soon have some 10,000 construction workers building a data center that will be more than five times the size of the nation's capitol, Wired reports.
March 16 is the birthday of James Madison, known as the "Father of the Constitution." Several years ago, the American Society of News Editors initiated a program called Sunshine Week, intended to coincide with the birthday of this illustrious Founding Father. The purpose of Sunshine Week was "to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy."
Frequently, the most important news items are not those that make the front page, but rather those details that are, when reported at all, relegated to the back pages. The November 22, 2011 Presidential Debate may be an example of this. The final question asked of the Republican presidential candidates that evening was posed by Mark Teese, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Unfortunately, there has been very little follow-up on this topic at the subsequent Presidential Debates.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not afraid of congressional oversight into its domestic spying program. Last week, DHS Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan and Director of Operations Coordination and Planning Richard Chavez testified before the House Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Intelligence, and their testimony was alarming to those concerned about the near constant assault by the federal government on the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment in particular.