Category Archives: Civil Liberties

No Fly List on Trial

Edward Hasbrouck is reporting daily from Ibrahim v. DHS, a fascinating and important case about the no-fly lists. Must-reads for anyone interested in privacy, civil liberties — or intending to attempt air travel.

Shocking day one event: TSA allegedly (and, day two suggests, in fact) prevented a key witness (a US citizen) for the complainant to fly to the trial to testify. At present the evidence is only hearsay; if the witness ever makes it to the trial–sounds like a bad thriller doesn’t it?–then we’ll have sworn testimony.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Right to Travel | Leave a comment

New Privacy Paper Posted

“PETs Must Be on a Leash”: How U.S. Law (and Industry Practice) Often Undermines and Even Forbids Valuable Privacy Enhancing Technology, forthcoming in the Ohio State Law Journal, just posted to SSRN.


U.S. law puts the onus on the individual to protect his or her own privacy with only a small number of exceptions (e.g. attorney-client privilege). In order to protect privacy, one usually has three possible strategies: to change daily behavior to avoid privacy-destroying cameras or online surveillance; to contract for privacy; or to employ Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) and other privacy-protective technologies. The first two options are very frequently unrealistic in large swaths of modern life. One would thus expect great demand for, and widespread deployment of, PETs and other privacy-protective technologies. But in fact that does not appear to be the case. This paper argues that part of the reason is a set of government and corporate policies which discourage the deployment of privacy technology. This paper describes some of those polices, notably: (1) requiring that communications facilities be wiretap-ready and engage in customer data retention; (2) mandatory identification both online and off; (3) technology-limiting rules; and also (4) various other rules that have anti-privacy side effects.

The paper argues that a government concerned with protecting personal privacy and enhancing user security against ID theft and other fraud should support and advocate for the widespread use of PETs. In fact, however, whatever official policy may be, by its actions the prevailing attitude of the U.S. government amounts to saying that PETs and other privacy protecting technology, must be kept on a leash.

A last-minute update reconsiders the argument in light of the Snowden revelations about the widespread dragnet surveillance conducted by the NSA.

Comments welcome!

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Internet Law, Writings | 1 Comment

Much Better Anti-NSA Video

This is more like it! (found via Cory Doctorow)

Earlier today: Anti-NSA PSA

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Lots of celebs in the video. I was a bit concerned that the first few were ancient. Then I thought it was a bit long. Neither seems well calculated to reach Millennials.

There will be a rally in DC on Oct. 26th at noon. You can also sign the petition.

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Proof Today’s GOP Would Shun Eisenhower

Here’s an Eisenhower quote from 1949 unearthed by Pogo Was Right:

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.

Hard to imagine Ike approving of the TSA.

Posted in Civil Liberties | 2 Comments

NSA Scandal: Anything is Plausible Now

CNET News, NSA disguised itself as Google to spy, say reports. It seems they are talking about a man-in-the-middle attack, based on a fake cryptographic certificate, which isn’t when you think about it so surprising. But when I read the headline, I imagined they’d run around with fake business cards impersonating Google staff.

And then there’s this one: Former Intelligence Analyst: Obama Was Wiretapped By NSA In 2004. I’d have marked this as ‘tinfoil’ a month ago. I still want to as the details seem pretty skimpy. But anything seems possible now.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Cryptography | 1 Comment

Their Lips Are Moving

6 Whopping Government Misstatements About NSA Spying | Threat Level |

Posted in Civil Liberties, Cryptography | Leave a comment