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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-10-11 02:36 AM
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1986 Privacy Law Is Outrun by the Web
SAN FRANCISCO Concerned by the wave of requests for customer data from law enforcement agencies, Google last year set up an online tool showing the frequency of these requests in various countries. In the first half of 2010, it counted more than 4,200 in the United States.

Google is not alone among Internet and telecommunications companies in feeling inundated with requests for information. Verizon told Congress in 2007 that it received some 90,000 such requests each year. And Facebook told Newsweek in 2009 that subpoenas and other orders were arriving at the company at a rate of 10 to 20 a day.

As Internet services allowing people to store e-mails, photographs, spreadsheets and an untold number of private documents have surged in popularity, they have become tempting targets for law enforcement. That phenomenon became apparent over the weekend when it surfaced that the Justice Department had sought the Twitter account activity of several people linked to WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group.

Many Internet companies and consumer advocates say the main law governing communication privacy enacted in 1986, before cellphone and e-mail use was widespread, and before social networking was even conceived is outdated, affording more protection to letters in a file cabinet than e-mail on a server.

They acknowledge that access to information is important for fighting crime and terrorism, but say they are dealing with a patchwork of confusing standards that have been interpreted inconsistently by the courts, creating uncertainty.

Some people think Congress did a pretty good job in 1986 seeing the future, but that was before the World Wide Web, said Susan Freiwald, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and an expert in electronic surveillance law. The law cant be expected to keep up without amendments.

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Shagbark Hickory Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-14-11 07:31 PM
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1. I'd imagine they are overwhelmed beyond belief.
I'm involved in a small suit and our lawyer said he will try to get more information like deleted voicemail, details on google street view photos and other aerial photos. I'd imagine all these services are overwhelmed beyond belief with these requests. Not just from leo's but lawyers too.
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DemandProgress Donating Member (5 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-11 02:43 PM
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Last year, when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed a bill creating an Internet blacklist of sites Americans weren't allowed to visit (The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act), over 300,000 people signed Demand Progress's petition against the bill. After Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) called it a "bunker-buster cluster bomb" aimed at the Internet, the bill was dropped.
Until now. The new PROTECT-IP Act that Leahy recently proposed retains the censorship components from before, but under the new bill, it is also prohibited to "refer or link" to a blacklisted site; doing so would result in a blacklist order to stop.

More than 50,000 Demand Progress members have already signed our petition opposing the bill. Click to join now:

In February, Bryan McCarthy became the first American to be arrested for linking to other sites through his website,, now blocked by the Department of Homeland Security. He's still awaiting trial despite public outrage.

Under the new blacklist bill, the paragraph immediately above would be illegal. It's akin to the PATRIOT Act gag orders that make it illegal to talk about receiving a PATRIOT Act request (which turned out to let the government cover up thousands of illegal requests). Without the ability to talk about government power, there's no way for citizens to ensure this power isn't being misused.

This Internet censorship bill was undemocratic to begin with -- saying that Americans can't visit the same websites as Mexicans or Canadians makes a mockery of the First Amendment, but this new bill is just insane. Leahy had gone too far this time and it's up to us to stop him. You can click here to express your opposition.
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