[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2010-02-08

FBI wants records kept of web sites

Filed under: Privacy — bblackmoor @ 20:08

The FBI is pushing to require ISPs to keep records on every web site visited by every American, so that there will be plenty of evidence if they ever decide to persecute someone (and no, that is not a typo). Of course! Why not? It’s not like we have any right to privacy, or presumption of innocence, or protection against unreasonable searches. We are all just one stroke of a pen away from having our lives ruined: guilt and innocence are anachronistic relics.

I remember when you tell the “bad guys” in movies because they demanded “papers” any time someone was traveling or was suspected of, well, anything. Now try traveling in your own “free” country, or earning an honest living, without showing “papers”.

I am glad that I was able to see the USA when it was at its best: votes for women, equal rights for (most) minorities, being able to earn an honest living without showing “papers” or being submitted to humiliating medical tests, being able to get on an airplane without worrying if there is a bottle of shampoo in your carry-on luggage…

I hope I die before this whole thing runs its course. I am glad that I do not have children.

Thursday, 2009-12-10

An it harm none…

Filed under: Books,Privacy — bblackmoor @ 11:17

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” — Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819

“Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will.” — Doreen Valiente, 1964

“I never hurt nobody but myself and that’s nobody business but by own.” — Billie Holiday

If you have not read it (or not read it lately), I suggest you spend some time with Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, by Peter McWilliams.

Tuesday, 2009-12-08

Presumption of guilt: Your rights when it comes to data encryption

Filed under: Privacy,Security — bblackmoor @ 14:28

Chad Perrin has a short article on TechRepublic giving a back-of-the-napkin overview on encryption as it is viewed by the courts. It is worth checking out and clicking the relevant links.

Friday, 2009-11-13

Judge rules collecting DNA from federal suspects unconstitutional

Filed under: Privacy — bblackmoor @ 12:59

I learned about this from Bayou Renaissance Man:

A federal judge in Pittsburgh says that collecting DNA from a person simply arrested for a crime and not yet convicted is unconstitutional.

In a 20-page opinion issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone wrote that the idea of comparing DNA collection to fingerprinting — as government attorneys have done — is “pure folly.”

“Such oversimplification ignores the complex, comprehensive, inherently private information contained in a DNA sample,” the judge wrote.

The biological material can reveal predisposition to thousands of genetic conditions, he went on, as well as identify genetic markers for traits like aggression, sexual orientation and criminal tendencies.

The Department of Justice issued a rule that took effect in January requiring that all federal arrestees have their DNA collected and cataloged.

That rule was challenged here in July, when Ruben Mitchell, who faces drug charges, asked the court to block collection.

While a variety of courts have upheld the collection of DNA post-conviction, it is a new issue for arrestees.

There has been one other decision on the issue — in the Eastern District of California, where a judge ruled that the collection is not an infringement of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

But in his opinion, Judge Cercone fully disagreed with that court, saying that neither the judge nor the government, “addresses the moral polestar of our criminal justice system — the presumption of innocence.”

If law enforcement officers believe the collection of DNA can help solve a past or ongoing crime, nothing stops them from seeking a search warrant and obtaining the material, the judge said.

Attorneys for the U.S. attorney’s office argued that Mr. Mitchell already has a diminished expectation of privacy — his cell is searched and his phone calls are recorded — because he is being held in jail pending trial.

But Judge Cercone did not agree that that allows for DNA collection.

“Though pretrial detainees have a diminished expectation of privacy as it relates to legitimate penological interests, the Fourth Amendment does not stop at the jailhouse door,” he wrote.

As for the government’s argument that DNA collection is another tool for identification, the judge said it is more than that.

“[It] represents a quantum leap that is entirely unnecessary for identification purposes,” he wrote. “The only reasonable use of DNA is investigative, it is not an identification science it is an information science. The identification issue in this instance is a red herring, as there is no compelling reason to require a DNA sample in order to ‘identify’ an arrestee.”

(from Judge rules collecting DNA from federal suspects unconstitutional, Post-Gazette)

Well, duh. Looks to me that someone in the Department of Justice has bought into the “if the government does it, it’s not illegal” fallacy. I hope that the Supreme Court rules on this one sooner, rather than later. It’s a pity that people in positions of power can openly violate the Constitution like this without any repercussions at all.

Monday, 2009-10-19

Gangsters like Blackberries

Filed under: Privacy,Technology — bblackmoor @ 17:25

ZDNet has an article title, “Blackberry the choice of organized crime“.

Gangs know what encryption is. They are using it in force at the street level, let alone at the very top. Rim’s BlackBerries are the ultimate in security for them. Everything is secured and impossible to monitor by police.

The gist of the article appears to be that encryption is bad, because there are bad people who use it.

“Only in a police state is the job of a policeman easy.”

Yes, criminals can and do benefit from the same civil rights as law-abiding people. This is not and shall never be a valid reason to deprive anyone of those rights, despite the absurd “security” at airports, the warrantless wiretaps by our Federal government, and the nigh-universal pre-employment “drug testing” humiliation of job applicants, all of which have become accepted by the somnambulistic American citizenry.

The pendulum has swung much too far in the direction of invasions of privacy by government and by employers (or even just potential employers). It is time for that pendulum to swing back.

Write to your government representatives, and demand that they respect the privacy of the people they ostensibly represent.

Refuse to consent to pre-employment drug testing (and post-employment drug testing, unless they have a damned good reason for asking — curiosity and “company policy” are not good reasons).

Be an American, not a sheep.

Monday, 2009-06-22

Kerckhoffs’ Principles

Filed under: Privacy,Security — bblackmoor @ 16:03

Many cryptographers and other security experts are familiar with what has come to be known as Kerckhoffs’ Principle. Many, however, do not know that there are actually six such principles. The core ideas of these principles are still relevant today, more than 125 years after he first articulated them.

  1. The system should be, if not theoretically unbreakable, unbreakable in practice.
  2. The design of a system should not require secrecy and compromise of the system should not inconvenience the correspondents (Kerckhoffs’ principle).
  3. The key should be memorable without notes and should be easily changeable.
  4. The cryptograms should be transmittable by telegraph.
  5. The apparatus or documents should be portable and operable by a single person.
  6. The system should be easy, neither requiring knowledge of a long list of rules nor involving mental strain.

(from Six principles of practical ciphers, TechRepublic)

City of Bozeman, MT, takes next logical step in the dismantling of your privacy

Filed under: Privacy — bblackmoor @ 10:11

The Rocky Mountain city instructs all job applicants to divulge their usernames and passwords for “any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.” Bozeman city officials say that this is just a component of a thorough background check.
(from City wants job applicants to turn over Facebook user names and passwords, TechRepublic)

We really should not be surprised. Where was the outrage when employers started demanding potential employees — not even employees, merely applicants — consent to the humiliating and offensive invasion of privacy called “drug testing”? Where was the indignation, and the universal refusal to comply?

Where were the libertarian groups, the civil rights groups, the lawmakers and lobbyists who pretend to defend the rights of citizens against the abuse of those in power?

Nowhere. I and a handful of other people refused to submit to such debasement, but the rest of you sheep went along with it, and now good luck finding an employer who doesn’t demand it.

You sheep made this bed. Get ready to lay in it.

Friday, 2009-03-13

Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria to weaken privacy protection

Filed under: Privacy — bblackmoor @ 10:10

It is a sad day.

Friday, 2008-07-11

Avoid the iPhone 3G

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Privacy,Technology — bblackmoor @ 00:44

The 5 real reasons to avoid iPhone 3G

  • iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.
  • iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
  • iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
  • iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
  • iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the FreeRunner ().

We can trade our freedom and our money to get something flashy on the surface, or we can spend a little more money, keep our freedom, and support a better kind of business. If we want businesses to be ethical, we have to reward the ones that are. By not enriching companies that want to take away our freedom and by rewarding those that respect us, we will be helping to bring about a better future.

In solidarity,

John, Josh, Matt, and Peter

(from Defective By Design)

Saturday, 2008-04-12

Drug testing should be illegal!

Filed under: Privacy,Society — bblackmoor @ 08:56

I am so sick of being treated like a criminal, being humiliated and having my most intimate personal life violated, every time I apply for a job. Twenty, or even ten, years ago, the employers who considered it their right to humiliate potential employees were the exception. I could, and did, tell them that no one with any self respect would consent to such treatment by their employer, and walked out. Today, it has become the norm. If you walk away from employers who demand to pry into your personal life, you don’t work.

This is an egregious violation of basic human rights — is not dignity and the sanctity of one’s person the most basic of all human rights? We are people, not farm animals to be poked and prodded and tested and forced to submit samples of our bodily fluids for absolutely no reason. If the standards of quality at ConHugeCo are so low that they can’t tell the drunk/high employees from the ones who are doing their jobs, then something is Seriously Wrong at ConHugeCo, and humiliating their employees will not fix that!

In the 1970s, a law was passed in the USA making it ILLEGAL for an employer to require a lie detector test, while now, 30 years later, it is simply taken for granted that employees will submit to the humiliation of drug testing before being allowed to work. How far we have fallen in such a short time!

Where is the outrage? Why am I the only person who looks at this monstrous trend and denounces it, while everyone else meekly submits or blithely makes excuses for it? This is a sad, sad statement on the “the land of the free”.

Please write to your Federal and state legislators, asking them to sponsor legislation to put an end to this gross abuse of employer power. Congress.org has a simple form that will automatically find and email your Federal and state representatives.

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