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"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

The Cost Of Public Four-Year College Has Risen 27 Percent Over Five Years | ThinkProgress
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:17 pm EDT, Aug 14, 2013

The price of attending a public four-year college has risen 27 percent beyond inflation over the past five years, according to the College Board. The costs have also gone up 24 percent at community colleges and 13 percent at private universities.

The Cost Of Public Four-Year College Has Risen 27 Percent Over Five Years | ThinkProgress


The Volokh Conspiracy » My Cato Brief in Support of The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Challenge to NSA Data Seizures
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:04 am EDT, Aug 14, 2013

Yesterday, Jim Harper of the Cato Institute and I filed an amicus brief in support of The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)’s challenge to the constitutionality of the NSA’s blanket seizures of private phone records.

The Volokh Conspiracy » My Cato Brief in Support of The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Challenge to NSA Data Seizures


Errata Security: Swartz was indeed persecuted, not prosecuted
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:17 pm EDT, Aug 13, 2013

In what's become a disturbing refrain of late, the crazy conspiracy theories of Internet activists have turned out to be right. The case against Aaron Swartz was more political persecution than criminal prosecution.

Errata Security: Swartz was indeed persecuted, not prosecuted


MemeStreams | Obama brings up Civil Liberties in campaign speech
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:37 pm EDT, Aug 13, 2013

Obama made a passing reference to civil liberties in a campaign speech this week.

We haven’t talked about what's at stake with respect to the Supreme Court.  We haven’t talked about what's at stake with respect to civil liberties.

OK - lets talk about that.

Recently events have largely invalidated my evaluation of Obama during the 2012 election cycle.

What political option do civil libertarians have left?

MemeStreams | Obama brings up Civil Liberties in campaign speech


The Volokh Conspiracy » The Problem With the Administration “White Paper” on the Telephony Metadata Program
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:44 pm EDT, Aug 12, 2013

On Friday, the Obama Administration released a “white paper” articulating its case for the legality of the NSA call records program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and under the Fourth Amendment. I found the “white paper” a somewhat frustrating read, as it is essentially a brief for the government’s side with no brief coming to oppose it. Although the white paper raises some interesting points, it also fails to confront counterarguments and address contrary caselaw.

My comments:

Some observations regarding the First Amendment chilling effects issue.

1. The whitepaper argues that court imposed rules that restrict the Government's access to the collected metadata substantially mitigate any First Amendment concern arising from the breadth of collection. This is almost a good argument. However, chilling effects have a lot to do with trust and the intersection between chilling effects and secret courts presents a challenge that is unaddressed here. Lets say the court authorized the NSA to access the data for a different reason. Lets say the court created different procedures for accessing the data. As an ordinary citizen, I would have no idea. In fact, the NSA may already be accessing the data for other reasons and misrepresenting this to the public, just as a few months ago the Director of National Intelligence misrepresented the fact that data was being collected at all.

Because there is no way for citizens to know, ultimately, what data is being collected, how the data is being used, or whether safeguards exist for accessing the data, "oh they're only using that to investigate terrorists" may not be a reasonable assumption for people to make, even if its really true. The lack of transparency coupled with public misrepresentations has created a trust vacuum which has its own chilling effects on First Amendment protected activities.

2. The reference to US v Ramsey is interesting - the idea that a warrant requirement for reading content during a border search limits the chilling effect of those searches on first amendment activity. While there is nothing technically wrong with way the reference is used here, its worth noting that the Fourth Circuit in United States vs. Ickes seemed to hold that the presence or absence of a warrant requirement for reading content has no bearing on a First Amendment analysis of border searches, so they are making an argument based on an observation that may be bunk in its original context. The Fourth Circuit suggested that law abiding citizens don't need to worry about suspicionless border searches of our First Amendment protected material because border agents don't have the time and resources to search every laptop. I personally don't find that very reassuring, but even if you do, the automated searches that the NSA can perform on collected data eliminate the rationalization that "they don't have enough time to bother with me," so a warrant requirement might be necessary here even if you don't think its necessary at the border.

The Volokh Conspiracy » The Problem With the Administration “White Paper” on the Telephony Metadata Program


Meshnet activists rebuilding the internet from scratch - tech - 08 August 2013 - New Scientist
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:21 pm EDT, Aug 12, 2013

Across the US, from Maryland to Seattle, work is underway to construct user-owned wireless networks that will permit secure communication without surveillance or any centralised organisation. They are known as meshnets and ultimately, if their designers get their way, they will span the country.

Dan Ryan is one of the leaders of the Seattle Meshnet project, where sparse coverage already exists thanks to radio links set up by fellow hackers. Those links mean that instead of communicating through commercial internet connections, meshnetters can talk to each other through a channel that they themselves control.

Meshnet activists rebuilding the internet from scratch - tech - 08 August 2013 - New Scientist


Lawfare › Reflections on NSA Oversight, and a Prediction That NSA Authorities (and Oversight, and Transparency) Will Expand
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:03 pm EDT, Aug  9, 2013

Two important lessons of the last dozen years are (1) the government will increase its powers to meet the national security threat fully (because the People demand it), and (2) the enhanced powers will be accompanied by novel systems of review and transparency that seem to those in the Executive branch to be intrusive and antagonistic to the traditional national security mission, but that in the end are key legitimating factors for the expanded authorities.  This was true, I argued in Power and Constraint, about habeas review of GTMO detentions, enhanced congressional and judicial oversight of military commissions, the 2008 amendments to FISA, and greater public transparency and congressional oversight of targeted killing by UAV (a process still in flux).  And it will be true of expanded NSA authorities as the NSA’s vital capabilities become even more important to our security.  In this sense, the Snowden revelations – to the extent that they force NSA to open up, and to get used to greater public scrutiny, and to avoid excesses, and to recalibrate its understanding of the tradeoffs between openness and security – might one day be seen to have paved the way to broader NSA powers.

Lawfare › Reflections on NSA Oversight, and a Prediction That NSA Authorities (and Oversight, and Transparency) Will Expand


United States v. U.S. District Court - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:27 am EDT, Aug  9, 2013

People in the intel establishment think that this unanimous court decision was a travesty of justice and a victory of radicalism.

United States v. U.S. District Court - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Why a former NSA chief just made a big mistake by dissing hackers
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:25 pm EDT, Aug  7, 2013

“If the bureaucrats in Washington could get the core principles that protect the privacy of Americans distilled out of the secret FISA court opinions, and presented in a bill that makes its way through our increasingly ineffective Congress, maybe we wouldn’t have a problem with our youth becoming so nihilistic and distrusting of government,” Levay argued, adding, ”[m]aybe then, when Hayden’s successor, General Alexander, is speaking to the community he himself calls ‘the technical foundation of our world’s communications’, he wouldn’t find himself heckled by people who believe they are being lied to.”

Rattle blasts Hayden and Congress in WaPo.

Why a former NSA chief just made a big mistake by dissing hackers


Former NSA chief warns of cyber-terror attacks if Snowden apprehended | Technology | theguardian.com
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:21 am EDT, Aug  7, 2013

Former NSA Chief misunderstands his opponents so completely that he actually thinks that they would be more upset about Snowden's arrest than they are about the programs that he revealed, and are likely to tear the Internet down if Snowden is apprehended.

Frankly, I don't know whether this is hilarious, offensive, or infuriating.

"If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?" said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years".

Nihilists? Why would nihilists care about Snowden? They're nihilists Hayden! They don't believe in anything!

Former NSA chief warns of cyber-terror attacks if Snowden apprehended | Technology | theguardian.com


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