Privacy, Censorship and Government

This is old. Real old. Many links are broken, and some have just been removed to keep Google happy. So if you find a link to nowhere, that's why.


The Smirking Chimp

Dubya's World

Too Stupid To Be President

My First Presidentiary

Dubya's Dayly Diary

Now that I'm not employed (and due to this have been blessed with even more time to waste on the internet), I find myself reading a lot more about the issues on privacy, censorship, and general government intrusion into our lives. Is this something that automatically happens when you don't have a job? It's obvious that more than a few of the people involved in this go a wee-bit over the edge on conspiracy theories and such stuff. I hope this isn't just one of those "gateway" interests that will just lead to harder anti-government beliefs. There ought to be a law.

There's a lot of alarming stuff going on. This page provides some general information on what is happening, as well as links to some of the more important sites that are involved in trying to fix the mess.

There won't be much new anti-Shrubya stuff, that's just too easy. Just look in the box to the right, then I'll be done with it. Well, maybe just this one last comment: it sure seems like a lot of the Bush humor sites have been disappearing lately. Coincidence?

911 footnote:

Most of this was put together before Sept. 11, and now it's safe to also include the War on Iraq that's about to start. It wasn't PC to make fun of GW for a while, but it didn't last long. It caused me to put up this section, which used to be sort of a disclaimer. GW the person didn't change, but what surrounds him did. He got a lot of support because of Sept. 11. But GW still says stupid things, so the links to humor about him stay.

This is definitely a time to be concerned about government intrusion and privacy rights. People are willing to give up a lot in the wake of an event like the WTC bombings, and the government often moves quickly to take advantage of these types of situations. One bill was passed in just 30 minutes -- normally this would have taken months, if it had passed at all. Other bills are being proposed to further limit privacy while public support is high. Stay on watch.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

Links on this page

 News Summaries - Go to my blog for the latest news and news links


Censorship (in a broad sense)
 Fair Use

Out of Bounds? - Some scary stories

The Missing Links Home Page

Ways to get off this page





EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.

EPIC's front page gives a good news summary of current events. It is great for a quick view of important items. Links from the home page give backgrounds, bill tracking, former secrets, and links to privacy tools and resources. It is designed for research and you need to have an idea what you are looking for to use it. Or have a lot of time to kill.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was created to defend our rights to think, speak, and share our ideas, thoughts, and needs using new technologies, such as the Internet and the World Wide Web. EFF is the first to identify threats to our basic rights online and to advocate on behalf of free expression in the digital age.

Based in San Francisco, EFF is a donor-supported membership organization working to protect our fundamental rights regardless of technology; to educate the press, policymakers and the general public about civil liberties issues related to technology; and to act as a defender of those liberties. Among our various activities, EFF opposes misguided legislation, initiates and defends court cases preserving individuals' rights, launches global public campaigns, introduces leading edge proposals and papers, hosts frequent educational events, engages the press regularly, and publishes a comprehensive archive of digital civil liberties information at one of the most linked-to websites in the world.

The removed history of the EFF was kind on interesting too. Many of the Barlow links have gone missing. This one was: "".


CAFE - The Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression (CAFE) existed (now it is gone) to empower the creative community in the digital age by protecting the public's access to and use of audiovisual technologies.

Help us stop the movie industry attack on open software development. Join EFF today!

Stop Carnivore - Carnivore/DCS1000 is an electronic "wiretapping" tool, currently in use by the FBI.

Details of how the system works are short on specifics. What is known is that Carnivore/DCS1000 would be installed at the suspect's Internet service provider to scan all incoming and outgoing emails--including sender and recipient addresses as well as subject lines--for messages related to a criminal probe. And while the system, a sophisticated combination of hardware and proprietary software, can perform fine-tuned searches, it is also capable of broad sweeps, potentially enabling the agency to keep tabs on all of the network's communications.

"The FBI is placing a black box inside the computer network of an ISP," Dempsey told the Associated Press. "Not even the ISP knows exactly what that gizmo is doing."

There was more on Carnivore at the PBS page "", but they have removed it. The message is "PBS no longer has the rights to distribute the content that had been provided on this page."


"Imagine that the police had the right to seize your property -- your home, your car, your business, your cash -- and you hadn't even been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime. Believe it or not, under the law of civil or asset forfeiture, such conduct by the police is perfectly legal."

So began the (now removed: ACLU's forfeiture page.

Their site gives a good overview of the law along with a number of examples (bail money confiscated because a dog sniffed drugs on it, cash confiscated at an airport because the owner fit the profile of a drug dealer).

A series of other forfeiture stories are available at F.E.A.R.'s Victim short stories.

The ACLU gives the following description of forfeiture:

"The modern era of civil asset forfeiture flows from the ... archaic legal notion that inanimate objects can be found guilty and condemned without the government having to observe basic concepts of due process of the law. No criminal arrest or conviction is necessary to subject property to forfeiture. Indeed, nearly 80 percent of the victims of forfeiture have never been indicted of a crime. All the police have to do is satisfy a requirement of probable cause that the property was used in an illicit activity or was purchased with funds from illicit activity. And ... given the fact that most American paper currency is tainted with trace elements of cocaine, this gives the government the power and the authority to seize people's cash without any actual evidence of wrongdoing."

This is one of the scariest trends taking place because forfeiting property without a conviction undermines the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

According the the U.S. Marshal's Service web site, "The Marshals Service has disbursed over $1.9 billion to domestic law enforcement agencies and foreign governments through equitable sharing." This, of course, does not include amounts confiscated by other police agencies.

Further information can be obtained at:


This is a bit of a mess because it's really old. The site no longer exists, and that is where many of the links in this section pointed to. So the links have been removed and the pictures are gone. If this is of interest to you, there's enough information remaining for you to find out more.

Try the EFF's DMCA section.

The following is from the Anti-DMCA site. It sounds a little over-zealous, but the basic concept seems right in that they hit on a lot of the hot buttons. Their news section is good. All of the items listed at the bottom are references to earlier news stories, not just slogans.

The corporations are taking over, buying Unconstitutional laws and even forcing other countries to comply. We are losing our books, Constitutional Rights and Libraries. This cannot continue.

We are fighting back.

You must understand this is a much larger issue than just the DMCA. This goes all the way to the top. Look, they even have a new Corporate Constitution: WTO + WIPO = DMCA. However, we will start with the laws and issues affecting us and work up. We are the people, therefore we will regain control.

Russian Computer Scientist arrested.

Princeton Professor threatened.

Librarians == Terrorists?

Trust Microsoft? Anti-Trust?

FBI spying on Judges?

Illegal to link to source code.

Corporations buying Unconstitutional laws.

It's time to take back the net!

Fair Use

A very good background article which was originally published in the Baltimore Sun on Fair Use and laws that are beginning to eliminate it (now gone) "".


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (link gone) bans the creation or distribution of technology that can be used to circumvent copyright protection.

Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, 26, is the first to face criminal charges of violating this controversial copyright law.

Sklyarov wrote a program that allows people who purchase books in digital form and use Adobe Systems Inc.'s eBook Reader to make copies of the book, as well as transfer it to other computers.

The Russian does not deny writing the program and even gave a presentation on it at the recent Defcon hackers' convention in Las Vegas, the largest of its kind in the world, just before he was arrested.

Critics charge that the new copyright law, which took effect last year, violates the free speech rights of the U.S. Constitution. They also claim the law eliminates online "fair use" provisions of established copyright law that allow people to use material for educational and artistic purposes.

Here is the NY Times' take on it.

Another side effect of the DMCA is on security. The following is from w00w00! (, the "world's largest non-profit security team":

We'd like to take a moment and make an important point. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the environment of the security industry has changed for the worse. Most major vendors and security companies have all switched their policies to limited disclosure, leaving the end users still vulnerable to serious software flaws. Why? Two big reasons: the DMCA and a change in the corporate view of "information anarchy." First, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act affects circumvention of anti-piracy mechanisms and reverse engineering. If a product is released in binary form only (i.e., AOL Instant Messenger) to protect its technologies and one attempts to reverse engineer the file, it's a violation of the DMCA.

Out of Bounds -- Some Scary Stuff

Some people say that there is no need to protect your e-mails or files from police observation (see Carnivore) because they aren't doing anything wrong. The problem is that the definition of what's "wrong" can change or maybe just be a big surprise to you. The following are some examples of the government going maybe just a little to far in their efforts to protect us from ourselves.

Prison for Dance Promoter

A March 7, 2001 Article titled (removed link was "") "Censorship is Latest Drug War Tactic as Government Seeks to Put "Rave" Dance Music Promoters in Prison."

The short story is that a music promoter and a concert hall manager face up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines simply for staging the electronic dance music events known as "raves". The prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is part of a novel -- and entirely unconstitutional -- strategy to curtail use of the drug Ecstasy, which has been associated with raves, by using federal 'crack house' laws. Holding club owners and promoters criminally liable for what some people may do at these events is no different from arresting the stadium owners and promoters of a rock or jazz show because some concert-goers might do.

Calif. Vehicle Seizure Law Stands

SAN FRANCISCO - The state Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling allowing police to seize vehicles suspected of use in crimes such as drug dealing or soliciting a prostitute.

Without comment, a majority of justices Wednesday decided not to hear the American Civil Liberties Union's challenge to Oakland's 1997 vehicle seizure law.

Under the law, a car can be confiscated even if the crime suspect using the vehicle is acquitted, or the car's owner was unaware of the crime. The measure exceeds state and federal standards.

The ACLU argued that cities looking to profit from seizures would enact similar measures.

So far, Sacramento has put a comparable law on its books but San Francisco lawmakers shelved the idea last month, concluding it was unconstitutional.

Since passing the "nuisance abatement" act, Oakland has collected, sold and kept the profits from 300 cars.

The impetus "was really complaints from certain communities which were essentially drive-thru sex-and-drug bazaars. People were sick of having lines of cars in their streets with this activity going on," said Oakland Deputy City Attorney Pelayo Llamas.

Vehicle Forfeiture of a Parked Car

The Minnesota Appeals Court has upheld the forfeiture of a $40,000 sport-utility vehicle whose owner was arrested on a drunken-driving charge as he listened to music in the vehicle in his driveway. Full story

Public laws owned by the public? Think again, copyright rulings show

This ruling may have been overturned, see

In an article about who owns the law (the link no longer works ""), it turns out that many building codes are owned by a private corporation. You can't read them unless you pay to buy the book that contains the code (or maybe you can browse it in your local library). ). At the same time, the government is enforcing a code that you can't get from them -- but ignorance is no excuse and all that, so pay to read the laws or get fined.