November 20, 2012

Democrats in U.S. Senate: All Your Emails Has Belonged to US

Marc Comtois

From CNET:

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.

CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Here are some of the "highlights":
✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.

✭ Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans' correspondence stored on systems not offered "to the public," including university networks.

✭ Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant -- or subsequent court review -- if they claim "emergency" situations exist.

✭ Says providers "shall notify" law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they've been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.

✭ Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to "10 business days." This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.

Hey, you elected 'em America.

Of course, this won't apply if you work for the EPA. Meanwhile, and relatedly, Democrats are trumpeting their unprecedented voter-data-mining abilities and getting ready to deploy it again in two years. "If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you." Gives ya the warm and fuzzies, no?

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We can thank the PATRIOT Act for setting the stage for this to happen... nice bit of bipartisanship that was.

Posted by: jgardner at November 20, 2012 2:08 PM

Maybe time to drop gmail and set up my own encrypted mail server.

Subpoena? Heh...I don't know the encryption key...

Posted by: Patrick at November 20, 2012 2:14 PM

You shouldn't worry:

- if you got nothing to hide
- if you're not a terrorist
- if you're concerned about the security of this country

Fuhgeddaboudit! Don't worry about nuttin'! LMAO!

Posted by: Max D at November 20, 2012 2:31 PM

We'll see if Republicans truly believe in personal freedom, last I checked they still control the House and could block this legislation.

Posted by: Pat at November 20, 2012 2:52 PM

Pat, we already know Republicans don't believe in personal freedom, but if they block this legislation, it will be because of politics and not of principle.

Posted by: jgardner at November 20, 2012 3:33 PM

Most people do not understand that there is no expectation or guarantee of privacy on the Internet or World-Wide Web (WWW). Everything that is transmitted across the Internet is archived on WWW back-up servers so information can be retrieved and read by anyone. Google's spiders regularly crawl the web collecting information to index into searchable content. Because Internet transmittance depends on the first available open slot your information does not follow a straight-line path so an email from Rhode Island to Rhode Island might take a path through China and Norway getting archived in those countries WWW back-up servers before reaching the Rhode Island destination. Best way to communicate with another person is via an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Posted by: KenW at November 20, 2012 3:36 PM

"this won't apply if you work for the EPA"

Good job catching that, Marc. EPA Director Lisa Jackson, shining model of transparency.

So gov't should have unfettered, warrantless access to the mail of citizens but govt can hide what it's doing from its citizens? This is completely, dangerously upside down.

Posted by: Monique at November 20, 2012 7:33 PM

The road to serfdom is paved with regulations,mandates and self serving out of control "elected" officials. Amerika is becoming a reality.

Posted by: ANTHONY at November 20, 2012 11:00 PM

AYB, hehe. Nerd!

Marc, you act like this increased surviellance weren't started under the Bush administration. PATRIOT Act wasn't the half of what went on. Obama is only extending and codifying those practices as now business as usual, which should be alarming to civil libertarians (glad to see at least some over here are now concerned).

"[Bush] Administration Paper Defends Spy Program"

"If you voted this election season, President Obama almost certainly has a file on you." Gives ya the warm and fuzzies, no?

Now you're just tilting at windmills. Voter records are public info (ie which elections you voted in, party affiliation, etc). Both parties use them all the time. You're basically complaining that the Democrats are better than your party at microtargeting. (boohoo)

If you're generally concerned about the erosion of privacy, there are private firms that are much, much scarier.

"Acxiom is watching you"

Posted by: Russ at November 21, 2012 10:17 AM

Am I correct? I understand that to use encryption both the sender and receiver need to have the "key". I understand there is a "pass the key" system, but I don't understand it. Besides, if I place an order with Amazon, are they going to decrypt.

When I send a personal e-mail I do have "a reasonable expectation of privacy". It may be residing on a server somewhere, but who is going to bother to read it?

Re: Axciom. Can someone confirm or deny that Target now has cameras that "capture" incoming customers. Face recognition software then compares the pictures to Facebook.

I think I answered my own question:

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 21, 2012 1:02 PM

"Am I correct? I understand that to use encryption both the sender and receiver need to have the 'key'."

No, although that's the way traditional encryption works. Dual key or public key works a bit different (both explained here)...

"Can someone confirm or deny that Target now has cameras that 'capture' incoming customers. Face recognition software then compares the pictures to Facebook."

I found this...
"Facebook Facial Recognition Could Be Used by Retailers"

Posted by: Russ at November 21, 2012 1:52 PM

@Warrington Faust & Russ,

Actually Wal-Mart has the best operational facial recognition system in retail marketing today. Based on your shopping history, they know when you walk thru the door pass the “Greeter” what you are going to purchase and pretty much know what isles you will walk.

Radio Shack is another big database user of consumer information as at one time they gad the largest marketing and advertisement agency in the nation; “May I have your name and address for the warranty on the sales slip please???” That info was pumped into computer databases to monitor where sales ads should be mailed and what products sold best in certain neighborhoods.

The big gimmick to get you to give up your personally identifiable information is the customer appreciation or loyalty cards that provide 10% or more discounts when you shop CVS, Super Stop N’ Shop or State of RI Internet processing of Licenses and IDs via the web or other government or state entity; etc. where that information gets processed by a third party and sold via a fourth party vendor into a massive global tracking database.

Posted by: KenW at November 22, 2012 9:32 PM
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