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ACLU Joins Fight Against Internet Surveillance 158

aychamo writes "The American Civil Liberties Union today joined an expanding group of organizations filing lawsuits against a new rule that increases the FBI's power to conduct surveillance on the Internet. The rule being challenged is one the Federal Communications Commission adopted in September, granting an FBI request to expand wiretapping authority to online communications.he ACLU charged in a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the ruling goes beyond the authority of CALEA, which specifically exempted information services. "The ACLU seeks review of the CALEA order on the grounds that it exceeds the FCC's statutory authority and is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, unsupported by substantial evidence, or otherwise contrary to law," the organization charged in its petition."
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ACLU Joins Fight Against Internet Surveillance

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:48PM (#14168196)

    From TFA:
    Separately, The American Council on Education filed a court challenge arguing that compliance with the rules would require colleges and universities to spend $7 billion in upgrading switches and routers.

    Here's [] a good reference on just what will be required for universities to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA),and the resultant costs involved.
    • At this point the only people monitoring my University's network traffic are bored CS students. However, if that kind of deal came into effect I don't think the already cash strapped department could handle the added weight. Hell, half their staff or more at this point are student oncampus work-study jobs.
  • Encryption (Score:5, Funny)

    by jimmyhat3939 ( 931746 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:50PM (#14168218) Homepage
    I avoid this problem altogether by encrypting my phone conversations with AES-256 grade encryption. It took a few months for me and all of my friends to learn to do the encryption on our voices in real-time, but now it works great and we have no fear of the FBI whatsoever!
    • Yes, but do you run linux?
    • I have analyzed your conversions in depth. While your AES encryption itself is fine, your conversations are not secure.

      Your random number generator used to choose keys has serious problems, meaning that the total keyspace a brute force attack needs to search is less than 2^8.

      In most conversations you have forgotten to discard the early bits, which further leaks information about the key used. This is an ongoing problem that you have not made progress in correcting.

      Your key exchange algorithm is flawed

  • by thekel ( 909848 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:51PM (#14168223)
    After all, how long can we maintain the 1st with out it?
    • Unfortunately, aiming your 2nd protected piece at an FBI agent or other government official wiretapping your email/phone conversations will pretty much strip you of all 10 - including that fair trial one.
    • Well, according to the text of the amendment, only as long as we find it neccessary to the security of a free state to maintain a a well regulated militia. Which would be, what, 1865?
      • "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." It is stating it is necessary. What law school did you go to?
        • I go to good one. That doesn't matter, though.

          Isn't it pretty well estbalished that the federal government can abridge our rights to gun ownership, provided that it does not relate to the use or estbalishment of a well-regulated milita. Check out U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 at 178 ("In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of [a shotgun] at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second
      • by linuxrunner ( 225041 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:38PM (#14168684) Homepage
        You're kidding right? I hope so, but just in case:

        "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
        the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

        Let me break it down:
          "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,"

        Basically says, that any country (state, etc) to remain FREE must have a well maintained army (militia).. Ok... Now with that out of the way

        "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
        Means that, just because we have a military, doesn't mean we're safe, so thereofre the right of "the people", that's us, the average person, will not be infringed. Why? Because the Brittish just tried to take our guns away so we couldn't win the war. We wouldn't give them up, and fought back.

        Without guns, we could not stand up against our government.

        The 2nd Amendment is actually quite simple. If you just read it. This is why they use "the people" in the Second Amendment, to mean everyday people.. you and me... just like they used in the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendment too!

        Or maybe the right to free speech was only really meant for government officials?
        • That's a comma, not a semicolon.
        • But by that definition, the draft is legal.

          A militia is defined as:

          1: An army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers.
          2: A military force that is not part of a regular army and is subject to call for service in an emergency.
          3: The whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service.

          Therefore, if the right to keep and bear arms is because a well regulated militia is necessary, then the gov't can maintain (or raise) an army of citizens.

        • The ratifiers of the Bill of Rights agreed that a militia, not just an "army", is necessary to "the security of a free State". A militia, even in that time, was not a standing army, like the British one that had been quartered in private homes by royal command - an abuse that was addressed specifically elsewhere in the Bill of Rights. They said the US (a free state, unlike the colonies or the parent Britain) needed a militia - fighters both quartered and equipped largely privately, especially in peacetime,
          • >We do not have a militia, and unorganized people not enlisted in
            >"state security" are neither a militia nor necessary to the defense
            >of a free state.

            >But unless it's revised to protect a right for any American to own and use a gun without restriction, these contrived versions by 2nd Amendment fetishists are baseless. And dangerous to our security.

            You are correct - today, there is no militia. But there is /supposed/ to be a militia.

            What the founding fathers intended, based on other writings of
            • While I agree with your logic, your last couple of statements are a bit laughable. Can you imagine a revolt with privately owned guns in this day and age?

              "Hey Billy-Bob, we're gonna go overthrow the government. You stand here and when the STEALTH F*CKING BOMBER comes over that hill and tries to drop a 500lb smart bomb on your ass, try to shoot him first with your Vietnam surplus .50 cal machine gun."

              I think the point you should be trying to make is that the majority of the military needs to divided up and
              • I used to feel the same way, but think of it in the long term. If you're going to use military force to keep your citizens in order, that's occupation by a military dictatorship. And as we've seen in cases such as Vietnam and Iraq, they still manage to inflict damage over the long term. Now take the population of either of those countries and multiply it many times, and you see where your argument fails.
            • How come the insane anti-American tyrannists who favor guns also favor Bush's trashing the Posse Comitatus Act, which prevents Bush from commandeering National Guards and effectively invading American states, without the required invitation of the state governor?

              You try to make a practical argument for private guns, to oppose the Federal military. But the practical reality is that such ragtag opposition would be mowed down - the best we could hope for is an Iraq-style meatgrinder. And I can't compare Americ
        • Look, I have no problem with people having guns. I think that comes under privacy rights. But ...

          You're performing a semantic trick there by separating a sentence in the middle which is meant to be whole, as it is written. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." You want it say two things: (1) A militia is necessary to the the security of a free state. (2) Arms are also necessary for individuals, outsi
    • If ONLY the first amendment were as vehemently and stridently defended as the second amendment is defended in the USA... That would be a country I'd be wavin' flags for.
    • Each cause has its own lobby. The 1st and 4th amendments, in particular, have the ACLU. The 2nd has the NRA.

      The ACLU doesn't need to protect the 2nd, given how hard the NRA fights for it.
  • Tough Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gbulmash ( 688770 ) * <> on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:52PM (#14168231) Homepage Journal
    This is always a tough question. The argument goes that the more surveilance power we give law enforcement, the more ability they have to prevent crime. OTOH, I'm probably mangling the quote, but "those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither" makes sense as well. The more power we give the government to invade our lives, the more they'll use it.

    • "The more power we give the government to invade our lives, the more they'll use it."

      And yet strangely, many want to trust the government with their health care.

      • And also strangely, those that don't want to trust the government with health care, are more than willing to trust the government to carry out capital punishment.
        • I don't understand how capital punishment relates to trusting those who mete out punishment in this instance. Juries/judges mete out capital punishment not the .gov.
          • Juries/judges mete out capital punishment not the .gov.

            That's got to be one of the funniest dumb things I've read on slashdot this week.

            A.) Judges are permanent employess of the government. Jury memebers are, effectively, temporary employees of the governemnt. Perhaps the distinction you meant to draw was between the prosecuting and ruling arms of the legal system. But they're all, still, part of the government. (Just as the defenes lawyer will be, if you're not wealthy enough to employ your own.)


            • "Permanent employees"? Partner, your generalizing. Look around, this is not the case everywhere. "Temporary employees"? This doesn't even need rebuttal but I'll entertain it. The prosecution and defense both have a chance to vet jurors.
              • Okay, okay, my serious point (in my experience from both sides, a fair number of judges (at least in North Carolina) don't even avoid the "appearance of impartiality") was obscured by my semantic point (that judges, defense lawyers & jurors are all working for the same person as the prosecution, that being the government). Just call me IBM.
        • Re:Tough Question (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:06PM (#14168376)
          > And also strangely, those that don't want to trust the government with health care, are more than willing to trust the government to carry out capital punishment.

          In the past century, governments have racke dup 180,000,000 deaths [].

          Trusting a government with health care is strange. Trusting the government with killing is simply a matter of recognizing a core competency.

        • Since criminal defendents are guaranteed a trial by jury, it is "the people" not "the government" that decides capital punishment. The govt merely allows it and throws the switch (which is better than lynching).

          Also, health care affects everyone, capital punishment only affects those who get caught...
    • Re:Tough Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:56PM (#14168266)
      The more power we give the government to invade our lives, the more they'll use it.

      What do you mean "will use it"? Ever been to the US since september 11, 2001?
      • Re:Tough Question (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Bingo Foo ( 179380 )
        The more power we give the government to invade our lives, the more they'll use it.

        What do you mean "will use it"? Ever looked at the withholdings on your paycheck?

      • Ever been to the US since september 11, 2001?

        No, as a Canadian, I haven't, and, sadly, it's looking unlikely that I will be again.

      • And your statement is complete BS.

        Here is why:

        there were 16,500 homicides in 2003

        "Nearly 71 percent of the 2003 murders involved use of a firearm, with 13 percent involving knives or other cutting instruments. Blunt objects, hands and feet also were used."

        there were 42,642 auto fatalities in 2002, 17,013 of which were alcohol related. []

        16,204 murders took place in 2002 []

        according to wiki []
        there were on 2986 deaths on 9/11.

        This means that every year roughly 5.5 times the number are murdered
        (most by guns). Care to
    • Re:Tough Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Prospero's Grue ( 876407 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:01PM (#14168327)
      The more power we give the government to invade our lives, the more they'll use it.

      I'm not really opposed to granting law-enforcement the power to do surveillence on e-mail, traffic, or what-have-you - but it's ridiculous that every proposal that comes forward to expand police powers also involves no oversight or accountability.

      If you think I'm a criminal and you want my ISP to disclose my e-mails then call a judge, present your evidence, get a warrant, collect the e-mails, notify me that I'm under investigation, and we're all set. The same as it works with everything else.

      The hypocricy that comes with "we need to expand the law so the police have the same powers over this new-fangled technology thing" and "we must not extend the oversight principles while we're at it" is mind-boggling.

    • that the more surveilance power we give law enforcement, the more ability they have to prevent crime.

      It also offers a greater opportunity to commit crime. This isn't something that needs a lot of posturing and theorizing, because it has already happened.

      Let's also talk about crime prevention. The notion of prevention, taken to extreme, will annihilate certain constitutionally-guaranteed rights. There's no such thing as "too much" prevention, because there's no way you can prove that the absence of a certai
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and I didn't speak up because I wasn't using alot of 'T's. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me and I had to buy a vowel.
  • I fully expect a lot of comments to come down on the side of the FBI and of more survellience and restriction on our liberties for the simple reason that the "evil" ACLU is on the other side.

    Nevermind them. Yay ACLU. Keep up the good work.

    • Good God! One step closer at the US Government controlling all data transmissions. I do believe that the internet is one way that we all can find out the truth about many goings-on in the world (without any media bias). does this mean if the US Government doesn't like what it reads online, then it will block/change/warn/go after either the data transmission, the originator of the information, or all four?
  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jimktrains ( 838227 )
    The ACLU is doing something that isn't going to piss the majority off?
    • Well said, and I'm conflicted, because this almost seems worthwhile.
      Whoever modded you as a troll probably doesn't quite know who or what the ACLU is.
    • WTF have you been smoking (, not that I want any of it)?

      The majority of Americans are a bunch of sheep. Feed them large doses of "American Idol", "Survival" plots of every type, stir in some "MTV" and "Fear Factor" and all is well. That, and publish totally BS info about how great the economy is, how low the CPI is, and spend a huge portion of TV news focused on movie star excentricities, new movies, a copious amount of time on professional sports, and stir in a little strictly low level political corrupt
      • by rookkey ( 74788 )
        George Orwell called it "soma."

        No, Aldous Huxley [] called it "soma."

        • Okay, I stand corrected. Aldous Huxley's "soma" and George Orwell's "1984". But isn't it funny that both of these authors have managed to successfully predict the future of civilization based upon the baser instincts of mankind?

          So here's a question to twist your noodle -- did these authors predict the unlikely future that is,
          or were the works of these men used as a roadmap by our evil would-be overlords?
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:00PM (#14168317)
    When I read this headline the light-saber ad was displaying at the top, and my mind filled with pictures of jedi ACLU lawyers battling video surveillence droids. Whhhoommm chttzzz clnk.

    *waves hand* These are not the geeks you are looking for.

  • I have to say, Im pleasantly suprised today

    Hats off to Zonk, really. I've had my fair share of complaints against his 'style' of writing, but now it seems that he has gotten an order of magnitude better at it. I think you may have found your groove and nicely matched it up with the audience of slashdot.

    Thank You zonk, you are back on the list of editors that come up on the home page. Just dont blow it! hehe

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:11PM (#14168439) Homepage Journal
    Instead of ignoring the second amendment, or crusading for the rights of Neo-Nazis to march through black neighborhoods the ACLU is doing something that's actually positive. I applaud them for this.

    • The ACLU isnt defending Neonazis who march through black neighborhoods. They are defending my (and yours) right to say things the majority dosent agree with. The armed services defends our freedom against foreign threats and the ACLU defends our freedom against domestic ones.
      • by scheming daemons ( 101928 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:46PM (#14168758)

        seriously, some people don't get it. When the ACLU defends the KKK holding a protest march, they aren't agreeing with the KKK.. they are defending their right to march.

        This makes the ACLU even more noble, in my opinion. The ability to defend a person or group that you loathe with every fiber of your being (at sometimes considerable monetary and PR expense to yourself), just to uphold a higher ideal, is downright saint-like.

        Some people think it's about "defending the KKK" or "blocking harmless nativity scenes on public buildings" or "keeping the 10 commandments out of courtrooms". It is not... and the failure of a person to "get" the point says more about them than the ACLU.

        "defending the KKK's right to protest" is about defending your right to espouse an unpopular idea.

        "taking nativity scenes off of the government property" is about defending your right to not have your government endorse a particular religious viewpoint.

        "taking the 10 commandments out of the courtroom" is about defending your right to not be pre-judged, even subliminally, because you don't share the religious beliefs of the people who will decide your fate.

        "fighting against Intelligent Design in the classroom" is about defending your right, and your childrens' rights, to not be religiously indoctrinated by the state.

        The ACLU will defend your civil rights, no matter how loathesome you or your viewpoints are. That makes them noble. Those that can't see that are too simple to get it.

        • In my youth there was a common sentiment, expressed in Hollywood movies and television as "I don't agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." Interesting how that's not only disappeared as a moral imperative, when present it's treated as simplistic, too idealistic now that 'everything's changed' or against the nation's values (depending on speaker.)
        • "seriously, some people don't get it..."

          Oh no, I get it.. Totally.

          "When the ACLU defends the KKK holding a protest march, they aren't agreeing with the KKK.. they are defending their right to march."

          I call for a 'common sense' rule here. Sending the KKK into an African-American neighborhood when you know this is going to start a riot is lunacy.

          "This makes the ACLU even more noble, in my opinion."

          Stupidity isn't noble no matter how good an idea it might have seemed over chianti and cheese the night before.

          • so I can mod this ignorrant peron -1.

            You present more straw men then rush limbaugh.

            No you don't get it. But you'll be happy to let people who don't agree with be subjecated to religous opression.

            • What the hell are you yapping about again? Clearly you either:

              a) Didn't fully read my posts for arguable examples
              b) Hate the truth of the situation and can't admit you're wrong

              Either way, history, temperance of spirit, and tolerance mean nothing to your type. Better the oppression of the minority and lawyers apparently. Are you really that dedicated to your 'worldview'?

              Better get those flame throwers ready - you've got a lot of cemateries and churches to burn down - churches of course located on land that s
          • Hmm.. Seems to me that sometimes religion helped form the basis of our country's values and beliefs.

            Really? I don't remember God being mentioned in the Constitution at all, let alone Jesus. You'd think that if religion was so important to the Founding Fathers, they'd have at least brought it up. Many of the Founders were not Christians, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin. Our government is entirely a-religious, which is what they intended.

            It is one thing to respect rel

            • "Really? I don't remember God being mentioned in the Constitution at all, let alone Jesus..."

              And why would you expect to? I wouldn't find a text on atheism in my Mazda's repair manual either. What's your point? And you know damn well that these individuals mentioned religion and faith plenty in other writings. Stop trying to pretend these men wholly rejected God. Benajmin Franklin rejected the idea of piety (and with good reason) but that certainly didn't make him an atheist or even an agnostic.

              "It is one t
              • And yet, according to the scientifically known rules of the universe stuff 'appears' out of nowhere in the form of the Big Bang.

                Pardon me? Who told you that? You seem to have the impression that at some time t there is nothing, and that at some later time t + delta there is something, and that something has therefore appeared out of nothing, and that this is called the Big Bang.

                That's not what I've read. As I understand it, at all times t there is the entire constant mass-energy of the Universe, at vary

        • The ACLU will defend your civil rights, no matter how loathesome you or your viewpoints are.

          Or unless your second amendment rights are violated.

    • Instead of ignoring the second amendment,

      Ah yes. Leaving the 2nd to the capable hands of the NRA is "ignoring it." For that, we might as well condemn the NRA for not defending the 1st and 4th Amendments.

      But we all know the real threat to our rights are the Republicans and Democrats. Every loss of liberty in the past 100 years has come at the hands of one of them (and no, I'm not a Libertarian).
      • Ah yes. Leaving the 2nd to the capable hands of the NRA is "ignoring it." For that, we might as well condemn the NRA for not defending the 1st and 4th Amendments.

        If the NRA claimed to be a group that upholds all constitutional rights, you'd have a point. The NRA only claims to be a group that is concerned with the interests of gun owners.

        The ACLU is an organization that is primarily concerned with advancing a leftist political agenta via the court system.

  • First it was a war-waging company using Linux....

    Now it's the ACLU vs Internet Surveillance.

    How is any slashdotter supposed to karma whore when you keep putting up stories that are conflicting of the slashdot groupthink!

    Next up: How Microsoft thinks that the US controls the internet too much...
  • Terrorism is rare (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:28PM (#14168580)
    "The diverse organizations also warned that the expanded eavesdropping rules represent only the beginning of what will become a broader effort to regulate the Internet."

    Is this to fight terrorists or to regulate the internet? or both?

    How much privacy are people willing to give up in order to fight a war without a clear enemy?
    • by scheming daemons ( 101928 ) on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:32PM (#14168629)
      I'm not willing to give up any.

      But sadly, I find myself in the distinct minority.

      It's a tired old canard, but the terrorists really have won. America has changed because of 9/11. For the worse.

      We're becoming what we used to despise and fight against during the cold war... a totalitarian police state.

      ... one tiny step at a time. But unmistakable in the final destination.

      • If the terrorists wanted merely for us to improve our ability to defeat them, while giving up a small amount of liberty, the above silly post might be right.

        But Islamofascist terrorists have a bit more ambition - they want to destroy our ability to stop their creation ofr a vast califate of the most extreme and repressive form of Islam.

        It may be that in today's world, where terrorists may be able to get or make terrible weapons (Moore's law has been exceeded in genetic engineering, should you want to make a
      • I find it rather ironic.

        A rather nominally religious America allied itself with Saudi Arabian rabidly religious fundamentalists in order to help throw the godless communist Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. The government that replaced the Soviets in Afghanistan were directly aided by both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, were also rabidly religious funamentalist, and could have been considered unsigned allies in the USA's "war on drugs(TM)".

        A continuing presence in, and influence upon Saudi Arabia subsequent to
    • How much privacy are people willing to give up in order to fight a war without a clear enemy?

      I don't know, how much have you spent on the War on Drugs already?

  • Ahh legal jargon (Score:2, Informative)

    While CALEA does indeed mention that the act forbids tapping of 'information services', it defines 'information services' as:

    (A) means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information via telecommunications; and

    (B) includes--

    (i) a service that permits a customer to retrieve stored information from,

    • Wow, that's a really creative reading. However, the law doesn't say "services which generate...", it says "offering a capability for generating...". And it specifically includes "a service that permits a customer to retrieve stored information"... Web pages, for example, are stored information that an ISP permits a customer to retrieve.
  • I *LOVE* IT! (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm going to risk a few Karma points but here goes:
    You know that anytime the letters A*C*L*U* are used in a Slashdot posting, regardless of the subject at hand, you will get the following within one hour:

    1. Swipes at religion
    2. Swipes at conservatives (not the same as 1.)
    3. Swipes at the United States and its foreign policies.
    4. Swipes at the ACLU's position on xxx, where xxx is not related to the subject at hand
    5. Counterswipes at 1-4.

    To quote Rodney King ... "Can't we all just get alo
  • I still say the Institute for Justice [] is way cooler than the ACLU...

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