The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Thursday, January 23, 2003

A Step in the Right Direction

Senate Limits Pentagon 'Snooping' Plan

"The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to slap restrictions on a controversial Pentagon data-mining program that critics say would amount to a domestic spying apparatus.

By unanimous consent, the Senate inserted a moratorium on the program into a massive spending bill, which is expected to receive a final vote late Thursday or Friday.

The vote represents an unusual triumph of privacy concerns over the Bush administration's arguments that the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program would be useful for national security. If fully implemented, TIA would link databases from sources such as credit card companies, medical insurers and motor vehicle agencies in hopes of snaring terrorists.

Final passage of the moratorium is not certain, however. Because the House of Representatives' version of the omnibus appropriations bill does not include any limits on TIA, a conference committee will have the final say....

On the other hand, the Wyden amendment--co-sponsored by Democrats including Dianne Feinstein of California and Patrick Leahy of Vermont--bans TIA after two months unless Congress receives a detailed report or President George W. Bush decides that a halt would 'endanger the national security of the United States.'

Thereafter, if the Defense Department or any other executive branch agency wishes to release TIA to be used on American citizens, it must seek 'specific authorization' from Congress. Exceptions are 'lawful' military activities conducted overseas, or intelligence operations that target non-Americans inside or outside the United States....

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., said after the vote that he would continue to pursue a standalone bill that would also place restrictions on TIA." [CNET]

Howard Rheingold has more information explaining what we can do to make sure that this amendment passes.

10:56:25 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!
 Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Another DMCA Backdoor for the Media Industry

RIAA Wins Battle to ID Kazaa User

"A federal judge orders Verizon to disclose the identity of an alleged P2P pirate in a decision that could make it easier for the music industry to crack down on file-swapping networks....

The dispute is not about whether the RIAA will be able to force Verizon to reveal the identity of a suspected copyright infringer, but about what legal mechanism copyright holders will be able to use. The RIAA would prefer to rely on the DMCA's turbocharged-subpoena process because it is cheaper and faster than other methods--but Verizon and civil liberties groups have said it is not sufficiently privacy-protective.

At issue in the RIAA's request is an obscure part of the DMCA that permits a copyright owner to send a subpoena ordering a "service provider" to turn over information about a subscriber. Verizon says the DMCA does not apply because the company is only a conduit and is not hosting the material on its servers." [CNET]

This is where I rely completely on blawgs to dissect this, but this message sent to the DMCA-Discuss mailing list is disturbing:

"The DMCA (Section 512) has a number of ugly provisions, including the infamous 'takedown' provision.  Included in those provisions are an expedited subpoena process where a copyright holder can go to a court clerk and demand from an ISP  the name of a subscriber alleged to have violated copyrights -- all this before any determination of whether a violation has occurred has been done.   The RIAA did this to a Verizon subscriber.  However, Verizon fought back by claiming the copyrighted information was not on Verizon's network -- it was on the subscriber's own network, and Verizon merely provided access to it and therefore fell under the exemptions of section 512(a), which has neither subpoena nor 'takedown' provisions.

The judge today ruled for RIAA against Verizon.  This means that the RIAA can demand an ISP take down information stored on its customer's computers, AND can demand the names of those customers without even going through the trouble of filing a lawsuit.

Even when the law is on our side, we lose."

4:17:35 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] | Google It!