Caroline Mayer and Griff Witte cover a growing problem with checking account fraud (helped, in part by the growth of automated payments):
When Shereen Greene recently scanned her bank statement, she found a $139 charge from a company she had never heard of -- Pharmacycards.com.
The Atlanta paralegal dug out her canceled check and easily saw it was fake. The name on it was her maiden name, which she had not used in seven years. The address was five years old and her signature was missing. In its place, was a brief message: "Authorized by your customer. No signature required."
Still, the numbers at the bottom of the check belonged to Greene's bank account, and in the increasingly automated world of check processing, that was all that mattered.
"Rafael Macedo de la Concha, Mexico's Attorney-General, now has a non-removable microchip in his arm, to track his movements and to give him access to a new crime database, according to Bloomberg. The article says that eventually around 160 Mexican officials will have a chip implanted."
Today, you can use any device you like with your television: VCR, TiVo, DVD recorder, home theater receiver, or a PC combining these functions and more. A year from now, when the FCC's broadcast flag mandate [PDF] takes effect, some of those capabilities will be forbidden. Read more about the EFF's anti broadcast flag initiative.
If the government had access to the communications between a client and his lawyer, the lawyer would be nothing but a government agent, like Soviet defense attorneys, whose official role was to serve as adjuncts to the prosecution.
Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton, "The Tyranny of Good Intentions"
Once upon a time, the U.S. Justice Department respected the legal rights that make law a shield of the innocent rather than a weapon of government. No more. What the great English jurist William Blackstone called "the Rights of Englishmen" have been eroded beyond recognition.I've written about tax issues before, including this article on our very odd SUV subsidies.
The last remaining right — the attorney-client privilege — is under full-scale assault by Justice Department prosecutors in the tax shelter case involving the accounting firm KPMG. The Justice Department has demanded, and the accounting firm has agreed to, a waiver of the attorney-client privilege for communications between lawyers and KPMG employees involved in marketing tax shelters the Internal Revenue Service has challenged.
The attorney-client privilege was long championed by jurists because they realized the privilege promoted equality under the law. Convictions can result from lack of access to legal knowledge as well as from actual wrongdoing. To ensure defendants would avail themselves of legal counsel, their communications with attorneys were made confidential, outside the reach of prosecutors.
In recent years, the Justice Department has taken the position that winning its cases is more important than historic rights centuries in the making. Arguing that the innocent have nothing to fear from their attorneys' disclosures of their confidences, department has employed various means of subverting the attorney-client privilege.
Sentencing guidelines from the White House-appointed U.S. Sentencing Commission have greatly strengthened prosecutors' ability to attack the attorney-client privilege. Indictment of a company and the severity of punishment depends on its "cooperation" with the investigation.
A January 2003 memo by Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, defines "cooperation" in a way that drives a wedge between a company and its employees. A company that pays its employees' legal fees is defined as uncooperative.
Faced with the threat of being declared uncooperative, KPMG announced it would pay its employees legal fees only if they waived the attorney-client privilege and "cooperated" with the investigation. Invariably, "cooperation" requires self-incrimination and negotiation of a guilty plea. By making it impossible for a defendant to defend himself, the government need never have a real case.
Americans must think seriously about the quality of "justice" coming from the Justice Department. Prosecutors have defined "cooperation" as aid in convicting oneself or a fellow employee, as waiving all constitutional rights and privileges, as betrayal of fellow employees and as helping prosecutors create the appearance of guilt even when no crime has been committed.
Among the pending victims in the KPMG case, Jeffrey Eischeid faces 20 years in prison for marketing KPMG tax shelters that experts said were legal.
The IRS has the right to challenge the tax shelters, and the accounting firm has stopped marketing them. But for the Justice Department to retroactively declare them illegal illustrates the precarious position of a defendant today. Whatever he has done can be declared illegal after the fact.
The Justice Department also has disposed of the legal principle there can be no crime without intent. Neither Jeffrey Eischeid nor other KPMG employees knowingly or intentionally sold illegal tax shelters. The products were approved by KPMG's professional responsibility committee, and the IRS' challenge does not mean a crime was committed.
However, Justice prosecutors have become experts at creating the impression crimes have been committed. By stripping away a defendant's rights, prosecutors can coerce a guilty plea, crime or no crime.
Conservatives who prattle about Americans living under a rule of law are speaking of a bygone era. The rule of law ended during the New Deal, when President Franklin Roosevelt turned congressional statutes into authorization bills for federal bureaucrats to legislate via regulations.
Today, there is even less accountability. Appointed officials make criminal law without even a congressional authorization bill. The Sentencing Commission's "proposals" become law unless Congress vetoes them. What we are witnessing is the emergence of a fascist legal order in which law and legal procedure are whatever unelected officials decide serves the interest of government.
How else can we explain how the four foundations of our legal system — no retroactive law, no crime without intent, no self-incrimination, and the attorney-client privilege — have been swept aside in the federal case against KPMG?
Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a Patent Busting Contest:
Every year numerous illegitimate patent applications make their way through the United States patent examination process without adequate review. The problem is particularly acute in the software and Internet fields where the history of prior inventions (often called “prior art”) is widely distributed and poorly documented. As a result, we have seen patents asserted on such simple technologies as:
- One-click online shopping (U.S. Patent No. 5,960,411.)
- Online shopping carts (U.S. Patent No. 5,715,314.)
- The hyperlink (U.S. Patent No. 4,873,662.)
- Video streaming (U.S. Patent No. 5,132,992.)
- Internationalizing domain names (U.S. Patent No. 6,182,148.)
- Pop-up windows (U.S. Patent No. 6,389,458.)
- Targeted banner ads (U.S. Patent No. 6,026,368.)
- Paying with a credit card online (U.S. Patent No. 6,289,319.)
- Framed browsing; (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,933,841 & 6,442,574.) and
- Affiliate linking (U.S. Patent No. 6,029,141.)
The Justice Department today denied Freedom of Information Act requests to make public data on foreign lobbyists, claiming that '[i]mplementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating'. The requestor responded that '[t]his was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them.
I hadn't been taking some proposed new copyright legislation very seriously, mainly because it's logically absurd on its face. But the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004" (PDF) seems to be moving so quickly that we have to pay attention now.
This bill, the stated purpose of which is to criminalize actions that might "induce" copyright infringement, doesn't just overrule the Sony Betamax case, which gave us the right to tape TV shows to watch later. It would turn people offering totally legitimate technology into criminals, if what they offered could also be used for infringing purposes.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is cloaking the bill as "child protection." It is nothing of the sort. It is a Hollywood-sponsored attack on fundamental freedom, and on innovation. (Ernie Miller deconstructs Hatch's floor speech introducing the bill. See also Lessig's comments.)
Cory Doctorow gave a talk this week at Microsoft. He is asking the company to go back to its roots on the issue of Digital "Rights" Management (aka Digital Restrictions Management), or DRM. He posted the talk on his website. Doctorow tried to persuade Microsoft that:
Wired on intellectual property holders and IP outlaws:
On the one side are the intellectual property holders, predominantly citizens of Western nations. They're squaring off against IP outlaws, who tend to live in developing countries. The propertied class loudly asserts its ownership and control. The insurgents cry for openness and exploit technological loopholes with abandon.PDF Atlas of the free and unfree.
It seems odd to me that the defenders of the PATRIOT act urge us to look at the details of the Act and stop viewing it as Federal law enforcement's ticket to do essentially whatever law enforcement wants, without procedural safeguards.
When you get into the trenches and watch how they are actually using PATRIOT, however, it becomes pretty clear that law enfocement has interpreted it as their ticket to do whatever they want.
My personal pet peeve is the Treasury Department's abuse of PATRIOT, as part of investigations having absolutely nothing to do with terrorism.
For instance, I represent a small Internet service provider. Over a year ago, they received from the Customs Service (part of Treasury) a subpoena for a customer's personal information. The Subpoena purported to be about some buzz-word called "cybersmuggling" (how do you smuggle stuff over the Internet? -- perhaps we're closer to Star Trek transporters than I ever imagined!), and had no apparent connection to terrorism.
And, of course, Customs insisted that we must not tell anyone else about their Subpoena (don't want anyone to scrutinize and question what the Government is doing, I suppose). I've provided a redacted copy of my response letter to Customs (revealing no details of the investigation or the subject) to Chilling Efffects, and even they appear to be afraid to publicize this abuse.
This email is floating around: ordering pizza in 2015. Let's hope it never comes to this. (You should support the Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Operator: "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I have your..."
Customer: "Hi, I'd like to order."
Operator: "May I have your NIDN first, sir?"
Customer: "My National ID Number, yeah, hold on, eh, it's 6102049998-45-54610."
Operator: "Thank you, Mr. Sheehan. I see you live at 1742 Meadowland Drive, and the phone number's 494-2366. Your office number over at Lincoln Insurance is 745-2302 and your cell number's 266-2566. Which number are you calling from, sir?"
Customer: "Huh? I'm at home. Where d'ya get all this information?"
Operator: "We're wired into the system, sir."
Customer: (Sighs) "Oh, well, I'd like to order a couple of your All-Meat Special pizzas..."
Operator: "I don't think that's a good idea, sir."
Customer: "Whaddya mean?"
Operator: "Sir, your medical records indicate that you've got very high blood pressure and extremely high cholesterol. Your National Health Care provider won't allow such an unhealthy choice."
Customer: "Dang . What do you recommend, then?"
Operator: "You might try our low-fat Soybean Yogurt Pizza. I'm sure you'll like it."
Customer: "What makes you think I'd like something like that?"
Operator: "Well, you checked out 'Gourmet Soybean Recipes' from your local library last week, sir. That's why I made the suggestion."
Customer: "All right, all right. Give me two family-sized ones, then. What's the damage?"
Operator: "That should be plenty for you, your wife and your four kids, sir. The 'damage,' as you put it, heh, heh, comes to $49.99."
Customer: "Lemme give you my credit card number."
Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid you'll have to pay in cash. Your credit card balance is over its limit."
Customer: "I'll run over to the ATM and get some cash before your driver gets here."
Operator: "That won't work either, sir. Your checking account's overdrawn."
Customer: "Never mind. Just send the pizzas. I'll have the cash ready. How long will it take?
Operator: "We're running a little behind, sir. It'll be about 45 minutes, sir. If you're in a hurry you might want to pick 'em up while you're out getting the cash, but carrying pizzas on a motorcycle can be a little awkward."
Customer: "How the heck do you know I'm riding a bike?"
Operator: "It says here you're in arrears on your car payments, so your car got repo'ed. But your Harley's paid up, so I just assumed that you'd be using it."
Operator: "I'd advise watching your language, sir. You've already got a July 2006 conviction for cussing out a cop."
Operator: "Will there be anything else, sir?"
Customer: "No, nothing. Oh, yeah, don't forget the two free liters of Coke your ad says I get with the pizzas."
Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but our ad's exclusionary clause prevents us from offering free soda to diabetics."
Dan Gillmor writes about Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy's shilling for the copyright cartel: Copyright Cartel Buying Another Federal Anti-Infringement Law ("Piracy Act"). Evidently, Democrat Leahy needs more cash from Hollywood. The worse part of this insanity: the law would require us (via the Department of Justice) to pay for tracking file sharers and filing lawsuits....
As reported by Ernie, Disney is lobbying to get indecency regulations applied to cable — yet another example (after the Sonny Bono Act) to use law to protect itself against competition. When your movies flop, and you’ve driven away the greatest animation company in the world, I guess there’s not much strategy left.
Doc Searls on the RIAA's latest lobbying to maintain its monopoly
First the RIAA successfully lobbies the Librarian of Congress to impose a distribution fee and reporting regime on the infant Internet radio business, essentially preventing it from happening. That was in 2002, though the lobbying started in '98, right after the same kinda guys got the DMCA pushed through.
Now comes news from J.D. that the RIAA wants to get the FCC to impose a "broadcast flag" on radio as well as TV. It's creepy shit:
The Recording Industry Association of America has discovered that digital radio broadcasts can be copied and redistributed over the Internet.
And so the RIAA, the music business's trade and lobbying group, has asked the Federal Communications Commission to step in and impose an "audio broadcast flag" on certain forms of digital radio.
On April 15, the FCC bowed to the RIAA's request and initiated a notice of inquiry, typically a step leading to formal rule-making. The public may submit comments to the FCC between June 16 and July 16.
Interesting intellectual property case: Monsanto went to court to stop a Saskatchewan farmer from replanting genetically modified canola seeds (without payment of an annual license fee). Wired News | NY Times.
Dot Com era Billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on why we're tuning out the media...
We are now in an era where media searches for stories that will generate media coverage of the story. Stories are written not for the value they bring the readers, viewers or listeners, but rather the volume of coverage they will bring.Thanks to Glenn Reynolds who correctly states: "They're churning out Granadas and Chevettes and telling us that we're idiots for complaining."
The question I had then, is the same question I have now? What is the goal of these media outlets? How do they define what is “newsworthy.” It sure appears to me that the newsmedia has evolved from “all the news that is fit to print” to “How much free publicity can we get from this story?”
Jeff Jarvis asks a useful question: Why can't we download all of NPR (they are playing the Digital Restrictions Management game, using audio streams only, vs. clean MP3 downloads). In other words, NPR policies mean that we, the public cannot listen to their programming on our ipods or other mp3 players.
Not very public... (Unfortunately, WPR adopts the same restrictive approach).
Professor Lessig goes to Washington to testify about Congressman Rick Boucher's Digital Media Consumer Rights Act [pdf].
This is one issue you should support. Contact Tammy Baldwin and tell her you support Boucher's bill.
Yet another reason to get involved: Security expert Bruce Schneier writes: Curb electronic surveillance abuses, as technological monitoring grows more prevalent, court supervision is crucial
Interesting example of money, technology & politics. Wisconsin voters have many other priorities, such as education, jobs, taxes and healthcare. How exactly, the Windows 2003 Server and Office 2003 product launches fit into those priorities is a mystery:
"If people really believe that something like this makes members of Congress bribable, obviously they have a very poor opinion of members of Congress." Ron Kind, Wisconsin congressman. Katherine M. Skiba and Jeff Nelson follow the money..... The airfare prices look like first class... Why exactly would Microsoft spend money on a Congressman from La Crosse, WI?
Additional trips were timed to include product launches such as Windows Server 2003 and Office 2003....
Microsoft's priorities include copyright, patent, purchasing and other issues.....
Dan Gillmor pens a very useful article the copyright cartel's (MPAA & RIAA) activities, things that ultimately restricts our fair use rights.
OpenPark Launches free, public wireless (WiFi) internet access on the Washington Mall.
From Dave Farber's IP List:
Lets the DOJ bring civil suits on behalf of copyright owners. (Link goes to
text of bill):
I especially enjoy the thought of the DOJ having a division that "(employs
and leverages) the expertise of technical experts in computer forensics;
(and) (F) collects and preserves) electronic data in a forensically sound
manner for use in court proceedings". I wonder how far 2 million dollars
will get them in one year.
Valenti is an incredibly polished advocate for the movie studios. He has numerous legislative and regulatory successes to his name, and his stated commitment to honest debate (he spoke passionately several times about his commitment to the “ideal of civic discourse” and his disgust at Washington, D.C.’s lack of it) is admirable.
But we don’t have a real debate on copyright issues. We have rival camps that rarely understand each other. Virtually everybody I know and encounter on the Internet thinks Valenti’s signal accomplishments are bad. He can claim credit for the anticircumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which make it illegal to build your own DVD player and well-nigh impossible to watch DVDs legally under the GNU/Linux operating system, as well as the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadcast Flag, which will make it illegal or virtually impossible to build your own digital television receiver or, again, watch HDTV under Linux.
Tom Friedman writes about a recent trip to Silicon Valley:
Still others pointed out that the percentage of Americans graduating with bachelor's degrees in science and engineering is less than half of the comparable percentage in China and Japan, and that U.S. government investments are flagging in basic research in physics, chemistry and engineering. Anyone who thinks that all the Indian and Chinese techies are doing is answering call-center phones or solving tech problems for Dell customers is sadly mistaken. U.S. firms are moving serious research and development to India and China.
The bottom line: we are actually in the middle of two struggles right now. One is against the Islamist terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, and the other is a competitiveness-and-innovation struggle against India, China, Japan and their neighbors. And while we are all fixated on the former (I've been no exception), we are completely ignoring the latter. We have got to get our focus back in balance, not to mention our budget. We can't wage war on income taxes and terrorism and a war for innovation at the same time.
Curriculum was and is a hot topic in the Madison School District.
Further, the tech industry has been playing footsie with Hollywood (ironic, given the size of the tech industry vs Hollywood) regarding our fair use rights. Dan Gillmor has recently published a draft version of his upcoming book: Making the News. Chapter 11 includes some very troubling quotes:
When Microsoft shipped its first search-engine (which makes a copy of every page it searches), it violated the letter of copyright law. When Microsoft made its first proxy server (which makes a copy of every page it caches), it broke copyright law. When Microsoft shipped its first CD-ripping technology, it broke copyright law.
It broke copyright law because copyright law was broken. Copyright law changes all the time to reflect the new tools that companies like Microsoft invent. If Microsoft wants to deliver a compelling service to its customers, let it make general-purpose tools that have the side-effect of breaking Sony and Apple's DRM, giving its customers more choice in the players they use. Microsoft has shown its willingness to go head-to-head with antitrust people to defend its bottom line: next to them, the copyright courts and lawmakers are pantywaists, Microsoft could eat those guys for lunch, exactly the way Sony kicked their asses in 1984 when they defended their right to build and sell VCRs, even though some people might do bad things with them. Just like the early MP3 player makers did when they ate Sony's lunch by shipping product when Sony wouldn't.
Unfortunately, Microsoft's answer has been to build Digital Rights Management -- the more appropriate term is "Digital Restrictions Management" -- into just about everything it makes.
But now consider the ways it could be used, beyond simple tracking by copyright holders of what they sell. Anderson writes:
[Trusted Computing] provides a computing platform on which you can't tamper with the application software, and where these applications can communicate securely with their authors and with each other. The original motivation was digital rights management (DRM): Disney will be able to sell you DVDs that will decrypt and run on a TC platform, but which you won't be able to copy. The music industry will be able to sell you music downloads that you won't be able to swap. They will be able to sell you CDs that you'll only be able to play three times, or only on your birthday. All sorts of new marketing possibilities will open up.
The potential for abuse extends far beyond commercial bullying and economic warfare into political censorship. I expect that it will proceed a step at a time. First, some well-intentioned police force will get an order against a pornographic picture of a child, or a manual on how to sabotage railroad signals. All TC-compliant PCs will delete, or perhaps report, these bad documents. Then a litigant in a libel or copyright case will get a civil court order against an offending document; perhaps the Scientologists will seek to blacklist the famous Fishman Affidavit. A dictator's secret police could punish the author of a dissident leaflet by deleting everything she ever created using that system - her new book, her tax return, even her kids' birthday cards - wherever it had ended up. In the West, a court might use a confiscation doctrine to `blackhole' a machine that had been used to make a pornographic picture of a child. Once lawyers, policemen and judges realise the potential, the trickle will become a flood.The Trusted Computing moves bring to mind a conversation in early 2000 with Andy Grove, longtime chief executive at Intel and one of the real pioneers in the tech industry. He was talking about how easy it would soon be to send videos back and forth with his grandchildren. If trends continued, I suggested, he'd someday need Hollywood's permission. The man who wrote the best-seller, "Only the Paranoid Survive," then called me paranoid. Several years later, amid the copyright industry's increasing clampdown and Intel's unfortunate leadership in helping the copyright holders lock everything down, I asked him if I'd really been all that paranoid. He avoided a direct reply.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently announced the recipients of its 2004 Pioneer awards:
Electronic Frontier Foundation has revealed the winners of the Thirteenth Annual Pioneer Awards.From Slashdot.
Focusing on the area of electronic voting security and accountability, they have highlighted the work of Kim Alexander, the president of the California Voter Foundation, David Dill, a Stanford Professor and founder of VerifiedVoting.org, and Avi Rubin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who co-authored the highly publicized Diebold report of 2003.
It was done using the Net. It is no accident that the political coming-of-age of the Net came about in Korea where almost 70% of its households are broadband connected. Starting as a social movement organized through the Net, the new Uri party became a political phenomena.
In December 2002, the Uri party used the Net to go around Korea's traditional political structures and elect Roh Moo-hyun President. Korea's national politics have traditionally been regionally based. However, using the Net, the Uri put together a new political coalition based not on geography, but age, bringing together those under 30. Paradoxically, the Uri also used the Net to involve citizens at local face to face meetings.
The Net was used to begin to break the overwhelming political influence of Korea's giant corporate conglomerates, the chaebols, who funded (both legally and illegitimately) much of Korea's politics. The Uri use the Net to help fund their campaign with tens of thousands of small contributions.
J.D. Lasica writes about copyright law and its challengers:
For years, all was peaceful in the house of Horowitz. Jed Horowitz, a 53-year-old New Jersey entrepreneur with sharply chiseled features and gleaming bald head, had been running a small video operation called Video Pipeline that took Hollywood films, created two-minute trailers to help promote them, and distributed them to online retailers such as Netflix, BestBuy, and Barnes and Noble, as well as public libraries. Then one day in 2000, the Walt Disney Co. sent a cease-and-desist order, charging that Horowitz's company was violating Disney's copyright by featuring portions of their movies online.
Verlyn Klinkenborg nicely summarizes recent news in the recording industry's battle against file sharing:
But this isn't just a legal battle, of course. It's a battle of information and ideas. A new book from Lawrence Lessig called "Free Culture" makes a forceful, cogent defense of many forms of file sharing. And — perhaps worst of all from the industry's perspective — a new academic study prepared by professors at Harvard and the University of North Carolina concludes, "Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero." This directly counters recording industry claims that place nearly all the blame for declining CD sales on illegal file sharing.
Security expert Bruce Schneier writes about the reality of National ID cards:
The potential privacy encroachments of an ID card system are far from minor. And the interruptions and delays caused by incessant ID checks could easily proliferate into a persistent traffic jam in office lobbies and airports and hospital waiting rooms and shopping malls.
But my primary objection isn't the totalitarian potential of national IDs, nor the likelihood that they'll create a whole immense new class of social and economic dislocations. Nor is it the opportunities they will create for colossal boondoggles by government contractors. My objection to the national ID card, at least for the purposes of this essay, is much simpler:
It won't work. It won't make us more secure.
Nahal Toosi writes a very thin article about blogging, including campus initiatives.
Google, which makes a very nice living scraping internet sites (copying & storing images, text & data from sites around the world) and presenting that data to search users has issued a issued a cease-and-desist order against British programmer Julian Bond with a warning that the creation of a news feed from the results of Google News was against its terms of reference. From Jeff Jarvis.
Dan Gillmor is right on the money with his criticism of Vermont's Patrick Leahy regarding his co-sponsorship of the "Pirate Act". One would think our politicians have more important things to do (education, health care, terrorism, the economy) than carrying water for the Hollywood cartel.
s stunning, and disheartening, to see U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who has been one of the champions of civil liberties on Capitol Hill, become a water-carrier for Hollywood and the music industry. But there's no other interpretation for his co-sponsorship of what's being called the PIRATE Act, a chillingly bad bill that would give the copyright cartel a gift for the ages.
The basics of this legislation are fairly simple: In a time when there are truly serious things on the minds of law enforcement, such as terrorism, Leahy and his colleague Orrin Hatch would send the FBI and Justice Department (Copyfight) after file-sharers. If this passes, look for a crackdown that makes today's music-industry lawsuit frenzy look tame. And look for the end of most experiments in new media, because file-sharing networks are the only financially feasible way to distribute content for people who aren't trying to corner a market.
If I still lived in Vermont, I would call Leahy's office and ask anyone who'd listen how someone I've respected for years could do something so awful.
Citing both financial and privacy concerns, Wisconsin law enforcement officials have changed their minds about becoming part of a computerized information-sharing network.
The network, funded by a $12 million federal grant, aims to create a clearinghouse of information authorities can use to track terrorists and criminal suspects. Advocates say it simply consolidates data already available to investigators, allowing them to access it more quickly. Detractors worry that it could be used to mine computer files for details about ordinary citizens.
Even as states retreat from participating in a controversial interstate antiterrorism database that holds billions of records of ordinary Americans' activities, Wisconsin has decided to join the program.
The head of Wisconsin's division of criminal investigation, James R. Warren, signed on to join the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, or Matrix, on Feb. 11, said Tom Berlinger, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which runs the program.
With access to the Matrix database, Wisconsin law enforcement officials can look up vast amounts of personal information culled from government and commercial databases. The information includes driver's license pictures, addresses, professional licenses, names of neighbors and relatives, and even domain-name registration filings and hunting licenses.
Officers also get access to information derived from Seisint's proprietary database, which includes voter rolls, property records, website registrations, civil and criminal court records, phone number directories and financial filings.
From Wired News.....
Electronic logging & authentication in your car.
"What we're suggesting is the driver's license in the future will be a smartcard, and it's embedded with all the data required to operate the car more safely and efficiently," Toyota project manager Paul Beranger said.
If you are concerned about electronic rights (and you should be), support the EFF.
The Age: "Online search engine leader Google has banned the ads of an environmental group protesting a major cruise line's sewage treatment methods, casting a spotlight on the policies -- and power -- of the popular Web site's lucrative marketing program."