Another reason on McCain

About ten days ago, I was a co-moderator (with Ari Schwartz) of a panel at CFP during which surrogates for the Obama and McCain campaigns had a civil and well-informed conversation about tech policy. I was impressed by Chuck Fish, the McCain representative, who did his best to win the respect of the geek crowd in the room. (ArsTechnica report about the panel here.) In response to a question about immunity for the telcos in connection with their cooperation with the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, Fish said that there should…

Thursday links

The House Commerce committee investigation of the FCC continues. According to the Washington Post, a detailed letter signed by Rep. Dingell has gone out to the FCC asking for a host of documents that (among other things) relate to “management practices that may adversely affect the Commission’s ability both to discharge effectively its statutory duties and to guard against waste, fraud, and abuse.”:  This is serious – business as usual at the Commission must be under severe pressure, and the idea of real structural reform of the Commission (and perhaps…

Prior restraints

The odd story of the Wikileaks.org injunction is described here by the Berkman Center’s Citizen Media project. We still don’t know exactly why the site was ordered taken down – it seems like a trade secret issue – or why this was done ex parte, or why the court initially ordered wikileaks.org’s registrar/host to “immediately clear and remove all DNS hosting records for the wikileaks.org domain name and prevent the domain name from resolving to the wikileaks.org website or any other website or server other than a blank park page,…

FISA stall tactics

I’m trying to figure out what happened to FISA today. There was supposed to be a debate and vote today, with some kind of deal with the Democrats (see opencongress.org) to consider amendments. Those amendments the Republicans thought didn’t have a chance even within the Democratic members would be subject to a simple majority vote. Oddly, the amendment that would have done away with telco immunity was on the simple majority list. According to the gossip, the Republicans were convinced the Democrats wouldn’t be able to pull themselves together to…

FISA and immunity

Great work today on the OpenCongress.org blog, telling us that (1) Sen. Specter wants to have the government step in as defendants in the tens of cases pending against cooperative telcos involved in violating FISA and other laws; (2) Sen. Feinstein wants the secret FISA court to decide the question of immunity; (3) Sen. Leahy’s amendment removing immunity from the telcos has been rejected and Sen. Dodd has vowed to filibuster. As of tonight, it appears the Senate has delayed further consideration of the issue until Monday. Sen. Reid is…

Boundaries

It’s the ad hoc nature of U.S. communications law these days that gets depressing. It seems only federal courts can help – except when they refuse to get involved. Four very quick snippets of stories to watch: 1. Warshak. The Sixth Circuit said back in June that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in email sent through ISPs, and so the loose-and-low statutory procedures for government access to these emails (found in the Stored Communications Act) have to be measured against Fourth Amendment standards. The government had used those…