Judge Exposes Spying & Internet Censorship! June 28/12
Federal Judge Leaks
Citizen Spying Numbers
Hi Tami Dickson, Did you know Federal judges approve more than 30,000 secret warrants to spy on US Citizens every year? And the innocent victims of this legal spying will never know they were watched...
EVG Research Team here. This covert operation has been going on for decades now, and invades the privacy of thousands of innocent Americans each year.
It’s so secret that not even the US Congress knows how extensive the prying is.
But... if it’s all so secretive, how can we claim to know so much about it?
Well, one of the judges involved in handing out the hush-hush warrants is blowing the whistle.
His name is Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith, and he’s sickened by the amount of clandestine spying going on against average citizens.
Unfortunately, his hands are tied. The current law forces him to rubber stamp nearly every request that crosses his desk.
Worse yet, the majority of the surveillance requests never have to go before a judge at all.
Government officials can simply subpoena private data directly from any internet service provider without a warrant or any judicial review.
Remember These Famous Cases?
You might have heard about some of this in the past. For example...
• In 2007, Verizon testified to Congress they received 90,000 such requests for customer phone usage each year.
• In 2009, Facebook reported in a Newsweek story that they received 10-20 such requests each day.
• In 2010, Google set up an online tool to display the number of such requests it received. The counter hit 4,000 before the first half of the year was over.
• Again in 2010, the US Justice Department sought access to several Twitter accounts in the well-publicized WikiLeaks case.
Okay, so the problem has long been known. Why bring it up again now?
Well, up until now the magnitude of the abuse has been hard to grasp. See...
The True Amount of Government Spying
Has Long Been Veiled in Legal Secrecy
Judge Smith explains why:
Unlike most court orders, electronic surveillance orders are permanently hidden from public view by ... sealed court files, gag orders, and delayed-notice. It's as though these orders were written in invisible ink -- legible to the phone companies and electronic service providers who execute them, yet imperceptible to targeted individuals, the general public, and even other arms of government, including Congress and appellate courts.
1. Congress hasn’t acted to update the laws because they don’t have enough verified evidence.
2. Without updates to the law by Congress, the courts will continue to approve nearly every spying request. Their hands are tied because the law’s just too vague.
3. In the meantime, Joe and Jane Public remain in the dark because the law has built-in secrecy requirements. By default, every order is sealed away from public scrutiny.
Originally Designed to “Protect” Privacy
Here’s the repulsive part about it all: the law that allows all this legal spying was actually supposed to protect people’s privacy.
Lawmakers passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 to limit the type of surveillance that government officials could use against its own citizens.
But at that time none of the legislators could imagine the internet in its current form.
The New York Times highlighted this fact in an article published in 2011. They wrote, in part:
Many Internet companies and consumer advocates say the main law governing communication privacy ... is outdated, affording more protection to letters in a file cabinet than e-mail on a server.
It’s easy to see why they think that.
Before searching a home (say for a letter in a filing cabinet), investigators must obtain a search warrant.
Under the ECPA, officials do not need a warrant to read e-mail messages that are more than 6 months old.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The ECPA is so vague that the government has become incredibly creative in finding loopholes to exploit. They routinely obtain warrants and subpoenas for snooping through all kinds of private electronic data.
In fact, Judge Smith claims the law makes it child’s-play for the government to track:
• who we call
• where we go
• when we text
• what websites we visit
• what emails we send
Yet they can do it all legally...and you’ll never know if they’ve spied on you.
Wait a Second ... I’m a Law-Abiding Citizen
Okay ... it’s doubtful that you’ve been a victim if you aren’t part of a criminal investigation.
The majority of the warrants target people who are up to no good.
We applaud law enforcement officials nailing the bad guys.
But consider this. Have you ever been falsely accused of something you didn’t do?
Or what happens if your neighbor is doing something fishy and you get investigated just because you occasionally talk to him over the fence?
Under the current law, the government does not need to show probable cause to rifle through your electronic data.
They aren’t required to inform you that they’ve done so. And, if their search ends up violating some aspect of the law, they can still use whatever they find against you.
Susan Freiwald is a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and an expert in electronic surveillance law. She explains it this way: “if the government violates the law in obtaining information, defendants are generally unable to exclude that evidence from a trial.”
Friewald concludes: “The law can’t be expected to keep up without amendments.”
Judge Smith agrees. His whole point in blowing the whistle is to give Congress the data they need to update the law.
The Enormity of the Problem
Judge Smith was frustrated by the lack of records, so he took matters into his own hand to find the extent of the spying.
To figure it out, he combined results from several government surveys with data from his own court's docket.
He estimates the government approves 30,000 of these covert spying orders each year, and the number is likely growing.
How big is that number? Well, get this ... it’s nearly equal to the combined total of ALL the criminal cases filed in U.S. District courts each year!
In other words, it’s a HUGE problem.
The situation, says Smith, is bad for democracy.
We hope Judge Smith’s efforts will bring about change. But we’re not holding our breath.
The Problem is Non-Partisan
See, both of the major political parties in the US seem content with the way things are.
Former President Bush signed the USA PATRIOT act of 2001. That act significantly weakened many of the existing protections of the original ECPA.
The Obama administration hasn’t improved the situation.
President Obama extended several key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. In addition, his Justice Department has argued in court for greater access to private e-mails. They’ve also asked the courts to legalize internet wiretaps without a search warrant.
You might think you are safer with all these provisions to get the bad guys. That’s what politicians and lawmakers have been trying to sell the public ever since the tragedies of 9/11.
There’s no doubt that there is a tension between privacy and protection. Even Google admitted that the majority of requests it receives “are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations.”
Still, Judge Smith concludes that it's "reasonable to infer that far more law-abiding citizens than criminals have been tracked in this fashion."
Wow. Did you catch that? A Federal judge admits that the government has likely spied on more law-abiding citizens than criminals.
As government controls and monitors more and more of it’s citizens activities, it also erodes many of it’s liberties ... and safety gets swept away right along with liberty.
Benjamin Franklin warned aver 200 years ago: "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
EVG Helps You Prepare Now
Our approach at EVG is not to wait for the government to do the right thing, but to protect ourselves right now.
The more financially independent you become, the better position you’ll be in to protect yourself.
The Elevation Group helps you become more financially independent so that you are not at the mercy of your government. (Many modern dictatorships around the globe formed when citizens voluntarily gave up their freedoms for the semblance of protection the new dictator offered.)
We show you how the wealthy are building a virtual fortress around their assets in case of government prying or attempted seizure ... and how you can do the same thing.
One technique we’ll teach you is how to diversify your wealth overseas.
You don’t have to be uber-wealthy to do it either. There are ways to start with only a few thousand dollars.
Everyone can benefit from learning how to become more financially independent and self-reliant.
We’d love you to join the like-minded people within EVG. To show you exactly how The Elevation Group can help you protect yourself, we’ve prepared a special webinar for you:
Click Here To Watch The Elevation Group Webinar
Your Partner In Prosperity,
The EVG Research Team
Internet Censorship with TPP June 25/12
Yesterday, the government put Canada’s digital future at risk by signing on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). This secretive international trade agreement will give Big Media conglomerates new powers to lock users out of our own content and services, provide new liabilities that might force ISPs to police our online activity, and give giant media companies even greater powers to shut down websites and remove content at will. To make matters worse these unpopular Internet restrictions will be cemented into place through international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.
The TPP agreement will lock down our Internet and shackle our democracy. The agreement will be hammered out through secret backroom meetings between industry lobbyists and un-elected “trade representatives”. Altogether, the TPP would fundamentally change the Internet, severely limit free expression, and hogtie innovators.
We’ve been hearing from Canadians and the pro-Internet community abroad that we should get involved to help everyone defend their digital rights. Canada’s pro-Internet community stopped a full-scale takeover of our Internet by Big Telecom giants, and together we’ve managed to force the government to put its online spying plan on hold. If we work together we can have an impact here too, but we’ll need your creative ideas to succeed. We want to know how you think we can best break the TPP’s shackle on our democracy and our Internet.
We at OpenMedia.ca believe that citizen participation is a fundamental democratic principle that should guide Internet governance in Canada and around the world. As an extension of that principle, we want our work to include open processes that enables Canadians—you—to shape our campaigns.
What is it about the TPP that concerns you most?
How do you think we can best address the threat of the TPP?
Please tell us what you think in the comments section below, or on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or Reddit. You can also email email@example.com.
The TPP will create blanket Internet restrictions across the globe, and turn all Internet users into suspected copyright criminals. This is an affront on our privacy rights, free speech and online choice. The best ideas always come from our community so please chime in.