Florida Congressman John Mica, a Republican who now heads the House Transportation Committee, complains that the agency doesn’t make us safer. He points out that Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber,” was stopped by alert passengers, not by the TSA. The father of the “underwear bomber” warned the government about his son, but the TSA still allowed him to fly with a bomb in his underwear. Only passengers prevented him from detonating it.
After the Times Square Bomber’s attack failed in 2010, Rep. Mica points out, the man “ordered his ticket on the way to JFK, went through TSA, [and] got on the plane.”
There is a better way: Let private companies compete for the job.
When writing the law that created the TSA, Rep. Mica added a provision that allows airports to “opt out” of federalized security. San Francisco Airport took advantage of that and hired Covenant Aviation Security, a private screening company. More
House Committee Rushing to Approve Dangerous “Information Sharing” Bill
Proposal Would Gut Privacy Laws, Allow Unprecedented Data-Grab by Government
We’re for better network, computer, and device security. Unfortunately, “cybersecurity” bills often go off track—case in point: the “ Internet kill switch. “ The latest example comes courtesy of the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee. Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) are introducing “The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011“(PDF).
The bill would allow a broad swath of ISPs and other private entities to “use cybersecurity systems” to collect and share masses of user data with the government, other businesses, or “any other entity” so long as it’s for a vaguely-defined “cybersecurity purpose.” It would trump existing privacy statutes that strictly limit the interception and disclosure of your private communications data, as well as any other state or federal law that might get in the way. Indeed, the language may be broad enough to bless the covert use of spyware if done in “good faith” for a “cybersecurity purpose.”
This broad data-sharing between companies wouldn’t be subject to any oversight or transparency measures (users can’t restrict companies’ sharing), while the only oversight for sharing with the federal government, ironically, would be through the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board—which hasn’t existed since January 2008. More
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a vaguely worded anti-stalking law poses a serious threat to freedom of speech online. The EFF specifically cites a case involving the popular microblogging platform, Twitter:
EFF filed a friend-of-the-court brief today urging a federal court to block the government’s use of the federal anti-stalking law to prosecute a man for posting criticism of a public figure to Twitter.
At issue is a federal law originally enacted to criminalize traveling across state lines for the purpose of stalking. In 2005, the law was modified to make the “intentional infliction of emotional distress” by the use of “any interactive computer service” a crime. In this case, the government has presented the novel and dangerous theory that the use of a public communication service like Twitter to criticize a well-known individual can result in criminal liability based on the personal sensibilities of the person being criticized.
“Wielding the threat of criminal sanctions to punish the pointed, online criticism of public figures is not only bad policy, it is unconstitutional,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “While true threats can and should be opposed, public speech about prominent people must be vigorously protected.”
For the full amicus brief in US v. Cassidy:
For more on this case:
Anti-stalking legislation in California is similarly vague and can restrict any “annoying, embarrassing communications” leveled against an individual. What’s more, across the country other legislation, such as this, is being drafted – at an alarmingly rapid rate. Those laws which can be viewed broadly can severely restrict the rights of those who seek to express themselves online.
Related Cases from The First Amendment Center’s Website
New cyberstalking law challenged over ‘annoy’ language
By David L. Hudson Jr. Arizona anonymous e-mail company contends little-noticed provision criminalizes much protected speech. 02.24.06
Mo. lawmakers vote to bar Internet harassment
Governor praises new cyberstalking law, a response to suicide of state teen who was teased online. 05.19.08
Mo. woman pleads not guilty to charges related to MySpace suicide
Experts say case could break new legal ground; statute used to indict Lori Drew usually applies to Internet hackers who illegally access accounts to get information. 06.17.08
Mo. governor signs anti-cyberbullying bill into law
Teen’s suicide prompts state to outlaw Internet harassment; girl’s mother says even more needs to be done to keep kids safe online. 07.01.08
E-mails sent to Va. Tech students were true threats
By David L. Hudson Jr. 4th Circuit panel says any ordinary, reasonable person would have understood Johnmarlo B. Napa’s messages as threats. 03.23.10
Anti-stalking legislation is not, by any means, the only threat to Internet free speech. Successful social networking site, Facebook and its new competitor, Google+ both require that users use their real names. Failure to comply can result in account deactivation.
Numerous reasons exist as to why some opt to use a pseudonym instead of a real name. Some of those reasons are detailed at Liberty Voice:
They may be concerned about threats to their lives or livelihoods, or they may risk political or economic retribution. They may wish to prevent discrimination or they may use a name that’s easier to pronounce or spell in a given culture.
Longtime online inhabitants may have handles that have spanned over twenty years.
As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens put forth in deciding McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995),
“Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation—and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society. The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.”
-harassment, both online and offline
-discrimination in employment, provision of services, etc.
-actual physical danger of bullying, hate crime, etc.
-arrest, imprisonment, or execution in some jurisdictions
-economic harm such as job loss, loss of professional reputation, reduction of job opportunity, etc.
-social costs of not being able to interact with friends and colleagues
-possible (temporary) loss of access to their data if their account is suspended or terminated
Another addition to the menacing forces against free speech is the new legislation in Tennessee which bans images that may cause “emotional distress.” Indeed, according to The Washington Independent, “Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that criminalizes ‘transmitting or displaying’ any image that under a ‘reasonable expectation’ might ‘frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress’ to anyone who sees it. This is not limited only to images posted on the internet, but also includes TV and any other “electronic communications service” currently in existence.
In a nutshell, the law allows anyone to go after anyone – journalists, bloggers, users of social media – who will potentially face jail for up to a year or a fine of up to $2,500, just for sharing a picture or other image.
Apparently, some people really can’t handle the truth…
Legal scholar, Eugene Volokh regards the law as “clearly unconstitutional.” He states:
So the law now applies not just to one-to-one communication, but to people’s posting images on their own Facebook pages, on their Web sites, and in other places if (1) they are acting “without legitimate purpose,” (2) they cause emotional distress, and (3) they intend to cause emotional distress or know or reasonably should know that their action will cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities. So,
-If you’re posting a picture of someone in an embarrassing situation — not at all limited to, say, sexually themed pictures or illegally taken pictures — you’re likely a criminal unless the prosecutor, judge, or jury concludes that you had a “legitimate purpose.”
-Likewise, if you post an image intended to distress some religious, political, ethnic, racial, etc. group, you too can be sent to jail if governments decisionmaker thinks your purpose wasn’t “legitimate.” Nothing in the law requires that the picture be of the “victim,” only that it be distressing to the “victim.”
-The same is true even if you didn’t intend to distress those people, but reasonably should have known that the material — say, pictures of Mohammed, or blasphemous jokes about Jesus Christ, or harsh cartoon insults of some political group — would “cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities.”
-And of course the same would apply if a newspaper or TV station posts embarrassing pictures or blasphemous images on its site.
In other censorship news, a blogger on Twitter found out first-hand what the erosion of free speech feels like. According to Jonathan Sangster, who goes by the name @TORARADICAL on Twitter, his account was suspended for several days without explanation. It was finally explained to him, by Twitter, that a government agency had requested they suspend his account so that it could be investigated for suspicious activity.
I have read content on Sangster’s blog – none of which would arouse suspicion from a clear thinking, lucid individual. Sangster was merely exercising a constitutional right. These incidents represent an obvious threat to one of our most precious civil liberties.
I have always been one who tends to be bit emotional during the celebration of Independence Day. When I watch the patriotism, the flag waving and listen to the stirring sounds of our National Anthem, Stars and Stripes Forever and God Bless America I cannot help but shed a tear of pride as the emotion of love for my country swells within my chest.
This year though it seemed that this emotion was more than usual. The tears of pride that usually were momentary during certain patriotic happenings were nearly always just below the surface throughout the weekend as everything left me chocked up. It was not until I visited with my son who has just become a father and I held my new grand daughter that I realized why I was more chocked up that usual.
I realized that the freedom and liberty that our Founders so bravely and selflessly fought for to create this Nation are not only being threatened in ways never before known in America but if we who understand that threat do not stand as our Founders did 234 years ago, my son and especially my precious little grand daughter will not know the freedom that even I have experienced in my life time.
Abraham Lincoln once stated that, ” if destruction be our lot, ” as a Nation then it would not come from some foreign power but from within. We are seeing that destruction taking place at the hands of a Presidential administration who has no regard for the people, our Constitution and the principles that were set forth by our Founders when we declared Independence in July of 1776.
Chaos reigns in The United States. The cause of this chaos is attributed to one man and the agenda which he continues to push ignoring the consequences and the will of the American people. I remember the havoc that was Jimmy Carter the confusion that was Bill Clinton but the total and utter chaos that is Barack Obama far exceeds the havoc and confusion of his two Democrat predecessors.
Never in my lifetime has a President created chaos as Barack Obama has in his short time in office. An oil spill with NO direction for clean up, constant legislation that confuses and mystifies even the pundits, seeking blanket amnesty for illegals, financial markets bouncing all over the board never knowing how to react to Obama’s latest financial meddling, rules of engagement on the battle field that cause a seasoned General to throw his hands in the air in disgust ending a brilliant career when a reporter wrote of that disgust.
On the foreign front, allies fear the confusion they see in The White House, enemies are testing the weakness that is all to evident, battle field foes praise the policy and strategy of the Commander in Chief since it gives them a distinct advantage, world leaders have no confidence in the occupant of the Oval Office.
As chaos reigns from The White House most wonder if Barack Obama really knows what he is doing and whether the responsibility of the Presidency is too much for the community organizer. While this is be true, I also believe that in the midst of his chaos we are seeing a plan that is being implemented which follows the ideology of tyranny for rebuilding America.