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Verizon Terminating Copyright Infringers’ Internet Access

Verizon Terminating Copyright Infringers’ Internet Access

Wired
July 20, 2010

Verizon is terminating internet service to an unknown number of repeat copyright scofflaws, a year after suggesting it was not adopting a so-called graduated-response policy.

While it was not immediately clear whether other internet service providers were following suit, the move comes as the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America are lobbying ISPs and Congress to support terminating internet access for repeat, online copyright offenders.

All the while, the United States has been privately lobbying the European Union to “encourage” so-called three strikes policies, according to leaked documents surrounding a proposed international intellectual property accord.

Verizon was not immediately prepared to comment in detail on the developments, first reported by CNET, or to detail how many of its more than 8 million broadband subscribers it has terminated — although CNET said the number was “small.” The RIAA declined comment.

“We reserve the right to do that,” Verizon spokeswoman Bobbi Henson said in a telephone interview regarding the terminations. The next day, it “disputed” the accuracy of CNET’s story.

The RIAA announced a year ago it was winding down its litigation campaign against individual file sharers, about 30,000 lawsuits in all. Instead, the music industry’s lobbying and litigation arm said it would rely on a series of accords it had reached with “leading” internet service providers, in which ISPs have agreed “on principle” to shut off internet access to customers the RIAA catches file sharing repeatedly.

At that time, in a Jan. 5, 2009 interview, Verizon spokeswoman Ellen Yu said that, in reference to the RIAA announcement: “We are not working with them on this.”

Cara Duckworth, an RIAA spokeswoman, said the same day that “We have an agreement on principle with several leading ISPs but not all, and the agreement on principle is confidential.”

Other than Verizon, none of the leading ISPs have acknowledged practicing what the content industry is calling “graduated response.” Under Verizon’s plan, the ISP notifies customers that unlawful file sharing allegedly is taking place on their accounts — file sharing discovered by the RIAA or other intellectual property holders who actively police networks and IP addresses. Internet service could be terminated perhaps after several warnings.

Italy to Require Anyone Who Uploads Video to the Internet to Obtain Government Authorization

Global treaty could ban file-sharers from Internet after ‘three strikes’

 



Chinese youth beaten to death at net addiction bootcamp

Chinese youth beaten to death at net addiction bootcamp

Joe Fay
The Register
August 4, 2009

China’s anti-internet addiction industry has claimed another victim, after supervisors at a rehabilitation camp allegedly beat a 16 year old inmate to death.

Deng Senshan had been sent to Guangxi Qihuang Survival Training Camp to “cure” him of his internet addiction, the AFP reports. His parents were paying $1000 for the treatment.

However, the youth ended up in solitary confinement shortly after arriving at the establishment, and was subsequently beaten to death by supervisors for “running too slowly”, according to the news agency.

Local police confirmed they were investigating the death of a high school student, allegedly at the hands of his supervisors.

China is in the grip of acute paranoia over the threat of internet addiction to its youth. Efforts to cure the young of their affliction range from the bizarre to the brutal, by way of out and out quackery.

Read Full Article Here

 



Student Must Pay $675,000 in Downloading Case

Student Must Pay $675,000 in Downloading Case

AP
July 31, 2009

A federal jury on Friday ordered a Boston University graduate student who admitted illegally downloading and sharing music online to pay $675,000 to four record labels.

Joel Tenenbaum, of Providence, R.I., admitted in court that he downloaded and distributed 30 songs. The only issue for the jury to decide was how much in damages to award the record labels.

Under federal law, the recording companies were entitled to $750 to $30,000 per infringement. But the law allows as much as $150,000 per track if the jury finds the infringements were willful. The maximum jurors could have awarded in Tenenbaum’s case was $4.5 million.

Jurors ordered Tenenbaum to pay $22,500 for each incident of copyright infringement, effectively finding that his actions were willful. The attorney for the 25-year-old student had asked the jury earlier Friday to “send a message” to the music industry by awarding only minimal damages.

Tenenbaum said he was thankful that the case wasn’t in the millions and contrasted the significance of his fine with the maximum.

“That to me sends a message of ‘We considered your side with some legitimacy,'” he said. “$4.5 million would have been, ‘We don’t buy it at all.'”

He added he will file for bankruptcy if the verdict stands.

Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, said the jury’s verdict was not fair. He said he plans to appeal the decision because he was not allowed to argue a case based on fair use.

The case is only the nation’s second music downloading case against an individual to go to trial.

Last month, a federal jury in Minneapolis ruled that Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, must pay $1.92 million, or $80,000 on each of 24 songs, after concluding she willfully violated the copyrights on those tunes.
The jury began deliberating the case Friday afternoon.

After Tenenbaum admitted Thursday he is liable for damages for 30 songs at issue in the case, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner ruled that the jury must consider only whether his copyright infringement was willful and how much in damages to award four recording labels that sued him over the illegal file-sharing.

In his closing statement Friday, Nesson repeatedly referred to Tenenbaum as a “kid” and asked the jury to award only a small amount to the recording companies. At one point, Nesson suggested the damages should be as little as 99 cents per song, roughly the same amount Tenenbaum would have to pay if he legally purchased the music online.

But Tim Reynolds, a lawyer for the recording labels, recounted Tenenbaum’s history of file-sharing from 1999 to 2007, describing him as “a hardcore, habitual, long-term infringer who knew what he was doing was wrong.” Tenenbaum admitted on the witness stand that he had downloaded and shared more than 800 songs.

Tenenbaum said he downloaded and shared hundreds of songs by Nirvana, Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins and other artists. The recording industry focused on only 30 songs in the case.

The music industry has typically offered to settle such cases for about $5,000, though it has said that it stopped filing such lawsuits last August and is instead working with Internet service providers to fight the worst offenders. Cases already filed, however, are proceeding to trial.

Tenenbaum testified that he had lied in pretrial depositions when he said his two sisters, friends and others may have been responsible for downloading the songs to his computer.

Under questioning from his own lawyer, Tenenbaum said he now takes responsibility for the illegal swapping.

“I used the computer. I uploaded, I downloaded music … I did it,” Tenenbaum said.

Mother Owes $1.92 Million For Downloading Songs

 



Mother Sued $80,000 For Every Illegally Downloaded Song

Single-Mother Ordered To Pay $80,000 Per Illegally Downloaded Song

A woman in Minnesota has been ordered to pay $80,000 a song to record companies for illegally downloading tracks and violating copyright laws.

A federal jury ruled that Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs, and awarded record companies $1.92 million.

The single mother of four from Minnesota was found liable for using the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing network to download the songs over the internet.

Thomas-Rasset, 32, had been convicted previously, in October 2007, and ordered to pay $220,000 in damages, but the judge who presided over that trial threw out the verdict and ordered a retrial after he misdirected the jury.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and big music labels have sued thousands of people for downloading and sharing music illegally, with most agreeing to settlements of between $3,000 and $5,000.

Thomas-Rasset was the first among those being sued to refuse a settlement and instead took the case to court, turning her into the highest-profile digital pirate in America.

She sat glumly, chin in hand, as she heard the jury’s finding of wilful infringement, which increased the potential penalty. She raised her eyebrows in surprise when the jury’s penalty of $80,000 (£49,000) per song was read out.

Outside the courtroom, she called the $1.92 million figure “kind of ridiculous” but expressed resignation over the decision.

“There’s no way they’re ever going to get that,” she said. “I’m a mom, limited means, so I’m not going to worry about it now.”

Her lawyer, Kiwi Camara, said that he and his client had not decided whether to appeal or pursue the RIAA’s settlement overtures.

Cara Duckworth, for the RIAA, said that the industry remained willing to settle. She refused to name a figure, but acknowledged that Thomas-Rasset had been given the chance to settle for $3,000 to $5,000 earlier in the case. “Since day one we have been willing to settle this case and we remain willing to do so,” Ms Duckworth said.

In December, the RIAA said that it would stop suing people who download music illegally to concentrate instead on getting internet service providers to take action. The move away from litigation represented an important shift in strategy for the music industry group, which had filed lawsuits in the US against some 35,000 people for online music piracy since 2003.

The focus on ISPs penalising illegal file-sharers is one of the main proposals in the new Digital Britain report published this week.

In testimony, Thomas-Rasset denied she shared any songs. The self-described “huge music fan” raised the possibility for the first time in the long-running case that her children or ex-husband might have done it. The defence did not provide any evidence that any of them had shared the files.

The recording companies accused Thomas-Rasset of offering 1,700 songs on Kazaa as of February 2005, before the company became a legal music subscription service after a settlement with entertainment companies. The music industry tried to prove only 24 exemplary infringements.

The court heard that Thomas-Rasset made the songs available on Kazaa under the screen name “tereastarr” – the same nickname that she acknowledged having used for years for her e-mail and several other computer accounts, including her MySpace page.

MediaSentry, the copyright security company, traced the files offered by “tereastarr” on Kazaa to Thomas-Rasset’s IP address and to her modem.

The recording industry has blamed online piracy for declines in music sales claiming it has lost billions of dollars through illegal file-sharing.

 



Australia To Enforce Mandatory Internet Censorship

Australia To Enforce Mandatory Chinese-Style Internet Censorship
Government to block “controversial” websites with universal national filter

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
October 29, 2008

The Australian government is set to impose Chinese-style Internet censorship by enforcing a universal national filter that will block websites deemed “controversial,” as part of a wider agenda to regulate the Internet according to free speech advocates.

A provision whereby Internet users could opt out of the filter by contacting their ISP has been stripped from the legislation, meaning the filter will be universal and mandatory.

The System Administrators Guild of Australia and Electronic Frontiers Australia have attacked the proposal, saying it will restrict web access, raise prices and slow internet traffic speeds.

The plan was first created as a way to combat child pornography and adult content, but could be extended to include controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia,” reports the Australian Herald Sun.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy revealed the mandatory censorship to the Senate estimates committee as the Global Network Initiative, bringing together leading companies, human rights organisations, academics and investors, committed the technology firms to “protect the freedom of expression and privacy rights of their users”. (Complete black is white, up is down, double talk).

Human Rights Watch has condemned internet censorship, and argued to the US Senate “there is a real danger of a Virtual Curtain dividing the internet, much as the Iron Curtain did during the Cold War, because some governments fear the potential of the internet, (and) want to control it.”

Speaking from personal experience, not only are “controversial” websites blocked in China, meaning any website that is critical of the state, but every website the user attempts to visit first has to pass through the “great firewall,” causing the browser to hang and delay while it is checked against a government blacklist.

This causes excruciating delays, and the user experience is akin to being on a bad dial-up connection in the mid 1990’s. Even in the center of Shanghai with a fixed ethernet connection, the user experience is barely tolerable.

Not only are websites in China blocked, but e mails too are scanned for “controversial” words and blocked from being sent if they contain phrases related to politics or obscenities.

Googling for information on certain topics is also heavily restricted. While in China I tried to google “Bush Taiwan,” which resulted in Google.com ceasing to be accessible and my Internet connection was immediately terminated thereafter.

The Australian government will no doubt insist that their filter is in our best interests and is only designed to block child pornography, snuff films and other horrors, yet the system is completely pointless because it will not affect file sharing networks, which is the medium through which the vast majority of such material is distributed.

If we allow Australia to become the first “free” nation to impose Internet censorship, the snowball effect will only accelerate – the U.S. and the UK are next.

Indeed, Prime Minister Tony Blair called for Internet censorship last year.

In April 2007, Time magazine reported that researchers funded by the federal government want to shut down the internet and start over, citing the fact that at the moment there are loopholes in the system whereby users cannot be tracked and traced all the time. The projects echo moves we have previously reported on to clamp down on internet neutrality and even to designate a new form of the internet known as Internet 2.

Moves to regulate the web have increased over the last two years.

– In a display of bi-partisanship, there have been calls for all out mandatory ISP snooping on all US citizens by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

– In December 2006, Republican Senator John McCain tabled a proposal to introduce legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards. It is well known that McCain has a distaste for his blogosphere critics, causing a definite conflict of interest where any proposal to restrict blogs on his part is concerned.

– During an appearance with his wife Barbara on Fox News in November 2006, George Bush senior slammed Internet bloggers for creating an “adversarial and ugly climate.”

– The White House’s own de-classified strategy for “winning the war on terror” targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to “diminish” their influence.

– The Pentagon has also announced its effort to infiltrate the Internet and propagandize for the war on terror.

– In an October 2006 speech, Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff identified the web as a “terror training camp,” through which “disaffected people living in the United States” are developing “radical ideologies and potentially violent skills.” His solution is “intelligence fusion centers,” staffed by Homeland Security personnel which will are already in operation.

– The U.S. Government wants to force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress. Criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year could be the punishment for non-compliance.

– A landmark November 2006 legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations sought to criminalize all Internet file sharing of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web – and their argument was supported by the U.S. government.

– A landmark legal ruling in Sydney goes further than ever before in setting the trap door for the destruction of the Internet as we know it and the end of alternative news websites and blogs by creating the precedent that simply linking to other websites is breach of copyright and piracy.

– The European Union, led by former Stalinist John Reid, has also vowed to shut down “terrorists” who use the Internet to spread propaganda.

– The EU data retention bill, passed after much controversy and implemented in 2007, obliges telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called who and who emailed who for at least six months. Under this law, investigators in any EU country, and most bizarrely even in the US, can access EU citizens’ data on phone calls, sms’, emails and instant messaging services.

– The EU also proposed legislation that would prevent users from uploading any form of video without a license.

– The US government is also funding research into social networking sites and how to gather and store personal data published on them, according to the New Scientist magazine. “At the same time, US lawmakers are attempting to force the social networking sites themselves to control the amount and kind of information that people, particularly children, can put on the sites.”

Governments are furious that their ceaseless lies are being exposed in real time on the World Wide Web and have resolved to stifle, regulate and control what truly is the last outpost of real free speech in the world. Internet censorship is perhaps the most pertinent issue that freedom advocates should rally to combat over the course of the next few years, lest we allow a cyber-gag to be placed over our mouths and say goodbye to our last medium of free and open communication.

 

DARPA building search engine for video surveillance footage

Ars Technica
October 21, 2008

The government agency that birthed the Internet is developing a sophisticated search engine for video, and when complete will allow intelligence analysts to sift through live footage from spy drones, as well as thousands of hours worth of archived recordings, in order to spot a variety of selected events or behaviors. In the past month, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced nearly $20 million in total contracts for private firms to begin developing the system, which is slated to take until at least 2011 to complete.

According to a prospectus written in March but released only this month, the Video and Image Retrieval and Analysis Tool (VIRAT) will enable intel analysts to “rapidly find video content of interest from archives and provide alerts to the analyst of events of interest during live operations,” taking both conventional video and footage from infrared scanners as input. The VIRAT project is an effort to cope with a growing data glut that has taxed intelligence resources because of the need to have trained human personnel perform time- and labor-intensive review of recorded video.

The DARPA overview emphasizes that VIRAT will not be designed with “face recognition, gait recognition, human identification, or any form of biometrics” in mind. Rather, the system will search for classes of activities or events. A suggested partial list in the prospectus includes digging, loitering, exploding, shooting, smoking, following, shaking hand, exchanging objects, crawling under a car, breaking a window, and evading a checkpoint. As new sample clips are fed into the system, it will need to recognize the signature features of new classes of search terms.

Read Full Article Here

 

EU Set to Move ‘Internet of Things’ Closer to Reality

Daniel Taylor
Old-Thinker News
November 2, 2008

If the world-wide trend continues, ‘Web 3.0′ will be tightly monitored, and will become an unprecedented tool for surveillance. The “Internet of Things”, a digital representation of real world objects and people tagged with RFID chips, and increased censorship are two main themes for the future of the web.

The future of the internet, according to author and “web critic” Andrew Keen, will be monitored by “gatekeepers” to verify the accuracy of information posted on the web. The “Outlook 2009″ report from the November-December issue of The Futurist reports that,

“Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen believes that the anonymity of today’s internet 2.0 will give way to a more open internet 3.0 in which third party gatekeepers monitor the information posted on Web sites to verify its accuracy.”

Keen stated during his early 2008 interview withThe Futurist that the internet, in its current form, has undermined mainline media and empowered untrustworthy “amateurs”, two trends that he wants reversed. “Rather than the empowerment of the amateur, Web 3.0 will show the resurgence of the professional,” states Keen.

Australia has now joined China in implementing mandatory internet censorship, furthering the trend towards a locked down and monitored web.

The Internet of Things

Now, the European Union has announced that it will pursue the main component of Web 3.0, the Internet of Things (IoT).

According to Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media for the EU, “The Internet of the future will radically change our society.” Ultimately, the EU is aiming to “lead the way” in the transformation to Web 3.0.

Reporting on the European Union’s pursuit of the IoT, iBLS reports,

“New technology applications will need ubiquitous Internet coverage. The Internet of Things means that wireless interaction between machines, vehicles, appliances, sensors and many other devices will take place using the Internet. It already makes electronic travel cards possible, and will allow mobile devices to exchange information to pay for things or get information from billboards (or streetlights).”

The Internet of Things consists of objects that are ‘tagged’ with Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFID) that communicate their position, history, and other information to an RFID reader or wireless network. Most, if not all major computer companies and technology developers (HP, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, etc.) are putting large amounts of time and money into the Internet of Things.

Cisco and Sun Microsystems have founded an alliance to promote the Internet of Things and further its implementation.

South Korea is at the forefront in implementing ubiquitous technology and the Internet of Things. An entire city, New Songdo, is being built in South Korea that fully utilizes the technology. Ubiquitous computing proponents in the United States admit that while a large portion of the technology is being developed in the U.S., it is being tested in South Korea where there are less traditional, ethical and social blockades to prevent its acceptance and use. As the New York Times reports

“Much of this technology was developed in U.S. research labs, but there are fewer social and regulatory obstacles to implementing them in Korea,” said Mr. Townsend [a research director at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California], who consulted on Seoul’s own U-city plan, known as Digital Media City. ‘There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards.’

An April 2008 report from the National Intelligence Council discussed the Internet of Things and its possible implications.

A timeline shown in the April 2008 NIC report

The report outlines uses for the technology:

“Sensor networks need not be connected to the Internet and indeed often reside in remote sites, vehicles, and buildings having no Internet connection. Smart dust is a term that some have used to express a vision of tiny, wireless-connected sensors; more recently, others use the term to describe any of several technologies that range from the size of a pack of gum to a pack of cigarettes, and that are widely available to system developers.

Ubiquitous positioning describes technologies for locating objects that may reside anywhere, including indoors and underground locations where satellite signals may be unavailable or otherwise inadequate.

Biometrics enables technology to recognize people and other living things, rather than inanimate objects. Connected everyday objects could recognize authorized users by means of fingerprint, voiceprint, iris scan, or other biometric technology.”

These trends towards internet censorship and the internet of things are undoubtedly going to continue, but restricting your free speech and violating your privacy will be harder with your outspoken resistance.

DARPA spies on analyst brains; hopes to offload image analysis to computers
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20..-image-analysis-to-computers.html

Security services want personal data from sites like Facebook

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/oct/15/terrorism-security

UK.gov says: Regulate the internet

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/20/government_internet_regulation/

 



Joe Biden’s pro-RIAA, pro-FBI tech voting record

Joe Biden’s pro-RIAA, pro-FBI tech voting record

CNET
August 23, 2008

By choosing Joe Biden as their vice presidential candidate, the Democrats have selected a politician with a mixed record on technology who has spent most of his Senate career allied with the FBI and copyright holders, who ranks toward the bottom of CNET’s Technology Voters’ Guide, and whose anti-privacy legislation was actually responsible for the creation of PGP.

That’s probably okay with Barack Obama: Biden likely got the nod because of his foreign policy knowledge. The Delaware politician is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee who voted for the war in Iraq, and is reasonably well-known nationally after his presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2008.

Copyright
But back to the Delaware senator’s tech record. After taking over the Foreign Relations committee, Biden became a staunch ally of Hollywood and the recording industry in their efforts to expand copyright law. He sponsored a bill in 2002 that would have make it a federal felony to trick certain types of devices into playing unauthorized music or executing unapproved computer programs. Biden’s bill was backed by content companies including News Corp. but eventually died after Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, eBay, and Yahoo lobbied against it.

A few months later, Biden signed a letter that urged the Justice Department “to prosecute individuals who intentionally allow mass copying from their computer over peer-to-peer networks.” Critics of this approach said that the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, and not taxpayers, should pay for their own lawsuits.

Last year, Biden sponsored an RIAA-backed bill called the Perform Act aimed at restricting Americans’ ability to record and play back individual songs from satellite and Internet radio services. (The RIAA sued XM Satellite Radio over precisely this point.)

All of which meant that nobody in Washington was surprised when Biden was one of only four U.S. senators invited to a champagne reception in celebration of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act hosted by the MPAA’s Jack Valenti, the RIAA, and the Business Software Alliance. (Photos are here.)

Now, it’s true that few Americans will cast their votes in November based on what the vice presidential candidate thinks of copyright law. But these pro-copyright views don’t exactly jibe with what Obama has promised; he’s pledged to “update and reform our copyright and patent systems to promote civic discourse, innovation and investment while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated.” These are code words for taking a more pro-EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) than pro-MPAA approach.

Unfortunately, Biden has steadfastly refused to answer questions on the topic. We asked him 10 tech-related questions, including whether he’d support rewriting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as part of our 2008 Technology Voters’ guide. Biden would not answer (we did hear back from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Ron Paul).

In our 2006 Technology Voters’ Guide, which ranked Senate votes from July 1998 through May 2005, Biden received a mere 37.5 percent score because of his support for Internet filters in schools and libraries and occasional support for Internet taxes.

Privacy, the FBI, and PGP
On privacy, Biden’s record is hardly stellar. In the 1990s, Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and introduced a bill called the Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Act, which the EFF says he was “persuaded” to do by the FBI. A second Biden bill was called the Violent Crime Control Act. Both were staunchly anti-encryption, with this identical language:

It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufacturers of electronic communications service equipment shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.

Translated, that means turn over your encryption keys. The book Electronic Privacy Papers describes Biden’s bill as representing the FBI’s visible effort to restrict encryption technology, which was taking place in concert with the National Security Agency’s parallel, but less visible efforts. (Biden was no foe of the NSA. He once described now-retired NSA director Bobby Ray Inman as the “single most competent man in the government.”)

Biden’s bill — and the threat of encryption being outlawed — is what spurred Phil Zimmermann to write PGP, thereby kicking off a historic debate about export controls, national security, and privacy. Zimmermann, who’s now busy developing Zfone, says it was Biden’s legislation “that led me to publish PGP electronically for free that year, shortly before the measure was defeated after vigorous protest by civil libertarians and industry groups.”

While neither of Biden’s pair of bills became law, they did foreshadow the FBI’s pro-wiretapping, anti-encryption legislative strategy that followed — and demonstrated that the Delaware senator was willing to be a reliable ally of law enforcement on the topic. (They also previewed the FBI’s legislative proposal later that decade for banning encryption products such as SSH or PGP without government backdoors, which was approved by one House of Representatives committee but never came to a vote in the Senate.)

“Joe Biden made his second attempt to introduce such legislation” in the form of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was also known as the Digital Telephony law, according to an account in Wired magazine. Biden at the time was chairman of the relevant committee; he co-sponsored the Senate version and dutifully secured a successful floor vote on it less than two months after it was introduced. CALEA became law in October 1994, and is still bedeviling privacy advocates: the FBI recently managed to extend its requirements to Internet service providers.

CALEA represented one step in the FBI and NSA’s attempts to restrict encryption without backdoors. In a top-secret memo to members of President George H.W. Bush’s administration including Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and CIA director Robert Gates, one White House official wrote: “Justice should go ahead now to seek a legislative fix to the digital telephony problem, and all parties should prepare to follow through on the encryption problem in about a year. Success with digital telephony will lock in one major objective; we will have a beachhead we can exploit for the encryption fix; and the encryption access options can be developed more thoroughly in the meantime.”

There’s another reason why Biden’s legislative tactics in the CALEA scrum amount to more than a mere a footnote in Internet history. They’re what led to the creation of the Center for Democracy and Technology — and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s simultaneous implosion and soul-searching.

EFF staffers Jerry Berman and Danny Weitzner chose to work with Biden on cutting a deal and altering the bill in hopes of obtaining privacy concessions. It may have helped, but it also left the EFF in the uncomfortable position of leaving its imprimatur on Biden’s FBI-backed wiretapping law universally loathed by privacy advocates. The debacle ended with internal turmoil, Berman and Weitzner leaving the group and taking their corporate backers to form CDT, and a chastened EFF that quietly packed its bags and moved to its current home in San Francisco. (Weitzner, who was responsible for a censorship controversy last year, became a formal Obama campaign surrogate.)

“Anti-terror” legislation
The next year, months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of “terrorism” that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detection of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review. The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode “constitutional and statutory due process protections” and would “authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations.”

Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. “I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill,” he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as “the Democratic Party’s de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism.”

Biden’s chronology is not accurate: the bombing took place in April 1995 and his bill had been introduced in February 1995. But it’s true that Biden’s proposal probably helped to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration’s Patriot Act.

In 1996, Biden voted to keep intact an ostensibly anti-illegal immigration bill that outlined what the Real ID Act would become almost a decade later. The bill would create a national worker identification registry; Biden voted to kill an Abraham-Feingold amendment that would have replaced the registry with stronger enforcement. According to an analysis by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the underlying bill would have required “states to place Social Security numbers on drivers licenses and to obtain fingerprints or some other form of biometric identification for licenses.”

Along with most of his colleagues in the Congress — including Sen. John McCain but not Rep. Ron Paul — Biden voted for the Patriot Act and the Real ID Act (which was part of a larger spending bill). Obama voted for the bill containing the Real ID Act, but wasn’t in the U.S. Senate in 2001 when the original Patriot Act vote took place.

Patriot Act
In the Senate debate over the Patriot Act in October 2001, Biden once again allied himself closely with the FBI. The Justice Department favorably quotes Biden on its Web site as saying: “The FBI could get a wiretap to investigate the mafia, but they could not get one to investigate terrorists. To put it bluntly, that was crazy! What’s good for the mob should be good for terrorists.”

The problem is that Biden’s claim was simply false — which he should have known after a decade of experience lending his name to wiretapping bills on behalf of the FBI. As CDT explains in a rebuttal to Biden: “The Justice Department had the ability to use wiretaps, including roving taps, in criminal investigations of terrorism, just as in other criminal investigations, long before the Patriot Act.”

But Biden’s views had become markedly less FBI-friendly by April 2007, six years later. By then, the debate over wiretapping had become sharply partisan, pitting Democrats seeking to embarrass President Bush against Republicans aiming to defend the administration at nearly any cost. In addition, Biden had announced his presidential candidacy three months earlier and was courting liberal activists dismayed by the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping.

That month, Biden slammed the “president’s illegal wiretapping program that allows intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on the conversations of Americans without a judge’s approval or congressional authorization or oversight.” He took aim at Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for allowing the FBI to “flagrantly misuse National Security Letters” — even though it was the Patriot Act that greatly expanded their use without also expanding internal safeguards and oversight as well.

Biden did vote against a FISA bill with retroactive immunity for any telecommunications provider that illegally opened its network to the National Security Agency; Obama didn’t. Both agreed to renew the Patriot Act in March 2006, a move that pro-privacy Democrats including Ron Wyden and Russ Feingold opposed. The ACLU said the renewal “fails to correct the most flawed provisions” of the original Patriot Act. (Biden does do well on the ACLU’s congressional scorecard.)

“Baby-food bombs”
The ACLU also had been at odds with Biden over his efforts to censor bomb-making information on the Internet. One day after a bomb in Saudi Arabia killed several U.S. servicemen and virtually flattened a military base, Biden pushed to make posting bomb-making information on the Internet a felony, punishable by up to 20 years in jail, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

“I think most Americans would be absolutely shocked if they knew what kind of bone-chilling information is making its way over the Internet,” he told the Senate. “You can access detailed, explicit instructions on how to make and detonate pipe bombs, light-bulb bombs, and even — if you can believe it — baby-food bombs.”

Biden didn’t get exactly what he wanted — at least not right away. His proposal was swapped in the final law for one requiring the attorney general to investigate “the extent to which the First Amendment protects such material and its private and commercial distribution.” The report was duly produced, concluding that the proposal “can withstand constitutional muster in most, if not all, of its possible applications, if such legislation is slightly modified.”

It was. Biden and co-sponsor Dianne Feinstein introduced their bill again the following year. Biden pitched it as an anti-terror measure, saying in a floor debate that numerous terrorists “have been found in possession of bomb-making manuals and Internet bomb-making information.” He added: “What is even worse is that some of these instructions are geared toward kids. They tell kids that all the ingredients they need are right in their parents’ kitchen or laundry cabinets.”

Biden’s proposal became law in 1997. It didn’t amount to much: four years after its enactment, there had been only one conviction. And instead of being used to snare a dangerous member of Al Qaeda, the law was used to lock up a 20-year old anarchist Webmaster who was sentenced to one year in prison for posting information about Molotov cocktails and “Drano bombs” on his Web site, Raisethefist.com.

Today there are over 10,000 hits on Google for the phrase, in quotes, “Drano bomb.” One is a video that lists the necessary ingredients and shows some self-described rednecks blowing up small plastic bottles in their yard. Then there’s the U.S. Army’s Improvised Munitions Handbook with instructions on making far more deadly compounds, including methyl nitrate dynamite, mortars, grenades, and C-4 plastic explosive — which free speech activists placed online as an in-your-face response to the Biden-Feinstein bill.

Peer-to-peer networks
Since then, Biden has switched from complaining about Internet baby-food bombs to taking aim at peer-to-peer networks. He held one Foreign Relations committee hearing in February 2002 titled “Theft of American Intellectual Property” and invited executives from the Justice Department, RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft to speak. Not one Internet company, P2P network, or consumer group was invited to testify.

Afterwards, Sharman Networks (which distributes Kazaa) wrote a letter to Biden complaining about “one-sided and unsubstantiated attacks” on P2P networks. It said: “We are deeply offended by the gratuitous accusations made against Kazaa by witnesses before the committee, including ludicrous attempts to associate an extremely beneficial, next-generation software program with organized criminal gangs and even terrorist organizations.”

Biden returned to the business of targeting P2P networks this year. In April, he proposed spending $1 billion in U.S. tax dollars so police can monitor peer-to-peer networks for illegal activity. He made that suggestion after a Wyoming cop demonstrated a proof-of-concept program called “Operation Fairplay” at a hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

A month later, the Senate Judiciary committee approved a Biden-sponsored bill that would spend over $1 billion on policing illegal Internet activity, mostly child pornography. It has the dubious virtue of being at least partially redundant: One section would “prohibit the broadcast of live images of child abuse,” even though the Justice Department has experienced no problems in securing guilty pleas for underage Webcamming. (The bill has not been voted on by the full Senate.)

Online sales of Robitussin
Around the same time, Biden introduced his self-described Biden Crime Bill of 2007. One section expands electronic surveillance law to permit police wiretaps in “crimes dangerous to the life, limb, and well-being of minor children.” Another takes aim at Internet-based telemedicine and online pharmacies, saying that physicians must have conducted “at least one in-person medical evaluation of the patient” to prescribe medicine.

Another prohibits selling a product containing dextromethorphan — including Robitussin, Sucrets, Dayquil, and Vicks — “to an individual under the age of 18 years, including any such sale using the Internet.” It gives the Justice Department six months to come up with regulations, which include when retailers should be fined for shipping cough suppressants to children. (Biden is a longtime drug warrior; he authored the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act that the Bush administration used to shut down benefit concerts.)

Net neutrality
On Net neutrality, Biden has sounded skeptical. In 2006, he indicated that no preemptive laws were necessary because if violations do happen, such a public outcry will develop that “the chairman will be required to hold this meeting in this largest room in the Capitol, and there will be lines wandering all the way down to the White House.” Obama, on the other hand, has been a strong supporter of handing pre-emptive regulatory authority to the Federal Communications Commission.

 

Tommy Chong: Biden ’authored the bill that put me in jail’

KXMB
August 24, 2008

It turns out that Obama’s new running mate is one of the leading crusaders in the war on drugs. Which isn’t something that’s likely to sit well with Obama’s base of young, college-aged supporters

Earlier this week, in an interview with the Washington Post, Tommy Chong was asked what the average citizen can do to further the cause of decriminalization. “Check out the people you’re voting for,” Chong replied. “For instance, Joseph Biden comes off as a liberal Democrat, but he’s the one who authored the bill that put me in jail. He wrote the law against shipping drug paraphernalia through the mail – which could be anything from a pipe to a clip or cigarette papers.”

Barack Obama’s V.P. selection Sen. Joe Biden also spnsored the Rave Act, which targets music events where drug use is allegedly prevalent.

Read Full Article Here

Experts: Many Americans Lost Homes Due to a Bill Championed by Biden
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5670703&page=1

Barack Obama: The Next PRESIDENT Is Joe Biden
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RElChQ6g2Io

VP Choice Biden Unpopular in Iraq: He’s creator of the idea of dividing Iraq
http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnLN96984.html

Biden’s Bill: The Patriot Act
http://www.tnr.com/columnist..582-b6ec-444834c9df73&k=93697

Biden called for unilateral Iraq invasion – in 1998
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5492

 



UK Internet users could be banned over illegal downloads

UK Internet users could be banned over illegal downloads

The Times
February 12, 2008

People who illegally download films and music will be cut off from the internet under new legislative proposals to be unveiled next week.

Internet service providers (ISPs) will be legally required to take action against users who access pirated material, The Times has learnt.

Users suspected of wrongly downloading films or music will receive a warning e-mail for the first offence, a suspension for the second infringement and the termination of their internet contract if caught a third time, under the most likely option to emerge from discussions about the new law.

Broadband companies who fail to enforce the “three-strikes” regime would be prosecuted and suspected customers’ details could be made available to the courts. The Government has yet to decide if information on offenders should be shared between ISPs.

Read Full Article Here