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[Ticker] Russian plane violates Estonia airspace

van EU Observer - 4 uur 32 min geleden
Estonia has summoned the Russian ambassador after a Russian intelligence-gathering plane entered 600 metres into its airspace for less than one minute on Wednesday. Nato "air-policing" jets from Denmark and Portugal intercepted the plane, which took off from Kaliningrad. Swedish jets were also involved in escorting it away.


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Departing EU Digital Commissioner Warns Against 'Analogue Europe' Blocking Digital Innovation

van TechDirt - 6 uur 3 min geleden
We've written numerous times about outgoing EU Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes. While we don't always agree with her, we definitely agree with her more often than not. She's now given quite a speech about the importance of digital innovation and highlighting how legacy industries, fearful of change, are seeking to hold it back. The whole thing is worth reading, but here's a key part. After talking about how Europe used to dominate in innovation, it's since fallen behind both the US and Asia. When we looked over the last 30 years of the exhibit, we saw Asian innovation taking over Europe and rivalling the US. Europe was fading into the background.

And then I am confronted with the statistics. For every Sweden or UK or Netherlands (who have 4G and where nearly everyone is online), we also have a Germany and Italy and the rest of Europe. There fast broadband infrastructure and skills are average at best, sometimes non-existent.

I ask myself why did Europe stop inventing and investing? Why did Europe lose interest?
The answer? Legacy industries, seeking to hold back innovation. We have a problem today of two Europes: a digital Europe and an analogue Europe. Of digital mind-sets and analogue mind-sets.

These are two Europes that rarely talk to each other. Two Europes that hold back all of Europe because they are not in sync.

There is a Europe that is full of energy and digital ideas. We have a growing start-up scene with thousands of people who are the smartest in the world at what they do. From Skype to Spotify to SAP, from Rovio to Booking.com to Campus Party. We have a young generation that uses their digital devices and apps and new ways of building communities and businesses.

This Europe is optimistic. This is the Europe where half of new jobs come from – the ICT-enabled jobs. This Europe is mobile and flexible. This Europe hates barriers and looks for new opportunities. This is the Europe that likes innovation – and is happy to use Uber and Air BnB.

But there is a second Europe. It is a Europe that is afraid of this digital future. They worry about where the new middle class jobs will come from. They don’t want to jump off what they see as a digital cliff. They like the comforting idea of putting up walls; to many people it makes sense to restrict Americans and Asians and protect against their innovations. They tend to be older. They tend to want strong regulations protecting what they know, instead of taking a chance on what they don’t know.
And the big question she asks, is from which of those two Europes will the EUs leaders come from? It comes down to this question: is Europe’s leadership class willing to be excited about innovation and start-ups? Or is Europe going to be exhausted by using up its energy safeguarding vested interests, and holding up ancient barriers?

We need to ask if we can reinvent ourselves. And if we are willing to be led to a digital renaissance based on an open mindset and a belief that we can be the best if we want to be.
She goes on to admit the mistakes that she's made, but also asks that companies need to admit to their own mistakes as well. She calls out European companies for resisting change and resisting entrepreneurship. She calls out American companies for "trusting the government too much" and not valuing customers' privacy enough.

It's a good speech, well worth reading. Even if we didn't always agree with Kroes, in our own experiences, she was (unlike many politicians) not just exceptionally thoughtful on these matters, but was also always willing to listen to, and take into account, the views of those who disagreed with her. Hopefully, those who are replacing her will similarly recognize the importance of innovation as well.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

DailyDirt: Rocket Engines, Old And New

van TechDirt - 10 uur 16 min geleden
Rockets capable of sending payloads into orbit aren't too common. Not surprisingly, a vehicle that has to control an enormous explosion and direct the thrust in a specified direction isn't easy to make reliable. So when rocket scientists have created a design that works, it doesn't make that much sense to radically change the design without good reasons. Here are just a few examples of rocket engines that are gradually evolving and improving as the demands of space launches grow. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

One Of The NSA's Biggest Critics In The Senate May Lose His Seat

van TechDirt - 11 uur 19 min geleden
In the past, we've noted how unfortunate it was that the Senator who fought strongest for our civil liberties in Congress, Russ Feingold, got voted out of office back in 2010 -- in favor of a "Tea Party" candidate who has consistently voted in favor of the intelligence community since replacing Feingold. Since then, plenty of attention has gone to Senator Ron Wyden for picking up where Feingold left off, but with him on issues of civil liberties as it relates to the intelligence community has always been Senator Mark Udall -- who has been perhaps even more vocal than Senator Wyden on these issues.

And, worryingly, it appears that Udall may be facing a Feingold moment, where he's facing a candidate that has positioned himself more on "Tea Party" type issues. Udall hasn't campaigned very much on his amazing support for civil liberties, since many observers don't think that's an "election issue" in Colorado. However, recently, Udall has been willing to point to his important work on the Senate Intelligence Committee as one of a very small number of Senators who actually worked hard to push back against unconstitutional surveillance, to push for transparency and accountability for the intelligence community, and who pushed, repeatedly, to defend our civil liberties. It would be a huge loss for civil liberties if Udall were to lose this election, and a clear victory for the NSA, the intelligence community and those who like to spread FUD to retain power and take away your rights. “I do think it would be a significant loss for the movement,” said Laura Murphy, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.

[...]

“Were Sen. Udall to lose, I think he would be sorely missed,” echoed Scott Roehm, a senior counsel at The Constitution Project. “He was one of the earliest voices for meaningful surveillance reform even before the Snowden leaks.”
The Denver Post recently endorsed Udall's opponent, complaining that Udall wasn't enough of a "leader" in the Senate (not an easy thing to do as a first-term Senator). And while the editorial at least does call out Udall's work on the Intelligence Committee, it suggests that his opponent, Cory Gardner, is fine there too because he voted for the USA Freedom Act in the House. Except, of course, voting for a bill is one thing. Leading the charge on these issues is another thing altogether. Besides, the version of the USA Freedom Act that was voted on wasn't a good thing. It was the bill that the White House undermined at the last minute, leading all civil liberties groups to pull their support, and most members of the House who are big on civil liberties voted against the bill due to the compromises shoved into it. Voting for it didn't show a similar viewpoint, but rather the opposite.

There are lots of other issues for voters, of course, but feel free to check out Udall's stance on things. If you're in Colorado, please consider voting for one of the very few principled voices for civil liberties in Congress.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

Senator Leahy Slams DEA For Impersonating A Woman On Facebook

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 23:47
Apparently, it's not just Facebook that is furious with the DEA for impersonating a woman, posting pictures from her phone, in an attempt to get evidence concerning a drug dealer. Senator Patrick Leahy has now sent an angry letter to the DOJ about this situation as well. I am greatly concerned by recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration used the identity of an unsuspecting young woman to create a public Facebook profile to interact with suspected drug traffickers. This extraordinary tactic placed this woman and her family at risk, and I expect the Justice Department to reconsider the use of such techniques. Senator Leahy didn't hold back in explaining just why this whole situation was "appalling." Viewers of the fake profile, which was only removed from Facebook this month, could believe the woman was currently involved with illicit activities or was actively cooperating with a law enforcement investigation. The DEA agent's decision to post suggestive photographs of the woman as well as pictures of her young child and niece is appalling and placed them at even greater risk.

I understand that cooperating defendants often provide critical assistance to criminal investigations. However, the decision to cooperate and the nature of that cooperation is a decision to be made by the defendant and the defendant alone. Law enforcement agencies should not risk the safety of innocents or those who are serving their debt to society without their knowledge or consent. Although the Justice Department has indicated that this incident is under review, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York has thus far defended the practice. I hope the Justice Department will agree that creating an online profile using an unsuspecting person's identity to communicate with criminals is unethical, potentially dangerous, and should not be condoned by our nation's law enforcement agencies.
However, remember, this is the very same DOJ which has argued in other cases that violating the terms of service of certain websites is a violation of the CFAA. But, of course, when the government itself does it, in much more appalling situations, they don't seem to think there's any problem.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton Latest To Complain About Phone Encryption

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 22:40

The latest law enforcement official to enter into the "debate" over phone encryption is none other than NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, most famous around Techdirt for being "not Ray Kelly." Bratton sees eye-to-eye with pretty much every other critic of Google's and Apple's move to provide encryption by default: this is bad for us (meaning "law enforcement"), therefore new laws. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ratcheted up the rhetoric against Google and Apple Friday, vowing to push for legislation now that the tech giants have announced operating systems with encryptions that block law enforcement access.

“It does a terrible disservice to the public, ultimately, and to law enforcement, initially,” he said. “It really does impede our investigation of crimes. That's some mighty fine spin by Bratton. Something that will make a vast majority of the public's data less susceptible to hackers' attacks is a "disservice to the public" because in a very small number of cases, this encryption could hamper an investigation. Because some criminals might use this encryption, no one should be allowed to have it.

Bratton also fired the following (cheap) shot across the bow of the cell phone giants, insinuating that the companies are profiting from law enforcement pain, deliberately. “For them to consciously, for profit and gain, to thwart those legal constitutional efforts, shame on them.” Businesses turn profits. Otherwise, they're not businesses (or not in business for long). Offering encryption by default does not -- in itself -- make Apple and Google more money. Nor does "thwarting legal constitutional efforts." It could actually be argued that this will cost both companies more money in the long run, considering they will both be facing additional legal challenges and very-specifically-targeted legislation.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, who notes that he's in "lockstep" with Bratton's views, sounds like he's in lockstep with the former keepers of NYC's security state -- Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg -- when he opines that the balance between privacy and security should always be tilted towards law enforcement. "I think that the balance, however ... can’t be one where saving people’s lives, solving serious crimes from child abuse to terrorism, is the price we have to pay for blanket privacy.” I keep hearing "child abuse" and "terrorism," but keep envisioning law enforcement's desired encryption backdoor being used for the same thing Stingray devices and cast-off military gear are used for: plain vanilla drug warring and other assorted "normal" criminal investigations. Tears are shed over the pedophile who got away, but in practice, it's rarely anything more than Officer Smith flipping through the digital rolodex of some low-level meth dealer.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

CIA Apparently 'Impersonated' Senate Staffers To Gain Access To Documents On Shared Drives

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 21:37

The CIA is still fighting for creative control of its most anticipated 21st century work: the Torture Report. Long before it got involved in the ongoing redaction battle, it was spying on those putting the report together, namely Senators and Senate staffers. Hands were wrung, apologies were made and it was medically determined that Sen. Dianne Feinstein doesn't have an ironic bone in her body.

The Torture Report's final cut now seemingly lies in the hands of White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough -- a rather strange place for it to be considering the administration has no shortage of officials willing to offer their input on national security issues. But McDonough's ill-fitting position as go-between to the Senate and the CIA isn't the most interesting part of the story, although it appears he's trying to keep the "hanging" of CIA director John Brennan from being a foregone conclusion. Neither he nor the White House have suggested a replacement scapegoat, so Brennan may end up paying the price despite having the administration's full support. You can't just drop something as damaging as the Torture Report on the American public and simply walk away from it. A symbolic sacrifice still needs to be made, even if the underlying problems continue to be ignored.

No, the most interesting part of the latest Torture Report details almost falls off the end of the page over at The Huffington Post. It's more hints of CIA spying, ones that go a bit further than previously covered. According to sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report that details the alleged abuses by agency officials, CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers in order to gain access to Senate communications and drafts of the Intelligence Committee investigation. These sources requested anonymity because the details of the agency's inspector general report remain classified.

"If people knew the details of what they actually did to hack into the Senate computers to go search for the torture document, jaws would drop. It's straight out of a movie," said one Senate source familiar with the document. Impersonating staff to gain access to Senate Torture Report work material would be straight-up espionage. Before we get to the response that mitigates the severity of this allegation, let's look at what we do know.

The CIA accessed the Senate's private network to (presumably) gain access to works-in-progress. This was denied (badly) by CIA director John Brennan. The CIA also claimed Senate staffers had improperly accessed classified documents and reported them to the DOJ, even though they knew the charges were false. Then, after Brennan told his agency to stop spying on the Senate, agents took it upon themselves to improperly access Senate email accounts. This is all gleaned from a few public statements and a one-page summary of an Inspector General's report -- the same unreleased report EPIC is currently suing the agency over.

Now, there's this: accusations that the CIA impersonated Senate staffers in hopes of accessing Torture Report documents. Certainly a believable accusation, considering the tactics it's deployed in the very recent past. This is being denied -- or, at least, talked around. A person familiar with the events surrounding the dispute between the CIA and Intelligence Committee said the suggestion that the agency posed as staff to access drafts of the study is untrue.

“CIA simply attempted to determine if its side of the firewall could have been accessed through the Google search tool. CIA did not use administrator access to examine [Intelligence Committee] work product,” the source said. So, it was a just an innocuous firewall test. And according to this explanation, it wasn't done to examine the Senate's in-progress Torture Report. But this narrative meshes with previous accusations, including those detailed in the Inspector General's report.

Logging on to the shared drives with Senate credentials would allow agents to check the firewall for holes. But it also would allow them to see other Senate documents, presumably only accessible from that "side" of the firewall. While there's been no mention of "impersonation" up to this point, the first violation highlighted by the IG's report seems to be the most likely explanation of what happened here. Five Agency employees, two attorneys and three information technology (IT) staff members, improperly accessed or caused access to the SSCI Majority staff shared drives on the RDINet Accessing another part of the shared network/drive by using someone else's credentials is low-level hackery, but not the first thing that springs to mind when someone says "impersonation." A supposed firewall test would be the perfect cover for sniffing around previously off-limits areas. Much of what has come to light about the agency's actions hints at low-level espionage. There's still more buried in the IG report that the agency is actively trying to keep from being made public. Just because these activities didn't specifically "target" Senate work material, it was all there and able to accessed. It doesn't really matter what the CIA says it was looking for. The fact that it was done at all, and done with such carefree audacity, is the problem. There are presumably ways to perform these checks that don't involve Inspector Generals, damning reports and multiple hacking accusations.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

Bit-Actor Sues Fox For $250 Million Over Stereotypical Mob Character In The Simpsons, Says It's Based On A Role He Hadn't Performed Yet

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 20:27

You know Frank Sivero from movies like The Godfather Part 2 and Goodfellas. He's the diminutive side-kick guy. One of several in those movies, actually, and one of many mobster sidekicks throughout the movie industry. What you may not know about Frank Sivero is that he thinks that the character Louie from The Simpsons, Fat Tony's stereotypical mobster sidekick, is based solely off of him and he would please like $250 Million dollars because of it, thanks. His reasons for thinking that Louie is based solely off of him are more convoluted than a 9/11 conspiracy theory. In his latest lawsuit, Sivero alleges that in 1989, he was living in an apartment complex in Sherman Oaks, California. He says that writers of The Simpsons were literally living next door to him in that same complex.

"They knew he was developing the character he was to play in the movie Goodfellas," states the lawsuit. "In fact, they were aware the entire character of 'Frankie Carbone' was created and developed by Sivero, who based this character on his own personality." Well, case closed then. All the writers for The Simpsons were living directly next door to Frank Sivero, therefore obviously any mobster sidekick they might create on their own must be based on the character that he was also creating for a movie that hadn't even come out yet. The suit also makes it quite clear that everything about the Louie character is based on Sivero...except when it's also based on other actors, too. "Louie's appearance and mannerisms are strongly evocative of character actor Frank Sivero," continues the lawsuit, which quickly adds that according to Dan Castellaneta, who provides the voice of Louie (as well as Homer Simpson), "he modeled his voice after Italian American actor, Joe Pesci, who also had a role in Goodfellas." So...it's not entirely based on Frank Sivero. The whole voice thing is kind of a big part of the mannerisms thing when it comes to a character. It's almost like Louie is supposed to be an amalgam of stereotypical mobster characters. A parody of them, if you will, one which would be mega-protected by the whole First Amendment thing we have. For Sivero, however, this composite character represents an afront to his likeness under California's publicity rights laws, putting him squarely on level ground with noted super-brain Lindsay Lohan. Further evidence of this theft of likeness, according to Sivero's filing, is a random dinner he once had with James Brooks and some supposed promise that they do some film work together. What any of that has to do with The Simpsons remains unclear.

But, with a rather insane claim that the supposed use of his likeness in The Simpsons somehow resulted in him being type-casted, Sivero wants roughly all the dollars from Fox. Besides Sivero alleging that his publicity rights were violated and that his idea was misappropriated, he's also in court over defendants' alleged interference with prospective economic advantage. Sivero says that by stealing his likeness and idea, the defendants have "diluted the value of the character created by plaintiff, and contributed to the 'type-casting' of Plaintiff." He's demanding $50 million in actual damage loss of his likeness, $100 million more over improper interference, $50 million more in actual damage loss over the appropriation of his "confidential" idea, $50 million more in exemplary damages over that same "confidential" idea, plus injunctive relief and reasonable attorney fees for his lawyer Alex Herrera. The fact that the word "reasonable" appears in this lawsuit at all is a better joke than any that's appeared on The Simpons in years.

DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1344016-243892008-sivero.js", { width: 560, height: 550, sidebar: false, text: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1344016-243892008-sivero" }); 243892008 Sivero (PDF)
243892008 Sivero (Text)

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Categorieën: Technieuws

Bit-Actor Sues Fox For $250 Milion Over Stereotypical Mob Character In The Simpsons, Says It's Based On A Role He Hadn't Performed Yet

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 20:27

You know Frank Sivero from movies like The Godfather Part 2 and Goodfellas. He's the diminutive side-kick guy. One of several in those movies, actually, and one of many mobster sidekicks throughout the movie industry. What you may not know about Frank Sivero is that he thinks that the character Louie from The Simpsons, Fat Tony's stereotypical mobster sidekick, is based solely off of him and he would please like $250 Million dollars because of it, thanks. His reasons for thinking that Louie is based solely off of him are more convoluted than a 9/11 conspiracy theory. In his latest lawsuit, Sivero alleges that in 1989, he was living in an apartment complex in Sherman Oaks, California. He says that writers of The Simpsons were literally living next door to him in that same complex.

"They knew he was developing the character he was to play in the movie Goodfellas," states the lawsuit. "In fact, they were aware the entire character of 'Frankie Carbone' was created and developed by Sivero, who based this character on his own personality." Well, case closed then. All the writers for The Simpsons were living directly next door to Frank Sivero, therefore obviously any mobster sidekick they might create on their own must be based on the character that he was also creating for a movie that hadn't even come out yet. The suit also makes it quite clear that everything about the Louie character is based on Sivero...except when it's also based on other actors, too. "Louie's appearance and mannerisms are strongly evocative of character actor Frank Sivero," continues the lawsuit, which quickly adds that according to Dan Castellaneta, who provides the voice of Louie (as well as Homer Simpson), "he modeled his voice after Italian American actor, Joe Pesci, who also had a role in Goodfellas." So...it's not entirely based on Frank Sivero. The whole voice thing is kind of a big part of the mannerisms thing when it comes to a character. It's almost like Louie is supposed to be an amalgam of stereotypical mobster characters. A parody of them, if you will, one which would be mega-protected by the whole First Amendment thing we have. For Sivero, however, this composite character represents an afront to his likeness under California's publicity rights laws, putting him squarely on level ground with noted super-brain Lindsay Lohan. Further evidence of this theft of likeness, according to Sivero's filing, is a random dinner he once had with James Brooks and some supposed promise that they do some film work together. What any of that has to do with The Simpsons remains unclear.

But, with a rather insane claim that the supposed use of his likeness in The Simpsons somehow resulted in him being type-casted, Sivero wants roughly all the dollars from Fox. Besides Sivero alleging that his publicity rights were violated and that his idea was misappropriated, he's also in court over defendants' alleged interference with prospective economic advantage. Sivero says that by stealing his likeness and idea, the defendants have "diluted the value of the character created by plaintiff, and contributed to the 'type-casting' of Plaintiff." He's demanding $50 million in actual damage loss of his likeness, $100 million more over improper interference, $50 million more in actual damage loss over the appropriation of his "confidential" idea, $50 million more in exemplary damages over that same "confidential" idea, plus injunctive relief and reasonable attorney fees for his lawyer Alex Herrera. The fact that the word "reasonable" appears in this lawsuit at all is a better joke than any that's appeared on The Simpons in years.

DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1344016-243892008-sivero.js", { width: 560, height: 550, sidebar: false, text: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1344016-243892008-sivero" }); 243892008 Sivero (PDF)
243892008 Sivero (Text)

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Categorieën: Technieuws

EU fiscal rules won't be changed, says Juncker

van EU Observer - wo, 10/22/2014 - 19:55
TThe EU's rules on debts and deficits will not be re-written, Juncker told MEPs in his first speech as European Commission president.


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

James Clapper's Report On Progress Towards President's Surveillance Reforms Mainly Explores Executive Branch Loopholes

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 19:22

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has issued an interim report on the intelligence community's minimal progress towards minimal compliance with the minimal reforms ordered by the administration last year in response to the Snowden leaks. Presidential Policy Directive 28 (PPD-28) was issued in January and Jame Clapper's office is proud to announce that it's still in the process of thinking about complying with the stuff the President asked them to do so many months ago. As we work to meet the January 2015 deadline, PPD-28 called on the Director of National Intelligence to prepare an interim report on the status of our efforts and to evaluate, in coordination with the Department of Justice and the rest of the Intelligence Community, additional retention and dissemination safeguards. The DNI's interim report is now being made available to the public in line with our pledge to share as much information about sensitive intelligence activities as is possible, consistent with our national security. We're blown away with all the openness, Mr. Clapper. This must be the same transparency that has seen Clapper's office dump documents without referencing the federal lawsuits prompting this "largesse." Or the same transparency that tossed out the above-mentioned presidential directive -- one month after it went public -- with a self-congratulatory Tumblr post. (Yes. That is the world we live in now. The Director of National Intelligence speaks to the public through Tumblr, a venue more known for its porn gifs and faint odor of Yahoo! desperation. Thanks, Obama Snowden.)

At this point, the interim effort is mostly talk. There's little that indicates any movement has been made towards the goals of the directive. In fact, any detectable movement is limited to shrugs of deference towards the Executive Branch, as the EFF points out. Here are a few choice sections from our initial read of today's report:

"To that end, PPD-28 states that personal information of non-U.S. persons shall be retained and disseminated only if the retention and dissemination 'of comparable information concerning U.S. persons would be permitted under section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333.'"

We are disheartened to see ODNI pinning its privacy protections to Executive Order 12333. EO 12333 is a poorly-understood Reagan-era authority; one former State Department chief said:

"…Section 215 permits the bulk collection only of U.S. telephone metadata — lists of incoming and outgoing phone numbers — but not audio of the calls.

Executive Order 12333 contains no such protections for U.S. persons if the collection occurs outside U.S. borders. Issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to authorize foreign intelligence investigations, 12333 is not a statute and has never been subject to meaningful oversight from Congress or any court…" Repeatedly, the interim report addresses the new ideals… and then immediately appends, "unless EO 12333 says we can do otherwise." Admittedly, this flaw traces back to the administration's directive, which contains much of the "unless EO 12333" language referred to in the report.

Somewhat surprisingly, the ODNI's report calls out the overly-broad language contained in EO 12333. Executive Order 12333 defines this term as "information relating to the capabilities, intentions, or activities of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, foreign persons, or international terrorists." This definition ensures that the Intelligence Community is able to retain and disseminate information necessary for the United States to advance its national security and foreign policy interests. Nonetheless, the definition's reference to "information relating to . . . activities of. . . foreign persons,' if read literally, could permit an element to permanently retain or to disseminate any information about any activity of any foreign person. Intelligence Community elements should permanently retain or disseminate such personal information only if the personal information relates to an authorized intelligence requirement, is reasonably believed to be evidence of a crime, or meets one of the other standards for retention or dissemination identified in section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 for U.S. person information, and not solely because of the person's non-U.S. person status. The EFF asks if the NSA has ever used this reading to its own advantage. Certainly no answer is expected, but the agency has long been a fan of fluid terms and malleable definitions. Which brings us to the ultimate show of executive branch deference, albeit one that implies the administration will help the agency do the things it really wants to, Presidential Policy Directive or no. It is important that elements have the ability to deviate from their procedures when national security requires doing so, but only with approval at a senior level within the Intelligence Community element and notice to the DNI and the Attorney General. Even the most modest of reforms still apparently needs ample breathing room and the ODNI carves out plenty with this single paragraph -- all without even bothering to address the mass surveillance programs that prompted the reforms in the first place.



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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Opinion] Cameron's tight-rope walk on free movement

van EU Observer - wo, 10/22/2014 - 18:35
EU migration will be the key battle in the UK election next year. Polls show that immigration is the number one issue for British voters; they care about it more than the economy. So what will David Cameron's approach be?


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Open letters help frame debate on climate summit

van EU Observer - wo, 10/22/2014 - 18:30
EU leaders have received at least a dozen open letters about the climate and energy targets they are about to set. But does anyone pay any attention to them?


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Serieuze test voor Timmermans én Europese Commissie

van Bits of Freedom - wo, 10/22/2014 - 18:26

Vandaag heeft het Europese Parlement ingestemd met de samenstelling van de Europese Commissie. Uit de speech die President van de Europese Commissie Juncker gaf, blijkt dat hij Timmermans met een heet hangijzer opzadelt: ISDS.

ISDS
Het investeringsbeschermingsmechanisme (ISDS) ligt de Europese Commissie zwaar op de maag. Na groeiend kritiek op ISDS kondigde de Europese Commissie aan dat er een consultatie zou komen over het mechanisme. Met 150.000 reacties werd er overweldigend gereageerd, iets waar de Europese Commissie geen rekening mee had gehouden. De uitkomsten van het onderzoek naar de reacties zijn nog niet bekend, maar het ligt voor de hand dat veel van deze reacties negatief zijn, net als onze reactie. Ook in de Europese politiek groeit de weerstand tegen ISDS, net als in de lidstaten.

Deze weerstand zet de Europese Commissie voor het blok, om vier redenen:

Geloofwaardigheid
Ten eerste staat de geloofwaardigheid van de Europese Commissie op het spel. De nieuwe Europese Commissie zegt de zorgen van de burger serieus te nemen. De zorgen van de burger over ISDS zijn daarmee een eerste test voor de Europese Commissie: hoe oprecht is de Commissie?

Politiek gekonkel
Ten tweede lijkt er binnen de Europese Commissie onenigheid te zijn over het te voeren beleid op ISDS. Het is een publiek geheim dat medewerkers van Juncker duidelijk negatiever staan tegenover ISDS dan Mälmstrom, de commissaris die de onderhandelaars van de Europese Commissie aanstuurt. Timmermans moet nu controleren of ISDS voldoet aan de Europese normen en standaarden, waarmdoor hij een grotere invloed op handelsverdragen heeft gekregen.

Mandaat
Ten derde moet de Europese Commissie zich houden aan het mandaat voor de onderhandelingen, dat door de lidstaten is vastgesteld. En alhoewel er ruimte in het mandaat is om ISDS niet op te nemen in TTIP, is het niet zo dat de Europese Commissie eenvoudig van ISDS af kan, buiten de toestemming van lidstaten om. Zelfs niet als Timmermans nee, nein, njet en non tegen ISDS zegt.

Onderhandelingen
Tot slot is niet duidelijk wat er zou gebeuren met de onderhandelingen tussen de VS en de EU als Timmermans nee zegt. ISDS maakt een belangrijk deel uit van de onderhandelingen en het is lang niet zeker dat de VS een handelsverdrag zonder ISDS zou accepteren. Tegelijkertijd wil de EU het verdrag ook niet zomaar afschrijven. TTIP lijkt too big to fail – en dat heeft consequenties voor de opname van ISDS in TTIP.

Al met al een heet hangijzer dus, dat Timmermans nu vast moet houden. We zijn erg benieuwd hoe hij zal omgaan met deze druk én of hij laat zien dat hij het serieus meent met de bescherming van onze grondrechten.

Categorieën: Technieuws

Copyright Law Stifling Free Speech And Artistic Criticism

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 18:18
Pacific Standard Magazine has a really great article by Noah Berlatsky, looking at how copyright is stifling artistic criticism. Much of it focuses on a recent paper by John Tehranian, whom we've written about before. The paper is called Dangerous Undertakings: Sacred Texts and Copyright's Myth of Aesthetic Neutrality -- and focuses on how aesthetic judgments about the value of works almost always applies in copyright cases, which is a bit dangerous when it comes to art, criticism and free speech. Berlatsky's piece focuses on the famous case of The Wind Done Gone, the famous "unauthorized retelling" of Gone With The Wind from the perspective of another character. The lower court said it was infringing, and the appeals court overturned it -- but both were based, at least in part, on aesthetics, rather than underlying legal issues: In its decision, the court pointed in particular to the fact that Scarlett and Mammy died in The Wind Done Gone as evidence that the sequel harmed the original. In financial terms, this objection doesn’t make much sense—as Tehranian points out, Kirk and Spock died in the Star Trek series at various points, and no one had any trouble bringing them back to life when needed. But the court’s objection does make sense if Gone With the Wind is viewed as inviolable, if any tarnishing of it is seen as illegitimate. “Thus, it is not whether the work is parody or sequel that truly appears to drive the court’s decision;” Tehranian concludes, “it is destruction of the work’s romanticism—a romanticism that is grounded in a distinctly whitewashed vision of the antebellum.”

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals eventually reversed the lower court. But aesthetics were involved in that decision as well. The appeals court based its decision on the estimation that Gone With the Wind was not an inviolable classic, but was instead a flawed and indeed racist work. The court particularly singled out the fact that the Mitchell estate had prevented authorized sequels from discussing homosexuality or miscegenation. The Mitchell estate was trying to prevent re-evaluation or criticism of Gone With the Wind, and, implicitly, of its vision of the South. The appeals court ruled that such re-evaluation and criticism was in fact aesthetically valuable. “To the Eleventh Circuit,” Tehranian concludes, “the time had come to de-canonize Gone With the Wind and its inviolability.”
Berlatsky suggests that Tehranian argues this is okay because the fact that the Copyright clause of the Constitution talks about promoting the progress of "the useful arts," but that's a misreading of the Constitutional clause (and Tehranian's paper). While many people confuse this, the "useful arts" part of the clause is actually referring to patent protection ("useful arts" at the time meant inventions effectively). Copyright is supposed to be for promoting the progress of "science" (which at the time really meant "learning"). The real issue is what "promotes the progress" -- and that's where the aesthetic nature comes into play.

Tehranian's paper actually goes on to discuss another case, which we've discussed as well, which is the similar story of someone trying to write an unauthorized sequel to Catcher in the Rye. Except in that case, the judge banned the publication of the book entirely. And, again, aesthetic values came into play. As Tehranian notes: The results of the two cases differed. In the former, an injunction against publication of the unauthorized work was lifted, and in the latter, the injunction ultimately stood. However, in both cases, aesthetic considerations – namely juridical conceptions of history, hierarchy and value pertaining to the underlying works and their allegedly infringing alter egos – dominated the fair-use analysis and ultimately enabled the law’s selective consecration of cultural meaning, its development of epistemological narratives and its beatification of sacred texts. Later in the paper: And aesthetic judgments on the relative value of unauthorized derivative works appear to have made a key difference in the court’s decision to issue the injunction. Consider the only mention that the Salinger court makes of the overarching goals of the copyright system. Seeking to reconcile its ruling with copyright’s role in promoting progress in the arts, the Salinger court reasoned that ‘some artists may be further incentivized to create original works due to the availability of the right not to produce any sequels’ (Salinger 2010b: 268, emphasis in original). As a first matter, the court’s speculation on this point strains all credulity. But regardless of how one feels about the bizarre conjecture that the right not to produce sequels can incentivize creation, it is clear that the court’s statement rests on a tacit aesthetic judgment: that it is better to preserve (ex post) the incentive to create The Catcher in the Rye than it is to stimulate the creation of unauthorized sequels. The calculus here is fairly remarkable: the court chooses to enjoin definitely the publication of unauthorized derivatives – works that could contribute to progress in the arts – on the chance, based on idle speculation, that some artists may create more because they can rest secure in the knowledge that no one can create sequels of their works. The hierarchy at play is simple: the original work implicitly trumps the sequel(s) and/or derivatives, especially those of the unauthorized variety. Certainly, for every Godfather II and Return of the Jedi, there are dozens of Blues Brothers 2000’s. But in deciding the fate of The Wind Done Gone, the Eleventh Circuit certainly did not seem bothered by this possibility, as it adopted a radically different aesthetic judgment of the unauthorized derivative. At a more subconscious level and in the context of our times, it perhaps feels less wrong to allow someone to skewer the dated artistic vision of Margaret Mitchell than to permit the adulteration of J.D. Salinger’s beloved Holden Caulfield. As for the idea that this is an acceptable state of affairs, I find that to be troubling. We shouldn't rely on judges to determine the overall aesthetic value of things, because that is, by definition, a regulation on speech that shouldn't be permitted under the First Amendment. Judges determining the aesthetic value of a particular work is a dangerous path to tread.

Berlatsky argues that the culprit here is copyright terms, and that we'd have fewer of these problems if copyright were shorter. Undoubtedly that's true -- depending on the length, the works discussed above would likely be public domain by now. But, that still fails to take into account attempts to do more with recent works.

As we've covered recently fan fiction is an important form of speech, even when done commercially. Thus, an even better solution to all of this is to go back to basics: copyright should only protect the expression, not the idea. This is what we're told, but it often seems to fail in these cases. Writing fan fiction, unauthorized retellings, unauthorized sequels and the like are all very different forms of expression. While they may quote and/or reference the original, they are, by definition, not copies. If copyright were properly applied, these would be allowed as not copying the expression (and, at worst, as transformative, derivative works protected by fair use).

Unfortunately, however, judges feel the need to "protect" original works based on aesthetic values, and that's a huge problem for culture, free speech and criticism.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

MEPs withold millions from EU commission over transparency

van EU Observer - wo, 10/22/2014 - 17:59
The European Parliament on Wednesday punched a €3.8 million hole in the EU commission 2015 budget as leverage until the Brussels-executive improves its transparency record.


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Rep. Mike Rogers Now Claims Ed Snowden Should Be Charged With Murder, Because Someone Might Die

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 17:03
Things have been kind of quiet on the "ridiculous statements from Rep. Mike Rogers" front lately, but as he's entering his final months in Congress before retiring to the warm embrace of national talk radio, he's apparently decided to ramp back up with the ridiculous rhetoric. His latest salvo is to argue that the US should be charging Ed Snowden with murder: Republican Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, told an meeting in the House of Commons in London on Tuesday evening that Snowden was a "traitor" who was now living in the "loving arms" of Russian spies.

"The [US] government has pressed charges on Mr Snowden," he said. "We are treating him, as I would argue, the traitor that he is." Rogers added: "And by the way, and this is important, I would charge him for murder."
Uh, murder of whom, exactly? As far as I can tell, his argument is that because of Snowden's actions, soldiers are less safe and might get killed, and thus, murder. "He took information that allows force protection, not only for British soldiers, but for US soldiers, and made it more difficult for us to track those activities. Meaning it is more likely that one of those soldiers is going to get their legs blown off or killed because of his actions," he said. "Anybody that provides information to the enemy is a traitor, period, pure and simple." Except, no. Almost none of that is even close to accurate. Snowden didn't "provide information to the enemy" -- he blew the whistle on illegal programs by revealing it to the public via well-respected reporters who, you know, won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting. Unless Rogers views the American public as "the enemy" his argument makes no sense. Furthermore, what information has Snowden provided that means a soldier is somehow more likely to get his legs blown off or killed? So far, all of the revelations have been about surveillance programs that have raised serious legal and constitutional questions, but have done little to actually "help" terrorists. That's because most terrorists were well aware of the surveillance capabilities of the NSA/GCHQ before. The new stuff is how the NSA uses that on everyone else.

Meanwhile, if doing things that might lead to more soldiers getting hurt or killed makes you guilty of murder, shouldn't Rogers be talking about getting himself and other members of Congress charged with murder? After all, remember it was Congress that failed to equip soldiers with proper body armor.

Rogers also repeats his "Snowden was working for the Russians all along" argument that he's particularly fond of. He does this despite the fact that basically everyone, including officials from both the NSA and the FBI, has said they've found no evidence to support such an argument.

Rogers also repeats the claim that Snowden handed over lots of other material that is dangerous: Rogers said that "over 95%" of the information Snowden handed over had "nothing to do" with the NSA spying on American or European citizens private communications but was "about tactical things, military plans and operations". However, again, this is based on the old DOD report that listed everything that Snowden ever "touched." Snowden, Greenwald and others who have seen the documents have noted -- multiple times -- that the number of documents he actually handed over was much lower than what that report claimed (in the tens of thousands of documents, rather than 1.7 million as the report claimed). Furthermore, the fact that no reports have come out "about tactical things, military plans and operations" certainly seems to support that fact, no matter what Rogers wants to claim.

Now that he's moving to a medium where nutty conspiracy theorists thrive, I imagine Rogers may get even nuttier. But, at the very least, he won't be in charge of "oversight" (stop laughing) of the NSA any more.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] Lega Nord signs partnership with Putin party

van EU Observer - wo, 10/22/2014 - 16:05
Italy's far-right Lega Nord party has signed a partnership deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin's political party, Lega Nord MEP Matteo Salvini said in a press conference Wednesday. Salvini said the partnership is about "values" and does not imply Lega Nord is getting any funding from Putin.


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

You Know Who Else Hates Everyone In Congress? Congress!

van TechDirt - wo, 10/22/2014 - 14:55
Hating on Congress is basically a national past time here in the US. Other than a brief moment of probably misguided solidarity after September 11th, the public's view towards Congress tends to be pretty negative, and it's been getting worse lately. Here's a historical look from Gallup at the public's approval ratings of Congress. Esquire sent Mark Warren into Congress, initially to ask as many elected officials as possible "why they are so bad at their jobs," but he noted that he came out of it much more sympathetic to Congress, because, it appears just about everyone in Congress seems to hate Congress too, and it's not because they literally dislike each other -- but, in part, because they have to appear to dislike each other for the sake of insanely gerrymandered districts that they brought upon themselves. Well, except Ted Cruz. It appears that pretty much everyone in Congress, no matter which house or party, really dislikes Cruz.

Reading through the article, you begin to realize just how pitiful Congress really is.

What's interesting is how many seem to blame gerrymandering and redistricting for the problems of Congress, even though those in power did the redistricting on purpose to try to keep themselves in power. But it appears that people in Congress are now (finally) realizing the problematic consequences: "You know, if I had a magic wand, one thing I would love to change—which you can't do unless you're king—is the redistricting process by which our boundaries are drawn," says Republican Aaron Schock of Illinois. "Because what has happened over the decades is he who controls the mapmaking process, you know, creates hyperpartisan districts. And you get more and more members who come out here and say, 'Gee, I know that I want to accomplish something on this issue. I want to take action on this issue, but the base of my district is so far to the right or to the left it makes it difficult for us to negotiate to the center.' But whether you're the most conservative member or you're the most liberal member, if you have half a brain, you recognize you're not going to get everything, and that any successful legislation requires the art of negotiation."

[....]

"When you have these one-party districts, the only election is in the primary, and the winner of the primary will be the one who is closer to the views of the narrowest base," says Angus King, Independent senator from Maine. "You can't be moderate. Who votes in primaries? You have a 10 percent turnout in a primary election in Georgia, and Republicans are 30 percent of the population. So 10 percent of 30 percent—that's 3 percent of the population voting to choose the nominee, and then if it's a multiperson race, and the winner gets 35 percent, that's one third of 3 percent—1 percent of the population chooses the nominee, who in a gerrymandered district will be the eventual member of Congress. That is bizarre, and it has completely polarized Congress. In the primary system that we have now, there is no upside for a Republican to be reasonable. I have a friend who is a very conservative senator, and he faced a primary this year, and I said, 'Good Lord, man, what are they gonna charge you with?' And he said: 'Being reasonable.' "

"Our Venn diagram," says Derek Kilmer, Democrat of Washington State, "is two circles, miles apart. Just after we got here, a group of us, Democrats and Republicans, were at a burger joint talking, and after about forty-five minutes, I said, 'We have to be able to get our act together and figure some of these things out. And across the table, one of my colleagues said, 'Derek, I like you, but you have to understand that I won my seat by defeating a Republican incumbent in my primary, and I campaigned against him for not being conservative enough. The first vote I cast when I got here was against John Boehner for Speaker, and I put out a press release that I had voted against him because he was too compromising. I like you, but I have zero interest in compromising with you or anybody else. My constituents didn't send me here to work with you; they sent me here to stop you.' I left there and called my wife and said, 'Oh, my God!' "
Combine that with the fact that they only get attention when there's conflict, rather than when they actually accomplish something, and guess what you get? But all the same, the great majority of members interviewed said that the most rewarding work they ever did in Congress was in finding points of agreement with a congressman or senator from the other party, working to forge legislation that bridged the usual divides. "But nobody cares about that stuff," says Republican congressman Morgan Griffith from Virginia. " 'News flash: People are getting along, compromising, doing their jobs like adults' doesn't have the sizzle of conflict that the media demands in order to hold your interest. I have good relationships with several Democrats, and last year Diana DeGette [Democrat of Colorado], Gene Green [Democrat of Texas], and I introduced an important compounding-pharmacy bill to help prevent disease outbreaks. It really matters. And gets very little attention." And of course, all of it has to do with "red team/blue team" crap, rather than any actual points of agreement or disagreement. There's a story from Democratic Senator Chris Coons, in which he talks about a conversation, back in 2011, with Republican Senator Marc Rubio, discussing the upcoming 2012 presidential election, in which both Senators admit to never bothering to have read the candidates' economic plans.

And, of course, the other big issue: money in politics. As we've discussed in the past, so many people look upon lobbying and such as a form of bribery, but the reality is often the opposite. It's almost a kind of extortion by politicians on industry, because they constantly need money for elections. So they do things designed to kick up controversy solely to get big interests to donate to their campaigns. And that often requires extreme positions that generate a lot of anger.

These snippets are just a bit of what's in the article. There's a lot more, including some people willing to name names (beyond just Ted Cruz) of the people they hate, and who else they blame. It's worthwhile reading.

Frankly, people have been complaining about Congress pretty much forever -- so I always try to take some of the "it's worse now" stories with a grain of "mythical nostalgia" salt. At the same time, gridlock in Congress has some benefits in blocking really bad regulations from passing. But it does seem problematic when important things can't get done, and it's all based on the color of your team and how to best raise money through conflict. It certainly doesn't seem like a good way to run a country.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Video] Barroso says goodbye to MEPs

van EU Observer - wo, 10/22/2014 - 14:24
The most "emotional" moment was collecting the EU's Nobel peace prize, Jose Manuel Barroso told MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (21 October) in his last speech in the European Parliament after 10 years as European Commission president.


Categorieën: Europees nieuws

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