Why Was The DOJ So Fearful Of Its Terrorist Watchlist Guidelines Being Made Public?

van TechDirt - 1 uur 9 min geleden
Having already discussed The Intercept's publication of the federal government's guidelines for declaring people terrorists to put on its various watchlists (including the infamous "no fly list"), it's raising some serious questions about why the DOJ had been fighting so hard to keep these guidelines from coming out. As we've discussed, in basically any case challenging the various government watchlists, the DOJ has freaked out and claimed "state secrets" to try to get the cases thrown out entirely.

Just a few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder directly claimed that revealing these guidelines would be helping the terrorists. In that legal filing, Holder does the "state secrets" dance and then says: I agree with the FBI that the Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed, for the reasons discussed in the FBI's classified declaration, could cause significant harm to national security.... If the Guidance were released, it would provide a clear roadmap to undermine the Government's screening efforts, a key counterterrorism measure, and thus, its disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause significant harm to national security. Of course, now that the Watchlisting Guidance is out, we can take a look and see if that's actually true. And... Holder's statements, not surprisingly, appear to be completely bogus. The Guidelines are so vague and so broad that it gives no real indication of how to get around them or whether or not any particular person is likely to be placed on the list.

What the guidelines do show, however, is the level of extra scrutiny people on the list are subject to. And, as we noted, much of that certainly appears to violate the 4th Amendment (or, at the very least, open itself up to a pretty clear 4th Amendment challenge in the courts). So, once again, it seems like Holder's real reason to declare "state secrets" had little to do with "national security" and a hell of a lot to do with "DOJ security" in keeping its illegal and unconstitutional practices from further public and judicial scrutiny.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

DC Cops Learn From FBI: Regularly Invent Crimes To Arrest 'Possible Future' Criminals

van TechDirt - 2 uur 7 min geleden

As we recently discussed, it's becoming readily apparent that the FBI's most vaunted counter-terrorism wins are almost all stings for "crimes" they made up all by themselves and then coerced others to join. Even for those that don't have a problem with this kind of practice in theory, it has to be jarring to learn just how many of these "terrorists" are either suffering serious mental or social illnesses or have had their confessions beaten out of them. By all appearances, it looks pretty clear that the FBI is bumping up their "win" statistics on the backs of these highly questionable stings.

So of course local law enforcement is getting in on the action as well. Take the police in Washington D.C., for instance, who are featured in a Washington Post story detailing how they invent armed robbery plans whole-cloth and then recruit civilians to join up shortly before arresting these future-criminals. Some of the plots the police of devised are quite detailed and terrifying, involving robbing liquor stores and targets that are supposedly drug dealers. After discussing the plans with an undercover cop, everyone is then arrested and charged with a variety of "conspiracy to commit" charges. According to some experts, the government is on firm legal ground with regards to entrapment. The government is on solid legal ground, experts say, when it comes to fending off allegations that suspects were set up — or entrapped — by the police. Even if the government entices the defendant, the target has to show that he was not predisposed to commit the crime. Sure, and if you're a defendant in one of these cases, good luck convincing anyone that you didn't have a predisposition for the crime you were tricked into thinking you were going to commit. Again, it's easy to opine that these are bad people, but that doesn't take into account mental illness and pressure applied by undercover officers eager to bolster their arrest statistics. According to reports, that kind of pressure included giving minors alcohol and/or taking them to strip clubs, because nobody has ever made themselves out to be something they're not when drunk or in the presence of naked members of the opposite sex. The question becomes whether anything like the made up crime would have ever happened had it not been first invented by the police. “When you have the government offering guns or the getaway car and making it really attractive, you have to ask: Is this an opportunity that would have really come around in real life? Would this person have been able to put together this type of crime without government assistance?” said Katharine Tinto, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York who has studied undercover policing tactics. It's even worse when the police engineer aspects of the made up crimes in the sting in order to manufacture longer sentences for the would-be criminals they ensnare. Tinto and others also take issue with the government’s ability to essentially engineer tough penalties by controlling the details of the made-up crime. Part of the reason the District cases have been so successful, according to defense lawyers, is that the potential jail time for the federal conspiracy charge is steep enough that many defendants are more inclined to make a deal with prosecutors than risk losing at trial. The global problem in all of this is the aim: this is all about bolstering crime-fighting statistics rather than responding to any actual crimes or criminals. Will the police likely get some violent criminals off the streets with this tactic? Sure, but so could actual police work and, as I indicated, that isn't what this is all about. On top of that, the questions raised by the tactic are serious and some of the people caught up in all this probably aren't benefited most by engineered jail time. Add to all that questions about who the police are generally going to look towards as targets of this kind of sting operation (gasp, minorities), and we should be left wondering why they aren't fighting the crime that exists rather than making up crime that otherwise wouldn't.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] Ukraine PM resigns

van EU Observer - 2 uur 56 min geleden
Ukraine PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk Thursday announced his resignation after several parties said they were pulling out of the ruling coalition. President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the move saying: "The society wants a full reset of state authorities," reports Reuters, with a new vote possibly purging the parliament of pro-Russia political parties.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Revealed: What Kind Of 'Extra Scrutiny' The Government Gives To Folks On The Terrorist Watchlist

van TechDirt - 3 uur 13 min geleden
We've already written about The Intercept's publication of the US government's guidelines for declaring you a possible terrorist subject to extra scrutiny whenever you run into a government official. But we wanted to do a second post on the part that focuses on just what kind of extra scrutiny you get if you're on the list. Basically, it's dig through every aspect of this person's life that you can: In addition to data like fingerprints, travel itineraries, identification documents and gun licenses, the rules encourage screeners to acquire health insurance information, drug prescriptions, “any cards with an electronic strip on it (hotel cards, grocery cards, gift cards, frequent flyer cards),” cellphones, email addresses, binoculars, peroxide, bank account numbers, pay stubs, academic transcripts, parking and speeding tickets, and want ads. The digital information singled out for collection includes social media accounts, cell phone lists, speed dial numbers, laptop images, thumb drives, iPods, Kindles, and cameras. All of the information is then uploaded to the TIDE database.

Screeners are also instructed to collect data on any “pocket litter,” scuba gear, EZ Passes, library cards, and the titles of any books, along with information about their condition�””e.g., new, dog-eared, annotated, unopened.” Business cards and conference materials are also targeted, as well as “anything with an account number” and information about any gold or jewelry worn by the watchlisted individual. Even “animal information”�”details about pets from veterinarians or tracking chips�”is requested. The rulebook also encourages the collection of biometric or biographical data about the travel partners of watchlisted individuals.
In the wake of last month's Wurie decision at the Supreme Court, I'm curious how much of that is now violating the subject's 4th Amendment rights... It seems likely that at least someone is going to challenge these rules.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

How Serious Is James Clapper About Cybersecurity When His Office Can't Even Get Its SSL Certificate Right?

van TechDirt - 4 uur 35 min geleden
James Clapper and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have been among the loudest FUD-spewers concerning the "threats" to cybersecurity out there, and the need for massively dangerous "cybersecurity" legislation that would really just open up the ability for the Intelligence Community to get more access to private data. However, security researcher and ACLU guy Chris Soghoian noticed yesterday that the SSL security certificate on the ODNI website isn't even valid:

The Director of National Intelligence (@ODNIgov) can't be bothered install a valid HTTPS cert on their website #cyber pic.twitter.com/iiPIkFEfhD

— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) July 23, 2014 In response, Soghoian joked: "[ODNI], I'll make you a deal: You fix your website's broken encryption cert, and I'll start to take your cyber fearmongering seriously."

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Categorieën: Technieuws

De battle for the net in de VS: een mooie waarschuwing voor Brussel

van Bits of Freedom - 4 uur 39 min geleden

Hoewel netneutraliteit in 2012 in Nederland in de wet is vastgelegd, blijft er internationaal nog veel terrein voor het principe te winnen. In de EU is nog niets vastgelegd, en in de Verenigde Staten is een strijd losgebarsten tussen kabelmaatschappijen en ‘het internet.’ Het bewijst opnieuw hoe belangrijk een stevige, wettelijk geregelde netneutraliteit is.

Fast en slow lanes.

Hoewel deze strijd in de VS al langer woedt, kwam de discussie pas echt op gang toen in april van dit jaar de Federal Communications Commission (FCC) een voorstel deed dat zogenaamde ‘fast lanes’ toe zou staan op het internet. Volgens het voorstel zouden bedrijven als Disney of Netflix dan ISP’s kunnen betalen voor snellere verbindingen. Daarbij gold alleen dat deze afspraken ‘commercially reasonable’ moesten zijn, maar werd nauwelijks uitgelegd wat dat zou moeten betekenen.

De FCC had eerder geprobeerd netneutraliteit in regelgeving vast te leggen. De Amerikaanse ISP Verizon verzette zich hier tegen, omdat het streaming deals wilde maken met Netflix en Amazon. Drie maanden geleden gaf een Federal Appeals Court Verizon gelijk. Volgens de rechter was breedband geen ‘public utility’, zoals de telefoon dat was, en mochten onderlinge afspraken dus gewoon.

De FCC maakte vervolgens een draai en stelde de mogelijkheid van fast lanes voor. Dat is problematisch, want dat geeft grote en rijke bedrijven een voorsprong op het internet. Als bepaalde kleinere bedrijven geen fast lanes kunnen aanbieden, maakt dat hen misschien minder aantrekkelijk voor consumenten en verliezen ze het van de grotere bedrijven. Zo verliezen kleine innovatieve startups. Het zal producten ook duurder maken, omdat diezelfde Disneys en Netflixen het geld dat zij betalen aan de ISP’s door zullen berekenen aan de klanten.

Daarnaast is dit slecht voor de vrijheid van meningsuiting en dus de gemeenschap in het geheel, omdat informatieverspreiding zich gaat beperken tot een kleine groep grote spelers die voortaan mogen bepalen welke content voorrang krijgt.

Een nieuw voorstel

Na heftige kritiek kwam de FCC half mei met een nieuw voorstel. In dit voorstel neemt de FCC al meer afstand van de vorige positie, maar laat het de deur naar een ‘twee-snelheden-internet’ nog open. Ze geeft twee opties. Optie 1 is vergelijkbaar met het eerdere voorstel en zegt dat ISP’s een basis breedband-abonnement moet aanbieden, maar daarnaast mogen ze extra geld vragen voor diensten als Netflix. Optie 2 maakt van breedband-internet een telecommunicatiedienst, dus een public utility die vatbaar is voor strengere regels. Veel mensen zijn voor optie 2.

Interessant genoeg zette de commissie de deur open voor publieke inbreng. In een ‘comments’ sectie, kan het publiek reageren op een aantal vragen van de commissie. De commissie zal naar eigen zeggen na vier maanden deze antwoorden meenemen in hun voorstel. De openbare comment-functie zorgde voor een storm aan reacties. John Oliver maakte er een hilarisch punt van, en ook collegehumor  dook er bovenop. Het onderwerp werd één van de meest geklinkte posts bij Upworthy.

Ook kwam de ‘battle for the net’ campagne op gang, waarin de verhoudingen tussen ‘Team cable’ en ‘Team internet’ uiteen worden gezet, en wordt uitgelegd hoe de verschillende politieke spelers zich verhouden tot het voorstel. Op de site wordt opgeroepen tot actie en een versimpelde manier aangeboden om te reageren.

Ook wij hebben gereageerd op de FCC, met de Europese koepelorganisatie Edri (zie onderaan de pagina). Uiteindelijk zijn er zelfs al meer dan 780,000 comments, hoofdzakelijk vóór netneutraliteit. Dat is mooi, maar het is te hopen dat de FCC die comments ook serieus neemt.

Nederland en Europa

Wat er in de VS gebeurt is ook voor Nederland relevant. Een gebrek aan netneutraliteit kan namelijk slecht zijn voor encryptie. Versleutelde communicatie is immers onbekende communicatie en krijgt dus geen voorrang, merkt een onderzoeker van X-lab op. Daarnaast gunnen wij ook Amerikaanse burgers een vrij en open internet natuurlijk.

Ook in de EU is het spel nog niet gespeeld. Op dit moment vergadert de Raad van ministers van de Europese Unie over het voorstel voor netneutraliteit van de Europese Commissie en de daarop voorgestelde amendementen van het Europese Parlement. Uiteraard volgen wij dit op de voet en houden we jullie op de hoogte.

Edri submission to FCC

Categorieën: Technieuws

Court rules Poland complicit in CIA renditions

van EU Observer - 4 uur 50 min geleden
A European rights court Thursday found that Poland allowed the CIA to operate a secret rendition and interrogation camp at its Stare Kiejkuty military base and did nothing to stop it.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] Former Moldova envoy to lead EU civilian mission to Ukraine

van EU Observer - 5 uur 40 min geleden
Kalman Mizsei, a Hungarian national who was EU special envoy to Moldova in 2007-2011 and a professor at the Budapest-based Central European University, has been appointed head of mission for the "EU advisory mission for civilian security sector reform" in Ukraine, the EU council said Thursday.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] ECB website hacked

van EU Observer - 5 uur 42 min geleden
The website of the European Central Bank has been hacked, with roughly 20,000 stolen emails, phone numbers and addresses of people who registered for ECB events. The Frankfurt-based bank said it contacted the concerned persons and changed its passwords. German police have launched an investigation.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Nineteen Year Old Girl Abused To Death At Chinese Internet Addiction Camp

van TechDirt - 6 uur 38 min geleden

While there has been blissfully only minor advancement in the US about the non-existent disease known as "internet addiction", the same can't be said of certain other countries. South Korea has a version of it, which mostly involves shutting down online video games for a certain portion of the day. But the real mover and shaker in this made up land of dependency is China, where six hours online a day makes you an addict (someone tell my employer!) and they've actually gone so far as to create internet addiction "camps" where people learn to eschew cat videos, Facebook posts about food, and ostensibly the news posted online that they're probably being horribly abused at that very camp.

That seems to be the tone of the reporting now that one family has been compensated $120,000 after their 19 year old girl was killed at one of these camps. Earlier this year in May, LingLing passed away in a hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan province. It was reported by the Chinese media that she actually died before reaching the hospital. LingLing was reported to be attending Zhengzhou Boqiang New Idea Life Training School. While at addiction camp, LingLing was singled out by her instructors. She was reportedly taken to "extra" lessons on more than one occasion. According to another girl that attended the addiction camp, LingLing was singled out. According to the media and government reports, LingLing was beaten and dropped onto hard surfaces. The Zhengzhou coroners office reported that LingLing died from extreme head trauma. I guess I'm not really certain what picture I had in my head when I imagined an internet addiction camp, but it sure as hell didn't involve young women getting their brains beaten so badly that they expire. Also, that hundred-and-twenty-large seems a little light, considering the horror this family had to go through after being duped into believing such an internment was necessary to begin with. It all sounds worse when the report goes on to state that incidents of abuse have happened at these camps several times before as well.

So, while the "camp" in question, the one that essentially murdered a young girl, has had its license revoked, Chinese parents are going to have to start asking themselves which is more dangerous: "internet addiction" or the camps that purport to fix internet addiction.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Opinion] Anti-Roma prejudice rampant in state child protection services

van EU Observer - 6 uur 42 min geleden
The root causes of Roma exclusion must be addressed including systemic failures in the delivery of mainstream services, like education, housing, infrastructure, health and employment.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] EU abstentions clear way for UN enquiry on Gaza

van EU Observer - 8 uur 19 min geleden
The eight EU states which hold seats on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva - Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Romania - Wednesday abstained in a vote on launching an enquiry into Israeli actions in Gaza. The US was the only member voting No.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

The Intercept Reveals The US Government's Guidebook For Declaring Your A Terrorist Or Putting You On The No Fly List

van TechDirt - 8 uur 43 min geleden
Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Deveraux, over at The Intercept have a giant scoop: the full 166-page guidebook that US law enforcement uses to declare someone a terrorist who deserves to be on one of its various watchlists from the no-fly list to the "terrorist screening database." We've had plenty of stories about the no fly list and the TSDB, and the ridiculous lengths that the US government has gone to to keep anyone from knowing if or why they're in any of these databases -- leading to a series of lawsuits from individuals who were put on that list under very questionable circumstances.

We were happy last month to see that the process for getting off of these watchlists was declared unconstitutional, but the lawsuits over these watchlists suggest that they are prone to abuse and error. We were particularly disturbed to find out in a recent lawsuit that the US government actually has a secret exception to reasonable suspicion for putting people on the list.

The document released by The Intercept is quite revealing, and shows that President Obama has massively expanded the criteria for getting people onto the list. In fact, as the report notes, the President "quietly approved" an expansion "authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist." The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted. As you might imagine, given all the stories about people being put on various watchlists even though they're clearly not terrorists, the guidelines are crazy expansive: The document’s definition of “terrorist” activity includes actions that fall far short of bombing or hijacking. In addition to expected crimes, such as assassination or hostage-taking, the guidelines also define destruction of government property and damaging computers used by financial institutions as activities meriting placement on a list. They also define as terrorism any act that is “dangerous” to property and intended to influence government policy through intimidation. And obviously this goes way beyond just boarding (or not boarding) airplanes. As the report notes, if you're pulled over for speeding and the police run your name, if you're on the watchlist, the police will get a notification, leading them to automatically think that you're a suspected terrorist. The guidelines also contradict themselves directly. At first it says that: To meet the REASONABLE SUSPICION standard, the NOMINATOR, based on the totality of the circumstances, must rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrants a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been knowingly engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to TERRORISM and/or TERRORIST ACTIVITIES. Okay. So you need to have a factual basis for reasonable suspicion, right? Wrong: In determining whether a REASONABLE SUSPICION exists, due weight should be given to the specific reasonable inferences that a NOMINATOR is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience and not on unfounded suspicions or hunches. Although irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary, to be reasonable, suspicion should be as clear and as fully developed as circumstances permit. So, it can't just be a hunch. It has to be a really good hunch seems to be the lesson.

The report also likely reveals the "secret" exceptions to reasonable suspicion that the judge refused to reveal in the Rahinah Ibrahim case we wrote about. She was kept on the watchlist despite there being no reasonable suspicion. One of the exceptions is the "family member" loophole (which some had suggested was likely the issue in the comments to our story about Ibrahim). But it appears the exceptions are much broader: There are a number of loopholes for putting people onto the watchlists even if reasonable suspicion cannot be met.

One is clearly defined: The immediate family of suspected terrorists�”their spouses, children, parents, or siblings�”may be watchlisted without any suspicion that they themselves are engaged in terrorist activity. But another loophole is quite broad�””associates” who have a defined relationship with a suspected terrorist, but whose involvement in terrorist activity is not known. A third loophole is broader still�”individuals with “a possible nexus” to terrorism, but for whom there is not enough “derogatory information” to meet the reasonable suspicion standard.
And then there's the fact that the new "threat-based expedited upgrade" program, which was put in place following the US failing to notice that the famed "underwear bomber" got on his plane despite being on the watchlist. So, rather than recognize that the list was broken, the administration just added a new category, allowing a single White House official the unilateral power to elevate entire "categories of people" into a special list for extra scrutiny. This extraordinary power for “categorical watchlisting”�”otherwise known as profiling�”is vested in the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, a position formerly held by CIA Director John Brennan that does not require Senate confirmation.

The rulebook does not indicate what “categories of people” have been subjected to threat-based upgrades. It is not clear, for example, whether a category might be as broad as military-age males from Yemen. The guidelines do make clear that American citizens and green card holders are subject to such upgrades, though government officials are required to review their status in an “expedited” procedure. Upgrades can remain in effect for 72 hours before being reviewed by a small committee of senior officials. If approved, they can remain in place for 30 days before a renewal is required, and can continue “until the threat no longer exists.”
Basically, as most people suspected, it appears the government has broad and, until now, secret powers to effectively ruin someone's life by placing them on one of these watchlists... with no legitimate way to get off.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] EU commission delaying GMO decision for 14 years

van EU Observer - 8 uur 44 min geleden
The EU commission has been sitting on several decisions on imports and cultivation of genetically modified organisms for years - in one case for 14 years - said US ambassador in Brussels, Anthony Gardner. Washington wants the EU to stick to its rules even if some member states oppose GMOs.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] US willing to give EU citizens same rights on data privacy

van EU Observer - 8 uur 45 min geleden
The US administration is preparing legislation that would grant EU citizens the same rights as American citizens have to sue in US courts when their data privacy was breached by law enforcement authorities, the US ambassador to the EU, Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, told journalists in Brussels on Thursday.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] US ambassador expects clarity on EU sanctions

van EU Observer - 9 uur 25 min geleden
US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner Thursday said "many countries are watching the EU" as its ambassadors discuss economic sanctions against Russia. Washington welcomed an EU decision to progress to financial, energy and defence sanctions if Moscow continues to arm Ukrainian rebels after the downing of a passenger plane.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

11 September training nieuwe consumentenwet

van ICT recht - 10 uur 18 min geleden

Sinds 13 juni is de wet voor het verkopen en leveren van diensten op afstand aanzienlijk veranderen. De consument wordt beter beschermd en zaken doen in en met het buitenland is gemakkelijker gemaakt. Europese regels hebben daarvoor gezorgd.

Maar wat betekent dat voor jou als webwinkelier, webbouwer, of dienstverlener? Hoe zit dat nu met het retourrecht en wat zijn de uitzonderingen? Hoe moet de bestelknop aangepast worden en ben je verplicht om allerlei formulieren op de website aan te gaan bieden?

Wij bieden op 11 september een training aan waarin deze en nog vele andere vragen beantwoord zullen worden. Vragen die niet alleen betrekking hebben op de nieuwe wet, waarbij bijvoorbeeld ook online dienstverlening aan bod komt (naast het kopen en verkopen van producten), maar ook op de dagelijkse gang van zaken. Kun je bijvoorbeeld die leuke domeinnaam blijven gebruiken? Ga je zorgvuldig om met klantgegevens, of zeg je dat alleen maar en stuur je al jouw klanten alsnog zomaar een nieuwsbrief?

Vragen die uiteraard juridische inhoudelijk beantwoord zullen worden, maar heel sterk op de praktijk gericht zijn. Wij proberen een compleet beeld te geven van alle (juridisch) relevante zaken die van belang zijn voor een webwinkel met de nadruk op de nieuwe consumentenwetgeving.

Voor € 249 ex btw word je een dag lang bijgepraat, serveren wij lunch, ontvang je ons boek en krijg je na afloop de mogelijkheid om met collega’s, en natuurlijk met ons, te borrelen en na te praten.

Het programma ziet er als volgt uit:

09.15 uur – Ontvangst
09.30 uur – Start Deel I
Module 1: Wat er gaat veranderen?
Module 2: Informatieplichten
Module 3: Het herroepingsrecht op de schop

12.30 uur – Pauze

13.00 uur – Start Deel II
Vervolg Module 3
Module 4: Spam en reclame
Module 5: Domeinnamen

17.00 uur – Einde training met aansluitend netwerkborrel

Je kunt je hier inschrijven

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Categorieën: Technieuws

[Ticker] Bulgarian PM resigns

van EU Observer - 11 uur 39 min geleden
Bulgaria's Socialist PM Plamen Oresharski handed in the resignation of his cabinet Wednesday ahead of snap elections on 5 October. The embattled PM had been under pressure to resign after the Socialists did poorly in the May EU vote. An interim government is set to take over in August.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] Germany rejects calls to scrap Russia's 2018 World Cup

van EU Observer - 11 uur 47 min geleden
The German government on Wednesday rejected calls to stop Russia from hosting the 2018 World Cup. The vice-chair of Germany's CDU party, Michael Fuchs, had earlier floated the idea of hosting the event jointly in Germany, France and Italy as an additional sanction against Russia.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Texas Dept. Of Public Safety Quietly Starts Demanding Full Set Of Prints From Drivers License Applicants

van TechDirt - 11 uur 47 min geleden

The Texas Dept. of Public Safety has apparently decided that if you'd like to be allowed to drive a vehicle in the state, you'd also perfectly fine with a criminal booking-style fingerprinting and having those immediately uploaded to a criminal database (that reps swear isn't a criminal database).

For years, Texas has only required a thumbprint as a minor security measure when obtaining a driver's license or ID card. That has now changed. It's unclear exactly when this went into effect (the Texas DPS made no announcement of this policy change), but longtime Dallas Morning News consumer affairs columnist, Dave Lieber, experienced it firsthand back in June. The other day at the Texas driver’s license center, while paying for my required in-person renewal, the clerk said it was time to take my fingerprints.


Really. Quietly, earlier this year, the Texas Department of Public Safety began requiring full sets of fingerprints from everyone who obtains a new driver’s license or photo identification card. This applies to those who come in as required for periodic renewals, but it doesn’t apply to mail-in renewals. Not only that, but since 2010, Texas law enforcement has been running facial recognition searches on DPS license photos with its Image Verification System.

When Lieber exposed this, thanks in part to a former DPS employee (who noted the full set of prints are uploaded to AFIS [Automated Fingerprint Identification Service], creating a record in criminal databases if no previous record exists), a spokesman for the agency said it was perfectly legal plus pretty awesome at fighting crime. A DPS spokesman tells me that the 9-year-old law makes a clear reference to fingerprints so the new fingerprint collection system is legal.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger says, “It is important to understand that the purpose of this process is to combat fraud, identity theft and other criminal activity, including potentially thwarting terroristic activity. Making sure that people are who they say they are in the process of issuing government identification is a critical safeguard to protect the public against a wide array of criminal threats.” The law Vinger refers to is Transportation Code 521.059, a lengthy bit of which he quotes in a longer response to Lieber's article. The Department is confident in its legal authority to collect 10-prints. The authority exists in current statute, including Transportation Code 521.059, (see below), and in current administrative code. The technology upgrade was funded by the Texas Legislature…

Sec. 521.059. IMAGE VERIFICATION SYSTEM. (a) The department shall establish an image verification system based on the following identifiers collected by the department:

(1) an applicant’s facial image; and
(2) an applicant’s thumbprints or fingerprints.

(b) The department shall authenticate the facial image and thumbprints or fingerprints provided by an applicant for a personal identification certificate, driver’s license, or commercial driver’s license or permit using image comparison technology to ensure that the applicant:

(1) is issued only one original license, permit, or certificate;
(2) does not fraudulently obtain a duplicate license, permit, or certificate; and
(3) does not commit other fraud in connection with the application for a license, permit, or certificate.

(c) The department shall use the image verification system established under this section only to the extent allowed by Chapter 730, Transportation Code, to aid other law enforcement agencies in:

(1) establishing the identity of a victim of a disaster or crime that a local law enforcement agency is unable to establish; or
(2) conducting an investigation of criminal conduct.

(d) Expired.

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1108 (H.B. 2337), Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2005. Vinger may be correct that the DPS is allowed to collect prints as the result of this law, but it's not specifically ordered (or permitted) to collect all 10 prints. Note that the section quoted says "thumbprints or fingerprints." This "or" is important. A look at the actual amendments to existing law shows that the DPS isn't actually required to demand a full set of prints.

The amendments also refer to 521.042(b), which states the following: (b) The application must include:
(1) the thumbprints of the applicant or, if thumbprints cannot be taken, the index fingerprints of the applicant;
So, there's no legal backing to Vinger's claims. Sure, the DPS is technically permitted to collect all 10 prints, but only because nothing specifically forbids this practice. But the law does not demand all 10 prints be provided in order to obtain a license or identification card. The law only asks for thumbprints or index prints.

This is why it was rolled out quietly. The DPS has no legal "authority" to demand a full set of prints before handing out a license. What it can do, however, is ask for them. At this point, supplying a full set of prints is purely voluntary. The DPS can't prevent you from obtaining a license if you refuse, but the whole system is set up to make it appear as though it's mandatory.

Even one of the legislators who crafted the bill stated the intent of the law was never to allow collecting a full set of prints from every person with a Texas drivers license. Bill co-author Juan M. Escobar, who in 2005 was a state representative from Kingsville, said he recalled the point of his bill was to prevent immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from obtaining a driver’s license.

“I think the intent of the bill was to ensure that the individual was the right person that was applying for a driver’s license,” said Escobar, now county judge in Kleberg County. “The intent was to avoid the privacy issue violation. We’ll just do the thumbprint or the index finger. That was my intent.”

He added, “If they’ve gone past the law, there’s nothing that gives them that authority.” Escobar mentions illegal immigration. DPS rep Vinger mentions terrorism. Both used tangential hot-button issues to further the amount of information demanded by Texas in exchange for a highly-essential part of everyday life. But the DPS is now exceeding even the questionable aspects of a law predicated mostly on fear. (As Lieber points out in the comments, even the 2005 law was partially motivated by terrorism fears, prompted by Gov. Perry's 2005 Homeland Security Action Plan. [pdf, p. 36])

The state gave the DPS the authority to collect index prints if thumbprints couldn't be obtained. For whatever reason, the DPS -- nearly a decade later -- has decided to roll out a very imaginative reading of the 2005 statute. Worse, it's claiming its interpretation of words that aren't actually there is "legal authority." And when questioned, it's falling back on "terrorism" and but-surely-you-want-criminals-to-be-caught rationalizing.

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