The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity

CAT | First Amendment

Courthouse News Service reports that a virginia judge has ruled Facebook “Likes” are not protected speech.

The case was related to employees of the Hampton VA sheriff’s office who “Liked” the current sheriff’s opponent in the last election. After he was re-elected, he fired many of the people who had supported his opponent.

The judge ruled that posts on Facebook would have been protected, but not simple Likes.

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The EFF has an excellent article on eight reasons why government regulation of cryptography is a bad idea.

The short answer is: the bad guys can easily get it and use it anyway, and it will make security for the rest of us much worse (not including the big brother surveillance  and constitutional issues).

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Swiss bank in Wikileaks case abruptly abandons lawsuit | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET News.comIn a follow up to the earlier story, it seems that the judge finally realized the implications of his actions to free speech, and the fact that his injunction was almost completely ineffective. This is a really good thing. If the ruling had stood under appeal and become precedent, it would have significantly changed the Internet landscape.

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Wikileaks domain name yanked in spat over leaked documents | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET News.comDeclan does a really good job here of discussing a fascinating case. WikiLeaks is a Wiki based website designed to enable completely anonymous posting of tips and leaked documents. It is focused around enabling disclosure of information from repressive countries.A US court recently ordered WikiLeak’s domain name registrar to disable their domain name because of some documents on the site about questionable off shore banking activities by a group of Swiss bankers.The real shocker here is the draconian action against WikiLeaks prior to the resolution of the claim. It is also ineffective action because WikiLeaks is openly hosted under a number of domains in a number of different countries.I am very interested to see how this story develops and whether the injunction will stand up once the details of the offending materials become clear.

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Israel recently forced Google to hand over the identity of a blogger. Declan McCullagh wrote a good post covering the facts of the case. This case illustrates one of the problems caused by the international nature of the Internet. A message, article, or blog post you write (completely legally) in your country, may subject you to prosecution and punishment in another. I am not thinking here of obvious and major crimes such as fraud, child pornography, etc. (and even these are not universally criminal), but rather of more subtle speech and thought crimes.In the United States, the “truth” is an absolute defense in liable cases, while in the UK it is not (lawyers in the audience, please correct me if I am in error here). Denial of the holocaust  is protected first amendment speech in the US but not in much of Europe. Personal sharing of copyrighted materials is legal in many countries, but not the US. Think cartoons of Mohammed, the Satanic Verses, the secret teachings of the Scientologists, pictures of Burmese protests, publishing of Cryptography software. Each of these is legal in some countries and not in others.How can anyone know if their words or actions might be illegal in some country somewhere in the world. 

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