Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is It the End of the Internet & Freedom of Speech?

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Senate Bill Would Give President Emergency Control of Internet
Details of a revamped version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 show the Senate bill could give the president a "kill switch" on the Internet and allow him to shut out private networks from online access.
FOXNews.com
Friday, August 28, 2009
A Senate bill would offer President Obama emergency control of the Internet and may give him a "kill switch" to shut down online traffic by seizing private networks -- a move cybersecurity experts worry will choke off industry and civil liberties.
Details of a revamped version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 emerged late Thursday, months after an initial version authored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., was blasted in Silicon Valley as dangerous government intrusion.
"In the original bill they empowered the president to essentially turn off the Internet in the case of a 'cyber-emergency,' which they didn't define," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which represents the telecommunications industry.
"We think it's a very bad idea ... to put in legislation," he told FOXNews.com.
Clinton said the new version of the bill that surfaced this week is improved from its first draft, but troubling language that was removed was replaced by vague language that could still offer the same powers to the president in case of an emergency.
"The current language is so unclear that we can't be confident that the changes have actually been made," he said.
The new legislation allows the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and make a plan to respond to the danger, according to an excerpt published online -- a broad license that rights experts worry would give the president "amorphous powers" over private users.
"As soon as you're saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it's going to be a really big issue," Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told CNET News.
A Senate source familiar with the bill likened the new power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when he grounded all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001, CNET News reported.
Spokesmen for Senator Rockefeller and the Commerce Committee did not return calls seeking comment before this article was published.
But Rockefeller, who introduced the bill in April with bipartisan support, said the legislation was critical to protecting everything from water and electricity to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records.
"I know the threats we face," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement when the legislation was introduced. "Our enemies are real. They are sophisticated, they are determined and they will not rest."
The bill would also let the government create a detailed set of standards for licensing "cybersecurity professionals" who would oversee a single standard for security measures.
But many in the technology sector believe it's a job the government is ill-equipped to handle, said Franck Journoud, a policy analyst with the Business Software Alliance.
"Simply put, who has the expertise?" he told FOXNews.com in April. "It's the industry, not the government. We have a responsibility to increase and improve security. That responsibility cannot be captured in a government standard."
Clinton, of the Internet Security Alliance, praised President Obama's May science policy review, which he said would take cybersecurity in the right direction by promoting incentives to get the private industry to improve its own security measures.
But he faulted the Senate bill, which he said would centralize regulations for an industry that is too varied to fall under the control of a single set of rules without endangering the economy and security.
"We think a lot of things need to be done to enhance cybersecurity," he told FOXNews.com, but this bill is "not something that we could support."
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Judge Orders Google to Turn Over YouTube Records
Thursday July 3, 11:35 pm ET
By Miguel Helft
http://biz.yahoo.com/nytimes/080703/1194791404540.html?.v=3
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in New York has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom a database linking users of YouTube, the Web’s largest video site by far, with every clip they have watched there.
The order raised concerns among users and privacy advocates that the online video viewing habits of tens of millions of people could be exposed. But Google and Viacom said they were hoping to come up with a way to protect the anonymity of YouTube viewers.
Viacom said that the information would be safeguarded by a protective order restricting access to the data to outside advisers, who will use it solely to press Viacom’s $1 billion copyright suit against Google.
Still, the judge’s order, which was made public late Wednesday, renewed concerns among privacy advocates that Internet companies like Google are collecting unprecedented amounts of private information that could be misused or could unexpectedly fall into the hands of third parties.
For every video on YouTube, the judge required Google to turn over to Viacom the login name of every user who watched it, and the address of their computer, known as an I.P., or Internet protocol, address. Both companies have argued that such data cannot be used to unmask the identities of individual users with certainty. But in many cases, technology experts and others have been able to link I.P. addresses to individuals using records of their online activities.
Google and Viacom said they had had discussions about ways to ensure the data is further protected to assure anonymity.
“We are disappointed the court granted Viacom’s overreaching demand for viewing history,” Catherine Lacavera, Google’s senior litigation counsel, said in a statement. “We are asking Viacom to respect users’ privacy and allow us to anonymize the logs before producing them under the court’s order.”
Michael Fricklas, Viacom’s general counsel said: “We are investigating techniques, including anonymization, to enhance the security of information that will be produced.”
Mr. Fricklas added that Viacom would not have direct access to the information Google produces, and that its use would be strictly limited. Viacom would not, for example, be able to chase down users who illegally posted clips from “The Colbert Report” on YouTube.
“The information that is produced by Google is going to be limited to outside advisers who can use it solely for the purpose of enforcing our rights against YouTube and Google,” Mr. Fricklas said. “I can unequivocally state that we will not use any of this information to enforce rights against end users.”
In a letter sent Thursday, Google’s lawyers asked their counterparts at Viacom to agree to allow Google to remove information from the data that could potentially be used to identify individuals.
“We request that plaintiffs agree that YouTube may redact usernames and I.P. addresses from the viewing data in the interests of protecting user privacy,” wrote David H. Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Viacom did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Privacy advocates said they welcomed Viacom’s commitment to using the information only for the purposes of the litigation, but they remained concerned about protecting user rights.
“Users should have the right to challenge and contest the production of this deeply private information,” said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Such right is protected by law, he said.
Mr. Opsahl said that even records that did not include a user’s login name and I.P. address might be able to be associated with specific individuals. He said he believed the judge’s order violated the federal Video Privacy Protection Act.
Congress passed the law to protect the video rental records of individuals, after a newspaper disclosed the rental records of Robert H. Bork, then a Supreme Court nominee.
United States District Court Judge Louis L. Stanton, who is presiding over Viacom’s lawsuit against Google and YouTube, said that Google could “cite no authority barring them from disclosing such information in civil discovery proceedings, and their privacy concerns are speculative.” He said the information could help Viacom make its case.
“A markedly higher proportion of infringing-video watching may bear on plaintiff’s vicarious liability claim, and defendants’ substantial noninfringing use defense,” he wrote.
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Corporations Plan To Pull Plug On The Free Internet
Web users naive about agenda to turn Internet into regulated cable TV modelPaul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, June 12, 2008
http://prisonplanet.com/articles/june2008/061208_pull_plug.htm
The Internet is the last true unregulated outpost of freedom of speech but moves are afoot to stifle, suffocate, control and eventually pull the plug on the world wide web as we know it. These threats are not hidden nor are they hard to deduce and yet a significant number of Internet users remain naive as to their scope.
Despite many questioning the authenticity of a report that claimed ISP's had resolved to restrict the Internet to a TV-like subscription model where users will be forced to pay to visit selected corporate websites by 2012, while others will be blocked, the march towards regulation of the web is clear and documented.
We have been warning about the plan to let the old Internet die and replace it with a restricted and controlled Internet 2 for years. In 2006, we published an article about how the RIAA were attempting to broaden intellectual property distinctions to a point whereby merely linking to external content is judged as copyright infringement.
At the time, the article was met with a mixed response. Many were aware of the imminent dangers that threaten to change the face of the Internet but others were more hostile to the supposition that the world wide web could be devastated by landmark copyright case rulings as well as plans to develop "Internet 2."
Some accused us of yellow journalism and scaremongering yet the warning that the Elektra vs. Barker case could criminalize the very mechanism that characterizes the Internet was not concocted by Alex Jones or Paul Joseph Watson, it was a statement made by the very lawyer fighting the case, Ray Beckerman.
It was a danger also reported on by one of the UK's biggest technology news websites, the Inquirer, which also highlighted the frightening development in an article entitled, RIAA wants the Internet shut down.
The RIAA's argument was that defendant Tenise Barker downloaded music files and made them available for distribution by placing them in a shared folder. Though Barker paid for the files and downloaded them legally, and the files were not copied by anyone, the RIAA's motion states that simply making the files available constitutes copyright infringement.
As Beckerman points out, the entire Internet is nothing more than a giant network of hyperlinks making files 'available' to other people. If we link to CNN.com, we are making the file that constitutes the CNN homepage 'available' to other users. We don't own the copyright to any of CNN's material therefore if the RIAA's argument is accepted, by simply making that CNN file available from our website, even if no one clicks on the link, we are committing a breach of copyright.
At no point in our article did we suggest that the ruling definitely would shut down the Internet, we highlighted the fact that hundreds of transnational corporations like Amazon.com who solely rely on Internet trade would scream bloody murder. But what the ruling would grease the skids for is the move towards a strictly regulated Internet whereby government permission would be required to run a website and that website would be subject to censoring and deletion if it violated any "terms of use."
This wouldn't be much of a problem to giant transnational corporations, because their websites would remain accessible for everyone. Yet for thousands of political websites and blogs, the plug could be effectively pulled.
After a long legal fight, Elektra vs. Barker was decided largely in Elektra's favor, after a federal judge essentially validated the RIAA's position that having songs available in a KaZaA shared folder violates the distribution right under the Copyright Act.
The example that we cite in discussing what life would be like under "Internet 2" was that running a blog would be like having a You Tube account - any politically sensitive or controversial information that the owners dislike would immediately be removed as it is frequently on You Tube.
In addition, the slide towards a licensed Internet that will be sold using fear of identity and credit card fraud could lead to mandatory biometric thumb or finger scanning simply to access the world wide web.
This is hardly a stretch of the imagination, since numerous public services and functions of society are increasingly accessible only through providing some form of biometric identification. Credit passes for travel, ATM terminals and access to theme parks like Disneyland are just a few of the many services we use that are shifting towards mandatory biometric gatekeeping.
Furthermore, Pay By Touch Online and other companies have already developed and launched keyboard biometric finger scanning terminals that require users to submit their biometric print before they can access the Internet or buy online.
Piggybacking the net neutrality debate, Internet 2 is being shaped to replace the old Internet, which will be allowed to self-destruct as it labors under the pressures of being relegated to slower and slower pipes and users will simply desert a painstaking system.
More than two years ago in an article entitled, The End of the Internet?, The Nation magazine reported,
"The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online."
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U.S. Court Orders Whistleblower Website Shut Down
By Ann Shibler
2008-02-20
http://jbs.org/node/7147
Wikileaks, a whistleblower website created by journalists committed to transparency in the dissemination of information over the Internet, was shut down under a court order because of pressure from a Swiss bank.
The Swiss-owned Julius Baer Bank’s Cayman Island branch was perturbed about documents that were posted on Wikileaks by an unidentified whistleblower. The documents reportedly provided evidence that the Cayman Islands bank helps customers hide assets and wash funds — money laundering is the more common term. (The Cayman Islands are noted as an offshore haven for those wishing to minimize their exposure to the IRS.) When Wikileaks refused to take the posting down, the bank went after Wikileaks hosting service, Dynadot.
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Internet's future in 2020 debated
24 September 2006
BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5370688.stm
The internet will be a thriving, low-cost network of billions of devices by 2020, says a major survey of leading technology thinkers.
The Pew report on the future internet surveyed 742 experts in the fields of computing, politics and business.
More than half of respondents had a positive vision of the net's future but 46% had serious reservations.
Almost 60% said that a counter culture of Luddites would emerge, some resorting to violence.
The Pew Internet and American Life report canvassed opinions from the experts on seven broad scenarios about the future internet, based on developments in the technology in recent years.

Written responses

The correspondents were also able to qualify their answers with written responses giving more detail.
"Key builders of the next generation of internet often agree on the direction technology will change, but there is much less agreement about the social and political impact those changes will have," said Janna Quitney Anderson, lead author of the report The Future of the Internet II.
She added: "One of their big concerns is: Who controls the internet architecture they have created?"
Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and the inventor of ethernet, predicted the net would be a global connection of different devices.
"The internet will have gone beyond personal communications," by 2020 he wrote.

'Embedded micros'

"Many more of today's 10 billion new embedded micros per year will be on the internet."
Louis Nauges, president of Microcost, a French information technology firm, saw mobile devices at the forefront of the net.
"Mobile internet will be dominant," he explained. "By 2020, most mobile networks will provide one-gigabit-per-second-minimum speed, anywhere, anytime.
"Dominant access tools will be mobile, with powerful infrastructure characteristics. All applications will come from the net."
But not everyone felt a "networked nirvana" would be possible by 2020.
Concerns over interoperability (different formats working together), government regulation and commercial interests were seen as key barriers to a universal internet.
Ian Peter, Australian leader of the Internet Mark II Project, wrote: "The problem of the digital divide is too complex and the power of legacy telco regulatory regimes too powerful to achieve this utopian dream globally within 15 years."
'Real interoperability'
Author and social commentator Douglas Rushkoff agreed with Mr Peter.
The less one is powerful, the more transparent his or her life. The powerful will remain much less transparent
NetLab founder Barry Wellman on issues of privacy versus transparancy
He wrote: "Real interoperability will be contingent on replacing our bias for competition with one for collaboration.
"Until then, economics do not permit universal networking capability."
Many of the surveyed experts predicted isolated and small-scale violent attacks to try and thwart technology's march.
"Today's eco-terrorists are the harbingers of this likely trend," wrote Ed Lyell, an expert on the internet and education.
"Every age has a small percentage that cling to an overrated past of low technology, low energy, lifestyle."
"Of course there will be more Unabombers," wrote Cory Doctorow of blog BoingBoing.
Some commentators felt that the violence would either be tied to the effects of technology, rather than the technology itself, or possibly civil action around issues such as privacy.
"The interesting question is whether these acts will be considered terrorism or civil disobedience," wrote Marc Rotenberg or the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Of course there will be more Unabombers
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
More than half of respondents disagreed that English would become the lingua franca of the internet by 2020 and that there would be dangers associated with letting machines take over some net tasks such as surveillance and security.
Internet Society Board chairman Fred Baker wrote: "We will certainly have some interesting technologies.
He added: "Until someone finds a way for a computer to prevent anyone from pulling its power plug, however, it will never be completely out of control."
The repondents were split over the whether the impact of people's lives becoming increasingly online, resulting in both less privacy but more transparency, would be a positive outcome.
'Access information'
Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby awards, said such transparancy would be a benefit to society.
The dramatic growth of the internet shows no sign of abating
"Giving all people access to our information and a context to understand it will lead to an advancement in our civilisation."
But NetLab founder Barry Wellman disagreed: "The less one is powerful, the more transparent his or her life. The powerful will remain much less transparent."
Mr Doctorow wrote: "Transparency and privacy aren't antithetical.
"We're perfectly capable of formulating widely honored social contracts that prohibit pointing telescopes through your neighbours' windows.
"We can likewise have social contracts about sniffing your neighbours' network traffic."
By 2020 an increasing number of people will be living and working within "virtual worlds" being more productive online than offline, the majority of the respondents said.
Ben Detenber, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University, responded: "Virtual reality (VR) will only increase productivity for some people. For most, it will make no difference in productivity (i.e., how much output); VR will only change what type of work people do and how it is done."
Glenn Ricart, a board member at the Internet Society, warned also of potential dangers.
He envisaged "an entire generation opting-out of the real world and a paradoxical decrease in productivity as the people who provide the motive economic power no longer are in touch with the realities of the real world".

How Respondents Assessed Scenarios for 2020
Agree Disagree No response
A global, low-cost network thrives
56% 43% 1%
English displaces other languages
42% 57% 1%
Autonomous technology is a problem
42% 54% 4%
Transparency builds better world, even at the expense of privacy
46% 49% 5%
Virtual reality is a drain for some
56% 39% 5%
The internet opens worldwide access to success
52% 44% 5%
Some Luddites/Refuseniks will commit terror acts
58% 35% 7%
Source: Pew Center
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Freedom of Speech Under Siege
By Janet Wollstein
http://www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/Docs/CX5323-FreeSpeech.htm

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Francois Voltaire



No right is more fundamental than freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech you can't communicate your ideas and feelings, decry a social injustice, pursue an artistic vision, investigate scientific truth, practice a religion, or criticize government. If freedom of speech is destroyed, self-development is crippled, social progress grinds to a halt, and official lies become the only "truth."
Although freedom of speech can be inhibited by intolerant people, it can only be destroyed by brute force, particularly government force.
If fundamentalists demand that "Playboy" magazines be removed from store shelves, that is not censorship. Others are free to demand - just as forcefully - that "Playboy" be kept on shelves. And merchants can reject the fundamentalists' demands. But when government sends in police to close down bookstores, arrest musicians, artists, and photographers, burn videotapes, or shut down computer networks, that is censorship.


Censorship is the Handmaiden of a Police State
Censorship is the use of force to control what you can say, read, or see. Although occasionally private individuals and groups engage in censorship - for example by stealing "insensitive" newspapers (which has occurred on several U.S. college campuses) or threatening to kill "indecent" artists, like "Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie - the primary agent of censorship is government.
In Nazi Germany, the works of Jewish writers were seized and burned by storm troopers. Resisters were beaten and shot. Merely criticizing the government could mean being sent to a concentration camp. In the Soviet Union and Communist China, the government burned bibles and churches, as well as unapproved books and art.
But censorship does not only exist in police states. In England, since 1974, 6,246 people have been imprisoned without trial under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, for such "crimes" as suspicion of supporting an illegal organization or providing a forum for banned ideas. That hasn't stopped IRA bombings. But it has made the people of England much less free. In Panama, after the U.S.-sponsored overthrow of dictator Manuel Noriega, journalists were rounded up, shot and killed (see the film "The Panama Deception").


The Rise of Censorship in America
Censorship has been growing in the United States as well. The First Amendment to our Constitution unequivocally states that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Yet during the last decades, with ever-growing zeal, our legislatures have been censoring books, films, photography, art, music, news, and even scientific information. And our courts - all the way up to the Supreme Court - have said it's legal.
"Dirty" Pictures. On November 2, 1995, Toni Marie Angeli was arrested at Zona Photo Labs in Massachusetts. She was picking up pictures of her 4-year-old son Nico in their bathtub. The photos were for a photography course she was taking at Harvard.
Detective W. Phillips of Cambridge accused her of being a child pornographer and threatened: "if you don't cooperate, I will take that kid away from you on the spot."
Under the 1990 Comprehensive Crime Act, nude pictures of your own children can be prosecuted as "child pornography." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brennan warns that the law is so broad, you could even be prosecuted for having "pictures of topless bathers at a Mediterranean beach."
Burning Books. In June of 1993, the Supreme Court said it was constitutional to destroy over 100,000 books and tapes, and seize all of the assets of a chain of bookstores without trial because eleven of the books and tapes sold by the chain were judged obscene. (Alexander v. United States). Under this decision, federal police could destroy the entire inventory of every major chain of bookstores in the nation - like Crown or B. Dalton - if only a few of the items they sell are judged obscene.
Politically-Correct Speech. If freedom of speech means anything at all, it means the right to express ideas others disagree with. Yet the political-correctness movement has resulted in thousands of students and workers being punished for such "offenses" as the use of derogatory names, inconsiderate jokes, "misdirected" laughter, and "conspicuous exclusion" from conversation. Punishments for saying the wrong thing include expulsion, loss of jobs, and mandatory "sensitivity" indoctrination classes.
Health Police Armed With Machine Guns. In 1991, an FDA magazine warned, "the agency will not tolerate the practice of promoting drugs and medical devices for unapproved uses . . . [the] FDA is prepared to enforce this law through legal steps such as seizure, injunction and prosecution."
On May 6, 1992, heavily-armed police and FDA agents kicked down the door of Dr. Jonathan Wright's Tacoma medical clinic in Washington State. For 14 hours, employees were held at gunpoint while FDA agents smashed medical equipment and ransacked the offices. Dr. Wright's "crime"? Making unapproved claims about high-potency vitamins.
In 1994 alone, the FDA launched over 200 violent raids on vitamin stores, clinics, and doctors for such "crimes".
As a result of FDA policies, the free flow of medical information has been reduced to a trickle. According to former Federal Trade Commission official and Boston University professor John Calfree, "Cancer newsletters have been shut down. Symposiums have nearly been brought to a halt . . . Press conferences announcing new applications . . . are for the most part eliminated." Hundreds of lifesaving uses for existing drugs and devices have been banned, and medical manufacturers have begun to leave America.
"Indecent" Speech Could Land You in Prison. Under Section 223 of the new Communications Decency Act, indecent speech via a telecommunications device (including your telephone, fax, computer and the Internet) is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
But just what is "indecent speech"? No one knows. Congress didn't bother to define it. However the language of the Decency Act is so broad that it could include an explicit love note e-mailed to your spouse, or even saying one of "seven dirty words" banned by the FCC on the telephone .
Even worse, human-rights groups say electronic reporting of prison rapes or international atrocities such as massacres in Chechnya, could be a crime under this act.
The Decency Act is being challenged in court and will be reviewed by the Supreme Court. But if it is upheld, thousands of journalists, human-rights activists, and ordinary citizens could face imprisonment or a $100,000 fine for a slip of the tongue.
Criminalizing Political Speech. Enacted one year after the Oklahoma City bombing, the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act does a lot more than go after terrorists. Its "conspiracy" provisions are a threat to any American who has anything to do with a foreign or domestic political organization the government dislikes.
Under this law, any individual or group in America can be branded "terrorists" by the Attorney General. Then the government can seize all of the assets of the banned group, as well as the assets of anyone who contributes to it. If you pay $5 to attend a lecture by a Middle Eastern group, and the Attorney General later decides that they might have terrorist links, your home and business could be seized.
Government News Management. Increasingly, the government is controlling the news. According to the watchdog group Accuracy In Media, over 87% of national network news comes either from government bureaucrats or consultants.
Each year, government controls more of the news you hear, sometimes with deadly results. During the Gulf War, reporters were forced into carefully-controlled press pools and all images of dead soldiers and civilians were prohibited. Years later, how many Americans know that at least 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. "smart" bombs?
The same news control is now being used in the U.S. In Waco, Texas - where 86 innocent men, women and children were shot or burned alive by the FBI and BATF - all contact between the Branch Davidians and the press was cut off. The few reporters who tried to enter the Davidians' property were turned away at gunpoint by armed troops and told if they persisted, to expect "tragic consequences." As a result, to this day, not one American in 10,000 knows that close to half the Branch Davidians were black or that the CS-gas the FBI used is lethal in enclosed buildings.
Reclaiming Our Freedom of Speech. For the last 50 years, government assaults on freedom of speech in the U.S. have been growing. Today, not just sexual images, but health information, critical news reports, and even political expression are being censored.
People whose only crime is that they hold unpopular ideas or expose government lies, are being harassed, imprisoned and even killed.
In America, censorship is not only wrong, it is illegal. Our Bill of Rights is unmistakably clear. "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech." It is time our legislatures and courts obeyed their own laws.
To preserve our freedom of speech, we must fight for it. Support groups like ISIL, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American PEN Society, and the ACLU, which are fighting for your freedom of speech. Challenge campus and office speech codes. Subscribe to independent newsletters and share them with others. And encourage others to do the same.
For over 200 years American has stood for liberty and freedom of speech. Today we can no longer take them for granted. We must act now to restore our heritage of liberty - or risk losing it forever.
International Society for Individual Liberty1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102Tel: (415) 864-0952 Fax: (415) 864-7506
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Gingrich wants to restrict freedom of speech?Legal expert looks at constitutionality of former House Speaker's comments
By Keith Olbermann, MSNBC
updated 12:15 p.m. ET, Wed., Nov. 29, 2006 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15951435/
Newt Gingrich called for a reexamination of free speech at the Loeb First Amendment Award Dinner in New Hampshire this week, saying a “different set of rules to prevent terrorism” are necessary.
Gingrich’s call to restrict free speech is mainly focused on the Internet.
Keith Olbermann discussed the constitutionality of this with George Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley.
This is a transcript from the show.
It’s in the quintessential movie about this city, “Chinatown.” Morty the Mortician turns to Jack Nicholson’s character and says, “Middle of the drought, and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A.” Tonight, a real-life equivalent. Middle of a dinner honoring the sanctity of the First Amendment, and the former speaker of the House talks about restricting freedom of speech. Only in the Republican Party.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, it might have been his first attempt to fire up his base for a possible presidential run, or it might have been something more ominous. But Newt Gingrich has actually proposed a different set of rules and invoked the bogeyman of terror.
Gingrich was the featured speaker at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire, Monday night, where he not only argued that campaign finance reform and the separation of church and state should be rethought, because they allegedly hurt the First Amendment, but he also suggested that new rules might be necessary to stop terrorists using freedom of speech to get out their message.
Here is his rationalization:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: My view is that either before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that we use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us, to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: If you’re going to destroy freedom of speech, bub, you’ve already lost all the cities.
To paraphrase Pastor Martin Noemuller’s poem about Germany in the ‘30s and ‘40s: First they came for the Fourth Amendment, then they came for habeas corpus, then came for free speech, and there was no one allowed to speak up.
The politics in a moment.
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So the conventional wisdom on this is, he’s to breathe life into the same scare tactics that worked so well for the president and the vice president until four weeks ago. But could this be more nefarious than just politics? Could any president really gut free speech in the name of counterterrorism?
TURLEY: They could. I mean, it’s bizarre it would occur in a First Amendment speech. God knows what he’d say at a Mother’s Day speech.
But, you know, this really could happen. I mean, the fact is that the First Amendment is an abstraction, and when you put up against it the idea of incinerating millions of people, there will be millions of citizens that respond, like some Pavlovian response, and deliver up rights. We’ve already seen that. People don’t seem to appreciate that you really can’t save a Constitution by destroying it.
OLBERMANN: We asked Mr. Gingrich’s office for the full speech. To their credit, they provided most of it to us, late relative to our deadline. But let me read you a little bit more of this that we’ve just gotten, Jonathan.
“I want to suggest to you that we right now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of, if it were not for the scale of this threat.” That’s one quote.
“This is a serious, long-term war,” Gingrich added, “and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country. It will lead us to learn how to close down every Web site that is dangerous.”
Jonathan, are there not legal methods already in place to deal with such sites that do not require what Mr. Gingrich has here called “supervision that we would never dream of?”
TURLEY: Well, there are plenty of powers and authorities that could be used to monitor truly dangerous people. But what you see here, I think, is the insatiable appetite that has developed among certain leaders for controlling American society.
We saw that with John Ashcroft not long after 9/11, when he said the critics were aiding and abetting the terrorists. There is this insatiable appetite that develops when you feed absolute power to people like Gingrich.
And people should not assume that these are just going to be fringe candidates, and this could never happen. Fear does amazing things to people, and it could a sort of self-mutilation in a democracy, where we give up the very things, the very rights that define us, and theoretically, the very things that we are defending.
OLBERMANN: Also, when you talk about closing down Internet sites, who is the one who’s going to decide which those are? I mean, it could be the Daily Kos, it could be Citizens for Legitimate Government, it could be the sports Web site Dead Spin, for all we know, if he doesn’t like any one of them in particular.
TURLEY: Well, what these guys don’t understand is that the best defense against bad ideas, like extremism and terrorism, is free speech. That’s what we’ve proven. That’s why they don’t like us, is that we’re remarkably successful as a democracy, because we’ve shown that really bad ideas don’t survive in the marketplace, unless you try to suppress them, unless you try to keep people from speaking. Then it becomes a form of martyrdom. Then you give credence to what they’re saying.
OLBERMANN: Last question, the specific idea about the Internet. There was a story just today out of Toronto that researchers at a Canadian university developed some software that will let users in places like China that have Internet restrictions, the phrase they used were, “hop over government’s Internet firewalls.” Might it be that the technology will be our best defense against the Newt Gingriches of this country?
TURLEY: It may be. We may have to rely on our own creativity to overcome the inclinations of people like Newt Gingrich.
OLBERMANN: George Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert, and, I think it’s fair to say, friend of the Constitution, Jonathan Turley. Great thanks, Jon.
TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
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“Free-Speech Zone”
December 15, 2003
By James Bovard http://www.amconmag.com/12_15_03/feature.html
On Dec. 6, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft informed the Senate Judiciary Committee, “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty … your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and … give ammunition to America’s enemies.” Some commentators feared that Ashcroft’s statement, which was vetted beforehand by top lawyers at the Justice Department, signaled that this White House would take a far more hostile view towards opponents than did recent presidents. And indeed, some Bush administration policies indicate that Ashcroft’s comment was not a mere throwaway line.
When Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up “free speech zones” or “protest zones” where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event.
When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president’s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind.”
At Neel’s trial, police detective John Ianachione testified that the Secret Service told local police to confine “people that were there making a statement pretty much against the president and his views” in a so-called free speech area. Paul Wolf, one of the top officials in the Allegheny County Police Department, told Salon that the Secret Service “come in and do a site survey, and say, ‘Here’s a place where the people can be, and we’d like to have any protesters put in a place that is able to be secured.’” Pennsylvania district judge Shirley Rowe Trkula threw out the disorderly conduct charge against Neel, declaring, “I believe this is America. Whatever happened to ‘I don’t agree with you, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’?”
Similar suppressions have occurred during Bush visits to Florida. A recent St. Petersburg Times editorial noted, “At a Bush rally at Legends Field in 2001, three demonstrators—two of whom were grandmothers—were arrested for holding up small handwritten protest signs outside the designated zone. And last year, seven protesters were arrested when Bush came to a rally at the USF Sun Dome. They had refused to be cordoned off into a protest zone hundreds of yards from the entrance to the Dome.” One of the arrested protesters was a 62-year-old man holding up a sign, “War is good business. Invest your sons.” The seven were charged with trespassing, “obstructing without violence and disorderly conduct.”
Police have repressed protesters during several Bush visits to the St. Louis area as well. When Bush visited on Jan. 22, 2003, 150 people carrying signs were shunted far away from the main action and effectively quarantined. Denise Lieberman of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri commented, “No one could see them from the street. In addition, the media were not allowed to talk to them. The police would not allow any media inside the protest area and wouldn’t allow any of the protesters out of the protest zone to talk to the media.” When Bush stopped by a Boeing plant to talk to workers, Christine Mains and her five-year-old daughter disobeyed orders to move to a small protest area far from the action. Police arrested Mains and took her and her crying daughter away in separate squad cars.
[Read entire article at: http://www.amconmag.com/12_15_03/feature.html]
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The Pentagon’s War on the Internet By Mike Whitney http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11901.htm
02/13/06 "ICH' -- -- The Pentagon has developed a comprehensive strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information. The plan appears in a recently declassified document, “The Information Operations Roadmap”, which was provided under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and revealed in an article by the BBC. The Pentagon sees the internet in terms of a military adversary that poses a vital threat to its stated mission of global domination. This explains the confrontational language in the document which speaks of “fighting the net”; implying that the internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system." The Defense Dept. places a high-value on controlling information. The new program illustrates their determination to establish the parameters of free speech. The Pentagon sees information as essential in manipulating public perceptions and, thus, a crucial tool in eliciting support for unpopular policies. The recent revelations of the military placing propaganda in the foreign press demonstrate the importance that is given to co-opting public opinion. Information-warfare is used to create an impenetrable cloud around the activities of government so that decisions can be made without dissent. The smokescreen of deception that encompasses the Bush administration has less to do with prevaricating politicians than it does with a clearly articulated policy of obfuscation.
The Pentagon’s focus on the internet tells us a great deal about the mainstream media and its connection to the political establishment. Why, for example, would the Pentagon see the internet as a greater threat than the mainstream media, where an estimated 75% of Americans get their news? The reason is clear; because the MSM is already a fully-integrated part of the corporate-system providing a 24 hour per day streaming of business-friendly news. Today’s MSM operates as a de-facto franchise of the Pentagon, a reliable and sophisticated propagandist for Washington’s wars of aggression and political subterfuge.

“The Information Operations Roadmap” is solely intended to undermine the principle of an informed citizenry.

The internet, on the other hand, is the last bastion of American democracy; a virtual world where reliable information moves instantly from person to person without passing through the corporate filter. Online visitors can get a clear picture of their governments’ depredations with a click of the mouse. This is the liberalization of the news, an open source of mind-expanding information that elevates citizen awareness of complex issues and threatens the status quo. The Pentagon program is just one facet of a broader culture of deception; a pervasive ethos of dishonesty that envelopes all aspects of the Bush White House.
In what way is “strategic intelligence” different from plain intelligence? It is information that is shaped in a way that meets the needs of a particular group. In other words, it is not the truth at all, but a fabrication, a fiction, a lie. Strategic intelligence is an oxymoron; a tidy bit of Orwellian doublespeak that reflects the deeply rooted cynicism of its authors.
The “Strategic Intelligence” Dept is a division of the Defense establishment that is entirely devoted to concealing, distorting, omitting and manipulating the truth.

The internet is a logical target for the Pentagon’s electronic warfare. Already the Downing Street memos, Bush’s bombing-threats against Al Jazeera, the fraudulent 2004 elections, and the leveling of Falluja, have disrupted the smooth execution of Bush’s wars. It is understandable that Rumsfeld and Co. would seek to transform this potential enemy into an ally, much as it has done with the MSM. The Pentagon’s plans for engaging in “virtual warfare” are impressive. As BBC notes: “The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.” (BBC)
The enemy, of course, is you, dear reader, or anyone who refuses to accept their role as a witless-cog in new world order. Seizing the internet is a prudent way of controlling every piece of information that one experiences from cradle to grave; all necessary for an orderly police-state.
The Information Operations Roadmap (IOR) recommends that psychological operations (Psyops) “should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, "miniaturized, scatterable public address systems", wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.” No idea is too costly or too far-fetched that it escapes the serious consideration of the Pentagon chieftains.
The objective is to challenge any tidbit of information that appears on the web that may counter the official narrative; the fairytale of benign American intervention to promote democracy and human rights across the planet. The IOR aspires to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" and develop the capability to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum". (BBC) Full spectrum dominance. The ultimate goal of the Pentagon is to create an internet-paradigm that corresponds to the corporate mainstream model, devoid of imagination or divergent points of view. They envision an internet that is increasingly restricted by the gluttonous influence of industry and its vast “tapestry of lies”.
It provides a direct link between the explosive power of ideas and engaged citizen involvement. (aka; participatory democracy) The Pentagon is laying the groundwork for privatizing the internet so the information-revolution can be transformed into an information-tyranny, extending to all areas of communications and serving the exclusive interests of a few well-heeled American plutocrats.
The War Dept. is planning to insert itself into every area of the internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary.

The internet is the modern-day marketplace of ideas, an invaluable resource for human curiosity and organized resistance.


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