The FBI has withdrawn a secret order that used new anti-terrorism powers to demand information about a user of the Internet Archive without a court order after attorneys challenged it as an unconstitutional abuse of power. The victory for the San Francisco-based digital library meant that its founder was able to speak publicly …
I was about to say "Thank God I live in Australia", but I just remembered a case recently here where the Tax Office deemed a scheme from 10 years ago illegal and backdated the law, so that anyone who participated are now criminals. This caught a high profile news reader and partner.
So, to those people who say "If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear", think again. Todays search for Thermite (see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/05/edr_hard_disk_crusher/comments/) may tomorrow be considered terrorism.
Mine is the one with the tin foil hat and the untraceable search engine in the back pocket.
RIPA has a secrecy clause
How many of the 200,000 plus people were told what information was given out to whom and why?
Even when they have the right to challenge the legality of it. But how can they challenge the legality of something they never know about?
So these wowsers from the FBI with a corrupt view on law whilst knowing these letters are both illegal and unlawful by common law ruling and are still chasing never quite catching the wandering troubled ghost of Jean Seberg that haunts and taunts all their questionable activities far and wide to this day !
Some things can be lethal in life !
"...and yet, because of the secrecy surrounding them, only three have been known to have been challenged in court. Remarkably, all three challenges have succeeded."
Well, if the challenge does not succeed, the gag order is not lifted either and you would not hear about it. Thus, it is nor remarkable that all known challenges were successful, since unsuccessful challenges are always unkown.
If the FBI settled, does that mean that the Internet Archive people didn't prove their claim that the gag order was unconstitutional? If that's the case, then they haven't stopped the FBI from doing the same thing to the next person.
And conversely the only challenges that are made are where a third party has some reason to defend the subject of the NSL. Archive.org could have complied and nobody would ever know.
So my guess is FBI saw an Anonymous Coward comment somewhere they didn't like, quoting an archive.org URL, they then went on a fishing expedition to unmask the AC.
We're lucky in this case that Archive.org did their civil duty and challenged it, but I imagine that is very very rare. If an ISP received one of those, there is no benefit to them to challenge the legality of it.
Hence the number of successful challenges would be very much higher if there was a reason for the companies receiving the NSLs to do their civic duty and challenge these.
You're quite correct. Settling has been a tactic in making sure a law or patent or contract doesn't have to go under the harsh light of scrutiny.
Did anyone else notice
The statements from the article (which may be an editorial rather than quote) had:
"used new anti-terrorism powers "
and later on says
"getting information in government investigations if it is deemed relevant to terrorism or espionage"
Hmm. Espionage & terrorism != terrorism.
So the law is being used where it was not intended to be used originally.
Yeah, I know. Complete lack of surprise.
Lets just hope...
that the person that the NSL was issued for wasn't a terrorist searching for some info to plan his (or her) next big attack, coz then the Internet Archive people are gonna have egg on their face...
We need a tongue in cheek icon here...
No they aren't.
If there's credible information suggesting that, then the FBI can get a normal court order and get the information they require.
There's no need for secrecy and gagging orders, there was a usable framework in place that allowed for the correct level of court and public scrutiny over the activities that the FBI conducted, the powers granted by the NSL legislation are unnecessary and open to abuse by the very fact that they are secret.
you must have missed the last part of my comment...
@The Aussie Paradox
I agree with you completely.
How many times on the radio do I hear of new ways the government is bringing in laws to protect people, and then you hear people say if you are innocent you have nothing to fear. They are probably the same idiots who would have shouted the same sentiment during the 1930s in Germany, and we all know where that went.
Long Live Guy Fawkes
A true national hero.
Actually Aussie Paradox
Actually Aussie paradox , the reason the Oz government can backdate laws goes back to the days of old called the seventies of the last century when little Johnny of Oz , the DC chimps second best forgotten bum buddy and now the second fastest already forgotten one , was the then second worse Federal Treasurer (sad really isn't , Little Johnny is always number two at everything he does for his entire political career from the start to the end ). At this point in time hyper stagflation was raging worse then any Sydney Bushfire known before or since and a certain CIA Oz chief main operation front office outside the Embassy in Canberra was a very dodgy merchant bank in Old Sydney Town called "Nugan Hand" , whose greed for money along with illicit heroin drug running from Burma into Oz , made them the chief architect of an extremely large money laundering and tax avoidance fraud called "Bottom of the Harbour" which by today's standard would be in the billions .
This operation involved in moving the capital out from the company without paying tax of any type by a series of deviant by non existent money transfers and replacing the company directors with the homeless people without any financial means but unemployed due to the raging out of control stagflation !
Little Johnny was told to his face or so the story goes , create a law to address the problem and recover the loot and he apparently said no to his bosses face , to which the reply was there is the door , it was his choice ! So thus the Federal Back Date Law was born and stood the High Court test case and the rest became history (the appeals system to the English Privy Council was repealed some time around the early seventies by the previous government of the day which had been shafted by the CIA front bury the hatchet in your head job a few years before then with one of their other stooges but that is another story for another day) !
Alas the FBI knows they have no real legal legs they can fall back to with these letters hence they cut fold with these jokers and go via another back window house breaking style operation !
This is a semi-good sign
Its starting to be challenged - secrecy has never been conducive to democracy or science. Secrecy is just a veil behind which incompetence and corruption thrive. The ACLU and EFF are doing their bit though and should be commended for it.
What is going wrong with the world? I agree we need Guy Fawkes back, but this time lets not have someone with religious leanings (too many of that type of bomber around) and someone with access to lots of HMX.
Isn't it time for a good revolution?
A vant you to Lizten karefully
Ve think zat you are up to no gut! Hand over ze information and you family vill be safe. If you do not talk, you family vill be sent to a concentration camp in Cuba !
FBI, Stazzi, Gestapo, MI5,DHS...All becoming a little blurred these days.....
Am I missing something here, but the FBI is a civil...
Authority under the scrutiny of elected officials. Either the FBI don't give a toss what the political, elected office holders may or may not do/say/want or the elected office holders are falling in with the plans or the FBI have the goods on their politicians and are, effectively saying "back us or well get you sacked"!
But that couldn't happen here in Blighty, could it.... Our politicians and civil servants don't have that much contempt for public freedoms, do they?? !!!!
Some random ideas...
If you look briefly at the Internet Archive, especially the Open Source Books
collections, you will see that there are many texts in Arabic. That could be largely
enough to make the FBI suspect that the Internet Archive is hosting some terrorist
propaganda. So rather than hiring someone who can read Arabic to check the content of the documents, they may find it simpler to decide that everything is terrorist propaganda, get all the information they can on those who have upoladed something written in Arabic, and interview all these gentlemen. If they declare having uploaded
the Arabian Nights, the FBI may then decide to ask someone to check the document.
This would be one rather obvious police method for a fishing expedition.
Looking again at the Open Source Books collection, you can also notice the presence
of a host of texts by characters such as Sir Oswald Mosley (http://www.archive.org/details/EuropeanSocialism), Adolf Hitler, Martin Bormann, Guido Von List, Lanz von Liebenfels etc... Besides these, one can also note texts
marked AAARGH written by Holocaust denialists. This huge mass of antisemitic documents may have attracted the attention of the FBI (who may suspect that
the antisemitic materials is uploaded by the same people who are uploading the
texts in Arabic).
Another possible explanation for such an expedition is simply that the Internet
Archive has a few organic chemistry/engineering textbooks that describe the
fabrication of explosives or combat gases.
Since the textbooks are not in copyright, the
explosives would not be RDX or hexogen, but the WWI explosives (Turpinite, Melinite, Tolite, Cheddite, Panclastite, etc...) would have a chance to be found in these books. Similarly, yperite and phosgen would qualify as combat gases.
The FBI may be trying to know who has downloaded some of these textbooks, hoping to nail some amateur terrorist in the process.
Of course, none of this is very reassuring since some people may end up on a FBI watchlist just for having downloaded an old organic chemistry book that happens
to contain a sketchy description of the fabrication of yperite.
But then terrorists hate so much the freedom of americans...