* Posts by OldSod

4 posts • joined 24 Aug 2018

Winner, Winner, prison dinner: Five years in the clink for NSA leaker


Re: I find it hard to credit the 'printer dots' with her indictment/conviction

"I can't reconcile laws limiting free speech, such as 'official secrets' with 1A myself. It's one, or the other, but not both. 1A would appear to make later laws invalid, but I'm in the UK, and this stuff doesn't apply here."

Anyone who receives a security clearance in the United States has voluntarily agreed to and signed a contract that restricts their ability to speak freely on certain matters. It is known to those signing the contract that violating the contract can result in a draconian effort to punish the violator. Snowden did his thing with the full knowledge of what would happen, apparently because he thought his sacrifice was for a greater good. The individual in question in this recent case did not appear to have had as lofty a purpose, nor the same understanding of the likely consequences of her action. I don't believe there are necessarily political motivations behind her punishment, it seems enough that she flouted what are very clear rules. It is not so much that she twisted the tail of a political figure by revealing "oooo - we know the Ruskies hacked us" but that she sinned against the system itself when she violated the terms of the agreement she made when given her clearance. If infractions like hers are not punished, then these agreements would cease to have meaning.

Muslim American woman sues US border cops: Gimme back my seized iPhone's data!


US customs has always had the authority to search through goods being brought into the United States, whether by a citizen or a visitor. I'm fairly certain every country reserves that right, and some probably exercise it even more frequently than the United States.

What is an evolving point of law is whether the right to search goods being brought into the United States includes the right to search through information contained on an electronic device, as opposed to merely searching the material nature of the electronic device, especially if the person to whom the electronic device belongs is a US citizen. There have been several somewhat recent court decisions that seem to be pushing back on the US customs claim that they have the authority to search the information as well as the physical device; it is unclear to me where the ball will fall with the final spin of the roulette wheel. It is difficult for the customs folks to claim that their search is necessary to prevent the introduction of illegal information into the US, or to claim that it is necessary in order to enforce US tax law or tariffs on the information, as far more information flows in (and out) of the US on data networks. In the case of a citizen, searching through that citizen's information (without a warrant) seems like an unwarranted invasion of privacy (pun intended), that murky right described (somewhat) in the 4th amendment to the US Constitution.


Re: When Booking-Travel now the first thing I usually do is:

I don't think the legal landscape is as wonky as suggested: "And coming to think of it, I'll store the PIN for the device on a classified network. Tell the TSA agent that the PIN is classified, which it then would be and if he or she insists, have them arrested for espionage."

The simple act of putting the PIN on a classified network would not make the PIN itself classified (it would make access to the PIN through the classified network require a security clearance, but not access to it through other means). The PIN exists outside of the classified network, and no reason exists for the data that is the PIN to become classified. If merely storing data on a classified network made that data classified, then a lot of public domain news would be classified as it is ingested into classified networks for analysis and situational awareness. If the PIN was classified, it would be illegal for a cleared individual to use it on the phone itself, as the phone is not authorized for the storage of classified data.

Just how rigged is America's broadband world? A deep dive into one US city reveals all


Re: need for speed

I lived through the Bell/AT&T break-up and the introduction of the Internet (first) and then widespread cellular service (second) in the US. If AT&T/Bell had been run as a semi-government corporation like the US Postal Service, the introduction of the Internet and cellular service would have been considerably slower. The breakup of AT&T lead to a dramatic reduction in telephone costs, especially long distance telephone costs, in the US, but in no way slowed down the introduction of Internet services.

AT&T had no clue about the Internet, and their moribund internal processes would have crept along ever so slowly. They had already spurned the idea of packet-based networks when the DoD first came calling with the ARPAnet. The Internet initially flourished because the only thing "the telephone company" needed to provide for subscriber connections was a voice-service telephone line, which practically every household already had (thanks to Universal Service mandates from the government) and which ISPs were able to request installation of en masse. Thousands of independent ISPs using dial-up modems met the need for last mile Internet connectivity; they rapidly broke out on every street corner it seemed once the "no commercial traffic" prohibition for the Internet backbone was laid to rest.

The RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies, aka Baby Bells [what the local services part of AT&T were broken up into]) that provided local telephone service after the break-up only got into the Internet act when they saw there was an almost insatiable demand for connectivity and speed. They began buying up the little independent ISPs, and they developed digital subscriber line services that could be laid on top of the existing copper for voice services (DSL provided the "always on" Internet *and* allowed for simultaneous voice service as well). Cable companies started getting involved then as well, first with rather painful attempts to make their "barely functioning for one-way video cable plants" work with two way digital data, then upgrading their plants to provide better and better digital services. Eventually the battlefield in many areas had only two major combatants; the telephone company and the cable company. Oh, yeah... satellite providers tried to get their foot in the door, but the round-trip latency was (and is) a deal-killer for many folks.

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