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First POST: Consequences

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, May 15 2013

Around the web

  • Another blackout? Ground reports indicate that Syria is once again cut off from the Internet, for the second time in as many weeks.

  • From the awful-timing dept. — Even as the Department of Justice is under fire for secretly pulling phone records from multiple offices of the Associated Press, prompting cries of overreach, accusations that Justice's far-reaching subpoenas were intended to intimidate reporters and punish them by putting fear in the hearts of their sources, and a renewed interest in a desire for control of information at all costs that seems to come from the closest rings of President Barack Obama's inner circle, law enforcement officials are still pushing to make it mandatory for Internet companies to retain records of customers' online activity. This would allow federal law enforcement to review the online communications of private Americans in the context of an investigation.

    Tony Romm reports:

    To Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who often allies with her fellow California tech companies, it’s simply a “bad idea.”

    “Political regimes come and go,” she told POLITICO, “but the aggression of career people to create tech mandates to collect phone calls and text messages … never seems to abate.”

  • The Justice Department is defending its decision to subpoena phone records that may include the activities of as many as 100 journalists in multiple AP offices.

  • In the above Times story: Note the discussion of which companies may or may not have went to bat for the right to notify their customers. In the "didn't try" column, per this story, is Verizon Wireless. It was Internet companies like Twitter and Google that established this precedent, which is clearly now being applied to the broader telecommunications industry.

  • The New York Times editorial board offers a scathing conclusion: "The Obama administration, which has a chilling zeal for investigating leaks and prosecuting leakers, has failed to offer a credible justification for secretly combing through the phone records of reporters and editors at The Associated Press in what looks like a fishing expedition for sources and an effort to frighten off whistle-blowers."

  • The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., observes in an editorial: "The Internal Revenue Service acknowledged that some groups identified using search terms such as “tea party” and “patriot” were singled out during efforts to enforce a law that grants organizations tax-exempt status as long as they aren’t engaged in politics. Right now, this can’t be understood as anything but a biased attack based on political beliefs."

  • The Hill's Pete Kasperowicz sums it up: "The House on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation reaffirming U.S. policy as one that supports an Internet that is controlled by stakeholders, not governments."

  • A co-founder of The Pirate Bay will run for European Parliament.

  • Alex Fitzpatrick says: "Embattled Internet television streaming service Aereo has an unlikely friend in Congress: Sen. John McCain."

  • Are we still freaked out about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that includes provisions which would enforce strict U.S.-style copyright law across a broad group of signatory nations? The Verge's Russell Brandom says: Yup!

  • Spycraft in the digital age? An American working for the State Department in Russia was accused by authorities there of being a CIA recruiter. Danger Room notes the man's alleged target was encouraged to create a new GMail account and use it to contact another account on the free email service. Danger Room adds: "News of [alleged spy Ryan Christopher] Fogle’s arrest was also breaking as [U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael] McFaul was doing a live question-and-answer session over Twitter. When asked for comment, McFaul tweeted “No.”

  • Austrian railways allow customers to track trains in real time.