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DHS To Kill Domestic Satellite Spying Program

mcgrew writes “The Bush administration had plans in place to use spy satellites to spy on American citizens. This morning the AP reports that new DHS head Janet Napolitano has axed those plans. ‘The program was announced in 2007 and was to have the Homeland Security Department use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites for homeland security and law enforcement purposes. The program, called the National Applications Office, has been delayed because of privacy and civil liberty concerns. The program was included in the Obama administration’s 2010 budget request, according to Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat and House homeland security committee member who was briefed on the department’s classified intelligence budget.'”

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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on DHS To Kill Domestic Satellite Spying Program

US Open Government Initiative Enters Phase Three

circletimessquare writes “The Obama administration opened a discussion forum in January of this year which has become an electronic suggestion box. It is now entering stage three, following brainstorm and discussion phases: the draft phase, in which the top subject matter is codified into suggestions for the government. ‘Ultimately, the visitors advanced more than 3,900 ideas, which in turn spawned 11,000 comments that received 210,000 thumb votes. The result? Three of the top 10 most popular ideas called for legalizing marijuana, and two featured conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s true place of birth.'”

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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on US Open Government Initiative Enters Phase Three

How the Obama Copyright Policies Might Unfold

An anonymous reader points out a column by James Boyle, who knows a thing or two about copyright, analyzing the Obama Administration’s policy choices about intellectual property and high tech. “Traditionally, Democratic administrations take their copyright policy direct from Hollywood and the recording industry. Unfortunately, so do Republican administrations. The capture of regulators by the industry they regulate is nothing new, of course, but in intellectual property there is the added benefit that incumbents can frequently squelch competing technologies and business methods before they ever come into existence. … The Obama administration’s warm embrace of Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley’s checkbook, had given some hope that this pattern would change — and I think it will. Now, instead of taking copyright policy direct from the media conglomerates (who, after all, have a very legitimate point of view — even if not the only point of view) it is quite likely that the administration will construct it as a contract between content companies and high-technology companies such as Google. In some places, citizens and consumers will probably benefit, simply because optimizing for the interests of two economic blocs rather than one is likely to give us a slightly more balanced, and less technology-phobic, set of rules. And perhaps the administration will go further. But recent actions make me doubt that this is the case.”

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Sunday, June 21st, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on How the Obama Copyright Policies Might Unfold

EFF and PK Reluctantly Drop Lawsuit For ACTA Info

mikesd81 notes a press release on the EFF website that begins “The Obama Administration’s decision to support Bush-era concealment policies has forced the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge (PK) to drop their lawsuit about the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Federal judges have very little discretion to overrule Executive Branch decisions to classify information on ‘national security’ grounds, and the Obama Administration has recently informed the court that it intends to defend the classification claims originally made by the Bush Administration. … Very little is known about ACTA, currently under negotiation between the US and more than a dozen other countries, other than that it is not limited to anti-counterfeiting measures. Leaked documents indicate that it could establish far-reaching customs regulations governing searches over personal computers and iPods. Multi-national IP corporations have publicly requested mandatory filtering of Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material, as well as the adoption of ‘Three Strikes’ policies requiring the termination of Internet access after repeat allegations of copyright infringement, like the legislation recently invalidated in France. Last year, more than 100 public interest organizations around the world called on ACTA country negotiators to make the draft text available for public comment.”

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Sunday, June 21st, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on EFF and PK Reluctantly Drop Lawsuit For ACTA Info

US House Democrats Unveil a Health Care Plan

gollum123 sends in this piece from a political blog in the NY Times. Here is the text of the bill in question (PDF). “House Democrats on Friday answered President Obama’s call for a sweeping overhaul of the health care system by putting forward [an] 852-page draft bill that would require all Americans to obtain health insurance, force employers to provide benefits or help pay for them, and create a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers — a move that Republicans will bitterly oppose. … But the chairmen said they still did not know how much the plan would cost, even as they pledged to pay for it by cutting Medicare spending and imposing new, unspecified taxes. The three chairmen described their bill as a starting point in a weeks-long legislative endeavor that they said would dominate Congress for the summer and ultimately involve the full panorama of stakeholders in the health care industry, which accounts for about one-sixth of the nation’s economy. … House Republicans, who have had no involvement in the development of the health legislation so far, quickly denounced the Democrats’ proposal as a thinly disguised plan for an eventual government takeover of the health care system. … The House Democrats’ plan is one of three distinct efforts underway on Capitol Hill to draft the health overhaul legislation. In the Senate, both the Finance Committee and the health committee have separate bills in the works, and in recent days those efforts seem to have stumbled.”

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on US House Democrats Unveil a Health Care Plan

Obama Taps IBM Open Source Advocate For USPTO

langelgjm writes “President Obama has announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, a VP and general counsel at IBM, to head the US Patent and Trademark Office. This move is particularly notable not only because of IBM’s much friendlier attitudes towards open source compared with some of their rivals, but also because Kappos himself is open source-friendly: ‘We are now the biggest supporters of the open source development project,’ explains David. ‘Admittedly this policy is not easily reconcilable with our traditional IP strategy, but we are convinced that it is the way to go for the future.’ Not just a lawyer, Kappos earned an engineering degree before working in the legal field. Kappos has been described as ‘critical of the American approach to patent policy.’ Given his background, could this mean a new era for US patent policy?”

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Friday, June 19th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Obama Taps IBM Open Source Advocate For USPTO

Obama Taps IBM Open Source Advocate For USPTO

langelgjm writes “President Obama has announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, a VP and general counsel at IBM, to head the US Patent and Trademark Office. This move is particularly notable not only because of IBM’s much friendlier attitudes towards open source compared with some of their rivals, but also because Kappos himself is open source-friendly: ‘We are now the biggest supporters of the open source development project,’ explains David. ‘Admittedly this policy is not easily reconcilable with our traditional IP strategy, but we are convinced that it is the way to go for the future.’ Not just a lawyer, Kappos earned an engineering degree before working in the legal field. Kappos has been described as ‘critical of the American approach to patent policy.’ Given his background, could this mean a new era for US patent policy?”

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Friday, June 19th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Obama Taps IBM Open Source Advocate For USPTO

Administration Wants To Scale Back Real ID Law

The Washington Post is running a story on the Obama Administration’s attempt to get a scaled-back version of Bush’s Real ID program passed and implemented. We’ve been discussing the Real ID program from its earliest days up through the states’ resistance to its “unfunded mandate.” “Yielding to a rebellion by states that refused to pay for it, the Obama administration is moving to scale back a federal law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that was designed to tighten security requirements for driver’s licenses… Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID… The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous, and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano’s Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow. …the Bush administration struggled to implement the 2005 [Real ID] law, delaying the program repeatedly as states called it an unfunded mandate and privacy advocates warned it would create a de facto national ID.”

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Monday, June 15th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Administration Wants To Scale Back Real ID Law

NSA Ill-Suited For Domestic Cybersecurity Role

Hugh Pickens writes “Former CIA counterterrorism analyst Stephen Lee has an interesting article in the Examiner asserting that the National Security Agency is ‘a secretive, hidebound culture incapable of keeping up with innovation,’ with a history of disregard for privacy and civil liberties. Lee says that for most of its sixty-year history, the NSA has been geared to cracking telecom and crypto gear produced by Soviet and Chinese design bureaus, but at the end of the cold war became ‘stymied by new-generation Western-engineered telephone networks and mobile technologies that were then spreading like wildfire in the developing world and former Soviet satellite countries.’ When the NSA finally recognized that it needed to get better at innovation, it launched several mega-projects, tagged like ‘Trailblazer’ and ‘Groundbreaker,’ that have been spectacular failures, costing US taxpayers billions. More recently, the NY Times reported that the NSA has been breaking rules set by the Obama administration to peer even more aggressively into American citizens’ phone traffic and email inboxes. Whistleblower reports portray NSA domestic eavesdropping programs as unprofessional and poorly supervised, with intercept technicians ridiculing and mishandling recordings of citizens’ private ‘pillow talk’ conversations. Lee concludes that ‘if the Federal government must play a role, then Congress and President Obama should turn to another agency without a record of creating mistrust — perhaps even a new entity. Meanwhile, NSA should focus on listening in on America’s enemies, instead of being an enemy of Americans and their enterprises.'”

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Friday, June 12th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on NSA Ill-Suited For Domestic Cybersecurity Role

NSA Ill-Suited For Domestic Cybersecurity Role

Hugh Pickens writes “Former CIA counterterrorism analyst Stephen Lee has an interesting article in the Examiner asserting that the National Security Agency is ‘a secretive, hidebound culture incapable of keeping up with innovation,’ with a history of disregard for privacy and civil liberties. Lee says that for most of its sixty-year history, the NSA has been geared to cracking telecom and crypto gear produced by Soviet and Chinese design bureaus, but at the end of the cold war became ‘stymied by new-generation Western-engineered telephone networks and mobile technologies that were then spreading like wildfire in the developing world and former Soviet satellite countries.’ When the NSA finally recognized that it needed to get better at innovation, it launched several mega-projects, tagged like ‘Trailblazer’ and ‘Groundbreaker,’ that have been spectacular failures, costing US taxpayers billions. More recently, the NY Times reported that the NSA has been breaking rules set by the Obama administration to peer even more aggressively into American citizens’ phone traffic and email inboxes. Whistleblower reports portray NSA domestic eavesdropping programs as unprofessional and poorly supervised, with intercept technicians ridiculing and mishandling recordings of citizens’ private ‘pillow talk’ conversations. Lee concludes that ‘if the Federal government must play a role, then Congress and President Obama should turn to another agency without a record of creating mistrust — perhaps even a new entity. Meanwhile, NSA should focus on listening in on America’s enemies, instead of being an enemy of Americans and their enterprises.'”

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Friday, June 12th, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on NSA Ill-Suited For Domestic Cybersecurity Role