The US is losing control of the internet — over surveillance issues

In a statement, the group called for "accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing".

That’s a distinct change from the current situation, where the US department of commerce has oversight of ICANN.

In another part of the statement, the group "expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance".

Meanwhile, it was announced that the next Internet Governance Summit would be held in Brazil, whose president has been extremely critical of the US over web surveillance.

In a statement announcing the location of the summit, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said: "The United States and its allies must urgently end their spying activities once and for all."


Op-Ed: Egyptian Democracy? Morsi’s New Constitution Remains

Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 6:09 AM

Egypt needs a secular constitution with democratic freedoms. This should happen as soon as possible, but the opposite is quietly taking place.

Ashraf Ramelah, founder and president of Voice of the Copts, has recently given testimony to the Canadian Parliament on the revolution taking place in Egypt.

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Adly Mansour, Egypt’s Interim President, has chosen to begin Egypt’s conversion to democracy by reinstating and modifying ousted President Morsi’s controversial 2012 Islamic Shariah constitution. Finalized just five months ago and widely rejected by Egyptians (more than 70 percent), but somehow ‘approved’ through a referendum ‘vote’, this dream-come-true for Islamists was the leading cause of Morsi’s overthrow.

A historic verdict by Egypt’s judiciary dismissed the constitutional assembly working on the 2012 constitution draft because the assembly was dominated by Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi mainly interested in a religious agenda.

This time around, there is no debate that Egypt must have a new constitution before elections are held. This is a good sign. However, using Morsi’s constitution indicates that religionists and possibly terrorists are already at the table. Compromises at this level to please Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, and jihadists show a disregard of the commitment to honor the Egyptian goals of liberty, equality, and human rights.

Building on a foundation of religious bias, sex discrimination and denigration of human rights is a rejection of liberty and equality and obstructs democracy

The 2012 constitution is based upon the supremacy of Egypt’s majority religion and its penetrating influence of the daily life and livelihood of citizens. Religious mandates by clerics turned into civil law and enforced by the police negate freedom and individual rights, the basic precepts of democracy. So why start with Morsi’s constitution?

Repeating SCAF’s mistake

Please do not burden us, Mr. Mansour, with any wasteful pursuits brought about by illusionary compromises with political-religious Islamist factions.
The miraculous second chance Egypt has now to ‘do it right’ means that leaders right now must abstain from doing what SCAF did after the overthrow of Mubarak. SCAF listened to Islamist factions; some, like the Muslim Brotherhood, covering up their real views with democratic slogans, and some, like Salafi, directing anti-democratic religionist concepts to become part of the democratic process.

Egyptians have suffered immeasurably to create this path for democracy in Egypt. Egyptian citizens are not power-seekers like those who seek to adulterate freedom’s first principles in the construction of a democratic constitution.

It is best for no faiths to take part — no religious representatives in Egypt’s new constitutional assembly, for a fresh start

Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour would be wise to start from scratch the process of writing a democratic constitution. bringing together pro-democracy Tamarud representatives and others interested in realizing the objectives of their freedom-seeking goals without adverse influences. The religious in Egypt will be equally free to worship once a secular constitution with democratic freedoms is put in place. This should happen as soon as possible.

Another option: Egypt’s 1923 constitution as basis for Egypt’s new constitution

Any Egyptian constitution prior to Sadat’s 1971 constitution would be better suited for building upon because, in the earlier constitutions, Shariah law has no mention or reference. Modern Egypt was built on a foundation of separation of religion and state until Islam began to seek political status through developed doctrine rooted in its origins and projected by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s 1923 constitution, in particular, stresses Egyptian human rights and freedoms.

The people call for Mr. Mansour’s immediate intervention to halt of the use of Morsi’s 2012 religious constitution. The Voice of the Copts joins this call.

Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour must carry out the responsibility invested in him by the people to oversee production of the democratic framework for a modern Egyptian state. He must not allow any serious lapse in this regard.

Meanwhile, freedom protesters in Egypt must stand their ground, increase their voice, and continue to rally. With firm action, let them uphold the right to a new constitution that will achieve the dream of a democratic state.

Attention democratic governments: leaders and citizens

Through social networks, Egyptian freedom seekers have reached out to the world during months of peaceful protests (on their part), keeping us informed of their battle against tyranny.

We urge democratic governments and citizens and leaders around the world to embrace the Egyptian freedom movement and their unwavering dedication to democratic reform as we observe their progress day by day.

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Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices

Get the timeline at: ProPublica, June 7, 2013

by Cora Currier, Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

On Wednesday, the Guardian published a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over data for all the calls made on its network on an “ongoing, daily basis.” Other revelations about surveillance of phone and digital communications have followed.

That the National Security Agency has engaged in such activity isn’t entirely new: Since 9/11, we’ve learned about large-scale surveillance by the spy agency from a patchwork of official statements, classified documents, and anonymously sourced news stories.


Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week [2012] originally increased Americans’ e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

by Declan McCullagh

November 20, 2012 4:00 AM PST

Sen. Patrick Leahy previously said his bill boosts Americans’ e-mail privacy protections by "requiring that the government obtain a search warrant." That’s no longer the case.

(Credit: U.S. Senate)

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy’s staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Revised bill highlights

✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.

✭ Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered "to the public," including university networks.

✭ Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim "emergency" situations exist.

✭ Says providers "shall notify" law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.

✭ Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to "10 business days." This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.

Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.

CNET obtained a draft of the proposed amendments from one of the people involved in the negotiations with Leahy; it’s embedded at the end of this post. The document describes the changes as "Amendments intended to be proposed by Mr. Leahy."

It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to "reconsider acting" on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy’s original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations.

Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said requiring warrantless access to Americans’ data "undercuts" the purpose of Leahy’s original proposal. "We believe a warrant is the appropriate standard for any contents," he said.

An aide to the Senate Judiciary committee told CNET that because discussions with interested parties are ongoing, it would be premature to comment on the legislation.

Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that in light of the revelations about how former CIA director David Petraeus’ e-mail was perused by the FBI, "even the Department of Justice should concede that there’s a need for more judicial oversight," not less.

Markham Erickson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. who has followed the topic closely and said he was speaking for himself and not his corporate clients, expressed concerns about the alphabet soup of federal agencies that would be granted more power:

There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, SEC or FTC need to access customer information service providers with a mere subpoena. If those agencies feel they do not have the tools to do their jobs adequately, they should work with the appropriate authorizing committees to explore solutions. The Senate Judiciary committee is really not in a position to adequately make those determinations.

The list of agencies that would receive civil subpoena authority for the contents of electronic communications also includes the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission.

Leahy’s modified bill retains some pro-privacy components, such as requiring police to secure a warrant in many cases. But the dramatic shift, especially the regulatory agency loophole and exemption for emergency account access, likely means it will be near-impossible for tech companies to support in its new form.

A bitter setback
This is a bitter setback for Internet companies and a liberal-conservative-libertarian coalition, which had hoped to convince Congress to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect documents stored in the cloud. Leahy glued those changes onto an unrelated privacy-related bill supported by Netflix.

At the moment, Internet users enjoy more privacy rights if they store data on their hard drives or under their mattresses, a legal hiccup that the companies fear could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless the law is changed to be more privacy-protective.

Members of the so-called Digital Due Process coalition include Apple,, Americans for Tax Reform, AT&T, the Center for Democracy and Technology, eBay, Google, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, TechFreedom, and Twitter. (CNET was the first to report on the coalition’s creation.)

Leahy, a former prosecutor, has a mixed record on privacy. He criticized the FBI’s efforts to require Internet providers to build in backdoors for law enforcement access, and introduced a bill in the 1990s protecting Americans’ right to use whatever encryption products they wanted.

But he also authored the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which is now looming over Web companies, as well as the reviled Protect IP Act. An article in The New Republic concluded Leahy’s work on the Patriot Act "appears to have made the bill less protective of civil liberties." Leahy had introduced significant portions of the Patriot Act under the name Enhancement of Privacy and Public Safety in Cyberspace Act (PDF) a year earlier.

One obvious option for the Digital Due Process coalition is the simplest: if Leahy’s committee proves to be an insurmountable roadblock in the Senate, try the courts instead.

Judges already have been wrestling with how to apply the Fourth Amendment to an always-on, always-connected society. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police needed a search warrant for GPS tracking of vehicles. Some courts have ruled that warrantless tracking of Americans’ cell phones, another coalition concern, is unconstitutional.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies already must obtain warrants for e-mail in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, thanks to a ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. PT with the proposed amendments, 4:28 p.m. PT to clarify sourcing and at 9:45 a.m. PT with additional details.

Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords

by Declan McCullagh

July 25, 2013 11:26 AM PDT

Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast did not respond to queries about whether they have received requests for users’ passwords and how they would respond to them.

Richard Lovejoy, a director of the Opera Software subsidiary that operates FastMail, said he doesn’t recall receiving any such requests but that the company still has a relatively small number of users compared with its larger rivals. Because of that, he said, "we don’t get a high volume" of U.S. government demands.

The FBI declined to comment.

Some details remain unclear, including when the requests began and whether the government demands are always targeted at individuals or seek entire password database dumps. The Patriot Act has been used to demand entire database dumps of phone call logs, and critics have suggested its use is broader. "The authority of the government is essentially limitless" under that law, Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who serves on the Senate Intelligence committee, said at a Washington event this week.

Large Internet companies have resisted the government’s requests by arguing that "you don’t have the right to operate the account as a person," according to a person familiar with the issue. "I don’t know what happens when the government goes to smaller providers and demands user passwords," the person said.

An attorney who represents Internet companies said he has not fielded government password requests, but "we’ve certainly had reset requests — if you have the device in your possession, than a password reset is the easier way."

Chicago erupts in gun violence – Mayor Emmanuel budget cuts drop number of officers by 11%

The July 4 weekend gun violence pushed the number of Chicago murder victims this year over 200. Many of he shootings were in neighborhoods where gangs are well established.

By Mark Guarino, Staff writer / July 8, 2013

Chicago reached a tragic milestone this past holiday weekend, surpassing 200 homicides for the year, with 74 people shot between Wednesday afternoon and Sunday night.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger (l.) consoles Cleopatra Pendleton during a news conference on Jan. 30 where
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called for help from the public in solving the murder of
Ms. Pendleton’s daughter, Hadiya, in Chicago. With 74 people shot and 12 killed over the July 4 weekend
Chicago has topped 200 murders for the year to date, many related to gang violence.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/File

Two of the victims were young boys, aged 5 and 7, according to the Chicago Police Department. Chicago Tribune data shows they were among the 12 people killed by gun violence over the four-day period.

Chicago has recently suffered from spikes in gun violence originating from hundreds of gang factions established in block-by-block territories on the South and West sides of the city. According to police data, 40 percent of the gun violence over the weekend took place in just two neighborhoods in those areas – Austin to the west, and Garfield Park to the south.

The increase in gun violence since last year, when fatalities surpassed 500 deaths, prompted the police department to incorporate new strategies for targeting specific individuals, or locations, in an effort to prevent violence before it takes place. Police officials have also endorsed using social media to track “hot” activity among gang members, plus have cracked down on corner liquor or grocery marts, which they say have become conduits for crime.

The efforts were launched despite what police say is a shortage of manpower. In 2011, the year Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) took office, the number of officers on the streets dropped 11 percent from five years prior. Since then, budget cuts resulted in the elimination of 1,400 department jobs, which the Fraternal Order of Police says are needed to adequately patrol high-crime areas.

Chicago Alderman Robert Fioretti of the Second Ward, where some of the violence took place this weekend, echoed that concern, criticizing Mayor Emanuel as slow to replace police retirees with new hires.

“Police should have saturated that area for the remainder of this weekend. There is a failure to police the streets,” Alderman Fioretti told the Chicago Sun-Times Monday.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) used the weekend shootings to underscore the need for a statewide assault weapons ban. He also explained to reporters why he altered a concealed carry firearms bill so that it limited the number of weapons a person can carry to one and banned carrying guns at restaurants, bars, and other establishments with liquor licenses. Illinois lawmakers are expected to override Governor Quinn’s changes. Illinois is the last state in the nation to have a ban on carrying concealed firearms.

The weekend shootings “ought to be an alarm bell to all of us that we need strong laws that protect the public safety, especially when it comes to guns. It’s time to end the violence,” Quinn told reporters Sunday.

What Abraham Lincoln thought about Fourth of July, Declaration of Independence

By Rich Lowry

Published July 03, 2013

“Lincoln used the Declaration as such a rebuke and stumbling block to slavery. He wielded it as a rhetorical weapon, made it a rallying cry, and established it by the end of the war as national gospel.”

The Lincoln Memorial. (

In the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric was suffused with a profound sense of loss. He considered it shameful national backsliding that a new affirmative defense of slavery had arisen in the South. At the time of the Founding our nation had merely tolerated slavery; now, it was an institution actively celebrated in part of the country.

In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery, Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that "the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day–/for burning fire-crackers/!!!"

At around this time, Lincoln fastened on the Declaration of Independence as "his political chart and inspiration,” in the words of his White House secretary John G. Nicolay.

He made it the guidepost by which the country could return to its lost ideals. His example shows the enduring vitality and the endless potential for renewal that is inherent in the Declaration.

The truths of the Declaration are eternally relevant, a perpetual call to honor liberty and the dignity of the individual.

Distant from his own father, Lincoln felt a deep affection for the men he called “the fathers.” In a speech as a young man, he said that it is our duty to transmit “undecayed” our inheritance of constitutional liberty, out of “gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general.”

In his great anti-slavery speech in Peoria in 1854, he said, “I love the sentiments of those old time men.”

Those sentiments weren’t universally admired. For the Slave South, the Declaration’s statement that "all men are created equal" was nonsense. John C. Calhoun called it nothing less than “the most false and dangerous of all political error.”

Southern extremist George Fitzhugh agreed. “Liberty and equality are new things under the sun,” he sniffed. Indiana senator John Pettit called the central contention of the Declaration “a self-evident lie.”

In his 1852 eulogy for the great statesman Henry Clay, Lincoln noted how the Declaration was increasingly assailed "for the sake of perpetuating slavery."

In his Peoria speech, he lamented that “Little by little, but steadily as a man’s march to the grave, we have been giving up the OLD for the NEW faith.” He imagined what would have happened had Senator Pettit denigrated the Declaration during the Founding generation: “If it had been said in old Independence Hall, seventy-eight years ago, the very door-keeper would have throttled the man and thrust him into the street.”

Lincoln wanted to catch the falling flag of our patriotic patrimony. Lincoln urged that we “re-adopt” the Declaration, as he put it at Peoria. The road to salvation ran through 1776, he argued in one passage: “Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us re-purify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution.”

Lincoln believed that this renewal is exactly the purpose for which the Declaration had been intended.

In a 1859 letter to a Republican festival in Boston marking the anniversary of Jefferson’s birth, he wrote: “All honor to Jefferson—to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.”

Lincoln used the Declaration as such a rebuke and stumbling block to slavery. He wielded it as a rhetorical weapon, made it a rallying cry, and established it by the end of the war as national gospel.

The truths of the Declaration are eternally relevant, a perpetual call to honor liberty and the dignity of the individual. The Fourth of July, in short, should never be a day just for burning firecrackers.

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