New Zealand Apologizes for Illegal Domestic Spying

Meanwhile the United States continues to snoop on everyone and doesn’t even admit it.

By TREVOR TIMM | EFF | OCTOBER 9, 2012

Imagine this: A government, faced with public evidence that its foreign spy service was conducting domestic surveillance on its residents—instead of claiming the information is somehow secret and the people responsible are above the reach of the law—admits in public and in the courtroom that it violated basic rights.

That is exactly what happened last week in New Zealand in the controversial copyright infringement case surrounding Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom. At the same time in the US, the government is faced a very similar scenario: overwhelming evidence the National Security Agency (NSA) has illegally spied on Americans. However, not only has the government refused to admit any wrongdoing, it is actively trying to prevent courts from coming to any conclusions.

As EFF has previously reported, the case against Megaupload and Dotcom has been controversial from the start. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand, while the U.S. government seized Megaupload’s property and executed search warrants on its leased servers based on claims of alleged copyright infringement the day after SOPA was declared dead by Congress. The military-style raid by the New Zealand police was criticized as over-excessive. And the loss of access to the servers has left many innocent users without access to their lawful data.

Then in June, the High Court in New Zealand ruled the warrants executed for the raid in New Zealand were invalid, making the resulting searches and seizures “illegal.” Now add that to the recent news that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—New Zealand’s equivalent to the NSA—was illegally spying on Dotcom by monitoring all Internet traffic coming to and from his home.  (The GCSB is legally barred some spying on residents of New Zealand, and a cursory check of government records shown Dotcom has been an official resident since 2010.)

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A Trojan Horse called Net Neutrality

By David Kravets
Wired.com
February 4, 2011

The Federal Communications Commission’s net-neutrality decision opens the FCC to “boundless authority to regulate the internet for whatever it sees fit,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning.

Image: wired.com

The civil rights group says the FCC’s action in December, which was based on shaky legal authority, creates a paradox of epic proportions. The EFF favors net neutrality but worries whether the means justify the ends.

“We’re wholly in favor of net neutrality in practice, but a finding of ancillary jurisdiction here would give the FCC pretty much boundless authority to regulate the internet for whatever it sees fit. And that kind of unrestrained authority makes us nervous about follow-on initiatives like broadcast flags and indecency campaigns,” Abigail Phillips, an EFF staff attorney, wrote on the group’s blog Thursday.

And the paradox grows.

In a Friday telephone interview, Phillips was unclear how to solve the problem. What about an act of Congress? How about reclassifying broadband to narrow the FCC’s control if it?

“I’m not sure what I think the right solution is,” she answered.

The agency’s December action has already been attacked on multiple fronts, including two lawsuits.

One side of the debate has focused on claims the FCC overstepped its authority by adopting the principle that wireline carriers treat all internet traffic the same. A chorus of others complain that the FCC wimped out and didn’t go far enough when it comes to wireless carriers.

And the entire debate is littered with competing interests, including the mobile-phone carriers, internet service providers, private enterprise, developers, Congress and, last but not least, the public.

“In general, we think arguments that regulating the internet is ‘ancillary’ to some other regulatory authority that the FCC has been granted just don’t have sufficient limitations to stop bad FCC behavior in the future and create the ‘Trojan horse’ risk we have long warned about,” Phillips said.

But who can be trusted in this debate?

The answer opens Pandora’s box.