Thursday, June 4, 2015


"Well, what happens—I mean, and all of the great writers of totalitarianism have written on mass surveillance, Hannah Arendt being one in The Origins of Totalitarianism. And she says that when you collect data on every single citizen, it’s no longer about crime or justice; it is about having material so that when you criminalize a certain category of people—and Stalin was kind of the master of this—you can instantly arrest them, because there’s always something, and they can exactly do what you’ve done, where they take that rather innocent discussion and twist it to serve the ends of the state. That’s the danger of mass surveillance" 
- Chris Hedges, interviewing Robert Scheer

"In 2010 David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student, was convicted under Sarbanes-Oxley after he deleted digital records that showed he had obtained access to Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account. Using publicly available information, Kernell answered security questions that allowed him to reset Palin’s Yahoo password to “popcorn.” He downloaded information from Palin’s account, including photographs, and posted the new password online. He then deleted digital information that may have made it easier for federal investigators to find him. Like Matanov, he cleared the cache on his Internet browser. He also uninstalled Firefox, ran a disk defragmentation program to reorganize and clean up his hard drive, and deleted a series of images that he had downloaded from the account. For entering Palin’s e-mail, he was eventually convicted of misdemeanor unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and felony destruction of records under Sarbanes-Oxley. In January 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that Kernell’s awareness of a potential investigation into his conduct was enough to uphold the felony charge.
At the time Kernell took steps to clean his computer, he does not appear to have known that there was any investigation into his conduct. Regardless, the government felt that they were entitled to that data, and the court agreed that Kernell was legally required to have preserved it.
Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the feds’ broad interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital age is part of a wider trend: federal agents’ feeling “entitled” to digital data.
...Similarly, Fakhoury says the government’s underlying theory in cases like Kernell’s is, “Don’t even think about deleting anything that may be harmful to you, because we may come after you at some point in the future for some unforeseen reason and we want to be able to have access to that data. And if we don’t have access to that data, we’re going to slap an obstruction charge that has as 20-year maximum on you. 
- Juliana Devries, You Can Be Prosecuted for Clearing Your Browser History

That has to be the greatest password reset of all time

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