PATRIOT ACT Agreement Reached

According to this CNN story

A band of Senate Republican holdouts reached agreement Thursday with the White House on changes in the Patriot Act designed to clear the way for passage of anti-terror legislation stalled in a dispute over civil liberties.

Included in the compromise is a clarification that most libraries are not subject to requests for information about suspected terrorists in National Security Letters. Russ Feingold, (D-WI) is not impressed in the least, and says that the compromises are not particularly significant.

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Step in the right direction? We shall see.

Well, at least civil liberties are being discussed at any rate.Whether it's mere lip service is yet to be seen. I for one hope that the Senate can find that delicate balance of national security and civil liberties.

It's a step in the wrong direction

When Google refused to turn over the search term data Big Bubba demanded, I wrote in a comment on my site that I believed Big Bubba had something it wanted to test, although I had no basis for that belief. Now I do.

The regime of King George the Pathtetic has basically resurrected the TIA program under a new name. It's still the same old authoritarian spying on private citizens, however. See the article US Plans Massive Data Sweep, by Mark Clayton, from the Christian Science Monitor, and reprinted at CommonDreams. In it, Clayton writes:

ADVISE "looks very much like TIA," Mr. Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes in an e-mail. "There's the same emphasis on broad collection and pattern analysis."

But Mr. Sand, the DHS official, emphasizes that privacy protection would be built-in. "Before a system leaves the department there's been a privacy review.... That's our focus."

Some computer scientists support the concepts behind ADVISE.

"This sort of technology does protect against a real threat," says Jeffrey Ullman, professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University. "If a computer suspects me of being a terrorist, but just says maybe an analyst should look at it ... well, that's no big deal. This is the type of thing we need to be willing to do, to give up a certain amount of privacy."

Others are less sure.

"It isn't a bad idea, but you have to do it in a way that demonstrates its utility - and with provable privacy protection," says Latanya Sweeney, founder of the Data Privacy Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University. But since speaking on privacy at the 2004 DHS workshop, she now doubts the department is building privacy into ADVISE. "At this point, ADVISE has no funding for privacy technology."

She cites a recent request for proposal by the Office of Naval Research on behalf of DHS. Although it doesn't mention ADVISE by name, the proposal outlines data-technology research that meshes closely with technology cited in ADVISE documents.

Neither the proposal - nor any other she has seen - provides any funding for provable privacy technology, she adds.

The Bush regime is utterly faithless. It has no concern for anything but power and it is for this reason it shits all over the Bill of Rights every time it tries to do anything. I have no doubt this regime will protect its further illegal activities under some provision in USAPA; even if it has to twist and distort its reasoning beyond all rationality. It has established precedent too firmly for me to believe anything else.

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