Cyber Security Proposals Threaten Privacy

Obama on Cuban Relations

In the name of fighting against cyber attacks, Barack Obama wants to change the rules that protect your personal data. You see, the real motherlode of data on Americans currently sits in private hands.

But Obama wants to move the data into the claws of law enforcement agencies.

The goal is to have private sector companies give even more information to the government, in exchange for protection against lawsuits for the misuse of data.

It’s a beneficial deal for the companies and the government, but what this deal implies for the consumer is downright frightening…

The leading privacy advocates were aghast at Obama’s latest moves against online privacy.

In a statement criticizing the Obama proposal, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: “Introducing information-sharing proposals with broad liability protections, increasing penalties under the already-draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and potentially decreasing the protections granted to consumers under state data breach law are both unnecessary and unwelcomed. The status quo of overweening national security and law enforcement secrecy means that expanded information-sharing poses a serious risk of transferring more personal information to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”

The False Solution for a True Problem

Cyber security is a real problem, but the biggest threats are outside the country. Hackers from Russia and China are threatening private firms and public networks via the internet. Instead of beefing up security against these threats, the Obama team wants to broadly collect more data on generally law-abiding American citizens.

In the internet world, this is akin to having the TSA search your 85-year-old grandma at the airport. The focus is all wrong.

If you clearly analyze the myriad proposals affecting the internet from the Obama administration, they all have one common denominator: they give the federal government more control over private activity and citizens.

Another frightening proposal is pending at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), one that would declare data networks to be public utilities. Reason being, once again, to give the government (in this case, the FCC) dramatically more power over internet providers.

Adding insult to injury, a third proposal uses the FCC to strike down laws in the states that prohibit government agencies from building broadband networks to compete against private firms. Obama and his team love the idea of socializing the internet by putting networks in the hands of local governments.

Bottom line: Should these three proposals pass, they’ll dramatically change the way the internet works. Government as the guardian of your private data? Check. Government as regulator of all private internet providers? Check. And finally, the government actually providing your internet access.

A government in control of all cyber space is slowly taking shape. Consider yourself warned.

 

This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Why Is Obama’s Administration Chilling Free Speech Yet Again?

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Earlier this week, the federal government’s National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science — encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities — announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The NSF dubbed the project Truthy, a reference to comedian Stephen Colbert’s invention and hilarious use of the word “truthiness.”

The reference to Colbert is cute, and he is a very funny guy; but when the feds get into the business of monitoring speech, it is surely no joke–it is a nightmare. It is part of the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to monitor communication and scrutinize the expressions of opinions it hates and fears.

We already know the National Security Agency has the digital versions of all telephone conversations and emails sent to, from, or within the U.S. since 2005. Edward Snowden’s revelations of all this are credible and substantiated, and the government’s denials are weak and unavailing — so weak and unavailing that many NSA agents disbelieve them.

But the government’s unbridled passion to monitor us has become insatiable. Just two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses broadcasters, threatened to place federal agents in cable television newsrooms so they can see how stories are generated and produced. The FCC doesn’t even regulate cable; yet it threatened to enhance its own authority by monitoring cable companies from the inside.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here, and has been going on since President Obama took office in January 2009, is a government with little or no fidelity to basic constitutional norms. There is no defense under the Constitution to any aspect of the government’s — federal, state, regional, local, or hybrid; or any entity owned or controlled by any government; or any entity that exercises the government’s coercive powers or spends or receives its money — monitoring of the expressive behavior of anyone in the U.S., not in a newsroom, on social media, or anywhere else.

The NSF’s stated purpose of the Truthy squad is to look for errors in speech, particularly errors that fuel hatred or political extremes. This monitoring — this so-called search for error — is totalitarian and directly contradicts well-grounded Supreme Court jurisprudence, for several reasons.

First, for the government to gather information — public or private — on any person, the Constitution requires that the government have “articulable suspicion” about that person. Articulable suspicion is a mature and objective reason to believe that the person has engaged in criminal behavior. Without that level of articulable belief, the government is powerless to scrutinize anyone for any reason.

The articulable suspicion threshold is vital to assure that people in America have the presumption of liberty and are free to choose their behavior unimpeded or threatened by the government. The feds cannot cast a net into the marketplace of ideas and challenge what it brings in. Were they able to do so, the constitutional protections for free expression and the primacy of liberty would be meaningless.

Pages: 1 2

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

These Clowns Want The Feds To Make You Pay For Free TV

This coming April 22, the Supreme Court is going to hear a case which will threaten to leave the smell of the barnyard in its august chambers due to the fact that the plaintiffs have plenty of experience in spreading manure around.

The case is styled “AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC.;DISNEY ENTERPRISES, INC.;CBSBROADCASTING INC.; CBSSTUDIOS INC.; NBCUNIVERSAL MEDIA,LLC; NBCSTUDIOS,LLC; UNIVERSAL NETWORK TELEVISION,LLC; TELEMUNDO NETWORK GROUP LLC;WNJU–TV BROADCASTING LLC;WNET;THIRTEENPRODUCTIONS, LLC;FOX TELEVISION STATIONS, INC.;TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION;WPIX,LLC; UNIVISION TELEVISION GROUP, INC.;THE UNIVISION NETWORK LIMITED PARTNERSHIP; AND PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE; vs. AEREO, INC., F/K/A BAMBOOM LABS, INC.

This is the biggest group of manure spreaders in the world against a little company that had the temerity to develop a way to receive, over the air, FREE, ADVERTISER SUPPORTED programming and let you see it on your iPad or smartphone for about $8 a month.

And they want the Federal Government to stop it.

Now I need to be clear here.

We’re not talking about ESPN or Fox News or CNN or any other pure cable channel.

We’re talking about companies that went, hats in hand, to the Federal Communications Commission, applied for and received licenses to broadcast “in the public interest, convenience and necessity” and, as compensation for doing that, sell advertising in their copyrighted programs they broadcast for free. (All except for PBS and WNET, which use fundraising appeals and Government money.)

For many years, this was a tremendous business. It still is.

The only slight flaw was the fact that in many places, even broadcasting from the tallest towers around, some people couldn’t get the signals.

So, back in the 60s, something called Community Antenna Television was born, which is exactly what the name says.

People paid someone to put up a master antenna and run a cable to their house so they could get a good signal without putting up their own antenna.

That morphed into the cable television business when the CATV operators realized they could put their own signals on that cable and charge more for it.

And, one day, America woke up and found out it was paying something like $100 a month to watch TV—including the free local channels.

Enter the internet and Aereo.

Appropriately-named Bamboom Labs came up with an interesting idea.  Why not have a little antenna farm and, instead of distributing the signal on an analog cable, use the internet to distribute those free signals?

Why not indeed.

Well, the aforementioned manure spreaders—which it should, again, be noted include supposedly not for profit public broadcasters—had started charging cable systems for the right to carry them on the cable, and they don’t want that revenue stream interrupted.  So they have threatened the Supreme Court in their brief to get out of the over-the-air broadcasting business.

Ahh, the sweet smell of number two in the chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

It reminds me of a line from Mel Brooks’ movie “Blazing Saddles” where Cleavon Little puts a gun to his head and says, “Hold it. Next man makes a move, and the nigger gets it.”

This august group of manure spreaders is threatening the Supreme Court with killing off their multi-Billion dollar business if they don’t get their way.

One would only hope that the Supremes will call their bluff, exactly like it did when the lead plaintiff sued Sony back in 1984 over the introduction of the home videocassette machine.

And if the FCC had any cojones (it doesn’t), it would look at the broadcast holdings of each of the aforementioned manure spreaders to see how well they have been serving as trustees in the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

Photo credit: afagen (Creative Commons)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

FCC Whistleblower: Monitors In Newsrooms ‘Suspended,’ Not ‘Canceled’

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who blew the whistle on the federal agency’s plan to study purported bias in the news, says the survey has been “suspended,” not canceled as the FCC has said.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Despite FCC Retreat, Free Speech Still Under Fire From Obama Administration

freedomofspeech

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is claiming that it is backing off of its Orwellian plans to intimidate newsrooms across America into joining the Obama Revolution in “transforming America.” Their latest message is, in essence, if you like your sources of news, you can keep your sources of news. But just like when President Obama made that promise as it related to your doctors and your health care plan, they don’t mean it for a second. It’s just what they believe they need to say at this time to deceive the public and advance their agenda.

The FCC was due to start its Critical Information Needs (CIN) survey in Columbia, South Carolina last week amid a media firestorm over this regulatory body’s decision to peer into newsrooms’ news-making philosophies and story selection criteria. Now the FCC says it will revise the study but still move forward with it, which raises as many questions as they sought to quell. For example, an article in National Review Online says that up to now, the FCC “has been consistently blocked in its efforts to establish race-based media ownership rules—on the grounds that it did not have data to justify such rulemaking.” But, it adds, there is now “a movement to make the CIN a mechanism for gathering such data.” As The Daily Caller points out, this “raises a new concern that the FCC may use the new version to revise media ownership rules and base them on race.”

The FCC, in a statement on February 21st concerning the change of plans, said that “Chairman [Tom] Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required.” Who says anything is required, in terms of the government shaping the news we see and hear? In fact, they overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable, and what is constitutional. And they acted like this was just a messaging error. Investor’s Business Daily called for abolishing the FCC in an editorial, and pointed out that the commission claimed in its Friday press release “that it was ‘Setting the Record Straight On The Draft Study’ (as if the problem was bad reporting rather than an atrocious idea).”

As Accuracy in Media reported on February 7, this is but one of several threats to free speech in our nation, and could lead to the revival of a new version of the Fairness Doctrine. And we weren’t the only ones, or the first to attempt to call attention to this outrageous attempt by the Obama administration to try to intimidate newsrooms into compliance with their ideas of what should be reported and how. We already know which of their scandals they want to convince us are phony scandals—such as the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups and Benghazi—and which news sources they believe need re-education, or banning, which would include the Fox News Channel and most of talk radio. They appear to be tossing out a big net to attempt to regulate what those sources put out.

And while this story is still largely confined to conservative media outlets, it has gotten a lot of attention in recent days. The trigger for the story gaining critical mass appears to have been a February 10th Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Ajit Pai, one of the two Republican members of the current five-person commission, who was appointed by President Obama. Fox News and talk radio have been reporting on the story starting a few days after the piece appeared in the Journal. But the rest of the media have continued to largely ignore this story. CNN’s “Reliable Sources” didn’t even mention it on its weekly Sunday show about the media, while Fox News’ “Media Buzz” did a full segment on it.

As a news story, this has had a fascinating evolution. It appears that The Daily Caller has led the way on coverage. They wrote about this survey back in October and covered most of the details that comprise the story today. And then in December, they noted how the survey seemed to be going nowhere. Mark Levin commented on it several times on his radio show, but few others paid any attention to it.

In December, House of Representative members also decried this survey as reviving the Fairness Doctrine. Tom Wheeler, the recently installed FCC Chair—a true Obama believer and top Obama bundler—responded to Congressional criticism in December, saying during a hearing that “…what we did was, there is a study that has been proposed by a consulting firm that we were working with, and we put that out for public notice to exactly get the kind of input that you’re suggesting.”

Wheeler’s response has since evolved. On February 14, Wheeler responded to House criticism of the FCC study by writing that the regulatory agency will “adapt the study in response to these concerns and expect to complete this work in the next few weeks.” There is nothing to see here, he contended, saying, “The Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters by way of this Research Design, any resulting study, or through any other means.”

Yet the study did intend to extend the probe into the newsrooms of print journalists, according to a Fox News’ Greta van Susteren panel and an FCC commissioner. The FCC has no jurisdiction over print media. “The survey is clearly written by somebody who’s never set foot in a newsroom. … They go into newspapers as well. The FCC doesn’t even regulate newspapers,” said Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post on Greta’s panel. Tumulty called the study and its proposed actions “completely clueless.” That’s like saying the IRS officials were merely “boneheaded” when they repeatedly targeted conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.

Van Susteren called the FCC’s proposals something different: so stupid that they could be seen as malevolent, “almost trying to shut up journalists.”

“What in the world is going on where somebody in our government thinks it’s a good idea to invade these different news rooms, when we’ve got a First Amendment, we’ve got freedom of the press, I mean who in his right mind?” she asked. “And why didn’t everybody—And maybe if one FCC commissioner was stupid enough, where were the other ones?”

In breaking ranks with his fellow FCC commissioners in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Ajit Pai wrote, “But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.” He added, “Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree.”

He points to the survey as an example, and says that “The FCC says the study is merely an objective fact-finding mission (emphasis added). The results will inform a report that the FCC must submit to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry.” But Pai calls that claim “peculiar.”

“How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry?” he writes. “And why does the [Critical Information Needs] study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?”

When Pai was asked by Van Susteren about the origin of the idea, he said he didn’t know.

Clearly, something more nefarious is going on here, and the media shouldn’t play along. For the administration to think it’s okay to go into newsrooms, especially into newsrooms of newspapers, where they don’t have even a shred of authority, is outrageous. The question is, how will—and how should—newsrooms react to Big Brother coming in and asking such questions? Van Susteren and her panel from the Post, Washington Examiner, and The Hill suggested the media simply should not cooperate.

However, if this plan were to proceed in some manner, those under the FCC’s thumb—radio and television stations—may not have much choice but to play along. Their license renewals may be at stake. This reminds us of how the IRS went to organizations seeking 501(c)4 exemptions, and how the conservative and tea party groups were asked about their political and religious beliefs, for their tweets and Facebook pages, and other organizational data.

“This is an outrage disguised as a study,” noted Charles Krauthammer. “As if the IRS, and the EPA, and NLRB haven’t done enough damage,” said Krauthammer on Fox News’ “Special Report,” “the FCC now has to trample on what rights are remaining.”

Clearly, this administration includes intimidation and thought control as part of President Obama’s plan for “transforming America.” But of course, he knew nothing about this until he heard about it in the media. Jay Carney said, at his White House press briefing on Friday, “The FCC is an independent agency, so you’d have to talk to them for details.”

Many have suggested that this is Obama’s way of reinstituting a Fairness Doctrine by stealth means, since the long-time dream of Democrats to do it by legislation or direct regulation has failed. But I don’t quite see it that way. The Fairness Doctrine required measured, timed balance on the licensed airwaves, whether radio or TV. The Obama administration would prefer that every station and network be like NBC, or better yet, MSNBC—in total service to the Obama administration, and to a lesser extent, to the Democratic Party and the so-called progressive movement. They aren’t really interested in balance, or even diversity—if that diversity includes views critical of the administration.

 

This commentary originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission. 

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom