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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 6 - Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Library Censorware Case


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 6 - Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Library Censorware Case

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 6       March 1, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 245th Issue of EFFector:

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Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument in Library Censorware Case

On March 5, the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) will be challenged by a coalition of civil liberties groups in the U.S. Supreme Court. CIPA is yet another attempt by the government to censor the Internet by forcing libraries to deny adults as well as minors access to Constitutionally protected speech in order to receive federal funding.

The appeal was brought by the government in an attempt to overturn last May's unanimous decision by a 3-judge district court which determined that CIPA violates the First Amendment in a variety of ways. In particular, the lower court found that censorware cannot effectively block only material considered "harmful to minors," and called censorware a "blunt instrument" that does not satisfy the First Amendment's demand for precision.

The ACLU-led coalition represents a variety of plaintiffs including EFF member and library patron Jim Geringer.

The case is Multnomah County Library vs. United States of America, No. 01-CV-1322. Multnomah County and others are represented by the national ACLU, ACLU of Pennsylvania, EFF, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, volunteer attorneys from the law firm Proskauer Rose in New York City, and the Multnomah County Attorney. The American Library Association has filed a similar challenge on behalf of its members, American Library Association vs. United States of America, No. 01-CV-1303. The two cases have been consolidated.


Federal Government: Still Crazy About Data-Mining

Data-mining is all the rage in D.C. these days. Not satisfied with Poindexter's "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) and the Transportation Security Agency's Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II (CAPPS II), two more data-mining programs have recently attracted attention from critics: the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) and the Terrorism Threat Integration Center (TTIC).

What is FTTTF?

The FTTTF was established by the Justice Department last April to "ensure that, to the maximum extent permitted by law, Federal agencies coordinate programs to . . . 1) deny entry into the United States of aliens associated with, suspected of being engaged in, or supporting terrorist activity; and 2) locate, detain, prosecute, or deport any such aliens already present in the United States."

Attorney General John Ashcroft has declared that the FTTTF shall have "electronic access to large sets of data, including the most sensitive material from law enforcement and intelligence sources." Earlier this year, however, Senator Patrick Leahy questioned the value of the FTTTF, noting that the projects of the FTTTF appear to overlap with several other Justice Department projects.

Ashcroft's answer stated that FTTTF would seek to "detect such factors as violations of criminal or immigration law which would permit exclusion, detention or deportation" of foreign terrorists and their supporters as well as identify "other intelligence-related projects that it can support through its collaborative capability to co-locate data from multiple agency sources."

EFF notes that this sounds like TIA, which had its funding frozen by Congress recently pending a full review of its provisions.

What is TTIC?

President Bush announced in his State of the Union Address that he was creating the TTIC, which will merge and analyze terrorist-related information collected domestically and abroad in order to form a comprehensive threat picture. TTIC is scheduled to begin by May 1, 2003.

Under the plan, the FBI's entire Counterterrorism Division would be moved into a secure building along with the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (CTC) and the new TTIC, allowing operational FBI agents and CIA analysts to work more closely. Elements of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is required by law to maintain a threat data integration center, would also participate. The FBI would retain control over its counterterrorism division. George J. Tenet, the CIA director who also oversees all government intelligence as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), would run both the CTC and TTIC.

The Defense Department's intelligence elements will provide information, receive information, and contribute to analysis under its own current authorities.

EFF believes that TTIC will seek to use many TIA technologies. It's not clear how much data-mining TTIC will do, but the White House says that it will "fuse and analyze all-source information" and ensure that "information from all sources is shared, integrated, and analyzed seamlessly." The White House has also said that "[a] legal review has concluded that TTIC will require no new statutory authority." EFF would love to see that legal review.

The plan for TTIC as an "intelligence fusion center" was sparked by the Fourth Annual Report of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (Gilmore Commission), which recommended the establishment of a National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC).


EFF's Cory Doctorow at SXSW

This year's South by Southwest Interactive will be chock-full of EFF's Cory Doctorow. If you'll be in Austin, TX between March 7-11, you can see him on the following panels:

Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items, victories, and threats from around the Internet.

  • ACLU Action Alert on "Patriot II"
    A preliminary draft of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act was leaked in February, and it's really bad. Read about it and take action!
    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers argues against abusive shrinkwrap licenses. Very good for consumers.
  • How Feasible is DTV Piracy?
    Jack Valenti claims that "a 12-year-old, with a click of a mouse, can send a movie hurtling to all of the five continents." Ignoring the fact that there are seven continents, our friend Raffi Krikorian at MIT's Media Lab took the time to prove the other part of the statement false.
  • Party on the Electronic Frontier
    If you're in Austin, TX, on March 10, you can party with EFF's own Cory Doctorow and the EFF-Austin crew.
  • UK Politicians to Protect Privacy
    David Blunkett, the UK home secretary, has bowed to public pressure and will not force ISPs and telcos to provide their customers' data to many government agencies on demand.

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