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Law Enforcement Requests for Net Data Multiply 135

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the big-brother-is-watching dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "It's not just phone companies grappling with reported potentially privacy-intruding requests from the NSA and other branches of government: Banks, Internet-service providers and other companies that possess large amounts of data on their customers say that police and intelligence agencies have been increasingly coming to them looking for tidbits of information that could help them stop everything from money launderers to pedophiles and terrorists, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: 'According to AOL executives, the most common requests in criminal cases relate to crimes against children, including abuse, abductions, and child pornography. Close behind are cases dealing with identity theft and other computer crimes. Sometimes the police requests are highly targeted and scrupulously legalistic, while other times they were seen by the company as little more than sloppy fishing expeditions. AOL says that most requests get turned down.'"
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Law Enforcement Requests for Net Data Multiply

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  • From the article: 'According to AOL executives, the most common requests in criminal cases relate to crimes against children, including abuse, abductions, and child pornography.

    (insightful comment deleted during self-moderation)

    • They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

      --Benjamin Franklin
      • I liked that quote when I first heard it, and I liked it the next 241 times, and I still agree with it completely, but by now can we please modify Slashdot to auto-mod it to -1, Ultra-Redundant?
        • by Jesus 2.0 (701858) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @09:35AM (#15372021)
          Unfortunately, no, we can't yet do that. Obviously.

          There are still far too many people who are all too willing to give up not only their liberty, but my liberty, just because some liar sells them a vague line about terrorism.
          • So obviously it didn't work the last 40000 times. 40001's the charm?
          • Just so we could get past the vague, liar thing, could you be more specific? Exactly what actual liberties do you think people are trying to take from you? Voting? Free speech? Free association? Freedom of religion? Any suggestion of quartering troops in your house?

            As to the terrorism thing, the news [fbi.gov] there seems to be rather concrete [bbc.co.uk], even if not well known [newsmax.com], and at times disturbing [nationalreview.com]. There is nothing vague about this [theglobeandmail.com] at all.
            • ...stop eating fat burgers and leave MY freedom alone. 1 in 5 Americans dies of heart attacks every year. OTH as tragic as the deaths were on 911 for the families involved, compared to heart attacks, strokes, or auto accidents they are a drop in the bucket. If people would worry about the real killers and not curtail freedoms based on hype from demagogues the country would be in MUCH better shape,
              • If you are worried about dying....stop eating fat burgers and leave MY freedom alone.

                Oddly enough, it in no way surprises me that you seem to think that the only reason somebody might oppose terrorism in general is that they are afraid of personally dying. (Terrorism, it's not bad... unless it effects me, eh?) By the way, ...exactly which freedoms that our Constitution guarantees do you think are being threatened?

                As to terrorism vs heart attacks et.al., most people recognize the difference between the nat
                • Bullshit there is no way to entirely secure the U.S. at roughly 1000 miles by 2500 miles the total land area of the U.S. is 2,500,000 square miles. To completely secure the U.S. you would need a homeland security officer for every square mile, i.e. 2 million 5 hundred thousand, plus we'd have to search every single car, and every single house on a daily basis. If this isn't done then someone can drive a truck into the middle of city and blow it up, that's reality. Rather than spending billions on somethi
                  • Withdraw from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, stop buying middle easter oil, and stop supporting Israel and ding the terrorism problem is 100% solved, how hard is that?

                    Unlikely to a 100% solution. Not only would disenguaging from Israel be very difficult with the current proportion of "Israel Firsters" in the US Government, even if it could be done US would undoubtedly become the target of Zionist terrorists.
                    In addition the US would need to stop threatening Iran and Venezuela.

                    As a bonus using less oil
                    • Yes I agree it's very unlikely it will happen, I'm saying that's what ought to happen. And of course we should stop threatening Venezuela. Unfortunately what I see actually happening is the U.S. spending more useless billions on trying to prevent terrorism, more ratcheting down of our civil liberties, president Hilary Clinton in 08 who will be billed as a "moderate" but who will pursue the EXACT same policies as the neo-cons including war with Iran and Syria, and Americans driving SUVs until the bitter en
                • By the way you asked: "By the way, ...exactly which freedoms that our Constitution guarantees do you think are being threatened?"

                  Specifically the 4th amendment of the bill of rights to the constitution which states:

                  " The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, an
                • Off the top of my head: - right to due process (Guantanemo) - protection from unreasonable search and seizure (Patriot Act/NSA) - freedom of religion (How easy is it to be a Muslim these days?) - freedom of expression (Say the wrong thing to your friend in an e-mail, and you are a terrorist) - right to redress of greivances (suits dismissed based on "State Secrets") - right to privacy - right to fair and speedy trial before a jury of your peers - right of habeas corpus - right to bear arms I could probably
            • Let the Deconstruction begin!

              the news

              DETROIT - An indictment charging 19 individuals with operating a global racketeering conspiracy was unsealed in federal district court today, announced United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Stephen J. Murphy. The indictment alleges that portions of the profits made from the illegal enterprise were given to

      • Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. --Benjamin Franklin [bartleby.com]

        Michelle Malkin [michellemalkin.com]

        The omission of those key qualifiers--"essential" and "little"-- makes all the difference in the world. Ben Franklin has been hijacked to endorse an untenable and deadly view that no sacrifice of any liberty for any amount of safety at any time should ever be made.

        Claremont Institute [claremont.org]

        These pseudo "civil libertarians" love to quote the venerable Benjamin Fr

      • This just in: 100% of child molesters agree with Ben Franklin.
  • AOL!!!111 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkByers (770551) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:31AM (#15371848) Homepage Journal
    Nice to see an honorable company like AOL standing up to the government.

    Wait... wasn't the goverment supposed to be protecting the people from corporations?
    • That was when the government was run by people who could tell the difference. You know, before the "CEO President".
    • Re:AOL!!!111 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      Wait... wasn't the goverment supposed to be protecting the people from corporations?

      No, corporations aren't inherently evil structures we should be protected from.

      The government should basically put some rules where people and the organisations they create can have mutual interest, and create a predictable repeatable processes that aid for development of life standard, science advance and so on.

      And people's part of the equation is to aid the government in this process and protect themselves from governments
      • No, corporations aren't inherently evil structures we should be protected from.

        Any organization (corporate or government) with a high concentration of resources has a high probability of being "evil" (I prefer the larger-coverage term of "dangerous"), simply because minor screwups or negligent/incompetent decision-making (setting aside actual maliciousness for the monent) are magnified by the sheer amount of resources that such orgnizations have available.

        When a small group of entities has the resources n

    • I wish there was a mod of "stupid" because that is what this post is.

      If you think the gov't is there to "protect" you against anything, let alone corporations, you must have been brain dead your entire life.
      • I'm pretty sure the federal government is there to protect us from foreign threats and invasions.
      • Re:AOL!!!111 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by greenrd (47933)
        So anyone who isn't an anarchist is brain-dead their entire life??????

      • Not as "brain dead" as someone who hasn't a clue about the purpose of the FDA, EPA, and other regulatory agencies that prevent industries and self-interested corporate entities (which allow individuals to be relieved of personal responsibility for their actions in their money/power/resource grab) from destroying society.

        Without government, what recourse do you have against a megacorporation that is polluting your environment, creating health hazards, monopolizing resources, or encroaching on your civil lib

    • Nice to see an honorable company like AOL standing up to the government. Wait... wasn't the goverment supposed to be protecting the people from corporations?

      That was EXACTLY what I was thinking. What ever happened to things like judicial review and warrants? Companies shouldn't be using their own lawyers to decide whether a request is legal or not. All of a sudden, we're in very strange territory where companies are deciding when and how to apply laws, not the government who passed the laws in the fi
  • by Poromenos1 (830658) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:32AM (#15371849) Homepage
    Law enforcement on the internet is really hard because there's not just one country in the world. How do you deal with a nigerian scammer if you live in France, or with a russian spammer if you're in Greece? There's not much anyone can do, in these cases.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @09:09AM (#15371955) Homepage
    TFA: "We have a very rigorous review process here," said John Ryan, AOL's vice president and associate general counsel. "Every request that comes in from law enforcement is vetted ..."

    *ping* - * You have 1 new subpoena(s) *

    [LokkAtMeAOL] lol
    [Atturny1] lollerskates
    [LokkAtMeAOL] read it..
    [Atturny1] lol
    [Atturny1] whos it from
    [Atturny1] oops
    [LokkAtMeAOL] WHAT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE
    [LokkAtMeAOL] MY LETTERS WON'T GO SMALL HELP
    [Atturny1] noob lol
    [Atturny1] o man i deleted it
    [LokkAtMeAOL] ME TOO

  • Clinton and Nixon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @09:28AM (#15372001) Journal
    Clinton and Nixon were one of the worst abusers of governmental information gathering. Both of them used the FBI to dig up dirt on their opponents. There's a story of Nixon extorting a contribution for his re-election by threatening the contributor with an IRS audit if the contribution wasn't large enough.

    Both political parties decry the others abuse of governmental power but think it's just fine when they're the ones doing the abusing. Its behavior like that that drives some people to call for smaller government.
    • I've not heard of Clinton abusing the FBI.

      Frankly, I'd be surprised he would have been able to get away with that, given the troubles the Republican party gave him throughout both his terms. You'd think it would have been all over the news, trumping the whole Monica Lewinsky thing. And a much better reason to impeach him.

  • by Smallpond (221300) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @09:47AM (#15372056) Homepage Journal
    Please turn over the identity of the poster with the initials "AC". He or she is implicated in over 10,000 threats against the government and Microsoft.
  • What are we? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @09:49AM (#15372061)
    Are we independent beings? Or did we turn into something of a higher order, cells in a big organism, where the government is our brain?

    And if it's the latter, can you deny the brain the right to check its body blood levels, have a haircut and take a bath?

    What if the brain decides to make a suicide in the name of all of us?
    • Re:What are we? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dugjohnson (920519)
      I'd like to believe the former, but I am becoming more convinced that the latter is becoming our guiding paradigm, although whether this organism is higher is a question for me.

      I've always noted that there are herd people and loner people....as the latter I use the term cow and wolf, but a herd person might use a different analogy....say, team and terrorist.

      Herd people like a herder and are willing to put up with a lot to be led. Right now, I am afraid, the U.S. of A has gotten comfortable enough that th

    • Re:What are we? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 3waygeek (58990)
      Are we independent beings? Or did we turn into something of a higher order, cells in a big organism, where the government is our brain?

      Certainly not the brain -- I'm thinking either the armpit or asshole depending on which party's in power.
  • Now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:18AM (#15372160) Homepage
    Sometimes the police requests are highly targeted and scrupulously legalistic, while other times they were seen by the company as little more than sloppy fishing expeditions. AOL says that most requests get turned down.

    ...why is this the job of the ISP? Why is a private entity that's deciding the legitimacy of these requests? If you want a good example of the intimacy between government and corporations in the US, this would be it. This should be subject to a legal review by someone in the judicial branch, not some private employee after corporate guidelines.

    I see a disturbing trend in the US, based on this and other cases of domestic spying, guantanamo bay and more. That is the reduction of the judicial branch to be nothing more than courts to process individuals and corporations. The courts are not to interfere with what the government is doing or try to apply the law to the government.

    The United States is moving away from the ideals it was founded on with a division of power into the executive, legislative and judicial branch. The judicial branch is being reduced to nothing more than a tool to enact the law without oversight of the other branches. The legislative branch represented by Congress has been granting more and more power to the executive branch to act without oversight both from them or the courts. The "Patriot" act is a good example of that. Even when there are issues that seem suspect at best, Congress don't want to touch the issue.

    So two branches are in bed with each other, the last shoved out on the street. Few if any "checks and balances" within the government. What about the final check, the democratic oversight through the free press, public information and such? For one there's so much information that's no longer accessible, the media is completely unreliable (I've seen the stats on what Amercians think happened in the Iraq war) and third the people are so afriad there's a terrorist lurking at every corner to think it's okay anyway.

    And just to invoke a certain law - remember how 'na' in nazism stands for nationalism, and that the terrorists serve much the same purpose as the jews did - according to the government, there's this large and dangerous network/conspiracy out to destroy your way of life. You'd better put all power in the hands of the government and chant "USA! USA! USA!". Or was that "Sieg Heil"?
    • Re:Now... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Because of the simple reason that they're just requests. Just like an cop asks you if he can search your house. You don't have to say yes. If he wants in, he needs an warrant.

      Same thing with AOL, if the cops wants information, they need a warrant, or a subpoena to turn over information. Without those, its up to AOL to decide if they want to release the information VOLUNTARILY.

      Now go away and learn the law, become a lawyer and knock some sense in those judges.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @10:51AM (#15372266) Homepage
    Sometimes the police requests are highly targeted and scrupulously legalistic, while other times they were seen by the company as little more than sloppy fishing expeditions. AOL says that most requests get turned down.

    Hmmm - phone records and postal mail are covered by law. It's against the law for the post office to turn over your mail, or the phone company to allow a wiretap, without due authority. Hence the EFF lawsuit against AT&T.

    That is not the case (AFAIK) with, for example, credit card records (unless you've filled out the privacy request form). What about email and surfing records? "AOL says that most requests get turned down." Is that just their choice? Should it really be just somebody at AOL's choice? What if your ISP is run by one of the, "If you're not doing anything illegal, you've got nothing to fear" people? Do they have the right to just turn over your information?

    As for the credit card records - those are already for sale, I think. Advertisers buy them, right? That's why casinos I've never been to send me stuff in the mail. So... if there's a bunch of data that is already legally available - what do you think the odds are that the gov't already has it? Good, I'd say. That is - I'd bet size cash the gov't already knows about my occasional trips to Las Vegas and my penchant for cheesy spy novel audiobooks.

    Just my random tinfoil hat thoughts.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That is not the case (AFAIK) with, for example, credit card records (unless you've filled out the privacy request form).

      wtf? I can fill out a "privacy request form" and thereby ensure privacy of my credit card records? I've never heard of this; it must be the best-kept secret around! Could someone please elaborate further?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sometimes the police requests are highly targeted and scrupulously legalistic, while other times they were seen by the company as little more than sloppy fishing expeditions. AOL says that most requests get turned down.

    I understand if there is an official investigation and the much needed paperwork that is required by law. However never-ever should they hand over any information voluntaily.

    I have worked at a Internet Provider in Belgium and either the police came with the paperwork, or they got noting. Once
    • I work part-time at a mid-sized family inn in Rhode Island, and one day while I was working the front desk, I answered a call from (supposedly) a police investigator from a nearby town attempting to ascertain if a particular person or her aliases had been a recent guest. Being a small family inn with a cantankerous old lady who doesn't put up with crap and isn't a particular respecter of authorities other than herself as the owner, we take privacy quite seriously and so I asked if he had a warrant. He said

  • Should searches you type in be considered public records or somehow less protected? Google isn't your lawyer. I'm all for privacy laws, but there has to be a middle ground somewhere.

    I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but its NOT a troll. Its a serious question and a real world situation. I've already put on my virtual gnomex bunker gear and SCOTT pack (it matches my real gnomex bunker gear and SCOTT pack) and am "fully encapsulated" so don't bother with the flame throwers.

    Here's a valid concern --
    • Does someone using a search engine like that have an expectation of privacy? If so, why?

      I believe they do, because no matter how revolting the search terms that lead someone to your site may be, you can never expect to stop someone from looking at normal pictures, nor should you be able to.

      Perhaps there were a few sickos looking at pictures of girls playing soccer and getting off on it. Perhaps not. There may have been people watching in person while the game was being played and having perverse, impure t
      • "I believe they do" -- is not a basis for a legal or moral reasoning behind having an expectation of privacy in a transaction over a public network using a publically open network (which I would equate to a walk-in retail storefront).

        The "If youre not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide" argument doesn't fly here. I don't believe in it as a valid argument for or against anything. My statement is that "I have nothing to hide so I don't bother trying to hide anything, and if I did have something
    • This is probably a troll, despite your claims otherwise, but in case it's not--

      You are under no obligation to publish a blog, and that goes doubly so for posting pictures of your underage kids. You're the one putting your private life and your daughter's image out there for anyone to see. There are plenty of ways to make a subscriber-only blog or password protected photo albums. Hell, it's pretty easy to keep your site out of search engines in the first place. How can you genuinely claim concern over what
  • Cough ,

    Corporate America : zip code and address please
    Avg Joe American : for what ?
    Corporate America : just for our database, so we can serve you better *wink*
    Avg Joe American : how do i know you'd never use this for 'no good'
    Corporate America : that's silly, we'd never do that. why would we want to do harm to our customer base ?
    Avg Joe American : that sounds reasonable
    Corporate America : of course it does, we love you long time.

    now, refer back to TFA.

According to all the latest reports, there was no truth in any of the earlier reports.

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