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Number of Federal Wiretaps Rose 71 Percent In 2012 84

cold fjord writes "Looks like last year was pretty busy. I wonder how many were leaks and media? From the Washington Post: 'The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures. Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, ... There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period. ... There is no explanation of why the federal figures increased so much, and it is generally out of line with the number of wiretaps between 1997 and 2009, which averaged about 550 annually. There was also a large number of wiretaps in 2010, when 1,207 were secured. A single wiretap can sweep up thousands of communications. One 30-day local wiretap in California, for instance, generated 185,268 cellular telephone interceptions, of which 12 percent were incriminating, according to the report. The vast majority of the wiretaps in both federal and state cases were obtained as part of drug investigations, and they overwhelmingly were directed at cellphones ... Only 14 court orders were for personal residences. Most jurisdictions limit the period of surveillance to 30 days, but extensions can be obtained.'"

Microsoft To Get $100M Annual Tax Cut and Amnesty 406

reifman writes "Despite a $2.8 billion deficit, Washington State's House Bill 3176 would provide Microsoft with an effective $100 million tax cut annually and possible amnesty on its $1.27 billion Nevada tax maneuverings. Under current law, all of Microsoft's worldwide licensing revenues of approximately $20.7 billion annually are taxable at .484 percent. Under the new law, only the portion of software licenses sold to Washington state customers would be taxable. Ironically, after slashing Microsoft's tax burden, HB3176 directs the Department of Revenue to crack down on 'abusive tax transactions' like those in Nevada — except for a loophole that may provide Microsoft amnesty on its twelve year practice. The bill's lead sponsor is Ross Hunter of Medina, home to Bill Gates and a number of current and former Microsoft billionaires and multi-millionaires, and other areas around Microsoft's corporate campus."

Obama DOJ Sides With RIAA Again In Tenenbaum 528

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Despite having had some time to get their act together, Obama's Department of Justice has filed yet another brief defending the RIAA's outlandish statutory damages theory — that someone who downloaded an mp3 with a 99-cent retail value, causing a maximum possible damages of 35 cents, is liable for from $750 to $150,000 for each such file downloaded, in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum. The 25- page brief (PDF) continues the DOJ's practice of (a) ignoring the case law which holds that the Supreme Court's due process jurisprudence is applicable to statutory damages, (b) ignoring the law review articles to like effect, (c) ignoring the actual holding of the 1919 case they rely upon, (d) ignoring the fact that the RIAA failed to prove 'distribution' as defined by the Copyright Act, and (e) ignoring the actual wording and reasoning of the Supreme Court in its leading Gore and Campbell decisions. Jon Newton of attributes the Justice Department's 'oversights' to the 'eye-popping number of people [in its employ] who worked for, and/or are directly connected with, Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music's RIAA.'"

NY Bill Proposes Fat Tax On Games, DVDs, Junk Food 793

eldavojohn writes "GamePolitics is writing about a proposal to tax things that make your kids fat. The logic from its author: 'Almost all experts agree that the primary reasons [for the obesity epidemic] are increased consumption of larger quantities of high calorie foods, snacks and sugar sweetened beverages... and lack of physical activity as vigorous play is replaced by sedentary activities such as watching more television, movies and videos and playing video games. This bill would raise revenues from modest surcharges on the very food products and sedentary activities that are linked to the lifestyle changes involved in the explosion of childhood obesity in the last 20-30 years.' Not as explicit as Japan's fat tax but we're getting there."

A Surveillance Camera On Every Chicago Street Corner? 311

Mike writes "Chicago Mayor Daley has stated that if his Olympic dreams come true, by 2016 there will be a surveillance camera on 'every street corner in Chicago.' Just like in London, elected officials all over America appear to be happily advancing a 'surveillance society' without regard for civil rights or privacy concerns. Ray Orozco, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications is quoted as saying, 'We're going to grow the system until we eventually cover one end of the city to the other.'" Chicago has been developing its surveillance network for some time, but it seems they plan to continue increasing the scale.

Automation May Make Toll Roads More Common 585

bfwebster writes "Here in Denver, we have E-470, a toll section of the 470 beltway, that uses the usual transponder attached to your windshield. Fair enough, and I make use of it, particularly in driving to the airport. But they've just implemented new technology on E-470 that allows anyone to drive through the automated toll gates. If you don't have a transponder, it takes a photo of your license plate and sends a monthly bill to your house. As a result, the company that runs E-470 plans to close all human-staffed toll booths by mid-summer. And as an article in this morning's Rocky Mountain News notes, 'Such a system could be deployed on other roads, including some that motorists now use free. The result: a new source of money for highways and bridges badly in need of repair.' You can bet that legislators, mayors, and city councilpersons everywhere will see this as an even-better source of income than red-light cameras. You've been warned."

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.