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Government

Democrats Propose Commission To Investigate Spying 302

metalman writes "Wired has a story on a proposal by House Democrats to 'establish a national commission — similar to the 9/11 Commission... to find out — and publish — what exactly the nation's spies were up to during their five-year warrantless, domestic surveillance program.' The draft bill would also preserve the requirement of court orders and remove 'retroactive immunity for telecom companies.' (We've discussed various government wiretaps, phone companies, and privacy violations before.) But it seems unlikely that such an alternative on phone immunity would pass both the House and Senate, let alone survive a Presidential veto."
The Military

How Tech Almost Lost the War 679

An anonymous reader writes "Blame the geeks for the mess in Iraq? Wired says so. Networked troops were supposed to be so efficient, it'd take just a few of 'em to wipe out their enemies. But the Pentagon got their network theory all wrong, with too few nodes and a closed architecture. Besides, a more efficient killing machine is the last thing you want in an insurgency like Iraq."
Censorship

Thailand Bans Teen Info On the Net 137

Reservoir Hill writes "Internet providers in Thailand have been prohibited from disclosing personal data about anyone under the age of 18 in a way that would allow others to gain access to them — including disclosure of their age, gender, phone number, email address, chat logon name, photo, or name of their school. Violators will face six months in jail of and a fine of $1,900. Web sites have been given one month to come into compliance." The article isn't clear on whether or not the prohibition applies to foreign sites that carry information about Thai kids.
Government

UN Says Tasers Are a Form of Torture 816

The use of Tasers "causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture," the UN's Committee Against Torture said. "In certain cases, they can even cause death, as has been shown by reliable studies and recent real-life events." Three men — all in their early 20s — died from after tasering in the United States this week, days after a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being tasered by Canadian police. There have been 17 deaths in Canada following the use of Tasers since they were approved for use, and 275 deaths in the US. "According to Amnesty International, coroners have listed the Taser jolt as a contributing factor in more than 30 of those deaths."
Censorship

Wikileaks Releases Sensitive Guantanamo Manual 643

James Hardine writes "Wired is reporting that a never-before-seen military manual detailing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. military's Guantánamo Bay detention facility has been leaked to the web, via the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks.org, affording a rare inside glimpse into the institution where the United States has imprisoned hundreds of suspected terrorists since 2002. The 238-page document, "Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures," is dated March 28, 2003. The disclosure highlights the internet's usefulness to whistle-blowers in anonymously propagating documents the government and others would rather conceal. The Pentagon has been resisting — since October 2003 — a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union seeking the very same document. Anonymous open-government activists created Wikileaks in January, hoping to turn it into a clearinghouse for such disclosures. The site uses a Wikipedia-like system to enlist the public in authenticating and analyzing the documents it publishes. The Camp Delta document includes schematics of the camp, detailed checklists of what "comfort items" such as extra toilet paper can be given to detainees as rewards, six pages of instructions on how to process new detainees, instructions on how to psychologically manipulate prisoners, and rules for dealing with hunger strikes."
United States

House Narrowly Avoids Having to Debate Impeachment of Cheney 1033

An anonymous reader writes "Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday successfully moved articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney to the House Judiciary committee. 'Today's resolution from Kucinich (D-Ohio) was essentially the same as the legislation he introduced earlier this year, which included three articles of impeachment against Cheney based largely on allegations that he manipulated intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. The last article accuses Cheney of threatening "aggression" against Iran "absent any real threat."'"
Privacy

REAL ID In Its Death Throes, Says ACLU 315

Dr. Eggman points us to Ars Technica for an article on the ACLU's view of the latest loosening and deadline extensions for REAL ID act compliance by the Department of Homeland Security. The rights organization believes that REAL ID is doomed. "The ACLU, which opposes the plan on civil liberties grounds, says that the many changes made since the Act was passed [in 2005] nearly 'negate the original intent of the program.' 'DHS is essentially whittling Real ID down to nothing... all in the name of denying Real ID is a failure,' said ACLU senior legislative counsel Tim Sparapani. 'Real ID is in its death throes, and any signs of life are just last gasps.'"
Education

Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set 860

An anonymous reader writes "A recent unfortunate casualty of anti-terrorism laws is the home chemistry set. Once deemed the gift that saved Christmas, most Slashdotters probably remember early childhood experimentation with one of the many pre-packaged chemistry sets that were on the market. Unfortunately the FBI has decided that home chemistry sets are a threat to national security and they are rapidly disappearing from the market entirely. Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits."
Privacy

Privacy Advocates Bemoan the Problems With WHOIS 174

An anonymous reader writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that net privacy advocates are spurring ICANN into scrapping WHOIS. The advocates complain that the system doesn't do enough to protect domain owner information from spammers and fraudsters, and compare the problems to those being experienced on a broader scale by email users. 'WHOIS, much like e-mail, is an age-old Internet relic that comes from a time when the Internet was almost considered a network of trustworthy users. E-mail has, quite clearly, some massive problems coping in the modern age, but it's still here. It stands to reason, then, that WHOIS won't be going anywhere any time soon. Just like e-mail, it's prone to abuse. But again, just like e-mail, it's too useful to axe.'"
Security

AT&T Invents Surveillance Programming Language 119

An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has long been associated with advances in the programming arts as well as communications. They've recently brought those disciplines together to create a powerful datamining language called Hancock. Hancock is a C variant developed to mine gigabytes of the company's telephone and internet records for surveillance purposes. 'The manual for the language includes a Hello World variant that shows you how to write a program that will parse logs of IP addresses and record them into permanent hashes. The program for parsing millions of records as they flow into permanent data farms sounds oddly close to the data mining the NSA performed after 9/11 to find targets for its warrantless spying on American citizens calls and emails."
Censorship

FBI Accused of Abusing Criminal Database 433

Peace protesters were unable to leave the country to speak in Canada because their names had been added to a database of criminals. There's a serious due-process violation here because a listing in this database is equivalent to an "infamous" conviction. "'The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies,' says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. 'The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country... The list is supposed to be for felony and serious misdemeanor offenses. We don't qualify — it's for sex offenders, foreign fugitives, gang violence and terrorist organizations, people who are on parole...'"

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