Feb 282014
 February 28, 2014  Posted by  Court

Barbara LaBoe reports:

Appeals of two Longview drug convictions led to a far-reaching state Supreme Court decision Thursday that people have the right to privacy in sending and receiving text messages.

In separate 5-4 opinions, the justices overturned two Cowlitz County heroin convictions in cases that hinged on text messages a detective read on someone else’s phone.

Read more on TDN.  Gene Johnson of AP also has coverage here, and the Seattle Times covers the ruling here.

Feb 282014
 February 28, 2014  Posted by  Featured News, Surveillance

Bruce Schneier writes:

… Documents provided by Edwards Snowden and revealed by the Guardian today show that the UK spy agency GHCQ, with help from the NSA, has been collecting millions of webcam images from innocent Yahoo users. And that speaks to a key distinction in the age of algorithmic surveillance: is it really okay for a computer to monitor you online, and for that data collection and analysis only to count as a potential privacy invasion when a person sees it? I say it’s not, and the latest Snowden leaks only make more clear how important this distinction is.

The robots-vs-spies divide is especially important as we decide what to do about NSA and GCHQ surveillance. The spy community and the Justice Department have reported back early on President Obama’s request for changing how the NSA “collects” your data, but the potential reforms – FBI monitoringholding on to your phone records and more – still largely depend on what the meaning of “collects” is.

Read more on The Guardian.

Feb 282014
 February 28, 2014  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

Over on Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield blogged about the Fernandez opinion:

There has been a good deal of moaning over the demise of the 4th Amendment after the Supreme Court’s opinion in Fernandez v. California, where Walter Fernandez’s refusal to allow police to enter his apartment was forgotten after the cops took him away and later returned to obtain the consent of his girlfriend.

Was the rule of Georgia v. Randolph dead? Did “no” no longer mean no if the police shuffled the naysayer from the premises, leaving behind a more consenting occupant?  Not even if there was ample opportunity to get a warrant, the tedium of the effort notwithstanding?

Fernandez isn’t the death of the 4th Amendment, largely because it’s hard to kill something that’s already moribund.  Consent to search is often talked about as an exception to the warrant requirement of the 4th Amendment, but it’s really not. Rather, it’s the absence of invocation of the right protected, the right to be secure in one’s papers and effects.  In analyzing consent to search cases, this distinction matters, because consent ends the inquiry, swiftly, easily and conclusively.  It’s also why the Fernandez opinion went off the rails.

Read more on Simple Justice.

Feb 272014
 February 27, 2014  Posted by  Surveillance, U.S.

David Kravets reports:

The Obama administration has received 28 proposals from corporations with ideas for managing the NSA’s massive database of U.S. phone call metadata. But don’t expect to see the proposals anytime soon. The government says it won’t release a word.

At issue is President Obama’s most significant NSA reform: his plan to take the trillion-plus records continuously gathered on American’s phone calls out of the NSA’s hands and give it to a third-party, and making it accessible to the government only through an order from a secret tribunal.

Read more on Wired.