This makes a good case for why it concerns me that we seem to be willing to automate all kinds of things that can really impact us without including real security.
The Associated Press reports on some privacy questions in Vermont concerning “smart grid” technology, which we’ve discussed before. “Smart grids” are the case where utilities would be able to collect granular data about consumers’ energy consumption — down to the daily electricity use by the fridge in your kitchen or the TV in your bedroom. Vermont [...]
Last week, the DC Circuit threw out an SEC rule because it was developed in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. According to Free State Foundation’s Randy May (in his blog post DC Circuit Vacates [Net Neutrality] Rule), that action against the SEC provides an important signpost to the likely appeal of the FCC’s Net Neutrality regulation when it becomes ripe for court review (it still has yet to be officially approved).
The following excerpt was pulled from a link within May’s blog (from an FSF paper entitled Tethering the FCC: The Case Against Chevron Deference for Jurisdictional Claims). It points out an interesting new twist, which might also be brought to bear in the appeal of the Net Neutrality regulation:
…[T]he Commission’s current push to expand its jurisdiction, highlight an important but often ignored tension in administrative law. The Chevron doctrine generally requires courts to defer to an agency’s interpretation of ambiguous language in a statute that the agency administers. Chevron is premised on the assumption that agencies, not courts, should “fill any gap left . . . by Congress” in the agency’s organic statute. But it strains the doctrine to apply Chevron to an agency’s conclusions about the scope of its jurisdiction. In these cases, the agency is not merely filling a gap within a statutory framework, but is instead defining the outer limits of that framework. There is a difference in kind between the policy question “what rules should govern broadband?” and the legal question “does the Communications Act allow the Commission to make rules governing broadband?” Courts appropriately defer to agency expertise when answering the former question, but should reserve the latter question for “the province…of the judicial department.” (Chevron link added by me)
Translation: Courts grant agencies leeway in interpreting statutes / creating rules where the guiding law is unclear. But, they should not grant that same deference where the agency creates new areas of power or authority that have not been given to it by Congress. For many, the FCC’s Net Neutrality regulation represents not an interpretation of ambiguous law, but rather a self-grant of authority to regulate, usurping Congress’ proper role. For this reason, any court reviewing the rule should cast a skeptical eye (at the very least) toward the FCC’s action / jurisdictional grab.
Declan McCullagh of CNET is reporting on a bill to require ISPs to maintain massive records on their users. According to the article this bill requires commercial Internet providers to retain “customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses”.
They are calling it the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011″ in a flagrent attempt to make it politically difficult to vote against it even though the bill has noting directly to do with Internet pornography or protecting children.
Were this bill to become law, it might cause real problems for the growth of public Wi-Fi where there is no user authentication. That would be a huge leap backwards for a very possitive trend of late.
Of course, criminals will continue to be trivially able to circumvent such tracking efforts making this primarily a mechanism for gathering information on innocent persons without any hint of suspicion or probably cause.
It is absolutely un-American to require every citizen to submit to continuous tracking and monitoring on the possibility that some tiny fraction of us will commit a crime. Law enforcement always lobbies hard for such provisions. Make sure your voice is heard that you value your privacy and your rights.
An anonymous reader writes “The folks over at Lockheed Martin have just released information about their new covert robot that can sneak up on buildings, detect and evade sentries, and send reconnaissance information back to the good guys. From the article: ‘What makes the robot special is its ability to build a computer model of its surroundings, incorporating information on lines of sight. The robot is fitted with a laser scanner to allow it to covertly map its environment in 3D. It also has a set of acoustic sensors which it uses to distinguish nearby footsteps and their direction.’”
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Professor Daya Thussu speaking at AMIC 2011. Middle: PNG’s Joys Eggins. Bottom: PMC’s Dr David Robie. Top two photos: David Robie; bottom image: Manawwar NaqviONE of the highlights of last month’s AMIC conference in Hyderabad, India, was a presentation about the US/UK news “duopoly” and the distortions and “injustices of information flows”. Presented by professor Daya Thussu of Westminster
Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency
Exiting the stage…
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The End, bye bye folks it’s been fun
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