Blown To Bits

Archive for December, 2010

Moving on

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

So that I can blog about a wider range of subjects, I am moving my blogging activity over to a new Bits and Pieces blog. I’ll keep up my discussions of the digital explosion there, but I’ll also be talking about education and other issues of the day. See you there!

If You Will Ever Want a Government Job, Don’t Peek at WikiLeaks

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

The US Government has announced that federal workers should not be looking at the government secrets. Fine; I suppose your employer can tell you what you can’t do. But several experts are extending the logic, saying that succumbing to the temptation to look at the site may permanently disqualify you from ever getting a security clearance, because you could be asked whether you ever looked at classified information you were not authorized to see.

Would they really do that? This article in the Washington Post says they would.

The Career Services Offices of several universities have sent their students warnings about this danger.

This seems crazy on the face of it. Do we really want our future diplomats and intelligence officers to be the only people in the country who haven’t found out what those cables say? Should these universities be telling their students also not to read the New York Times, which has published some of this classified information?

By the way, if you want to risk your future security clearance by listening to the cables rather than looking at them, this site will give you audio versions.

Oops! No security clearance for me now; I just clicked that link.

The Fourth Amendment Protects Your Email

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

A year and a half ago I blogged about the case of Steven Warshak, whose email the US government had obtained without a search warrant. At that point the opinion of the court was that no warrant was needed to obtain your email from your ISP. The reasoning was a bit like the original court view of telephone wiretapping–no warrant needed, since after all, what did you think was going to happen to your conversation once it left the confines of your house?

A US court of appeals has now held that the government needs a search warrant to get your email. “Given the fundamental similarities between email and traditional forms of communication,” the court writes, “it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection.” The court has elected to go with common sense. Bad people do a lot of bad stuff by email, but there is no reason why investigators shouldn’t have to take the same steps to justify their searches they would have to do to open postal mail or listen in on a phone call.

Read the EFF’s announcement, which has a link to the decision.

Would it have been worse or better …

Saturday, December 4th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

if PFC Manning had given the documents only to the leaders of China, North Korea, and Iran?