21 March 2012


Andrew Weissmann, the top lawyer at the FBI, says the Supreme Court made a distinction about the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, ruling that computers that follow suspects are much more intrusive than people doing the same thing.

“The court essentially is saying that you have an expectation of privacy even though if it was done by humans there would be no violation,” Weissmann says. “But because it's done by machines, it is.”

I guess I should read more about this decision. I mean, on the one hand, it seems to me there’s a pretty obvious practical difference that is going to affect the number of people the government ends up tracking twenty years down the road (in an “all of them” vs. “not so very many of them” sort of way). Not to put too fine a point on it, but if there weren’t a real difference, the FBI wouldn’t be bitching about the decision. On the other hand, yeah, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t seem to be drawing that kind of distinction. So hmmm.

“And the problem with that is that a search warrant requires probable cause to be shown and many of these techniques are things that you use in order to establish probable cause,” Weissmann says. “If you require probable cause for every technique, then you are making it very very hard for law enforcement.”

I am so glad I don’t have the kind of job that would be a lot easier if only we didn’t have a Bill of Rights.

Source: NPR: FBI Still Struggling With Supreme Court’s GPS Ruling

16 March 2012

Not censorship

I am in no way calling for censorship. Rush is entitled to all the free speech he wants, but we—as women, as members of marginalized or oppressed groups, and as Americans—are equally entitled to use our free speech and all the tools of the democratic process to get him off the air.

Gloria Feldt, calling for the FCC to take Rush Limbaugh off the air.

I have an honest question here. How exactly would that not be censorship?

Unless I’m missing something, I think the most charitable way of reading this must be to ignore these two sentences entirely, take as read that Feldt knows she is calling for a kind of censorship, and then evaluate the case for censorship on the merits. But the case is ludicrous too. Banning offensive speech? We’re going to build our future on that cliff?