Tags: Declan McCullagh

Good News: Bipartisan Anti-Drone Movement Emerges in Congress

Normally when I hear the word “bipartisan” I shudder with fear, because typically any issue that both Republicans and Democrats agree on is in the absolute worst interests of the American people.  That said, it does appear that we are in the very early stages of a political awakening in the country, one in which citizens play a more active role and place increasing pressure on their “representatives.”  When this happens, good outcomes are possible.  It appears the drone issue may be one of them, as it is becoming increasingly clear that, unlike Mayor Bloomberg, most Americans strongly dislike the idea of drones flying over their heads.  This is good news.  Let’s keep pushing hard.  From CNET:

An unusual bipartisan revolt has erupted against law enforcement plans to fly more drones equipped with high-tech gear that can be used to conduct surveillance of Americans.

A combination of concerns about privacy, air traffic safety, facial recognition, cell phone tracking– and even the possibility that in the future drones could be armed — have suddenly placed police on the defensive.

A public outcry in Seattle last month prompted the mayor to ground the police department’s nascent drone program. Oregon held a hearing this week on curbing drones, following one in Idaho last week. And on Tuesday, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a federal bill that would require law enforcement to obtain warrants before conducting drone-based aerial surveillance.

In October 2011, police in Montgomery County, Texas, received delivery of a ShadowHawk unmanned aerial vehicle from Vanguard Defense Industries. The ShadowHawk can be equipped with a TASER weapon system, which delivers a high-voltage electronic shock through what Vanguard calls “multi-shot XREP launching” delivered by a “patented targeting- and firing-system.” Montgomery County has said, however, it’s considering weaponizing its ShadowHawk with rubber bullets and tear gas instead.

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The Bitcoin ATM has Arrived…Here’s How it Works

The more I learn about Bitcoin, the more I support it.  In fact, the only donations we accept on this site are Bitcoin donations.  As I mentioned in a post late last summer, I think it represents another way to fight back against the current repressive and immoral monetary system that has a strangle hold on the planet.  Ever since WordPress.com (the extremely popular blogging platform and 22nd most popular site on the internet), decided to accept Bitcoin as payment last November the value of Bitcoins versus the U.S. dollar has more than doubled.

BitcoinChart

The esoteric crypto-currency continues to gain popularity and technologies to make it even more user friendly are popping up all over the place.  The latest is the Bitcoin ATM, which could be a serious game changer for adoption.  From CNET:

NASHUA, N.H. — Zach Harvey has an ambitious plan to accelerate adoption of the Internet’s favorite alternative currency: installing in thousands of bars, restaurants, and grocery stores ATMs that will let you buy Bitcoins anonymously.

It’s the opposite of a traditional automated teller that dispenses currency. Instead, these Bitcoin ATMs will accept dollar bills — using the same validation mechanism as vending machines — and instantly convert the amount to Bitcoins and deposit the result in your account.

Harvey and Matt Whitlock are partners in a New Hampshire-based venture, Lamassu Bitcoin Advisors, that’s hoping to commercialize the ATM by selling to retail businesses, especially ones that also want to accept the decentralized alternative currency from customers.

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The FBI is “Going Dark” in its New Spy Program

Well, well isn’t this article from CNET just lovely!  Apparently every agency in our government is competing to be the America Stasi.

The information collection is part of the FBI’s controversial effort, known internally as “Going Dark,” aimed in part at convincing Congress to rewrite federal wiretapping law to require Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to build in back doors for government surveillance. CNET reported in May that the FBI has asked tech companies not to oppose the plan.

The Homeland Security report, made public this afternoon, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is enmeshed in a lawsuit against the FBI after many of the documents it requested were withheld. CNET reported last week that a federal judge ruled that the government did not adequately respond to EFF’s request.

In an unusual twist, Homeland Security provided the partially redacted report (PDF) to the EFF under open government laws — but then turned around and demanded the document’s return, which the EFF refused to do.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment on the documents.

In other news, most Americans are more concerned about what Justin Bieber ate for dinner last night.

Full CNET article here.

In Liberty,
Mike