March 8, 2006

Missed This [5:41 pm]

Should be interesting to see implementation - from the current session of the New Jersey legislature, we have bill A1327 [pdf]

SYNOPSIS

Makes certain operators of interactive computer services and Internet service providers liable to persons injured by false or defamatory messages posted on public forum websites.

[...] STATEMENT

This bill would require an operator of any interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish, maintain and enforce a policy requiring an information content provider who posts messages on a public forum website either to be identified by legal name and address or to register a legal name and address with the operator or provider prior to posting messages on a public forum website.

The bill requires an operator of an interactive computer service or an Internet service provider to establish and maintain reasonable procedures to enable any person to request and obtain disclosure of the legal name and address of an information content provider who posts false or defamatory information about the person on a public forum website.

In addition, the bill makes any operator or Internet service provider liable for compensatory and punitive damages as well as costs of a law suit filed by a person damaged by the posting of such messages if the operator or Internet service provider fails to establish, maintain and enforce the policy required by section 2 of the bill.

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If only …. [8:37 am]

Poignant reading on a day whose news includes renewal of the Patriot Act [pdf] and the decision by the Senate Intelligence Committee not to investigate warrantless wiretapping [pdf] (NYT article): A break-in to end all break-ins [pdf]

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS ago today, a group of anonymous activists broke into the small, two-man office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 FBI documents that revealed years of systematic wiretapping, infiltration and media manipulation designed to suppress dissent.

The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, as the group called itself, forced its way in at night with a crowbar while much of the country was watching the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight. When agents arrived for work the next morning, they found the file cabinets virtually emptied.

[...] To this day, no individual has claimed responsibility for the break-in. The FBI, after building up a six-year, 33,000-page file on the case, couldn’t solve it. But it remains one of the most lastingly consequential (although underemphasized) watersheds of political awareness in recent American history, one that poses tough questions even today for our national leaders who argue that fighting foreign enemies requires the government to spy on its citizens. The break-in is far less well known than Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers three months later, but in my opinion it deserves equal stature.

Found among the Media documents was a new word, “COINTELPRO,” short for the FBI’s “secret counterintelligence program,” created to investigate and disrupt dissident political groups in the U.S. Under these programs, beginning in 1956, the bureau worked to “enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles,” as one COINTELPRO memo put it, “to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.”

The Media documents — along with further revelations about COINTELPRO in the months and years that followed — made it clear that the bureau had gone beyond mere intelligence-gathering to discredit, destabilize and demoralize groups — many of them peaceful, legal civil rights organizations and antiwar groups — that the FBI and Director J. Edgar Hoover found offensive or threatening.

[...] It is tragic when people lose faith in their government to the extent that they feel they must break laws to expose corruption.

But a war that had been started and sustained by lies had gone on for years. And a government had betrayed its citizens, manipulating their fear to strengthen its grip on power.

Today, again, many people worry that their government may be on the road to subverting its own ideals. I hope that the commemoration of those unknown activists being held today in Media, Pa., will serve as a reminder that fighting for democracy abroad must remain more than merely an excuse to weaken civil liberties at home.

Related: Your Bill of Rights

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