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October 18, 2007

A WaPo Op-Ed On Verizon’s Cellphone Texting Censorship [5:49 pm]

Can You Hear Us Now?pdf

As the presidents of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Christian Coalition of America, we are on opposite sides of almost every issue. But when it comes to the fundamental right of citizens to participate in the political process, we’re united — and very, very worried.

Free speech shouldn’t stop when you turn on your computer or pick up your cellphone. But recent actions by the nation’s biggest communications corporations should be of grave concern to all who care about public participation in our democracy, particularly our leaders in Congress.

[...] Whatever your political views — conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, pro-choice or pro-life — it shouldn’t be up to Verizon to determine whether you receive the information you requested. Why should any company decide what you choose to say or do over your phone, your computer or your BlackBerry? Technologies are converging in our communications system, but the principles of free expression and the rights of all Americans to speak without intervention should remain paramount.

This issue is broader than one organization, one company or one topic. The issue is how communications companies can believe they have the authority to block content in the first place.

Of course, I don’t know why they think Congress cares — they’re apparently willing to give them amnesty for other equally egregious arrogations of power.

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OT: A Draft ESD (Meta) Elevator Speech [2:05 pm]

It’s been a surprisingly busy term, and I’ve seen my blog postings decline in frequency accordingly. Teaching a core TPP class, developing another course and my usual research and administrative responsibilities have taken their toll.

Which is not to say that I’m planning to stop, of course. But it does mean that the frequency of off-topic postings might increase from time to time.

Today is one of those times. The MIT Engineering Systems Division has a new director, one who is striving to shape a more coherent, and cohesive, message about what it is to “do” engineering systems. This is the text of a first stab at an “elevator speech” about what ESD is and since I put as much time into it as I did, it seemed only appropriate that I put is somewhere than into an email. So, here it is:

(more…)

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Privacy Will Officially Be the Responsibility of the Individual (updated) [10:47 am]

Don’t expect your government to protect it, or leave in place any of the institutions that we traditionally employ to preserve it. Retroactive amnesty for everyone! Or, more specifically, it’s time to start thinking very seriously about encryption as a way of life in the networked world: Senate and Bush Agree On Terms of Spying Billpdf

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government’s domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.

Also Senate Deal on Immunity for Phone Companies

The episode revealed, once again, fault lines within the Democratic Party over how to tackle national security questions without appearing “soft” on terrorism in the face of Republican criticism.

Indeed, Republican leaders immediately praised their ability to block the N.S.A. measure as a sign of the Democrats’ weakness on that issue. Representative Heather A. Wilson, Republican of New Mexico, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi “underestimated the intelligence of the American people and the bipartisan majority in the Congress to understand what matters most: preventing another terrorist attack.”

Also Glenn Greenwald has stuff that’ll turn your stomach: The truth about telecom amnesty; AT&T, other telecoms, buy victory in lawsuits

Later: Christopher Dodd at least has a spine.

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