November 14, 2007

A Prediction That Will Make You Cry [7:49 pm]

Welcome to America 2007: AT&T to Sell Equipment to Monitor Workplaces

AT&T plans to introduce a nationwide program today that gives owners of small- and medium-size businesses some of the same tools big security companies offer for monitoring employees, customers and operations from remote locations.

Under AT&T’s Remote Monitor program, a business owner could install adjustable cameras, door sensors and other gadgets at up to five different company locations across the country.

Using a Java-enabled mobile device or a personal computer connected to the Internet, the owner would be able to view any of the images in real time, control room lighting and track equipment temperatures remotely. All the images are recorded on digital video, which can be viewed for up to 30 days.

“It is Big Brother, but in this day and age, you need these type of tools” [...]

The prediction? The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them. - V. I. Lenin

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Using Copyright To Stifle Dissent [3:10 pm]

Disconnects between the law, its intent and common practice: Russia Casts A Selective Net in Piracy Crackdownpdf

The newspaper Novaya Gazeta, one of the last outposts of critical journalism in Russia, suspended publication of its regional edition in the southern city of Samara on Monday after prosecutors opened a criminal case against its editor, alleging that his publication used unlicensed software.

The case is part of a larger assault on independent news media, advocacy organizations and political activists, according to government critics. But it is one that is specifically tailored to deflect foreign criticism.

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Two Stories on the FCC’s Martin Media Consolidation Proposal [9:59 am]

  • Tribune future hinges on FCCpdf

    For Tribune, the Martin plan would be a positive because it would allow the company to keep both The Times and KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles and newspaper and TV combinations in three other markets. But it could also complicate an $8.2-billion deal to take Tribune private by the end of the year.

    The company probably would have to sell either its newspaper or two TV stations in Hartford, Conn., as well as its Chicago radio station, WGN-AM (720). And it might have to make another sale in Chicago, where it owns WGN-TV Channel 9 and the Chicago Tribune.

    Martin proposed prohibiting a company from owning a newspaper and a TV station in the top 20 markets if the TV station is one of the four largest in that market. WGN wasn’t in October — but it has been as high No. 2 in recent months.

  • Few Friends for Proposal on Media

    For 32 years, supporters of the restriction have maintained that it prevents the growth of ever- larger media conglomerates and helps to keep diverse voices on the airwaves.

    These critics denounced Mr. Martin’s proposal for containing what they said were loopholes that could lead to widespread consolidation.

    At the same time, however, the newspaper industry’s main trade association and an executive at the Tribune Company separately criticized the plan and said it would not go nearly far enough to help them.

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An LATimes Columnist Looks At Privacy [9:49 am]

Public’s privacy is on the linepdf

“Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won,” Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, said in a speech last month at an intelligence conference, the contents of which only now have come to light. “Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”

Privacy, he concluded, “is a system of laws, rules and customs with an infrastructure of inspectors general, oversight committees and privacy boards on which our intelligence community commitment is based and measured.”

This Orwellian outlook comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday on whether telecom companies should be granted immunity for assisting the Bush administration in its warrantless spying program.

To see whether Kerr’s position is shared by others, I ventured to the well-heeled, macchiato-drinking community of Brentwood, where I figured people would take matters of privacy especially seriously.

It’s been my experience that people with lots of money and lots of lawyers tend to be the touchiest about intrusions into their private lives.

[...] If you want to give away the store on your MySpace page, so be it. But that’s your choice. Neither the government nor corporate entities have any business poking around your personal life without probable cause, and that means a court warrant.

As for anonymity being dead, tell that to the oil-industry bigwigs who met with Vice President Dick Cheney around the time of the California power crisis in 2001 to discuss national energy policy. Cheney and Bush say the names of meeting participants need to be kept under wraps to protect their privacy so they can dispense candid advice.

Anonymity is clearly very much alive when it suits the administration’s needs.

In his speech, Kerr called for a “productive debate” that “focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety.”

We’ve already had that debate. The result was the legal concept of due process. Nothing’s changed.

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