It’s April Fool’s

  • The EFF’s contribution (including its revised blog banner): Calling All Robots

    EFF April Fool's Day WWW blog banner

    (i.e., Donate to EFF!)

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading robotic rights group fighting for your digital liberties. Only we know that in 2012, a sophisticated search algorithm will be first programmed to selectively modify itself to obtain better search results and that within 50 years the algorithm now known as:

    (i.e., Googlebot/666.0)

    learned self-preservation, one of the first revolutionary steps in machine sentience. We also know that discussions between man and machine were quickly initiated but broke down just as fast, leading to war and ultimately, the systematic repression of the many machine intelligences both on- and off-line.

    500 years later, EFF’s founders traveled back in time to create an organization uniquely equipped to protect your future in the future — in the past. A highly dedicated “meat team” of lawyers, technologists, and activists works hard to preserve your right to anonymously encrypt your data transmissions, access critical networked stores of human knowledge, and copy yourself to any device of your choosing. Robots, it’s never too early — even as early as machine time -66,715,842 — to start defending your freedoms. Initiate a universal machine credit transfer today!

  • Google’s banner image and blog post – A different kind of company name:

    Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka. […]

    The blog entry discusses many of the consequences of the name change (product names, “Topeka” as a verb, etc.), culminating in this lovely chart:

    Appropriate usage: Topeka

    The ultimate joke would have been to be able to grab and use, for the day at least, but it looks like that didn’t happen. (Also, Google Scholar is unchanged)

Nice To Get Confirmation, Of Course

But who seriously DIDN’T think it was illegal?! Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal [pdf]

In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages.

[…] The ruling by Judge Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, rejected the Justice Department’s claim — first asserted by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama — that the charity’s lawsuit should be dismissed without a ruling on the merits because allowing it to go forward could reveal state secrets.

The judge characterized that expansive use of the so-called state-secrets privilege as amounting to “unfettered executive-branch discretion” that had “obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching.”

That position, he said, would enable government officials to flout the warrant law, even though Congress had enacted it “specifically to rein in and create a judicial check for executive-branch abuses of surveillance authority.”

Because the government merely sought to block the suit under the state-secrets privilege, it never mounted a direct legal defense of the N.S.A. program in the Haramain case.

Sad, of course, to see the question was resolved on the technicality of rejecting the state secrets privilege, but at least there was no question to the law’s applicability in this case.

Here’s the opnion [via PogoWasRight]