Should the government be able to collect information related to your Internet use without a warrant? According to a U.S. District Court opinion in the case of three WikiLeaks associates, it should.
Judge Liam O’Grady ruled Thursday that the associates had no reasonable expectation of privacy when they used Twitter services, even if the information in question was known only to Twitter and not publicly disclosed. The government is seeking data from their accounts including their devices’ Internet protocol (IP) addresses, which can reveal information about location, and data on people with whom they communicated.
The WikiLeaks associates – Jacob Appelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir and Rop Gonggrijp – “voluntarily chose to use Internet technology to communicate with Twitter and thereby consented to whatever disclosures would be necessary to complete their communications,” Judge O’Grady wrote.
Judge O’Grady also denied the trio’s petition to unseal the parts of the government’s secret requests to Twitter and other service providers.
The ruling represents a setback for the WikiLeaks associates, who have not been charged with wrongdoing. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that the government also has made requests to other Internet companies for information on Mr. Appelbaum, a computer developer for a nonprofit that provides free tools that help people maintain their anonymity online.
The Boston Phoenix says it’s time voters got to know who Mitt Romney really is. They lambast him for his end run around campaign-finance laws to bankroll state GOP candidates, calling it “an unprecedented intrusion of special-interest money into local political races that are normally decided on local issues.” Read on:
Last week Romney vetoed $32 million in retroactive salary increases for 13,000 higher-education employees — including some 2000 or so UMass employees who mostly perform low-paid, underappreciated work such as maintenance, groundskeeping, and clerical support. On the Boston campus, where incomes are the lowest, these blue- and pink-collar workers earn, on average, between $31,000 and $32,000 a year. Some make as little as $24,000. The back pay — to which they are entitled by contract, but which Romney refuses to pay — would mean an average of $1600 apiece for these workers.
With the state currently running a surplus of some $700 million, Romney would rather score cheap political points by cutting the state income tax from 5.3 percent to five percent than fulfill his obligations to those employees. Never mind that cutting the income tax would blow a hole in the state budget, which is just beginning to recover from a fiscal crisis of several years’ standing.
The symbolism is as bad as the substance. UMass is an institution that educates the children of the poor — working and otherwise — as well the lower rungs of the middle class, who are either hard-pressed or unable to afford the much-higher tuitions at private schools. Romney is sticking it to the workers who make it possible for UMass to function in a very concrete and even physical way, thereby showing his indifference not just to the workers themselves, but his lack of sympathy — even outright hostility — to the broader public UMass is designed to serve. Continue Reading »
But Americans continue to rely heavily on safety net programs to stay afloat, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Without the permanent safety net programs (including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and various assistance programs) and temporary programs included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (which Republicans have falsely claimed didn’t work), more than a quarter of the country’s population would have fallen beneath the poverty line in 2010, CBPP says:
Our report also shows that if the government safety net as a whole — these temporary initiatives (all were featured in the 2009 Recovery Act) plus safety-net policies already in place when the recession hit — hadn’t existed in 2010, the poverty rate would have been 28.6 percent, nearly twice the actual 15.5 percent.