Friday, September 08, 2006

Your privacy for sale

In an interview on Meet the Press , I saw the new FEMA director say this is the company that will be used to identify recipients of aid in the future:

the practices of the data collectors can rob you of your privacy, threaten you with ID theft, and profile you as, say, a deadbeat or a security risk. Worse, there’s no way to find out what they are telling others about you. When our reporters requested their own records, they were told that they could not see everything that was routinely sold to businesses. The meager information they did receive was punctuated with errors.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

CIA branch invests in technology companies to help improve spying

In 2004 CallMiner, a company specializing in capturing and translating voice recordings into searchable databases, sought out In-Q-Tel, according to Cliff LaCoursiere, CallMiner's co-founder and senior vice president of business development.

Although software already exists to translate voice into text, CallMiner says it can extract more than just words from a recording. According to LaCoursiere, its software can translate conversations for not only what the people are saying, but the intent of what they were saying. For example, the company claims the software can figure out if a caller looking for technical assistance from a call center is sincerely, or sarcastically, saying, "Thank you for your help."

So far, CallMiner's products are being used by Comcast, Continental Airlines and several other clients. LaCoursiere says CallMiner's products aren't yet being used by the intelligence community, but "it's an area we're aggressively going after." In August, CallMiner launched an application making it easier to use its tools with foreignlanguages.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Am I the only one who completely missed this?

Judiciary Committee chair Orrin Hatch eventually admitted the hacking. He suspended (with pay) one of his own junior staffers and declared himself "mortified" and "shocked," adding, "There is no excuse that can justify these improper actions." It now appears that Manuel Miranda, a senior aide to Senate majority leader Bill Frist, distributed the e-mails to right-wing lobbying groups and propaganda outfits. Miranda previously worked for the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and was a public advocate for defeated Bush nominees like Miguel Estrada.

So much for checks and balances

Judge Yuri Hofmann on Tuesday afternoon dismissed the lawsuit brought by San Diego voters contesting the June 6 election of Brian Bilbray to California's 50th Congressional district seat. Bilbray was sworn in to Congress while his election was not yet certified and the vote count was not yet complete. These are but some of the many grounds cited for the election challenge. But no matter how damning the evidence, it would not get its day in court.

The motion to dismiss, filed by defendant Bilbray, claimed the court has no jurisdiction. Indeed, Hofmann cited numerous precedents of courts keeping their distance from a legislative fray.

Homeland Security and Jon Binet

Suwat said U.S. authorities informed Thai police on Aug. 11 that an arrest warrant had been issued for Karr on charges of premeditated murder. The warrant was sent to Thai police on Wednesday.

“Through investigation we were able to determine where his residence was and the Thais arrested him,” Hurst said. “He did not resist. He did express surprise.”

The U.S. Homeland Security official said Karr had left the United States several years ago and had not returned.

meanwhile back at the ranch....

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declared that the program "violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III."

Her ruling went on to say that "the president of the United States ... has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders."