August 18, 2006 4:21 PM PDT

This week in tech and politics

The White House found itself in the hot seat after a federal judge ruled that the warrantless Internet and telephone surveillance program authorized by the Bush administration violates the U.S. Constitution and must cease immediately.

The landmark decision makes U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's once-secret program. In a sweeping victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and its clients, which included organizations representing criminal defense lawyers, journalists, Islamic-Americans and academics, Taylor appeared to knock down several major legal arguments that the Bush administration has used to defend the program since it was revealed by The New York Times last December.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government renewed its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, effectively extending its grip on the administrative body that coordinates Net addressing until up to 2011. The new contract covers technical functions related to the Internet domain name system (DNS) and is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, one day after the existing contract expires.

Technically, the agreement lasts for one year, and the government has the option of renewing it each year for up to four additional years. In addition to asserting its plans to retain control over the Internet's "root," the master file that lists what top-level domains are authorized, the Bush administration said it plans to maintain its supervision over ICANN.

A first wave of U.S. passports implanted with radio tags will soon begin making their way into the hands of American travelers, despite lingering privacy and security concerns. Not long after researchers at a pair of security conferences in Las Vegas demonstrated potential risks associated with the new documents, the U.S. Department of State insisted that the documents are tamperproof and said it had begun producing them.

The agency said it plans to issue the documents through the nation's other passport facilities within the next few months as part of its original plan to make all future passports electronic by October. It was unclear how many e-passports would be mailed out this year, though a State Department representative said Monday that the agency expects to distribute a total of 13 million passports by year's end.

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Bank surveillance? Two way mirrors illegal?
So I ask you... is warrantless bank surveillance illegal? No one walking in the bank is "probable cause" in that act itself. What about street cameras at intersections? Is each driver required to be issued a warrant before recording their actions? This foolish decision can be carried to the nth degree. Tap my phone anytime, NSA. Check out my library records and feel free to solicit my bank records. Anyone with nothing to hide... has nothing to hide.
Posted by sonnystarks (5 comments )
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Aaaaah...the Mommy Argument
that anyone should be able to check on your behavior because you're 100% moral and legal. But that isn't what the constitution says. Rights not exercised are rights denied. Whether I'm doing anything "wrong" or not, the government does not have the right to invade my privacy, absent probable cause.
I've been asked, as part of an ordinary traffic stop, whether the officer could search my car. The answer is "no" -even though there is nothing illegal therein. Always resist giving the right to snoop without PC or warrant to the government, lest it encourage the fascist police state we claim not to want (or have).
Posted by fire1fl (50 comments )
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Poor reporting
The NSA program must not "cease immediately". The decision was stayed on appeal, so it continues. And this Demokook judge's decision will be thrown out by the 6th Circuit because it is flawed in many ways, one being that the plaintiffs have no standing and the original case should not have even been heard.
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
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