FROM Declan McCullagh
Is the Government Reading Your Email? An FBI agent told superiors that his friend Jill Kelly was subjected to e-mail harassment. The subsequent investigation did not uncover a crime, but it ultimately forced David Petraeus to resign as Director of the CIA. The incident is being cited as evidence that technology and laws passed since September 11 demonstrate how vulnerable innocent Americans are to invasions of privacy by government agencies, turning the US into a "surveillance state." Why don't constitutional protections apply to e-mail? What's the role of Google, Facebook and the Cloud?
David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell… and You An FBI agent told superiors that his friend Jill Kelly was subjected to e-mail harassment. The subsequent investigation did not uncover a crime, but it ultimately forced David Petraeus to resign as Director of the CIA. The incident demonstrates how vulnerable innocent Americans are to invasions of privacy by government agencies. Under current law, there is no expectation of privacy for e-mail or other telecommunications, which go through third parties like Google or Facebook. The Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search does not apply, creating the potential for abuse by government agents. Can the law catch up with technology, or has the US already become a "surveillance state?"
The State Budget: Balanced or Not? As a share of the state's economy, Governor Brown says, the $86 billion state budget he signed today is lower than any since 1973. There are massive cuts in core services. But Republicans refused to extend tax increases, and the deficit still required $12 billion in new revenues to be "balanced," as the constitution requires. Four billion of that is based on projections that wealthy taxpayers are doing better than anybody expected. Still more comes from so-called "use" taxes the state hopes to collect on Internet sales from companies like Amazon. Currently, those taxes depend on consumers, few of whom ever report online purchases. Another device is dismantling local redevelopment agencies and taking their money, but those agencies claim that's illegal because of Proposition 22 , approved by the voters last November. Will any of that money really materialize?
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?