Tag: Privacy

Selling Secrets: The Problem No One Is Talking About


The FBI has arrested nuclear engineer Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana, for trying to sell government secrets, plans for building nuclear submarines, to an unnamed foreign power. It turns out the agent of the foreign power was an undercover FBI agent. They were picked up doing a dead drop, Jonathan dropping off the secrets with Diana standing guard. Bad stuff.

How did they get caught? It seems that Mr. Toebbe solicited the foreign power by email. Apparently, this email was intercepted by the FBI. An FBI agent responded, pretending to be an agent of the foreign power.

Vaccine Passport Ban in Florida


Forty-three businesses or government offices are being investigated as a result of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ newly signed law on banning the requirement of vaccine passports. Violators will receive a notice of violation from the health department, which includes the right to a hearing before an administrative judge. If the final order is approved, a fine of $5,000 would be due within 30 days. The legislation appears here.

No one is surprised that Gov. DeSantis has taken this gutsy move, although there are those who see it as a political ploy (unfortunately behind a paywall). State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said that the DeSantis administration has not fined anyone is telling. He said the law was politically motivated.

‘He’s not actually fining any businesses,’ said Guillermo Smith, who is suing the Department of Health over the disappearance of detailed coronavirus data. ‘It’s just another bumper sticker for him to help him raise money.’

Threats to Privacy Are Limited by New Florida Law


Have you ever considered how your privacy could be violated through the use of your DNA? Florida legislators have taken this danger seriously by being the first state to expand on federal laws protecting the use of DNA testing results:

‘Given the continued rise in popularity of DNA testing kits,’ Sprowls said Tuesday, ‘it was imperative we take action to protect Floridians’ DNA data from falling into the hands of an insurer who could potentially weaponize that information against current or prospective policyholders in the form of rate increases or exclusionary policies.’

Federal law prevents health insurers from using genetic information in underwriting policies and in setting premiums, but the prohibition doesn’t apply to life, disability, or long-term care coverage.

Workplace Surveillance Cameras on You


Do you remember the period after 9/11 when we were learning with alarm that the Department of Homeland Security wanted to put surveillance cameras on our street corners? Although some people saw the wisdom of that decision, others were apprehensive about cameras appearing everywhere we went. Wouldn’t those cameras be an invasion of privacy? Were they really necessary to identify terrorists? Or could they be used for other insidious purposes?

Over time, however, we seem to have become less concerned about those cameras. We’ve learned that criminals can be identified, attacks on people can be recorded and the bad guys will learn that it’s more difficult to escape the law. Yet we’re also noticing that with the most recent actions by the government to threaten our rights and our privacy, we have much more at stake regarding our personal lives than ever before.

Member Post


Okay, I admit it. My husband and I had been watching the show “Dancing with the Stars” for years. Gradually, I became more and more uncomfortable with the skimpy women’s costumes, and even the bare-chested men didn’t draw me back. But the show is now so decadent and repulsive that I’ve watched it for the […]

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Warning: A Contract Tracer Wants You!


My husband received an email from Medicare today, warning, uh, alerting him to the fact that he might be contacted by a Contact Tracer. Seriously? I wrote a post at the end of May about my objections to contract tracing, and at this stage of the virus’s run, I am even more against it.

I suspect this is a political decision because money has been spent and will continue to be spent to make us feel as if this kind of program is/will be worthwhile: lives will be saved! People will be better protected! It’s your patriotic duty to comply!

Join Jim and Greg as they are hopeful that a Microsoft purchase of TikTok will protect the privacy of millions of Americans and let everyone keep their little app.  They also slam local officials in Maryland in Virginia who are clearly drunk on power.  And they get a kick out of the obvious timing of a New York Times opinion column suddenly suggesting we ought to do away with presidential debates.

Join Jim and Greg as they celebrate the end of the Bernie Sanders campaign, knowing an avowed socialist will not be president. They also weigh in on the thorny debate over how much our private health data ought to be available to the government as it navigates the COVID-19 crisis. And after forgetting Lincoln Chafee was running for president as a Libertarian, Jim and Greg comment on his second straight campaign implosion.

Jim is on vacation but there’s still plenty of fireworks on Thursday’s Three Martini Lunch. Greg is joined by Chad Benson, host of “The Chad Benson Show.”  Today, they get a kick out Bill Gates wondering just how much of his money Elizabeth Warren wants and concluding a conversation with Warren might not be worth his time because he’s not sure how open-minded she is.  They also recoil as a judge allows police to demand DNA from one of those outfits that tracks your heritage as part of an investigation, although Chad reminds us we all have pretty much voluntarily given up our privacy. And they fire back at 11,000 “scientists” who now say the Green New Deal is not enough, but we have to engage in population control too.

Member Post


Signed into effect on October 26, 2001, the USA PATRIOT ACT is the perfect example of how the U.S. federal government expands its power. An emergency happens, legitimate or otherwise. The media, playing its dutiful role as goad for greater government oversight, demands “something must be done.” Government power is massively expanded, with little regard […]

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Time to Make Political Donations Private


After two mass murders, one from a white supremacist and another by an Antifa fan, you’d expect politicians from both sides to ease up on the rhetoric. Instead, they’re fanning the flames. Tuesday, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D–TX) outed constituents who dared give money to Donald Trump.

Must There Be a Facebook?


It’s a real “… and the problem is what exactly?” sort of headline. This from Axios: “Facebook’s new cash-for-data debacle.”

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to data privacy issues — involving Facebook and other technology companies — then you might be aware some activists and academics have suggested users be paid for their personal data. They criticize the current system as “a massive transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the tech titans.”

Now as it turns out, Facebook has been giving a $20 gift card to some users age 13 to 35. And in exchange, explains The Verge’s Casey Newton, “all you have to give up is total access to all data on your phone, and also maybe screenshot your Amazon purchases and fork that over too.”

Carol Roth is a recovering investment banker, entrepreneur and author of The Entrepreneur Equation, the anti-motivational, motivational book about entrepreneurship and a realistic take on starting a small business. She and Bridget discuss the factor that jealousy plays in the tragic loss of the American Dream, being spoiled and ungrateful in a capitalist society, the math and ROI of going to college, and the danger in allowing political correctness to rob us of using laughter as a healing method. Carol talks about how she kept moving forward in the wake of a series of devastating personal losses, her approach to a successful marriage, her horror of emojis, how to combat imposter syndrome and tips on overcoming procrastination. Also, don’t miss Bridget’s unscientific theory that the reason women are more detail oriented than men comes from our hunter gatherer days and her plans for faking her own death. Check out Carol’s podcast, also on Ricochet, here: The Roth Effect with Carol Roth.

Getting It Wrong on Cell Phone Searches


The Supreme Court last week added another layer of confusion to the vexed law of unreasonable searches and seizures regarding law-enforcement use of cell phone data to ferret out criminal activity. In Carpenter v. United States, Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for a five-member majority (including the four liberal justices—Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor), ruled that information collected on Timothy Carpenter’s whereabouts, pursuant to the Stored Communications Act (SCA), was inadmissible. The SCA allows law enforcement to access certain telephone company records under a court order when it “offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the records sought “are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Notwithstanding the SCA, police can now access historical cell-site location information (CSLI) only if they first obtain a warrant by meeting the higher standard of probable cause under the Fourth Amendment.

Carpenter is incorrect.

The facts of the case are as follows: In 2011, the police arrested four men suspected of robbing a Radio Shack and T-Mobile store in and around Detroit. These suspects confessed that they had participated in a number of local robberies, and gave the police the cell phone numbers of some of their other confederates, including Carpenter. Pursuant to the SCA, the police then obtained two orders from Federal Magistrate Judges commanding the men’s cell phone carrier, Metro PCS, to supply CSLI data, which is generated routinely and accurately in order to maintain and operate the networks efficiently. The police obtained about 130 days of data, which placed Carpenter near the sites of each robbery at the time of occurrence. This information helped secure Carpenter’s conviction.

Snooping: As Outrageous as It Gets


I know that when I’m in public areas, any work I do on my smartphone or laptop is vulnerable to the eyes of others. That’s not a big deal since I rarely text and seldom use my laptop on a plane.

But in the Wall Street Journal  today, there was an article on people checking out others’ messages and documents—over their shoulders and next to them! Not only that, they had the nerve to comment on what they’d read! Here’s the story that stunned me:

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are happy to Republicans senators like Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, and John Kennedy pin down Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on critical issues like censorship, free speech, and user policies that actually benefit Facebook members.  They also react to House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing his retirement, looking both at his record and the increased likelihood that Democrats will take back the House this year.  And they have fun with London’s ridiculous new knife control push after 50 stabbing deaths in the city this year, including police confiscating scissors and pliers as deadly weapons.

Germany Has Chosen … Poorly


Me, two years ago, after the Bataclan massacre in Paris:

There are two possible responses to the dispersed threat of Islamic terrorism: Increased surveillance and security in the hopes that you’ll catch terrorists in the same net you use to corral regular citizens, or an empowered, aware citizenry that can stop an attack dead in its tracks. I prefer the second option myself, not only because it works, but it errs on the side of freedom, and that’s always a good thing.

Reasonable Searches in the Digital Age


This past week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Carpenter v. United States, a case that goes to the heart of the government’s power to track private individual behavior without a warrant. Timothy Carpenter and his henchmen had engaged in a series of armed robberies in Michigan and Ohio that led to his conviction for up to 116 years in prison. In his opinion, Judge Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit correctly observed that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures “has long recognized a distinction between the content of a communication and the information necessary to convey it. Content, per this distinction, is protected under the Fourth Amendment, but routing information is not.”

Accordingly, Kethledge let the government introduce into evidence the business records from the defendants’ wireless carriers that placed the defendants at or near the scene of several violent robberies. Alone, that evidence could never support a conviction for armed robbery, but its value lies in contravening the defendants’ alibi that they were elsewhere at the time.

Kethledge’s analysis received a rocky reception at the Supreme Court, as both liberal and conservative’s fretted about the invasions of privacy from such extended surveillance. A puzzled Justice Stephen Breyer professed astonishment by observing: “This is an open box. We know not where to go.” In contrast, Justice Elena Kagan had a more pointed objection. She noted that in United States v. Jones (2012), the Court reversed a conviction for narcotics trafficking because the government had conducted an illegal search by attaching a GPS tracking device to the defendant’s wife’s car without a warrant. According to the majority in that case, attaching the GPS amounted to a common law trespass, which Justice Antonin Scalia held justified suppressing that evidence. To Kagan, the government had to explain how using phone company records differed from using the GPS system, when both give exhaustive and accurate information about the defendant’s whereabouts.

Member Post


 I realize that coming from a, shall we say earlier generation, my expectations of privacy might be considered quaint in today’s world. But I’m trying to adapt. Not that it does any good. The other day, I was using Tor browser and a VPN signed in from the Netherlands. Hah! Take that, privacy infringers! I […]

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