Sunday, July 07, 2013

The kerfuffle kontinues!

David Ingram reports:
The Obama administration on Friday urged a secret U.S. court that oversees surveillance programs to reject a request by a civil liberties group to see court opinions used to underpin a massive phone records database.
Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the court’s opinions are a unique exception to the wide access the public typically has to court records in the United States.
If the public had a right to any opinion from the surveillance court, the possible harms would be “real and significant, and, quite frankly, beyond debate,” the lawyers wrote, [Can there be such a thing in a Republic? Bob] citing earlier rulings from the court.
The American Civil Liberties Union had asked the court last month to release some of its opinions after Britain’s Guardian newspaper revealed a massive U.S. government database of daily telephone call data, prompting a worldwide debate about the program’s legality.
Read more on Reuters.

(Related) Is “vague” intended to keep the court from asking you to disclose your source?
Orin Kerr writes:
In the New York Times, Eric Lichtblau has a major scoop describing some of the secret rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, aka the FISC (and sometimes just called “the FISA court”). According to Lichtblau’s sources, described as “current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions,” the FISA court has issued over a dozen significant rulings. Some of the rulings are “nearly 100 pages long.” Although Lichtblau purports to summarize the rulings, I find his descriptions a frustrating read. Maybe it’s just me, but I find Lichtblau’s writing to be sufficiently vague that his distillation of the opinions leaves me with more questions than answers. In this post, I want to go through what Lichtblau says about the Fourth Amendment rulings of the FISA court and why his descriptions leave me confused. I’ll try to get to the statutory issues in a future post.
Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.

John Naughton nails it:
Over the past two weeks, I have lost count of the number of officials and government ministers who, when challenged about internet surveillance by GCHQ and the NSA, try to reassure their citizens by saying that the spooks are “only” collecting metadata, not “content”. Only two conclusions are possible from this: either the relevant spokespersons are unbelievably dumb or they are displaying a breathtaking contempt for their citizenry.
Read more on The Guardian.

...because you can never have too many tools.
Adapter is a free versatile media converter for PC & Mac that lets you convert files from one format to another and supports virtually all popular audio, video and image file formats. It is totally free
Related tools – OnlineConvert, FreeFileConverter.

Meeting tools are conspiracy tools” Bug Brother is a web-based tool that lets you easily set up a meeting online with a group of people – friends, partners, colleagues etc. It makes it easy to collaborate with others in real time and is accessible from any device (smartphone, PC, tablet). You simply go to their website, select a channel name URL ( and sign up for an account. Then you invite others (by email or SMS) to your channel by sharing your channel name URL.
Once you start a meeting on your channel, you can then share you computer screen, share files from your computer or from popular online services (Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote and others), message your guests or share your webcam. You can remove any guest from your channel at your will.
Additionally, for those who don’t have access to the Internet, there is an option for them to access your channel using a phone by dialing a number with a pass code, which are provided to you (the host) in your email upon registration.
Related tools – MeetingKing, MeetWithMe.

There aer many bits and pieces like this one out there. Perhaps enough to assemble my “Are you ready for college computing?” test.
Free Digital Citizenship Lesson Plans for Middle School Students
The beginning of the school year is a great time to conduct lessons on digital citizenship and digital literacy. The knowledge and skills gained in those early lessons can serve students throughout the school year. Google has a good set of lesson plans on digital citizenship and digital literacy that middle school teachers should take a look at. The lesson plans are divided into three sections; becoming a digital sleuth, managing digital footprints, and identifying online tricks and scams.
These digital citizenship lessons are part of Google's Good to Know site. Good to Know is an excellent site on which you can find good and clear explanations of web basics.

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