Wednesday, May 07, 2008

FBI loses in its quest to violate internet archive's privacy rights

No need for me to comment much other than say that this is very good news. Freedom isn't handed our freely, it must be rigorously defended. Thank you internet archives guys for standing up for freedom.

From the wired

The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced Wednesday morning.

On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a controversial National Security Letter (.pdf) on the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library's registered users, asking for the user's name, address and activity on the site.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive's lawyers, fought the NSL, challenging its constitutionality in a December 14 complaint (.pdf) to a federal court in San Francisco. The FBI agreed on April 21 to withdraw the letter and unseal the court case, making some of the documents available to the public.

The Patriot Act greatly expanded the reach of NSLs, which are subpoenas for documents such as billing records and telephone records that the FBI can issue in terrorism investigations without a judge's approval. Nearly all NSLs come with gag orders forbidding the recipient from ever speaking of the subpoena, except to a lawyer.

Brewster Kahle called the gag order "horrendous," saying he couldn't talk about the case with his board members, wife or staff, but said that his stand was part of a time-honored tradition of librarians protecting the rights of their patrons.

"This is an unqualified success that will help other recipients understand that you can push back on these," Kahle said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.

Though FBI guidelines on using NSLs warned of overusing them, two Congressionally ordered audits revealed that the FBI had issued hundreds of illegal requests for student health records, telephone records and credit reports. The reports also found that the FBI had issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs since 2001, but failed to track their use. In a letter to Congress last week, the FBI admitted it can only estimate how many NSLs it has issued.

The Internet Archive's case is only the third known court challenge to an NSL, all of which ended with the FBI rescinding the NSL, according to the ACLU's Melissa Goodman.

"That makes you wonder about the the hundreds of thousands of NSLs that haven't been challenged," Goodman said, suggesting that the FBI had collected sensitive information on innocent Americans.

The EFF, joined by the ACLU, initially used the letter to challenge the constitutionality of NSLs generally, saying the gag order violates the First Amendment. They also argued that the specific NSL used was illegal since the Internet Archive is a library, not a communications provider.

The settlement with the government (.pdf) puts an end to that challenge and still keeps Kahle and his lawyers from discussing -- even in the most general terms -- what the FBI was after and what public information the Internet Archive turned over to the FBI. For instance, the lawyers declined to say what kind of information the target was looking at or uploading -- such as animal rights information or Muslim literature.

The ACLU has successfully quashed two other NSLs, including one request to a library system asking for web surfing histories of patrons and another to a small New York hosting provider asking for data about a website it hosted. The Internet Archive case is only the second time the courts allowed the recipient of a Patriot Act National Security Letter to reveal his or her identity.

In the case of a NSL sent to a small ISP in New York, a judge ruled that the entire NSL statute is unconstitutional because of the gag order, but that ruling is under appeal. Though the FBI withdrew the request for information on one of the websites the ISP hosted, the target of that letter is still bound by a gag order, though he did write an op-ed for the Washington Post about the experience.

Though Kahle wouldn't say what the feds were after, he stressed that the Internet Archive stores very little non-public information -- only an unverified email address for those who choose to provide it -- and does not log IP addresses.

Monday, May 05, 2008

SOTT defends its free speech rights

I am watching this case that I previously posted on very closely. As I mentioned before, it seems like one heck of a free speech issue to me. And since the powers that be are clamping down so much on freedom, it would be interesting to see the outcome. I am glad that SOTT is not going gently into the night but instead is vigorously defending themselves and by proxy our right to state OPINIONS on matters of FACT. I am glad other web citizens are picking up on it too. Too bad more people are not. I am reminded of this:
First they came for the Communist and I did not speak out--because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the Socialist and I did not speak out--because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionist and I did not speak out--because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out--because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."
----Reverend Martin Niemueller

It seems that friends of Mr. Pepin or maybe they're just individuals who see the case differently than I do, are going to little read blogs like yours truly to defend him. Free speech and all. I have no issues with them posting what they think about the case as long as they are not using foul language and threatening harm. I may not agree with what is said, but I certainty will support the right for it to be said. SOTT seems to be fighting back by asking for a dismissal of the case.

QFG and defend Internet First Amendment rights. - May 02, 2008

(PRNewsChannel) / Portland, Oregon - Quantum Future Group, Inc. ("QFG"), the only defendant that has been served in an Internet defamation suit brought by New-Age guru Eric Pepin's sales company, has forcefully challenged the merits of the case and has asked an Oregon federal judge for a dismissal and attorneys fees.

The case concerns postings on a forum hosted by (Signs of the Times), an Internet site devoted to news and analysis in various fields, including analyzing and exposing cults. Citing Oregon's anti-SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation") statute, QFG contends that the statements about Pepin and his company, Higher Balance Institute, LLC ("HBI") are constitutionally protected. Because HBI cannot show that it probably will prevail, QFG argues, the case must be dismissed before QFG or the other defendants must spend large amounts to defend themselves.

"Without exception," the motion states, "the statements are all constitutionally protected expressions of opinion rather than verifiable assertions of fact. HBI cannot meet its burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the statements are false, let alone that Defendants knew that they were false or had serious doubts as to their truth."

The statements cited in QFG's complaint question Pepin's meditation techniques and comment on Pepin's 2007 trial on multiple sexual charges involving a 17-year-old male acolyte. The statements at issue include a November 7, 2007 comment that "It's really starting to look like this Eric Pepin and his Higher Balance Institute may be merely COINTELPRO and a front for pedophilia" and a November 4, 2007 comment by an anonymous poster that something "fishy" was going on at HBI.

QFG's motions state that the forum posts are opinion based on stated facts published on a mainstream news source and are constitutionally protected. The motion also argues that the operator of an Internet forum cannot be liable for the posts of third parties under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ("CDA") and questions Oregon's jurisdiction over QFG, a California non-profit corporation whose primary place of business is in France.

"These are exactly the sort of statements that the First Amendment and recent statutes protect as free speech," said QFG attorney Stephen Kaus, who prepared the papers with his colleagues Walter Hansell and Merrit Jones. "People are entitled to believe in gurus such as Pepin and buy their books and courses for hundreds of dollars or more, but people are also entitled to point out their view that the techniques of telepathy and development of a sixth eye promoted by Pepin are nonsense."

Much of the dispute concerns Pepin's trial on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. Pepin was acquitted in a court trial because the judge did not feel the charges had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. According to the article in the Oregonian, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Steven L. Price stated that it was, " 'probable that the conduct alleged in all counts occurred,' but he wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt" and "called the leader of a metaphysical Internet sales company manipulative and controlling and his testimony unbelievable, even as he acquitted him today of charges that he had sex with an underage boy."

SOTT.NET posters point out that being found "not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" is not the same thing as being found "innocent of all charges."

The sexual charges aside, the SOTT.NET forum topic on Pepin and HBI has been the site of a lively debate on whether he is an exploiter, ever since a visitor posted an inquiry about them in 2006. Several Pepin devotees have posted fervent praise, while others have denounced him as a power-lusting cult leader who takes advantage of gullible followers.

SOTT.NET contends that it is the public's right to examine the claims of any company selling a product or service to the public and to form their own opinion as to whether it is "snake-oil" sold by con-artists or not and that those opinions may be made public for the safety of consumers.

In a previous press release, atty Walter Hansell noted: "HBI's lawsuit is a frontal assault on free speech, and on the free global flow of information and opinion on the Internet. It is a blunt force attack on the discussion of sincere opinions among people sharing common interests."


Following the filing of the motions to dismiss on April 25th, Walter Hansell of Cooper, White & Cooper said: "The intent of this suit by HBI is to stifle free speech, but luckily the anti SLAPP statute allows us to nip the matter in the bud before the cost is out of hand."

About Signs of The Times: is an independent alternative news and analysis outlet that seeks to shine a spotlight on significant events and trends that affect the entire world. helps bring clarity out of a sea of media spin. The site is funded entirely by donations from individuals and groups that seek to support its work. For more information visit

About Quantum Future Group:
Quantum Future Group (QFG) supports activities that bring together people to engage in and to promote the study of scientific ideas and research in all scientific and socio-cultural fields that further the deepest understanding of our world and our place within it without regard to nationality or ethnicity. QFG seeks to increase the understanding of humankind by humankind, as a whole, by sponsoring research into all the parts to see how they fit together. QFG supports documented research that is made freely and widely available to all humanity. For more information visit:

About Cooper, White & Cooper LLP:
Cooper, White & Cooper LLP, based in San Francisco, is longtime defender of free speech and communications. For more information visit

Contact: Joseph Quinn
Email: :
Phone: : +33 563 048231
Web site:
To view this press release online

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another case of free speech treatened!

Here we go again. It keeps happening and unless we stay on top of
these things it will only get worse.

The alternative news site AlterInfo is also in trouble and are being sued.
As I said before I don't have to agree with the politics of a given site but surely they are allowed to speak their minds. Got this one from SOTT

Fri, 21 Mar 2008 13:03 ED
The French alternative website is threatened with closing down as they face legal complaints and accusations of "antisemitism" by the Zionist lobby.

The French associative AlterInfo news agency is facing what it qualifies as a "new attempt of intimidation and destabilization". In January, UEJF [1] and AIPJ [2], two Jewish militant associations, lodged and summoned AlterInfo to appear in court for a summary judgment. The judgment returned on January 18th ruled in the Jewish lobbies' favour, which prompted the news agency to lodge an appeal, in which they will be able to better explain and justify their position. [Note: AlterInfo cannot reveal too many details about the case, to prevent the justice from interpreting the news release as an interference in the judicial procedure.]

These legal proceedings, as reported on the alternative news site, follow repeated death threats as well as several attempts at bribery in order to influence the editors and their editorial line. The editorial line is defined as "the transmission of another version of what the dominant thought imposes, an alternative interpretation of the information conveyed by the commercial media".

This procedure is coupled with a media campaign, in the front line of which we find UEJF and AIPJ.

Alterinfo's editor reports in an article:
" [...] I will mention two articles which the militant UEJF and AIPJ associations published against me and against the Alter Info website in their community press. 'L'Actualité Juive' ('The Jewish News') and its very 'objective' scribe are not attempting this for the first time: over the last year, at least three insulting articles have been published by the same right-thinking author. See :
href=""> Jean-Yves Camus' last article in 'Actualité Juive' in pdf format

The CRIF[3], recently joined this assault by publishing a statement entitled: "Writ issued against an anti-Semitic and conspiracy focused website."

Alterinfo states:
"Those who, since our beginnings, have been denigrating us, have suddenly been more fearless after the complaint filed against us - which is easily seen by googling (always visible on some sites against which we do not exclude the possibility of raising a complaint). After the CRIF website which published: 'Writ issued against an anti-semitic and conspiratorial website', the website joins the list of the sectarian storytellers, where we can read in a resentful and very subjective rag published on (Caroline Fourest's site): ' [...] The text, extracted from 'Les Indigènes de la République' website, has already been republished by Bellaciao, Indymedia / Paris Ile-de-France, or the anti-Semitic and conspiracy focused website ' [Link to the article]

Alterinfo declares: "That we are being blamed, for lack of other lies, to be conspiracy focused doesn't bother us, and we claim our "conspira-Zionism", but the anti-Semitism, in addition to being an offence, we strongly deny; we shall see at the appropriate moment (when we have the financial means) if the justice will pronounce fairly on this issue."

The AlterInfo editors denounce the UEJF and AIPJ method which, according to them, follow the same logic: "Failing to silence us, they want to ruin us financially and psychologically in order to hinder our association's proper functioning".

The site appealed for donations on January 11th, to deal with expenses induced by the procedure. On February 18th, the association paid 9200 Euros for lawyer's fees, which covers "hardly half the expenses generated by this case". The pleading hearing for the appeal is scheduled on April 16th, 2008 at 2 pm; to send your donation please click here.

AlterInfo is in good standing among the French alternative media. "In January, the site had 312,749 visits and 1,686,434 readings for 171,503 different IP addresses. The number of readers of our site irritates, and perhaps even frightens, certain groups ", declares Alterinfo.

Among these site visitors are several renowned readers and institutions, all identified by their connection IP. "The diversity and relevance of the published texts seem to interest many more people than our opponents would like us to believe. If, as our detractors assume, our guests were only nut-cases or vulgar anti-Semites, how do you explain our readers' diversity?

To illustrate their deviancy and demonstrate that their charges are only fantasy, we retain listings of the connection IPs of the governmental institutions - governments and parliaments as well as various ministries (national and foreign), even the Elysée (French Presidency) occasionally (by the way, what could the president advisors look for on our site?) What is indicated by these numerous financial institutions - central banks of various countries, even the World Bank coming to glean information from our site, and the various national trade media which regularly also visit our pages?", reports Alterinfo.

These legal proceedings are all the more surprising as Alterinfo deals with the problems of Zionism (a xenophobic political ideology which is among others promulgated by Christians and condemned by numerous Jews) and emphasizes frequently the distinction, which it makes, between Zionism and Judaism.

Is it factual to call a person anti-American who criticizes Dick Cheney's neoliberal political ideology?

Don't be mistaken, in this case, it is the freedom of speech on the Internet that is targeted. AlterInfo needs you... NOW!

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for the good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

"It is not our detractors who will close our site and associative news agency, but the passivity and/or the laxness of our most diligent readers and our supposed supporters and their reaction to our current financial difficulties."

"Those who filed this lawsuit thought indeed that even if we won in the summary judgment or in appeal, we would be financially 'weakened'. If they partially 'succeeded', it becomes clear how many supporters we have, and to a certain extent, they only strengthened our determination to continue, and brought more attention to our purpose and cause. Furthermore, they gave us the occasion to see who were our true friends, and it is priceless.", declared Alterinfo editors.

Here are the four news releases published by the AlterInfo website to

- Alter Info communiqué (UEJF and AIPJ vs. Alter Info case) January 11th, 2008.
- Report: UEJF and J'ACCUSE vs. Alter Info -January 20th, 2008.
- Results of our call to donation and projects for the continuation [Alter Info editorial staff] - February 18th, 2008.
-Bis repetita UEJF/J'ACCUSE contre Alter Info: L'assignation en référé, nouveau procédé de censure ? - Zeynel CEKICI, Alterinfo's chief editor - 18 mars 2008

[1] The Union of the Jewish students of France ( UEJF) is a student association created in 1944, which represents the Jewish students in France (Wikipedia).

[2] J'Accuse (I accuse) - International Association for Justice (AIPJ), was founded in 2001, notably by people in charge of UEJF and LICRA. Marc KNOBEL,
researcher at the CRIF and at the Simon Wiesenthal Center is the president. About this matter, it is interesting to have a look at the text "The thought Police: CRIF at the National Magistracy School" on

[3] The French Jewish Organizations Council (known also under the CRIF acronym) federates, within a single representative organization, various
political, social or religious leanings in the French Jewry. To date, the CRIF federates more than sixty associations, among which the Unified Jewish Social Fund and the Universal Jewish Alliance (Wikipedia).

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