Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Is Congress going too far with the Intellligence Authorization Act?

Now, civil libertarians are warning against the new Intelligence Authorization Act, which. Among other things, is supposed to keep classified information away from the press.

The heart of the bill seems to live in the idea that only a very small cadre of government officials would be able to discuss sensitive information with the press, and the lines between legally classified and merely sensitive information seem blurred.

The New York Times ran a major editorial against the bill Aug. 2 (website url), here

The bill appears to be S 3454 (or HR 5743) with govtrack link here

The bill should not be confused with S3414, which has to do with cybersecurity (Aug. 1). 

Most of the major media concerns over the bill seem to focus on whistleblowing by government officials who may suspect things are going wrong with domestic surveillance, such as with Jane Mayer’s story about Thomas Drake, “The Secret Sharer”, May 11, 2011, in the New Yorker here.

 I wondered what would happen if a blogger repeated information that was “leaked” in violation with the act.  Could the government go after parties that republish protected information, or only the sources of the original leak?

There have been a very small number of situations where information has come to me that I have not republished, but in a couple of cases I have actually called authorities.  I use my own judgment.  There are some things one sees that should not be published indiscriminately.
On the other hand, I had no compunction about embedding a Wikileaks video (from Bradley Manning?) of friendly fire in Iraq (the CF blog,  April 7, 2010; the YouTube still works.)  Am I violating an anti-espionage law? 

I found a PC World story by Nancy Gohring, reprinted in the Washington Post, May 1, 2007, about how a major ISP Verio had cut off service to Cryptome after repeated complaints from intelligence services (especially Britain), and found supporting the customer too risky or costly, link here

This older story suggests that even western democratic governments can manipulate major corporate webhosts into not supporting "nuisance" customers who threaten to publish leaks.  Yet Cryptome is "out there" now.

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