Category: Technology

Join Us for the 2015 Civil Liberties and Student Data Privacy Summit

REGISTER AT THE LINK BELOW

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2015-civil-liberties-and-student-data-privacy-summit-tickets-19101230294

Lady Liberty Privacy

2015 Civil Liberties and Student Data Privacy Summit

When:  Saturday, November 21, 2015, 7:30 AM to 2:30 PM

Where: University of North Alabama Performance Center

Why:  Today’s hottest issues from mass student data collection to privacy violations. What can be done about the growing privacy invasions?

Amazing speakers:  Sean Collin- owner of International IP Watch, Emmett McGroarty with American Principles Project, Dr. Karen Effrem- Director of Education Liberty Watch, Stephanie Bell -member of the Alabama State Board of Education, Dr. Tim Collins- Chair of Political Science at UNA and more.

Registration: See Eventbrite link above. Must bring ticket to attend.

Light breakfast and full lunch provided to registrants!

Bring your legislator with you! Privacy means liberty! Call (205) 879-7096 with questions

Host: Eagle Forum of Alabama Education Foundation alabamaeagle.org

 Co-host: College Republicans of University of North Alabama. Sponsors: Alabama Free Market Alliance, National Association of Scholars, University of North Alabama, Montgomery Federalist Society Chapter, Home School Legal Defense Association.

There is NO Internet Sales Tax Legislation Pending

There is an email alert circulating regarding an internet sales tax bill asking people to make calls on it. This is an alert we sent out LAST year during the legislative session. There is NOT a bill introduced on the internet sales tax this year and it is not possible to use it to close the shortfall in the general fund budget. If you have any questions, please call or email our Exec. Dir. Brooklyn Roberts at 205-441-9879 or [email protected]

Update on SOPA-Better, But Still Not Good

SOPA a.k.a. the Stop Online Piracy Act is the first step to letting the federal government censor the internet.  As we said here, SOPA is dangerous. It will, for the first time ever, require private companies like Google, Mozilla, Facebook, Twitter, and others to censor internet content.  The bill requires social networking sites and search engines to block content that the entertainment industry decides “facilitates online piracy or copyright infringement.”

In its original version it would have also:

  • Made social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter responsible for content posted by their users.  
  • Banned links to sites that are deemed offending even in search results
  • Mandated the use of deep packet inspection by ISPs to watch all traffic of all users.

Some of these controversial provisions were taken out in committee.  But the changes don’t go far enough to negate the censorship concern.

James Gattuso gives the clearest description of what the legislation is authorizing in his WebMemo for the Heritage Foundation:

As it is currently drafted, this is how SOPA would work: First, it allows the U.S. Attorney General, as well as individual intellectual property holders, to sue allegedly infringing sites in court. The site would have to be proven to be a foreign site “directed towards” the U.S. and that it would be subject to seizure if it were U.S.-based. Alternatively, a suit could be brought by a private plaintiff, who would have to show that the site is “dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” That test, in turn, can be met if the site or a portion of the site is “primarily” designed, operated, or marketed to “enable or facilitate” infringement. The bill requires that attempts be made to notify the website operator of any such legal action, but legal proceedings would go forward even if no response is received.

If the court finds in favor of the plaintiff, a range of third-party restrictions would go into effect. Specifically, in cases brought by the Attorney General, to the extent “technically feasible and reasonable,” a court order would:

  1. Require Internet service providers to prevent subscribers from reaching the website in question. This would be done by severing the mechanism by which the domain name entered by Web users is connected (“resolved”) to the proper IP address;
  2. Prohibit search engines such as Google from providing direct links to the foreign website in search results;
  3. Prohibit payment network providers, such as PayPal or credit card firms, from completing financial transactions affecting the site; and
  4. Bar Internet advertising firms from placing online ads from or to the affected website.

In cases brought by a private party, only the restrictions on payment networks and advertising firms would apply.

One particular controversial provision that would have allowed intellectual property holders to trigger the above described third party restrictions based on their own unilateral determination that a site was violating their property rights was taken out.  Now, as noted above, intellectual property holders will have to get a court order to trigger these restrictions. Gattuso lists several other concerns with the current version. While this is better, it is not good enough.

When considering regulations, we must look at the potential benefit vs the cost.  The risk of starting a slippery slope with this legislation is too great.  More importantly, there are other ways we can address the problem and achieve the same result–see the Wyden/Issa proposal.

Bottom line:  SOPA is a huge risk and even with improvements it still has the potential to bring federal censorship of the internet to a whole new level.

S&P Says Internet Sales Tax Bills Will Yield Little

Wall Street credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s say the current push by states to collect sales tax on internet purchases will yield little in the way of increased revenues:

America’s state governments won’t see many revenue gains any time soon if they triumph in battles to tax sales by out-of-state Internet retailers, a leading Wall Street credit-ratings group said on Monday.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that state governments were increasingly targeting Internet sales outside their borders but still faced legal hurdles and were unlikely to see much top-line benefit soon.

“At this time, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services does not think that the amount of revenue states are foregoing by not collecting tax on Internet sales is significant enough to influence state or local ratings,”

States across the country are facing tough budget battles this year and Alabama is no exception. State legislators are under a lot of pressure by retail associations and others to help close that gap by collecting sales tax on internet purchases. Before they act on that, legislators should consider the cost of imposing a tax increase on the people of Alabama. Is an insignificant increase in revenue worth asking citizens to pay more sales tax in what are already tough economic times?

FCC Moving Forward On Net Neutrality

I’ve written before about the danger of net neutrality and its threat to free speech. Unfortunately, last December the FCC passed new net neutrality regulations despite significant opposition.  A little over a week ago the FCC finally published the new rules in the Federal Register starting a 60 day comment period before they become law on November 20.  It is imperative that we keep this from happening.

The House has passed a resolution (H.J.R. 37) that will nullify the new regulations.  The Senate has 51 days left to act.  They must pass the joint resolution and get it to President Obama’s desk.  Opposition to net neutrality is bipartisan and will put a lot of pressure on the President to sign.

So what can you do?

Call your Senator and ask him to move to pass the same resolution (H.J.R. 37) and stop the federal government’s takeover of the internet!


Capitol Switchboard:  202-224-3121

Obama Wants To Implement National Internet ID Card

Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  Well, those words are even more terrifying coming from the Obama administration.

On January 7, 2011, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined the White House cybersecurity advisor to announce a new government ID card that will contain all your private, personal data like passwords, bank account numbers, etc., and will track your web activity.  The White House wants to create an “identity ecosystem” that will centralize personal information and credentials.  For more info on the supposedly “voluntary” program, check out this editorial from the Washington Times.

The absurdity in all of this is the fact that the government doesn’t have such a great record of keeping information secure.  One just has to think back a couple of months to the WikiLeaks scandal to realize data security and government don’t go hand in hand.  The Washington Times article has a good list of other instances where the government has tried and failed to secure private information.

Ability to secure the data aside, the potential misuse of data is another serious problem.  They claim the Commerce Department is the only agency that will have access to the information, however, it is a short jump to imagine Homeland Security gaining access.  Also, the data would be worth a large amount of money in the wrong hands.  The temptation to sell the information would be great.

Is all of our personal data really something we want to trust the government with?  For the reasons stated above and many, many more, I’m going with a resounding…NO.