Thursday, November 12, 2009

Love That Big Government

The subpoena from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

Just gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling all over. No, wait, that's not a warm fuzzy feeling. It's a cold chill running down my spine.

2 comments:

Silke said...

Chris, according to the article you cite, “big government” withdrew its own subpoena because the U.S. attorney who issued it didn’t have the authority to ask for this information. Why did you only gave half the story in your post?

R said...

I find this interesting for two reasons: firstly there is the knee-jerk-reaction that 'it's the press and therefore infringes constitutional rights' by including them in criminal investigation (it's not as though they are being compelled to 'reveal a source of information') - in this situation how is tracking a (suspected) criminal by IP addresses different to requesting phone logs or video surveillance from any other enterprise or private citizen (if the crime is terror-related would you be concerned?). As for the privacy issue, if provide the logs would be a list of numbers, each comprising of four octets (eg 208.67.222.222). The only IP address that needs resolving (ie. connecting to a name/ISP account details)is the one that corresponds to the time of the event they attribute to the criminal (to use Silke's post above as an example, a time (8:22am) and a date (15 Nov) is attached to the post which is the kind of thing the authorities would be responding to, they compare time of event with traffic logged), all the remaining IP addresses could remain anonymous clusters of numbers.
Isn't often the Right that complains about how the law is toothless to catch the bad-guys, and they are protected by 'bleeding-heart-liberals'?

Secondly, the idea that 'big government' was responsible for this... perhaps this is a concept lost on those of us from countries whose form of government is based on the Westminster system. For us the line between 'government' and 'law' stops with the relevant minister's office: the police/other enforcement agencies/prosecutors are part of the executive, and judges/magistrates are the judiciary. For us, the government isn't part of law enforcement (not to confuse the issue that police etc are paid with tax-dollars).

As I said, maybe it's lost on those of us from countries whose government resembles the Westminster system, but I'd be surprised to hear how much of the law enforcement agencies/individuals in this case can be attributed to 'big government' and Chris' tireless quest to lay all america's ills at obama's feet - from what little american tv (a source as about as reliable as faux news) I watch I get the impression that some offices in law enforcement are politically appointed or the basis for a political career. Again, I'd be interested to know how much of the relevant american law enforcement in this story is actually government/political, and how much independent/politically neutral offices paid for by tax dollars?