Senate Votes To Save Net Neutrality But the Battle Hasn’t Been Won Just Yet

Good news from the U.S. Senate! Consumers win another battle. On Wednesday, the Senate voted to reinstate the net neutrality protections the Federal Communications Commission decided to repeal late last year.

However, the battle isn’t over. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for action and if it is approved there it will need President Trump’s signature. If all that happens, Internet service providers will have to continue following rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.

Continue reading

US Appeals Court Rules Border Agents Need Suspicion To Search Cellphones

Traditionally, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrol searches at the border didn’t require any suspicion on the theory that the government has a strong sovereign interest in regulating what enters and exits the country. But there is caselaw indicating that some border searches are so invasive that they do require some kind of suspicion. When the courts first applied the Fourth Amendment to border searches of computers, they held that searches of computers were ordinary searches that required no suspicion. As a result, border agents traditionally have been free to seize anyone’s cell phone and examine anything and everything stored within the phone with no reason required.

Now a new case before the Fourth Circuit has resulted in a ruling that at least some suspicion is required for a forensic search of a cell phone seized at the border.

Details may be found in an article by Orin Kerr in the web site at

Lawmakers Move To Block Government From Ordering Digital ‘Back Doors’

Finally! Some common sense from Congress.

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have introduced legislation that would block the federal government from requiring technology companies to design devices with so-called “back doors” to allow law enforcement to access them. From a report in The Hill web site:

“A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have introduced legislation that would block the federal government from requiring technology companies to design devices with so-called back doors to allow law enforcement to access them.”


Continue reading

The Russian Government wants to Block Zello, But Can It Really Do that?

I wrote about Zello, the free walkie-talkie emulation software for cell phones, a few days ago at It is a great app that gives users excellent one-to-one and one-to-many communications capabilities. Now the Russian government thinks that Zello is an evil thing. Well, it is evil in the eyes of a repressive government. The Russian government wants to block all usage of Zello. It seems that Zello is another example of the type of secure communications service which the Russian regime is determined to stop its people from using.

The regime of President Vladimir Putin sees apps like Zello as being a threat rather than a vital communications tool. That is because apps of this nature are frequently used by opposition groups to coordinate protests and opposition to the Putin regime.

There is but one problem: blocking all Zello users within the country will be a difficult, maybe impossible, task.

Continue reading

Cops use Google to Obtain Data About Mobile Devices Near Crime Scenes

Police in North Carolina are attempting to use tech “as a hack for their job” by obtaining warrants to force Google to hand over unique data from all mobile devices within acres of a crime scene.

WRAL out of Raleigh, North Carolina, reported on a recurring tactic that the cops there are employing: using Google as an investigative tool to reveal the identity of every mobile user within areas, which includes both homes and businesses. It’s happened at least four times.

Details may be found in an article in the CSO Online web site at:

Congress Could Sneak a Bill Threatening Global Privacy Into Law

“As Congress scrambles to agree on a spending bill, a dangerous piece of legislation that would redefine how law enforcement collects data is being snuck in at the last minute. Through convoluted provisions, the CLOUD Act would give the Executive Branch broad power in deciding how data is exchanged between countries and could severely compromise Americans’ privacy.”

Details may be found in an article by Rhett Jones in the Gizmodo web site at:

23 Attorneys General Refile Challenge To FCC Net Neutrality Repeal

Despite overwhelming opposition from Congress, technical experts, advocacy organizations, and the American people, the FCC has voted by a 3 to 2 margin of the commissioners to eliminate 2015’s Open Internet Order and the net neutrality protections it established. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a huge gift to his former employer, Verizon Communications, and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) when he proposed to allow the the ISPs to spy on their customers’ online activities and then either use that information themselves or sell the information to the highest bidders. He managed to convince three of the five FCC commissioners to go along with the proposal and it became a fact this week. The new rules repeal the consumer protections put in place a few years ago that prohibited the online spying.

Consumers, privacy advocates, and many others have objected to the new rollback of consumer protection. Several states have recently enacted their own rules prohibiting prohibiting the online spying by ISPs within their own states. Now the Attorneys General from 22 states and the District of Columbia on Thursday refiled legal challenges intended to block the Trump administration’s repeal of landmark rules designed to ensure a free and open internet from taking effect.

Continue reading