Economic fallout from the NSA scandal

This should be a clear example of why the US policy of spying on everyone everywhere, and having secret court orders forcing companies to reveal information isn’t in anyone’s best interest..

Germany’s black-red “grand coalition” government has now tightened the rules for awarding sensitive public IT contracts. In cases of doubt, suspicious companies will now be excluded from such contracts. And companies now have to sign documents to the effect that no contracts or laws oblige them — nor can they be coerced — to pass on confidential data to foreign secret services or security authorities.

The new rule would seem to be aimed primarily at American companies. These companies, as numerous Snowden documents reveal, regularly pass on information to the U.S. spy agencies. At the NSA, a separate Special Sources Operations department deals with cooperation with “strategic partners,” as agents call such companies. The companies say they are merely following the laws of the respective country, and so far this explanation has been accepted.

But since April, any company that cannot guarantee that foreign services or authorities will not obtain any of their data is being excluded from federal contracts in Germany. A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior said that the aim of the new rule is to prevent “the flow of data worth protecting to foreign security authorities.”

Link (Techdirt)

CIA: No more vaccination campaigns in spy operations

… at least not until next time

The administration’s response Friday said that under CIA policy, established by CIA Director John Brennan in August 2013, “the Agency will make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers.” The letter also said the agency “will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs.”

The cynic in me also notices how this new policy doesn’t really stop the CIA from setting up their own fake “vaccination programs”, just from using genuine vaccination programs.

Link (WaPo)

DOJ’s Tone Deaf Criminal Charges Against Chinese Hackers Helps No One, Opens US Officials Up To Similar Charges

(…)  people are already pointing out that by firing the opening shot with criminal charges, the DOJ may be opening the floodgates against the NSA, FBI and others for similar charges in other countries. Obviously, China will almost certainly hit back with charges — possibly even trying to arrest some folks in that country. But the ridiculousness of the situation may also lead other countries to levy charges against specific individuals within US intelligence — thereby making life a lot more difficult for US intelligence officials in the near future.

Link (Techdirt)

Ladar Levison Explains How The US Legal System Was Stacked Against Lavabit

Last month, after Lavabit lost its appeal, we noted that the court avoided the major constitutional issues, focusing on how the company and its founder Ladar Levison mucked up procedural stuff early on, effectively barring him from raising the more serious constitutional issues on appeal. We pointed out that this was unfortunate on many levels, but also noted that this shows how important it is to get a good lawyer early on, rather than trying to handle things yourself. Levison has now written a more thorough explanation over at the Guardian, in which he seeks to explain why gag orders and other issues made it almost impossible for him to get good legal help, leading to the procedural issues later on

Link (Techdirt)

A company specializing in desserts, photography and t-shirts

Also known as “GOMABTreats and Photography”

Homemade as well as semi-homemade desserts from scratch. Adding photography and inspirational tee shirts in the future.

I don’t want to say that the guy is terrible at what he does, but maybe he should focus on doing one thing well, instead of trying to fund all his hobbies at once.

Link (Kickstarter)

Flag burning on the Norwegian Constitution Day

Burning the national flag is not illegal in Norway (since 2008), however, the police say they will refer this case to the police attorney who will decide on charges.

To quote the police: “We have spoken to the people involved and told them this action is very inappropriate, and people find it offensive. (…) Our [police] lawyer will be looking into the case to see what we can do”

So, it seems the police now have the authority to prosecute purely based on morals.

UPDATE:

It seems that the police have discovered that you cannot charge people with a non-crime, so they’ve decided to wait until a citizen reports them.

Original link (Dagbladet, Norwegian)
Translated link (Dagbladet, via Google Translate)