On Sunday, the families of several terrorist victims sued Facebook under an American anti-terrorism law. The victims died in multiple terrorist attacks in Israel in 2015 and 2016, and the families are seeking at least $1 billion in damages.
The plaintiffs allege that the social networking giant is liable as it provides “material support” to Hamas—which the United States government considers a terrorist group—by allowing its leaders and followers to openly use the service.
Gamasutra, which broke the story, reports that when Khan submitted his request, he received an unusual denial, one explaining that his name had come up as “a match against the Specially Designated Nationals list maintained by the United States of America’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.” Epic was, in other words, refusing Khan the opportunity to try out its new game simply because his name resembles that of someone who might be financially involved with terrorism.
Khan tweeted a a screengrab of the rejection form and hashtaged it “#Islamophobia.” Surprisingly, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney replied to another tweet about the issue, claiming that it had been caused by an “[o]verly broad filter related to US trade restrictions.”
A comment to this story hit the bullseye:
In the 1980s we passed forfeiture laws to battle the largest criminals but look where we are now. If you want to know how the special powers we’re giving government to battle terrorism will end up, just look at this program.
Reports today in the New York Times and ProPublica confirm what EFF’s Jewel v. NSA lawsuit has claimed since 2008—that the NSA and AT&T have collaborated to build a domestic surveillance infrastructure, resulting in unconstitutional seizure and search of of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of Americans’ Internet communications.
In remarks in Iowa, Jeb celebrated all his brother did “to create a secure environment for our country” after 9/11.
Children are being raped, citizens murdered, and lost souls trafficked for sex and the police can’t do anything about it thanks to Apple and Google, senior government lawyers and a top cop have claimed.
In an op-ed in The New York Times, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr; Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police; Paris’ chief prosecutor François Molins; and Javier Zaragoza, chief prosecutor of the High Court of Spain, said that the current situation is unsupportable and legal changes are needed to keep the public safe.
British government snoops claimed it was too much hassle for them to use intercepted communications data in court proceedings because the accused could use the info to prove their innocence, it has emerged.
Police officers, spies and local council bin inspectors were all asked for their views of Blighty’s surveillance laws as part of the Independent Terrorism Legislation Reviewer’s, er, review of Blighty’s snooping laws, which was published on Thursday.
One of the questions asked was why, uniquely in the West, Britain’s state-sponsored snoopers do not use the evidence they gather against alleged criminals in legal proceedings. The response, at paragraph 9.16 was revealing:
Part of the reason for this is the extensive disclosure requirement in criminal proceedings: were it sought to rely on the product of intercept conducted over a period of several months, the defence could legitimately request a transcript of the entire intercept product with a view to searching it for exculpatory material.
In plain English, this meant the authorities were worried that using communications data hoovered up under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act would mean alleged crims could demand access to the same data – and use it to show they were innocent of the crimes they were charged with.
The problem is that it was tested 70 times.
Arguably, this graphic from the ABC News report is not entirely accurate, though, because failing 67 out of 70 times is actually a 95.7% failure rate, not 95%. Of course, the banner actually says that “TSA FAILS TO FIND 95% OF GUNS, EXPLOSIVES,” but you can’t fail to find 95% of a gun, except that I guess if you have failed to find all of it you could also argue that you have necessarily not found 95% of it, or any lesser included amount, really. It’s all in how you look at it.
Perhaps the TSA will look at it as an improvement over past results, and because it has been so remarkably incompetent for so long its spokesthings could actually say that with nearly straight faces. Back in March 2006, which was already almost five years after 9/11, we learned that government investigators had tried to smuggle bomb parts through security checkpoints 21 times and had succeeded 21 times. Or, to put it another way, the TSA had succeeded in detecting them approximately no times.
Almost exactly seven years and many billions of dollars later, I noted another series of tests with similar results. Although in that case the TSA did detect one of four investigators who tried to smuggle bombs onto planes—a bomb-detection failure rate of just 75%—my respect for its efforts was tempered somewhat by the fact that the guy they caught “was detected with an IED hidden inside a doll [that] sources told the [Washington] Post … had wires sticking out of it and was quite obvious.” So, in terms of actual operational success I’m still counting that one as a no.
I therefore have little doubt that the TSA will spin this as a sign of improvement, since compared to its earlier efforts its success rate has gone up substantially. You might even say “infinitely” or “incalculably.” Yes, that’s it: TSA would like to point out that its success rate has increased by an amount that is literally impossible to calculate.
On the bright side, it has successfully detected people openly carrying Arabic flashcards. To my knowledge, it gets those people 100% of the time.