Topic: Law Enforcement
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was a proposed multilateral treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the United Nations.
The agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In 2012, Mexico, the European Union and 22 countries that are member states of the European Union signed as well. One signatory (Japan) has ratified (formally approved) the agreement, which would come into force in countries that ratified it after ratification by six countries.
Industrial groups with interests in copyright, trademarks and other types of intellectual property said that ACTA was a response to "the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works". Organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America and International Trademark Association are understood to have had a significant influence over the ACTA agenda.
Organisations representing citizens and non-governmental interests argued that ACTA could infringe fundamental rights including freedom of expression and privacy. ACTA has also been criticised by Doctors Without Borders for endangering access to medicines in developing countries. The nature of negotiations was criticized as secretive and has excluded non-governmental organization, developing countries and the general public from the agreement's negotiation process and it has been described as policy laundering by critics including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Entertainment Consumers Association.
The signature of the EU and many of its member states resulted in widespread protests across Europe. European Parliament rapporteur Kader Arif resigned. His replacement, British MEP David Martin, recommended that the Parliament should reject ACTA, stating: "The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties". On 4 July 2012, the European Parliament declined its consent, effectively rejecting it, 478 votes to 39, with 165 abstentions.
- "ACTA will force border searches of laptops, smartphones for pirated content" | 2012-01-22 | 412 Upvotes 191 Comments
The FE-Schrift or Fälschungserschwerende Schrift (forgery-impeding typeface) is a sans serif typeface introduced for use on licence plates. Its monospaced letters and numbers are slightly disproportionate to prevent easy modification and to improve machine readability. It has been developed in Germany where it has been mandatory since November 2000.
The abbreviation "FE" is derived from the compound German adjective "fälschungserschwerend" combining the noun "Fälschung" (falsification) and the verb "erschweren" (to hinder). "Schrift" means font in German. Other countries have later introduced the same or a derived typeface for license plates taking advantage of the proven design for the FE-Schrift.
"Fruit machine" is a term for a device developed in Canada by Frank Robert Wake that was supposed to be able to identify gay men (derogatorily referred to as "fruits"). The subjects were made to view pornography; the device then measured the diameter of the pupils of the eyes (pupillary response test), perspiration, and pulse for a supposed erotic response.
The "fruit machine" was employed in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s during a campaign to eliminate all gay men from the civil service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the military. A substantial number of workers did lose their jobs. Although funding for the "fruit machine" project was cut off in the late 1960s, the investigations continued, and the RCMP collected files on over 9,000 "suspected" gay people.
The chair employed resembled that used by dentists. It had a pulley with a camera going towards the pupils, with a black box located in front of it that displayed pictures. The pictures ranged from the mundane to sexually explicit photos of men and women. It had previously been determined that the pupils would dilate in relation to the amount of interest in the picture per the technique termed 'the pupillary response test'.
People were first led to believe that the machine's purpose was to rate stress. After knowledge of its real purpose became widespread, few people volunteered for it.
- "Fruit machine (homosexuality test)" | 2019-06-27 | 40 Upvotes 35 Comments
The iron law of prohibition is a term coined by Richard Cowan in 1986 which posits that as law enforcement becomes more intense, the potency of prohibited substances increases. Cowan put it this way: "the harder the enforcement, the harder the drugs."
This law is an application of the Alchian–Allen effect; Libertarian judge James P. Gray calls the law the "cardinal rule of prohibition", and notes that is a powerful argument for the legalization of drugs. It is based on the premise that when drugs or alcohol are prohibited, they will be produced in black markets in more concentrated and powerful forms, because these more potent forms offer better efficiency in the business model—they take up less space in storage, less weight in transportation, and they sell for more money. Economist Mark Thornton writes that the iron law of prohibition undermines the argument in favor of prohibition, because the higher potency forms are less safe for the consumer.
- "Iron law of prohibition" | 2017-03-12 | 143 Upvotes 74 Comments
The practice of mass surveillance in the United States dates back to World War I wartime monitoring and censorship of international communications from, to, or which passed through the United States. After the First World War and the Second World War, the surveillance continued, via programs such as the Black Chamber and Project SHAMROCK. The formation and growth of federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA institutionalized surveillance used to also silence political dissent, as evidenced by COINTELPRO projects which targeted various organizations and individuals. During the Civil Rights Movement era, many individuals put under surveillance orders were first labelled as integrationists then deemed subversive. Other targeted individuals and groups included Native American activists, African American and Chicano liberation movement activists, and anti-war protesters.
The formation of the international UKUSA surveillance agreement of 1946 evolved into the ECHELON collaboration by 1955 of five English-speaking nations, also known as the Five Eyes, and focused on interception of electronic communications, with substantial increases in domestic surveillance capabilities.
Following the September 11th attacks of 2001, domestic and international mass surveillance capabilities grew immensely. Contemporary mass surveillance relies upon annual presidential executive orders declaring a continued State of National Emergency, first signed by George W. Bush on September 14, 2001 and then continued on an annual basis by President Barack Obama, and upon several subsequent national security Acts including the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendment Act's PRISM surveillance program. Critics and political dissenters currently describe the effects of these acts, orders, and resulting database network of Fusion centers as forming a veritable American police state that simply institutionalized the illegal COINTELPRO tactics used to assassinate dissenters and leaders from the 1950s onwards.
Additional surveillance agencies, such as the DHS and the position of Director of National Intelligence have exponentially escalated mass surveillance since 2001. A series of media reports in 2013 revealed more recent programs and techniques employed by the US intelligence community. Advances in computer and information technology allow the creation of huge national databases that facilitate mass surveillance in the United States by DHS managed Fusion centers, the CIA's Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) program, and the FBI's TSDB.
Mass surveillance databases are also cited as responsible for profiling Latino Americans and contributing to "self-deportation" techniques, or physical deportations by way of the DHS's ICEGang national database.
After World War I, the US Army and State Department established the Black Chamber, also known as the Cipher Bureau, which began operations in 1919. The Black Chamber was headed by Herbert O. Yardley, who had been a leader in the Army's Military Intelligence program. Regarded as a precursor to the National Security Agency, it conducted peacetime decryption of material including diplomatic communications until 1929.
In the advent of World War II, the Office of Censorship was established. The wartime agency monitored "communications by mail, cable, radio, or other means of transmission passing between the United States and any foreign country". This included the 350,000 overseas cables and telegrams and 25,000 international telephone calls made each week. "Every letter that crossed international or U.S. territorial borders from December 1941 to August 1945 was subject to being opened and scoured for details."
With the end of World War II, Project SHAMROCK was established in 1945. The organization was created to accumulate telegraphic data entering and exiting from the United States. Major communication companies such as Western Union, RCA Global and ITT World Communications actively aided the project, allowing American intelligence officials to gain access to international message traffic. Under the project, and many subsequent programs, no precedent had been established for judicial authorisation, and no warrants were issued for surveillance activities. The project was terminated in 1975.
In 1952, President Harry S. Truman established the National Security Agency (NSA) in 1952 for the purposes of collecting, processing, and monitoring intelligence data. The existence of NSA was not known to people as the memorandum by President Truman was classified.
When the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI published stolen FBI documents revealing abuse of intelligence programs in 1971, Senator Frank Church began an investigation into the programs that become known as the Church Committee. The committee sought to investigate intelligence abuses throughout the 1970s. Following a report provided by the committee outlining egregious abuse, in 1976 Congress established the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It would later be joined by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 1978. The institutions worked to limit the power of the agencies, ensuring that surveillance activities remained within the rule of law.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed The Patriot Act to strengthen security and intelligence efforts. The act granted the President broad powers on the war against terror, including the power to bypass the FISA Court for surveillance orders in cases of national security. Additionally, mass surveillance activities were conducted alongside various other surveillance programs under the head of President's Surveillance Program. Under pressure from the public, the warrantless wiretapping program was allegedly ended in January 2007.
Many details about the surveillance activities conducted in the United States were revealed in the disclosure by Edward Snowden in June 2013. Regarded as one of the biggest media leaks in the United States, it presented extensive details about the surveillance programs of the NSA, that involved interception of internet data and telephonic calls from over a billion users, across various countries.
- "Mass Surveillance in the United States" | 2019-07-04 | 82 Upvotes 76 Comments
The panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all prisoners of an institution to be observed by a single security guard, without the inmates being able to tell whether they are being watched.
Although it is physically impossible for the single guard to observe all the inmates' cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times. Thus, the inmates are effectively compelled to regulate their own behaviour. The architecture consists of a rotunda with an inspection house at its centre. From the centre the manager or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates. Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, sanatoriums, and asylums, but he devoted most of his efforts to developing a design for a panopticon prison. It is his prison that is now most widely meant by the term "panopticon".
SmartWater is a traceable liquid and forensic asset marking system (taggant) that is applied to items of value to identify thieves and deter theft. The liquid leaves a long lasting and unique identifier, whose presence is invisible except under an ultraviolet black light.
- "SmartWater – Anti-theft Asset Marking System" | 2014-03-22 | 12 Upvotes 2 Comments
A warrant canary is a method by which a communications service provider aims to inform its users that the provider has been served with a government subpoena despite legal prohibitions on revealing the existence of the subpoena. The warrant canary typically informs users that there has not been a court-issued subpoena as of a particular date. If the canary is not updated for the period specified by the host or if the warning is removed, users are to assume that the host has been served with such a subpoena. The intention is to allow the provider to warn users of the existence of a subpoena passively, without technically violating the court order not to do so.
Some subpoenas, such as those covered under 18 U.S.C. §2709(c) of the USA Patriot Act, provide criminal penalties for disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party, including the service provider's users.
National Security Letters (NSL) originated in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and originally targeted those suspected of being agents of a foreign power. Targeting agents of a foreign power was revised in 2001 under the Patriot Act to allow NSLs to target those who may have information deemed relevant to both counterintelligence activities directed against the United States and terrorism. The idea of using negative pronouncements to thwart the nondisclosure requirements of court orders and served secret warrants was first proposed by Steven Schear on the cypherpunks mailing list, mainly to uncover targeted individuals at ISPs. It was also suggested for and used by public libraries in 2002 in response to the USA Patriot Act, which could have forced librarians to disclose the circulation history of library patrons.
- "Warrant Canary" | 2013-06-13 | 289 Upvotes 128 Comments
The Tiananmen Square protests or Tiananmen Square Incident, commonly known in mainland China as the June Fourth Incident (Chinese: 六四事件; pinyin: liùsì shìjiàn, literally six-four incident), were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during 1989. The popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests is sometimes called the '89 Democracy Movement (Chinese: 八九民運; pinyin: bājiǔ mínyùn). The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Chinese: 天安門大屠殺; pinyin: tiān'ānmén dà túshā), troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military's advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded.
Set off by the death of pro-reform Communist general secretary Hu Yaobang in April 1989, amid the backdrop of rapid economic development and social changes in post-Mao China, the protests reflected anxieties about the country's future in the popular consciousness and among the political elite. The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy which benefited some people but seriously disaffected others, and the one-party political system also faced a challenge of legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, corruption, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy, and restrictions on political participation. The students called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, although they were highly disorganized and their goals varied. At the height of the protests, about 1 million people assembled in the Square.
As the protests developed, the authorities responded with both conciliatory and hardline tactics, exposing deep divisions within the party leadership. By May, a student-led hunger strike galvanized support for the demonstrators around the country, and the protests spread to some 400 cities. Ultimately, China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and other Communist Party elders believed the protests to be a political threat and resolved to use force. The State Council declared martial law on May 20 and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing. The troops advanced into central parts of Beijing on the city's major thoroughfares in the early morning hours of June 4, killing both demonstrators and bystanders in the process.
The international community, human rights organizations, and political analysts condemned the Chinese government for the massacre. Western countries imposed arms embargoes on China. The Chinese government made widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, suppressed other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists, strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press, strengthened the police and internal security forces, and demoted or purged officials it deemed sympathetic to the protests. More broadly, the suppression halted the policies of liberalization in the 1980s. Considered a watershed event, the protests set the limits on political expression in China up to the present day. Its memory is widely associated with questioning the legitimacy of Communist Party rule and remains one of the most sensitive and most widely censored topics in China.
- "1989 Tiananmen Square Protests" | 2020-04-20 | 202 Upvotes 45 Comments