Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA Wiretapping Illegal; NSA Turns Up The Volume, Puts Hands Over Ears, Says "La La La"

Of course, all privacy-prone American citizens have known this for some time:  the NSA's phone-call compendium is unnecessary, unaffiliated with capturing ANY terrorists EVER, and is overall downright creepy.  Thankfully, today, a federal appeals court ruled it illegal.

They listen to everything, but this is the only thing they need to hear.
(Image courtesy alan.com.)

According to Reuters, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said that even the much-maligned Patriot Act was no excuse for the NSA to go snooping around our phone conversations (and texts, and picture messages.)

Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch, whom all Americans should buy a beer for, confirmed the ruling in a 97-page decision that the Nude Snapshots Agency's skullduggery is illegal.  Judge Lynch stated, "Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans. We would expect such a momentous decision to be preceded by substantial debate, and expressed in unmistakable language. There is no evidence of such a debate."

Pleads ignorance to massive malfeasance.
Leaves the wiretap tape rolling.
Leader of the "home of the brave"?!
(Image courtesy raceandcomics.blogspot.com.)

However, the appeals court did not rule on whether the actions were unconstitutional, nor did they call for a halt to the program (which is due to expire, along with the rest of the Patriot Act, on June 1st.)  Lynch explained that this would give Congress a chance to formally and officially decide what types of surveillance are acceptable (and, you know, LETTING US KNOW ABOUT IT THIS TIME.)  If Congress reauthorizes the objectionable Section 215 of the Patriot Act (the supposedly surveillance-enabling bit), further litigation could lead to the Supreme Court.

Other federal appeals courts in Washington D.C. and California are examining the case, which had previously been ruled lawful in December 2013 by district Judge William Pauley in Manhattan.  The NSA is currently getting away with their wiretapping weirdness thanks to secret approvals from a "national security court" established in 1978 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Apparently we're really good at all of this by now, and have been for some time.
(Image courtesy phandroid.com.)

The case was brought to court by the American Civil Liberties Union.  One of their lawyers, Alex Abdo, was passionate about Thursday's verdict.

"Mass surveillance does not make us any safer, and it is fundamentally incompatible with the privacy necessary in a free society," he correctly noted.

Somewhere in Russia, Edward Snowden should be cracking a bottle of vodka and celebrating just a little,
or a lot, or at least enough to forget that he's still in fucking Russia
because America's government brutally proved that they cannot handle the truth.
(Image courtesy ethicsstupid.com.)


New Abortion-Education App Provides Help To Women Worldwide

Abortion rights are a serious issue which affects women around the world, but can something as impersonal as technology bring like-minded women the help that they need?  Now, thanks to a new app, a notable organization thinks that they can help those women when society won't...

(Image courtesy umbc.edu.)

According to Vice magazine, a support and education network called Women On The Web is an internet-based group that offers embattled women more opportunities than what their nations or circumstances would allow.  Their new app, Safe Abortion With Pills, is a resource for women who want to terminate a pregnancy but do not have access to a medically-safe means of doing so.

"What you can do is select a country and a language, and then you get information on the law in the country," explained Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who had previously offered abortion advice to women via email. "You get information on which brands of {abortion pill} misoprostol you can buy, about fakes and other organizations, and there's an animation about how to do a medical abortion with misoprostol."

Dr. Gompert's Women On The Web organization has been in operation since 2006, and have sent pills to women in 130 countries (their website operates in 15 languages.) This summer, they're even pondering using a drone to deliver pills to remote or dangerous regions.

Is it wrong to call it the Anti-Stork?
(Image courtesy wired.co.uk.)

Considering that women can be beaten, jailed, or murdered regarding this particular choice for their bodies, it's important to give power back to the ladies who don't want their wombs occupied, for whatever reason. The decision is the childbearer's right to make, and this online network of women are willing to share their stories to show they're not wrong, lesser, or evil for making this critical decision.

Women On The Web's encouragement of women to share their abortion stories also works as a means of removing the social stigma from the act, and they maintain a world map of where the stories occur. The technology transposes a human touch to an issue faced by women the world over, lending direly-needed care and advice to women during their difficult situations.

The Safe Abortion With Pills app is soon to be completed and released for free on iTunes, but currently exists on Google Play. For those to whom maintaining their sexual health means risking their lives, this could be a safe and educational way to offer an answer.

Good teamwork, ladies.
(Image courtesy rjfs.org.)


Access to the Internet is a Human Right

In an interview with The Verge, outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski states that communication over the internet is a "basic right."  Excerpt:
The most important thing for people to understand is that the basic rule that people have a right to send information over the internet — even when they are using a wireless device — is part of the framework. If a carrier blocks a consumer's access to the internet, they are violating our rules.

Free Speech Online is a Human Right

From the EFF:

while the spread of the Internet has created an environment in which—in theory—anyone can be a writer, a photographer, a filmmaker, or a pundit, the reality is such that nearly half of the world's citizens access a fractured, fragmented Internet, and the threat of persecution for speaking out causes even more to censor their online speech. And the threats are increasing: Governments are ratcheting up Internet censorship, member countries of a UN body arefighting for more control of global networks, and reports of covert online surveillance abound. The Internet is great for the promotion of human rights, but human rights on the Internet are not always protected. 
In a landmark 2011 report, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression Frank LaRue called attention to the role of the Internet in enabling individuals the world over to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion, expression, and assembly. NGOs and governments alike have heeded LaRue's call in promoting these rights, but their fight continues as powerful forces seek to enact more control over our online actions. 
Today, on International Human Rights Day, EFF would like to take the opportunity to remind our readers that the right to free expression must be guaranteed whether we're shouting from the rooftops or from our Facebook walls.
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