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The Struggle for Net Neutrality

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On February 9, Obama appointed Melissa Hathaway to be Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils - in charge of a 60-day interagency cybersecurity review, now completed. On August 3, she resigned citing personal reasons, but people close to her said the president's economic advisers marginalized her for favoring private sector regulatory options. As of late October, her position is still unfilled.

On April 21, NSA/Chief Central Security Service director, General Alexander, told RSA Conference security participants that "The NSA does not want to run cybersecurity for the government. We need partnerships with others. The DHS has a big part, you do, and our partners in academia. It's one network and we all have to work together....The NSA can offer technology assistance to team members. That's our role."

Spying is its role with DHS enforcement. Cooperatively with the administration, they threaten our constitutional freedoms. Infringing them can't be tolerated nor measures to subvert a free and open Internet.

Justice Department Targets Internet First Amendment Freedoms

On January 30, US Attorney Tim Morrison subpoenaed the Philadelphia-based Independent Media Center (IMC) to give an Indianapolis grand jury all IP address logs, times, and other ID information for June 25, 2008. In addition, under a gag order, its system administrator was prohibited from "disclos(ing) the existence (or contents) of this request" without Justice Department permission.

On November 9, EFF discussed the "Anatomy of a Bogus subpoena: How the Government Secretly Demanded the IP Address of Every Visitor to Political News Site Indymedia.us."

According to senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston:

"Secrecy surrounds law enforcement's communications surveillance practices like a dense fog. (Especially the) demands issued under 18 USC 2703 of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) that seek subscriber information or other user records from communications service providers."

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Court orders can require phone companies or online service providers to reveal them, "along with a gag order preventing (them) from disclosing the existence of the government's demand. More often, companies are simply (subpoenaed) by prosecutors without any court involvement; these demands, too, are rarely made public."

EFF called the gag order "Bogus (for) Demanding the Recipient's Silence Without Any Legal Basis." It's "ready to provide assistance (whenever) government knocks on someone's door with an unlawful, invalid, overbroad, free speech-threatening, privacy-invasive demand for your sensitive Internet data." It represented IMC and prevailed, in part because the site doesn't keep historic logs on its visitors.

On November 13, indymedia.us announced:

"....we've managed, after nearly a year of legal action on our behalf by (EFF), to successfully fight back against a bogus (DOJ) subpoena request in conjunction with a grand jury investigation....not only did (we) object to this blatantly illegitimate and overly broad request, but, per accepted Indymedia best practices, we do not keep such logs in the first place, in order to maximally ensure the privacy of our site users. Also troubling was the (gag order prohibiting any discussion of) the legal issue with the broader network of collectives cooperating on the indymedia/us site."

EFF stresses that "the level of secrecy surrounding how the government uses its surveillance authority under the Stored Communications Act encourages abuses," including a free and open Internet. What Jefferson understood by saying that:

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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