Canary Watch deduces federal gag orders

The US government and its courts routinely demand personal user information from email services, banks, phone companies and other online, telecommunications or financial services. These demands compel services to disclose details about email, phone calls and financial transactions. They also gain access to hordes of so called “metadata”, which can be just as personal as a user’s phone calls. It includes information about user relationships, locations, browser configuration and even search history. Many of these demands, such as the infamous National Security Letter stipulate that the service may not divulge that they were asked for the information in the first place. In fact, they can’t say anything about a de facto investigation!…

My friend, Michael, occasionally points out that skirting the law with Wink-Wink-Nod-Nod is still likely breaking the law. His point, of course, is that law is often based on intent. So with this in mind, what do you think about this clever reporting service?…

Canary WatchA service called, Canary Watch, lets online services like Verizon or Google send a continuous stream of data that repeatedly states “We are not currently compelled to turn over any data on our users”. Naturally, if the service suddenly refrains from sending the statement, a reasonable person can infer that the government is demanding personal information with the usual GAG order attached.

If you extrapolate this technique, a service like Verizon could continuously broadcast a massive list of usernames (or shorter hash codes representing individual users). These are the users who are not currently being investigated. Any change to the data stream would allow a 3rd party to infer and alert users who are the subject of an investigation.

With the launch of this service, Canary Watch wins the 2015 Wild Duck Privacy Award. This is the type of cleverness that we like! Why? Because it enhances transparency and helps everyone to control their own privacy, if they choose to do so.

Wild Duck Privacy Award

Further reading: Activists create website to track & reveal NSA, FBI info requests

Naming Names: Savannah’s molesters

Today’s point of view is about rapists, molesters, teenage monsters and a Kentucky judge who facilitates their ilk. She is an inadvertent enabler—Not guilty of intent, but incapable of understanding the duty of a court: justice, punishment and deterrence. (Take note: This judge is female. Is she incapable of imagining herself or a daughter walking a mile in the shoes of this victim?)

The names Will Frey III and Austin Zehnder will probably not garnish the widespread notoriety of other recent predators, such as Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky or Colorado cinema shooter James Holmes. But what differentiates Frey and Zehnder from evil peers is the protection bestowed on them by a heartless judge and her retrograde court in Louisville Kentucky.

When 17 year old Savannah Dietrich engaged in underage drinking at a party last year, she became the target of two pimply faced teens. Like drooling wolves picking up the scent of injured prey, they undressed her, sexually assaulted her and posted close up photos of their joy ride on the internet. Cute–or so they thought. Harmless? Apparently it was harmless for these boys. How so?…

Savannah Dietrich

You see, these boys not only got away with assault–the victim was prohibited from talking about her ordeal! In Jefferson County, if you pass out and get sexed up by creeps, you also get slapped upside the head by a judge that can’t distinguish between felon and victim.

Of course, these kids were horsing around and they are just minors. Right? That’s how the great state of Kentucky sees it. Unable to evade capture, the sadistic youths pleaded guilty, and the judge accepted (or perhaps offered-?) a plea bargain. Was Savannah or her attorney party to this wrist slap? Of course not. Rape victims can’t bring criminal charges—they are only ‘witnesses’. Perhaps the court ’s most outrageous act was to seal the record and order the victim to remain silent about the crime, the punishment, and even the identities of her assailants (Whazzat?!?).

I, for one, respectfully disagree with the court. Wait a minute…That’s not truthful. I have NO respect for this court! Like, Savannah, I cannot accept that a just and democratic government gags the result of a guilty plea in a criminal case. This is my response to the state: Show us that you have more backbone than Kentucky blue grass, a bucket of fried chicken, and thoroughbred horses. Don’t mock justice in Jefferson. Instead of relying on web vigilantes like me, post the photos below on your public crime log.

The perpetrators are shown here.* Dear readers: Copy these photos. Blog about these boys. Make back ups to your cloud storage and tag them. Let them be searched from across the world. Show the state of Kentucky that the truth knows no bounds.

Austin Zehnder & Will Frey III (redacted)

*Note that I did not say alleged perpetrators. These boys pleaded guilty. They were convicted. But their punishment will probably be overturned and purged from the record when they turn 18.

First hunted and then gagged

But what of Savannah. She has recurring nightmares. She has been dragged through hell. And what did the court offer her? A gag order! Fortunately, she is a brave girl. She understands that freedom and justice come at a price. Sometimes it requires personal risk. Dietrich published a tweet and named her attackers. She openly defied the court and taunted them to “Come get me”. Well, that’s exactly what they did. At the end of this month, Savannah Dietrich faces a contempt hearing. What’s at stake? How about her freedom? $500 and up to six months in prison.

Can you believe it Wild Ducks?! This is America: Land of Liberty, Home of the Free, democratic, capitalist, and just a little bit half-assed. What a country!

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