Monthly Archives: May 2008

Loopholes Closed by FTC in CAN-SPAM Act Rules

The U.S. FTC has updated its regulations regarding the CAN-SPAM Act (PDF) to require:
(1) an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender;

(2) the definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements;

(3) a “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address”; and

(4) a definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

FTC Approves New Rule Provision Under The CAN-SPAM Act, Press Release, FTC, May 12, 2008

These changes appear to tighten up what is required of marketers; they have to say who they are and they can’t weasel out by claiming a corporation is not a person.

However, it’s not clear to me why it’s opt-out that’s required; why not opt-in? I never trust a spammer to process an opt-out; I assume they’re just collecting more addresses. Plus the spammer still has ten days to process opt-out requests.


Band Uses CCTV to make Music Video

getoutclause.jpg This is clever:

Unable to afford a proper camera crew and equipment, The Get Out Clause, an unsigned band from the city, decided to make use of the cameras seen all over British streets.

With an estimated 13 million CCTV cameras in Britain, suitable locations were not hard to come by.

They set up their equipment, drum kit and all, in eighty locations around Manchester – including on a bus – and proceeded to play to the cameras.

The Get Out Clause, Manchester stars of CCTV. By Tom Chivers,, Last Updated: 6:54PM BST 08/05/2008

Then they requested copies of the coverage from the various companies and law enforcement organizations owning the cameras through the British Data Protection Act, and got enough to use. They even managed closeups.

So maybe there is a use for CCTV, even though it’s failed at crime prevention. It’s a huge arts subsidy program!


NSL: Internet Archive Exposes Lack of Security in National Security Letters

Brewster_Kahle_20021120.jpg The Internet Archive has for a decade been a cornerstone of the Internet, and the FBI was foolish to try to break it:
The FBI has withdrawn an illegal National Security Letter seeking information from an online library and has lifted a gag order that until Wednesday prevented any discussion of the information request.

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation helped the Internet Archive push back against what they say was an overly broad and unlawful request for information on one of its users. The FBI issued its National Security Letter in November, but ACLU, EFF and Archive officials were precluded from discussing it with anyone because of a gag order they say was unconstitutional.

After nearly five months of haggling, the FBI eventually withdrew its NSL, which requested personal information about at least one user of the Internet Archive. Founded in 1996, the archive is recognized as a library by the state of California, and its collections include billions of Web records, documents, music and movies.

Watchdogs prompt FBI to withdraw ‘unconstitutional’ National Security Letter, Nick Juliano, therawstory, Published: Wednesday May 7, 2008

The article goes on to say that the FBI has issued 200,000 National Security Letters, that almost none of those NSL have been challenged, yet every single time someone has challenged an NSL in court, the FBI has withdrawn it.

How do these NSL represent “Security”?

In any case, National Security Letters were authorized by the mis-named Patriot Act. Brewster Kahle has shown us how a real patriot acts: Continue reading

CCTV Security Fad Fails

CCTV2_228x342.jpg London probably has more security cameras per square inch than any other city, and:
The billions of pounds spent covering Britain with CCTV cameras has been an “utter fiasco” and failed to slash crime, Scotland Yard’s surveillance chief has said.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville said a Metropolitan Police pilot project found just three per cent of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images.

He claimed the vast swathes of money spent on cameras had been wasted because criminals don’t fear the cameras.

Billions spent on CCTV have failed to cut crime and led to an ‘utter fiasco’, says Scotland Yard surveillance chief, Just 3% of street robberies in London solved, By DANIEL BATES, Daily Mail, Last updated at 13:48pm on 6th May 2008

Needless to say, there are numerous efforts planned to make the cameras pay anyway.

The basic problem is:

But Mr Neville also castigated the police and claimed officers can’t be bothered to seek out CCTV images because it’s “hard work”.
CCTV is not the only security fad that hasn’t panned out:
For every 800 DNA samples being added by the police – including those taken from innocent people – only one crime is being solved.
We’ll see if either of these white elephant programs get terminated. I’m not holding my breath.