The White House is planning to ease FBI access to your Internet records.

Just four words – “electronic communication transactional records” – will allow the FBI access to online info without a judge’s approval. Info that includes addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. Lawyers assure us it doesn’t include the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.

The Washington Post last week reported that the Obama administration wants to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation. The e-mails can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority and require the recipient to provide the requested information and keep the request secret.

Industry lawyers and privacy advocates say this is an expansion of government power through so-called national-security letters. They say the move is yet another example of Obama retreating from his campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security.

Surfin’ Safari readers knew about WikiLeaks weeks ago

When news broke last week that 92,000 classified military documents about the Afghanistan war were released by WikiLeaks, you already knew it was coming.

Regular readers of Surfin’ Safari know that on June 14 I reported that American officials were on the lookout for the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, to convince him to not publish thousands of confidential and potentially hugely embarrassing diplomatic cables that offer unfiltered assessments of Middle East governments and leaders.

The following week, on June 21, I reported that Salon’s Glenn Greenwald explored the mystery even further, raising some intriguing questions about Army soldier Bradley Manning asking, “Why would a 22-year-old private in Iraq have unfettered access to 250,000 pages of diplomatic cables so sensitive that they ‘could do serious damage to national security’?”

Now, military investigators are checking computers used by Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst charged this month with leaking classified information, to determine if he also leaked thousands of military documents published Sunday by WikiLeaks. More as this story unfolds.

Were you among 100 million Facebook users published online?

An online security consultant at used code to scan 500 million Facebook profiles for information not hidden by privacy settings. The result? A file that allows anyone to search various different types, that has been downloaded by several thousand people. The code gave him 171 million names of which 100 million were unique.

“As I thought more about it and talked to other people, I realized that this is a scary privacy issue. I can find the name of pretty much every person on Facebook,” he wrote. “Once I have the name and URL of a user, I can view, by default, their picture, friends, information about them, and some other details. If the user has set their privacy higher, at the very least I can view their name and picture. So, if any searchable user has friends that are non-searchable, those friends just opted into being searched, like it or not! Oops :)”

Facebook downplayed the issue, saying no private data had been compromised. But the code breaker’s actions means Facebookers who had set their privacy settings so their names did not appear in Facebook’s search system can now be found if they were friends with anyone whose name was searchable.

Oops is right.


If you own an Apple iPhone or other smartphone, you can unlock the device to use applications not authorized by the company.

U.S. Librarian of Congress’ James H. Billington added the practice, described as “jailbreaking,” to a list of actions that don’t violate copyright protections.

In a published report, jailbreaking is described as the practice of unlocking a phone (and particularly an iPhone) so it can be used on another network and/or run other applications than those approved by Apple. The practice has technically been illegal for years, but no one has been sued or prosecuted for it.

The decision was made as part of a periodic review by the Library’s copyright office under a 1998 law into whether legal uses of technology were being blocked. The ruling was a victory by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco–based privacy-rights group that petitioned the library.

Copyright protection not applicable here

The FCC announced a few other significant rules, one which allows professors, students and documentary filmmakers, who for “noncommercial” purposes can break the copy-protection measures on DVDs to be used in classroom or other not-for-profit environments.

Google moves on Microsoft market

Google is getting ready to sell its e-mail and other Web-hosted applications to a wider range of government agencies after winning a prized security clearance. Google is hoping that more federal, state and local government agencies will buy its online applications now that they have the U.S. government’s seal of approval.

This marks Google’s latest stab at siphoning customers away from rival Microsoft Corp., whose “Office” suite of e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet and other programs is widely used by government agencies and businesses.

Meanwhile on another front, Google is talking with makers of popular online games, hoping to expand a social-networking service that would compete with Facebook.

Google has been in talks with top developers like Playdom Inc., Electronic Arts Inc.’s Playfish and Zynga Game Network Inc. – a company in which Google recently took a financial stake – to offer their social “Google Me” games on a new service it is building. The games would be part of broader social-networking initiative that is under development and Google’s latest attempt to capture users and advertising dollars that are flowing to social-networking sites Facebook, Twitter and others.

Tweet smarter

How to see a list of who you are blocking on Twitter? Here’s a bird’s-eye view.

The real story behind the 104-year-old who joined Twitter.

Researchers use Twitter Tweets to measure moods. Really!

Top wireless blogs – wireless?

Through the rearview mirror

1945 – U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima

1964 – Three civil-rights activists found dead

1984 – Euro Court condemns phone-tapping

1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait

1998 – U.S. embassies in Africa bombed

Now Playing at the Princess in Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Charles Welty of Paramount, Calif., and Russell B. Dobbyn, Stennis Space Center, Miss., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of the character George Harris in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the 1987 made-for-TV adaptation of the classic novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The film’s lead character, Uncle Tom, was portrayed by Avery Brooks.

Over time, a generation or more has been taught revisionist history, given to believe the name “Uncle Tom” is a pejorative term for a black person who behaves in a subservient manner to whites. To the contrary, Uncle Tom was honorable and principled in the face of all odds.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” sold more books than any other in history except the Bible. It was written by a woman during the Civil War period, who in her day might have been considered a “rebellious woman” – a woman who led the issue of slavery and freeing slaves.

The quote was: “We got no money, no food, no home, and I feel like we own the world.”

This week’s quote: “The law. Nothing is right or wrong! It’s either the law or it’s not the law. Well, we got a problem here, because it’s not working anymore. It turns out that right and wrong count.”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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