Unreasonable seizures (was Re: Scientology causes seizure…) [cr-95/9/3]


Sender: "Steve Eppley" <•••@••.•••>

>     U.S. Marshals seized computer equipment and files Friday
>from an Arlington man charged with posting copyrighted materials
>on the Internet criticizing the Church of Scientology.

In these modern times, shouldn't this seizure be considered a
violation of the Constitution?  Isn't it unreasonable to seize
someone's computer as evidence, when making a tape backup of the hard
disk will suffice?  (Better yet: make several backups--encrypted and
authenticated--and disperse them to safeguard against tampering, and
leave one of the authenticatable backups with the defendant.)

If ignorance of the law is no excuse, neither should be law
enforcement's ignorance of technology.

---Steve     (Steve Eppley    •••@••.•••)


Sender: George White <•••@••.•••>

On Fri, 1 Sep 1995, Cyber Rights wrote:

Government information should include many types of public data.  There
is a lot of information collected at all levels of government that is, in
principle, public.  Although this information is increasing stored in
machine readable form, much of it is difficult to obtain in a form that
is easy to use.  An increasing fraction of the public has the resources to
perform analyses with such public information that can have implications
for decisions.  There are examples where decisions were based on
erroneous analyses or invalid data.  Public scrutiny can help reduce
the incidence of such errors.  Access to machine readable data can
help the "public" provide higher quality input to elected government.

A case history on access to public data in Maine is available at

> Some people think email to legislators will make a big difference in
> how people feel about government, and how responsive it is.  But many
> others have pointed out that email will soon be abused with massive
> mailings of form letters (as paper mail is now).  ...

I agree that the likely path is towards online voting, but there is a
second path that uses net resources to develop high quality submissions,
particularly in areas of local responsibility (e.g., municipality or county
level decisions), based on input from interested parties around the
world.  Subjects such as land use bylaws, regulations for recreational
vehicles, etc. are examples where local decisions could benefit from
the perspective the internet could provide: experiences in other
jurisdictions, example wordings, etc. are not often available to
local decision processes.

> ...
> Again, I agree with the critics.  Revolutions are led by small groups
> of people with a full-time commitment to their goal; they have
> persuaded the masses of their trustworthiness but do not consult
> everybody for every decision.

> ...
> Essentially, I think we don't need better ways to talk to our
> legislators, but better ways to talk to each other.   ...
While I basically agree, the issue of access to public information is
key.  Currently legislators often make decisions based on a single
analysis whose assumptions are never examined.  We should be using net
resources to improve the quality of our discussions and thus the input
we can make to government.  For this to happen we need the raw information.

There has been plenty of noise about things (naughty pictures and
bomb building manuals) that some want excluded from the internet, but
we must also consider things that are not on the net but should be.
If individuals will install filters to control what things on the net
can be seen, perhaps access to public records should be viewed as a
filtering problem: by default, all public records are visible unless
through due process we install a filter.

George White <•••@••.•••> <•••@••.•••>

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
                 Moderator:  CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)

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