Friday, April 22, 2011

Work for Monday April 25th

Option I

Go to the website

This is a collection of partially redacted FBI files for various Americans. The video we watched mentioned that the FBI followed Eleanor Roosevelt and maintained a file on her life and activities. This collection includes her file as well as many others.

Each person in the group should choose at least two people on the list and explore their files. Consider each of the following:

How much of the file is redacted?

Does this person appear to be engaged in illegal activity?

If so, what is it?

If not, why do you think the FBI maintained the file?

Option II

The website contains information about surveillance from different periods of American history.

Look through the information. Look in depth at at least one of these eras and familiarize yourself with the events that are described.

Also compare the eras to each other and consider what has or hasn't changed over time.

Look at who was president during each time period and which political party they represented. Is this a partisan issue? - that is, is one party better or worse than the other when it comes to surveillance and domestic intelligence activities?

Option III

Use the website,21428,c_secret_wiretaps,00.shtml

Read through some of the Time magazine articles related to privacy and wiretapping.

1) What are some of the common issues raised over the years?

2) What attitudes about wiretapping and surveillance are expressed by the people quoted in the articles?

3) How do the issues change over the years between 1928 and 1978?

Summary of Info from this past week

In class this week, we talked about some of the history of wiretapping and eavesdropping in the US between the Olmstead decision in 1928 and the FISA law in 1978.

Here is an interesting memo from the US Senate summarizing much of what we talked about.

There is also a good summary at this web-site for a course at University of North Carolina Law School.

I thought that it would be helpful to organize what we talked about in class and link to some websites that provide additional information on these topics.

Olmstead v. US (1928)
This was the case in which Justice Louis Brandeis wrote his dissenting opinion on the "right to be let alone."

Federal Communications Act of 1934
This is the act that made it illegal to intercept and divulge wire communications. There was no consideration of wireless communications or bugging, because the technology for these wasn't available yet.

Nardone v. US (1939)
Determined that wiretaps by federal agents were illegal under the FCA of 1934.

Silverman v. US (1961)
Decided that a listening device that invades the structure of a building is a violation of the 4th amendment.

Katz v. US (1967)
Determined that all wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping violate the 4th amendment.

This last decision resulted in the Congress passing the

Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act of 1968

This law made it legal for law enforcement agents to eavesdrop and/or wiretap provided that these activities had been ok'd by the court.

Lawrence Plamondon case of 1972
In this case, it was determined that federal agents had used wiretaps without warrants.

Watergate Scandal
A break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. turned out to have been a plan to plant a bug in the office of the Chairman of the DNC. The break-in was directed by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, and consequently, by President Nixon himself. Nixon resigned two years later, in August of 1974.

This led to the
Church Committee
A Senate Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. The final report of the Church Committee is here. (This document is about 45 pages of text with 25 pages of footnotes.)

The Church Committee recommended that Congress pass another statute dealing with wiretapping in relation to national security. This law is known as the

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
This act was established to control and delineate eavesdropping and wiretapping activities by law enforcement in the interests of national security.

We'll pick this history up again in a few weeks and examine the period from 1978-2008.

Video Links

Here are the links for the videos we watched in class today:

J. Edgar Hoover
This is taken from the A&E Biography J. Edgar Hoover: Personal and Confidential

The Church Committee
The full 1.5 hr C-SPAN program is here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cell-Phones and Privacy

Interesting news in the past few days about an iPhone gps tracking file hidden in the iOS 4.0 operating system. No word from Apple yet as to what it's for.

Here's an article from the newspaper website.

A tech blogger discovered this file last year but didn't look into it in depth. Here's his description of how to access it:

This database is also not available for the average user. To access this database a user will need to have a forensic tool, jailbreak their device, or access the backups stored on their computer.

Another recent story dealing with cell phones and privacy has to do with the Michigan State Police using the CelleBrite UFED device to download the contents of cell phones. The ACLU has asked for some information as to how often they use this device and the Michigan State Police responded with a request for $500,000 in exchange!

ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous...

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Felix Salmon on Blogging

Felix Salmon is a blogging editor for Reuters news service. His background is mainly in financial reporting for news wire services and magazines. He has an interesting Q&A blog post about the differences between print and online journalism.

How Blogs Have Changed Journalism

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Newspaper Industry and New Media

The newspaper industry is struggling to regain lost readership.

Here's a link to another graph at


Explore some of former reporter Dan Conover's thoughts about the issue. His blog posts are very dense with links. Click through on a at least a few of the links to read some of the background information. Here are links to his blog posts.

10 reasons why newspapers won't reinvent the news

The paid on-line subscription pipedream

Another post about the difficulties of the newspaper business

Here is another former reporter's thoughts about the issue

Seven reasons charging for content won't work

When did newspaper circulation begin to decline? Why?
How did newspapers respond? Were they successful?

These links are a few years old, but things haven't changed that much.

Here's a more recent link that considers the impact that the iPad will have on newspapers

This is an article that examines the issue of the New York Times recent implementation of a paywall. Here is another.

I found some interesting articles about the New York Times new paywall which just started this past month.

From the Christian Science Monitor

From PC Magazine


Listed below are some political web sites and celebrity gossip sites.
Feel free to find others yourself....

Celebrity Gossip Sites

What audience is the website addressing?
Is there advertising on the site? What kinds of ads?
How big is the staff? Is there a masthead? Who is listed there as being in charge?
What kind of print media do you think this is comparable to?


Check out some of these local media sites:

St. Louis Beacon


Voice of San Diego

West Seattle Blog

Eastern Iowa News

The Batavian

Feel free to find others yourself....

What audience is the website addressing?
Is there advertising on the site? What kinds of ads?
How big is the staff? Is there a masthead? Who is listed there as being in charge?
What kind of print media do you think this is comparable to?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Topics from Friday

Journalism Ethics

Twitter Wikileaks Tunisia Egypt

Former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak had been in power for 30 years and was preparing to install his son Gamal Mubarak to follow him in office.