Tag Archives: privacy

AP phone records, al Qaeda and civil liberties: thinking a couple moves ahead

AP phone records, al Qaeda and civil liberties: thinking a couple moves ahead

Civil libertarians, journalists and others are understandably outraged by the recent news of a DOJ investigation that included obtaining AP writers’ phone records.  It’s skating on thin constitutional ice to have government agents investigating whom members of a free press contact and when, and it merits careful oversight to avoid abuses.  Nevertheless, based on what we know to date, I think the DOJ did the right thing, and here’s why:

This wasn’t a leak about some garden-variety (pun intended) pot-growing or cocaine-smuggling operation getting busted, or even a bribery scandal involving high-ranking public officials.  It didn’t involve “whistle-blowing” on any wrongful government behavior.  This leak reportedly related to the successful infiltration of freakin’ al Qaeda in Yemen that effectively prevented a terrorist attack using an advanced type of bomb that is allegedly undetectable by airline security.  A Saudi double agent with cojones of steel managed to get himself chosen as the lucky volunteer to be be the suicide bomber — then made off with the bomb, delivered it to the good guys for analysis, and vanished.  That’s the kind of incredible espionage story with a happy ending that I’d expect to see in a Hollywood thriller, not real life.

This classified information was leaked to AP reporters by an unknown source.  If the timing had been different, the agent(s) involved would have faced certain execution (if lucky) or torture; the bombing plot may well have succeeded, killing at least a couple hundred innocent civilians; and if so, the United States would have been thrown into a state of fear and panic as after 9/11.  This is presumably why Attorney General Eric Holder said it was one of the most serious leaks he’d seen in his long career.

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When Good Legal Advice Is Worth $10 Million An Hour

When Good Legal Advice Is Worth $10 Million An Hour

One of the highest profile liquidity events in the first half of 2012 was Facebook’s deal to acquire Instagram for $1 billion. The popular mobile photo-sharing service should fit well into Facebook’s growth strategy as a public company, but its eye-popping valuation — more than that of the New York Times, for those keeping scoreContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Evaluating the Risks in Facebook’s IPO: Would You Invest?

Facebook is forthcoming about the challenges of mobile: No revenue currently generated from mobile advertising; unclear how much mobile use could be monetized; failure to solve this puzzle combined with a dramatic shift toward mobile usage could be a serious problem; and they don’t control the iOS and Android platforms. Frankly, if there were one thing that persuaded me not to invest in FB at current valuations, this would be it.Continue Reading

“AirB&E” and Crisis Management for Consumer Web Startups

“AirB&E” and Crisis Management for Consumer Web Startups

Much has been written about the cooperative nature of Valley culture, and Airbnb itself was an outgrowth of the idealistic “couch surfing” movement. As with any online community, well-meaning early adopters arrive first, and if all goes well, a culture of respect evolves that keeps behavior within relatively civilized boundaries. The trouble comes when a site becomes wildly successful, going from 1,000 closed beta members to 1,000,000 users. As it grows, any service will come to resemble a diverse cross-section of the general population, with the full range of human misconduct represented.Continue Reading

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