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NYC Lawyers Subpoena Code

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-trying-to-get-along dept.

The Courts 132

RonMcMahon writes "Lawyers for the city of New York have subpoenaed the text message records of thousands of people involved in demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Tad Hirsch, creator of the TXTmob code that enabled convention demonstrators to transmit messages to thousands of telephones, has been instructed to release the content of messages exchanged on the service and to identify people who sent and received messages. Hirsch argues that release of such information would be a violation of users' First Amendment and privacy rights. 'I think I have a moral responsibility to the people who use my service to protect their privacy,' said Hirsch."

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132 comments

First twofo goatse! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929478)

Twofo [twofo.co.uk] is Dying is Dying

It is official; GNAA [www.gnaa.us] confirms: Twofo is Dying is Dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleagured slashdot trolling community when Google confirmed that Twofo troll posts had dropped yet again, now down to less that a fraction of 1 percent of all slashdot posts. Coming hot on the heels of a recent usenet survey which plainly states that Twofo trolling frequency has fallen, this news serves only to reinforce what we've known all along. Twofo trolls are collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in a recent digg.com comprehensive trolling test.

You don't need to be one of the Slashdot moderators to predict Twofo Trolling's future. The writing is on the wall: Twofo trolling faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Twofo trolls because Twofo trolling is dying. Things are looking very bad for Twofo trolls. As many of us are already aware, Twofo trolling continues to decline in popularity. IP bans flow like a river of firewall rules.

"Twofo is Dying" trolls are the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of their core posters. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time trolls Daz and xyzzy only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Twofo trolls are dying.

Lets keep to the facts and look and the numbers.

Twofo Trolling leader Echelon states that there are about 7000 "twofo is dying" trolls. How many "Zeus sucks cock" trolls are there? Let's see. The number of "Zeus sucks cock" trolls versus "Twofo is dying" trolls on slashdot is roughly in the ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 "Zeus sucks cock" trolls. "Fuck twofo" posts on slashdot are about half the volume of "Zeus sucks cock" posts. Therefore there are about 700 trolls specialising in "Fuck twofo". A recent article put "destroy twofo" at about 80% of the twofo trolling community. Therefore there are about (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 "destroy twofo" trolls. This is consistent with the number of "destroy twofo" slashdot posts.

Due to the troubles at Twofo, abysmal sharing, ITS, lack of IP addresses and so on, "destroy twofo" trolls stopped posting altogether and were taken over by "Zeus sucks cock" trolls who specialise in another kind of slashdot posting. Now "Zeus sucks cock" trolls are also dead, their corpses turned over to yet another charnel horse.

All major surveys show that Twofo trolls have steadily declined in slashdot posting frequency. Twofo trollers are very sick and their long term survival prospects are very dim. If Twofo trollers are to survive at all it will be among hardcore slashdot posters, hellbent on Twofo's destruction. Twofo trolls continue to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save Twofo trolls from their fate at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Twofo trolls are dead.

Fact: Twofo trolls are dying

Subpoena? (3, Insightful)

bckspc (172870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929482)

It's GPLed! Just download the code at http://sourceforge.net/projects/txtmob/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:Subpoena? (5, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929522)

But that's not really what is being requested. As often happens, the slash headline doesn't represent the slash article. Neither appears to represent what's said in the real article. The code wasn't subponaed, the author was. What they are looking for are lists of texters and the text contents.

Why does he have the data? (4, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929612)

The data cannot be subpoena'd if it does not exist. Why does his system keep records of who said what to whom? And if it needs the records, why doesn't it delete them after a short period? And if the system does keep an archive, why didn't he delete it manually before now, if people's privacy is so important?

Re:Why does he have the data? (4, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929964)

I'm far from being an expert in TXTMob but it appears that it relies on user-defined mailing lists to send and receive text messages. That's probably what the NYC lawyers are looking for.

Re:Why does he have the data? (3, Informative)

themacks (1197889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930580)

A quote from the article:

Mr. Hirsch says that some of the subpoenaed material no longer exists and that he believes he has the right to keep other information secret.

2004 Republican National Convention in NYC (5, Interesting)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929692)

For those who have forgotten (or never heard about) the whole unconstitutional ordeal.
http://www.2600.com/rnc2004/index.html [2600.com]

Down with Amurkan fascists! And their plastic orange fences.
We have all gone to look for America.

Re:Subpoena? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931240)

As often happens, the slash headline doesn't represent the slash article. Neither appears to represent what's said in the real article. The code wasn't subponaed, the author was.
Or maybe someone just left off the last letter: NYC Lawyers Subpoena Coder.

LEARN (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929494)

They cannot subpoena logs that you don't keep.

Re:LEARN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929624)

And they'll have trouble tapping it if communication starts with a Diffie-Hellman handshake.

Re:LEARN (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929628)

They cannot subpoena logs that you don't keep.
You might wanna ask TorrentSpy about that one.

Re:LEARN (2, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929870)

As I understood it, TorrentSpy were ordered to begin keeping logs. Not to hand over logs that didn't exist, but to begin logging and hand that over. NYC could do the same here, but that wouldn't get them the information from 2004.

Re:LEARN (3, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929924)

If I remember correctly, before that, some technomoron judge actually ordered them to keep logs of everything in ram at all times..

Re:LEARN (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930128)

That was just Slashdots spin on the ruling - the effect of the judgment was 'begin logging'.

Re:LEARN (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930788)

if I remember correctly, before that, some technomoron judge actually ordered them to keep logs of everything in ram at all times.

Not really. What the judge said was that writing information to RAM is the equivelent of creating a record, so the 'we don't, as a principle, keep any records' defense against the subpoena was not valid. So, they were required to start keeping logs of user's IPs. And, no, a RAM dump would not have worked, it was required to be in usable form.

I don't know where I stand on the issue. Certainly, legally RAM seems to be considered a place where records exist (hence your need for a EULA to run a program). And certainly, I consider it a statement like a petulant child to claim that logging is somehow impossible because no records are currently kept. The purpose of a subpoena, in that case, was to force records retention that otherwise would not exist; a legitimite use of a subpeona.

On the other, I'm not sure if I buy the current interpertation that data in RAM is a record or a copy. Mostly because concept of a EULA to use a program seems strange.

Re:LEARN (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929880)

They cannot subpoena logs that you don't keep.

but they can haul your ass before a judge and ask you to disclose everything you know about your users and your system.

to say you can't remember, to say you can't recall, is likely land you in jail until your memory improves.

in this situation you are not the anonymous coward.

you are the guy up front, naked and exposed, when something goes wrong.

"the eighteen minute gap," the camera pointed in the wrong direction. nothing on record is likely to be quite so bad - and, in the long run, quite so damaging as what people will imagine.

the chances are good that you will keep a log.

Re:LEARN (2, Insightful)

Kefaa (76147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930304)

"You" only get dragged in front of a judge if you are a fool. Anyone who believes they can go into a court without a lawyer truly has a fool for a client.

Having said that, you may still end up in court, and if you have setup a deletion policy (even if it is a policy that no logs are kept), and you follow the policy in all cases, little can be done. There is sufficient precedent to support the deletion of logs, emails, etc. as perfectly legal and within the realm of business propriety. Where trouble starts is having a policy of one day, but only following it when you feel like it. Or leaving it to the end user - which is the same as not having a policy.

Set a policy - always follow the policy.

Re:LEARN (1)

spud603 (832173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930416)

Anyone who believes they can go into a court without a lawyer truly has a fool for a client.

Not anymore. [wikipedia.org]

Re:LEARN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930160)

When you do that enough, they just start forcing [wikipedia.org] you [slashdot.org] to.

They'll just get data from the mobile providers (1)

robipilot (925650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930242)

These were/are SMS. If the TXTMob data doesn't exist anymore (and why would you keep the content anyway unless he had some type of "digest" that he sent out later), I bet they'll get the data from the mobile phone providers. There's only a handful of providers, and since we know all of the messages originated or were destined for the TXTMob server, piece of cake. A well placed regex and game over. Maybe not 100% of the messages, but enough for the lawyers to prove their points.

Re:LEARN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930990)

I believe logs with any real identifying info were not kept. I don't think TFA is exactly right. The way I've heard it directly from those involved, the subpoena was for the whole box itself, and the gov. doesn't care what's on there, because they're desperate for any evidence they can use to cover their asses.

Re:LEARN (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931494)

No, but most telecommunications laws require you to keep records of activity. Failure to do so can be both costly and detrimental to your personal freedom.

Yahoo (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929510)

why does yahoo report such a different story? [yahoo.com] Who do I believe?!!?

Re:Yahoo (5, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929534)

Don't click this link, it is malicious.

Re:Yahoo (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929654)

You probably posted it yourself....

Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other corp (4, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929518)

If this was a corporation (which has no soul or moral code), the content of the messages would already be in NYC's lawyers' hands.

Fortunately in this case, it's a man who believes in human rights.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929532)

P.S.

I don't understand why New York thinks it has a legitimate reason to read everybody's private text messages from 4 years ago. What possible relevance do those messages have to anything?

Reminds me of my grandmother (reading other people's mail just to be nosy).

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (1)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929546)

Riiiight. That's why it's taken how many years to get the code released on the breathalyzer? A corporation would stall, stutter, fight just as much as a private individual. In fact most private individuals would cave whereas a corporation would provide lawyer after lawyer while saying it's a trade secret, etc.

I'm surprised that you'd consider a corporation capable of just rolling over and playing dead. Yes the airlines did that for the TSA...

Being incorporated doesn't make you evil.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (3, Insightful)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929636)

I think GP's point is that it's easier to be evil when you aren't signing your own name to the order.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930118)

The important difference is that a corporation has a lot more to lose from making enemies in the government. Maybe New York doesn't have much arm-twisting power, but the federal government can easily destroy a company with a terrorism-related investigation. Not only are companies more vulnerable, but they also have more to gain from a government alliance. They won't win a slice of that fat military budget by suing over something silly like their customers' personal data.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (2, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930288)

There's a difference:

- You said the corporation is fighting to protect its breathalyzer code. It wants to maintain its own property & future profits. Makes perfect sense.

- But what if the State sued the corporation to obtain the *emails* sent across the machines? Does the corporation have a vested interest to protect them? Nope. The corporation will not fight. It will just hand them over to the government, as if they were best friends.

In this particular case, we have a man who has no vested interest
But he does have a morals. He's fighting purely upon the principle of protecting others.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930352)

>>>"Being incorporated doesn't make you evil."

I didn't say it did. I said corporations are soulless/lacking morals. A corporation makes decisions based upon their own desire to increase profit. They will not fight a "hand over all emails" court order if there's no profit to gain from that fight. They follow a very simple conditional statement:

IF PROFIT INCREASES THEN FIGHTLAWSUIT == 1
ELSE HANDOVER_EMAILS = 1

Cold. Calculating. Corporation.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (3, Insightful)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929576)

If he was interested in human rights we would release the text since knowing the information would help free the people being charged in the lawsuits or it would prove that something wrong was done and make sure those people had no chance of doing the same thing in the future.
Instead he stored the messages for some personnal or business reason.

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930300)

If he stored the messages from 2004 (which may or may not be true),

then he likely did it for the same reason why my company stores messages. Because the government forces them to store the messages. It's not a matter of "choice" if the government is holding a gun to your held ("save all emails, else serve time in jail").

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929686)

I think my head is going to explode. I thought that our mantra here was "information wants to be free". Shouldn't he free the information so anybody can have it? Or is it only "stuff I want should be free, but stuff about me should not?" Boom! (sorry, that was my head exploding).

Re:Glad it's not Sony or Microsoft or some other c (2, Insightful)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930678)

*sigh*. information wants to be free is just a more pithy (and to some confusing) way of saying secrets are hard to keep or information is hard to control. Information tends to escape, to find a way out, and once it does you cannot put the genie back in the bottle, ever. It does not mean that there are no secrets that are worth keeping or at least trying to keep. There may also be something in there about the futility of even trying to control or hoard information. Something about it being a waste of time and so forth.

Messages are ephemeral (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929520)

Like this one.

You don't know me.

You don't know whether it is really me writing this or someone pretending to be me.

You don't know how many "me"s there are behind this nickname.

You don't know how many other accounts I have that pretend to be someone besides me.

Which me is the real me?

Which you is the real you?

Which way to Kathmandu?

Would you, could you in a car?

Eat them, eat them! Here they are.

Re:Messages are ephemeral (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929662)

You don't know me.
Sure I do. You're BadAnalogyGuy.

You don't know whether it is really me writing this or someone pretending to be me.
Mmmm...it's you. Just a guess though.

You don't know how many "me"s there are behind this nickname.
42?

You don't know how many other accounts I have that pretend to be someone besides me.
6

Which me is the real me?
You!

Which you is the real you?
Me!

Which way to Kathmandu?
That way! ===>

Would you, could you in a car?
From afar? Or with a jar?

Eat them, eat them! Here they are.
Mmmmmm...burgers from a bar?

Re:Messages are ephemeral (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930598)

Looks like some kind of a OTP-enccrypted paedophile exchange to me. Time to subpoena Slashdot!

Go with the classics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929876)

"John has a long moustache."

Anonymous political speech (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929524)

Anonymous political speech has a long tradition in the US. Many of our founding fathers hid behind pseudonyms while writing many of what are termed 'The Federalist Papers' which laid much of the groundwork for the US Constitution.

If the messages were inciting people to break the law I could possibly understand, but on the face of what few facts I have on the subject right now my knee wants to jerk right into the Government's jaw a few times.

Re:Anonymous political speech (4, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929630)

even telling people to break the law shouldn't be illegal though, because some laws are unjust and NEED to be challenged, and that kind of freedom to challenge authority needs to be encouraged.

frankly i grow tired of being snooped on

Re:Anonymous political speech (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929750)

Well, the whole point of breaking the law to overturn a bad law is that you're challenging it by standing up and saying "I'm prepared to be punished for this, because I don't believe it's just that others should be." So if your purpose in telling people to break the law is to encourage civil disobedience, but you yourself have no plans to be punished, then you're not doing it right.

A more important principle is that people shouldn't be denied their rights to participate in the democratic process because they've broken the law. That those convicted of crimes are permanently barred from voting in the majority of states is essentially a gateway to legalized vote-rigging (look at the lifestyles of your opponents and criminalize it), and a barrier to overturning unjust laws that affect large numbers of people.

Re:Anonymous political speech (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929814)

Not everybody is a Ghandi, or a Martin Luther King. Some of us are not willing to go to jail, and breaking the law anonymously, and encouraging others to do so, is an important step that we can take to obtain freedom.

I totally agree with you about taking away citizen's voting rights.

Re:Anonymous political speech (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931348)

Now please explain the whole point behind Guantomino, or the Polish torture prison, or to expand to more of history... the Russian trials under Stalin and Lenin, or (going back a good deal farther) "Paul the Chain" [geocities.com] under Constantius, 354 AD.

Re:Anonymous political speech (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930046)

You're correct to a point. I should have clarified as 'inciting to violence' rather than inciting to break the law. Civil disobedience is a good thing. For that matter, there sometimes comes a point where violent revolution is a good thing as well (prior art: The American Revolution).

I am basically of the mind that you just have to follow the course of the three boxes. Soap Box, then Ballot Box, then Ammo Box. I also hope and pray that the latter option is never really required. I would far prefer a political revolution to an armed one.

Re:Anonymous political speech (3, Informative)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930190)

Here's the actual quote.
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)

Re:Anonymous political speech (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930560)

Yes I know but with regards to our Government, if the first two fail the jury box isn't going to do you any good, because at that point you've probably already lost the court system as well. I prefer my condensed version with regards to the protection of liberty, since all too often the courts and juries are used to restrict liberty and not enhance it.

Still, I probably should have properly attributed the quote from which I draw that particular philosophical notion. Thanks for elaborating.

Re:Anonymous political speech (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930148)

How about a little less knee-jerk reactionism. These were not private text messages, they were broadcast through SMS (an unprotected medium) to thousands of people (basically standing on a digital soapbox). Why was there any expectation of privacy in the first place?

Re:Anonymous political speech (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930742)

DON'T KEEP LOGS! Delete them after 24 hours if you have to. Don't worry about it - once they're sent, they're sent.

Re:Anonymous political speech (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931424)

but on the face of what few facts I have on the subject right now my knee wants to jerk right into the Government's jaw a few times.
Interesting, but I suggest leaving off mentioning the jaw. It's better when you leave it up to their imagination:

"Mr. Government, don't make me jerk my knee. You may not like where my knee ends up."

Where are the zomg ponies of yesteryear.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929528)

Next april 1st I shall boycott this site.


/me looks back on zomg ponies full of nostalgia for times past.......

Re:Where are the zomg ponies of yesteryear.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929972)

Here you go [chrisfinke.com]

Re:Where are the zomg ponies of yesteryear.... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931466)

Idle [slashdot.org] is sating the desire for April 1 year round.

T'was ever thus (4, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929536)

Every time you surrender your rights to the state in return for assurances that a) people who might be breaking some minor law like jaywalking have nothing to worry about and b) the new powers will be used only against the really, really bad people, should sit up and take notice. This is exactly the kind of thing you can expect.

How many people who want to exercise their legal right to protest will sit home next time because their career ambitions include jobs where even being on the same street as a protest could knock them off the hiring list?

It's always best to assume governments and police forces are led by lying, treacherous fascists. You will occasionally be pleasantly surprised to find that it's not the case. More often, you'll find out that power-tripping assholes are attracted to those jobs the same way child molesters are attracted to schoolgrounds and bank robbers are attracted to banks.

Re:T'was ever thus (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929992)

How many people who want to exercise their legal right to protest will sit home next time because their career ambitions include jobs where even being on the same street as a protest could knock them off the hiring list?

Protesting is a waste of time, a hobby for the ineffective and unemployed.

Want to know their real angle? Imagine being a traveling professional who is unable to travel because of the "do not fly" list. Or runs the risk of missing flights and having corporate property stolen or destroyed because some TSA goon sees them on a "person of interest" list.

Restriction of travel is the most effective way to keep people with influence in line. Unlike censorship, the average person doesn't seem to care.

Re:T'was ever thus (2, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931110)

I disagree with your opinion on public protest. It has been and remains an effective tool to change public policy. Why do you think governments are so anxious to suppress it?

And while you may be right about air travel, I think you have to acknowledge that other alternatives remain, though they may impose a burden on the traveler. I would expect that sooner, rather than later, American professionals who need to fly frequently will be forced to submit to thorough vetting in return for some kind of enhanced internal passport. Or perhaps the American people will finally decide they've had enough and kick the troublemakers out of office.

The bottom line is that freedom isn't free, and if you want to preserve the things that made the United States worth living in, you're occasionally going to get cheap-shotted by terrorists. My personal view is that it might be wise to quietly let the governments of those nasty little terror factories in the Middle East know that any nuclear detonation in the United States would be closely followed by a much larger one over Mecca.

Not about the code (0, Redundant)

wizards_eye (1145125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929542)

The headline is bad.

To quote the summary (which surprisingly fits TFA):
"release the content of messages exchanged on the service"

This is not about the code used to send the text messages, but the messages themselves.

Which is it? (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929550)

An April Fool's post, or sh!thead attorneys?

Re:Which is it? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929614)

Okay, so maybe it is a day to be a bit more dubious than most, but this is lawyers we're talking about. So what if there's some "constitution" thing that might get in their way, they'll do what they're paid to do - interpret everything in their own way to get at the info they want. Such is the way of lawyers.

Re:Which is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929798)

An April Fool's post, or sh!thead attorneys?
You know, your ID is low enough that I thought you'd know this, but you can say whatever you want on Slashdot, shithead. See? No censoring at all? Shithead, shithead, shithead. If you're not comfortable with the word, use a different one. Censoring yourself just makes you look stupid.

In case you're wondering.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929560)

They subpoena'd the coder, not the code.

Keeping records (2, Insightful)

naich (781425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929572)

Why keep records at all? If I was organising something that could be used for civil disobedience then I'd make sure it was all anonymous with no records kept for precisely this reason.

Re:Keeping records (2, Informative)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929762)

If you had read the article, he states that he doesn't have any logfiles, that he won't hand over anything due to privacy concerns and the overreaching aspect of the subpoena.

Note also that he hasn't been ordered by the court yet, only that the lawyers representing the city demanded the info through a scary-looking nastygram.

Re:Keeping records (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929990)

And to be honest, lawyers send overreaching, unenforceable nastygrams all the time. Whether it's claiming copyright or trademark infringement where there is none, or it fits a valid exemption in the law, such as for review or parody.

It's a scare tactic.

EXACTLY! (0)

encoderer (1060616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930198)

The threat of legal action is NOT the same as legal action.

It takes about 20 minutes, $0.50 in postage and one sheet of fancy high-bond paper to threaten. It's trivial. And probably rather successful.

And let's be real.. this kid isn't involved in an RIAA lawsuit, he's not being sued by SCO for some linux code that NOBODY cares about outside the people reading this website.

This is politics, a guy who made it easy to protest against BushCo.

I guarantee that he can raise $50,000 for legal defense in about 3 days if he publicizes it. This is the power of the NetRoots.

Re:EXACTLY! (2, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930244)

Yes, I know that the threat isn't the same as actually taking legal action, that's why I called it a scare tactic.

And for many of the letters I've seen evidence for, if it took them 20 minutes I'd be surprised. Many look almost like the form letters of old with open spaces to type in the relevant information via typewriter.

As for the $50k defense fund, I'd hit the RNC up, personally. They'd probably be willing to throw that much at it just to keep anything embarrasing out of the public eye, even if it'd only be embarrasing if taken out of context.

Re:Keeping records (2, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931154)

Why keep records at all?
Be careful what you say, don't step out of line, big brother is watching...is this really how we want to live? Constantly looking over our shoulders, conducting business in secret, suspicious of our neighbors, and tight-lipped about what we say in public?

Don't be confused... (1, Informative)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929584)

I feel obliged to point out that this article concerns New York City Lawyers, not NewYorkCountryLawyer [slashdot.org] . ;)

Why Did He Keep Them? (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929588)

Why did he keep identified copies of all the messages if there was never an intent to release or use them?

Re:Why Did He Keep Them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929792)

according to TFA: "Mr. Hirsch says that some of the subpoenaed material no longer exists and that he believes he has the right to keep other information secret."

Worst case, this means he's stupid and kept most of the material. More likely, best case, this just means the messages were deleted, and he doesn't want to hand over the remaining data, such as his customer list. (Obviously, a service like this at least needs to keep records of people's addresses where to send their messages to.)

Reality lies probably somewhere inbetween. People usually retain more data than they need anyway...

Way to tell only half the story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929616)

Lawyers representing the city in lawsuits filed by hundreds of people arrested during the convention asked Mr. Hirsch to hand over voluminous records revealing the content of messages exchanged on his service and identifying people who sent and received messages.

Want to bet at least part of NYC's defense is that at least some of those arrested actually set out to be arrested?

And that the text messages will prove that?

Re:Way to tell only half the story (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929682)

LOL are these those protestors for hire types? bunch of scum need a good dose of pepper spray and a baton to the back of the legs.

Re:Way to tell only half the story (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929828)

Pepper spray? Back of the legs?

Screw that. How about a nice wood shampoo?

Retention policy? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929644)

I do not understand. It is impossible to reveal or be forced to disclose that which you never retained or had distroyed in the normal course of business. Otherwise, your records are entirely at the mercy of a judge who almost certainly wants more evidence, not less, the better to judge. The assumption of an impartial or at least privacy-respecting judiciary does not hold.

Do phone companies record phone calls? Of course not? So why should text companies record content? Even recording traffic should only be where that is required for billing purposes. IE, not for unlimited plans or perhaps where the subsriber has waived detailed billing.

The FCC has been trying to impose logging and retention rules for the convenience of law enforcement, but I don't know how many of these have come into force.

speaking of subpoenas... (2, Interesting)

Reader X (906979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929652)

...have the missing White House e-mails been located yet?

Re:speaking of subpoenas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929674)

which Administration?

Fortunately e-mail is a fairly recent invention so we won't go back too many Administrations

I don't understand why... (1)

JoeD (12073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929658)

I don't understand why he kept the information, but if he really wants to take a stand on this, he should delete it immediately, before they come in with a warrant.

Re:I don't understand why... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929746)

Too late; it's already been subpoenaed. Destroying information for which you have been served a subpoena can get you real prison time. In fact, that's what subpoena means: "Under (threat of) punishment".

Re:I don't understand why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929878)

Not if the HD has an accident.

Re:I don't understand why... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930814)

You'll then have to convince a judge just how accidental your "accident" was. Good luck with that.

Republicans you say? (1, Insightful)

javakah (932230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929666)

Perhaps these anti-GOP demonstrators should in fact be embracing GOP leader. By that I mean if the GOP can 'accidentally' electronic records (and backups!) that they were specifically legally bound to keep, couldn't these demonstrators also 'accidentally' lose those records as well? (I'm not actually advocating that they do this, I'm just pointing out that it's kind of ridiculous that even anti-GOP demonstrators keep copies of data while the GOP all too conveniently lose their data that may well be even more incriminating).

Re:Republicans you say? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930316)

You do know that it's not the RNC asking for this info, right? It's the lawyers for the City of New York because the city is being sued. And while the city is ostensibly run by a republican mayor, it is for republicans like him for which the term RINO was invented.

Poor articles all around (1)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929676)

The NY Times article isn't particularly informative. It has some information, but not the specifics I was looking for. Here's some semi-useful info:

The subpoena is connected to a group of 62 lawsuits against the city that stem from arrests during the convention and have been consolidated in Federal District Court in Manhattan. About 1,800 people were arrested and charged, but 90 percent of them ultimately walked away from court without pleading guilty or being convicted.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I use the accompanying initialism, but can the "city" issue a subpoena? I guess a lawyer could as an agent of the court or whatever, and a lawyer could work for the city, but I thought they were issued by some clerk who had to get sign off by some judge? In which case (unless I am wrong, of course), I'd be more concerned about the judge than the city. I'd expect a city to do whatever possible to defend itself, etc, etc. But I think with some thought, a judge might agree with the guy's laywer that the subpoena was/is "'vague' and 'overbroad,' and wrote that seeking information about TXTmob users who have nothing to do with lawsuits against the city would violate their First Amendment and privacy rights." Chime in lawyers and law students.

Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to get particularly riled up about this because I don't have enough info; the Times piece could just as easily have been written by a college sophomore for a campus newspaper.

Re:Poor articles all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929740)

Technically the city can't issue a subpoena. A judge issues the subpoena at the request of the city because the city is involved in a series of lawsuits and claims that they need the TXTmob information in order to properly defend themselves. With regard to the subpoena being overly broad, frequently subpoenas are phrased broadly on purpose to cover all relevant information (remember, the city might not know about every text message and user, so they can't ask for things with a high degree of specificity). But there is a process for challenging a subpoena, and I'm glad to see the TXTmob people are standing up for themselves and their users. Someone more versed in the First Amendment will have to answer the substantive arguments.

Re:Poor articles all around (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22929998)

The Times piece probably written by a college sophomore for a newspaper... Since when did you need qualifications to write for a newspaper

Famous journalists are usually famous despite their bad journalism, and usually not because they are good writers?

Try doing this in the UK and hit the data protection act, this is personal data and so would have to be requested (and justified) for each specific user ...

Re:Poor articles all around (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930338)

Try doing this in the UK and hit the data protection act, this is personal data and so would have to be requested (and justified) for each specific user ...

Except that in the UK the government would already have been tracking everyone and wouldn't need to get it from a third party.

Re:Poor articles all around (2, Interesting)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930350)

IIRC, the subpoena is generally signed by a clerk of court. The party being subpoenaed can file a motion to quash the subpoena, in which case the judge looks at it. If the subpoena is vastly overbroad, there may be sanctions against the party trying to enforce it.

I don't really see any problems with this. The city is trying to defend itself in a series of lawsuits about its arrests of a bunch of protesters. One of the elements of its defense is probably that the people who were arrested were not just innocent bystanders caught up in the spur of the moment, but had planned and coordinated their effort. And, that's most easily discovered by subpoenaing records of that planning and coordination. Perfectly legitimate.

Re:Poor articles all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930676)

Your definition of perfectly legitimate is wrong. (1) This is a fishing expedition. The city needs to ask for specific communications between specific parties, not all of the communications on one service. (2) The city would not need any of the personal, private communications if it had actually evidence of wrongdoing. You know the kind of evidence one needs in order to make an arrest. (3) Planning and coordinating a protest is not criminal. (4) Coordinating and planning a protest is not criminal. (5) Protesting is not criminal. (6) Arresting people who are protesting, absent some other cause, however, is criminal.

Re:Poor articles all around (1)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22930946)

Your definition of "protest" could come under question. I am not saying you are incorrect to question the "perfectly legitimate" comment, but rather that your statement that "Protesting is not criminal" makes an assumption regarding the definition of a "protest". For example(s), a citizen protester may hold up signs and yell, but what if that protester also impedes the free flow of transportation or trips a random person walking by? Free speech should not be extended to physically impede the rights of others, whether intended or not. Furthermore, the tough thing about managing a "protest" type of situation for law enforcement is that one bad apple can truly spoil the bunch. If there are dozens or hundreds of people in a heightened state of emotion and one flips out you can go from a bunch of protesters to a riot. Or not. It's tough to tell. So to over-arrest in these types of situations is almost common practice. This doesn't excuse questionable law enforcement actions, but it does explain it, to some degree.

And I completely disagree with #2. The city may have some evidence of wrongdoing that could be and should be bolstered by a subpoena. That is, in my extremely limited understanding, the whole point of a subpoena. If you had all the evidence you needed in the first place, you wouldn't need a subpoena, but since you don't, one must be issued.

My beef is that the broad subpoena, whether it's standard practice or not, was the lazy/cheap way out and I'd think it better if they'd seek more specific information about the specific scenarios around the specific citizens that are suing them.

Re:Poor articles all around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22930354)

About 1,800 people were arrested and charged, but 90 percent of them ultimately walked away from court without pleading guilty or being convicted.
Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to get particularly riled up about this because I don't have enough info

A city using arrests as a means to prevent freedom of assembly and freedom of petition riles me up. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is supposed to be in force, not its antithesis.

Here's another's insight on Txtmob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22929838)

Rabble, formerly of Odeo, who worked on Twitter, and previously contributed development skills to various Indymedia tools and apparently got to "poke" at txtmob as well, has some informative insight on txtmob on his blog [anarchogeek.com] .

Can someone explain why? (1)

sheldon (2322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931028)

Something like this that happened nearly 4 years ago can't be that important to still be wasting lawyers on.

Can it?

What is that I smell?? (1)

jskline (301574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931042)

I smell shades of McCarthy'ism... What is going on with this country when there is so much divide that people are resorting to out an out violations of constitutional law. And; if memory serves me correct, this has shades of Watergate on it too.... Hmmm... The only thing they haven't done is break into some building housing said logs with which to look at them...

About someone else's poor email retention (1)

zuki (845560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931128)

Quite an interesting topic, especially when you look at it in the light that those in The White House are seemingly able to get away
with simply claiming that about 2 years of their own emails got erased from their server backups and cannot be retrieved, (...pffft!!...)
and no one appears too bothered by it enough to sue for what may well have been a motherlode of information on how the war in
Iraq was handled, and other crucial tidbits which clearly were supposed to have been a matter of public record, and could have
been used in a variety of ways to document this current administration's policies....

Z.

Confused... (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931250)

Hirsch argues that release of such information would be a violation of users' First Amendment and privacy rights.
Wouldn't this violate their privacy?

Not about free speech (1)

rawyin (870144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931256)

The lawyers filing the subpoena are representing the city who is being sued by the protesters. The city believes the text messages will provide the city with a defense to why the protesters were arrested. It's not about the first amendment.

Question (1)

hansroy (575558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22931380)

Would your opinion on this subpoena change if it was from defense lawyers?
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