All week I read a thousand web posts articles and such and wish I had the time to blog them all. Of course I could never do that and still practice law and spend time with my family. I decided to try to put together a post on a weekly basis that let's me bring the posts to your attention and throw in my two cents where I have the change in my pocket. (Tribute to the NY Times Sunday editionwhose Week in Review Section has been my favorite read for over 35 years.) I will be doing the same at our sister blog Long Island (Criminal)Trial Law. The difference will be the items chosen in each post will usually be a little different. Thus without further adieu here is Volume I No.1:
A. Phishing, Spoofing & Vishing OH MY!!
Newsday Long Island's paper of only daily newspaper reports that Long Island is seeing two new forms of "phishing." Wikipedia defines "phishing" as follows:
"...Phishing is a form of criminal activity using social engineering techniques. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information,
such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy
person or business in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically
carried out using email or an instant message."
The new scams are called "spoofing" and "vishing."
"Spoofing" occurs when a thief uses something called "Voice over Internet Protocol" or VOIP. VOIP allows you to make calls over the internet. Thieves use it to hide their actual phone number and your Caller ID comes up with the name of a legitimate financial institution. You are asked personal information from account numbers to passwords and the like.
In the "Vishing" scenario, crooks call you and tell you there is a problem with your credit card account, and give you a number to call to straighten it out. When the victim calls the number he is asked to enter his credit card information using the touch tone keypad and Viola! The thieves have all they need to ripoff you and the credit card companies.
A third scam is a variation on a theme. The perpetrators already have your credit card information but do not have the three little numbers printed on the back of the card. They call you and tell you they are investigating fraudulent purchases on the card and ask you to provide the three numbers from the back of the card to "verify" who you are, or for "security purposes."
How to protect yourself:
a) Do not trust caller ID alone. Ask for the callers personal Identification information. Then tell the caller you intend to reach him back using the numbers provided on the credit card itself. Ask him for his telephone extension. Then call the number on your card and ask them to help you verify the problem.
b) Never release information on your card to someone you do not know. If they are from your financial institution they will know your numbers.
c) Ask what the last five purchases you made were and for the amounts and the dates. Ask them to provide your balance and your available funds and the date of your last payment and the method of same including the bank you paid the funds from. They may not have all the information, (especially your paying bank)but they should have all the rest of it.
If you have been the victim of an internet identity theft scam HIRE AN ATTORNEY PRONTO then call the police with the lawyer. You are going to have to act fast to protect your credit rating and personal information. You may also have a way to recoup your loses from the people who helped the crooks violate your privacy by their negligence or complicity.
B. NSA Wiretapping Is Ruled Unconstitutional
This is for all my readers who are about to go back to school and are trying to figure out what is up with the NSA wiretap case.
CNN reported that Detroit Michigan US District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the Bush administration's Domestic wiretap program was unconstitutional. This is the program that the President has decided he has the right to institute without congressional approval. It allows the NSA to listen in on telephone calls without the need to first get approval from a FISA court. The Bush administration through Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has promised to appeal.
Close reading of the decision shows that the Seventy Three (73)year old jurist, a Carter appointee and the first Black woman appointed to the federal court in Michigan, had written more of polemic than legal decision. Neo-Conservative bloggers and Bush apologists went crazy. (Check out this post by Professor Ann Althouse. A more shall we say cogent legal opinion was rendered by Howard Bashman in his Law.com column.
I have to agree with both Althouse and Bashman (and just about everyone else) that the opinion is weak on legal theory and long on political discourse. I think the reason for this is as follows:
a) The Administration is seeking to conglomerate the NSA Cases into one court. That is good judicial economy, except that it means that only one Court of Appeal gets to rule on the case. That may not be good for either side. Hence in order to avoid that from happening the judge decided to get the decision out no matter what it said for reasoning just to be sure that her Court of Appeals in Chicago would get to weigh in on the matter.
b) She is really tired of what she sees as this administration's regal attitude and this concept that they can rule by fiat. She may have succumbed to the frustration that many of the liberal and classically liberal persuasion feel, as they watch the erosion of our liberties by an administration that is haunted by the ghosts of 9-11-01 and their failure to protect the nation from it.
c) She intends to correct the decision. Unlikely but possible.
For those that want to know what the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals might be thinking, there is this post supporting domestic intelligence gathering written by one of the 6th's greater conservative minds Judge Richard A. Posner.
The concept of Domestic Intelligence gathering is pretty much anathema to most counter-culture Americans and even to more mainstrean american civil libertarians. It brings back memories of President Richard Nixon and the Segretti Dirty Trick Squad and the domestic spying of the 1960's and early 1970's. However on Meet The Pressthis morning Senator John McCain made a case for at least some domestic spying performed under the watchful eyes of the Congress and the Courts.
I intend to keep my own watchful eye on this story.
C. Capital Punishment for DUI/DWI'S: A Modest Proposal*?
Over at one of my other favorite blogs, Sentencing Law and Policy
Professor Douglas Berman lays out the case for more severely punishing DWI offenders than sex offenders! Doug asks the question "Is capital punishment for drunk driving morally required?"
Shocking? Yes. Absurd? Maybe not according to the numbers. Why? Well, go see Doug's blog and see what you think of his thoughts.
*The phrase "A Modest Proposal" is from an essay of the same name by satirist Jonathan Swift written in 1729. It is probably my favorite political satire of all time. Swift could really "zing the king." Check it out here.
D. A New Form Of kiddy Porn Rears Its Ugly Head And May Split The First Amendment Lobby
The New York Times reports that kiddy pornographer are sending their smutty ideas through the internet under a potentially legal guise. They are posing kids in scanty attire, (covering the private parts) in suggestive ways to feed the sickos that "need" this garbage. I love free speech but this breaks its bounds. However, how much does this differ from a Calvin Klein Jean's or underwear ad?
There is no rule that says just because a child appears nude it is pornography and just because she is clothed it is not. In fact in US. v. Knox, the court specifically held that: "...Clothing alone did not automatically mean that images of children were legal."
There is a six prong test emanating from the case US v. Dost, which calls for the court to individually look into each case to determine if the poses render the pictures of a clothed child permissible or not.
Nevertheless, First Amendment Lawyers are uncomfortable with a rule that says children who are pictured wearing clothes can still be considered to be engaged in child porn.
My advice is to stay away from these sites as they contain Child pornography. In addition, if you are attracted to children that way, you should run and seek out counseling. RUN, before you are placed in the hands of Law enforcement. IF you have a problem with a child sex addiction there are places that can help.
Well that's my week in review. I am sure I missed stuff but hopefully you enjoyed this and I can keep it up.