This may sound a bit harsh, but what kind of digitally-challenged people are running ICE? You know, Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that relied on twisted evidence and the MPAA’s say so for domain seizures or let the RIAA explain away the site shutdown. This is the same ICE with a Cyber Crimes Center that shut down 84,000 websites by accident during “Operation Save Our Children.” The same ICE that Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren advised those mistakenly seized sites to sue. Now, in something that seems like the punch line to a bad joke, ICE called and it wants its "going dark" spy documents back.
In the first and second letter, ICE claimed the EFF’S Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was too broad. The FOIA documents that were released have been in the hands of netizens around the world for months, so you have to wonder what kind of technically-challenged
backwards hillbilly person actually believes that the document no longer exists in cyberspace by the EFF destroying their copy? It’s on Cryptome as ‘ICE Here Is Your Spy Document Returned’ [PDF]. As the EFF’s Jennifer Lynch pointed out:
It took ICE almost a year to get back to us on the narrowed request, and when it did, its response was frustrating. Not only did the agency decide that it would still be too burdensome to conduct any kind of a search for similar records, but ICE also told us it never should have turned over the original records in the first place—and it wanted them back. The problem for ICE is, these records have already been in the public’s hands for over six months—we filed them as an exhibit (pdf) in our FOIA litigation (pdf) in March 2012, and they’re readily available on the PACER docket for the case (or from the Internet Archive).
The real problem is the FOIA request dealt with the feds claiming that it is somehow “going dark” in this golden age of cyber-surveillance, as well as its dark desire to expand electronic surveillance and CALEA (Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act). Noted at the top left corner regarding Comcast, the document ICE released states, “All FBI information contained herein is unclassified.” Clearly this isn’t a threat to national security then. The EFF said, “The records show that companies like Comcast, Cricket Communications, Metro PCS, Southern Linc Wireless, and T-Mobile either pushed back on or failed to comply with specific requests for information on their customers.”
Imagine how worked up the feds are in light of U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ordering the Justice Department, the DEA and the FBI to "go back and review documents they withheld as 'not responsive' or 'outside the scope' of EFF's FOIA request.”
The court noted that information that appears on the same page as or is in close proximity to other information that was "undisputably responsive" to EFF's request, is presumptively responsive because it "is likely to qualify as information that in 'any sense sheds light on, amplifies, or enlarges upon' the plainly responsive material, and that it should therefore be produced, absent an applicable exemption.
The government would “prefer not to disclose the information and can construct a technical argument that it is outside the scope of the request.” Yet I’d be willing to argue that We the People would prefer not to have backdoor eavesdropping capabilities built into everything on the Internet! I’d also imagine that Apple, Google, Microsoft and other online entities that care about civil liberties would prefer not to re-code all products to be wiretap-friendly. Who in the world would prefer to be spied upon as opposed to maintaining a tiny bit of digital dignity and privacy?
Countless people would prefer to make social networking comments or photos disappear after they’ve posted them online, but it doesn’t work like that. Once you put it “out there,” anyone may have scraped it and posted it elsewhere. Back to ICE, whether it was a joke in extremely bad taste or someone at ICE needs training to overcome being a digital dumba**, I’m sure they would prefer that the document disappear from the cyber-ether by demanding the EFF return or destroy its copies.
Good luck with that ICE.