Cop:You're under arrest!
Victim: What for?
Cop: Its a secret. I can't tell you.
This is America?
That is the Patriot Act, parts of which were about to expire but were just renewed for 4 years with almost no debate. For links on this, start here and here and here
Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore) and Morris Udall (D-Col) have been highly critical of the extended parts which they believe have been interpreted by the security folks in a way that conflicts and extends the generally understood interpretation of the law.
Wyden had put a hold on the bill but then removed it on the promise of hearings that would allow him to pursue his doubts on the law (while not jeopardizing U S security).
This is the same law that has been interpreted to allow the Justice Department to seize internet service providers and close them without a public process or explanation, ostensibly for violating copyright - hardly a security priority.
Rand Paul has also picked this legislation for criticism, but mainly on libertarian grounds with which many people disagree. Others are critical on civil rights and due process grounds.
All opposition on this one is welcome. It is an outrage.
The start of what will no doubt be a continuing series:
Dear New York Times:
Laudably, articles in Sunday's NYT address the need for innovation. Not one mentions the single most important ingredient needed to encourage innovation - patent reform. Patents no longer serve to encourage innovation. Rather, rent-seekers see who have the best ideas and use patents to blackmail them. Software has been one of the great engines of growth. Yet Bill Gates said: "If people had … taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today." Industry is now at a standstill and there can be no new direction for American innovation without a radical patent reform. Let us roll back patent protection in software; enforce the existing standard of non-obviousness; and eliminate the kidnapping of ideas for ransom by providing an independent invention defense. This - without public money, and unlike the random assortment of stimulus spending currently being proposed in Congress - would build the foundation for sustained economic growth.
Michele Boldrin, David K. Levine, and Stephen M. Silberstein
Michele Boldrin is Joseph G. Hoyt Distinguished Professor, and Chairman, in the Department of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and a CEPR Research Associate. He is co-author of Against Intellectual Monopoly from Cambridge University Press, August 2008.
David K. Levine is John H. Biggs Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the President of the Society for Economic Dynamics, a Fellow of the Econometric Society and an NBER Research Associate. He is co-author of Against Intellectual Monopoly from Cambridge University Press, August 2008.
Stephen M. Silberstein co-founded, and served as the first President of, Innovative Interfaces Inc., the world's leading supplier of computer software for the automation of libraries.