The FBI wants to exempt its massive database of biometric data (mostly fingerprints and facial photos) from public scrutiny under the Privacy Act. This would prevent citizens from challenging both their presence in this database (which comprises information from convicts and suspects), as well as challenging the accuracy of that information. Why the exemptions? The FBI says it doesn't want investigations "compromised" by people learning they're being investigated, which has to be one of the whiniest excuses I've ever heard. Among the many major troubles with the database: it doesn't always distinguish between convict and suspect, and when a suspect is looking for a job, that might be a big deal.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that a law enforcement request for cell phone location information does not require a warrant. While their reasoning has ample precedent -- the "third-party doctrine" holding that folks who "knowingly and willingly" surrender information to a third party have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" regarding that information -- I think you could argue that folks don't surrender cell phone location info "willingly" if they have to do so just to use a cell phone and get service; that, in fact, they're being compelled to surrender that info. And if we're not yet at the point where we could no longer consider a cell phone a luxury, we're getting there.
Kate Cox, writing at the Consumerist, plunges down the rabbit hole of your average Verizon Wireless bill. How does your bill inflate by 50% or more? Certainly because of the monthly charge on the phone itself, which most folks know by now is not really "free," but also via such innovations as the "smartphone line access" fee (amounting to $20 per phone per month on some Verizon bills!) as well as various "service" and "administrative" charges. The "regulatory" charge, I suppose, is there to make you hate the FCC. Just in case you thought we were just picking on Verizon here, Ms. Cox will be going through other big telecom cell phone bills in future installments, and they promise to be as bad or worse.
Jill Richardson, writing at Otherwords, explores the myth that poor people are all lazy cheaters. Versus, you know, held down by a system where the most powerful people run roughshod over the rest of us. Though many Americans think of themselves, in Will Rogers's words, as "temporarily-embarrassed millionaires," you'd think this myth's power would get weaker as more and more of us face the year-in-year-out reality that we're just treading water at best. Sadly, most folks split that particular knot by assuming that those other poor people are the lazy cheaters.
Finally, we learn that Donald Trump has a profound conflict of interest as a Presidential candidate -- that he owes upwards of $100 million to a foreign bank that has had skirmishes with out government's regulators. In a sane and healthy society, this would be a crippling revelation -- a man that far in debt to foreign banks will have his strings pulled by those banks sooner or later, particularly when they want absolution from his Administration for some wrong they've done to Americans. But don't hold your breath waiting for the "liberal" media to say this revelation "disqualifies" Donald Trump, since this isn't, strictly-speaking, a horse-race issue. I guess I won't be too sad if the eventual Democratic nominee runs a bunch of campaign ads about "Donald Trump, the debtor-in-chief."