After my last posting on the Texas Congressperson, I delight to bring you this from Sophos’ Naked Security. Of course it is still Texas and this legislator Stickland is still a Rethuglican. Notice his use of the word “weenies” in the quotation. His opinion of Austin is also significant. Austin is the seat of the University of Texas. As such it is the home of the most highly educated–and progressive–people in that benighted state.

Here’s a naked plug. The two most common malware (think virus, worm, etc.) protection softwares are McAfee and Norton (Symantec). That’s not because they are good. It is because they make deals with the computer makers to put their software on all new computers. And the contracts virtually lock out any competition. But there are several better products on the market. I’m partial to ZoneAlarm, but AVG and Malware Bytes are right up there at the top of my list. Sophos is also on my Favorites list but it is not available for the home user (Actually they do give away a lot of free software that is usable for individuals. I use their encryption software to make sure that sensitive personal information can’t be accessed by others.)

Texas becomes first US state to ban warrantless email snooping

by Lisa Vaas on June 19, 2013Texas image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Texas has become the first US state to ban email snooping without a warrant.

Governor Rick Perry signed the new privacy bill – HB 2268 – into law on Friday. It went into effect immediately.

The bill enacts a law that sets Texas residents apart from the other 49 states by protecting them from state and local law enforcement surveillance carried out without a warrant.

The portion of the bill that pertains to privacy was written by 29-year-old freshman Republican legislator Jonathan Stickland, who represents an area between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Stickland told the Star-Telegram that he’s fighting for ideals that all US citizens can get behind – a sentiment the newspaper applauded:

“Despite the many differences between Tea Party Republicans like Stickland and the most liberal weenies you might find in Austin, there also tend to be some similarities.

"One of them is that whatever government does, it should do in the open. There can be arguments over exactly what government transparency is, but both liberals and Tea Partiers tend to be for it."

As Ars Technica’s Cyrus Farivar points out, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requires federal law enforcement to get a warrant only to access email that hasn’t yet been opened by its recipient.

After it’s open, sitting around in an inbox, it’s been fair game. Ditto if the email has been left unopened in an inbox for 180 days.

The Department of Justice for the first time acknowledged in March that maintaining different legal standards for finely aged email is an outdated notion, supporting revisions to ECPA.

In the meantime, as we wait for revisions to ECPA, the residents of 49 US states are subject to a lower level of privacy than the Lone Star State.

That’s a nickname granted to Texas, some say, to signify that it’s a former independent republic, as well as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico.

Let’s hope that 49 other states follow the privacy path pointed out by that star.


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