DOJ: We don't need warrants for e-mail, Facebook chats

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don't need a search warrant to review Americans' e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.

Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they're not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access … Read more

Swift To-Do List 8.052 Review

Call them what you will -- task managers, organizers, or personal assistants -- but software designed to help busy people stay a step ahead of the competition (or disaster) is practically as old as computing, itself. It sometimes seems like we've tried them all, yet few have been "keepers." So we were intrigued by Dextronet's Swift To-Do List since other picky users seemed to like it. It's shareware, so it needs to offer a lot of features and performance to stand out from the freeware crowd -- and it does. But you can try it … Read more

Congressman endorses data retention law, then backs away

A historic lobbying effort today to update U.S. privacy laws for the 21st century seemed to be in danger of derailment by a law enforcement-backed proposal to require Internet companies and e-mail providers to keep records of what their users are doing online.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of a key House of Representatives subcommittee, said this morning that it was time to resuscitate the idea of the government mandating data retention. Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, had drafted a mandatory logging proposal seven years ago that included prison terms for company executives who failed to comply. A law … Read more

Senator introduces bill requiring warrant for e-mail history

After more than 25 years since the passage of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), Sen. Patrick Leahy is hoping to get the out-of-date privacy law up to speed by introducing a new bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, according to Ars Technica.

The key component of this new bill is that law enforcement officials would no longer have the ease of freely being able to read people's personal e-mail and online communication -- they'd need a warrant first. As the law now stands, police are allowed to get individual's private correspondence by simply asking e-mail … Read more

How to set a due date for Mountain Lion Reminders

Apple's new Reminders application in Mountain Lion can be used to make a quick to-do list for various projects. One feature in previous implementations of reminders in iCal was a due date option where you could set when a specific task was to be completed. While this option is a bit redundant with the new notification options in the Reminders application, it can be implemented for tasks if needed.

When you create a reminder in the Reminders application, you can double-click it, select it and press Command-I, or click the "i" character to the right of the … Read more

For stylish storm chasers, a Hurricane T-shirt

Talk about being in eye of the storm. This shirt from Due Fashion sports satellite imagery of a hurricane. Yes, you can wear Hurricane Rick right on your chest.

The printed T-shirt is part of the U.K. company's first collection, called Earth Tops. The line of cotton/polyester tops features dashing digital aerial imagery of weather patterns and geographical terrain like the Sahara desert and Russian Kamchatka Peninsula. … Read more

Sweeping bill would update privacy law

The U.S. Congress took the first major step today toward updating a 1986 law, crafted in the pre-Internet era of telephone modems and the black-and-white Macintosh Plus, to protect the privacy of Americans who use mobile phones, Web e-mail, and services like Google Docs, Flickr, and Picasa.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary committee, introduced sweeping legislation that would, in many cases, require police to obtain a search warrant to access private communications and the locations of mobile devices.

"Updating this law to reflect the realities of our time is essential to ensuring that our … Read more

Obama faces major online privacy test

When Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency in 2008, he promised that as president, he would "strengthen privacy protections for the digital age."

That pledge will be put to the test as the Obama administration considers whether to support a new privacy proposal released by a coalition including Google, eBay, Microsoft, AT&T, the ACLU, and Americans for Tax Reform. CNET was the first to report on the proposal in an article published Monday.

The group, the Digital Due Process coalition, is calling for a federal law requiring police to obtain search warrants before tracking Americans' … Read more

Desktop to-do lists

There are as many tools to help you organize your life as there are days in a year, which makes it hard to stand out. Swift To-Do List is easy to use, but its basic features keep it firmly in the middle of the pack.

This program offers a simple interface that most users should find intuitive from the beginning. With large, colorful icons and a tree displaying the various tasks that need to be performed, the display is easily interpreted. This basic, yet functional interface serves well in creating a new task. Users can title, schedule, and even add … Read more