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Wednesday Watercooler


Hi, y’all.

Portrait of Sojourner Truth in an arm chair.

Sojourner Truth gave one of her most famous speeches today in 1851.

On this day in 1851, Sojourner Truth read her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech to a gathering of feminists in Ohio. Here’s Alice Walker reading the speech, from a reading of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s Voices of A People’s History of the United States.

To my surprise, this Texas legislative session seems poised to usher in a ground-breaking email privacy bill, as long as Rick Perry signs it into law. Reports Ars Technica: 

On Tuesday, the Texas bill (HB 2268) was sent to Gov. Perry’s desk, and he has until June 16, 2013 to sign it or veto it. If he does neither, it will pass automatically and take effect on September 1, 2013. The bill would give Texans more privacy over their inbox to shield against state-level snooping, but the bill would not protect against federal investigations. The bill passed both houses of the state legislature earlier this year without a single “nay” vote.

This new bill, if signed, will make Texas law more privacy-conscious than the much-maligned (but frustratingly still in effect) 1986-era Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). With the ECPA, federal law enforcement agencies are only required to get a warrant to access recent e-mails before they are opened by the recipient.

As we’ve noted many times before, there are no such provisions in federal law once the e-mail has been opened or if it has been sitting in an inbox, unopened, for 180 days. In March 2013, the Department of Justice acknowledged in a Congressional hearing that this distinction no longer makes sense and the DOJ would support revisions to ECPA.

Some of you might be interested in a new book called Hacking Politics: HOW GEEKS, PROGRESSIVES, THE TEA PARTY, GAMERS, ANARCHISTS AND SUITS TEAMED UP TO DEFEAT SOPA AND SAVE THE INTERNET from OR Books. It features diverse authors from Lawrence Lessig to Cory Doctorow and the publisher has a “pay what you want” ebook deal going right now.

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Public domain photo by Randall Studio / Smithsonian Institution.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and