Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping this site up to date as I’ve been blogging on the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society site.  To that end, here are my most recent posts:

The Unintended Consequences of CISPA

New Cybersecurity Bill Available

Revised Cybersecurity Act Needs Amendments for Privacy, Security

Thanks for following along.


Contact me if you want tickets for this worthy cause! BCPO Raffle 2012 Flyer

Happy new year, Friends. It is starting out to be a great 2012 for me. I’ve taken a position as General Counsel for Worldstar LLC and its flagship website (WSHH), voted top hip hop and urban culture website two years running by BET. In addition to the website, Worldstar operates a talent agency, video production company, dating site and is growing rapidly. They were a client of mine at ZwillGen PLLC, so I’m honored and thrilled to come on board full time.

Additionally, my new position allows me to continue work on the internet freedom and privacy issues so important to me: electronic surveillance, government privacy, computer security, coder’s rights and free speech .

So if you want to reach me, for WSHH matters or for any digital civil liberties issue, here’s my new contact information.

Jennifer Stisa Granick
Worldstar LLC General Counsel
Attorney at Law
350 Townsend Street, Ste. 612
San Francisco, CA 94107
tel 415-684-8111
fax 630-733-7653 or 424-298-8589
granick _at_ worldstarhiphop dot com
granicklaw _at_ granick dot com
personal twitter @granick
official worldstar twitter @worldstar

Help EFF and get a free trip to Vegas for Defcon in our First Annual Defcon Getaway Fundraising Contest!.

Social Networks: Friends or Foes? I’m speaking at the conference hosted at UC Berkeley on October 23rd.  There are still spaces for people to register.  Also, its the day after EFF’s exciting Pioneer Awards  Tickets are on sale for that now, at a discount.  See you then!

Friends, Romans, Republicans… lend me your ears.

REMINDER: Guess what!  The election is tomorrow.  Remember to vote, and to get your Democratic family members in those important swing states to vote.

UPDATE:  I’m officially endorsing David Campos in District 9.  Upon further research, being reminded that others whom I respect are supporting his candidacy, meeting the man on Cortland Avenue on Halloween, and learning of his outreach efforts and longstanding interest in the District, I recommend a vote for David Campos.

MORE:  There’s a great story in the SF Bay Guardian this week about the legacy of district elections and the progressive supervisors of the last eight years.  Highly recommended reading and very even-handed, honest reporting.  Its called Class of 2000.  I can’t find it on their website, but I will update with a link if/when I do.

Also, some unconfirmed information on the train proposition (1A), which I oppose, is attached below.

See you at the polls.


November 1, 2008

To:  Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances & Associates in California

Subject:  High-Speed Rail Bonds, Prop. 1A  —  As I See It

Dear Friends–

Over the last few weeks an increasing number of people, knowing my background, have asked how to vote on Prop. 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure.  California voters are gaining an increasing awareness that voting for a proposition on the ballot–and supporting the ideals purported to be behind that proposition–are two very different things.

I am in favor of high-speed rail in California.  That said, I must vote AGAINST this bond measure.

As most of you know, I worked for a passenger rail advocacy group the past six years.  As such, I followed the project closely and attended most all of the High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) board meetings held in Northern California. I have many reasons to be concerned.  $80 million dollars has been spent on “planning”, yet with all this money spent on consultant salaries, the route is still a broad, conceptual line.  If the project is funded, there is a high probability that it will never be built.  The official estimated cost for the project is $45 billion.  Some industry insiders I have spoken with believe that it will easily cost $80-$100 billion.

High-speed rail should be as straight as possible, both for speed and energy consumption.  Instead, the line veers in a 42-mile extra-long loop to hit open lands near Mojave to serve KB homes.  The route takes Pacheco Pass to, among other reasons, serve a not-yet-built community on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley near Santa Nella.  It veers 30 miles east from LA before going south because wealthy communities on the coastline don’t want it going through their towns.  Tiny Visalia even managed to get a study commissioned to bend the line east towards them so they could have a stop.

Think about energy for a moment.  Just the extra 42 miles to go through Palmdale means every train, every day, forever, will go 42 extra miles.  Think of the energy that will use.  Is that green?  Besides the other environmental problems associated with Pacheco Pass, it is a higher pass than Altamont Pass, thus taking more energy for every train, every day, to climb over the mountains.  Is that green?

Pacheco Pass was chosen as the preferred route by HSRA and “spun” as more environmentally friendly, even though the route passes through a huge wildlife refuge and opens up huge tracts of land to housing outside present urbanized areas.  To justify the decision, an HSRA board member with ties to San Jose insisted in a radio interview recently that the environmental problems with building Altamont Pass and a rail bridge at Dumbarton were “huge”, while those involved with crossing Pacheco and Grassland Wetlands were “minor”.  Even the group charged to protect the refuge near Dumbarton said it preferred the Altamont route.  Grassland, though you may never have heard of it, is on the Pacific Flyway and is the largest contiguous wetlands in the Western United States.  Using Pacheco would bisect this most important bird sanctuary, not to mention cutting a new transportation corridor through Pacheco Pass where no railroad has ever been built.

Some environmental groups were satisfied by recent legislation that “banned” a station between Gilroy and Merced.  That sounds great, except another law passed in 15-20 years could reverse the ban just as easily as the ban was created.   Why would this happen?  One of the largest greenfield developments, the Villages of Laguna San Luis, is proposed to be built around the banned station. Citizens of this future development will eventually demand a stop on the train running right through their community so they won’t have to drive to work in the Bay Area.  This station, by the way, is on the property of a bankrupt dairy farm owned by a state representative, whom the organization I used to work for found, through a public records request, had a $50,000 contract with the HSRA to “attend meetings”.  When asked for a public records disclosure of worked performed, they were told there was “no written product”.

$950 million of the Prop. 1A money is supposedly for other rail and transit agencies that will someday connect with high-speed rail.  Almost certainly that $950 million for conventional rail is fake, just like the money you voted for in Proposition 1B a couple of years ago was fake (in terms of being an increase in funding for rail transit).  The legislature simply zeroed out the traditional funding source for transit, then backfilled the loss with 1B money.  You the people voted for more rail money and got nothing, except a shell game in which you ending up paying for more bonds that are now paying down the state debt.  With the state budget in shambles, it is highly likely the same thing will happen with the $950 million for conventional rail in Prop. 1A.

Ron Roberts, the president of the Southern California Association of Governments and chairman of the Metrolink Commuter Rail Service (a service which stands to gain tens of millions of dollars if 1A passes) said “The high-speed bond measure only allows $9.9 billion when the actual cost for the first phase from San Francisco to LA is closer to $40 billion. That does not cover phase two from LA to San Diego through Riverside County.  Anyone south of LA will pay the price and never get the rail service if the bill is passed, and if the other $30 billion is not found, no one in California will ever ride on a high-speed train unless they go to a foreign country.”

High speed rail doesn’t currently exist in the US, thus making California the guinea pig of the Western Hemisphere.  Every mile and every town is its own large construction project, with the potential to morph into its own version of Boston’s “Big Dig”, the grand-daddy of transit cost overruns.  The HSRA is even using the same primary consultant that Boston did, which isn’t necessarily a foreshadowing but doesn’t exactly endear me with trust.  As much as you may want to see high-speed rail built “at any cost”, at some point the money simply won’t be there.

I co-wrote an article on the high-speed rail routing in the Central Valley, published in a 2002 edition of the newsletter of the advocacy organization I worked for.  The idea was that the express trains didn’t pass through the Valley towns, which are served by very fast conventional trains, while the express trains run on a straight alignment outside of town, thus saving billions by not having to buy numerous individual private properties, expand overpasses, relocate railroads and utilities, build sound-walls, overhead structures and trenches.  That’s how it’s done in Europe.

But the politicians in the San Joaquin Valley towns all want the big shiny trains stopping in their town, to put them on the map.  It’s like a 21st Century version of the spaghetti western film genre.  “If our town gets the railroad, we’ll grow like a weed, if it goes around us, all we’ll see are tumbleweeds.”  However, when the citizens realize what 220mph trains, a four-track trench, land-takings and years of construction really mean, the townspeople will revolt.  This project will be laden in lawsuits for years to come.

AB 3034 requires that the HSRA submit a financial-level business plan (set to the standards for any large public works venture) by October 1.  They don’t have one; and they won’t have one before the election.  Joe Vranich (whom I often disagree with–but not on this issue) testified recently in a hearing by Senator Alan Lowenthal regarding the lack of this business plan:

The Authority’s projection of 117 million annual riders is so far from reality that I have to call it what it is—science fiction. The Authority’s projection is far higher than what is found on high-speed rail systems around the world. The Authority anticipates an average load factor of nearly 85 percent. The Federal Railroad Administration’s study for California placed the average at 51 percent. The TGV system in France—which I’ve been on and I love—claims a load factor of 71 percent. The Authority’s projected load factor is nearly 20 percent higher than the very impressive French figure . . . The Authority projects intensities that are far above those achieved in Japan, France and the Boston–Washington Corridor.

Among the unreal estimates is that the trains will connect San Francisco with Los Angeles in 2 hours and 42 minutes. For that to occur, the trains would have to operate at an average speed of 197 mph, a feat that has yet to be accomplished anywhere in the world. That combined with routing problems means the trip is likely to take an hour longer.

High-speed rail holds great promise in certain sections of the country. But the work of the Authority is so deficient that if the current plan is implemented it has the potential of setting back the cause of high-speed rail throughout the United States. The Authority has not learned the lessons: What caused Texas high-speed rail to fail? What caused it to fail in Florida? What caused the prior project to fail between Los Angeles and San Diego?  A common element in the failures were high ridership estimates, low cost estimates, disregard for local environmental impacts and the planners losing credibility. The California Authority is repeating all of the mistakes as if they have never read a single page of history.

It is time to dissolve the California High Speed Rail Authority. Give it no more funding than is required for terminating contracts, transferring data and duties to a more responsible agency, and conducting an orderly shutdown.  High-speed rail in California may be salvageable—after all this poor work—but someone else must be in charge. If the Authority is unable to conduct studies that have credibility, then how will they ever effectively deliver a mega-construction project on time and within budget?  (end Vranich quotes)

Only $8-9 billion of the (supposed) $45 billion will be covered by the bond, while none of the other money is secured.  Where will the rest come from?  There are vague ideas about federal dollars, such as a stimulus package that hasn’t been written yet, or pots of cash – one such source mentioned is the CalPers retirement fund.  Then there are all those private investors the HSRA keeps talking about that are waiting in line to risk a billion here and a billion there.  The $650 million annual debt payment on the Prop. 1A bonds will equal half what California spends on ALL public transit annually.  Think about THAT for a moment!  Then realize that debt payment is only for the $10 billion bond, not on the full $45-$100 billion cost!

Unlike Prop. 1A which falls woefully short on project construction costs, the $2 billion from Proposition 116 from 1990 fully funded its rail projects, which are the intercity and commuter trains you see today.  Lacking as they may be compared to European trains, they are among the most successful passenger trains in the nation.  As if to add insult to injury, the Authority has twice in the last year “redirected” money from Prop. 116 for “planning”, by having the money funneled from projects that would have built actual rail infrastructure on California’s current routes.  As someone who campaigned for Prop. 116, I take this as a personal slap in the face.

I know you WANT to vote for this.  So do I, but knowing what I know I cannot.  I’m asking you to trust my judgment on this one.  In 15-20 years, if 1A passes, maybe we’ll have funded pieces of some transit systems, some right-of-way acquisition, a lot of lawyers, politicians, consultants, planners – but not a railroad.  And all this will delay for years many of the real rail projects we need because the legislature will say, “why bother, aren’t we building high-speed rail?”

It breaks my heart to vote against the ideal of a project I believe in so strongly.  Most everything I hear the proponents of this project say about high-speed rail is correct, but those truths are about a real, completed system, not Prop. 1A.  Please join me in shedding a tear for California while voting NO on Prop. 1A.

–Alan C. Miller

Note:  This is a one-time email. I am writing this as an individual, not in association with my past or current affiliations or employers.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.

Almost everyone I know asks me how EFF gets its money. Well, we are a membership organization, which means that EFF depends on supporters like you for our budget. (And my job.) We are not, in fact, a foundation, nor does even half our money come from corporations or any large donor(s). So, for the end of this (pretty bad) economic year, EFF is running a friends and family membership drive that gives new members a deal on membership (and the schwag that comes with it). Go here to take advantage of it. Excelsior!


Friends, Romans, Republicans*:

Welcome to the Granick Slate Card for the June 3, 2008 Primary Election. Lots of fun stuff on the ballot, though unfortunately we can’t vote for who is more wronged, Obama because Hillary insists that Florida and Michigan voters be counted even though Obama didn’t campaign there because they weren’t supposed to count, or Hillary because Obama insists that she death wished him by even mentioning RFK. Debate it elsewhere, we aren’t even talking about it here. No, we are not.

*Actually, its a primary and I’m registered Democrat, so the candidate picks below are only helpful for Democratic voters. If you aren’t registered D, see the “Some Housekeeping” section.

Some Housekeeping:

Its recently come to my attention that some fair citizens of San Francisco* are registered Independent, meaning American Independent Party. The AIP is not the fair-minded agnostic who just wants a chance to vote their conscience in a open primary, no. It is, according to those perennially youthful lads Matier and Ross, “anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-NAFTA and anti-tax party”. For those of you in the same boat as Ms. Siebel, you might want to re-register. To become the independent voter you always wanted to be, you should pick “decline to state”. You can do so here.

*Who else made this gaffe? Why, future First Lady Jennifer Siebel did! So you are in good company. Reportedly, she went to Stanford!

Now that that’s settled, we’re off to the races.

United States Representative; District 8: Nancy Pelosi, Democratic

Pelosi is powerful. Pelosi brings home the bacon. Pelosi will face anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan in November. Pelosi will win this primary. Pelosi.

State Senator; District 3; Mark Leno

This is a tight race and, to my mind, one of two reasons to turn out and vote next Tuesday. Assemblyman Mark Leno is running against the incumbant Carole Migden and former Assemblyman Joe Nation. Nation made a name for himself with pro-environment legislation, before terming out of the State Assembly in 2006. He’s generally considered the most conservative person running for this seat, possibly because he says he’ll work across party lines, possibly because he takes money from the landlords promoting Prop 98 (see below) and also possibly because he’s the only straight guy. Hey, straight people can be liberals, too!

My vote goes for Leno. He’s been effective, principled and pragmatic. The Chron, which endorsed him, says “Leno’s work in shepherding his same-sex marriage legislation – bringing it from pipe dream to passage in 2005 and 2007, only to be vetoed each time by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – was a textbook example of how an understated tenacity can pay off in the world of politics.” He was also instrumental in passing a state health care bill last year.

Sadly, Senator Migden’s personal and professional judgement make it impossible for me to vote for her, especially with Leno in the race. Remember the hit-and-run freeway crash, which she blamed on medication she is taking for previously undisclosed cancer, and the record fine from the Fair Political Practices Commission for campaign-finance law violations that included use of donations for personal expenses? How about the time she punched the “yes” button of a Republican legislator when he was in the toilet or something while her bill was being voted on in the Assembly? If there weren’t another great candidate, you might force yourself to overlook these things, but there’s Leno.

State Assembly: Tom Ammiano

He’s movin’ on up from the Board of Supervisors. He’s funny. He’s from New Jersey. He worked his ass off for this city. He authored the city’s domestic partners law. He authored the living wage law. He created the Children’s Fund and the the Rainy Day Fund law. He looks great in a dress. We’ll miss you, Tom, and we’re proud of you.

Democratic Party County Central Committee; San Francisco County

Here’s who I know who is running in my district, the 13th.

Michael R. Farrah, Jr.

Here’s who the Bay Guardian endorses:

13th Assembly District

Bill Barnes, David Campos, David Chiu, Chris Daly, Michael Goldstein, Robert Haaland, Joe Julian, Rafael Mandelman, Aaron Peskin, Eric Quezada, Laura Spanjian, Debra Walker

12th Assembly District

Michael Bornstein, Emily Drennen, Hene Kelly, Eric Mar, Jake McGoldrick, Trevor McNeil, Jane Morrison, Melanie Nutter, Connie O’Connor, Giselle Quezada, Arlo Hale Smith

Superior Court Judge; San Francisco County: Mary Mallen (Not Thomas Mellon)

Current Judge Mellon should not be retained due to a general disrespect for public defenders and apparent fear of the people who appear before him as defendants and witnesses (see here. Gerardo C. Sandoval, a former public defender, is a doofus. That super doofus Sean Hannity outsmarted him. Mallen, another former public defender is my choice.

State Propositions

Proposition 98: End Rent Control, and Then Some: NO
Proposition 99: Protect Homeowners from Eminent Domain: Yes

These propositions are an effort to redo a previous proposition on eminent domain that was narrowly defeated by Californians in November of 2006. 98 takes all the parts of that proposition and makes it worse by including language that would defeat rent control. 99 is more narrowly tailored to prevent the government from taking a single family dwelling to sell that land to another private party.

The problem is that eminent domain, often used by government and environmentalists to stop private property owners from destroying communal resources, has more recently be used to take the little guy’s land and give it to developers or other property owners. The US Supreme Court approved the practice, so people feel that ED is out of control. Still, government power over real estate serves an important social function when properly deployed for parks, wetlands, reasonable rent control and the like. Proposition 98 has no balance whatsoever. It would encourage property owners to sue the government whenever it restricts the ways owners use their land, including zoning, land use and environmental reglations. Proposition 98 bars state and local governments from using eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence, as defined, for conveyance to a private person or business entity. This one is balanced and acceptable.

Local Measures

Proposition A School Parcel Tax – Yes

$198 per parcel annually for schools. An effort to fix underfunding because of the anti-property tax movement of the 1970’s.

Proposition B Changing Qualifications for Retiree Health and Pension Benefits and Establishing a Retiree Health Care Trust Fund – Yes

This prop increases the years of service required for City employees to qualify for employer-funded retiree health benefits from 5 to 10 or 20 years, while increasing retirement benefits for those who do qualify. A way to save the city money while providing for long-term employees.

Proposition C Forfeiture of Retirement Benefits for Conviction of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude in Connection with City Employment – No

Not a big enough problem to be worth the litigation over whether something is morally turpitudinous enough to merit the penalty. And yes, that is a word.

Proposition D Appointments to City Boards and Commissions – No

Another one of these non-binding policy statements San Franciscans love, this one saying more men and women of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and types of disabilities be appointed so that the interests of these people is better represented. It is both banal and false. Banal because everyone in San Francisco believes in equal opportunity for all who want to be in public service and false because the proposition assumes that identity politics is the truest way to egalitarianism, which I don’t believe is borne out by history.

Proposition E Requiring Board of Supervisors’ Approval of Mayor’s Appointments to the Public Utilities Commission and Creating Qualifications for Commission Members – No

This is another one of those salvos in the ongoing fight between our allegedly conservative mayor and the allegedly progressive Board of Supervisors over who has the most control. Right now, the mayor appoints people to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Board can only reject that person with a 2/3 vote. This would change that to a majority vote. A 2/3 vote should be enough of a safeguard against political hacks, without making PUC appointments a political football. If you trust the supervisors but not the mayor, you’ll vote the other way on this.

Proposition F — No
Proposition G – YES

This is the other reason to vote in this election and is a hot political potato.

Hunters Point is neglected and languishing. Previous voter-approved ideas, like a shopping mall, have failed because there was not a comprehensive vision or a financial plan to make improvements work. Until now. Proposition G was placed on the ballot to get voter support for a Lennar Corp. development plan. The plan is elaborate, and promises parks, businesses, housing, clean up of the Navy Yard with federal money, a way to keep the 49ers and a way to use the land if they leave for Santa Clara. While Lennar’s initial promise was for 25% affordable housing, the corporation has upped its ante to 32%, (and thrown in a chunk of change for job training and home ownership programs) due to opposition from Prop F. It has also promised to build some of the housing for the poorest people, and some for the lower middle class. The plan, if it happens in this economic market, will be great for the area. That is why Sophie Maxwell, the supervisor for Bayview/Hunters Point is in favor of G.

Proposition F is the poison pill for Proposition G. Pushed by people who don’t trust Lennar’s promises can be enforced would require 50% of the housing to be affordable. The problem is that Prop F doesn’t say how that plan could be financed. Lennar says it can’t afford to do the development at that rate. Also, during the debate on KQED the other day, one of the Prop G proponents said that no project in the City has ever had more than 30% affordable housing. So if F passes, then the most likely scenario is that, once again and still, Hunters Point sits neglected. Lennar will drop its plan, and the area is unlikely to get another suitor.

Affordable housing is really important, as is avoiding gentrification that drives current residents away, as is avoiding the “barbell effect” where the really poor and the super rich can get access to homes in the city, and everyone else has to leave. The Lennar plan provides that housing, maybe not as much as you’d theoretically like, in the context of a well-conceived detailed plan that can actually happen. F puts the kibosh on that progress. And waiting carries its own price. Black residents are already being forced out of the Bayview area by a mixture of gentrification and violence. There’s always something not to like, but that is not a good excuse anymore. Vote yes on G and no on F.

Proposition H Prohibiting Elected Officials, Candidates, or Committees They Control from Soliciting or Accepting Contributions from Certain City Contractors – No

This is a poorly crafted rule that does not define the “controlled committees” that it allegedly regulates. As a result is will not make government cleaner. Both the Chronicle and the Bay Guardian are against it.

Thats all, folks. Remember to vote early, vote often. Polls are open from 7A to 8P. Viva la democracia.


To find your polling place, go here,/a>: (A great site with tons of resources, btw)
SF Chronicle
SF Bay Guardian Endorsements:


United States Representative; District 8: Nancy Pelosi, Democratic

State Senator; District 3; Mark Leno

State Assembly: Tom Ammiano

Democratic Party County Central Committee

Michael R. Farrah, Jr.

13th Assembly District

Bill Barnes, David Campos, David Chiu, Chris Daly, Michael Goldstein, Robert Haaland, Joe Julian, Rafael Mandelman, Aaron Peskin, Eric Quezada, Laura Spanjian, Debra Walker

12th Assembly District

Michael Bornstein, Emily Drennen, Hene Kelly, Eric Mar, Jake McGoldrick, Trevor McNeil, Jane Morrison, Melanie Nutter, Connie O’Connor, Giselle Quezada, Arlo Hale Smith

Superior Court Judge; Mary Mallen (Not Thomas Mellon)

Prop A: Schools: Yes

Prop B: Retirement: Yes

Prop C: Moral Turpitude: No

Prop D: Policy on Appointments: No

Prop E: PUC Appointments: No

Prop F: Poison Pill: No

Prop G: Lennar Plan for Hunters Point: Yes

Prop H: Controlled Committees: No

To subscribe to the Granick Slate Card, visit http:// The Granick
Slate Card issues before every California election and may be copied and freely shared for any non-commercial purpose, with author attribution. Derivative works need not make any attribution.
My recent post on the EFF blog talks about the difficulty that web security researchers have doing their work, in light of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and similar state statutes. While pen testers and other hired security guns can get written authorization to do security audits, members of the public have little leeway to explore the ways a website works or breaks, even when that vulnerability means that customer data is exposed to fraudsters. Read the post –Computer Crime Laws Chill Discovery of Customer Privacy Threats | Electronic Frontier Foundation– for more about the issue.
Thanks to all who have called or emailed, wondering where the Granick Slate Card is.  I have planned to issue it a week before Election Day, October 27th, so apologies to all those who wanted to vote early.  Next election I will issue it two weeks before to accommodate you better.

The Granick Slatecard will be out by midnight tonight.

The Granick Slate Card for Tuesday’s election is coming out later tonight, so if you want it without checking back here, make sure you are signed up.  Subscribe to the Slate Card here.

Yesterday’s Wired News column, filed from our pied a terre in Amsterdam, discusses the clash between the right to privacy and the right to free speech, as represented in a lawsuit by the local royal family against a tabloid it seeks to stop from publishing photographs of the young princesses playing on the beach with their mother and nanny. You can read the whole article here.
Me, Pere LaChaise Cemetary, Paris, June 07
… is my birthday. I am thirty-eight.

Me, Birthday Month

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