Martin Kaste

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy, as well as news from the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to general assignment reporting in the U.S., Kaste has contributed to NPR News coverage of major world events, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 uprising in Libya.

Kaste has reported on the government's warrant-less wiretapping practices as well as the data-collection and analysis that go on behind the scenes in social media and other new media. His privacy reporting was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 United States v. Jones ruling concerning GPS tracking.

Before moving to the West Coast, Kaste spent five years as NPR's reporter in South America. He covered the drug wars in Colombia, the financial meltdown in Argentina, the rise of Brazilian president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and the fall of Haiti's president Jean Bertrand Aristide. Throughout this assignment, Kaste covered the overthrow of five presidents in five years.

Prior to joining NPR in 2000, Kaste was a political reporter for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul for seven years.

Kaste is a graduate of Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota.

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All Tech Considered
8:00 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Police May Know Exactly Where You Were Last Tuesday

An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer keeps an eye on his dashboard computer as it reads passing car license plates.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 9:06 am

License plate scanners are the dark horse of the surveillance world. They've been around for a decade, but people rarely notice. They don't look much different from closed circuit cameras, perched over busy intersections. Or they're just another device mounted on a passing police car.

But they notice you: A scanner can ID thousands of plates a day. And a new ACLU report says the vast majority of police agencies now use them.

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Around the Nation
1:02 am
Mon July 15, 2013

A Peek Inside A Once Top Secret Spot In Atomic Age History

Take a tour of the Hanford site, a nuclear production complex in Richland, Wash., and you'll see the hundreds of mechanical water pressure gauges wired to the process tubes inside the core. Tour guide Paul Vinther warns that bumping these gauges could throw off the readings enough to trigger a an emergency shutdown of the reactor.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 9:40 am

People tend to remember that the atomic bomb was developed at Los Alamos, N.M., and Oak Ridge, Tenn., but they often forget about a third nuclear production complex — the Hanford Site in Richland, Wash. It's where they built the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor.

The "B Reactor" is a windowless, cinder block hulk out in the middle of nowhere. You might mistake it for an abandoned cement plant. But inside, it's a lovingly preserved time capsule of the Atomic Age. If you're lucky, your guide will be one of the people who worked here when the place was still new.

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All Tech Considered
6:22 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Utah Internet Firm Defies State's Warrantless Subpoena Law

Pete Ashdown is founder and CEO of XMission, Utah's oldest Internet service provider.
Flickr via Center for Study of Ethics at UVU

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 7:51 am

Utah's oldest Internet service provider, XMission, has refused to give up customer information to law enforcement, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Specifically, the company says it won't comply with administrative subpoenas.

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All Tech Considered
2:43 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Tools To Help You Hide Online Raise The Ire Of Advertisers

People wait to attend a Mozilla press conference in Barcelona, Spain, in February. Mozilla's Firefox and other Web browsers allow users to opt out of third-party tracking cookies.
Josep Lago AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:12 pm

When Mozilla announced a plan to improve its system for blocking third-party cookies, it didn't seem like the kind of thing that would make waves. But it didn't take long for the Internet advertising industry to react — furiously.

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U.S.
1:25 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Some Tech Companies Find Ways Not To Hire Americans

Tech workers looking for jobs may think twice before looking at job ads that are targeted at Americans but actually are intended for foreigners.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 9:31 am

Lawmakers continue to wrangle over a bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. One provision in this bill would allow companies to import a lot more skilled workers. The tech industry has lobbied hard for this, despite fears among some American workers about the extra competition.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says the bill has American workers covered. "Employers will be given a chance to hire a temporary foreign worker when truly needed. But first, they'll be required to recruit Americans. No exceptions, no excuses," he said.

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National Security
9:30 am
Sat June 8, 2013

Watchdog Agency Could Keep NSA In Check, Once It Gets Going

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 3:39 am

On Friday, President Obama defended the two NSA surveillance programs that were leaked to the news media this week.

One program collects the general public's phone records, the other allegedly gives the government backdoor access to Internet services such as Google and Facebook.

Obama said the programs "strike the right balance," but that's done little to reassure those who think government surveillance has become too broad.

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Law
3:19 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Sgt. Bales Avoids Death Penalty By Pleading Guilty To Afghan Attack

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 5:43 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Yesterday, an Army judge accepted the guilty plea of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. Bales is on trial at a military base in Washington State for the massacre last year of 16 people, mostly women and children, in a rural Afghan village. By pleading guilty, Bales will avoid the death penalty.

But as NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the work of his lawyers is not yet done.

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U.S.
4:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Soldier Accused Of Killing Afghan Civilians To Plead Guilty

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The American soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan last year plans to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Lawyers say Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will plead guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder next week and that his sentencing trial will be held in September.

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Business
2:41 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Tech Companies Have A Lot At Stake With Immigration Bill

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 3:43 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The immigration bill that's working its way through the Senate gives the tech industry something it has long asked for: more visas for skilled workers from overseas. But the original bill also came with something the tech industry didn't like: rules to keep those foreign workers from taking the jobs of Americans. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, key senators agreed to loosen those rules.

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The Two-Way
5:39 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Take Your Seat, The 'No Photography' Sign Is Lit

An American Airlines plane at Miami International Airport in February.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 7:35 pm

You probably saw this bit of Internet virality earlier this week — showing a woman getting kicked off an American Airlines flight for channeling Whitney Houston.

What caught our attention was the sound of flight attendants repeatedly ordering passengers not to take pictures or (presumably) videos.

Apparently, it's an official rule at American Airlines:

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Politics
3:55 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Facebook Joins Lobby For Overhauling Immigration

Some progressive groups are angry with Facebook for running ads supporting GOP lawmakers on board with the immigration overhaul bill. The left-wing groups have turned a blind eye to what Facebook gets out of the overhaul measure, and what it may cost American tech workers.

Around the Nation
3:11 am
Mon May 6, 2013

'Bertha' Does The Heavy Lifting In Seattle Tunnel Project

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:28 am

The world's largest tunnel boring machine in a few months will begin digging a new double-decker highway tunnel under downtown Seattle. If all goes according to plan, Bertha will start digging this summer. It'll emerge again late next year on the other side of downtown, not far from the Space Needle.

All Tech Considered
1:19 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Will Bureaucracy Keep The U.S. Drone Industry Grounded?

Paul Applewhite of Applewhite Aero isn't allowed to fly this 3-pound Styrofoam plane. That's because he has added circuitry to make it autonomous — it can find its way to specified coordinates — which means it's an unmanned aerial vehicle requiring a special testing permit.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Americans are suspicious of drones. Reports of the unmanned aerial vehicles' use in war zones have raised concerns about what they might do here at home. For instance, in Seattle earlier this year, a public outcry forced the police department to abandon plans for eye-in-the-sky UAV helicopters.

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Business
3:17 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Senate Moves To Update Federal Online Privacy Laws

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:59 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yesterday, the Senate took a step toward updating the federal online privacy law. It's a law that dates back to a time when most people had never heard of the Internet.

NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

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All Tech Considered
3:40 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Who's Hiring H1-B Visa Workers? It's Not Who You Might Think

There's been increasing support for the number of H-1B visas, for highly skilled workers. Large tech companies are leading the push for the increase, but many of the visas go to workers at large consulting firms.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 10:22 am

The tech industry wants more skilled workers — from overseas. Companies are lobbying hard for Congress to raise the limit on H-1B visas — visas for people with specialized skills — researchers, for instance, or software engineers.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, recently told NPR that more H-1B visas can't help but be good for the country.

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All Tech Considered
2:53 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Yes, Your New Car Has A 'Black Box.' Where's The Off Switch?

Detective Dave Wells plugs his laptop into a car's event data recorder. A large portion of new cars are equipped with the device, and the government is considering making them mandatory in all vehicles. But some say there should be an "off" option.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 4:43 pm

If you're a vehicle owner and happen to have a car accident in the near future (we hope you don't), it's likely the crash details will be recorded. Automotive "black boxes" are now built into more than 90 percent of new cars, and the government is considering making them mandatory.

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Business
2:06 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Court To Sentence AT&T Hacker Andrew Auernheimer

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 10:38 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a hacking sentence.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This morning, a federal court in New Jersey is scheduled to sentence Andrew for his much-publicized exposure of a security flaw on AT&T's iPad service. That was back in 2010.

As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the sentencing of Andrew Auernheimer will be closely watched by those who believe federal prosecutors have become overly zealous about punishing certain kinds of hackers.

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U.S.
2:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Even Where It's Legal, Pot Producers Weigh The Business Risks

Medical marijuana on display at the grand opening of the Northwest Cannabis Market's Seattle location in February. While recreational pot use is now legal in Washington, the state has not yet issued rules governing the industry.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 9:49 am

Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to answer questions on everything from gun control to the Department of Justice's failure to prosecute Wall Street. But he was also asked about an issue proponents of marijuana legalization have been following closely: what the DOJ plans to do about Colorado and Washington state, which have defied federal law by legalizing recreational use of the drug.

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U.S.
3:46 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

As Police Drones Take Off, Washington State Pushes Back

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 5:28 pm

Last year, Seattle became one of the nation's first cities to buy unmanned drones for use by the police department. Public reaction was less "Gee-whiz" than "What the heck?"

The phrase "unmanned drones" typically conjures images of places like Afghanistan. But the Federal Aviation Administration says it wants to start testing the civilian use of aerial drones here in the U.S. and has already issued special permits to a few police departments interested in trying them out.

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Business
3:52 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Follow Report on H-1B Visa Story

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:28 am

Two days ago, Morning Edition aired a story about the H-1B program which grants temporary work visas to foreigners with special skills like computer programming. In the story, it was reported that employers have to show they tried to recruit Americans first. But as it turns out, many companies bypass American applicants.

NPR Story
3:41 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Older Tech Workers Oppose Overhauling H-1B Visas

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 1:45 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now, a look at one part of the immigration debate in Congress: a proposed increase in H1-B visas. Those are the visas that allow companies to hire skilled foreign workers. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports in today's "Business Bottom Line," offering more of those visas is controversial, especially among American tech workers of a certain age.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Here in Seattle, people still have fond memories of the 1990s tech boom.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you want a cup of coffee?

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It's All Politics
2:27 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

From Oil Fields To REI, Interior Nominee Has Outdoorsy Cred

REI CEO Sally Jewell delivers remarks Wednesday after being nominated by President Obama to be the next secretary of the interior.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 5:19 pm

President Obama's choice to take over at the Department of the Interior comes from the business world. Sally Jewell is the CEO of outdoor equipment supplier REI.

"For Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk," the president said when introducing his nominee Wednesday. "I suspect she'll want to get out of the office quite a bit."

Before Jewell took the reins at REI, she worked in the financial industry at Washington Mutual. Before that, she was an engineer in the oil business, with Mobil.

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Law
2:03 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Armed 'Good Guys' And The Realities Of Facing A Gunman

The NRA and some concealed-carry activists say the best defense against gun violence is armed "good guys." Here, a man fires his pistol at an indoor range in Aurora, Colo., last summer.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 6:18 pm

As the nation ponders how to stop the next mass shooting, the gun rights movement offers a straight-forward formula, laid out famously by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said last month, as his group responded to the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

One Man's Story

In Washington state, one such "good guy" — a private citizen who drew his gun in defense of others — paid a heavy price.

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Digital Life
1:34 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Google Posts How It Handles Requests For Users' Data

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 8:11 am

Google wants you to know you're being watched. Or rather, the company wants you to know how and when the police get to watch what you do online.

For the first time, the company has posted its policies for when it gives up users' information to the government. It's part of a broader company strategy to push for tougher privacy laws.

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U.S.
3:32 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Legalized Pot Creates Quandary For Adults In Wash.

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Washington State, parents and drug counselors are in a quandary. Now that recreational marijuana is legal, they're wondering how to talk to kids about pot.

NPR's Martin Kaste has that story from Seattle.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ten, nine, eight, seven...

CROWD: Nine, eight, seven...

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Under the Space Needle, marijuana enthusiasts counted down to the moment of legalization.

CROWD: Two, one...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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Remembrances
4:07 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Sen. Inouye, A War Hero Who Broke Barriers, Dies At 88

Inouye's wife, Maggie, waves to a neighbor as she, the senator and son Kenny prepare to leave their home, Aug. 4, 1973, in Bethesda, Md.
Bill Weems AP

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 11:06 am

Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, the Senate's senior member, died at a Bethesda, Md., hospital Monday. He was 88 years old and was suffering from a respiratory ailment. The Japanese-American was known for his heroism in World War II and for breaking racial barriers.

Born to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii in 1924, the young Inouye dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but world events intervened as he was listening to the radio on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.

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Digital Life
4:36 am
Tue December 11, 2012

FTC: Apps For Children Raise Privacy Concerns

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 8:55 am

The Federal Trade Commission has released a report taking to task the makers of mobile apps for children. It says apps are not transparent enough about the personal information they collect. It's the latest sign the Obama administration is concerned about children's privacy online.

Around the Nation
12:23 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Pot's Legal In Washington State, But Don't Drive High

Chris Guthrie, vice president for operations at Canna Pi medical dispensary, inspects a medical marijuana product at his clinic in Seattle on Monday. Marijuana will be legal in Washington state from 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Anthony Bolante Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 10:10 am

Marijuana is legal in Washington state as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but the ballot initiative that made it legal last month contained a new DUI standard — a deal-sweetener for hesitant voters — that may actually make life riskier for regular pot users.

The new law makes it legal for adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, but illegal for that same adult to drive if the THC content of his blood reaches 5 nanograms per milliliter.

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Law
3:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Senate Committee OKs Electronic Privacy Measure

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 5:22 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to make it a little harder for police to read your old emails. It's something privacy groups and tech companies have wanted for years. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, law enforcement groups are less pleased.

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Technology
3:42 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Post-Petraeus, Net Privacy Backers Hope For A Boost

Online privacy advocates are hopeful the FBI investigation into retired Gen. David Petraeus' personal emails will put a human face on their efforts to update a stalled Internet privacy bill.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 8:20 pm

The tech industry has been lobbying hard for an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the 1986 law governing online privacy.

Under an umbrella group calling itself Digital Due Process, companies and civil liberties groups have argued that the law is too loose with the privacy of data stored online, especially Web-based email and other documents on the cloud.

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