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People used to go the other way
May 18th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

Developer Of Anonymous Tor Software Dodges FBI, Leaves US. An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: FBI agents are currently trying to subpoena one of Tor’s core software developers to testify in a criminal hacking investigation, CNNMoney has learned. But the developer, who goes by the name Isis Agora Lovecruft, fears that federal agents will coerce her to undermine the Tor system — and expose Tor users around the world to potential spying. That’s why, when FBI agents approached her and her family over Thanksgiving break last year, she immediately packed her suitcase and left the United States for Germany. “I was worried they’d ask me to do something that hurts innocent people — and prevent me from telling people it’s happening,” she said in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney. Earlier in the month, Tech Dirt reported the Department of Homeland Security wants to subpoena the site over the identity of a hyperbolic commenter. [Slashdot]

It’s depressing that I can now say that I’m old enough to remember when people defected to the US.

More about why Feds hate encryption
Mar 18th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

Gov’t accidentally publishes target of Lavabit probe: It’s Snowden. In the summer of 2013, secure e-mail service Lavabit was ordered by a federal judge to provide real-time e-mail monitoring of one of its users. Rather than comply with the order, Levison shut down his entire company. He said what the government was seeking would have endangered the privacy of all of his 410,000 users.

Later, he did provide the private key as a lengthy printout in tiny type.

In court papers related to the Lavabit controversy, the target of the investigation was redacted, but it was widely assumed to be Edward Snowden. He was known to have used the service, and the charges against the target were espionage and theft of government property, the same charges Snowden faced. [Ars Technica]

This is another illustration of what the Federal Baby Incinerators are talking about when they demand that encryption be rendered worthless in order to fight “terrorism.” What they really mean is to spy on political dissidents, along with other Gestapo-worthy goals such as imprisoning people who prevent puppycide.

Wishful thinking doesn’t work
Nov 20th, 2014 by Ken Hagler

Senate Votes to Maintain the National Security Surveillance State. Last night the U.S. Senate could not muster the 60 votes that would have allowed debate and a vote on the USA FREEDOM Act to proceed. For most privacy and liberty advocates, the USA FREEDOM Act was a first step toward reining in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) pervasive spying on innocent American citizens. [Hit & Run]

I’m a bit puzzled as to why people think this would have made a difference. Congress already voted against the NSA’s mass surveillance back in 2003 when it was called Total Information Awareness. Are we supposed to believe that if this act had passed, the NSA would suddenly say, “Well, gosh, this time they really meant it, I guess we’d better stop?”

The only way to stop the NSA is to destroy the NSA.

US Stasi gets original Stasi’s stamp of approval
Jun 28th, 2013 by Ken Hagler

NSA’s Surveillance Operations the Envy of Former Stasi Commander. In East Germany, the Ministry
for State Security (known as the Stasi) became one of the most
aggressive domestic surveillance agencies in world history, acting
as “the shield and the sword” of the ruling Communist regime.
Despite (or because of) its history, many former members and
informants would prefer to
defend the organization and their roles in it
to coming to
terms with its horrific nature. On the twentieth anniversary of the
fall of the Berlin Wall (in 2009), East Germany’s last leader told
former East German border guards he regretted failing to save the
country.  But now, some former members of the Stasi can look
to America for inspiration that the spirit of their work is moving
forward. From a
McClatchy newspapers interview
with Wolfgang Schmidt, a former
Stassi department head:

Peering out over the city [Berlin] that lived in fear
when the communist party ruled it, he pondered the magnitude of
domestic spying in the United States under the Obama
administration. A smile spread across his face.

“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he
said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the
defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

In those days, his department was limited to tapping 40 phones at a
time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new victim and an old one had
to be dropped, because of a lack of equipment. He finds
breathtaking the idea that the U.S. government receives daily
reports on the cellphone usage of millions of Americans and can
monitor the Internet traffic of millions more.

“So much information, on so many people,” he said.

But even Schmidt sees the design flaw in the NSA’s plan:

 “It is the height of naivete to think that once
collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the
nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect
the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect
their information in the first place.”

James Clapper might respond that
the NSA isn’t “collecting”
that information because the
director of national intelligence doesn’t consider the gathered
data “collected” until it’s officially used, a semantic maneuver
any neo-Orwellian would consider doubleplusgood.

“This is how a society destroys itself,” one German activist who
was targeted by the Stasi told McClatchy, referring to the NSA’s
surveillance operations as “bullshit.” [Reason]

Amusing side effect
Dec 11th, 2012 by Ken Hagler

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about a new game Google is developing for Android, called Ingress. I’ve noticed that so far nobody seems to have noticed an unintended (presumably) consequence of the game: people playing it will be traveling around to libraries, post offices, courthouses, fire stations, monuments, and the like, standing around for several minutes, and then moving on to another location in a seemingly random pattern.

What the people writing about Ingress as a game seem to have missed is that it’s fairly well known by people who pay attention that the government tracks everyone’s movements using the location data from their cell phone services. The strange and erratic movements of Ingress players are bound to drive the secret policemen responsible for such spying berserk, which I consider to be a huge benefit. I’m considering getting a Nexus 7 just so I can help confuse Big Brother.

Are they certain about the reasons?
Mar 20th, 2012 by Ken Hagler

Analyst: Only one in ten tablets sold has a cellular connection. It’s clear that people are willing to pay for new tablets, but it’s also clear that they aren’t yet ready to take on the fee for cellular connectivity to their tablets. [MacCentral]

Personally, I don’t care about the fee, but I refuse to volunteer to carry a tracking and surveillance device around with me. The idea that I’d pay to carry one is just insulting.

Government intrusion tomorrow
Nov 28th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

A few days ago I found the notice on the left in the photo above in my apartment building. The notice states that someone from the local government will be conducting an illegal search of my apartment building tomorrow. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. About ten years ago, a similar notice appeared and I took the day off from work to keep the “inspector” from getting into my apartment without a search warrant–which, naturally, he didn’t have. After a bit of the expected veiled threats and attempts at intimidation and trickery that inspector gave up and left, and I’m hoping that the one tomorrow will go as well.

The two pages of Korean text next to the notice are a translation of the Bill of Rights, with the Fourth Amendment highlighted. I found this on the website of a civil rights organization called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, which has translations of the Bill of Rights into many different languages. Most of my neighbors were born in Korea, and many speak no English, so I figured it was likely they wouldn’t be aware that they have the right to refuse warrantless searches of their homes. Hopefully reading the translation of the relevant US law will help at least some of them stand up for themselves and their liberty.

Update: This time around the inspector took “get a warrant” quickly and without making a fuss.

Nothing really changes in Washington
Apr 17th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Abuse of Power Gets a Pass, Reporting It Gets Jail Time.

Here’s Glenn Greenwald on the Obama administration’s prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and it’s outrageous triumphalism after winning an indictment.

As Greenwald writes, it’s now clear that Obama’s “Look Forward, Not Backward” philosophy applies only to high-ranking Bush administration officials who abused their power and position. The people who risked their careers and freedom to come forward to report on those abuses won’t be getting the same consideration. Or put another way: If you break the law to expand the power of government at the expense of the people, you get a pass. But if you break the law to make government more transparent and accountable, expect them to throw the book at you.

[The Agitator]

Another example of how nothing has changed, regardless of who occupies the White House.

Evidence of governments breaching SSL
Mar 29th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Gov’t, certificate authorities conspire to spy on SSL users?.

SSL is the cornerstone of secure Web browsing, enabling credit card and bank details to be used on the ‘Net with impunity. We’re all told to check for the little padlock in our address bars before handing over any sensitive information. SSL is also increasingly a feature of webmail providers, instant messaging, and other forms of online communication.

Recent discoveries by Wired and a paper by security researchers Christopher Soghoian and Sid Stamm suggests that SSL might not be as secure as once thought. Not because SSL itself has been compromised, but because governments are conspiring with Certificate Authorities, key parts of the SSL infrastructure, to subvert the entire system to allow them to spy on anyone they wish to keep tabs on.

[Ars Technica]

The weaknesses of SSL are well known, which is why people who know anything about security don’t trust Certificate Authorities, but in the past this has just been known as something that governments were probably doing. Now we have the first bit of evidence that they’re actually doing it. I don’t think this will make any difference in the long run–after all, nobody cared when, after years of suspicion, the US government admitted to using cell phones as tracking and listening devices–but hopefully at least a few people will read this and recognize that the government can and does spy on them.

Life in prison
Mar 11th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Dear Old Golden Rule Days.

A recent graduate of Virginia’s public schools explains how
searches, surveillance, and zero-tolerance policies have produced a
whole new way for childhood to suck.

[Hit and Run]

From what I’ve read, prisons public schools in other states are just as bad. I really can’t understand why anyone who has kids and doesn’t hate them would want to subject them to this sort of treatment.

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