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 régime.
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 naïveté 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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