Tuesday, September 01, 2015

OpenStack 09/02/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, whistleblower-retaliation, litigation, Drake, Loomis, Wiebe, Binney, Roark

    • In a $100 million lawsuit that has garnered virtually no public attention, five National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblowers are accusing the federal government of illegally retaliating against them for alerting the NSA and Congress to a waste of taxpayer funds that benefitted a well-connected contractor.

      The lawsuit tells the story of the infancy of the NSA’s efforts to surveil the Internet. Back then, there were two programs for the spying agency to choose from — and the first was called ThinThread. It had been developed internally, was comparatively inexpensive, had been tested and proven to be effective, and included safeguards preventing the spying on Americans without a court warrant. The other was called Trailblazer. It did not include such safeguards, had not yet been shown to be effective, and cost 1,000 times more than ThinThread. Instead of being developed internally, it was to be outsourced to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a politically connected contractor.

      The NSA chose Trailblazer.

    • In response, four NSA employees who had worked on ThinThread, as well as a congressional staffer, alerted Congress and the Office of the Inspector General of the NSA that the agency was wasting taxpayer funds. That is when their troubles began, according to the lawsuit.

      It alleges that the defendants, which include the NSA, FBI, and the Department of Justice, as well as individuals associated with them, “knowingly and intentionally fabricated” a claim that the plaintiffs leaked classified information to New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen.

      “[The defendants] used this fabricated claim for retaliation, illegal searches and seizures, physical invasion of their residences and places of business, temporary false imprisonment, the confiscation of their property, cancellation of security clearances leading to the loss of their jobs and employment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment and intimidation,” the lawsuit alleges.

      It also states that the defendants should have known that the plaintiffs were not the leaks because the NSA “was tracking all domestic telephone calls for the supposed purpose of protecting national security.”

    • The plaintiffs are former NSA employees Thomas Drake, Ed Loomis, J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, and former congressional staffer Diane Roark. They seek “punitive damages in excess of $100 million because of Defendants [sic] callous and reckless indifference and malicious acts …” as well as well as an additional $15 million for lost wages and to cover costs.

      Larry Klayman, the prominent conservative public interest attorney and founder of Judicial Watch, filed the suit on August 20th. However, it is expected to be amended this week, and it is possible that additional publicity for the case will be sought then.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, August 28, 2015

OpenStack 08/28/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, privacy, U.N.-repporteur, Orwell, 1984

    • The UN's newly appointed special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci, has described digital surveillance in the UK as "worse" than anything imagined in George Orwell's totalitarian dystopia 1984.

      Speaking to the Guardian, Cannataci -- who doesn't own a Facebook account or use Twitter -- lambasted the oversight of British digital surveillance as "a rather bad joke at its citizens' expense".

      Warning against the steady erosion of privacy and increasing levels of government intrusion, he also drew sinister parallels with Orwell's vision of a mass-surveilled society, adding that today's reality was far worse than the fiction: "At least Winston [a character in Orwell's 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn't be any screen, as it was called. Whereas today there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined."

    • Cannataci, who holds posts as a professor of technology of law at the University of Groningen, and as head of the department of Information Policy and Governance at the University of Malta, also called for a "Geneva convention-style law" for the internet. 

      "Some people may not want to buy into it. But you know, if one takes the attitude that some countries will not play ball, then, for example, the chemical weapons agreement would never have come about."

    • As part of his new role -- which elevates digital privacy to the same level of importance as other human rights -- Cannataci has vowed to begin systematically reviewing government policies and the business models of large corporations, which he accuses of "very often taking the data that you never even knew they were taking". 

      Although the privacy chief admits that his mandate is more than likely "impossible to achieve in the next three years", he stressed the importance of a "longer-term view" in an effort to help protect people's data and safeguard their digital rights.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

OpenStack 08/18/2015 (a.m.)

  • See also sidebar articles  https://www.propublica.org/article/a-trail-of-evidence-leading-to-atts-partnership-with-the-nsa and https://www.propublica.org/article/heres-why-the-close-collaboration-between-the-nsa-and-att-matters

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA, AT&T

    • he National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

      While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed NSA documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

    • AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the NSA access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

      The NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents. The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.

      One document reminds NSA officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting: “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.”

      The documents, provided by the former agency contractor Edward Snowden, were jointly reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica.

    • It is not clear if the programs still operate in the same way today. Since the Snowden revelations set off a global debate over surveillance two years ago, some Silicon Valley technology companies have expressed anger at what they characterize as NSA intrusions and have rolled out new encryption to thwart them. The telecommunications companies have been quieter, though Verizon unsuccessfully challenged a court order for bulk phone records in 2014.

      At the same time, the government has been fighting in court to keep the identities of its telecom partners hidden. In a recent case, a group of AT&T customers claimed that the NSA’s tapping of the Internet violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. This year, a federal judge dismissed key portions of the lawsuit after the Obama administration argued that public discussion of its telecom surveillance efforts would reveal state secrets, damaging national security.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

OpenStack 08/09/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA-reform-technology, p2p

    • Rather than grovel and beg for the U.S. government to respect our privacy, these innovators have taken matters into their own hands, and their work may change the playing field completely.
    • People used to assume that the United States government was held in check by the constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and which demands due process in criminal investigations, but such illusions have evaporated in recent years. It turns out that the NSA considers itself above the law in every respect and feels entitled to spy on anyone anywhere in the world without warrants, and without any real oversight. Understandably these revelations shocked the average citizen who had been conditioned to take the government's word at face value, and the backlash has been considerable. The recent "Today We Fight Back" campaign to protest the NSA's surveillance practices shows that public sentiment is in the right place. Whether these kinds of petitions and protests will have any real impact on how the U.S. government operates is questionable (to say the least), however some very smart people have decided not to wait around and find out. Instead they're focusing on making the NSA's job impossible. In the process they may fundamentally alter the way the internet operates.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

OpenStack 08/09/2015 (a.m.)


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

OpenStack 08/07/2015 (a.m.)

  • From an Fight For the Future mailing: "Here’s the deal: yesterday the Senate delayed its expected vote on CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act that would let companies share your private information––like emails and medical records––with the government. "The delay is good news; but it's a delay, not a victory. "We just bought some precious extra time to fight CISA, but we need to use it to go big like we did with SOPA or this bill will still pass. Even if we stop it in September, they’ll try again after that. "The truth is that right now, things are looking pretty grim. Democrats and Republicans have been holding closed-door meetings to work out a deal to pass CISA quickly when they return from recess. "Right before the expected Senate vote on CISA, the Obama Administration endorsed the bill, which means if Congress passes it, the White House will definitely sign it.  "We’ve stalled and delayed CISA and bills like it nearly half a dozen times, but this month could be our last chance to stop it for good." See also http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/125953876003/senate-fails-to-advance-cisa-before-recess-amid (;) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/activists-send-the-senate-6-million-faxes-to-oppose-cyber-bill/ (;) http://www.npr.org/2015/08/04/429386027/privacy-advocates-to-senate-cyber-security-bill (.)

    Tags: surveillance state, CISA, legislation, faxes, Obama

    • Activists worried about online privacy are sending Congress a message with some old-school technology: They're sending faxes -- more than 6.2 million, they claim -- to express opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).

      Why faxes? "Congress is stuck in 1984 and doesn't understand modern technology," according to the campaign Fax Big Brother.

      The week-long campaign was organized by the nonpartisan Electronic Frontier Foundation, the group Access and Fight for the Future, the activist group behind the major Internet protests that helped derail a pair of anti-piracy bills in 2012. It also has the backing of a dozen groups like the ACLU, the American Library Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and others.

    • CISA aims to facilitate information sharing regarding cyberthreats between the government and the private sector. The bill gained more attention following the massive hack in which the records of nearly 22 million people were stolen from government computers.

      "The ability to easily and quickly share cyber attack information, along with ways to counter attacks, is a key method to stop them from happening in the first place," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, who helped introduce CISA, said in a statement after the hack.

      Senate leadership had planned to vote on CISA this week before leaving for its August recess. However, the bill may be sidelined for the time being as the Republican-led Senate puts precedent on a legislative effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

      Even as the bill was put on the backburner, the grassroots campaign to stop it gained steam. Fight for the Future started sending faxes to all 100 Senate offices on Monday, but the campaign really took off after it garnered attention on the website Reddit and on social media.

      The faxed messages are generated by Internet users who visit faxbigbrother.com or stopcyberspying.com -- or who simply send a message via Twitter with the hashtag #faxbigbrother. To send all those faxes, Fight for the Future set up a dedicated server and a dozen phone lines and modems they say are capable of sending tens of thousands of faxes a day.

    • Fight for the Future told CBS News that it has so many faxes queued up at this point, that it may take months for Senate offices to receive them all, though the group is working on scaling up its capability to send them faster. They're also limited by the speed at which Senate offices can receive them.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

OpenStack 08/06/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, Germany, journalism, treason, litigation, chief-prosecutor-fired

    • A treason investigation against two German journalists claimed its first casualty Tuesday — the country's top prosecutor who ordered the probe.
    • Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced he was seeking the dismissal of Harald Range hours after the chief federal prosecutor accused the government of interfering in his investigation.

      Maas said he made the decision in consultation with Chancellor Angela Merkel's office, indicating that the sacking was approved at the highest level.

      The Justice Ministry had questioned Range's decision to open the investigation against two journalists from the website Netzpolitik.org who had reported that Germany's domestic spy agency plans to expand surveillance of online communication.

      The treason probe was widely criticized and regarded as an embarrassment to the government. Senior officials stressed in recent days that Germany is committed to protecting press freedom.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.