Tag Archives | Surveillance

Ed Snowden Taught Me To Smuggle Secrets Past Incredible Danger. Now I Teach You

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Edward Snowden by Laura Poitras / Praxis Films (CC)

Micah Lee was staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and chief technology officer of the Freedom of the Press Foundation when he was first contacted by Edward Snowden. He tells us what he learned about smuggling secrets at The Intercept:

Late on the evening of January 11, 2013, someone sent me an interesting email. It was encrypted, and sent from the sort of anonymous email service that smart people use when they want to hide their identity. Sitting at the kitchen table in the small cottage where I lived in Berkeley with my wife and two cats, I decrypted it.

The anonymous emailer wanted to know if I could help him communicate securely with Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who had repeatedly cast a critical eye on American foreign policy.

From: anon108@■■■■■■■■■
To: Micah Lee
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013

Micah,

I’m a friend. I need to get information securely to Laura Poitras and her alone, but I can’t find an email/gpg key for her.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation: Know Your Rights

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via EFF:

Your computer, phone, and other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. This sensitive data is worth protecting from prying eyes, including those of the government.

EFF has designed this guide to help you understand your rights if officers try to search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device, or seize it for further examination somewhere else. Keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment is the minimum standard, and your specific state may have stronger protections.

Read More.

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FBI director to citizens: Let us spy on you

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey (left), alongside President Barack Obama (center) and outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (right) at Comey's nomination to become the Seventh Director of the FBI.

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey (left), alongside President Barack Obama (center) and outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (right) at Comey’s nomination to become the Seventh Director of the FBI. Via Wikimedia Commons

Wow.

via Ars Technica:

The expanding options for communicating over the Internet and the increasing adoption of encryption technologies could leave law enforcement agents “in the dark” and unable to collect evidence against criminals, the Director of the FBI said in a speech on Thursday.

In a post-Snowden plea for a policy more permissive of spying, FBI Director James B. Comey raised the specters of child predators, violent criminals, and crafty terrorists to argue that companies should build surveillance capabilities into the design of their products and allow lawful interception of communications. In his speech given at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Comey listed four cases where having access to a mobile phone or laptop proved crucial to an investigation and another case where such access was critical to exonerating wrongly accused teens.

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Adobe’s e-book reader sends your reading logs back to Adobe—in plain text

"Adobe even logs what you read in Digital Editions' instruction manual."

“Adobe even logs what you read in Digital Editions’ instruction manual.”

via Ars Technica:

Adobe’s Digital Editions e-book and PDF reader—an application used by thousands of libraries to give patrons access to electronic lending libraries—actively logs and reports every document readers add to their local “library” along with what users do with those files. Even worse, the logs are transmitted over the Internet in the clear, allowing anyone who can monitor network traffic (such as the National Security Agency, Internet service providers and cable companies, or others sharing a public Wi-Fi network) to follow along over readers’ shoulders.

Ars has independently verified the logging of e-reader activity with the use of a packet capture tool. The exposure of data was first discovered by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader, who reported the issue to Adobe but received no reply.

Digital Editions (DE) has been used by many public libraries as a recommended application for patrons wanting to borrow electronic books (particularly with the Overdrive e-book lending system), because it can enforce digital rights management rules on how long a book may be read for.

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Privacy Activist Sues Chicago Police For Records Related To Cellphone Monitoring

Local police departments nationwide are using technologies like Stingray to track and monitor cell phones, and they are very secretive about it. Several organizations and activists across the country are doing their best to dig as deep as the rabbit hole goes.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

A local privacy activist has filed a second lawsuit aimed at the Chicago Police Department after CPD released a handful of documents admitting it has equipment that monitors and tracks cellphones. Freddy Martinez filed his first lawsuit against CPD in June, demanding it turn over records related to purchases of ISMI catchers, commonly referred to as “Stingrays,” devices which mimic cell phone towers and collect data from phone calls, texts and more. Martinez’s first suit garnered a meager three pages of invoices that show CPD purchased the technology.

In an interview with CBS Chicago, Freddy Martinez said:

“It’s strongly suspected that the Chicago Police Department does monitor protesters and constitutionally protected activities.

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Fake Cell Phone Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls

August GSM Interceptor Map ESD via Popular Science

August GSM Interceptor Map ESD via Popular Science

According to Popular Science, there are at least 17 phony cell phone towers across the United States. Their purpose? It’s not yet clear, but once a connection happens “a variety of ‘over-the-air’ attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device.”

via Popsci [Follow the link to read the entire article]:

Like many of the ultra-secure phones that have come to market in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks, the CryptoPhone 500, which is marketed in the U.S. by ESD America and built on top of an unassuming Samsung Galaxy SIII body, features high-powered encryption. Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, says the phone also runs a customized or “hardened” version of Android that removes 468 vulnerabilities that his engineering team team found in the stock installation of the OS.

His mobile security team also found that the version of the Android OS that comes standard on the Samsung Galaxy SIII leaks data to parts unknown 80-90 times every hour.

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A Letter to George Orwell from a High School Student

The Library of Congress hosts a national reading and writing program (Letters about Literature) that invites students in grades 4-12 to write letters to an author – living or deceased. Here’s one such letter from Devi Acharya in Missouri.

via The Library of Congress blog:

George Orwell

George Orwell

To George Orwell:

You were right, you were right, you were right. I’m sorry I never saw it before, and I feel like an idiot, sitting here and penning this to you when you were so unspeakably right. You shouldn’t have published those books of yours under the guise of fiction—how could fiction be what’s happening outside my very doorstep! People get so worked up, angry at some imaginary oppressive tyrant when the very dystopias we fear and loathe are being built around us. I’m only just beginning to see them myself—brick and mortar meant to keep worlds apart, shields of hatred and arrows of intolerance, warlords arming for battle while the unwitting peasants continue to live from day to day.

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Disney World’s MagicBand: ‘Welcome to Dataland, Princess’

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“Cinderella Castle” by Katie Rommel-Esham. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-us via Wikimedia Commons.

Ian Bogost’s essay at Medium analyzes the unabashed tracking of customers at Disney World, where “Dataland suggests that once data surveillance becomes transactional, it rapidly becomes exhibitionist.” He and his family have just arrived in the Magic Kingdom and been issued with their MagicBand bracelets:

…Later, after deploying my MagicBand to allow entry into our hotel room, I read the My Disney Experience FAQ, which explains the operation of the MagicBand. It’s an uncharacteristic offering for a company so devoted to “magic” as a black-boxed secret sauce. I learn that in addition to the expected RFID allowing short-range communication at touch-points—room entry, park admission, and points of purchase—the MagicBand also includes a long-range radio transceiver, which communicates with receivers located throughout the Disney properties. The FAQ clarifies, in the vaguest possible way, that these long-range readers are used “to deliver personalized experiences…as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks.”

Disney assures guests that the MagicBands do not store any personal information, just a code used to reference your account in Disney databases.

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The Hidden Systems That Have Frozen Time and Stop Us Changing The World

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A tremendous essay from filmmaker (The Power of Nightmares, The Century of the Self) Adam Curtis for the BBC is a must read for all disinfonauts:

If you are an American politician today, as well as an entourage you also have a new, modern addition. You have what’s called a “digital tracker”. They follow you everywhere with a high-definition video camera, and they are employed by the people who want to destroy your political career.

It’s called “opposition research” and the aim is to constantly record everything you say and do. The files are sent back every night to large anonymous offices in Washington where dozens of researchers systematically compare everything you said today with what you said in the past.

They are looking for contradictions. And if they find one – they feed it, and the video evidence, to the media.

On one hand it’s old politics – digging up the dirt on your opponent.

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Does Uncle Sam Have a God Complex?

Uncle Sam (pointing finger)As a matter of faith, some people believe that God can see and hear everything. But as a matter of fact, the U.S. government now has the kind of surveillance powers formerly attributed only to a supreme being.

Top “national security” officials in Washington now have the determination and tech prowess to keep tabs on billions of people. No one elected Uncle Sam to play God. But a dire shortage of democratic constraints has enabled the U.S. surveillance state to keep expanding with steely resolve.

By the time Edward Snowden used NSA documents to expose — beyond any doubt — a global surveillance dragnet, the situation had deteriorated so badly because the Bush and Obama administrations were able to dismiss earlier warnings to the public as little more than heresy.

Eight years ago, in the book “State of War,” New York Times reporter James Risen devoted a chapter to the huge expansion of surveillance.… Read the rest

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