Tag Archives | Telecommunication

AT&T Sells Call Data To CIA For $10 Million Per Year

towerThis of course raises the question, are you the telecom’s customer, or their product? The New York Times reports:

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate. AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers.

The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers.

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Cybersyn, Salvador Allende’s Socialist Internet In 1970s Chile

Red_pepperRed Pepper on Cybersyn, an ingenious proto-internet largely unknown outside of a cult following:

The pioneering cybernetic planning work of the Chilean leader, his ministers and a British left-wing operations research scientist and management consultant named Stafford Beer was an ambitious, economy-wide experiment that has since been described as the ‘socialist internet’, an effort decades ahead of its time.

In 1970, Beer was hired to advise the government, and the scheme he plunged himself into was called Project Cybersyn, a ‘nervous system’ for the economy in which workers, community members and the government were to be connected together transmitting the resources they had on offer, their desires and needs via an interactive national communications network.

Although never completed, by the time General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the young administration in a US-backed coup, the advanced prototype of the system, which had been built in four months, involved a series of 500 telex machines distributed to firms connected to two government-operated mainframe computers and stretched the length of the narrow country and covered roughly between a quarter and half of the nationalised economy.

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Brazil Seeks Independence From U.S.-Dominated Internet

rousseff

Ah, a world wide web, it was a beautiful dream while it lasted. Talking Points Memo writes:

Brazil plans to divorce itself from the U.S.-centric Internet over Washington’s widespread online spying, a move that many experts fear will be a potentially dangerous first step toward fracturing a global network built with minimal interference by governments.

President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the NSA intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google.

While Brazil isn’t proposing to bar its citizens from U.S.-based Web services, it wants their data to be stored locally as the nation assumes greater control over Brazilians’ Internet use to protect them from NSA snooping.

In December, countries advocating greater “cyber-sovereignty” pushed for such control at an International Telecommunications Union meeting in Dubai, with Western democracies led by the United States and the European Union in opposition.

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Rebuilding A New Internet Using Meshnets

meshnet

Time to start the internet over with? New Scientist reports on the burgeoning world of meshnets:

The internet is neither neutral nor private, in case you were in any doubt. So some people are building their own net from scratch.

Across the US, from Maryland to Seattle, work is underway to construct user-owned wireless networks that will permit secure communication without surveillance or any centralised organisation. They are known as meshnets and ultimately, if their designers get their way, they will span the country.

Each node in the mesh, consisting of a radio transceiver and a computer, relays messages from other parts of the network. If the data can’t be passed by one route, the meshnet finds an alternative way through to its destination.

While these projects are just getting off the ground, a mesh network in Catalonia, Spain, is going from strength to strength. Guifi was started in the early 2000s by Ramon Roca, an Oracle employee who wanted broadband at his rural home.

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FCC To Put 1,000 Low-Power FM Frequencies Up For Grabs For Community Radio

low-power FMWhat would you do with your own community radio station? It’s your chance to snap one up this fall! Nation of Change writes:

The FCC has just released free applications for thousands of new noncommercial FM radio licenses. These community radio stations can reach listeners in a radius of 2 to 10 miles, and generate their broadcast signal on just 100 watts—the amount of power consumed by a light bulb.

In some cities a single low power FM station could reach more than 100,000 listeners. Across the country, millions of people will be tuning into these new stations as they go on air over the next few years.

This is the largest expansion of community radio in United States history. It’s also the biggest chance, and probably the final major opportunity, for grassroots groups to get on air.

Philly-based nonprofit Prometheus Radio Project has led a 15-year campaign to challenge corporate control of the media and open up this space on the dial.

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Ted Rall’s Prescient Take On Verizon And The NSA

verizon and the NSAVia Common Dreams, political cartoonist Ted Rall foresaw exactly where we would be today in a piece written in 2006:

Several months ago employees of Verizon, the company that enjoys a monopoly on local telephone service where I live, confirmed that my telephone has been tapped by the government.

“I don’t mind that Bush is listening to my calls,” I told the security department. “It’s not like I’m calling al Qaeda. And if they called me, I wouldn’t be able to hear them because of the noise on the line.”

Most Americans feel the same as me. We’re not doing anything wrong, so why should we care if the government knows when we’re stuck on hold? If losing our privacy can prevent another 9/11, isn’t it worth it?

No. First and foremost, domestic spying is not an anti-terrorism program. The CIA estimates that there are between 2,000 and 10,000 al Qaeda members worldwide.

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NSA Secretly Collecting Records Of All Verizon Phone Calls

NSA Secretly Collecting RecordsSince April, under a secret court order, Verizon has been providing the government daily with details of every phone call made by U.S. customers on its network, Glenn Greenwald reports in the Guardian:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. The numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls.

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Hearing The Dead Speak Via Electronic Voice Projection

The BBC on those who believe that radio and tape recording devices offer a window to the realm of the dead:

In 1969, a mysterious middle-aged Latvian doctor turned up in Gerrards Cross with a large collection of tape recordings…he had established contact with Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and many other deceased 20th Century statesmen. The recordings – 72,000 of them – contained their voices. His name was Konstantin Raudive, and he called his technique Electronic Voice Projection, or EVP.

It wasn’t real-time interactive communication. You asked your questions, and then left the tape running, recording silence. But listening back, through the mush and static, you could sometimes just about make out people speaking.

Nowadays, EVP is a standard tool of ghost hunters worldwide. There are hundreds of internet EVP forums and many serious and well-educated people who see it as proof positive that the dead are trying to talk to us.

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The Navy’s Plan To Turn Underground Wisconsin Into A Global Radio Transmitter

A dose of strange history via BLDGBLOG:

Project Sanguine was a U.S. Navy program from the 1980s that “would have involved 41 percent of Wisconsin,” turning that state into a giant “antenna farm” capable of communicating with what Wikipedia calls “deeply-submerged submarines.”

Each individual antenna would have been “buried five feet deep” in the fertile soil of the Cheese State, creating a networked system with nearly 6,000 miles’ worth of cables and receiving stations. The Navy was hoping, we read, for a system “that could transmit tactical orders one-way to U.S. nuclear submarines anywhere in the world, and survive a direct nuclear attack.” In other words, the bedrock of the Earth itself could be turned into a colossal radio station.

The project was controversial from the start and was attacked by politicians, antiwar and environmental groups concerned about the effects of high ground currents and electromagnetic fields on the environment.

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Are Aliens Communicating With Us Via The Stars?

TIME on the possibility that we are oblivious to extraterrestrial messages shining right down onto us:

Lucianne Walkowicz wants to conduct a search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), not by doing anything so conventional as listening for radio transmissions or watching for flashes of laser light. Instead, she wants to see if ET’s are somehow manipulating the light coming from their stars so that they wink at us.

“Our premise,” she says, “is that up until now, we’ve had a preconceived idea of what a SETI signal would look like.” It would basically be the sort of signal we know how to create, since searching for a signal from some entirely unknown technology would be difficult.

If aliens were so advanced that they could cause their star to appear to flicker, however, it wouldn’t matter how they did it, and it would be easy enough to see with existing technology. In fact, says Walkowicz, “our premise was, ‘what if we’ve already detected a signal but missed it because of our preconceptions.’”

So she and her co-investigators proposed to look through a potential trove of signals: the archives from the Kepler mission, which has been scanning space since 2009 for stars that are winking because of orbiting planets passing in front of them.

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