"In 1967, The Public Interest
, then a leading venue for highbrow policy debate, published a provocative essay by Paul Baran
, one of the fathers of the data transmission method known as packet switching [and agent of RAND
]. Titled “The Future Computer Utility,"
the essay speculated that someday a few big, centralized computers would provide 'information processing … the same way one now buys electricity. Highly sensitive personal and important business information will be stored in many of the contemplated systems … At present, nothing more than trust—or, at best, a lack of technical sophistication—stands in the way of a would-be eavesdropper.' To read Baran’s essay (just one of the many on utility computing published at the time) is to realize that our contemporary privacy problem is not contemporary. It’s not just a consequence of Mark Zuckerberg’s selling his soul and our profiles to the NSA. The problem was recognized early on, and little was done about it... It’s not enough for a website to prompt us to decide who should see our data. Instead it should reawaken our own imaginations. Designed right, sites would not nudge citizens to either guard or share their private information but would reveal the hidden political dimensions to various acts of information sharing." -- MIT Technology Review on The Real Privacy Problem
How would you, as a junior analyst in S2C41, the branch of the Signals Intelligence Directorate, navigate the millions of records logged daily, in order to find the nugget to get you noticed?
“EVILOLIVE, MADCAPOCELOT, ORANGECRUSH, COBALTFALCON, DARKTHUNDER: the names are beguiling. But they don’t always tell us much, which is their reason for existing: covernames aren’t classified, and many of them – including the names of the NSA’s main databases for intercepted communications data, MAINWAY, MARINA, PINWALE and NUCLEON – have been seen in public before, in job ads and resumés posted online.” Daniel Soar sorts through the possibilities in the London Review of Books
, 24 Oct 2013. (See also William Arkin's blog on codenames) [more inside]
NSA Haiku Generator
- "Create a poem out of the NSA search terms that flag you as a potential terrorist!
Former NSA director Michael Hayden overheard on train doing a phone interview...
Tom Mattzie, previous MoveOn director DC, overhears Michael Hayden
doing a phone interview on a train and retweets it.
Freedom of Information
. The New Yorker
looks behind the scenes at The Guardian
under current editor Alan Rusbridger, including the investigation of the News of the World
phone hacking scandal (previously
), overseeing the release of US diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks (previously
), and the continuing reporting on NSA material obtained by Edward Snowden (previously
Tired of having all your posts and emails read by people you don't know? Aware that Congress will do nothing to change domestic spying; your president will not to stop it. And technology seemingly unable to restore privacy? Well here is your chance to Occupy NSA
released by Glenn Greenwald from trove leaked by Edward Snowden show that the agency officially viewed arguments about 'due process' to be an 'adversary propaganda theme'
, listed alongside military threats to drones. [more inside]
NSA mathematician Roger Barkan's take on NSA survellance of Americans. "As someone deep in the trenches of NSA, where I work on a daily basis with data acquired from these programs, I, too, feel compelled to raise my voice. Do I, as an American, have any concerns about whether the NSA is illegally or surreptitiously targeting or tracking the communications of other Americans? The answer is emphatically, "No."
If the NSA is able to break through banks' computer security, does that mean it solved the prime factorization problem?
The New York Times reported
recently that “the agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems.” Since banks' encryption codes rely on the fact that nobody knows how to find the prime factors of really large numbers, it could mean that the NSA has found a way to do that. Or it could mean that the NSA has simply gotten lots of banks to give up their information, or found other ways around their encryption. But if they've cracked this long-standing math problem, might the secret leak? What would be the effects?
A new story in The Guardian shows how the NSA routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first filtering it to remove information about US citizens.
The memorandum of understanding (published here in full)
shows that the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain the phone calls and emails of US citizens. This goes against earlier Obama administration claims that there were strong safeguards in place to protect Amercans' communications.
DJ Hennessy Youngman follows up CVS BANGERS [prev.]
with his new Soundcloud mix, NSA BANGERS.
NSA BANGERS is an audio landscape full of paranoia, espionage, epic snooping, unhealthy obsession, and the stress of being a contemporary type human being. Basically, NSA BANGERS is the soundtrack of Freedom! And Freedom is expensive y'all! Apparently, it like, costs your Freedom!
The NSA: The only part of the government that actually listens.
The NSA seal is protected by Public Law 86-36
, which states that it is not permitted for “…any person to use the initials ‘NSA,’ the words ‘National Security Agency’ and the NSA seal without first acquiring written permission from the Director of NSA."
"Generation Z will arrive brutalized and atomized by three generations of diminished expectations and dog-eat-dog economic liberalism. Most of them will be so deracinated that they identify with their peers and the global Internet culture more than their great-grandparents' post-Westphalian nation-state. The machineries of the security state may well find them unemployable, their values too alien to assimilate into a model still rooted in the early 20th century. But if you turn the Internet into a panopticon prison and put everyone inside it, where else are you going to be able to recruit the jailers? And how do you ensure their loyalty?" Charlie Stross
on the future demographic peril faced by spy agencies.
"Making journalism harder, slower and less secure
, throwing sand in the gears, is fully within the capacity of the surveillance state. It has the means, the will and the latitude to go after journalism the way it went after terrorism... Only if they can turn a mostly passive public into a more active one can journalists come out ahead in this fight. I know they don’t think of mobilization as their job, and there are good reasons for that, but they didn’t think editors would be destroying hard drives under the gaze of the authorities, either! Journalism almost has to be brought closer to activism to stand a chance of prevailing in its current struggle with the state." [more inside]
Last post at groklaw
~pj a.k.a. Pamela Jones, the writer behind the law analysis site groklaw, has decided to shut down in the wake of the closure of Lavabit confidential email service. [more inside]
Glenn Greenwald's partner was detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours
, his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles confiscated. Glenn Greenwald calls it a failed attempt at intimidation
. "...to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members..."
A wise man with a deep understanding of world and eerily prescient and accurate thoughts.
Post-NSA revelations, 1984 seems even more real
. Reading this letter gives a view into George Orwell's thought process and he really impresses. [more inside]
Matthew Ingram used the tools available to him to watch the online behaviours of his three daughters. Here is his (and his daughter's) story: Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, and his daughter's response.
To reduce the risk of future Edward Snowden style leaks, the NSA wants to reduce the number of people in the loop.
Director Keith Alexander told Reuters that the NSA plans to eliminate fully 90 percent of its system administrators and replace them with machines.
Lavabit, the email service allegedly used by Edward Snowden, has been shut down by its owner.
"I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations..." - Ladar Levison, owner. via Reddit
, and The Guardian
In a crackdown that FBI claims to be about hunting down pedophiles, half of the onion sites in the TOR network has been compromised, including the e-mail counterpart of TOR deep web, TORmail.
FreedomWeb, an Irish company known for providing hosting for Tor "hidden services" -- services reached over the Tor anonymized/encrypted network -- has shut down after its owner, Eric Eoin Marques, was arrested over allegations that he had facilitated the spread of child pornography. [more inside]
"This scene is straight outta Nikolai Gogol."
Chairman Bruce reflects on Manning, surveillance, the history of computing, the character of cypherpunks, the Russian and American states, and more.
In a new batch of slides
from an NSA presentation (originally leaked by now fugitive Edward Snowden), Glenn Greenwald of the Gaurdian goes into great detail about NSA tool "X-Keyscore" information gathering system, which allows the NSA to view "nearly everything a user does on the internet", including Skype, Facebook chats, and other social media activity. [more inside]
The journalistic practices
of the Washington Post and Walter Pincus.
What the Snowden Affair Reveals About US Journalism
The Snowden Effect: definition and examples
It's as if Corporate Media is at War
on Independent Journalism.
Back in June as the story broke it was noted that If Edward Snowden Is in Trouble, So Is Journalism
and from zdnet The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism
So what does the Snowden Affair Reveal
About US Journalism.
It should definitely force media self-examination
Madiha Tahir, a journalist and PhD candidate, presents a transcript of her interaction with NSA staff who came to recruit at the summer language program where she is studying.
"I had intended to go simply to hear how the NSA is recruiting at a moment when it’s facing severe challenges," says Tahir. Recruiters apparently discussed their "fun" after work, doing karaoke, having costume parties, and getting drunk. One of their slides asked the language students at the event "Are you good at manipulating people?" In the Q&A, Tahir and other students held their feet to the fire over surveillance of Germany and other EU countries.
How Can Any Company Ever Trust Microsoft Again?
A thoughtful essay about why companies and individuals shouldn't trust Microsoft in light of the recent leaks.
Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple are being monitored by the FBI and NSA, with Dropbox "coming soon."
So what can you do? Use some alternatives
. As Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo
, told NPR: "we made the choice to just not track people so there is nothing to turn over.
The United States' National Security organization has many parts, from the famous (NSA
) to the mundane (OCI
) to the more esoteric (NRO
). But even the most dedicated Washington insider may not have heard of INR
. [more inside]
During my service in the Korean military, I worked for two years as special intelligence personnel for the NSA, learning first-hand how to extract information from defense targets. Now, as a designer, I am influenced by these experiences and I have become dedicated to researching ways to “articulate our unfreedom” and to continue the evolution of my own thinking about censorship, surveillance, and a free society.
ZXX is a disruptive typeface
designed by an ex-Korean intelligence officer to prevent automated text processing. ZXX Type Specimen Video
. Project site
offers a free download (.zip, 77 KB)
The Secret History of Privacy.
"Something creepy happened when mystery became secular, secrecy became a technology, and privacy became a right..." [Via]
In an interview with Hong Kong's South China Morning Post
, NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, claims that the US is "trying to bully the Hong Kong government"
into extraditing him, and provides new documents which describe the NSA's routine hacking of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009
, including regular access of large backbone networks. [more inside]
Washington Post: NSA and FBI are mining data from nine major tech companies in formerly secret program.
Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple are being monitored, with Dropbox "coming soon". The program, called PRISM, is reportedly the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief.