Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

greed3

U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

jeff olsen

Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »

freedom-of-the-press

The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

anon

‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

Business Insider Mar. 2, 2012 By Michael Kelley Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted More »

Category Archives: privacy

The persecution of Barrett Brown – and how to fight it

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Guardian
Mar. 21, 2013
By

Aaron’s Swartz’s suicide in January triggered waves of indignation, and rightly so. He faced multiple felony counts and years in prison for what were, at worst, trivial transgressions of law. But his prosecution revealed the excess of both anti-hacking criminal statutes, particularly the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and the fixation of federal prosecutors on severely punishing all forms of activism that challenge the power of the government and related entities to control the flow of information on the internet. Part of what drove the intense reaction to Swartz’s death was how sympathetic of a figure he was, but as noted by Orin Kerr, a former federal prosecutor in the DOJ’s computer crimes unit and now a law professor at GWU, what was done to Swartz is anything but unusual, and the reaction to his death will be meaningful only if channeled to protest other similar cases of prosecutorial abuse:

“I think it’s important to realize that what happened in the Swartz case happens in lots and lots of federal criminal cases. . . . What’s unusual about the Swartz case is that it involved a highly charismatic defendant with very powerful friends in a position to object to these common practices. That’s not to excuse what happened, but rather to direct the energy that is angry about what happened. If you want to end these tactics, don’t just complain about the Swartz case. Don’t just complain when the defendant happens to be a brilliant guy who went to Stanford and hangs out with Larry Lessig. Instead, complain that this is business as usual in federal criminal cases around the country – mostly with defendants who no one has ever heard of and who get locked up for years without anyone else much caring.”

Prosecutorial abuse is a drastically under-discussed problem in general, but it poses unique political dangers when used to punish and deter online activism. But it’s becoming the preeminent weapon used by the US government to destroy such activism.

‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

anon

Business Insider
Mar. 2, 2012
By Michael Kelley

Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted on charges of stealing information and sharing links to stolen credit card information.

Yet overarching insights into the decentralized collective are hard to find.

Information activist Asher Wolf provides a unique perspective in an interview with a prominent American Anon, who has more than 290,000 Twitter followers via @AnonyOps and is living in exile by choice.

The hacker left the country out of a fear of being harshly prosecuted by the government for radical advocacy of movements such as WikiLeaks and Occupy .

“I think the idea was planted when I saw others leaving,” @AnonyOps told Wolf. ” Glen Greenwald left … There’s a brain drain of political dissidents – America’s punishment for screwing with civil liberties.

Pentagon’s new massive expansion of ‘cyber-security’ unit is about everything except defense

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Guardian
Jan. 28, 2012
By

As the US government depicts the Defense Department as shrinking due to budgetary constraints, the Washington Post this morning announces “a major expansion of [the Pentagon's] cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold.” Specifically, says the New York Times this morning, “the expansion would increase the Defense Department’s Cyber Command by more than 4,000 people, up from the current 900.” The Post describes this expansion as “part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force.” This Cyber Command Unit operates under the command of Gen. Keith Alexander, who also happens to be the head of the National Security Agency, the highly secretive government network that spies on the communications of foreign nationals – and American citizens.

The Pentagon’s rhetorical justification for this expansion is deeply misleading. Beyond that, these activities pose a wide array of serious threats to internet freedom, privacy, and international law that, as usual, will be conducted with full-scale secrecy and with little to no oversight and accountability. And, as always, there is a small army of private-sector corporations who will benefit most from this expansion.

Let’s begin with the way this so-called “cyber-security” expansion has been marketed. It is part of a sustained campaign which, quite typically, relies on blatant fear-mongering.

Everyone is fair game: Spy agency conducts surveillance on all US citizens

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RT
Dec. 13, 2012

The Obama administration overruled recommendations from within the US Department of Homeland Security and implemented new guidelines earlier this year that allow the government to gather and analyze intelligence on every single US citizen.

Since the spring, a little-know intelligence agency outside of Washington, DC has been able to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and conduct dragnet surveillance of the entire country, combing massive datasets using advanced algorithms to search and seize personal info on anyone this wish, reports the Wall Street Journal this week.

There’s no safeguard that says only Americans with criminal records are the ones included, and it’s not just suspected terrorists that are considered in the searches either. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has been provided with entire government databases and given nearly endless access to intelligence on everyone in the country, regardless of whether or not they’ve done anything that would have made them a person of interest. As long as data is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information,” the agency can do as they wish.

Cops to Congress: We need logs of Americans’ text messages

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CNET
Dec. 3, 2012
By

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to record and store information about Americans’ private text messages for at least two years, according to a proposal that police have submitted to the U.S. Congress.

CNET has learned a constellation of law enforcement groups has asked the U.S. Senate to require that wireless companies retain that information, warning that the lack of a current federal requirement “can hinder law enforcement investigations.”

They want an SMS retention requirement to be “considered” during congressional discussions over updating a 1986 privacy law for the cloud computing era — a move that could complicate debate over the measure and erode support for it among civil libertarians.

Australian surveillance ‘out of control’: 20% increase in 1 year

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RT
Dec. 3, 2012

Access to private data has increased by 20 per cent by Australia’s law enforcement and government agencies – and with no warrant. Australians are 26 times more prone to be placed under surveillance than people in other countries, local media report.

­In such a way, state structures accessed private information over 300,000 times last year – or 5,800 times every week, figures from the federal Attorney General’s Department showcase.

The data includes phone and internet account information, the details of out and inbound calls, telephone and internet access location data, as well as everything related to the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses visited, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports.

Internet Hangs in Balance as World Governments Meet in Secret

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Wired
Dec. 3, 2012
By David Kravets

There’s a lot of sky-is-falling doomsday predictions about the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which opens Monday in Dubai with some 190-plus nations discussing the global internet’s future.

That’s because much of the accompanying proposals from the global community have been kept under lock and key, although some of the positions of nations have been leaked and published online.

The idea behind the meetings is to update the International Telecommunications Regulations governed by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency known as the ITU, that is responsible for global communication technologies.

US Homeland Security sued for drone details

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AFP
Oct. 31, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — The Electronic Frontier Foundation said Wednesday it has sued the US Department of Homeland Security to obtain details about Predator drones on loan to domestic police departments.

EFF Internet freedom and privacy champions contended that they filed suit in federal court in San Francisco because the DHS failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for the information.

A DHS division uses unmanned drones in the United States to patrol borders but reports indicate that missions are being flown on behalf of local and federal law enforcement agencies, according to the EFF.

US Supreme Court lets wiretapping immunity stand

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AFP
Oct. 09, 2012

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court let stand Tuesday an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by rights activists as a flagrant abuse of executive power.

The top US court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the National Security Agency monitor its customers’ phone calls and Internet traffic.

Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct “warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance” without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general.

But President Barack Obama’s administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies.

As Occupy anniversary nears, Twitter gives up info on protester

Twitter

Los Angeles Times
Sept. 15, 2012
By Paloma Esquivel

In a case that civil liberty and Internet privacy advocates have been watching closely, Twitter on Friday handed over information about an Occupy Wall Street protester to a New York criminal court. The potential impact remains, as yet, unclear.

The New York district attorney’s office had subpoenaed more than three months worth of tweets from the Twitter account of Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris. The office also wanted account information. The tweets are no longer publicly available, so there was no way to retrieve them without the inside help.

Earlier this summer, the judge in the case ordered the company to turn over the records.

The company finally complied, turning over the messages and information this week, just days before the movement marks its one-year anniversary. Whether the Occupy protests will have any lasting impact, as some have begun to question, the Twitter case suggests that the movement’s ripple effect is continuing.