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Month: June 2015

Spoiler Alert: Government Spy Agencies Might Be Lying

Spoiler Alert: Government Spy Agencies Might Be Lying

UK intelligence agencies are claiming that they are having to move agents who are endangered in the field, and according to this report the reason is… Edward Snowden!

I must say, this has the stink of the barnyard.  Information about the nature of surveillance programs, which is what Snowden revealed, is so far from operational info about field agents that it might as well be the 1997 Minnesota Twins’ box scores.  If agencies are having their networks compromised they should look to the flaws in their protocols that allowed Snowden to take any files out, not to the actual files Snowden took out.

Assuming they are not flat-out lying about having to roll up field networks (a BIG-ass-umption), they are simply scapegoating the man they love to hate.

The Chinese just breached a carload of US government data from security clearance applications. So now they know:

  • Who has clearance
  • At what level
  • What is all the garbage those people had in their background that had to be vetted out to give them the clearance.

Now which one is more likely to have compromised field agents?  That?  Or a detailed description of how Verizon rolls over and gives the gov’t all your call data?

But wait – what could the government POSSIBLY want with distracting you from the Chinese breach and turning attention back on Snowden?  Such a mystery.

Simple Truths

Simple Truths

Email I received from the ACLU this morning. Timely!

Also attributed to Mr. Snowden – and I love this one:

Saying privacy doesn’t matter to you because you have nothing to hide is like saying freedom of speech doesn’t matter to you because you have nothing to say.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Edward Snowden, ACLU Action <aclu@aclu.org
Date: Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 7:47 AM
Subject: Simple truths
To: [me]

ACLU Action
David–

Today is the two year anniversary of the first of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. And on Tuesday, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act – a bill that limited mass surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and other authorities.

While USA Freedom Act is a start, no one should mistake it for comprehensive reform – it leaves many of the government’s most intrusive surveillance powers untouched, and it leaves disclosure and transparency loopholes.

Read Edward’s message below, and then take the next step: call the president’s office and tell him to rein in Executive Order 12333. It’s been used to collect info about millions of innocent people without any judicial oversight. It’s time to bring the government’s surveillance practices back in line with democratic values.

Anthony for the ACLU Action team

Hi David–

Simple truths can change the world.

Two years ago today, in a Hong Kong hotel room, three journalists and I waited nervously to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been collecting records of nearly every phone call in the United States.

Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy remains under attack.

Last month, the NSA’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by a federal appeals court in ACLU v. Clapper, and it was disowned by Congress. And, after a White House investigation found that the program never stopped a single terrorist attack, even President Obama ordered it terminated.

This is because of you. This is the power of an informed public.

Ending mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen. Yet while we have reformed this one program, many others remain.

We need to push back and challenge the lawmakers who defend these programs. We need to make it clear that a vote in favor of mass surveillance is a vote in favor of illegal and ineffective violations of the right to privacy for all Americans.

As I said on Reddit last month, arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

We can’t take the right to privacy for granted, just like we can’t take the right to free speech for granted. We can’t let these invasions of our rights stand.

While we worked away in that hotel room in Hong Kong, there were moments when we worried we might have put our lives at risk for nothing – that the public would react with apathy to the publication of evidence that revealed that democratic governments had been collecting and storing billions of intimate records of innocent people.

Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.


Edward Snowden for ACLU Action

Read Edward’s Reddit “Ask Me Anything” conversation with the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, and check out his op-ed in today’s New York Times – Anthony

Reddit: Just days left to kill mass surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. 

New York Times: Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance 

Why Security on the Internet is an Afterthought

Why Security on the Internet is an Afterthought

This WaPo article gives us an historical perspective on why the Internet was designed to operate mostly with no encryption.  The money quote:

“Back in those days, the NSA still had the ability to visit a professor and say, ‘Do not publish that paper on cryptography.’ ”
As the ’70s wound down, [Vint] Cerf and [Robert] Kahn abandoned their efforts to bake cryptography into TCP/IP, bowing to what they considered insurmountable barriers.

This is really a great piece on how the internet morphed from an academic & defense research project to the collective nervous system of humanity.  I came into the field during the second decade of the Internet and it was not really a part of my life until about four or five years in.  I really enjoyed the insight into the earlier days.  Note the role Richard Stallman took back then – it hasn’t really changed much, at its core.

h/t to Rob Slade via CISSPForum.