The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Kurt Opsahl -- a brillliant digital civil liberties attorney who has been suing the US government and the NSA over spying since 2006 -- took to the stage at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg this week to explain in clear and simple language the history of NSA spying. Kurt lays out the tortured legal history of American bulk surveillance, showing how an interlocking set of laws, policies, lies and half-truths have been used to paper over an obviously, grossly unconstitutional program of spying without court oversight or particular suspicion.
If you're mystified by the legal shenanigans that led up to the Snowden and Manning leaks, this is where you should start. And even if you've been following the story closely, Opsahl gives badly needed coherence to the disjointed legal struggle, connecting the dots and revealing the whole picture.
30c3: Through a PRISM, Darkly - Everything we know about NSA spying
Sunday's Snowden leaks detailing the Tailored Access Operations group -- the NSA's exploit-farming, computer-attacking "plumbers" -- and the ANT's catalog of attacks on common computer equipment and software -- were accompanied by a lecture by Jacob Appelbaum at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress. I have seen Jake speak many times, but this talk is extraordinary, even by his standards, and should by watched by anyone who's said, "Well, they're probably not spying on me, personally;" or "What's the big deal about spies figuring out how to attack computers used by bad guys?" or "It's OK if spies discover back-doors and keep them secret, because no one else will ever find them."
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Yesterday in Hamburg, Glenn Greenwald gave an astounding, must-watch keynote address to the gathered hackers at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress, or 30C3 (Greenwald starts at 4:36). Greenwald excoriated the press for failing to hold the world's leaders to account, describing what he did with the Snowden leaks as challenge to the journalistic status quo as well as the political status quo. This is a leaping-off point for an extended riff on the active cooperation between the press and the national security apparatus, an arrangement calculated to give the appearance of oversight on surveillance activities without any such oversight (for example, BBC reporter expressed shock when he said that the role of the press should be to root out lies from senior spies, saying that generals and senior officials would ever lie to the public).
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