Boing Boing 

After Katrina, FBI prioritized cellphone surveillance


Michael from Muckrock sez, "There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm."

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The FBI kept files on author Ray Bradbury: "Definitely slanted against the United States"


Michael from Muckrock writes, "The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare."

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What happened at yesterday's Congressional hearings on banning crypto?


Cryptographers and security experts gathered on the Hill yesterday to tell Congress how stupid it was to ban crypto in order to make it easier to spy on "bad guys."

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Computer scientists on the excruciating stupidity of banning crypto

A paper from some of the most important names in crypto/security history scorchingly condemns plans by the US and UK governments to ban "strong" (e.g. "working") crypto.

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US CIO defies the FBI, orders HTTPS for all government websites


Tony Scott, CIO of the US government, has spit in the eye of assistant FBI director Michael Steinbach, who called on companies "to build technological solutions to prevent encryption above all else."

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FBI replies to Stingray Freedom of Information request with 5,000 blank pages


The Stingray -- a fake cellphone tower that gathers identity/location information on everyone who passes it -- is the worst-kept secret in law enforcement, but that doesn't stop feds from going to absurd lengths to pretend they don't use them.

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As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices


The FBI used to publish excellent advice about encrypting your devices to keep your data secure when your stuff is lost or stolen; this advice has been silently dropped now that FBI Director James Comey is trying to stop manufacturers from using crypto by default.

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J. Edgar Hoover palled around with a suspected commie spy


Michael from Muckrock sez, "Few American officials could even come close to the legendary paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover, but that didn't stop the notorious FBI chief from striking up a close friendship with Samuel Dickstein, House Committee on Un-American Activities founder, Supreme Court Justice -- and suspected Russian spy."

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Molly Crabapple's FBI file is 7,526 pages long (UPDATED, it's worse)


After a protracted battle with the Bureau, artist and journalist Molly Crabapple (previously) has gotten them to admit that they're keeping a whopping file on her, which they will release to her lawyers at the rate of 750 (heavily redacted) pages/month for the next ten months.

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EFF makes DoJ admit it lied in court about FBI secret warrants

Department of Justice lawyers told a judge that when the FBI gives one of its secret National Security Letters to a company, the company is allowed to reveal the NSL's existence and discuss its quality -- it lied.

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FBI chief demands an end to cellphone security

If your phone is designed to be secure against thieves, voyeurs, and hackers, it'll also stop spies and cops. So the FBI has demanded that device makers redesign their products so that they -- and anyone who can impersonate them -- can break into them at will.

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Meet the spooky tech companies getting rich by making NSA surveillance possible


Wildly profitable companies like Neustar, Subsentio, and Yaana do the feds' dirty work for them, slurping huge amounts of unconstitutionally requisitioned data out of telcos' and ISPs' data-centers in response to secret, sealed FISA warrants -- some of them publicly traded, too, making them a perfect addition to the Gulag Wealth Fund.

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FBI photo-redaction is surprisingly artistic


When you use the Freedom of Information Act to prise loose a document from the FBI, they are prone to liberal redactions; the results are surprisingly artistic, especially when it comes to photos and other graphics.

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Surveillance state: the NSA doesn't stand alone


The NSA is supposed to be America's offshore spy agency, forbidden from spying on Americans. But as an important article by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Nadia Kayyali points out, the FBI, DEA and other US agencies have closely integrated the NSA into their own efforts, using the NSA's mass surveillance to gather intelligence on Americans -- as Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide discloses, the NSA isn't a stand-alone agency, it is part of an overarching surveillance state.

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Kafka, meet Orwell: Lavabit's founder explains why he shut down his company

Writing in the Guardian, Lavabit founder Ladar Levison recounts the events that led to his decision to shutter his company in August 2013. Lavabit provided secure, private email for over 400,000 people, including Edward Snowden, and the legal process by which the FBI sought to spy on its users is a terrifying mix of Orwell -- wanting to snoop on all 400,000 -- and Kafka -- not allowing Levison legal representation and prohibiting him from discussing the issue with anyone who might help him navigate the appropriate law.

Levison discloses more than I've yet seen about the nature of the feds' demands, but more important are the disclosures about the legal shenanigans he was subjected to. In fact, his description of the legal process is a kind of bas relief of the kind of legal services that those of us fighting the excesses of the global war on terror might need: a list of attorneys who are qualified to represent future Lavabits, warrant canaries for the services we rely upon; and, of course, substantive reform to the judicial processes laid out in the Patriot Act.

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Muslims sue FBI: kept on no-fly list because they wouldn't turn informant


A suit brought by four Muslim-American men with no criminal records asserts that the FBI put them on the no-fly list in order to pressure them to inform on their communities. Brooklynite Awais Sajjad, one of the plaintiffs, says that he was denied boarding for a flight to visit his sickly grandmother in Pakistan in 2012, and that subsequently, the FBI told him they would remove him from the no-fly list only if he worked as an FBI informant. Sajjad's has tried all the official means of getting himself removed from the no-fly list, without any success. Sajjad's co-plaintiffs tell similar stories.

The case echoes that of Dr Rahinah Ibrahim, the first person to successfully appeal being placed on the US no-fly list. In her case, it emerged that she had been put on the list due to an administrative error (an FBI officer ticked the wrong box on a form) and that subsequently the DHS, Justice Department and FBI conspired to use state secrecy to cover up their error, even though they knew that there was no conceivable reason to keep Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

Sajjad and co will have to overcome the same secrecy privilege and the same culture of ass-covering indifference to innocence from the FBI and its allies in government. I don't like their chances, but I wish them luck.

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White, right-wing terrorist busted...and hardly a peep


Last week, the FBI arrested Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas. Talbot was the self-styled head of the American Insurgent Movement, which openly plotted to massacre Moslems at mosques and kill them with automatic weapons, sought to rob armored cars, and recruited followers to sow more mayhem. Talbot is a violent Christian fundamentalist who advertised his intention to murder people wholesale.

Kudos to the FBI for arresting this fellow, but as Death and Taxes point out, where the hell was the national panic that attends every arrest of a jihadi terrorist, no matter how cracked and improbable his plan happened to be? Nowhere to be seen.

Now, if this was a recognition by the press that lone kooks are not an existential threat to the world -- even if they are capable of committing horrible, isolated crimes -- I'd be standing up and cheering. But if Talbot had been a brown-skinned conservative Muslim who'd been arrested after planning to attack Christian churches in America with bombs and machine-guns, I suspect there would have been screaming front-page headlines and round-the-clock intensive CNN coverage for days, not to mention grim, determined reporting on Fox News.