In my latest Guardian column, I tell the story of my recent lecture at West Point's Cyber Institute, where a young cadet took me aside as asked what I thought of their plans for joining the NSA. Read the rest
Lots of law enforcement agencies hate crypto, because the technology that helps us protect our communications from criminals and griefers and stalkers and spies also helps criminals keep secrets from cops. With each terrorist attack there's a fresh round of doom-talk from spooks and cops about the criminals "going dark" -- as though the present situation, in which the names and personal information of everyone who talks to everyone else, all the time, where they are then they talk, where they go and who they talk to next, is somehow less surveillant than the past, when cops could sometimes use analog tape-recorders to wiretap the very few conversations that took place on landlines. Read the rest
CIA Director John Brennan wants you to think the Paris attacks were Snowden's fault -- the "hand wringing" over mass surveillance has ended his agency's ability to "thwart" terrorists attacks "before they're carried out." There's only one problem with that: there's no evidence that the US's mass surveillance programs have ever prevented a major terrorist attack. Read the rest
James Bridle's new essay (adapted from a speech at the Through Post-Atomic Eyes event in Toronto last month) draws a connection between the terror of life in the nuclear shadow and the days we live in now, when we know that huge privacy disasters are looming, but are seemingly powerless to stop the proliferation of surveillance. Read the rest
Wikimedia -- Wikipedia's parent org -- has had its case against the NSA dismissed by a Federal judge who said that the mere fact that the site is one of the most popular destinations on the net was not a basis for assuming that the NSA had intercepted data between Wikipedia and its users. Read the rest
At the Black Hat hacker convention in 2013, Former NSA director Keith Alexander asked hackers to help the NSA come up with ways to protect Americans' privacy and civil liberties.
"How do we start this discussion on defending our nation and protecting our civil liberties and privacy?" Alexander asked the Las Vegas crowd. "The reason I'm here is because you may have some ideas of how we can do it better. We need to hear those ideas."
Well, obviously, we need to get Congress to start imposing adult supervision on the NSA, but until that happens, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to protect yourself. Read the rest
There have long been rumors, leaks, and statements about the NSA "breaking" crypto that is widely believed to be unbreakable, and over the years, there's been mounting evidence that in many cases, they can do just that. Now, Alex Halderman and Nadia Heninger, along with a dozen eminent cryptographers have presented a paper at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (a paper that won the ACM's prize for best paper at the conference) that advances a plausible theory as to what's going on. In some ways, it's very simple -- but it's also very, very dangerous, for all of us. Read the rest
Historically, US companies have been able to get around the (relatively stringent) European data-protection rules thanks to a "Safe Harbor" agreement between the US and the EU -- but Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy activist, has successfully argued that the NSA's mass surveillance programs violate European law and invalidates the Safe Harbor. Read the rest
Intelexit is an activist group whose mission is to get spies to quit their jobs; they've recently installed billboards around spy complexes in the US and UK. Read the rest
The crooks that Edward Snowden outed (and their complicit overseers in government) like to talk about how Snowden violated an oath when he gave journalists documents that established that security services in at least five countries were breaking their own laws in order to pursue unimaginably aggressive mass surveillance. Read the rest
The Intercept just published an amazing article by Jim Bamford yesterday talking about how the NSA exploited a backdoor in Vodafone to spy on Greek politicians and journalists during the 2004 Olympics.
In a meticulous investigation, Bamford reports at the Intercept that the NSA was behind the notorious, legendary “Athens Affair”. After the 2004 Olympics, the Greek government discovered that an unknown attacker had hacked into Vodafone’s “lawful intercept” system, the phone company’s method of wiretapping voice calls. The attacker spied on phone calls of the president and other Greek politicians and journalists before the hack was found out.
Freedom of the Press Foundation director Trevor Timm wrote for the Guardian about why this is exactly why encryption backdoors are so dangerous.
What are encryption backdoors? For non-techie readers, basically these are ways the government can unencrypt your "locked" communications if they decide they want to see your private material for any secret reason.
And in related news, rumor has it the White House is nearing a decision on whether to embrace the right to encryption for American citizens, or join the FBI in calling for backdoors.
Dozens of civil liberties groups, including Freedom of the Press Foundation, launched this site and petition today that feeds into the White House petition system: savecrypto.org.
If you care about this issue, right now is the time to take action. Read the rest
When National Security Agency director Michael Hayden told then-CEO-of-HP/now-Republican-presidential-hopeful Carly Fiorina he needed servers to put the entire USA under unconstitutional surveillance, she leapt into action to supply him with the materiel he needed. Read the rest
Bamford was the first-ever NSA whistleblower, whose bravery led to the Church Commission and the unprecedented curbs on the agency's spying powers -- his long, sympathetic Wired profile of Snowden is full of insight and wisdom. Read the rest