How East Germany's Stasi tried to drive activists insane, and how they resisted

East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, were the most aggressive surveillance force of their day -- at the Stasi's peak, one in 60 East Germans was snitching for the agency. Read the rest

The CIA has developed board-games to train future spies

At SXSW, CIA Senior Collection Analyst David Clopper revealed a series of tabletop games developed as training materials for CIA internal training exercises: Collection, a Pandemic-style crisis-resolution game; Collection Deck, a Magic: The Gathering style intel-collection game; and Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo, designed "to train analysts who might work with law enforcement and other partners around world to find a well-armed, well-defended, well-protected bad guy." Read the rest

America's spooks want Congress to extend massive spying powers but still won't answer Congress's basic questions

Two of the NSA's mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden are Prism (which give the NSA "bulk data" access to the servers of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others) and Upstream (through which the NSA taps the internet's fiber optic backbones). Both are possible because of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires this year. Read the rest

Putinology considered harmful: the many legends we tell ourselves about Vladimir Putin

Russian emigre -- and Putin opponent -- Keith Gessen writes at length and very well about the different guises that Vladimir Putin takes on in the imaginations of western political writers: genius, nothing, secret stroke survivor, KGB agent, killer, kleptocrat, a man with the suspicious name of "Vladimir." Read the rest

A Good American: a documentary about Bill Binney, an NSA whistleblower who says 9/11 could have been prevented

Bill Binney resigned from the NSA in October 2001, after 30 years with the agency where he was viewed as one of their best analysts: he quit because he believed that Bush-appointed leaders in the Agency had chosen to respond to the challenge of electronic communications by building out illegal, indiscriminate mass-surveillance programs that left the country vulnerable to terrorists while diverting billions to private contractors with political connections. Read the rest

Leaked FBI manual reveals agency targets innocents as informants, blackmails them into cooperating, can deport them afterwards

Today, The Intercept has published a minimally redacted version of a 2015 edition of the FBI's Confidential Human Source Policy Guide, along with a series of in-depth articles reporting on the document (including the FBI's confirmation of a conspiracy by white supremacists to infiltrate law enforcement agencies). Among the most explosive revelations are the ways in which the FBI coerces domestic and foreign informants. Read the rest

After shutting down to protect user privacy, Lavabit rises from the dead

In 2013, Lavabit -- famous for being the privacy-oriented email service chosen by Edward Snowden to make contact with journalists while he was contracting for the NSA -- shut down under mysterious, abrupt circumstances, leaving 410,000 users wondering what had just happened to their email addresses. Read the rest

Trump's NSA will be able to share its firehose of surveillance data with 16 government agencies (Thanks, Obama)

The new data-sharing rules enacted by the Obama administration will allow the NSA to lawfully share the unredacted, full take of its surveillance databases with sixteen other US government agencies -- meaning that, for example, Trump's door-to-door deportation squads could use that data to figure out who's doors to break down, and his Muslim surveillance database could bootstrap itself with NSA data. Read the rest

Why the Trump era is the perfect time to go long on freedom and short on surveillance

My new Locus column is "It’s Time to Short Surveillance and Go Long on Freedom," which starts by observing that Barack Obama's legacy includes a beautifully operationalized, professional and terrifying surveillance apparatus, which Donald Trump inherits as he assumes office and makes ready to make good on his promise to deport millions of Americans and place Muslims under continuous surveillance. Read the rest

Germany, France and the UK are moving the EU to continuous, unaccountable, warrantless mass surveillance

Recent surveillance laws in Germany, France and the UK require online service providers to store (undoubtedly leaky and infinitely toxic) databases of everything you do online, and allow government agencies to raid these databases without accountability or meaningful oversight). Read the rest

Liberty is crowdfunding a lawsuit to challenge the Snoopers Charter

Liberty UK and The Civil Liberties Trust are raising funds online to fund high-stakes litigation against the UK government over the Snoopers Charter, a mass-surveillance law that requires tech companies and telcos to retain everything you do online and hand it over to government, law enforcement, and private contractors without warrants or even minimal record-keeping. Read the rest

EFF battles misleading, sloppy, secret FBI warrants aimed at the Internet Archive and CREDO

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has disclosed that it has won two key victories for clients who'd received the FBI's notorious, gag-ordered National Security Letters -- a form of secret warrant that has become the go-to way for law enforcement to avoid scrutiny since the Patriot Act's passage. Read the rest

Donald Trump still loves torture

The New York Times indulged a bit of wishful thinking last week when it reported on Trump's surprise that his likely secretary of defense Marine Corps General James Mattis thought torture didn't work, suggesting that this meant that Trump would abandon his campaign promise to torture the shit out of anyone he didn't like, because if it's good enough for ISIS, it's good enough for Trump. Read the rest

Projecting leaked NSA docs on the side of AT&T's windowless NYC spy-center

Earlier this month, Henrik Moltke helped report the extent to which the massive, windowless, bombproof AT&T tower at 33 Thomas Street was implicated in illegal NSA surveillance of US and international communications, revealing that the tower was almost certainly the site referred to as TITANPOINTE in Snowden docs. Read the rest

America's top spy won't stick around to watch Donald Trump wield his doomsday device

James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, has tendered his resignation. He says he will serve through the handover to the new administration, whereupon Donald Trump will inherit an arsenal of cyberweapons and a $52B/year army of 107,000 secret, unaccountable spies that Clapper has strengthened and emboldened in one of the most sustained and successful exercises in empire-building in US governmental history. Read the rest

Yahoo secretly built a tool to scan all email in realtime for US spies

In 2015, Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer ordered the company's engineers to build a tool that scanned Yahoo Mail messages in realtime for "characters" of interest to a US security agency, either the FBI or the NSA. Read the rest

Done in your name: Survivors of CIA's torture-decade describe their ordeals

For nearly a decade, the CIA kidnapped people from over 20 countries, held them without trial or counsel, and viciously tortured them, sometimes to death -- but the only person to serve jail time for the program is the man who blew the whistle on it, and that's thanks in part to Obama's insistence that "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." Read the rest

More posts