EFF and Human Rights Watch force DEA to destroy its mass surveillance database

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The EFF has just settled a case against the Drug Enforcement Agency on behalf of its client, Human Rights Watch, which sued the Agency over its decades-long program of illegal mass surveillance. Read the rest

With security cam, guy catches housecleaners committing identity theft

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A man in the Washington, DC area caught some housecleaners he'd hired through Handy.com photographing documents and rifling through his papers, presumably to commit identity theft.

Or, who knows, maybe they were also document archivists and wanted to be very very certain that along with the rest of the house, these papers were very very clean.

Read the rest

Ted Cruz campaign hires dirty data-miners who slurped up millions of Facebook users' data

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Cambridge Analytica is an obscure data-mining company funded by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer (Cruz's main financial backer). Cambridge Analytica created "psychographic profiles" of millions of Facebook users by scraping their personal data without their knowledge or permission. Read the rest

Harlem Cryptoparty: Crypto matters for #blacklivesmatter

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This week's Radio Motherboard podcast (MP3) talks with Matthew Mitchell, a former data journalist who organizes Harlem Cryptoparty, a regular training meeting for black activists who want to learn to defend themselves against the burgeoning police/DHS practice of racially profiling black activists through targeted surveillance.

Though social media surveillance is a modern phenomenon, the US government has a long and shameful history of surveilling black activists (see, for example, the FBI's attempt to convince Martin Luther King to kill himself).

Harlem Cryptoparty is an attempt to help black people armor themselves against everyday surveillance, promoted through barbershops, hair salons, black churches and flyers in the neighborhood.

2:24 Mitchell explains why a cryptography meetup makes sense in Harlem.

5:05 In order to reach the Harlem community, you have to recruit offline.

7:55 Cryptoparties and privacy events are still rare in the inner city in predominantly black and Latino communities, even though it’s not just a hypothetical threat. “You’re worried about, hey this guy threw me against a wall, flashed a badge at me, took my phone, he said if I gave him the phone he’ll let me walk, otherwise I have to do paper work. What was he doing with it?”

9:40 Nusrat Choudury from the ACLU’s Racial Justice program joins us. She wrote this piece, “The Government Is Watching #BlackLivesMatter, And It’s Not Okay.”

12:40 There is a pattern throughout history of the government using the fear of threats to conduct surveillance on “people who look or act different.”

15:30 A private security firm called Zero Fox collected information on protesters in Baltimore and labeled some “high severity physical threats.”

The Black Community Needs Encryption [Adrianne Jeffries/Vice] Read the rest

The crypto explainer you should send to your boss (and the FBI)

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Whenever a clueless authority figure who apparently knows nothing about security (like, apparently, FBI director James Comey) calls for a ban on crypto, here's the article you should show them.

Read the rest

The moral character of cryptographic work

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Phillip Rogaway, an eminent computer scientist and cryptographer at UC Davis, has made a stir in information security circles with a long, thoughtful paper called The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work. Read the rest

Crowdfunding ORG's campaign to fight the UK government's mass surveillance

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For two successive Parliaments, the UK Tory party has been trying to pass the most extensive mass-spying bill in the western world. It's called the Snoopers Charter, and after the Paris attacks, it came back with a vengeance. Read the rest

ACT! Congress about to gut privacy protection from CISA "cybersecurity" bill

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CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, encourages companies to spy on their customers and hand the data to the government, in secret, with full immunity (including immunity for launching cyberattacks at users). Read the rest

French Ministry of Interior wants to ban open wifi, Tor

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A leaked memo from the Ministry sets out new bills it would like to see introduced into the French Parliament as early as next month, setting out an ambitious plan to block privacy tools, something only technically possible by recreating China's Great Firewall in a European democracy, spying on all networked activity to prevent the use of Tor. Read the rest

Free usability help for privacy toolmakers

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Simply Secure, a nonprofit I volunteer for, is launching a new series of usability programs for organizations, companies and individuals who are making cryptographic/privacy/security tools. Read the rest

What happened when a parent fought for his kid's privacy at an all-Chromebook school

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Katherine W was seven when her third-grade teacher issued Chromebooks to her class. Her dad, Jeff, is a serious techie, but the school's tech choices didn't sit well with him. He was able to get Katherine an exception that let her use a more private, non-cloud computer for the year, but the next year, Katherine's school said she would have to switch to a laptop that would exfiltrate everything she did to Google's data-centers. Read the rest

Ironically, modern surveillance states are baffled by people who change countries

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Scott Smith and his family moved from the USA to the Netherlands and discovered that despite living in the most heavily surveilled moment in human history, neither his old country nor his new one can figure out how to relate to them. Read the rest

Mozilla will let go of Thunderbird

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The Mozilla Foundation stopped active development of the Thunderbird stand-alone email client in 2012, a year before Edward Snowden's revelations about mass email interception by spy agencies sparked an exodus from webmail platforms. Read the rest

Uh-oh: Cox Cable's insurer won't back them in court against BMG Music

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BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music. has been trying to enlist Cox Cable as an accomplice in a copyright trolling scheme, demanding that the company pass on copyright infringement notices that accuse users of downloading music and order them to pay large sums of music or face punishing lawsuits. Read the rest

Devastating technical rebuttal to the Snoopers Charter

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The Snoopers Charter is the UK Tory government's proposal to force ISPs to retain records of all their customers' online activities, and the government has used the excuse of the Paris attacks to call for its immediate passage despite the fact that the £175m/year the government has budgeted to defray ISPs' costs is not even close to enough to pay for the massive surveillance effort, meaning that Britons' ISP bills are set to soar if it passes. Read the rest

What's inside a "Hello Barbie" surveillance toy?

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Mattel's Hello Barbie has a microphone and a wifi interface, and it transmits the phrases it hears to a central server in order to parse them and formulate a response. Mattel claims that the data isn't being retained or harvested for marketing purposes, and assures parents that they can make Barbie stopping eavesdropping on them at will. But does it work? Read the rest

How browser extensions steal logins & browsing habits; conduct corporate espionage

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Seemingly harmless browser extensions that generate emojis, enlarge thumbnails, help you debug Javascript errors and other common utilities routinely run secret background processes that collect and retransmit your login credentials, private URLs that grant access to sensitive files, corporate secrets, full PDFs and other personally identifying, potentially compromising data. Read the rest

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