The secret to success in local politics: steal from the people, but not too much

In a new paper in Progress, Oxford economist Vuk Vukovic argues that the key to re-election in local politics is to be just corrupt enough: giving lucrative contracts and other benefits to special interests who'll fund your next campaign, but not so much that the people refuse to vote for you. Read the rest

Haldeman's papers show Nixon conspired to extend the Vietnam war to improve his presidential chances

A newly discovered collection of notes written by Nixon aide HR Haldeman reveals that during Nixon's 68 presidential campaign, he illegally conspired to convince the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, to scuttle the peace talks run by Nixon's political rival, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. Read the rest

More than 4,000,000 attempts to read US law have failed since a court ordered Public Resource to take it down

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "In keeping with best practices for major Internet providers to issue periodic transparency reports, Public Resource would like to issue two reports. Read the rest

William Gibson on individual privacy, governmental secrecy and the future of history

In a thoughtful New York Times editorial, science fiction giant William Gibson mediates on the difference between the privacy that individuals have and deserve, the privacy that governments assert ("What does it mean, in an ostensible democracy, for the state to keep secrets from its citizens?"), and what this will mean for the historians of the future. Read the rest

In Africa, British spies target allied leaders, executives, and telcoms engineers

Le Monde has published a new collection of documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, showing that the British spy agency GCHQ targeted the leaders of allied countries in Africa, as well as business executives and employees of telecommunications companies, whose accounts were a means to gaining access to communications infrastructure across the continent. Read the rest

Virginia State cops have blown a fortune on useless cellphone spying gear

Muckrock has been sending Freedom of Information requests to state police forces to find out how they're using "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers/Stingrays), and they hit the motherlode with the Virginia State Police. 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

America's "most prolific" transparency advocate is crowdfunding to force disclosures from Trump

Ryan Shapiro, the punk Freedom of Information Access ninja, is crowdfunding a warchest to fund his inevitable lawsuits against the Trump government when he subjects it to the same relentless bombardment of transparency requests he visited upon the Obama administration. Read the rest

Tax Inspectors Without Borders: poor countries send each other ninja tax collectors to nail looting multinationals

This week on the Tax Justice Network's podcast (previously), they profile (at 20:40) the OECD's Tax Inspectors Without Borders, through which poor countries loan each other their most effective tax collectors to help catch the tax-dodging multinational corporations who drain the countries' economies -- and the organization transfers tax enforcement expertise in the process. Read the rest

What's inside the windowless AT&T/NSA spying hub in lower Manhattan?

The windowless, 550'-tall AT&T tower at 33 Thomas Street in lower Manhattan is the building referred to as TITANPOINTE in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and was likely the staging point for the NSA's BLARNEY operation, which illegally spied upon communications to and from "International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Bank of Japan, the European Union, the United Nations, and at least 38 different countries, including U.S. allies such as Italy, Japan, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Mexico, and Cyprus." Read the rest

In 2000, the NSA hacked the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

A reader writes, "According to last week's Shadow Brokers leak, the NSA compromised a DNS server of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in September 2000, two years after the Iraq Liberation Act and Operation Desert Fox, but before the Bush election." Read the rest

Vintage photos show NORAD's construction and operation

The legendary underground lair of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was so secretive that few photos have been published. Russ Kick at Memory Hole was good enough to locate one of 27 libraries in the world with an obscure book titled NORAD Command Post: The City Inside Cheyenne Mountain. The photos he shared will make you want to watch Dr. Strangelove again. Read the rest

One week left! Apply for a Shuttleworth Fellowship

The Shuttleworth Fellowships hand millions directly to people starting out on a journey to radically transform the world to make it more open; this year, I'm Honourary Steward, meaning I'll help pick the grantees. Read the rest

Lawsuit: mayor's social media blocklists are public records

Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine has a history of blocking his critics on social media, including Grant Stern, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime group. Read the rest

ACLU asks court to reveal 23 secret surveillance laws

The ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic have filed a motion demanding the release of 23 judgments from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret, closed courtroom that evaluates surveillance requests from America's spy agencies. Read the rest

Wikileaks: Assange's internet access was cut off by Ecuador

Following on their earlier statement that "Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party," the Wikileaks organization has accused Ecuador of being that state party. Read the rest

Yahoo didn't install an NSA email scanner, it was a "buggy" NSA "rootkit"

Ex-Yahoo employees have spoken anonymously to Motherboard about the news that Yahoo had built an "email scanner" for a US security agency, likely the FBI or the NSA. These sources -- at least one of whom worked on the security team -- say that in actuality, the NSA or FBI had secretly installed a "rootkit" on Yahoo's mail servers and that this was discovered by the Yahoo security team (who had not been apprised of it), who, believing the company had been hacked, sounded the alarm, only to have the company executives tell them that the US government had installed the tool. Read the rest

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