The CIA writes like Lovecraft, Bureau of Prisons is like Stephen King, & NSA is like...

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "When MuckRock stumbled on I Write Like - a service that lets you see which famous author a given piece of writing resembles - they immediately knew what it was destined for: Helping shed light on on the literary influences of the mysterious FOIA offices they deal with on a daily basis. Fittingly, some offices echo HP Lovecraft's dark horror, while others are more Dan Brown. But you'll never guess which agency seems to take a cue from Cory Doctorow ..." Read the rest

TPP will ban rules that require source-code disclosure

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As we pick through the secret, 2,000-page treaty, we're learning an awful lot of awfulness, but this one is particularly terrible. Read the rest

Christ, what an asshole.

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Chris Grayling, UK Tory MP and leader of the House of Commons: The Freedom of Information act isn't for journalism, it's for "those who want to understand why and how government is taking decisions." If you want to hold your government accountable, you, personally, should do it, without any help from the press. It will make Britain great again. Read the rest

Secret surveillance laws make it impossible to have an informed debate about privacy

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James Losey's new, open access, peer-reviewed article in the Journal of International Communication analyzes how secret laws underpinning surveillance undermine democratic principles and how transparency from both companies and governments is a critical first step for supporting an informed debate.. Read the rest

NSA spying: judge tosses out case because Wikipedia isn't widely read enough

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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

Petition: Facebook betrayed us by secretly lobbying for cyber-surveillance bill

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Tiffiny from Fight for the Future writes, "New information has surfaced about Facebook's position on S. 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Sources on the Hill tell us that Facebook lobbyists are welcoming CISA behind closed doors, even though Facebook has been lauded as opposing the bill after CCIA, an industry association they are a member of, came out against it.. CISA would give companies like Facebook legal immunity for violating privacy laws as long as they share information with the government. It's supposed to be for cybersecurity, but in reality companies would be encouraged to share information beyond cyber threat data and the information could be used for prosecuting all kinds of activities." Read the rest

Research files on El Salvador stolen from human rights group suing CIA over El Salvador

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Confidential research files on human rights abuses in El Salvador were stolen from a human rights organization in Washington state, just weeks after that same organization sued the CIA for refusing to release documents related to those very same abuses.

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J Edgar Hoover fought to write ex-FBI agents out of Hitchcock's scripts

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Like almost everyone else in the J. Edgar Hoover era, Alfred Hitchcock managed to catch the attention of the FBI, leading to a 16-page file. Did it investigate the rumored murders the Master of Suspense committed? Secretive ties to foreign states? Nope, mostly just the fact that, in one episode of Hitchcock Presents, a bad guy was briefly referenced to be a 'former FBI agent,' a plot point that the Bureau worked surprisingly hard to change ... perhaps worth of a Hitchcock treatment all its own. Read on for the full story." Read the rest

Son of Dieselgate: second line of VWs may have used "defeat devices"

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It's not just the 11 million VW diesels that the company admits to having converted to secret mobile gas-chambers; VW is now probing whether earlier models also used the "defeat devices" that detected when they were being evaluated by regulators, lowering emissions temporarily, then ramping them up to forty times the legal limit later. Read the rest

DHS admits it uses Stingrays for VIPs, vows to sometimes get warrants, stop lying to judges

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The DHS's newly released policy statement on the use of Stingrays (stationary fake cellphone towers used to track people in a specific location) and Dirt Boxes (airplane-mounted surveillance that tracks whole populations) represents a welcome, if overdue, transparency in the use of cellphone surveillance by federal agencies. Read the rest

How the market for zero-day vulnerabilities works

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Zero-days -- bugs that are unknown to both vendors and users -- are often weaponized by governments, criminals, and private arms dealers who sell to the highest bidders. The market for zero-days means that newly discovered bugs are liable to go unpatched until they are used in a high-profile cyberattack or independently discovered by researchers who'd rather keep their neighbors safe than make a profit. Read the rest

Five private prison myths that Muckrock will bust with its crowdfunded Freedom of Information Act blitz

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "MuckRock's crowdfunding campaign to fund a series of FOIA requests and an investigation into America's Private Prison industry is in its last weeks, and the project's reporter, Beryl Lipton, has put together a list factchecking the industry's primary talking points, ranging from how they end up costing tax payers more than traditional prisons to how the industry actively works to build up the market by lobbying against policies that would reduce sentences -- and their margins." Read the rest

Survivor-count for the Chicago PD's black-site/torture camp climbs to 7,000+

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In February, the Guardian reported stories about the Homan Square, the Chicago Police Department's off-the-books black-site, where (mostly black and brown) suspects are denied counsel while being brutalized into forced confessions. Read the rest

NYPD won't disclose what it does with its secret military-grade X-ray vans

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The $825,000 Z Backscatter Vans the NYPD drives around the city look like regular police vans, but are equipped with powerful X-rays that can see through walls and vehicles. US Customs uses these things to scan cars and freight-containers, but only after they're sure there are no people around. Read the rest

23andme & Ancestry.com aggregated the world's DNA; the police obliged them by asking for it

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When 23andme and Ancestry.com began their projects of collecting and retaining the world's DNA, many commentators warned that this would be an irresistible target for authoritarians and criminals, and that it was only a matter of time until cops started showing up at their doors, asking for their customers' most compromising data. Read the rest

Snowden for drones: The Intercept's expose on US drone attacks, revealed by a new leaker

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The Drone Papers is The Intercept's collection of eight blockbuster articles analyzing a leaked 2013 Pentagon study that evaluated the US drone assassination campaigns in Yemen and Somalia. The documents come from a US intelligence source who said, "This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong."

1980: the Director of the FBI mixes up KISS & The Who, confusing the hell out of FBI agents

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Before rock legends KISS embarked on their 1980 'Unmasked' Tour of Europe, then FBI Director William H. Webster put out a request to field offices for information regarding instances of 'civil unrest' associated with the band's concerts, particularly an incident in Texas which escalated to open attacks on police. The field officers' response was unanimous - they had no idea what the Director was talking about. That and more details await in the FBI's files on KISS." Read the rest

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