They say "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged" -- whether or not that's true, it's becoming abundantly clear that "a trustbuster is a neoliberal who's been on the wrong side of the online platforms' monopoly power" -- Big Tech was the first beneficiary of Reagan's assault on anti-trust law and has perfected a number of next-generation, bleeding-edge tactics for suppressing competition during 40 years' worth of free rein.
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Why does the Russian embassy want to visit accused hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin so very badly, lawyers ask. Good question. Read the rest
It’s raining military secrets!
Earlier this week, it was revealed that a group of hackers got their meathooks on an operator manual for the United States military’s MQ-9 Reaper UAV. The manual was fair game: a U.S. Air Force captain had it stashed away on his under-protected home network—you know, as one does with sensitive documents that could fuck with national security. My guess is that the captain wasn’t aware of the case against military contractor Jared Sparks. The company Sparks was employed by was developing an underwater drone for the U.S. Navy. While he was drawing a paycheck from them Sparks decided it’d be cool to upload scads of documents that detailed trade secrets to his personal Dropbox account.
The Navy, Sparks’ former employers and the U.S. Department of Justice? They weren’t really comfortable with that. Today, the Department of Justice announced that a federal jury has found Sparks guilty of multiple counts of the theft and of uploading of trade secrets, with each count carrying a penalty that could land Sparks in the clink for a decade.
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Sparks used to work for LBI Inc., a Connecticut-based defense contractor that makes underwater drones for the U.S. Navy, as well as weather data-gathering buoys for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While at that company, he collaborated with Charles River Analytics (CRA), a company that made software for the LBI drones. Sparks was eventually hired by CRA in January 2012, but before he switched jobs, he saved sensitive company and military information—including renderings and design photos of LBI drones and buoys—onto the cloud-storage service Dropbox, according to DOJ.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation's lawsuit against the DoJ has resulted in the release of documents showing that a bill with that was nearly unanimously supported in Congress and the Senate was killed by behind-the-scene lobbying by the Department of Justice, which feared that they would lose the ability to arbitrarily reject Freedom of Information Act requests if the bill passed. Read the rest
Update: they fired her. No foreign surveillance warrants until further notice.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has ordered Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments in the court challenges to Trump's ban on Muslims entering the USA. Read the rest
The upcoming Rule 41 modifications to US Criminal Justice procedure underway at the Department of Justice will let the FBI hack computers in secret, with impunity, using dangerous tools that are off-limits to independent scrutiny -- all without Congressional approval and all at a moment at which America needs its law-enforcement community to be strengthening the nation's computers, not hoarding and weaponizing defects that put us all at risk. Read the rest
Six weeks after Mother Jones published its explosive undercover expose on the abuses, shortcomings and waste in America's vast private prison system, the Department of Justice has issued a ban on renewal of federal private prison contracts (where they are not able to do this, officials are told to "substantially reduce" the scope of those contracts), with the goal of "reducing -- and ultimately ending -- our use of privately operated prisons." Read the rest
This summer, DoJ Cybercrime Lab director Ovie Carroll presented at a Federal Judicial Seminar in San Diego, attended by over 100 US federal judges, where he recommended that the judges should use Tor -- The Onion Router, subject of much handwringing and serious technological assaults from the US government, but which is also primarily funded by the USG -- to protect their personal information while using their home and work computers. Read the rest
“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”
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The intensifying legal battle between Apple and the Government of the United States of America is blowing my mind. The legal briefs coming out of Cupertino are awesome reading for those of us who care about silly stuff like freedom and liberty and iPhones. Here are some of the excerpts everyone was talking about on Twitter today. Read the rest
The Obama administration declared itself to be the "most transparent administration in history," but a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that Obama's Justice Department worked tirelessly behind the scenes to kill any chance of increased Freedom of Information Act access to governments at all levels, from lobbying Congress to kill FOIA reform to urging other administrative agencies to obstruct FOIA requests. Read the rest
Apple said no to the government, and the government is pissed. Read the rest
In July 2015, Freedom of the Press Foundation sued the Justice Department (DOJ) over the agency’s secret rules governing how the FBI can target members of the media with due process-free National Security Letters, and we have just received documents back in the ongoing lawsuit. Read the rest
Google's lawyers fought strenuously against the DoJ's demands for access to the Gmail account of Jacob Appelbaum, a journalist, activist and volunteer with the Wikileaks project; they fought even harder against the accompanying gag order, arguing that Appelbaum had the right to know what was going on and have a lawyer argue his case. Read the rest
Freedom of the Press Foundation has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for all correspondence the agency has had with Congress over proposed FOIA reform bills that died last year in Congress, despite having unanimous support of all its members. Read the rest
The DoJ is currently trying to force Apple to decrypt data stored on a defendant's Iphone, and Apple, to its great credit, is fighting back, arguing that on the one hand, it doesn't have the technical capability to do so; and on the other, should not be required to do so. Read the rest
Banning the homeless from sleeping outside when they have nowhere else to sleep is unconstitutional, argues the United States Department of Justice in a statement of interest filed regarding a Boise, Idaho court case about an anti-camping ordinance. Read the rest