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
Despite zero indication the people responsible for recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino used encryption, the FBI is launching an all-out PR war on crypto.
Now, FBI director James Comey is making tech firms that offer end-to-end encryption tools an offer they can't refuse: they should reconsider “their business model,” he said today, and instead adopt encryption techniques that let them intercept communications, and hand them over to law enforcement when asked. Read the rest
Today Freedom of the Press Foundation is proud to announce a new crowd-funding campaign that will fund local journalists around the United States to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other transparency lawsuits aimed at uncovering video evidence of police misconduct and brutality against unarmed men and women. You can donate to the fund here. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
A wrenching and beautifully argued essay by Virginia Eubanks describes the inevitable consequences of letting secret, unaccountable algorithms decide who is eligible for welfare. Read the rest
We’ve long known the Justice Department’s stance on transparency has been hypocritical and disingenuous. But they’ve really outdone themselves this time. Read the rest
"In an apparent expansion of the government’s secrecy powers, the top official in charge of the classification system has decided that it was legitimate for the Marines to classify photographs that showed American forces posing with corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan," reports the NYT's Charlie Savage. Read the rest
The House of Representatives today voted 225-183 to approve an appropriations bill amendment that bars the Justice Department from forcing reporters to testify about their confidential sources. Read the rest
It’s now been over a month since the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to force the Obama administration to declassify parts of the Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture, and the public still has not seen a word of the 6,000 page investigation. Read the rest
The US Director of National Intelligence has issued a Directive [PDF] that forbids most intelligence community employees from talking to journalists about “intelligence-related information” unless they have explicit authorization to do so.
Intelligence community employees “must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on any intel-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” according to the Directive signed by James Clapper. Read the rest
Jesselyn Radack, an attorney who represents NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was detained and interrogated while transiting customs at Heathrow airport in London. Kevin Gosztola reports:
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Yesterday, we learned that the UK Conservative party had purged its website of 10 years' archives of David Cameron speeches and set a robots.txt file in place that triggered purges on Google and Archive.org's caches. Today, the Guardian reports that the party has removed the videos from the "WebCameron" YouTube channel, that were originally billed as "behind-the-scenes" access to Cameron, and marketed as part of his campaign for political transparency. The party has declined to comment on the deletions.
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New, historic NSA weirdness, as reported by Matthew M. Aid and William Burr at Foreign Policy:
As Vietnam War protests grew, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) tapped the overseas communications of prominent American critics of the war -- including a pair of sitting U.S. senators. That's according to a recently declassified NSA history, which called the effort "disreputable if not outright illegal."
The identities of the NSA's surveillance targets were kept secret for decades, but an Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel decision in response to an appeal by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, has resulted in the declassification of these NSA records for the first time.
Read more at the National Security Archives (not to be confused with the National Security Administration, also known as the NSA).
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"Barrett Brown makes for a pretty complicated victim," writes David Carr in his recent profile of the Dallas-based journalist "obsessed with the government’s ties to private security firms." Brown, 32 has been in jail for a year. He faces charges that carry a combined penalty of more than 100 years in prison. Why does the gag order on his case matter to all of us? Carr explains. Read the rest
Even the NSA's boss and a lead judge in the secret intel courts admit Edward Snowden's leaks were in the public interest. “The unauthorized disclosure in June 2013 of a Section 215 order, and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215,” wrote FISC Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV in an opinion today. And yesterday, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “I think it’s clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen." [Secrecy News] Read the rest
David E. Sanger at the New York Times: "When far too much information gets classified, nothing is really classified. Respect for the system erodes when information readily available in open sources is ostensibly guarded with high-level classification." Read the rest
Dan Froomkin at Columbia Journalism review: "It’s hardly been a secret among national security reporters and civil libertarians that the sort of intelligence activity we’re hearing about via the leaks was long part of the Bush-Cheney surveillance regime, and that the Obama administration picked up the ball and ran with it. The Washington press corps just no longer considered such activities newsworthy." Read the rest