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[personal profile] johnny9fingers
Like transparency in everything, surely?

Or maybe not. A draft of an academic paper by some clever chaps at Harvard1 questions the very fundamentals of this belief.

For the TL:DR crowd. Please read before commenting just this once. Because IMHO there is a discussion here, and an important one. And rather than paraphrasing, because in so many respects it is difficult to better the concision of the thesis put forward here, I'm requesting a close read and a response to the arguments put forward.

Now I disagree with some points: some parts of transparency are about accountability post hoc. Also, some of these examples must legitimately fall into the whole notion of politics itself. But the point is that we have all seen these mechanisms at work, especially in the case of the NRA. So, evidently, there needs to be a demarcation over what is acceptable and what is not. (Of course those folk who are slaves to impossible ideals, impossibly rendered in non-formal language will opt for an either/or; but the rest of us who attempt to understand and judge things on a case-by-case basis and for whom ideals are strong guidelines rather than rigid belief systems, some parts will be acceptable as part of daily politics, as it is a rough game, but some are clearly over the edge.)

1James D’Angelo (with David C. King, Brent Ranalli)2 Harvard University
Aug 14, 2017
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[personal profile] kiaa
"Two Democratic Party donors and a former party staff member have filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against President Trump’s campaign and a longtime informal adviser, Roger J. Stone Jr., accusing them of conspiring in the release of hacked Democratic emails and files that exposed their personal information to the public."

On one side, what's most damning here is that it's not just damaging information to Hillary that was used by Trump's campaign, but personal information that resulted in people attempting to steal their identities, and in one case, outing a man who was gay and in the closet. That not only crosses the line, but erases it entirely.

However, having said that, will the plaintiffs succeed? Republicans took information that was dumped by Wikileaks and ran with it. But, if I understand this correctly, the information the Republicans used was public domain when Wikileaks released it. So yeah, it's pretty sleazy, but I don't see the plaintiffs winning this case. The Trump campaign did not divulge this information. They only used it. Can Wikileaks be sued in an international court? If so, what are the plaintiff's chances there? And, if they can win there, can they collect? And, on the domestic front, is Trump liable for passing along information that was already dumped to the public by Wikileaks? It's not like these aren't important questions.

For the sake of discussion, let's don't assume a connection between the Trump campaign and Russia here. Let's just go with what we already know regarding Wikileaks and the lawsuit. Doesn't the whole case look more like a temper tantrum by the Dems? A case with no legs - yes or no?
[identity profile]
Well, seems like covering your laptop's front cam has turned from a geek fad to a necessity, now that hackers have occasionally demonstrated that yes, those cameras are not just dormant, they can be used to watch you while you're fapping to porn:

Why is everyone covering up their laptop cameras?

Stickers and slides serve to ease concerns that spooks could be watching our every move, as even the FBI director says he puts tape on his camera.

Even the FBI director James Comey has said this is "a thing", and Zuckerberg, the guy whose platform is the very epitome of voluntarily relinquished privacy, is protecting his ass that way.

So admit it. Have you put that piece of plaster on your cam yet?
[identity profile]

Asking a foreign government to hack a political rival's email?

Wow! Er, weren't the last folk who asked Russia for assistance in that compromised informational way imprisoned? Anyway, you couldn't make it up.

Evidently Hillary is at fault for writing any email that could be hacked, the Donald is just asking for clarity via a foreign government of unsurpassing moral rectitude and uncompromisingly high standards of behaviour.

If I need to put an opinion to all this it would be to state that there is no choice. Obviously America needs to elect Vladimir Putin.
[identity profile]
FBI Drops iPhone Case Against Apple After Outside Hack Succeeds

"A mysterious method suggested by a third party appears to have allowed the FBI to hack into the iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers in last year’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., prompting the agency to withdraw its legal case against Apple."

LOL. Witnessing the whole debate unravel about how they "broke in", I couldn't help but smirk. Makes you wonder how come some of the biggest smartheads in the industry could've missed the whole point of this exercise.

Do bear with me, as I delve into this conspiracy! )
[identity profile]
Apple likely to invoke free-speech rights in encryption fight
NYC police: Criminals say Apple encryption a ‘gift from God’

It's the eternal fight, isn't it. Civil rights like personal privacy and free speech against public concerns like national security.

The bottom-line is elsewhere, though. Apple would certainly help the government open a terrorist's encrypted cellphone, or do anything it pleases really, if the government allows Apple to repatriate the billions in profits it now holds overseas.

It's because Apple's bottom-line is the same as that of any other corporation: it cares about money first and foremost. It's highly doubtful that what they are truly concerned about is high-minded ideals like liberty, freedom and privacy. These are only tangentially related to their business, as long as it's what the majority of their customers espouse.

That said, once the government finally gets the de-encryption tools, who's to say how they might proceed using it.

Of course, there's then the fact that Jihadist terrorism is more of a nuisance rather than an existential threat to national welfare - if we look at the stats, that is. We've talked about this before. More people are killed in school shootings per week than in Jihadist terrorist attacks per decade. But yeah - nuance and perspective, who cares about them?

If I were this Apple guy, I'd reject the notion of designing software to beat my own encryption tools. I mean, once Teh Gubmint gets their paws on the de-encryption tool, what would be its worth for iPhones and the like? My bet would be on zilch.
[identity profile]
Private messages at work can be read by employers, says court

Employees in the EU better watch out from now on. Their bosses can snoop into their online communications, a human rights court has ruled. The whole case started with a scandal in 2007 where a Romanian engineer was fired after his boss had found out he was using Yahoo Messenger to chat not only for professional but also personal purposes. And the company's policy forbade that. The guy filed a lawsuit, arguing that his right of privacy had been violated. But the EU human rights court rejected his complaint, saying it was acceptable that an employer would want to make sure their employees are doing their professional tasks during worktime.

The court also absolved the company of any guilt, as it decided they had assumed they'd only find professional communications when looking into the guy's chat. The conclusion was that the company had achieved a balance between respecting personal space and upholding the interests of the employer. As we know, all EU human rights court decisions are valid for all member states that have ratified the European human rights convention, which means this precedent will send ripples throughout most of the continent now.

Two opposing positions on the matter )
[identity profile]


Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized. - Albert Einstein

The European Court of Justice brought into existence Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling. In a nutshell, Europe wanted to protect citizens from the fact that the Internet never forgets.

The particular case heard by the court involved a Spanish man who was in the press for serious debt problems, but who later climbed out of debt. The court ordered Google, Bing and other search engines to remove his name as a search query that returned the outdated information about his finances. The court ruled that the public should have a right to petition search engines to remove search results for resolved indiscretions that are not a matter of public record.

This has thrown the journalism industry into a panic. They are no longer guaranteed access to references and searches for their news stories with the greatest of ease. As a result, as is the case with the majority of people that are directly affected by a political direction, they are demanding immediate action from somebody else to resolve this issue for them.

The Washington Post Editorial Board thinks it should be our government at all levels that should preserve access to the information they’d like to have to do their jobs with the greatest of ease. Mike Elgan, who is a frequent contributor to Computerworld, a trade magazine for the computer tech industry, believes Google itself should provide a peer-to-peer TOR style shadow network that bypasses government oversight and regulation to provide easy access to the Internet’s “dark internet” underbelly so as to provide convenient snooping on everybody but Mike Elgan.

There is not going to be any fantasy simple or conveniently balanced solution between privacy and security on the internet, no matter how much everybody demands it. No one wants to be responsible for determining where the line should be drawn. And even if someone would, the decision isn’t going to be accepted or tolerated by a substantial number of people.

[identity profile]
Luck does have a sick sense of humor, doesn't it...

Shuttered: Belgian Soccer Fan Loses Model Gig After Hunting Photo Sparks Outcry

Well, seems like now-(in)famous gorgeous Belgian soccer fan Axelle Despiegelaere (bonus points if you manage to pronounce the surname), who L'Oreal recently "liked" and chose for their newest acquisition, is now witnessing her dream of making an illustrious career in modelling come to an abrupt and premature end.

Turns out, after a somewhat more thorough browsing through the lady's profiles in the social networks (Twitter in particular), some things surfaced that were deemed rather unpleasant from the standpoint of a reputed cosmetic corporation that's supposed to be upholding moral principles (yeah, really).

Behold the issue that stirred the nest )
[identity profile]
First off, we've all heard the news:

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are
"Files provided by Snowden show extent to which ordinary Web users are caught in the net"

Now the question.

Should governments spy on their citizens?

Argument FOR: Yes, to a certain extent. Everyone acts like it's a big deal if the government spies on its citizens, but let's face it, we'd rather they do that and avoid major problems than totally respect privacy and we end up with a huge problem because they were not allowed to monitor people. We should be given a certain amount of freedom, granted, but some of it is just them checking up on us and moving on. Nothing wrong with that. After all, nothing is really private, especially on the Internet. And if you don't have anything to hide, there's nothing to worry about!

Argument AGAINST: They take our rights away, simple as that. It's in the Constitution, and they're stomping on it. Although it may seem that the government having access to our phones and emails may be helping to protect people from terrorism and organized crime, in reality it's a violation of our civil right to privacy, and a very slippery slope. The government claims they're helping us but we know they are not. Maybe they do genuinely think they could stop terrorism but the fact is, they're going through everyone's personal info with no reason or justification - in reality it's all just an excuse for infringement upon our rights and more power grabbing. Not to mention what a blatant attempt against human dignity that is! How can we trust the government now?

Two alternative views )
[identity profile]
When a couple of weeks ago it transpired that the US were regularly tapping billions of phone calls, emails and text messages overseas, including in countries that were supposed to be American allies, the European media exploded with tons of angry articles. There were protests on the streets, calling for an end of this practice. In stark contrast though, German chancellor Merkel preferred to remain as silent as a stump on the question, and for a long time she remained so.

But here she is, during her traditional summer TV interview, Frau Angela opened up on the subject for the first time. She unambiguously urged the US to "respect the German laws in all the actions of their secret services on German territory". Mrs Chancellor used words of unprecedented sharpness in her address to Washington, reminding America that the two countries were partners in a shared defense alliance, and they should be able to rely upon each other.

But her call for the secret services to respect the laws of other countries rings rather false these days, because by now everyone must have learned that the very job description of a spy dictates that they should be covertly breaking the laws of the countries they are spying on. Including the German spies.

Read more )
[identity profile]

So there's an FBI counter terrorism guy out there saying that the US government records ALL digital communication in the US.

On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that "all digital communications in the past" are recorded and stored:

Let's repeat that last part: "no digital communication is secure", by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications - meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like - are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is.

Clearly this needs a big grain of salt, but looking at this I can't help but feel a bit nervous. Whatever the case, it's growing ever more important that the media and the public watch what they government does like hawks. Because there has to be a line somewhere.

[identity profile]
From an article in The Wall Street Journal, by Rachel Emma Silverman:

A few years ago when Bank of America Corp. wanted to study whether face time mattered among its call-center teams, the big bank asked about 90 workers to wear badges for a few weeks with tiny sensors to record their movements and the tone of their conversations.

The data showed that the most productive workers belonged to close-knit teams and spoke frequently with their colleagues. So, to get more employees mingling, the bank scheduled workers for group breaks, rather than solo ones.

Read more )
[identity profile]


At the bottom, the elimination of spyware and the preservation of privacy for the consumer are critical goals if the Internet is to remain safe and reliable and credible. - Cliff Stearns

The House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). It now moves on to the Senate. The President has pledged to veto it in its current form. There is the usual hue and cry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, panicky tech bloggers and the robotic signing of petitions. However, what is missing is the outcry from the public over this like there was with SOPA/PIPA.

This law is intended to allow the private sector to exchange personal information collected from the publicly accessible networks with the government to mitigate alleged threats to the publicly accessible networks by individuals. It also allows the government to use this information as necessary for covert national security operations that defy oversight.

It still contains the same perceived flaws of SOPA/PIPA. It still smacks of a lack of Due Process, suppression of free speech rights and requires no judicial oversight. As a matter of fact, the only real oversight that this requires is from the business world. This is simple law enforcement, like SOPA/PIPA was supposed to be. Am I right?

So why is there such a lack of outrage on this bill? Why aren’t there shutdown threats or wailing and gnashing of teeth? Why isn’t the publicly accessible network community looking to protect the populace from the evil government? Why are publicly accessible network companies lauding and supporting this bill? Why is everyone expected to buy into the phrase “Just trust me”?

It seems this will allow the government and private sector to invade our privacy at will without justification. Since there is an air of stealthy activity, all this can be rationalized with a claim of national security. There are also provisions in the bill that will hold harmless these private sector entities from liability, should there be litigation resulting from erroneous or malicious information exchanged.

Be aware that the bill uses the language “cyber entities” instead of internet. Loosely defined, this could also include texting, Emails, mobile phones or land lines. This could be used to eventually bypass wiretapping laws.

According to The Washington Post, the House bill would impose no new rules on businesses, a Republican imperative. If a cyber threat is found, the reporting entity will not be required to take any action to mitigate or correct the offending exploit. The scale and reach of this threat will be decided entirely by the business entity to determine if this threat needs to be reported. There aren’t even any guidelines for a business or utility to determine a cyber threat.


Intellectual property is probably the most difficult property to protect. This is true whether that intellectual property is shared in the form of talent or performance with SOPA/PIPA; or it is your private intellectual property in the form of your own privacy with CISPA. The publicly accessible network has magnified this by making intellectual property more accessible, reproducible and portable.

At some point we have to determine who is going to be the gatekeepers of intellectual property when it has left our immediate care. We have to figure out who is most accountable to the American public. It has already become extremely apparent that we be wary of a private enterprise when their admitted mission is to use this intellectual property to maximize profit for their own gain. The publicly accessible network companies have shown no qualms about manipulating the public to suit their goals and will portray their own government as the adversary to do so.

Where do you want your most prized information taken and by whom?

[identity profile]
Some still think it's a fake story while others are not so sure yet. The video below claims that the hacktivist group Anonymous is going to target one of the big players on the Webz, Facebook. They've even chosen a date to do it - exactly November 5 this year.

[Error: unknown template video]

And because posting manifestos has become so fashionable these days, they've posted theirs below said video (full text).

Why November 5? )
[identity profile]
Interesting post about internet censorship, yesterday. So let's talk about hackers now. When you ask the hackers why they're doing what they're doing, most often they say "Because we can!" There's hardly a week without a major hacker attack these days. The new hacker groups keep popping up (and disappearing, like LulzSec recently). Some of the most prominent attacks are targeting government institutions and organizations of authority, like recently the Brazilian government and presidency, CIA, the British agency dealing with organized crime, the US senate, InfraGard (a partner of FBI), Sony, Nintendo, etc etc. Some of these attacks are about stealing corporate and personal information, others are for blackmailing politicians, others for advocating some political view. Although many are not politically motivated, those who are, are becoming more serious and better coordinated and they're taking large proportions and causing an artificially created problem.

When the now defunct LulzSecurity started their cyber attacks they began with a break-in into the X-Factor TV show in Britain, where they stole the personal data of all participants and published it online. Then they said they had done this just "for the lulz" and their actions were categorized as vandalism from some kids with too much spare time on their hands. But with time it became clear that the key word in their name is not Lulz, it's Security. And their purpose is not just having fun at someone else's expense, but spreading the idea that the term "internet security" is a utopian idea created by the IT corporations in order to make money on the naive users by selling them anti-virus software which goes kaput in a few months, then selling them new one for still more money.

Read more... )
[identity profile]

This is a long video, so I'm not gonna say you should watch all of it, but there are parts that certainly worth skipping ahead to.

Save the friends pages! Cut your posts )
[identity profile]
Many of you may not be privy to this, but some short time ago the IT security firm HBGary was hacked by Anonymous. The reason was pretty simple; the FBI had asked for HBGary's help in uncovering the identities of Anonymous hackers who had participated in attacks against companies cutting of Wikileaks access and financing, and Anonymous had not taken well to this. The how of the hack is pretty engaging for those with an interest in IT security. In short, they hacked the uber-IT security firm and released their private emails and memos publicly. Woops.

That said, I'm breaking from the narrative to be clear: What Anonymous did was criminal. Period.

So why is this of interest to a political forum?

The content of the released private information from HBGary is rather ominous in tone. It reveals a lot of how the corporation operates; mainly, data mining internet social groups for fears that will scare people into buying their services. This actually works rather well; anyone who works in IT Security for profit can go on for days about how scaring the shit out of the client with what could happen if they don't buy in is a no-brainer. But that's not the, it's the other stuff that HBGary was doing for folks that makes uneasy reading:

- A proposal for a major bank, suppoedly Bank of America, to launch offensive cyber attacks on the servers that host Wikileaks.

- Being part of a cabal of IT security corps including Palantir and Berico Technologies, that was working with the law firm of the US Chamber of Commerce to develop plans to target progressive groups, labor unions and other left-leaning non profits who the Chamber opposed. Targeting was to include insertion of false data into the target's databases, entrapment attempts, and insertion of malware and virii.

- Working with General Dynamics and other corporations to develop custom, stealth malware and collaborations with other firms selling offensive cyber capabilities including knowledge of previously undiscovered ("zero day") vulnerabilities.


Why is all of this a bad thing? Well, these are the methods, programs, and tactics that the USCYBERCOM would use if they, say, wanted to disrupt and crash Iranian nuclear power computer systems. Or take out Chinese or Russian cyberspace in the event of war. And HBGary is selling this stuff to corporations to use against each other. Against the SEIU, perhaps. Or the Republican Party. Or whoever's buying. Or to quote from one of the articles:

What's more disturbing is the way that the folks at HBGary - mostly Aaron Barr, but others as well - came to view the infowar tactics they were pitching to the military and its contractors as applicable in the civilian context, as well. How effortlessly and seamlessly the focus on "advanced persistent threats" shifted from government backed hackers in China and Russia to encompass political foes like ThinkProgress or the columnist Glenn Greenwald. Anonymous may have committed crimes that demand punishment - but its up to the FBI to handle that, not "a large U.S. bank" or its attorneys.

Should a corporation be allowed sell and invent such items to private interests? Or should we perhaps hold them to the same standards that we do arms dealers and military manufacturers? Personally, I find this frightening. Various conservatives may rejoice that ThinkProgress was a target...but how soon till a wealthy and disgruntled liberal purchases their own malware to fire at WND or the Wisconsin Governor's Office? Perhaps we need to take a step back and examine with grave seriousness exactly what Pandora's Box Anonymous has inadvertantly revealed to us.

[1] Links:
RSA 2011: Winning the War But Losing Our Soul
Black ops: how HBGary wrote backdoors for the government
How one man tracked down Anonymous—and paid a heavy price
Spy games: Inside the convoluted plot to bring down WikiLeaks
Anonymous to security firm working with FBI: "You've angered the hive"
(Virtually) face to face: how Aaron Barr revealed himself to Anonymous
[identity profile]

CHICAGO — A vast network of high-tech surveillance cameras that allows Chicago police to zoom in on a crime in progress and track suspects across the city is raising privacy concerns.

Chicago's path to becoming the most-watched US city began in 2003 when police began installing cameras with flashing blue lights at high-crime intersections.

The city has now linked more than 10,000 public and privately owned surveillance cameras in a system dubbed Operation Virtual Shield, according to a report published Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

At least 1,250 of them are powerful enough to zoom in and read the text of a book.

But the ACLU said the $60 million spent on the system would be better spent filling the 1,000 vacancies in the Chicago police force.

It urged the city to impose a moratorium on new cameras and implement new policies to prevent the misuse of cameras, such as prohibiting filming of private areas like the inside of a home and limiting the dissemination of recorded images.

"Our city needs to change course, before we awake to find that we cannot walk into a book store or a doctor's office free from the government's watchful eye," the ACLU said


This is one of those stories where I usually wait for someone else who actually has an opinion on the subject to post it (Like net neutrality), and then carefully read all of the opinions and comments. However I'm afraid this one will get missed.

1) Is high-tech surveillance just part of our lives now?
2) Is the ACLU doing the right thing?
3) Are there any ways to prevent yourself from being recorded?
3 - a) I'm thinking technological solutions not legal.
4) Does the average citizen own their image?
5) Chicago style pizza vs. New York Style pizza?


[identity profile]

The other day someone asked me, after I’d made some passing comment about the whole TSA get-photographed-naked/be groped issue, why anyone would bother with this when there are so many other more important issues, like world poverty. “Why waste your time talking about something so trivial?” I was asked.

After thinking about it, I decided it’s not a minor issue.

This latest hamhanded policy – and its timing -- amounts to a referendum on how much intrusion officials can inflict on Americans. It’s no accident that this came up not long before the holiday rush. They’re counting on most of us being too preoccupied with getting from point A to point B to complain. After a few weeks, they hope, we’ll get used to it and accept it as the norm.

Read more )

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Divisive Rhetoric


"Favoring multiculturalism is something Westerners give a lot of lovely lip service to until they have to actually do it."

September 2017

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