Pardon Edward Snowden, now

His whistleblowing was among the most important in US history. I would publicly acknowledge his heroism, as Barack Obama should, without delay On 6 June 2013, the Guardian broke the news National Security Agency (NSA) had ordered Verizon to provide it with the phone records of its customers. As the story developed it became clear that the two other major telephone networks as well as credit card companies were doing the same thing; and that the NSA and FBI were being provided with access to server systems operated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype. On 11 June the Guardian reported the source as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old who had been working at the NSA for four years. Snowden believed it was important for him to publicly acknowledge his role in order to provide a human face to the story. He knew he was putting his life at […] Read More

13 Things the Government is Trying to Keep Secret from You — Big Brother 2.0

“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted… the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows.  “This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”  – US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall by Bill Quigley The President, the Head of the National Security Agency, the Department of Justice, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and the Judiciary, are intentionally keeping massive amounts of information about surveillance of US and other people secret from voters. Additionally, some are, to say it politely, not being factually accurate in what they are telling the public. […] Read More

UK Man Accused of Hacking US Government Wins Battle to Protect Encryption

Lauri Love On Tuesday, hacktivist Lauri Love won his battle against the UK’s National Crime Agency, who was trying to force him to turn over his encryption keys. Love, 31, of Suffolk is currently wanted by the US government for allegedly hacking into agencies including the US Army, NASA, the US Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency. There are three open extradition requests against him, one to New Jersey, another to the Southern District of New York, and a last to East Virginia. First arrested in 2013 on an arrest warrant from the US Love was not charged in the UK — yet he had computer equipment seized by British police who then released him on bail. After his release, Love filed a lawsuit against the UK government to return his seized electronics (including devices which they were unable to decrypt), and in May 2015, he had most […] Read More

FBI chief pushes for encryption ‘back door’ despite tech experts’ opposition

Encryption is a threat to public safety, the FBI director argued before testifying at a Senate hearing. Crypto experts and the tech industry oppose demands by US officials for “back door” keys to encrypted software as both harmful and impractical. In a guest post on the Lawfare blog, FBI Director James Comey argued that “to protect the public, the government sometimes needs to be able to see an individual’s stuff,” though only “under appropriate circumstances and with appropriate oversight.” Encryption denies the government that ability, which “will affect public safety,” Comey wrote, citing the example of Islamic State “operators in Syria” using encrypted chats to recruit “dozens of troubled Americans to kill people.” “I really am not a maniac (or at least my family says so). But my job is to try to keep people safe,” he wrote, calling for a “robust debate” to resolve the conflict between privacy […] Read More

Russia, China crack encryption on stolen Snowden files

Russian and Chinese government officials have reportedly accessed more than one million classified documents that were stolen by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. The Sunday Times is reporting via government sources that British spy agents have been relocated after the files were obtained and decrypted by Russian and Chinese officials. The move, which was also reported by BBC News, is being done out of an abundance of caution because agents and spies could have their cover blown based on information in the documents, according to officials sourced by the news organizations. The unnamed source quoted by the BBC said the government’s decision to move around its operatives was done out of an abundance of caution, and that there was “no evidence” any operatives had been harmed by the leak. The Times, a British newspaper whose editorial stance has been critical of the Snowden leaks since […] Read More

​FBI says privacy must take backseat to national security in online fight against ISIS

One of the United States government’s top counterterrorism officials says Congress must help investigators crack the encrypted communications of terrorists as groups like the so-called Islamic State ramp-up their online recruitment efforts. On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Michael Steinbach, the assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism division, told the House Homeland Security Committee that the FBI is “imploring for Congress to help” law enforcement with its quest to decrypt digital communications. Steinbach said that the FBI is working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that the law enforcement tactics currently in use can be implemented as needed, but suggested that legislation might be needed for situations where communications being sought are obfuscated from the eyes of investigators by encryption or other means. According to Steinbach, individuals belonging to the group calling itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL), are making the […] Read More

2014: WhatsApp Works To Achieve Greater User Privacy By Encrypting Messages

More than 500 million people are using the WhatsApp Android application now. the most widely used instant messaging service in the world announced that it has started encrypting messages in order to protect its users from hackers, says Open Whisper Systems, a software development group associated with the company. Last Tuesday, WhatsApp declared that it is out, performing end-to-end encryption, an upgrade to its privacy protections that make it nearly impossible for anyone to read users’ messages—even the company itself, WhatsApp claims it will not be able to decrypt any messages even if it is asked to do so by the authorities. This will be achieved via TextSecure protocol, which scrambles messages with a cryptographic key that only the user can access and never leaves his or her device. That’s why end-to-end encryption is so hard to break. WhatsApp, which became a Facebook subsidiary, will use an encryption system […] Read More