Makers of controversial government surveillance software hacked
Irony alert: A company called "Hacking Team" has been hacked.

When you call your enterprise “Hacking Team” you’d like to think you’re pretty on top of that whole, well, hacking thing. Yet here we are, telling you about how the aforementioned organization has just seen 400GB of data pilfered from its servers, and put onto BitTorrent for all to see. Hacking Team is known for its controversial “Da Vinci” software that allows governments and law enforcement agencies to monitor encrypted communications such as email and Skype conversations, and collect evidence on citizens. It’s fair to say it’s not popular with journalists and privacy advocates.

The leaked data are reported to include info such as emails, customer info, internal documents and source code. This puts the agencies or governments using the software at risk, if the source code contains vulnerabilities. Privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian has parsed some of the files, revealing that Hacking Team’s former customers include (among others) South Korea, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Chile, Oman, Lebanon, and Mongolia.

Other documents reportedly show the company told the UN it had no business dealings with Sudan, yet an invoice among the leaked files suggests otherwise. Civil rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern about Hacking Team’s software falling into the hands of oppressive governments, something the firm has stated it takes measures to avoid. The company’s website is currently unreachable, and its Twitter account was hijacked at some point, too (though that looks to have been resolved). Given the amount of info leaked, more revelations are still coming to light. We’ve reached out for comment, but we’re sure the company has a few high profile clients it’ll need to tend to first.

VIA: The Register

Access to Your Email Without a Warrant: Updating ECPA For the Digital Age

“It sounded like a good idea at the time…”

When the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was passed in 1986, it aimed to set standards for law enforcement access to digital communications and privacy protections for users like us. Reasonable enough.

But time passed. Innovation in computing and Internet access progressed more quickly than anyone could have ever imagined, and policymakers struggled to keep up with a basic understanding of how the online tools that we use to shape our personal and office communications actually work.

As a result, we have a law that’s more outdated than one of these:

(In case you were wondering, that’s a pager.)

The patchwork quilt of standards that were modern in the mid ‘80′s are now woefully outdated – and an affront to even the most basic of our civil liberties.

Here’s how bad it is:

  • An email can be accessed without a warrant just because a message is over 180 days old. That dorky first email your partner sent you asking you out on a date six months ago and you’ve saved out of nostalgia? It’s open season for law enforcement!
  • Location information usage is ambiguous. ECPA does not have a clear policy on law enforcement access to your location data. With more and more apps and website relying on your position to serve you up localized content and directions on where you need to go, this is clearly a treasure trove of information waiting to be discovered without your consent. 

Luckily, Congress can make this right by moving legislation to fix ECPA forward. A large, bipartisan majority in the House (280+!) is already on board with a bill that would do just that — a rare feat for any piece of legislation on Capitol Hill. 

The Email Privacy Act — sponsored by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) — is now the most popular bill in the House to not earn a vote.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Demand Progress members are continuing to put the pressure on their legislators and Congressional leadership — and you can, too!

Click here to sign our petition calling on Congress to bring this bill to a vote — then ask your friends to do the same.

What would it take to actually consider the privacy rights of the most marginalized students?

The threats that poor youth face? That youth of color face? And the trade-offs they make in a hypersurveilled world? What would it take to get people to care about how we keep building out infrastructure and backdoors to track low-status youth in new ways? It saddens me that the conversation is constructed as being about student privacy, but it’s really about who has the right to monitor which youth. And, as always, we allow certain actors to continue asserting power over youth.

My plywood and resin surveillance camera will be on display at “Highlights From Past SFAQ[Projects] 2012-2015” which opens at the SFAQ[Projects] space tonight at 7pm! 449 O'Farrell st. SF, CA 94102

Untitled, 2014
plywood, fiberglass, resin, hardware, bamboo
25 H x 10 W x 13 D inches
S/N: 2014.418

#surveillance #resin #drips #camera #SFAQ #sanfrancisco

During a day of action in December, my mother and 3-year-old niece were followed by the police from our church to my house (about a 30-minute drive), because they were in my car. The police were attempting to see where our next action was. In the month of December alone, members of our leadership team were pulled over and harassed by police officers at least once a week in two different states.
—  Ash-Lee Henderson, a black organizer from Tennessee, and just one activist opening up about being watched by police and the government.

New comic! (link)

Other: Part 1. This comic is a quick overview of what surveillance means and how we can’t avoid interacting with it.

The killer is, there’s no ‘off the grid’. That step where they compare you against norms and patterns? (3: analysis and response), well, that’s where when you’re something weird, or unexpected, you get flagged for further scrutiny. You can’t disengage from all our surveillance systems without it looking weird, and once it looks weird, you’re right back in the system, tagged as 'weird’ somewhere for someone to look up one day.

Now, not all surveillance is bad. Public health does a lot of surveillance, and when it’s done ethically, they’re trying to track health issues and implement plans that make our communities safer. And some of it is a trade off: want to vote? there has to be some way of keeping track of registered voters, so that’s just part of a democratic process.

But it’s happening. every organized system you are part of is gathering and storing information on you. Heck, even your volunteer position has your name and number and emergency contact somewhere, doesn’t it?

And the bar for understanding and reacting to this is so fucking high, it’s essentially impossible for people who haven’t made a whole career out of understanding it. No one understand what Apple’s ToS means as a whole, and so when we click 'ok’, what are we really consenting to? Is that even consent?

Tune in shortly for the next installment: Classification, You, and Everyone Else!

Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court’s decision on spying

Justice Department’s national-security chief cited a six-month transition period in the USA Freedom Act as a reason to turn the bulk surveillance spigot back on

The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.

The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.

US officials confirmed last week that they would ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court – better known as the Fisa court, a panel that meets in secret as a step in the surveillance process and thus far has only ever had the government argue before it – to turn the domestic bulk collection spigot back on.

Justice Department national-security chief John A Carlin cited a six-month transition period provided in the USA Freedom Act – passed by the Senate last week to ban the bulk collection – as a reason to permit an “orderly transition” of the NSA’s domestic dragnet. Carlin did not address whether the transition clause of the Freedom Act still applies now that a Congressional deadlock meant the program shut down on 31 May.

But Carlin asked the Fisa Court to set aside a landmark declaration by the second circuit court of appeals. Decided on 7 May, the appeals court ruled that the government had erroneously interpreted the Patriot Act’s authorization of data collection as “relevant” to an ongoing investigation to permit bulk collection.

Carlin, in his filing, wrote that the Patriot Act provision remained “in effect” during the transition period.

The FBI has been secretly spying on us with a fleet of surveillance planes.

A new Associated Press report revealed a plot worthy of The X-Files: The FBI is operating a fleet of mysterious surveillance planes, flying over American cities, collecting data for unknown purposes and hiding them behind a series of front companies designed to conceal their existence from the general public. The FBI had a routine explanation.

These are from a totally serious website and I’m dying

The name of my new erotic thriller

“It’s really not okay”

oh yeah just hangin out behind the moon

This is actually a marvelously creepy concept for dystopian sci-fi

The article is about six alien species that control the earth; this still is, I think, from Jupiter Ascending, the recent documentary by the Wachowskis

Joel Holmberg, Changing My Password, 2013

Single-channel audio soundwork; 18’24”. Courtesy the artist.

Joel Holmberg’s Changing My Password in “The Great Ephemeral” is the transcription of a telephone conversation between a customer-service representative and an artist (played by Holmberg himself), who expresses concerns that he may have compromised his bank account’s safety by sharing answers to his private security questions in a forthcoming published interview. While the conversation is humorous, the artist’s fears resonate with both high-profile hackings—actor Jennifer Lawrence’s childhood nickname “Nitro” led to the leaking of nude photographs, and the name of Paris Hilton’s dog provided the key to her infamous sex tape, for example—as well as the daily realities of those living outside the media spotlight. Holmberg’s work questions how we “secure” ourselves amid a proliferation of consumer identities that are subject to collection, monetization, and surveillance by an indiscernible number of forces, from private companies to third-party marketers to the government.

Holmberg’s work includes sculpture, painting, performance, and sound- and web-based work. As with Changing My Password, his pieces often exploit consumer access points set up by corporations—such as customer-service call centers and Yahoo! Answers, Yahoo!’s forums for public discussion—to subvert the behaviors and codes of such spaces and call their larger structures into question.