Tag Archive: Electronic Frontier Foundation


Cops Illegally Nailed Webcam To Utility Pole For 6 Weeks To Spy On House

 

 

 

” A federal judge on Monday tossed evidence that was gathered by a webcam—turned on for six weeks—that the authorities nailed to a utility pole 100 yards from a suspected drug dealer’s rural Washington state house.

  The Justice Department contended that the webcam, with pan-and-zoom capabilities that were operated from afar, was no different from a police officer’s observation from the public right-of-way.

The government argued (PDF):

  The advantage of a police camera to law enforcement is that it saves the time and manpower required to conduct around the clock surveillance. As in this case, law enforcement is authorized to use the pole camera only to record activities that are otherwise open to public view, and not protected by the 4th Amendment.

  US District Judge Edward Shea disagreed and ruled (PDF) that a warrant was necessary to spy on Leonel Vargas via a webcam controlled by local police.”

 

 

Somehow this little tidbit doesn’t surprise us:

 

 

” Strangely, the judge noted, when the authorities raided the house in May 2013, the camera was panned on nearby sagebrush and not the house.”

 

 

ArsTechnica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil Liberties Groups Appeal Ruling Over Automatic License Plate Reader Data

 

 

 

 

” The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California are taking the fight over automatic license plate reader (ALPR) data to the next level by asking the California Court of Appeal to rule that the public has a right to know how Los Angeles cops are tracking their locations.

  ALPRs are cameras mounted to patrol cars and fixed locations, such as light poles, that are able to capture, process, and store the license plates of every vehicle that passes nearby. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department together collect close to 3 million license plates each week; these data points could give police an intimate picture of the comings and goings of the entire population over several years. By our estimates, these agencies currently have an average of 61 plate scans for each vehicle registered in Los Angeles County.”

 

EFF has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Encrypt The Web Report: Who’s Doing What

 

EFF Privacy Report

 

” We’ve asked the companies in our Who Has Your Back Program what they are doing to bolster encryption in light of the NSA’s unlawful surveillance of your communications. We’re pleased to see that four five six seven companies—Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic.net,SpiderOak, and Twitter—are implementing five out of five of our best practices for encryption. See the infographic.

  By adopting these practices, described below, these service providers have taken a critical step towards protecting their users from warrantless seizure of their information off of fiber-optic cables. By enabling encryption across their networks, service providers can make backdoor surveillance more challenging, requiring the government to go to courts and use legal process. While Lavabit’s travails have shown how difficult that can be for service providers, at least there was the opportunity to fight back in court.

  While not every company in our survey has implemented every recommendation, each step taken helps, and we appreciate those who have worked to strengthen their security. We hope that every online service provider adopts these best practices and continues to work to protect their networks and their users.”

 

     Read more at EFF and consider making a donation to help fund their valuable contributions to online freedom and privacy .

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Radio Yacht

 YACHT Parties at the NSA with Marc Maron

 

 

 

 

 


” The National Security Agency is snatching the emails and telephone calls of millions of ordinary Americans from the fiber-optic backbones that carry our most private thoughts across the world. They are doing this with the assistance of our nation’s largest phone and Internet companies. Even if you trust these corporations and the NSA–the largest and most obscure of U.S. intelligence organizations–with your private information, the precedent set by this far-reaching and unaccountable domestic spying program is unacceptable. We live much of our lives online; we should be outraged by the extent of the NSA’s domestic spying programs. Instead, we are sinking into a dangerous indifference. Insidious forces are at work. Help us reverse the entropy. 

  The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a donation-supported nonprofit that fights back against the government to protect our digital rights; 100% of your donation to download “Party at the NSA” will go straight to fund their important work.”

 

“Party at the NSA” Lyrics:

Did you read my mail again?
How do you find the time?
I lost my signal yesterday,
But it was never mine.

We don’t need no privacy.
What do you want that for?
Don’t you think it’ll spoil our fun
If you let that whistle blow?

P-P-P-Party at the NSA,
Twenty, twenty, twenty-four hours a day!

There is a rainbow at the end of every P-R-I-S-M.

Be careful where you look today,
Careful what you share.
We’re gonna make history.
But it won’t know we’re there.

The world looks stranger when you look
Through electronic eyes.
There’s a place in the Beehive State
Where the network goes to die.

P-P-P-Party at the NSA,
Twenty, twenty, twenty-four hours a day! “
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter Takes Steps To Frustrate NSA, Other Government Snoops

 

 

Up Yours NSA

 

 

” Twitter announced Friday that it’s joining other tech companies in implementing “perfect forward secrecy.” While many online services already encrypt user communications and other data, this form of encryption ensures that snoops—we’re looking at you, National Security Agency—who break through the encryption get access to only a snippet of data, rather than everything belonging to a user. Even where a warrant is involved, perfect forward secrecy has the potential to limit intrusions, rather than acting as an open-ended skeleton key.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Parker Higgins describes how perfect forward secrecy works:

 How can perfect forward secrecy help protect user privacy against that kind of threat? In order to understand that, it’s helpful to have a basic idea of how HTTPS works in general. Every Web server that uses HTTPS has its own secret key that it uses to encrypt data that it sends to users. Specifically, it uses that secret key to generate a new “session key” that only the server and the browser know. Without that secret key, the traffic traveling back and forth between the user and the server is incomprehensible, to the NSA and to any other eavesdroppers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EFF Has Lavabit’s Back In Contempt Of Court Appeal

 

 

 

” For nearly two decades, secure Internet communication has relied on HTTPS, a encryption system in which there are two keys: A public key that anyone can use to encrypt communications to a service provider, and a private key that only the service provide can use to decrypt the messages.

In July, the Department of Justice demanded Lavabit’s private key—first with a subpoena, then with a search warrant. Although the government was investigating a single user, having access to the private key means the government would have the power to read all of Lavabit’s customers’ communications. The target of the investigation has not been named, but journalists have noted that the requests came shortly after reports that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden used a Lavabit email account to communicate.

“Obtaining a warrant for a service’s private key is no different than obtaining a warrant to search all the houses in a city to find the papers of one suspect,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch said. “This case represents an unprecedented use of subpoena power, with the government claiming it can compel a disclosure that would, in one fell swoop, expose the communications of every single one of Lavabit’s users to government scrutiny.” “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrities Tell The NSA To Get Out Of Their Business

 

 

 

 

” Amongst those joining Crabapple and Wheaton are actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and John Cusack, director Oliver Stone, and talk show host Phil Donahue, as well as a number of whistleblowers, including Mark Klein, the former AT&T technician who has claimed for years the company was forwarding internet traffic to the government, and J. Kirk Wiebe, a former NSA analyst who went public with information about domestic surveillance programs.

The three-and-a-half minute video is directed by Brian Knappenberger, a documentary writer, director and producer arguably best known for his Anonymous documentary We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists. Describing himself as “very honored” to create the video, Kaneppenberger called this “the moment for a large scale debate on the future of this thing we all love, the internet, the way we communicate, our relationship with our government and how technology and its progress can blend with more traditional notions of privacy, liberty and democracy.”

The rally, which is scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. this Saturday, is the culmination of an ongoing campaign on behalf of the EFF and more than 100 other organizations asking for current laws regarding internet surveillance to be amended to outlaw blanket surveillance, as well as the creation of a special committee to investigate just how widespread surveillance related to current NSA programs has been.”

 

 

Read the rest 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join EFF & The Stopwatching.us Coalition In DC On October 26th

 

 

 

 

” This summer, some of our worst fears and suspicions about the NSA have been confirmed. We now have evidence that the NSA is actively undermining the basic security of the Internet. It iscollecting millions and millions of phone records of individuals not suspected of any crime. It issurveilling journalists.

The NSA’s overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear and chilling free speech. Its addiction to secrecy makes real accountability impossible

But there’s a movement forming to change all of this. And we’re about to take the next step.

On the weekend of October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to take a stand against unconstitutional surveillance. Please join EFF in D.C. for a day of grassroots training and citizen lobbying on October 25th and a historic rally and petition delivery on October 26th.”

 

Join us in Washington.

— RSVP on the event page (privacy policy here): https://rally.stopwatching.us
— RSVP for the lobby day here: https://rally.stopwatching.us/lobbyday.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World To U.S. Congress: I’m Not American But I Have Privacy Rights

 

 

” In a letter sent today to the United States Congress, an international coalition of non-profit organizations called upon the U.S. government to protect the privacy and freedoms of not only its citizens, but of people everywhere. As news of the alarmingly broad reach and scope of America’s surveillance program reverberates around the globe, now is the time for the United States to pass formal privacy safeguards to protect the billions of foreign Internet users whose communications are stored in U.S. servers or whose data travels across U.S. networks.

EFF joined more than 50 NGOs—including European Digital Rights, Association For Progressive Communications, Center for Technology and Society (Brazil) and Thai Netizen Network—in signing the letter, which was organized through Best Bits, a global network of civil society organizations.  In its letter, the coalition also expressed grave concern over information-sharing between U.S. authorities and the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and New Zealand.”

     How can America continue to lay claim to being the custodian of the internet and the guardian of free speech when the world looks on and sees nothing but a massive violation of privacy rights , both of Americans and themselves ? The hypocrisy is plain for all to see , even if DC refuses to acknowledge it .

Or At Least Make It More Difficult

 

 

 

 

 

Assuming that your data is being watched, what might you do to hide it?

 

First, consider not putting so much stuff out there in the first place. Wuergler devised a program he calls Stalker that can siphon off nearly all of your digital information to put together an amazingly complete portrait of your life and pretty much find out where you are at all times. Use Facebook if you must, but realize you’re making it easy for the government to track and find you when they choose to do so.

A second step toward increased privacy is to use a browser like DuckDuckGo, which does not collect the sort of information—say, your IP address—that can identify you with your Internet searches. Thus, if the government bangs on their doors to find out what you’ve been up to, DuckDuckGo has nothing to hand over. I have decided to make DuckDuckGo my default for general browsing, turning to Google only for items such as breaking news and scholarly articles. (Presumably, the NSA would be able to tap into my searches on DuckDuckGo in real time.)

Third, TOR offers free software and a network of relays that can shield your location from prying eyes. TOR operates by bouncing your emails and files around the Internet through encrypted relays. Anyone intercepting your message once it exits a TOR relay cannot trace it back to your computer and your physical location. TOR is used by dissidents and journalists around the world. On the downside, in my experience it operates more slowly than, say, Google.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FISA Court Rejects Catch-22 Secrecy Argument In FOIA Case

 

 

” In the first publicly known victory by a non-government party before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secret court today granted a motion filed by EFF related to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The victory today was a modest one. The Court didn’t order disclosure of its opinion; it just made clear, as EFF had argued, that the FISC’s own rules don’t serve as an obstacle to disclosure of the opinion. The FISC also clarified that the executive branch cannot rely on the judiciary to hide its surveillance: the only thing obstructing the opinion from the public’s review is the executive branch’s own claims that it can hide its unconstitutional action behind a veil of classification.”

 

 

Here are the proceedings : U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Public Filings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government Says Secret Court Opinion on Law Underlying PRISM Program Needs to Stay Secret

 

 

 

” In a rare public filing in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Justice Department today urged continued secrecy for a 2011 FISC opinion finding government surveillance to be unconstitutional.  Significantly, the activities at issue were carried out under the controversial legal authority that underlies the National Security Agency’s recently-revealed PRISM program.

EFF filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2012, seeking disclosure of the FISC ruling.  Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall revealed the existence of the opinion, which found that collection activities under FISA Section 702  “circumvented the spirit of the law” and violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But, at the time, the Senators were not permitted to discuss the details publicly. Section 702 has taken on new importance this week, as it appears to form the basis for the extensive PRISM surveillance program reported recently in the Guardian and the Washington Post.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Report: NSA Asked Verizon For Records Of All Calls In The U.S.

 

 

 

”  A major scoop from Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian appears to prove that the National Security Agency has been demanding that Verizon produce calling records of all phone calls made in the United States.

The leaked legal order requires Verizon to produce, “on an ongoing daily basis,” records of calls “between the United States and abroad” as well as “wholly within the United States, including local calls.” The data sought by the NSA includes “originating and terminating telephone numbers,” and the time and duration of each call. The order does not request the contents of the calls.

The four-page order is dated April 25 and signed by Judge Roger Vinson, a judge of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judge: FBI Doesn’t Need A Warrant To Access Google Customer Data

 

 

 

 

” In what looks very much like a blow to that whole Constitutional thing about due process, a federal judge has ordered Google to release customer data to the FBI, despite the fact that the FBI has no warrant for the information. 

The FBI made its request via 19 “National Security Letters.” Here’s CNET with a short explainer on what National Security Letters are:

NSLs are controversial because they allow FBI officials to send secret requests to Web and telecommunications companies requesting “name, address, length of service,” and other account information about users as long as it’s relevant to a national security investigation. No court approval is required, and disclosing the existence of the FBI’s secret requests is not permitted.

 

The FBI has been eager to ramp up its surveillance on social media networks, and up until now, companies like Facebook and Google went with it. According to EFF’s attorney Matt Zimmerman, of the roughly 300,000 NSLs the government has issued since 2000, only “four or five” recipients have tried to challenge them.”

 

 

More on the subject here : Judge orders Google to comply with warrantless spy requests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Us Remember Aaron Swartz By Participating in Our Week-of-Action, Demanding Congress Reform the CFAA

 

 

 

 

” Today, EFF and a host of organizations across the political spectrum are launching a week-of-action imploring Congress to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)—the expansive law used to prosecute the late activist and Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz.

We’re asking Congress for three specific, common-sense fixes to the CFAA, which will bring the outdated law into the 21st Century:

  • No more criminal penalties for violating a website’s fine print or an employee manual

  • No criminal penalties for circumvention techniques that protect privacy and promote security

  • Make penalties proportionate to offenses and stop punishing virtual crimes more harshly than physical world crimes”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them

 

 

 

 

” Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration’s surveillance practices. She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases. However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a challenge to NSLs on behalf of an unknown telecom that received an NSL in 2011. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.” “

 

 

 

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Censorship In America: 34 Civil Liberties Groups Speak Out Against CISPA In Lead Up To Hearings

 

 

 

” On Monday, EFF and over 30 other Internet rights organizations sent a letter to members of Congress demanding they vote no on the “cybersecurity” bill known as CISPA. The letter starts off a week in which Congress will hold three different hearings about CISPA and computer and network security. In addition to the letter, each hearing will provide opportunity to voice many of the bill’s problems. We encourage you to join the fight and tell your Representative to say no to CISPA.

 

The first hearing this week will focus on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) role in cybersecurity. In the past couple of years there has been a turf battle over whether the National Security Agency (NSA) or DHS should run the nation’s Internet and network security. Even after NSA head General Keith Alexander declared that civilian agencies should be in charge, the House didn’t get the message. The letter we sent highlights a loophole in CISPA allowing companies to bypass privacy laws and share potentially personal information directly with the NSA. We agree with General Alexander. Civilian control of our domestic cybersecurity is a necessity. “