Category: Surveillance


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Error 451: New Bradbury-inspired HTTP code to show legal censorship

© Samantha Sais
A newly approved 451 error code will be used on pages which have been censored by the government for legal reasons. The code number was inspired by the famous dystopian Ray Bradbury novel ‘Fahrenheit 451.’

The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) approved on Monday a new Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status – code 451 that will be seen by internet users when the page is blocked by government due to ‘legal obstacles.’

“This status code indicates that the server is denying access to the resource as a consequence of a legal demand,” the body, responsible for internet operating standards, said in a statement.

 

The IESG has approved the 451 (Unavailable for Legal Reasons) Status code; great job @timbray! https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-ietf-httpbis-legally-restricted-status/ 

IESG said that it advises the authorities to include the information on who and why blocked a certain website.

However, “it is possible that certain legal authorities might wish to avoid transparency, and not only demand the restriction of access to certain resources, but also avoid disclosing that the demand was made.”

Though it said that in many cases the sites could still be accessed using a VPN or the Tor network.

 

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Governments and NGOs: Germany Spied on Friends and Vatican

Efforts to spy on friends and allies by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, were more extensive than previously reported. SPIEGEL has learned the agency monitored European and American government ministries and the Vatican.

The BND's listening station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria: In addition to spying on friends, German intelligence also monitored Oxfam, Care International and the Red Cross. Zoom

DPA

The BND’s listening station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria: In addition to spying on friends, German intelligence also monitored Oxfam, Care International and the Red Cross.

Three weeks ago, news emerged that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), had systematically spied on friends and allies around the world. In many of those instances, the BND had been doing so of its own accord and not at the request of the NSA. The BND came under heavy criticism earlier this year after news emerged that it had assisted the NSA in spying on European institutions, companies and even Germans using dubious selector data.

SPIEGEL has since learned from sources that the spying went further than previously reported. Since October’s revelations, it has emerged that the BND spied on the United States Department of the Interior and the interior ministries of EU member states including Poland, Austria, Denmark and Croatia. The search terms used by the BND in its espionage also included communications lines belonging to US diplomatic outposts in Brussels and the United Nations in New York. The list even included the US State Department’s hotline for travel warnings.

 

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Thomson Reuters

REUTERS

World | Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:24am EST

Germany seeks clarity on whether spy agency snooped on own diplomat

Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service spied on a German diplomat, possibly violating the constitution, and on allies including French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a German radio station reported on Wednesday.

Officials firmly declined to comment on the report, but the parliamentary committee that oversees intelligence agencies was due to meet later in the day with the issue to be discussed.

The report by the Berlin-based rbb Inforadio was the latest twist in a growing scandal over the activities of Germany’s BND stemming from revelations in 2013 by U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

Without identifying its sources, rbb said the BND had monitored German Hansjoerg Haber, from 2008-2011 head of the EU’s observer mission in Georgia and then a senior diplomat in Brussels. He is now head of the EU’s mission in Turkey and married to a state secretary in the Interior Ministry.

The BND declined to comment. A government spokeswoman, quizzed for about 20 minutes at a regular news conference, declined to comment on the report directly and said the oversight body worked “without discussing everything in public”.

 

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France

‘Nothing surprising’ about Germany spying on France



© AFP archive | French President François Hollande with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

 

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2015-11-13

No one should be surprised that Germany’s foreign intelligence service spied on French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a former French Air Force intelligence officer told FRANCE 24 Friday.

Berlin public radio reported this week that the BND intelligence service had listened in on its French allies, prompting a show of indignation from French President François Hollande.

“We ask that all the information be given to us,” Hollande said Thursday on the sidelines of a migration summit in Malta. “These kinds of practices should not go on between allies.”

“I know that the chancellery will do everything it can to explain the circumstances to us in detail,” he added, saying he had been assured that such spying “had completely stopped”.

According to former French Air Force intelligence officer Alain Charret, who is a member of the French Intelligence Research Centre (CF2R) thinktank, Hollande’s show of outrage is just hot air designed to calm public opinion.

 

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The astonishing amount of data being collected about your children

Resize Text
November 12 at 9:30 AM  
 

Parental concerns about student privacy have been rising in recent years amid the growing use by schools, school districts and states use technology to collect mountains of detailed information on students. Last year, a controversial $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates Foundation and operated by a specially created nonprofit organization called inBloom was forced to shut down because of these concerns, an episode that served as a warning to parents about just how much information about their children is being shared without their knowledge.

Here’s an important piece on the issue by Leonie Haimson and Cheri Kiesecker. Haimson was a leading advocate against the inBloom project who then, along with Rachael Stickland, created the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, a national alliance of parents and advocates defending the rights of parents and students to protect their data. Kiesecker is a member of the coalition.

 

By Leonie Haimson and Cheri Kiesecker

 Remember that ominous threat from your childhood, This will go down on your permanent record?” Well, your children’s permanent record is a whole lot bigger today and it may be permanent. Information about your children’s behavior and nearly everything else that a school or state agency knows about them is being tracked, profiled and potentially shared.

During a February 2015 congressional hearing on “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy,” Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin asked the panel to “provide a summary of all the information collected by the time a student reaches graduate school.” Joel Reidenberg, director of the Center on Law & Information Policy at Fordham Law School, responded:

“Just think George Orwell, and take it to the nth degree. We’re in an environment of surveillance, essentially. It will be an extraordinarily rich data set of your life.”

Most student data is gathered at school via multiple routes; either through children’s online usage or information provided by parents, teachers or other school staff. A student’s education record generally includes demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and income level; discipline records, grades and test scores, disabilities and Individual Education Plans (IEPs), mental health and medical history, counseling records and much more.

 

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Justice officials fear nation’s biggest wiretap operation may not be legal

Brad Heath and Brett Kelman 

Miniature DEA badges are displayed for sale in the gift shop at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Arlington, Virginia.

© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Miniature DEA badges are displayed for sale in the gift shop at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Arlington, Virginia. RIVERSIDE, Calif.

 

Federal drug agents have built a massive wiretapping operation in the Los Angeles suburbs, secretly intercepting tens of thousands of Americans’ phone calls and text messages to monitor drug traffickers across the United States despite objections from Justice Department lawyers who fear the practice may not be legal.

 

Nearly all of that surveillance was authorized by a single state court judge in Riverside County, who last year signed off on almost five times as many wiretaps as any other judge in the United States. The judge’s orders allowed investigators — usually from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — to intercept more than 2 million conversations involving 44,000 people, federal court records show.

 

The eavesdropping is aimed at dismantling the drug rings that have turned Los Angeles’ eastern suburbs into what the DEA says is the nation’s busiest shipping corridor for heroin and methamphetamine. Riverside wiretaps are supposed to be tied to crime within the county, but investigators have relied on them to make arrests and seize shipments of cash and drugs as far away as New York and Virginia, sometimes concealing the surveillance in the process.

 

The surveillance has raised concerns among Justice Department lawyers in Los Angeles, who have mostly refused to use the results in federal court because they have concluded the state court’s eavesdropping orders are unlikely to withstand a legal challenge, current and former Justice officials said .

 

“It was made very clear to the agents that if you’re going to go the state route, then best wishes, good luck and all that, but that case isn’t coming to federal court,” a former Justice Department lawyer said. The lawyer and other officials described the situation on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the department’s internal deliberations.

 

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Federal judge orders NSA to halt phone surveillance program

Larry Klayman © Larry Downing
A federal judge has ruled against the NSA’s controversial collection of Americans’ phone records. The program was set to expire by the end of the month, but the ruling is considered a victory for civil liberties because it sets a legal precedent.

In his ruling on Monday, Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court reiterated his assertion that the NSA’s program “likely violates the Constitution” and said that “the loss of constitutional freedoms for even one day is a significant harm.”

In doing so, he sided with conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, whose clients had sued the NSA over its data collection following the revelations of whistleblower of Edward Snowden in 2013.

“This court simply cannot, and will not, allow the government to trump the Constitution merely because it suits the exigencies of the moment,’’ Leon wrote in his 43-page decision.

Klayman said that winning the case is a “tremendous victory for the American people.” He added that Leon is one of the few judges in the country who “has the guts to stand in the breach for the American people during a period of time where their government is running roughshod over them.”

Klayman also said that he will continue the fight and seek monetary damages from the government.

 

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Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. © Vincent Kessler
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has voiced his opposition to the Investigatory Powers Bill, which was unveiled Wednesday by the British government, saying ministers are “taking notes on how to defend the indefensible.”

His remarks come as Home Secretary Theresa May has admitted that UK spy agencies MI5, MI6 and GCHQ secretly collected communications data for decades to protect “national security.”

Snowden, who sought asylum in Russia after leaking top-secret documents about American and British mass surveillance techniques, posted a series of tweets condemning the new bill.

He said the powers given to security agencies in the bill amounted to access to “the activity log of your life.”

May announced on Wednesday that internet companies would be required to store a record of every website accessed by users for a year. The new bill also targets encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and iMessenger, which allow users to evade hackers and data collection.

It’s not about something to hide, it’s about something to lose.

Snowden expressed his opposition to the bill, which was created in the wake of his revelations.

 

 

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A real cell tower. (Image: Flickr, Carl Lender via Bus. Insider)

A real cell tower. (Image: Flickr, Carl Lender via Bus. Insider)

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WIRED

The federal government has been fighting hard for years hide details about its use of so-called stingray surveillance technology from the public.

The surveillance devices simulate cell phone towers in order to trick nearby mobile phones into connecting to them and revealing the phones’ locations.

Now newly released documents confirm long-held suspicions that the controversial devices are also capable of recording numbers for a mobile phone’s incoming and outgoing calls, as well as intercepting the content of voice and text communications. The documents also discuss the possibility of flashing a phone’s firmware “so that you can intercept conversations using a suspect’s cell phone as a bug.”

The information appears in a 2008 guideline prepared by the Justice Department to advise law enforcement agents on when and how the equipment can be legally used.

The Department of Justice ironically acknowledges in the documents that the use of the surveillance technology to locate cellular phones ‘is an issue of some controversy.’

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California obtained the documents (.pdf) after a protracted legal battle involving a two-year-old public records request. The documents include not only policy guidelines, but also templates for submitting requests to courts to obtain permission to use the technology.

 

 

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This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward.

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UN police stateBy Amanda Warren

While people were in a daze of reverie following the lunar eclipse and the Pope’s U.S. visit, a very important yet overlooked announcement was made by the Department of Justice.

Launch of Strong Cities Network to Strengthen Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism” rang the bell to usher in a global-local initiative to ferret out extremism at the local level – yes, in the United States. Symbolically, it could also signal a turning point when it comes to local authorities and their treatment of the residents at large. Indeed, it is a global enmeshment that most Americans are either a) in the total dark about, or b) going hysterical over, if they’ve heard about it.

Honestly, either of those reactions is understandable when you start digging into the announcements and its sponsors only to find the typical convoluted, global-psycho-babble that signals to the astute that they are about to lose their rights and be perceived as domestic terrorists. But can anyone really say for sure? Of course not. Not when the message is written in Newspeak gibberish.

What is the Strong Cities Network and why did some U.S. cities join up?

On the face of it, SCN is to strengthen the bond between cities in the U.S. and global cities in the fight against violent extremism, internationally and at the local level. It will funnel help to local authorities of those cities which hop on board.

 

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Fight for the Future's profile photo
Fight for the Future

 

 

Evan from FFTF

info@list.fightforthefuture.org

 

We gave every member of U.S. Congress a “grade” based on how they’ve voted on laws that affect your privacy and freedom. Click here to see how yours scored! You might be surprised.

 

So many politicians blatantly push for policies that harm all of us, just because the special interests that fund their campaigns want them to.

Because of this, Congress tries to hide — taking vague positions, pushing for watered down legislation, or remaining silent at critical moments.

This week, they’re expected to renew debate on CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill that would give corporations sweeping legal immunity when they share your data with the government.

Now more than ever, it’s so important that we don’t let our lawmakers hide in the shadows.

Click here to find out where your members of Congress stand on government spying and abuse!

This scoreboard is a tool we can use to hold politicians accountable and demand they stand up for our basic human and Constitutional rights.

Surveillance will define our future. Let’s make sure the future isn’t terrible.

Click here to see how your representatives measure up, and tell them to oppose CISA!

For the Internet,

~Evan at Fight for the Future

P.S. As much as we’ve talked about how bad CISA is for expanding mass surveillance, there’s another side to the law that just made it even worse. Late last week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced an amendment to expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law that has been used time and again to persecute digital activists, including our friend Aaron Swartz. That’s despicable, and needs to be quashed immediately — so take action now to help kill CISA.


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