Glenn Greenwald can’t get anyone to take this challenge | Vox

The most common defense for the massive expansion of government surveillance programs since 2001 is that they only negatively affect people who have something to hide. In a recent TED Talk, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first published documents leaked by Edward Snowden, made the case that the government’s invasions of privacy have a much broader effect than catching and curtailing terrorist or criminal activity.

Greenwald argued the people who claim they have nothing to hide don’t actually mean it. He pointed to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as examples of powerful people who previously defended government and corporate invasions of privacy but have also taken steps — refused to talk to some media, or bought massive properties to make outside snooping more difficult — to protect themselves from peering eyes. [Read more]

Privacy Group Targets British Spyware Company over Bahrain Surveillance | The Intercept

The company in question, Gamma Group, is a U.K.-based firm that provides surveillance software and other “lawful intercept” technology to governments around the world. Among their products was FinFisher software, which lets spies remotely monitor a computer they’ve infected — accessing files, web traffic, Skype calls and more. Privacy International asked the U.K.’s National Crime Agency to investigate the company.

“Companies like Gamma have been enabling repressive states’ unlawful conduct, but then seeking to suggest that they bear no responsibility for the products that they supply,” said Adriana Edmeades, Privacy International’s legal officer. [Read more]

The artist who maps the twilight world of the surveillance agencies | The Guardian

It was a strange stage that Trevor Paglen took to, standing against a cartoon forest backdrop in a faux Gothic meeting room that was once a masonic lodge, looking out over a sea of attentive faces, gilded chairs and a plush, red carpet.

Paglen, a visual artist, is using this setting to preach about the power of the image to manipulate, to distort but also to reveal. “Images jump off the page and scramble our brains. They tell us to be afraid, that we are illegitimate, not perfect,” he says of the filtered, processed, post-production perfect images that saturate us in advertising and messaging. Paglen’s work is about subverting what has become the self-selecting, saccharin-distorted norm of the digital image. [Read more]

Snowden’s Closest Confidant Reveals What It Was Like Spilling the NSA’s Secrets | National Journal

There’s a prolonged scene in Laura Poitras’ new documentary, Citizenfour, when Edward Snowden looks in his hotel room’s mirror and tussles his hair in a nervous—and, ultimately fruitless—attempt to defeat bedhead.

The shot is a revealing and humanizing moment for Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who became known the world over last summer after his leaks exposed the agency’s vast phone and Internet surveillance programs. [Read more]

How Hackers Got Your Passwords for Snapchat and Dropbox | Slate

On Monday an anonymous hacker claimed to be in possession of 7 million passwords to Dropbox accounts. While that claim was probably false, it demonstrates the increasingly common way that hackers are using to gain access to your passwords.

The hacker posted around 400 usernames and passwords on anonymous note site Pastebin in a series of “teasers” for the main list. Some Reddit users were able to successfully log into Dropbox using the information posted before the company deactivated all of the leaked passwords. [Read more]

On Leak Prosecutions, Obama Takes it to 11. (Or Should We Say 526?) | ACLU

James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. He’s also currently under subpoena, possibly facing jail time, because of his reporting.

Specifically, he’s being investigated because of an article on a CIA ploy to hinder Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb that went epically sideways and may have actually helped Iran along. 60 Minutes ran a great story on him this weekend, during which they cited a well-known statistic: the Obama administration has prosecuted more national security “leakers” than all other presidencies combined, eight to three. [Read more]

Laura Poitras on the Crypto Tools That Made Her Snowden Film Possible | wired

As a journalist, Laura Poitras was the quiet mastermind behind the publication of Edward Snowden’s unprecedented NSA leak. As a filmmaker, her new movie Citizenfour makes clear she’s one of the most important directors working in documentary today. And when it comes to security technology, she’s a serious geek.

In the closing credits of Citizenfour, Poitras took the unusual step of adding an acknowledgment of the free software projects that made the film possible: The roll call includes the anonymity software Tor, the Tor-based operating system Tails, GPG encryption, Off-The-Record (OTR) encrypted instant messaging, hard disk encryption software Truecrypt, and Linux. All of that describes a technical setup that goes well beyond the precautions taken by most national security reporters, not to mention documentary filmmakers. [Read more]

UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights | The Intercept

The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” — which “depend[s] upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” — and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can [] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.” [Read more]

Pine Gap drives US drone kills | Sydney Morning Herald

Central Australia’s Pine Gap spy base has played a key role in the United States’ controversial drone strikes involving the ”targeted killing” of al-Qaeda and Taliban chiefs, Fairfax Media can reveal.

Former personnel at the Australian-American base have described the facility’s success in locating and tracking al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders – and other insurgent activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan – as ”outstanding”. [Read more]

New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents | The Intercept

Agents from New Zealand’s national police force ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist earlier this month who was collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the 10-hour police raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister.

But in seizing all the paper files and electronic devices in Hager’s home, the authorities may have also taken source material concerning other unrelated stories that Hager was pursuing. Recognizing the severity of the threat posed to press freedoms from this raid, the Freedom of the Press Foundation today announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defense. [Read more]

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users | The Guardian

The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.

The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives. [Read more]

 

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