New Snowden Doc Reveals How GCHQ/NSA Use The Internet To ‘Manipulate, Deceive And Destroy Reputations’
by Mike Masnick
A few weeks ago, Glenn Greenwald, while working with NBC News, revealed some details of a GCHQ presentation concerning how the surveillance organization had a “dirty tricks” group known as JTRIG — the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group. Now, over at The Intercept, he’s revealed the entire presentation and highlighted more details about how JTRIG would seek to infiltrate different groups online and destroy people’s reputations — going way, way, way beyond just targeting terrorist groups and threats to national security.
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
President Obama’s NSA reforms show both promise and peril
By Verge Staff on January 17, 2014 12:33 pm
President Obama just announced big changes to America’s massive government surveillance programs, promising to add new safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy and place new restrictions on how the NSA can use the information it collects on ordinary citizens. We’ve graded the big changes below, comparing them to the reforms that were recommended by an independent review panel last year. All in all, the proposed changes mainly concern the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, not its spying on internet communications. Even accounting for that limitation, they seem good on paper — and far better than many privacy advocates feared — but we’re still waiting to see how they will be enacted.
Our scoring takes into account the fact that Obama can’t single-handedly execute the reforms that the panel recommends; in several cases, Congress will need to pass legal reforms, and in others, departments themselves will need to develop and make changes under his direction. For purposes of grading, we’re also assuming some level of good faith: if a resolution is so broad as to be meaningless, it will affect the score, but guidelines that don’t come with a specific policy directive can still be graded well. Keep in mind that this categorically isn’t an evaluation of what’s going to happen, just what we’re being promised today — for whatever that’s worth. This isn’t a wish list of how the program will ideally be reformed, but it’s holding Obama to the recommendations his panel made.
Silent Circle & Geeksphone Join Forces To Build Blackphone: A Pro-Privacy Android-Based Smartphone
by Natasha Lomas (@riptari)
As the reality of the extent and invasiveness of the security services’ dragnet surveillance programs hits home, the pro-privacy movement has been cranking up its own ideas to counter spy-tech with pro-privacy tech. The Lavabit founder’s recent Kickstarter for a secure end-to-end open source encrypted email project called Dark Mail is one example.
Today, here’s another: meet Blackphone, a smartphone that’s been designed to enable secure, encrypted communications, private browsing and secure file-sharing.
The project is a joint venture between Silent Circle — which shuttered its own encrypted email service last summer in order to preemptively avoid having to comply with government requests to provide data — and Spanish smartphone startup Geeksphone, which has previously made more standard Android handsets, and more recently has been building phone hardware for Mozilla’s open web standards HTML5-based Firefox OS.
The pair said today they have established a new Switzerland-based joint venture to collaborate on technology projects, with Blackphone set to be the inaugural product. They describe the phone as “the world’s first smartphone placing privacy and control directly in the hands of its users”.
What’s Net Neutrality? What Happened to Net Neutrality Yesterday?
By Peter Kafka
Net neutrality is dead, and the Internet is in peril.
Or, maybe: Net neutrality is dead, and the Internet will be fine.
Or, perhaps: Net neutrality is threatened, but can be saved.
Or maybe none, or all, of the above?
You can be forgiven if you looked at the coverage of yesterday’s net neutrality court decision, and can’t figure out what to think — beyond the fact that it seemed like a big deal. (Cough. Me too!)
So here to help is Susan Crawford, a law professor with an intense interest in the subject and the ability to help the rest of us make sense of it.
Crawford, currently a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, doesn’t attempt to describe herself as an unbiased observer. She’s a longstanding critic of the companies that dominate broadband service in the U.S., and if you want the in-depth version, she has a book that spells out why.
If you have a few minutes, here’s an edited version of a conversation we had yesterday. I’m happy to have the same conversation with a telco defender if they can put their view in terms the rest of us can grok, too.
Skynet (ish)? Robots learn and network without human assistance.
A World Wide Web for robots just got more real as scientists ready to demo a project four years in the making: a cloud-based hive mind for robots to upload and download information and learn new tasks from each other, completely independent of humans.
Comparisons to The Terminator’s Skynet began flooding in all the way back in 2011, when a breakthrough was made after researchers at the University of Technology in Munich, Zaragoza, Stuttgart, and Philips assembled in Eindhoven to form the Robo Earth project.
A team of 35 people had developed a Tech United medical robot AMIGO, capable of independently learning to pick up objects and serve them to bed-ridden patients.
As their website explains, the goal is “a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment… to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behavior, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.”
Snowden joins Ellsberg, Greenwald as newest Freedom of the Press Foundation board member
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden will join the likes of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and journalist Glenn Greenwald on the executive board of the non-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation, the group announced Tuesday.
The organization, formed barely a year ago with the goal of helping support and defend public interest journalism, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the National Security Agency contractor-turned-leaker will join the group’s board starting this February.
Greenwald — the reporter who was among the first to collaborate with Mr. Snowden last year on a series of articles based off of those leaked NSA documents — said in a statement Tuesday that the board’s newest edition “is a perfect example of our group’s purpose.”
“We began this organization to protect and support those who are being punished for bringing transparency to the world’s most powerful factions or otherwise dissent from government policy,” Greenwald said
Snowden’s actions have been “heroic,” Greenwald continued, adding, “it is very fitting that he can now work alongside us in defense of press freedom, accountability, and the public’s right-to-know.”