March 11, 2014
Able to distinguish a person’s face even if 60 percent obscured
A company has developed glasses that will give users not only an interactive, virtual 3-D display, but also the ability to spot individual faces among a crowd of people, something the company says will aid police in predicting and thwarting “future” crimes.
Capitalizing on the popularity of Apple’s soon-to-be-released techie eyewear, Atheer Labs has created a set of eyeglasses that give users “immersive 3-D,” surrounding them “with information wherever [they] turn and look..”
Similar to Google Glass, the Atheer One, as the glasses are dubbed, connects to the web, streams videos, and can act as a virtual calendar and organizer.
But in a recent interview with CBS Miami, the company’s founder, Allen Yang, touted the glasses as a new crime fighting tool that will give police eerie Minority Report-like future crime awareness.
“In the optimal scenario, [police] can actually get an alert when they’re patrolling on the streets and they can prevent something from happening before even the event happens,” Yang said.
And there’s no solace for people wishing to opt out of a face scan. Unlike other facial recognition software, Yang says the Atheer One’s technology will be so advanced it’ll be able to produce an image of a person’s face even when the face is distorted or only 60 percent visible.
While being immersed in a virtual 3-D world may sound like fun to some, Atheer One is yet another attempt by the tech industry to make Big Brother seem trendy.
Consumers eager to get their hands on the latest gadget will obliviously pay for their personal habits and surroundings to be monitored and logged, while workers on the product’s tech side will likely be granted uncensored, unfettered, behind-closed-doors access within people’s homes.
One look at Atheer’s board of directors should be enough to give any interested parties cause for concern. Nooshoon Hashemi, one of the company’s primary board members and a former VP of the Oracle Corp. – a tech industry giant whose CEO applauds the NSA’s efforts – is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“The admitted goal of the CFR is to abolish the Constitution and replace our once independent Republic with a World Government,” Gary Allen wrote of the globalist think tank in his timeless classic None Dare Call It Conspiracy, and Sen. Ted Cruz has called the organization “a pernicious nest of snakes” that is “working to undermine our sovereignty.”
The glasses are set to go on sale next month. A standalone pair will cost around $850, while a model that connects to the Internet through Android devices runs at $350.
March 10, 2014
The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime.
But their spycraft — while incredibly invasive — was also technologically primitive by today’s standards. While researching my book Dragnet Nation, I obtained the above hand drawn social network graph and other files from the Stasi Archive in Berlin, where German citizens can see files kept about them and media can access some files, with the names of the people who were monitored removed.
The graphic shows forty-six connections, linking a target to various people (an “aunt,” “Operational Case Jentzsch,” presumably Bernd Jentzsch, an East German poet who defected to the West in 1976), places (“church”), and meetings (“by post, by phone, meeting in Hungary”).
Gary Bruce, an associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo and the author of “The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi,” helped me decode the graphic and other files. I was surprised at how crude the surveillance was. “Their main surveillance technology was mail, telephone, and informants,” Bruce said.
Another file revealed a low-level surveillance operation called an IM-vorgang aimed at recruiting an unnamed target to become an informant. (The names of the targets were redacted; the names of the Stasi agents and informants were not.) In this case, the Stasi watched a rather boring high school student who lived with his mother and sister in a run-of-the-mill apartment. The Stasi obtained a report on him from the principal of his school and from a club where he was a member. But they didn’t have much on him — I’ve seen Facebook profiles with far more information.
A third file documented a surveillance operation known as an OPK, for Operative Personenkontrolle, of a man who was writing oppositional poetry. The Stasi deployed three informants against him but did not steam open his mail or listen to his phone calls. The regime collapsed before the Stasi could do anything further.
I also obtained a file that contained an “observation report,” in which Stasi agents recorded the movements of a forty-year-old man for two days — September 28 and 29, 1979. They watched him as he dropped off his laundry, loaded up his car with rolls of wallpaper, and drove a child in a car “obeying the speed limit,” stopping for gas and delivering the wallpaper to an apartment building. The Stasi continued to follow the car as a woman drove the child back to Berlin.
The Stasi agent appears to have started following the target at 4:15 p.m. on a Friday evening. At 9:38 p.m., the target went into his apartment and turned out the lights. The agent stayed all night and handed over surveillance to another agent at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning. That agent appears to have followed the target until 10:00 p.m. From today’s perspective, this seems like a lot of work for very little information.
And yet, the Stasi files are an important reminder of what a repressive regime can do with so little information. Here are the files:
March 8, 2014
The secretive federal surveillance court has denied the National Security Agency’s (NSA) attempt to hold onto people’s phone records for longer than the law allows.
In an order released on Friday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the Justice Department’s attempt to authorize keeping the records beyond the current five-year legal limit “is simply unpersuasive.”
“The Court has not found any case law supporting the government’s broad assertion that its duty to preserve supersedes statutory or regulatory requirements,” Judge Reggie Walton wrote in the court’s decision.
Kristan T. Harris
The Rundown Live
March 7, 2014
The city of Milwaukee will be giving away 2,000 security cameras to south side businesses. A grant has been provided to the city and they are eager to get started. Is this a violation of our constitutional 4th amendment right? These cameras will come with facial recognition and subsequently will track your behaviors. They will also be able to collect meta data on your habits, cell phone conversations, what you buy and who you associate with. This information will be collaborated with your cell phone id and facial recognition software provided by these cameras to monitor your voyage around town and record your trends.
This information will be trolled by the Milwaukee Fusion spy center, used to track your internet, cell phone activity and behaviors. Stored and saved for future reference indefinitely. The original intent of fusion centers was to prevent terrorist attacks from foreign interests. Now, it’s used to spy on American citizens. The fusion center works in conjunction with the NSA, CIA, FBI and local police to profile everyone.The most frightening thing about fusion centers is the lack of over site and the inability to hold a fusion center accountable both personally and legally.
Edmund Burke said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
You may send your dissatisfaction with the big brother surveillance program here:
March 7, 2014
An administrative judge on the National Transportation Safety Board has ruled that the commercial use of small drones is in fact legal, despite six years of Federal Aviation Administration statements to the contrary.
Today Judge Patrick Geraghty dismissed a $10,000 fine levied by the FAA against Raphael Pirker, a Swiss drone operator who used a camera drone to film on the University of Virginia campus. “At the time of respondent’s model aircraft operation … there was no enforceable FAA rule or FAR Regulation application to model aircraft or for classifying model aircraft as an UAS,” the judge writes.
The ruling effectively invalidates the FAA’s 2007 ban on the use of commercial drones. But if the agency appeals, the case will go to the Washington, DC, US Court of Appeals.
The city electrical utility has threated to cut off power to a home unless the owners remove a box that blocks installation of a smart meter to sends readings wirelessly to City Hall.
Virginia and Tom Leinart say the signals threaten human health and violate their right to privacy.
March 6, 2014
Perhaps two of the least liked organizations that we know of around here are ICE, also known as the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’ group — recently subject to a sort of rebranding as Homeland Security Investigations, and GoDaddy. So here’s a story of the two of them teaming up to censor a political website in Mexico that was a key site in protesting the current Mexican administration, as well as opposing attempts to criminalize protests.
On December 2nd, 2013, the site disappeared offline. The United States host, GoDaddy, suspended the domain with no prior notice. GoDaddy told its owners that the site was taken down “as part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation.” The office in charge of this investigation was listed as “Special Agent Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Embassy, Mexico City.” (The contact email pointed to “ice.dhs.gov,” implying that this agent was working as part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement wing, who have been involved in curious domain name takedowns in the past.
The site has now filed a lawsuit concerning the case, saying that the takedown “violates Mexico’s legal protections for freedom of expression.” However, there are other questions as well, which the good folks at EFF highlight:
Why did GoDaddy take down content with the excuse of it being part of a legal investigation, when the company did not request or relay any formal judicial documents or an official court order? And why is the U.S. Embassy acting as a relay for an unclear legal process that resulted in censorship within the United States?
It would be nice to get some answers to those questions. In exploring the issue, I just sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to ICE for any communications between it and GoDaddy concerning this domain. I’ll be sure to update everyone when and if any information is returned.
In the meantime, the folks at 1dmx.org have also put together a video about the takedown.
March 4, 2014
Verizon updated its transparency report Monday to include orders issued by the nation’s spy court.
During the first six months of 2013, the nation’s spy court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, ordered Verizon between zero to 999 times to hand over content for 4,000 to 4,999 customer selectors.
During that same time, the court issued the company between zero to 999 “non-content” orders to hand over information affecting zero to 999 customer selectors.
March 3, 2014
Florida police used a cell phone tracking device at least 200 times without a warrant because they conspired with the device manufacturer to keep its use a secret, according to the ACLU.
Through a recent motion for public access, the ACLU determined that at least one Florida police department never told judges about its use of the cell phone tracking device, known as a “stingray,” because the department signed a non-disclosure agreement with the stingray’s manufacturer to keep its use from being publicly known.
The manufacturer, which the ACLU said was likely a Florida-based company, also retained ownership of its stingrays and only let the department borrow them, further aiding in its secrecy.
The stingray, also called a “cell tower simulator,” determines the location of a targeted cell phone by impersonating a cell tower, which tricks the targeted phone – and non-targeted cell phones in the same range – into transmitting its precise location and phone records to the stingray.
“When in use, stingrays sweep up information about innocent people and criminal suspects alike,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an ACLU attorney, reported.
The ACLU learned about the department’s use of the stingray through an ongoing court case entitled Florida v. Thomas, in which police used the device to track a stolen cell phone to the suspect’s apartment.
After forcing their way inside the apartment, the police conducted a search of the residence, found the stolen phone and arrested the suspect.
Yet the police never obtained a warrant for the search or for its use of the stingray.
“This was apparently because they had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the company that gave them the device,” Wessler wrote. “The police seem to have interpreted the agreement to bar them even from revealing their use of stingrays to judges, who we usually rely on to provide oversight of police investigations.”
“Potentially unconstitutional government surveillance on this scale should not remain hidden from the public just because a private corporation desires secrecy,” he added. “And it certainly should not be concealed from judges.”
And, according to the ACLU, other police departments are also using stingrays secretly in the same fashion, joining an ever growing list of government entities infringing upon the Fourth Amendment.
Last week it was revealed that officials in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan began working with local police to place surveillance cameras in every neighborhood.
“We are recording images that a police officer would see if he or she were standing in the same place,” the township’s director of the Office of Community Standards, Mike Radzik, said.
And several months prior, a city in New Jersey decided to counter personnel reductions in its police force by placing the public under constant surveillance.
Darwin Bond-Graham and Ali Winston
March 2, 2014
Edward Snowden ripped the blinds off the surveillance state last summer with his leak of top-secret National Security Agency documents, forcing a national conversation about spying in the post-9/11 era. However, there’s still no concrete proof that America’s elite intelligence units are analyzing most Americans’ computer and telephone activity — even though they can.
Los Angeles and Southern California police, by contrast, are expanding their use of surveillance technology such as intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification and military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime. Information on the identity and movements of millions of Southern California residents is being collected and tracked.
In fact, Los Angeles is emerging as a major laboratory for testing and scaling up new police surveillance technologies. The use of military-grade surveillance tools is migrating from places like Fallujah to neighborhoods including Watts and even low-crime areas of the San Fernando Valley, where surveillance cameras are proliferating like California poppies in spring.
February 28, 2014
It used to be that tech titans such as Cisco Systems and IBM could bank on fertile markets in Asia and Europe in their quest for worldwide financial domination. Not so much anymore.
The National Security Agency, and revelations about its extensive surveillance operations — sometimes with the cooperation of tech firms — have undermined the ability of many U.S. companies to sell products in key foreign countries, creating a fissure with the U.S. government and prompting some to scramble to create “NSA-resistant” products. The fallout could cost the tech industry billions of dollars in potential contracts, which has executives seething at the White House.
“Suspicion of U.S. vendors is running at an all-time high,” says Andrew Jaquith, chief technology officer at cloud-security firm SilverSky.
Spencer Ackerman and James Ball
February 27, 2014
Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.
In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy”.
February 27, 2014
Do you want solid proof that paid government shills are targeting websites, blogs, forums and social media accounts? For years, many have suspected that government trolls have been systematically causing havoc all over the Internet, but proving it has been difficult.
But now thanks to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and revealed by Glenn Greenwald, we finally have hard evidence that western governments have been doing this. As you will see below, a UK intelligence outfit known as the Government Communications Headquarters, through a previously secret unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, has been systematically attempting “to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse”. This should be deeply disturbing to anyone that values free speech on the Internet.
It isn’t just that the British government is trying to influence what people are thinking. The reality is that this is far bigger than a mere propaganda campaign. As Greenwald recently noted on his new website, the “integrity of the Internet itself” is at stake…
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
So what techniques are the British using to control and manipulate discourse on the Internet? According to Greenwald, the documents that Snowden has uncovered show that they are willing to sink to despicable lows in order to get the results that they desire…
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.
The following is a list of Internet infiltration techniques that were listed on one particular slide that Snowden leaked…
-Set Piece Operation
-False Flag Operation
-False Rescue Operation
You can check out this slide for yourself right here.
There is also evidence that the Canadian government has been involved in this sort of thing as well. The following comes from Natural News…
You’ve probably run into them before — those seemingly random antagonizers who always end up diverting the conversation in an online chat room or article comment section away from the issue at hand, and towards a much different agenda. Hot-button issues like illegal immigration, the two-party political system, the “war on terror” and even alternative medicine are among the most common targets of such attackers, known as internet “trolls” or “shills,” who in many cases are nothing more than paid lackeys hired by the federal government and other international organizations to sway and ultimately control public opinion.
Several years ago, Canada’s CTV News aired a short segment about how its own government had been exposed for hiring secret agents to monitor social media and track online conversations, as well as the activities of certain dissenting individuals. This report, which in obvious whitewashing language referred to such activities as the government simply “weighing in and correcting” allegedly false information posted online, basically admitted that the Canadian government had assumed the role of secret online police.
You can see a video news report about this activity up in Canada right here.
Are you disturbed yet?
You should be.
So what kind of people are the governments of the western world targeting online?
Well, when it comes to the U.S. government, all you have to do is to look at their official documents to see who they consider the “problems” to be. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered ‘Potential Terrorists’ In Official Government Documents“.
Sadly, the reality of the matter is that the days of the free and open Internet are numbered. The governments of the world are increasing their control over the Internet with each passing day, and eventually a time will likely come when we will not be able to communicate openly like this any longer.
Things have gotten so bad in the U.S. already that even Google is spooked…
A recent court decision that endorsed a broad view of the Federal Communications Commission’s authority over the Internet has Google and other Web companies nervous.
In closed-door meetings with regulators and Capitol Hill staff, Google’s lawyers have said they’re worried how the FCC may use its newfound powers, according to multiple people familiar with the meetings.
The extent of the FCC’s authority over Google and other Web services remains unclear, and the current FCC has given no indication that it is interested in pushing aggressive new regulations. But the possibility that the commission could begin telling Google how to organize its search results or handle its users’ data is enough to spook the company’s army of Washington lobbyists.
And this is just the beginning.
If you think that the control freaks that are running things now are bad, just wait until you see the next generation of control freaks.
For example, there is one prominent student writer at Harvard that apparently believes that free speech at her university should be abolished and that any professor that does not advocate for her politically-correct version of “justice” should be fired…
A student writer at Harvard University is raising eyebrows after publishing her belief that free speech on campus should be abolished and professors with opposing views be fired.
Sandra Korn, a senior who writes a column for the Harvard Crimson newspaper, thinks radical leftism is the only permissible political philosophy, and the First Amendment only hinders colleges from brainwashing students with her viewpoint.
“Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice,” states the subtitle of her Feb. 18 column, in which she insists Harvard stop guaranteeing students and professors the right to hold controversial views and conduct research putting liberalism in a negative light.
“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals?” Korn asks.
This is what control freaks always want.
They always want to shut down those that are presenting opposing views.
They don’t believe in free speech and a “marketplace of ideas”. Rather, they believe in shoving what they believe down the rest of our throats.
And now we have solid proof that the governments of the western world are paying people to manipulate discourse on social media, blogs, forums and websites.
So will there be great outrage over this, or will the apathetic public just roll over and ignore this like they have so many other times the past few years?
February 27, 2014
Glenn Greenwald’s piece on manipulation of the Internet by intelligence agencies gives examples – based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden – of how governments disrupt social media websites.
This essay will focus one specific technique: the “Counter Reset”.
To explain the Counter Reset technique, we have to understand the concepts of “momentum” and “social proof”.
Specifically, the government spends a great deal of manpower and money to monitor which stories, memes and social movements are developing the momentum to actually pose a threat to the status quo. For example, the Federal Reserve, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies all monitor social media for stories critical of their agencies … or the government in general. Other governments – and private corporations – do the same thing.
Because a story gaining momentum ranks high on social media sites. So it has a high probability of bursting into popular awareness, destroying the secrecy which allows corruption, and becoming a real challenge to the powers-that-be.
“Social proof” is a related concept. Social proof is the well-known principle stating that people will believe something if most other people believe it. And see this. In other words, most people have a herd instinct, so if a story ranks highly, more people are likely to believe it and be influenced by it.
That is why vested interests go to great lengths – using computer power and human resources – to monitor social media momentum. If a story critical of one of these powerful entities is gaining momentum, they will go to great lengths to kill its momentum, and destroy the social proof which comes with alot of upvotes, likes or recommendations in social media.
They may choose to flood social media with comments supporting the entities, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this. Or moderators at the social media sites themselves can just censor the stories.
Or they can be more sneaky … and do a Counter Reset to destroy momentum.
Giving specific examples will illustrate the technique. Reddit moderators have continuously reset the counter over the last couple of days on the new Greenwald/Snowden story, to destroy momentum which would otherwise have guaranteed that the story was the top story.
Similarly, the owners of popular Youtube channels have repeatedly reported that Counter Resets are done on their most controversial news stories.
The attractiveness of the Counter Reset from a moderator’s perspective is that it destroys momentum, while leaving some plausible deniability.
If users point out that the story keeps getting spiked, the moderator can say that it hasn’t been censored, but instead that the moderators have allowed it to stay up (with periodic Counter Resets along the way).
Alternatively – if the moderators have continuously deleted the story each time it is posted – the moderators can say that it has been posted “numerous times”, and pretend that shows that they are letting the story gather momentum, when they are in fact deleting it again and again. For example, when hundreds of Redditors complained yesterday that the Greenwald/Snowden story kept getting deleted, moderators chimed in on every thread proclaiming that the story had run multiple times … without admitting that it had been deleted each time.
Now that you know about the Counter Reset, watch your favorite social media sites to see how this technique is used for the hardest-hitting stories and videos which directly challenge the legitimacy of the powers-that-be.
February 26, 2014
The moderators at the giant r/news reddit (with over 2 million subscribed readers) repeatedly killed the Greenwald/Snowden story on government manipulation and disruption of the Internet … widely acknowledged to be one of the most important stories ever leaked by Snowden.
Similarly, the moderators at the even bigger r/worldnews reddit (over 5 million subscribers) repeatedly deleted the story, so that each new post had to start over at zero.
For example, here are a number of posts deleted from r/news (click any image for much larger/clearer version):
Write-ups of the same story from other sites – like Zero Hedge – were also deleted:
This isn’t the first time Reddit moderators have been caught censoring:
… MoreWikipedia: … More, probably Richard More was an English politician. →
February 25, 2014
Smartphone makers are fighting for space on your wrist and your head, lucrative real estate for a new wave of high-tech devices if only they can persuade you to wear them.
Manufacturers unleashed a battery of new wearable devices at the world’s biggest mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain, trying to carve out new revenue sources in developed markets where smartphone sales are slowing.
From smart bracelets that track your fitness to watches and glasses that let you take a call or check text messages and email, these gadgets are the new stars of the February 24-27 Mobile World Congress.
February 25, 2014
The alternative media has documented for 5 years that the government uses disinformation and disruption (and here) on the web to discredit activists and manipulate public opinion, just like it smears traditional television and print reporters who question the government too acutely.
New Edward Snowden documents confirm that Britain’s spy agency is doing so.
As Glenn Greenwald writes today:
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.
These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself. 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.
Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.
The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who havenothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes….
It is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.
The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”
Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups. [Background on Sunstein here and here.]
Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government.
Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, butshape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell”, devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”….
Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:
No government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse?
Here are the newly-released Snowden documents in full:
February 24, 2014
Security hole appeared just one month before NSA bragged it had penetrated Apple servers
Following an admission by Apple that a “bug” in its operating system had left devices open to potential hacking, experts are questioning whether the security hole was intentional, in order to allow the NSA backdoor access as part of its mass spying program.
On Friday Apple acknowledged that a “goto fail” command in the company’s SecureTansport protocol had left iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks vulnerable to data intercept on networks and wireless connections. Anyone who had knowledge of the security flaw, could have accessed secure data, Apple noted, declaring that ” a software fix will be released very soon.”
Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor Matthew Green told Reuters that the flaw (see below) was “as bad as you could imagine.”
Several coding experts are now raising their eyebrows over the matter, noting that the timeline of the inception of the security flaw matches up with leaked NSA slides that document how the spy agency had managed to gain access to Apple’s severs.
According to coder and App developer Jeffrey Grossman, who has studied the code in question, the flaw only appeared in iOS 6.0 and was not present in iOS 5.11.
Immediately, tech experts began to note that iOS 6.0 was released in September 2012, just one month before Apple was added to the NSA’s list of penetrated servers, according to slides leaked by Edward Snowden.
Noting that while the evidence is circumstantial, blogger John Gruber, a computer scientist, says that “the shoe fits” where the NSA’s Apple breakthrough is concerned.
“Sure would be interesting to know who added that spurious line of code to the file,” he notes. “Conspiratorially, one could suppose the NSA planted the bug, through an employee mole, perhaps. Innocuously, the Occam’s Razor explanation would be that this was an inadvertent error on the part of an Apple engineer. It looks like the sort of bug that could result from a merge gone bad, duplicating the goto fail; line.”
1. Nothing. The NSA was not aware of this vulnerability.
2. The NSA knew about it, but never exploited it.
3. The NSA knew about it, and exploited it.
4. NSA itself planted it surreptitiously.
5. Apple, complicit with the NSA, added it.
Gruber has laid out five potential scenarios, personally leaning toward number three:
“…once the bug was in place, the NSA wouldn’t even have needed to find the bug by manually reading the source code. All they would need are automated tests using spoofed certificates that they run against each new release of every OS.” Gruber states.
“Apple releases iOS, the NSA’s automated spoofed certificate testing finds the vulnerability, and boom, Apple gets “added” to PRISM. ([It] wasn’t even necessarily a fast turnaround — the NSA could have discovered the vulnerability over the summer, while iOS 6 was in developer program beta testing.)” Gruber concludes.
Other tech bloggers concur that it is strange how such a major flaw wasn’t spotted or fixed sooner. “The timing is rather odd, and it makes you wonder how such a serious bug went undiscovered for over a year.” writes Cody Lee of iDownloadblog.
Ashkan Soltani, another security expert has compiled a list of current Apple applications that he believes are vulnerable to security hole that is still open on the current version of OS X for the Mac. The list includes basic apps such as mail, safari, twitter, facetime and calender. These apps transmit and store exactly the type of information NSA has targeted.
Just one month ago, a new Snowden leak revealed that the NSA had infiltrated iPhones with a program known as DROPOUT JEEP, which allowed the agency access to text messages, voicemails and other personal data.
Apple has since vehemently denied having knowledge of the NSA’s activities. “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone,” Apple said in a January statement. “Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security.”
What do you think? Did Apple intentionally allow the NSA backdoor access to its servers? Is Apple,seemingly like Intel, the victim of NSA moles on the inside? Or is all of this just a big old coincidence?
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, andPrisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.
March 29, 2014
Geneticists have made a huge advance towards the creation of designer artificial organisms by synthesizing the first entire chromosome for yeast. This landmark study was published March 27,2014 in the prestigious journal Science. The ability to design and synthesize chromosomes for artificial life have the potential to alter the world’s energy economy and create innovative cures in medicine.
Chromosomes consist of tightly bound-up DNA and protein. The condensed and coiled configuration of the DNA helps to contain all of an organism’s genetic material within the nucleoid region of bacteria cells or the nucleus of eukaryotic cells (such as humans and yeasts). The tightness of this coiling also plays an important role in determining which of the contained genes get expressed. The synthesis of an artificial chromosome is an important intermediate step between creating an artificial gene and an artificial genome. A single chromosome may have thousands of genes on it. However in non-bacteria life-forms it takes multiple chromosomes to make up a genome. Human cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes. By contrast, yeast cells have only 16.
March 28, 2014
Like the glowing forests from the film “Avatar,” glow-in-the-dark plants are coming to your home. Growing a glowing tree may take a while, but you can order glow-in-the-dark seeds for Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant in the mustard family, right now.
According to the Kickstarter campaign that launched the company last year, Glowingplant.com planned to start shipping the seeds next week. But the company says it has postponed the release until the fall – not due to production glitches or a failure to shine, but because it has raised more money than it expected.
“We asked our backers a few months ago whether they wanted us to ship on time or to use the rest of the funds to improve the luminosity,” said Anthony Evans, CEO of the synthetic biology startup that has created the bioluminescent flora. “The overwhelming advice was to improve.”
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