Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Tor Encryption- Created by Spooks, for Spooks

Peter B. Collins Presents Journalist Yasha Levine

Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the Electronic Frontier Foundation tout Tor as an encryption system to protect your privacy on the internet. Pando’s scrappy investigative reporter Yasha Levine returns to explain the origins and funding of Tor. Developed by the Naval Research Lab and DARPA, its main clients are in the intelligence community, and Levine explains the need to draw other users to the system so the spies don’t stand out. Tor is not fully immune from NSA snooping, and Levine reports that in 2004, the project was handed over to EFF. Tor is now a stand-alone nonprofit that gets funding that appears to be laundered through the State Department’s Internews arm. Levine reveals that Ed Snowden, who was running Tor servers in Hawaii, compromised his own anonymity just months before he contacted Greenwald, by requesting Tor stickers to share with his co-workers.

*Yasha Levine is a reporter for Pando Daily. Read his articles on Tor here and here

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: How Did “NSA Reform” Bill Get Shredded in the House?

Peter B. Collins Presents Nadia Kayyali

In this interview with EFF activist Nadia Kayyali, we look at the process that drastically changed the already-weak “USA Freedom Act” that was passed by House Judiciary and Intelligence committees before it went to the floor and was rammed through with no amendments and only an hour of debate. As we detail, the NSA and FBI substituted vague language that actually appears to expand the government’s ability to collect massive amounts of data on millions of innocent Americans and others. We talk about concerns that this bad bill will be the only effort at reform, using NSA to deflect attention from possible abuses by the 16 other intelligence agencies.

*Nadia Kayyali was 2012 Legal Fellow at Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this year, where she is an activist on surveillance and related issues.

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Podcast Show #120- ‘What Do We Mean By “Real Reform” When It Comes to the NSA?’

Boiling Frogs Show Presents Cindy Cohn

On this episode of Boiling Frogs Show we are joined by Cindy Cohn, Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as its General Counsel. We discuss the latest developments on NSA, including the recent court ruling by Judge Richard Leon and the usual wishy-washy posturing by the U.S. Congress. We have a heated debate on the issue of meaningful versus meaningless reforms when it comes to the government, its strategically appointed so-called panels and its history of meaningless theoretical changes and reforms.

Cindy Cohn is the Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as its General Counsel. Outside the Courts, Ms. Cohn has testified before Congress, been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere for her work on cyberspace issue.

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Weekly Round Up for November 13

National Security Letters, the Deceitful Media & the Convergence of Interests

This week we interviewed Mark Klein, the AT&T whistleblower; the interview should be posted in 3 or 4 weeks. I know you’re going to find it interesting and enlightening. Speaking of AT&T, check out our contributor Ishmael’s informative interview with Jeff Farias here.

I have a few noteworthy tidbits below. Don’t pay attention to their publication dates, since the issues, these cases and reports, are ‘timeless’ in nature.

Another Police State Government Villains & an Irate Minority Fighter Story

MakingsofapolicestateThis week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a privacy watchdog organization, released a comprehensive and eye-opening report on a bogus subpoena issued by a US attorney in Indiana to force Indymedia.us , an independent alternative news site to hand over all the data containing about their users who visited the site on a particular day. Not only that, consistent with other National Security Letters practices, the Justice Department issued gag order to prevent the site from speaking about the subpoena:

The report describes how, earlier this year, U.S. attorneys issued a federal grand jury subpoena to Indymedia.us administrator Kristina Clair demanding “all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" for a particular date, potentially identifying every person who visited any news story on the Indymedia site. As the report explains, this overbroad demand for internet records not only violated federal privacy law but also violated Clair’s First Amendment rights, by ordering her not to disclose the existence of the subpoena without a U.S. attorney’s permission.

Because Indymedia follows EFF’s Best Practices for Online Service Providers and does not keep historical IP logs, there was no information for Indymedia to hand over, and the government withdrew the subpoena. However, as the report describes, that wasn’t the end of the tale: Ms. Clair wanted EFF to be able to tell the story of the subpoena and shine a light on the government’s illegal demand, yet the subpoena ordered silence. Under pressure from EFF, the government admitted that the subpoena’s gag order had no legal basis, and ultimately chose not to go to court to try to force Ms. Clair’s silence despite earlier threats to do so.

This is another story of our government villains determined to butcher the Constitution and speed up our descent towards a police state. This is another example illustrating how government abuses are thriving and expanding in secrecy. In this case, it took an irate, a determined, and a believer in Constitutional Rights, to get up and challenge the attempted despotism. In this particular case, the despotic villains backed down. But as EFF appropriately questions:

How often does the government attempt such illegal fishing expeditions through internet data? How many online service providers have received similarly bogus demands, and handed over how much data, violating how many internet users’ privacy? How many of those subpoena recipients have been intimidated into silence by unconstitutional gag orders?

Let’s hope the number of those who choose to speak up and fight back keeps increasing. But meanwhile, in addition to sitting and wishing and hoping, let us each be one of the irate minority who keeps on fighting until we become the majority, and the villains are restrained and ruled by we the people.

The Deceitful Media Pimping Tyranny

PimpingMediaFreedom daily had a well-presented piece by James Bovard on the US media. I get tons of links and references everyday, and usually all I can do is a quick glance. With this one I was hooked after the first paragraph, and I’m sure those of you who’ve been visiting my site for a while would know why:

Why do politicians so easily get away with telling lies? In large part, because the news media are more interested in bonding with politicians than in exposing them. Americans are encouraged to believe that the media will serve as a check and a balance on the government. Instead, the press too often volunteer as unpaid pimps, helping politicians deceive the public. [Read more...]