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FTR #852 “Think Different”–The Foxes Aren’t Guarding the Henhouse, They ARE the Henhouse: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. [1] The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by 12/19/2014. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #850 [1].  (The previous flash drive was current through the end of May of 2012 and contained FTR #748 [2].)

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You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE [6].

This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment. [7]

[8]

Dylann Roof flies the colors

[9]

Ron Paul

Introduction: Further developing an ad campaign by Silicon Valley icon Apple, we explore the vast gulf between the manufactured public perception of the intelligence operation fronted for by Eddie the Friendly Spook (Snowden.) (Past discussion of the intelligence officers, Nazis, and libertarian/technocratic fascists comprising the cast of characters and institutions comprising the operational landscape of “L’Affaire Snowden,” is in previous shows and posts about this event. We can’t begin to encapsulate the material here.)

[10]Beginning with discussion of the Charleston shooting, we note Ron Paul’s establishment of a template [11] for the Trayvon Martin shooting (one of the apparent influences on Dylann Roof. Advocating such behavior in his newsletter, Paul generated legal and ideological gravitas for the type of “lone wolf/leaderless resistance stratagem embodied in the Charleston massacre.

For years, Glenn Greenwald did legal work that, in effect, ran interference for the “leaderless resistance” strategy that was so much in evidence in Charleston.

Recent news has offered up a grimly instructive juxtaposition. As Glenn Greenwald and his associates in the Snowden “op” continue to bask in the glow of professional awards granted them, Dylann Roof has put into action the type of behavior advocated by Greenwald’s legal clients.

(A big supporter of George W. Bush in the early part of the last decade, Greenwald became an attorney for, and a fellow-traveler of, some of the most murderous Nazis in the country.)

As we have seen in FTR #754 [12] and several posts [13], Greenwald defended Matthew Hale against solicitation of murder [14] charges. Greenwald ran interference [15] for the “leaderless resistance strategy.” [16] In particular, Greenwald provided apposite legal assistance for the National Alliance.

Leaderless resistance is an operational doctrine through which individual Nazis and white supremacists perform acts of violence against their perceived enemies, individually, or in very small groups. Acting in accordance with doctrine espoused by luminaries and leaders in their movement, they avoid infiltration by law enforcement by virtue of their “lone wolf” operational strategy.

What Roof [allegedly] did is pre­cisely the sort of thing advo­cated by the “Lead­er­less Resis­tance” strategy.

The advo­cates of this sort of thing, such as Cit­i­zen Greenwald’s client The National Alliance (pub­lisher of  The Turner Diaries,” which pro­vided the oper­a­tional tem­plate for David Lane’s associates The Order) have been shielded (to an extent) from civil suits hold­ing them to account for their mur­der­ous advo­cacy.

National Alliance’s books are specifically intended as instructional vehicles. Hunteis dedicated to convicted murderer Joseph Paul Franklin and was specifically designed as a “How To” manual for lone-wolf, white supremacist killers like Roof.

Note, also, that the “fourteen words” of Order member David Lane are the inspiration [17] for “Combat 14,” the paramilitary wing of the Ukrainian fascist group Svoboda [18], one of the OUN/B heirs that came to power as a result of the Maidan coup of 2014. Lane drove the getaway car when “The Order”–explicitly inspired by “The Turner Diaries”–murdered Denver talk show host Alan Berg.

The “fourteen words” were also an influence on Roof.

We should note that what Greenwald did is NOT a ques­tion of out­law­ing free speech, as he implied. When the ACLU defended the Amer­i­can Nazi Party in their attempt to march in Skokie, Illi­nois (a Chicago sub­urb with a sizable Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion), it did so on the grounds of con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected free speech.

Pre-Greenwald, advo­cat­ing vio­lence along the lines of what National Van­guard Books (the NA’s pub­lish­ing arm) does was(and is) still legal.

How­ever, IF some­one was advo­cat­ing vio­lence against minori­ties, “racial ene­mies,” etc. and some­one can be demon­strated to have acted on the basis of such exhor­ta­tions, the author of the exhor­ta­tion to vio­lence could be held respon­si­ble for the con­se­quences of their actions.

The con­se­quences can result in large legal damages.

This is sound law. It doesn’t say you can’t say such things, how­ever if you do, and that causes harm or death to oth­ers, you ARE RESPONSIBLE.

If some­one leaves a rake on their prop­erty with the teeth fac­ing upward and some­one steps on it and is injured, the prop­erty owner bears civil lia­bil­ity for their actions.

That is the legal prin­ci­ple under which the National Ali­iance, et al were being sued.

In connection with “L’Affaire Snowden,” we noted that in the background [19] of The Peachfuzz Fascist (Snowden), one finds elements that advocate slavery, including the League of the South and other elements of the neo-Confederate movement, which apparently inspired Dylann Roof.

Snowden was an admirer of Ron Paul, to whose campaign he contributed and whose views he parrots. Ron Paul is inextricably linked with the neo-Confederate movement. Jack Hunter–a former head of the League of the South and a current aide to his son Rand Paul–was the chief blogger for Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign.

Bruce Fein, the top legal counsel for Paul’s 2012 campaign was the first attorney for Eddie the Friendly Spook and is the attorney for the Snowden family.

In a 1992 edition of his newsletter, Snowden’s political idol Ron Paul advocated [11] that whites arm themselves and shoot black men. In so doing, he helped to set the template for George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin. That killing appears to have been a major influence on Dylan Roof.

We note the presence at a student libertarian [20] conference of both Ron Paul and Edward Snowden (being skyped in).

The group is very close to Peter Thiel, Palanthir, the Koch Brothers, the Prince of Liechtenstein and Fox News personalities, among others.

Most of the program notes developments in Big Tech’s Brave New World which, in the absence of appropriate regulatory oversight and appropriate security, may have terrifying consequences.

Program Highlights Include: The development [21] of high-quality (and possibly illegal) facial recognition technology  by Microsoft and Facebook, among others; a number of stories about the possibility of hacking [22] into the electronics of, and possibly hijacking [23] or sabotaging, a jet airliner, using a smartphone; new technology being developed by Apple [24] to permit the monitoring of vital signs and other critical, intimate health information; nanotechnology being developed by Google [25] permitting the introduction of microelectronics into the bloodstream to monitor for signs of cancer or heart disease; Google’s efforts [26], along with those of the Koch Brothers and Facebook, to fund institutions trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act; potentially catastrophic [27] consequences of criminal technocrats abusing the emerging wonders being developed by Big Tech; review of the concept of technocratic fascism [28] as considered in the context of the above developments.

1a. Recent news has offered up a grimly instructive juxtaposition. As Glenn Greenwald and his associates in the Snowden “op” continue to bask in the glow of professional awards granted them, Dylann Roof has put into action the type of behavior advocated by Greenwald’s legal clients.

A  big supporter of George W. Bush in the early part of the last decade, Greenwald became an attorney for, and a fellow-traveler of, some of the most murderous Nazis in the country.)

As we have seen in FTR #754 [12] and several posts [13], Greenwald defended Matthew Hale against solicitation of murder [14] charges. Greenwald ran interference [15] for the “leaderless resistance strategy.” [16] In particular, Greenwald provided apposite legal assistance for the National Alliance.

“Bal­ti­more & The Walk­ing Dead” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 5/1/2015. [11]

. . . . So when Rand Paul went on Laura Ingraham’s radio pro­gram to blame Bal­ti­more on black cul­ture and val­ues and “lack of fathers,” [29] the lib­er­tar­ian whom Time [30] called “the most inter­est­ing man in pol­i­tics” was merely rehash­ing 25-year-old main­stream Repub­l­i­crat big­otries, the very same big­oted, wrong assump­tions that led to all the dis­as­trous poli­cies we’re now pay­ing for today.

Which brings me to the Lib­er­tar­i­ans of 1992.

After Fer­gu­son exploded last year, Lib­er­tar­i­ans posi­tioned them­selves as the only polit­i­cal force that had no blood on their hands, the only polit­i­cal force that was “prin­ci­pled” enough through­out the past few decades to offer the right analy­ses — and the right solu­tions — to the prob­lems faced by peo­ple now ris­ing up in Baltimore.

In 1992, the most famous lib­er­tar­ian of all, Ron Paul, was still between Con­gres­sional stints when [the riots in] Los Ange­les erupted, but he did run a prof­itable lib­er­tar­ian newslet­ter, “The Ron Paul Polit­i­cal Report,” to keep his ideas alive. Shortly after the LA riots, Ron Paul put out a “Spe­cial Issue on Racial Ter­ror­ism” [31]offer­ing his lib­er­tar­ian analy­sis of what he termed black “terrorism”:

“The crim­i­nals who ter­ror­ize our cities—in riots and on every non-riot day—are not exclu­sively young black males, but they largely are. As chil­dren, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppres­sion is respon­si­ble for all black ills, to ‘fight the power,’ to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as pos­si­ble.

“The cause of the riots is plain: bar­barism. If the bar­bar­ians can­not loot suf­fi­ciently through legal chan­nels (i.e., the riots being the welfare-state minus the middle-man), they resort to ille­gal ones, to ter­ror­ism. Trou­ble is, few seem will­ing to stop them. The cops have been handcuffed. . . .

. . . .“We are con­stantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irra­tional. Black men com­mit mur­ders, rapes, rob­beries, mug­gings, and bur­glar­ies all out of pro­por­tion to their num­bers.”

“I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in [major U.S. cities] are semi-criminal or entirely crim­i­nal.”A few months later, in Octo­ber 1992 [32], Dr. Paul explained how he taught his own family—presumably includ­ing his favorite son, Rand Paul—how to defend them­selves and even mur­der what Dr. Paul called “hip-hop” car­jack­ers, “the urban youth who play unsus­pect­ing whites like pianos”:

“What can you do? More and more Amer­i­cans are car­ry­ing a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene imme­di­ately, dis­pos­ing of the wiped off gun as soon as pos­si­ble. Such a gun can­not, of course, be reg­is­tered to you, but one bought pri­vately (through the clas­si­fieds, for example.).

Beyond that, the Lib­er­tar­ian Party’s polit­i­cal solu­tion to African-American poverty and injus­tice was to abol­ish all wel­fare pro­grams, pub­lic schools, and anti-discrimination laws like the Civil Rights Act. This was the solu­tion pro­moted by an up-and-coming lib­er­tar­ian, Jacob Hornberger—who this week co-hosted an event [33] with RON PAUL and GLENN GREENWALD. Horn­berger believes that 19th cen­tury ante­bel­lum slave-era Amer­ica was “the freest soci­ety in his­tory” [34]. . . 

1b. Tthe Students For Liberty is a libertarian group funded by the Koch brothers and with the Prince of Liechtenstein on its advisory board. Peter Thiel is closely connected to this organization.

“Snowden Praised for Fighting Government Surveillance by Group that LOVES Corporate Surveillance” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 2/20/2015. [20]

. . . . All of which makes it slightly shocking to discover the identity of another recent winner of Students For Liberty’s big award: Peter Thiel [35], the founder of one of the NSA’s biggest contractors, Palantir Technologies. If a government is trying to dig through private records and aggregate a dossier, Palantir is the companythey call [36]. . . .

. . . . So what exactly is “Students For Liberty”? According to its website [37], “Students For Liberty has grown into the largest libertarian student organization in the world, with over 800 student leaders supporting over 1,350 student groups representing over 100,000 students on all inhabited continents.”

Like most of the libertarian nomenklatura, this group gets most of its money from the Koch brothers. Google, another corporation which has worked closely with the US government [38], recently joined the list of big corporate sponsors [39]. SFL’s Board of Advisors includes such heroes of freedom as “His Serene Highness Prince von Liechtenstein” [40] — whose royal family rules over an exclusive offshore banking tax haven [41] favored by global billionaires [42] who think Switzerland is too transparent. . . .

Indeed, Thiel’s presence was everywhere at the Students For Liberty schmoozer this year, even if the man himself was absent. After Snowden’s skyped appearance, libertarian celebrity Ron Paul took the stage with longtime Cato Institute board director [43] and FoxNews truther [44] Andrew Napolitano. Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign [45] for president — supported by Snowden [46] and Greenwald [47] — was almost entirely funded by Peter Thiel [45].

The following night, Students For Liberty featured Ron Paul’s stubby heir, Sen. Rand Paul — whose run for president in 2016 is being funded by Thiel’s co-founder at Palantir, Joe Lonsdale [48], who serves on Rand Paul’s finance team and co-hosted Silicon Valley fundraisers.

In 2011, Palantir sponsored [49] the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Awards [50], whose illustrious list of winners includes Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the Tor Project, and EFF co-founder Mitch Kapor as well as EFF Fellow Cory Doctorow [51]. . . .

2.  About Dylann Roof’s manifesto, noting the references to the fourteen words and the apparent influence of the Trayvon Martin shooting on the development of the shooter’s ideological and operational orientation.

“Charleston Suspect Dylan Roof’s Manifesto Discovered Online” by Jason Sickles, Liz Goodwin and Michael Walsh; Yahoo News; 6/20/2015. [52]

A website surfaced Saturday featuring a racist and rambling manifesto and dozens of photos of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof posing with white supremacy symbols and the Confederate flag.

Roof, 21, remains jailed on nine counts of murder [53] for allegedly opening fire in the historically African-American Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday.

Who authored the manifesto or posted the images is not officially known. But through online registration records, Yahoo News confirmed the website’s domain, lastrhodesian.com, was started by a Dylann Roof of Eastover, S.C. on Feb. 9. The street address used is the same that Roof has given authorities since he was captured in Shelby, N.C. on Thursday. Of Feb. 10, the registration information was purposely obscured.

The webpage traces its author’s path toward strong beliefs in white supremacy and says the moment of “awakening” was the race debate ignited after the shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin. The rambling text ends with the author’s statement that it’s time to take the beliefs expressed, “to the real world.”

“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet.
Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me,” it reads.

While they are rare, retired FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole said killer manifestos are all about “the writings of a very narcissistic, arrogant individual.”

“They feel this need to tell the world how they were wronged,” O’Toole said. “It’s like they have to shove our nose into why they are entitled into what it is they are going to do.”

O’Toole, who has seen hundreds of manifestos during her career studying killers, read the document posted to Roof’s website at the request of Yahoo News.

While not vouching for it’s authenticity, O’Toole described it as shallow and likely plagiarized.

“The themes don’t indicate that this person is spending a lot of time to do research,” said O’Toole, who now directs the Forensic Science Program at George Mason University [54].

The 2,444-word manifesto jumps from topic to topic addressing, among other things, patriotism, blacks, Jews, Hispanics and Asians.

“He’s trying to weave like a quilt of those themes that he went out in search of,” O’Toole said. “Which tells me that whoever the author is had preexisting opinions and ideas … and then you go to the Internet to get a little bit of this and a little bit of that to fuel what you already believe and already think.”

The New York Times, reports that according to web server logs, the manifesto was last modified at 4:44 p.m. ET on Wednesday, about four hours before the Charleston shootings.

“Unfortunately at the time of writing I am in a great hurry and some of my best thoughts, actually many of them have been to be left out and lost forever. But I believe enough great White minds are out there already. Please forgive any typos, I didnt have time to check it.”

Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family and a leading national voice in civil rights issues, said he was troubled to learn the manifesto mentioned Martin case.

“Regardless of how this demented, racist individual attempts to shift the focus of his murderous actions, we will remain steadfast in our defense of the voiceless around this country,” Crump said in a statement. “They need it now more than ever. My thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of this terrible tragedy and the Charleston community.”

Dozens of images posted to the site show Roof in historic locations like a Confederate soldier cemetery and a slave burial ground.

In one image, the suspected gunman is posed on the beach wearing the same clothes he is seen wearing on surveillance footage as he entered the chruch on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if this image was taken the same day as the shooting, but if so, it would show that Roof took time to visit the beach, scratch the racist symbol 1488 in the sand and photograph himself before allegedly traveling to Charleston.

The symbol 1488, shown in Roof’s photos, is a number that has been adopted by white supremacists, according to the Southern [55]Poverty Law Center’s Racist Skinhead Glossary [55].

The “88” refers to H, the eighth letter of the alphabet and is a symbol for “Heil Hitler.” The “14” refers to a 14-word slogan popularized by David Lane, a white supremacist serving a 190-year sentence in the murder of a Jewish talk show host. The slogain is: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The manifesto website was first discovered by two Twitter users – Emma Quangel [56] and Henry Krinkle [57] — who used a Reverse Whois search on domaintools.com to find the site registered under Roof’s name.

Quangel, who identifies as a Communist, tweeted [58] that it is her “solemn duty and obligation to hate and fight racism with every inch of [her] being!”

The site’s title is a reference to an unrecognized state in Africa, in a region that is now Zimbabwe, during the 1960s and ’70s that was controlled by a white minority.

White supremacists have idealized this era and the Rhodesian flag has been used as a racist symbol.

One of the first photos circulated of Roof shows the 21-yare-old suspect wearing a jacket adorned with flag patches for both Apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia.

Also included in the trove of images on the site are photos of a Glock .45-caliber pistol, which has been identified as the same type of gun that was used in the shooting. Roof reportedly purchased the weapon in April for his 21st birthday with money give to him as a gift by his father.

Some of the pictures were taken at the Sankofa Burial Grounds [59] for slaves on the McLeod Plantation in Charleston.

Others appear to have been taken at the Boone Hall plantation [60] in Mt Pleasant, S.C., and the Museum and Library of Confederate History in Greenville, S.C.

The author of the manifesto said that he did not grow up in a racist home or environment. Roof’s family broke their silence Friday by releasing a statement [61] extending their sympathies victims’ families.

“Words cannot express our shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night,” it reads.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed this week. We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims’ families offering God’s forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering.”

3a. Front and center in the neo-Confederate movement is the League of the South, an organization with ties to both Ron and Rand Paul.

“Charleston Shoot­ing Sus­pect Left Racist Man­i­festo on Web site, Author­i­ties Say” by Lenny Bern­stein, Sari Hor­witz and Peter Holley; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 6/20/2015. [62]

. . . . . Pat Hines, the South Car­olina state chair­man of the League of the South, an orga­ni­za­tion that wants South­ern states to secede from the United States, said Roof did not appear to belong to any white suprema­cist groups and could have been indoc­tri­nated on the Internet. . . .

4. Imag­ine a world where per­son­al­ized ads based on your browsing/purchasing his­tory don’t sim­ply show up on the web pages you’re read­ing, but actu­ally show up on a bill­board with facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy. Sound good? Hope­fully it does, because Microsoft has already patented the idea.

Facebook–with Peter Thiel as its largest stockholder–is already using facial recognition technology.

“Facial Recog­ni­tion Tech­nol­ogy Is Every­where. It May not Be Legal.”  [21]by Ben Sobel; Wash­ing­ton Post; [21] 6/11/2015. [21]

Ben Sobel is a researcher and incom­ing Google Pol­icy Fel­low at the Cen­ter on Pri­vacy & Tech­nol­ogy at George­town Law.

Being anony­mous in pub­lic might be a thing of the past. Facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy is already being deployed to let brick-and-mortar stores scan the face of every shop­per, iden­tify [63] return­ing cus­tomers and offer them indi­vid­u­al­ized pric­ing — or find “pre-identified shoplifters” and “known liti­gious indi­vid­u­als.” Microsoft has patented [64] a bill­board that iden­ti­fies you as you walk by and serves ads per­son­al­ized to your pur­chase his­tory. An app called NameTag claims it can iden­tify peo­ple on the street just by look­ing at them through Google Glass.

Pri­vacy advo­cates and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from com­pa­nies like Face­book and Google are meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day to try to set rules for how com­pa­nies should use this pow­er­ful tech­nol­ogy. They may be for­get­ting that a good deal of it could already be illegal.

There are no fed­eral laws that specif­i­cally gov­ern the use of facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy. But while few peo­ple know it, and even fewer are talk­ing about it, both Illi­nois and Texas have laws against using such tech­nol­ogy to iden­tify peo­ple with­out their informed con­sent. That means that one out of every eight Amer­i­cans cur­rently has a legal right to bio­met­ric privacy.

The Illi­nois law is fac­ing the most pub­lic test to date of what its pro­tec­tions mean for facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy. A law­suit filed in Illi­nois trial court in April alleges Face­book vio­lates the state’s Bio­met­ric Infor­ma­tion Pri­vacy Act by tak­ing users’ faceprints “with­out even inform­ing its users — let alone obtain­ing their informed writ­ten con­sent.” This suit, Licata v. Face­bookcould reshape Facebook’s prac­tices for get­ting user con­sent, and may even influ­ence the expan­sion of facial recog­ni­tion technology.

How common—and how accurate—is facial recog­ni­tion technology?

You may not be walk­ing by ads that address you by name, but odds are that your facial geom­e­try is already being ana­lyzed reg­u­larly. Law enforce­ment agen­cies deploy [65] facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy in pub­lic and can iden­tify some­one by search­ing a bio­met­ric data­base that con­tains infor­ma­tion on as many as one-third of Amer­i­cans. [66]

Com­pa­nies like Face­book and Google rou­tinely col­lect facial recog­ni­tion data from their users, too. (Facebook’s sys­tem is on by default; Google’s only works if you opt in to it.) Their tech­nol­ogy may be even more accu­rate than the government’s. Google’s FaceNet algo­rithm can iden­tify faces with 99.63 per­cent accu­racy [67]. Facebook’s algo­rithm, Deep­Face, gets a 97.25 per­cent rat­ing. The FBI, on the other hand, has roughly [66]85 per­cent accu­racy in iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial matches—though, admit­tedly, the pho­tographs it han­dles may be harder to ana­lyze than those used by the social net­works.

Face­book and Google use facial recog­ni­tion to detect when a user appears in a pho­to­graph and to sug­gest that he or she be tagged. Face­book calls this “Tag Sug­ges­tions” and explains [68] it as fol­lows: “We cur­rently use facial recog­ni­tion soft­ware that uses an algo­rithm to cal­cu­late a unique num­ber (“tem­plate”) based on someone’s facial features…This tem­plate is based on your pro­file pic­tures and pho­tos you’ve been tagged in on Face­book.” Once it has built this tem­plate, Tag Sug­ges­tions ana­lyzes pho­tos uploaded by your friends to see if your face appears in them. If its algo­rithm detects your face, Face­book can encour­age the uploader to tag you.

With the boom in per­son­al­ized adver­tis­ing tech­nol­ogy, a facial recog­ni­tion data­base of its users is likely very, very valu­able to Face­book. The com­pany hasn’t dis­closed the size of its faceprint repos­i­tory, but it does acknowl­edge that it has more than 250 bil­lion [69] user-uploaded pho­tos — with 350 mil­lion more uploaded every day. The direc­tor of engi­neer­ing at Facebook’s AI research lab recently sug­gested [70] that this infor­ma­tion was “the biggest human dataset in the world.”

Eager to extract that value, Face­book signed users up by default when it intro­duced Tag Sug­ges­tions in 2011. This meant that Face­book cal­cu­lated faceprints for every user who didn’t take the steps to opt out. The Tag Sug­ges­tions roll­out prompted Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to worry that “Face­book may have cre­ated the world’s largest pri­vately held data base of faceprints— with­out the explicit con­sent of its users.” Tag Sug­ges­tions was more con­tro­ver­sial in Europe, where Face­book com­mit­ted [71] to stop using facial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy after Euro­pean reg­u­la­tors complained.

The intro­duc­tion of Tag Sug­ges­tions is what’s at issue in the Illi­nois law­suit. In Illi­nois, com­pa­nies have to inform users when­ever bio­met­ric infor­ma­tion is being col­lected, explain the pur­pose of the col­lec­tion and dis­close how long they’ll keep the data. Once informed, users must pro­vide “writ­ten release” that they con­sent to the data col­lec­tion. Only after receiv­ing this writ­ten con­sent may com­pa­nies obtain bio­met­ric infor­ma­tion, includ­ing scans of facial geometry.

Face­book declined to com­ment on the law­suit and has not filed a writ­ten response in court.

It’s unclear whether today’s par­a­digm for con­sent — click­ing a “Sign Up” but­ton that attests you’ve read and agreed to a lengthy pri­vacy pol­icy — ful­fills the require­ments writ­ten into the Illi­nois law. It’s also unclear whether the statute will cover the Tag Sug­ges­tions data that Face­book derives from pho­tographs. If the law does apply, Face­book could be on the hook for sig­nif­i­cant finan­cial penal­ties. This case is one of the first appli­ca­tions of the Illi­nois law to facial recog­ni­tion, and it will set a hugely impor­tant prece­dent for con­sumer privacy.

Why bio­met­ric pri­vacy laws?

Bio­met­ric infor­ma­tion like face geom­e­try is high-stakes data because it encodes phys­i­cal prop­er­ties that are immutable, or at least very hard to con­ceal. More­over, unlike other bio­met­rics, faceprints are easy to col­lect remotely and sur­rep­ti­tiously by stak­ing out a pub­lic place with a decent cam­era [72].

On the other hand, the Illi­nois law was gal­va­nized by a few high-profile inci­dents of in-state col­lec­tion of fin­ger­print data. Most notably, a com­pany called Pay By Touch had installed machines in super­mar­kets across Illi­nois that allowed cus­tomers to pay by a fin­ger­print scan, which was linked to their bank and credit card infor­ma­tion. Pay By Touch sub­se­quently went bank­rupt, and its liq­ui­da­tion prompted con­cerns [73] about what might hap­pen to its data­base of bio­met­ric infor­ma­tion. James Ferg-Cadima, a for­mer attor­ney with the ACLU of Illi­nois who worked on draft­ing and lob­by­ing for the BIPA, told me that “the orig­i­nal vision of the bill was tied to the spe­cific issue that was pre­sent­ing itself across Illi­nois, and that was the deploy­ing of thumbprint technologies…”

“Oddly enough,” Ferg-Cadima added, “this was a bill where there was lit­tle voice from the pri­vate busi­ness sec­tor.” This cor­po­rate indif­fer­ence might be a thing of the past. Tech com­pa­nies of all stripes have grown more and more inter­ested in bio­met­rics. They’ve become more polit­i­cally pow­er­ful, too: For instance, Facebook’s fed­eral lob­by­ing expen­di­tures grew from $207,878 in 2009 to $9,340,000 in 2014.

Test­ing the Illi­nois law

The cru­cial ques­tion here is whether the Illi­nois and Texas laws can be applied to today’s most com­mon uses of bio­met­ric iden­ti­fiers. What real-world busi­ness prac­tices would meet the stan­dard of informed con­sent that Illi­nois law requires for bio­met­ric data collection?

When asked about the pri­vacy law cited in the Licata case, Jay Edel­son, the man­ag­ing part­ner of the firm rep­re­sent­ing the plain­tiff, said, “The key thing to under­stand is that almost all pri­vacy statutes are really con­sent statutes.” The law­suit stands to deter­mine pre­cisely what kind of con­sent the Illi­nois law demands.

If the court finds that Face­book can be sued for vio­lat­ing the Illi­nois bio­met­rics law, and that its opt-out con­sent frame­work for Tag Sug­ges­tions vio­lated the law, it may upend the prac­tices of one of the world’s largest Inter­net com­pa­nies, one that is pos­si­bly the sin­gle largest user of com­mer­cial facial recog­ni­tion tech­nology. And if the law­suit fails for one rea­son or another, it would empha­size that reg­u­la­tion of facial recog­ni­tion needs to take place on a fed­eral level if it is to hap­pen at all. Either way, there’s a chance this law­suit will end up shap­ing the future of facial recog­ni­tion technology.

5. Want to earn a mil­lion free miles from United Air­lines? You can do it. Just find a vul­ner­a­bil­ity that allows you to remotely exe­cute code on the flight sys­tems. Unless the vul­ner­a­bil­ity involves hack­ing in through the onboard enter­tain­ment sys­tems. That will get a much crap­pier reward in the form of a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion [22]:

“United Will Reward Peo­ple Who Flag Secu­rity Flaws—Sort Of” by Kim Zetter; Wired [22]; 5/14/2015. [22]

United Air­lines announced this week that it’s launch­ing a bug bounty pro­gram invit­ing researchers to report bugs in its web­sites, apps and online portals.

The announce­ment comes weeks after the air­line kicked a secu­rity researcher off of one of its flights [74] for tweet­ing about vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the Wi-Fi and enter­tain­ment net­works of cer­tain mod­els of United planes made by Boe­ing and Airbus.

It’s believed to be the first bounty pro­gram offered by an air­line. But curi­ously, United’s announce­ment doesn’t invite researchers to sub­mit the most cru­cial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties researchers could find—those dis­cov­ered in onboard com­puter net­works, such as the Wi-Fi and enter­tain­ment sys­tems. In fact, the bounty pro­gram specif­i­cally excludes “bugs on onboard Wi-Fi, enter­tain­ment sys­tems or avion­ics” and United notes that “[a]ny test­ing on air­craft or air­craft sys­tems such as inflight enter­tain­ment or inflight Wi-Fi” could result in a crim­i­nal investigation.

“At United, we take your safety, secu­rity and pri­vacy seri­ously. We uti­lize best prac­tices and are con­fi­dent that our sys­tems are secure,” United’s announce­ment [75] reads.

Researchers who report vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the airline’s web sites or apps, how­ever, will be rewarded. how much cash will they receive? None. Instead United will pay out in mileage points. The awards range from 50,000 points for cross-site script­ing bugs to 1 mil­lion for high-severity vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could allow an attacker to con­duct remote-code exe­cu­tion on a United sys­tem. For com­par­i­son, most bug bounty pro­grams offered by com­pa­nies like Google, Microsoft and Face­book pay researchers cash rang­ing from $1,500 to more than $200,000, depend­ing on the type and sever­ity of the vulnerability.

The Recent Flap That Prompted the Bounty Program

Last month, we wrote exten­sively [74] about secu­rity researcher Chris Roberts, who was detained by FBI agents in New York and later banned from a United flight. Roberts was fly­ing a United Air­lines Boe­ing 737–800 from Chicago to Syra­cuse when news broke of a gov­ern­ment report describ­ing poten­tial secu­rity holes in Boe­ing and Air­bus planes. The report from the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office noted that secu­rity issues with pas­sen­ger Wi-Fi net­works [76] on sev­eral mod­els of air­craft could allow hack­ers to access crit­i­cal avion­ics sys­tems and hijack the flight controls.

Roberts, a respected cyber­se­cu­rity pro­fes­sional with One World Labs [77] had been research­ing the secu­rity of air­line onboard net­works since 2009 and had reported vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties to Boe­ing and Air­bus, to lit­tle effect. In response to the GAO report, he sent out a tweet from the air say­ing, “Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM,? Shall we start play­ing with EICAS mes­sages? ‘PASS OXYGEN ON’ Any­one?.” He punc­tu­ated the tweet with a smi­ley face.

His tweet about the Engine Indi­ca­tor Crew Alert Sys­tem, or EICAS, was a ref­er­ence to research he’d done years ago on vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in inflight info­tain­ment networks—vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to access cabin con­trols and deploy a plane’s oxy­gen masks.

When Roberts landed in Syra­cuse, he was met by two FBI agents and two Syra­cuse police offi­cers who seized his com­puter and other elec­tron­ics and detained him for an inter­ro­ga­tion that lasted sev­eral hours. When Roberts attempted to board another United flight to San Fran­cisco days later, he was barred by the air­line and had to book a flight with Southwest.

Although Roberts says he did not explore the United net­works dur­ing his flight to Syra­cuse, he had pre­vi­ously admit­ted to the FBI months ear­lier dur­ing a sep­a­rate inter­view that in past flights he had indeed explored onboard net­works of planes while he was inflight.

Fol­low­ing his inter­ro­ga­tion in Syra­cuse, the FBI and TSA issued a warn­ing to all air­lines [78] to be on the look­out for pas­sen­gers attempt­ing to hack into onboard net­works through Wi-Fi or the media sys­tems below air­plane seats.

6. Yes, fly­ing the friendly skies just got friend­lier for air­line IT secu­rity experts. Unless, of course, those air­line secu­rity experts jok­ingly tweet about how they might shut the oxy­gen off and then tell the feds about how they’ve pre­vi­ously taken con­trol of planes via the enter­tain­ment sys­tems: [23]

“Feds Say That Banned Researcher Com­man­deered a Plane” by Kim Zetter; Wired [23]; 5/15/2015.

A secu­rity researcher kicked off a United Air­lines flight last month after tweet­ing about secu­rity vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in its sys­tem had pre­vi­ously taken con­trol of an air­plane and caused it to briefly fly side­ways, accord­ing to an appli­ca­tion for a search war­rant filed by an FBI agent.

Chris Roberts, a secu­rity researcher with One World Labs, told the FBI agent dur­ing an inter­view in Feb­ru­ary that he had hacked the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, or IFE, on an air­plane and over­wrote code on the plane’s Thrust Man­age­ment Com­puter while aboard the flight. He was able to issue a climb com­mand and make the plane briefly change course, the doc­u­ment states.

“He stated that he thereby caused one of the air­plane engines to climb result­ing in a lat­eral or side­ways move­ment of the plane dur­ing one of these flights,” FBI Spe­cial Agent Mark Hur­ley wrote in his war­rant appli­ca­tion [79] (.pdf). “He also stated that he used Vor­tex soft­ware after comprising/exploiting or ‘hack­ing’ the airplane’s net­works. He used the soft­ware to mon­i­tor traf­fic from the cock­pit system.”

Hur­ley filed the search war­rant appli­ca­tion last month after Roberts was removed from a United Air­lines flight from Chicago to Syra­cuse, New York, because he pub­lished a face­tious tweet sug­gest­ing he might hack into the plane’s net­work. Upon land­ing in Syra­cuse, two FBI agents and two local police offi­cers escorted him from the plane and inter­ro­gated him for sev­eral hours. They also seized two lap­top com­put­ers and sev­eral hard dri­ves and USB sticks. Although the agents did not have a war­rant when they seized the devices, they told Roberts a war­rant was pending.

A media out­let in Canada obtained the appli­ca­tion for the war­rant today and pub­lished it online [80].

The infor­ma­tion out­lined in the war­rant appli­ca­tion reveals a far more seri­ous sit­u­a­tion than Roberts has pre­vi­ously disclosed.

Roberts had pre­vi­ously told WIRED that he caused a plane to climb dur­ing a sim­u­lated test on a vir­tual envi­ron­ment he and a col­league cre­ated, but he insisted then that he had not inter­fered with the oper­a­tion of a plane while in flight.

He told WIRED that he did access in-flight net­works about 15 times dur­ing var­i­ous flights but had not done any­thing beyond explore the net­works and observe data traf­fic cross­ing them. Accord­ing to the FBI affi­davit, how­ever, when he men­tioned this to agents last Feb­ru­ary he told them that he also had briefly com­man­deered a plane dur­ing one of those flights.

He told the FBI that the period in which he accessed the in-flight net­works more than a dozen times occurred between 2011 and 2014. The affi­davit, how­ever, does not indi­cate exactly which flight he allegedly caused to turn to fly to the side.

He obtained phys­i­cal access to the net­works through the Seat Elec­tronic Box, or SEB. These are installed two to a row, on each side of the aisle under pas­sen­ger seats, on cer­tain planes. After remov­ing the cover to the SEB by “wig­gling and Squeez­ing the box,” Roberts told agents he attached a Cat6 eth­er­net cable, with a mod­i­fied con­nec­tor, to the box and to his lap­top and then used default IDs and pass­words to gain access to the inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tem. Once on that net­work, he was able to gain access to other sys­tems on the planes.

Reac­tion in the secu­rity com­mu­nity to the new rev­e­la­tions in the affi­davit have been harsh. Although Roberts hasn’t been charged yet with any crime, and there are ques­tions about whether his actions really did cause the plane to list to the side or he sim­ply thought they did, a num­ber of secu­rity researchers have expressed shock that he attempted to tam­per with a plane dur­ing a flight.

“I find it really hard to believe but if that is the case he deserves going to jail,” wrote Jaime Blasco, direc­tor of Alien­Vault Labs in a tweet.

Alex Sta­mos, chief infor­ma­tion secu­rity offi­cer of Yahoo, wrote in a tweet, “You can­not pro­mote the (true) idea that secu­rity research ben­e­fits human­ity while defend­ing research that endan­gered hun­dreds of innocents.” …

Roberts, reached by phone after the FBI doc­u­ment was made pub­lic, told WIRED that he had already seen it last month but wasn’t expect­ing it to go pub­lic today.

“My biggest con­cern is obvi­ously with the mul­ti­ple con­ver­sa­tions that I had with the author­i­ties,” he said. “I’m obvi­ously con­cerned those were held behind closed doors and appar­ently they’re no longer behind closed doors.”

Although he wouldn’t respond directly to ques­tions about whether he had hacked that pre­vi­ous flight men­tioned in the affi­davit, he said the para­graph in the FBI doc­u­ment dis­cussing this is out of context.

“That para­graph that’s in there is one para­graph out of a lot of dis­cus­sions, so there is con­text that is obvi­ously miss­ing which obvi­ously I can’t say any­thing about,” he said. “It would appear from what I’ve seen that the fed­eral guys took one para­graph out of a lot of dis­cus­sions and a lot of meet­ings and notes and just chose that one as opposed to plenty of others.”

His­tory of Research­ing Planes

Roberts began inves­ti­gat­ing avi­a­tion secu­rity about six years ago after he and a research col­league got hold of pub­licly avail­able flight man­u­als and wiring dia­grams for var­i­ous planes. The doc­u­ments showed how inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tems one some planes were con­nected to the pas­sen­ger satel­lite phone net­work, which included func­tions for oper­at­ing some cabin con­trol sys­tems. These sys­tems were in turn con­nected to the plane avion­ics sys­tems. They built a test lab using demo soft­ware obtained from info­tain­ment ven­dors and oth­ers in order to explore what they could to the networks.

In 2010, Roberts gave a pre­sen­ta­tion about hack­ing planes and cars at the BSides secu­rity con­fer­ence in Las Vegas. Another pre­sen­ta­tion fol­lowed two years later. He also spoke directly to air­plane man­u­fac­tur­ers about the prob­lems with their sys­tems. “We had con­ver­sa­tions with two main air­plane builders as well as with two of the top providers of info­tain­ment sys­tems and it never went any­where,” he told WIRED last month.

Last Feb­ru­ary, the FBI in Den­ver, where Roberts is based, requested a meet­ing. They dis­cussed his research for an hour, and returned a cou­ple weeks later for a dis­cus­sion that lasted sev­eral more hours. They wanted to know what was pos­si­ble and what exactly he and his col­league had done. Roberts dis­closed that he and his col­league had sniffed the data traf­fic on more than a dozen flights after con­nect­ing their lap­tops to the info­tain­ment networks.

“We researched fur­ther than that,” he told WIRED last month. “We were within the fuel bal­anc­ing sys­tem and the thrust con­trol sys­tem. We watched the pack­ets and data going across the net­work to see where it was going.”

Even­tu­ally, Roberts and his research part­ner deter­mined that it would take a con­vo­luted set of hacks to seri­ously sub­vert an avion­ics sys­tem, but they believed it could be done. He insisted to WIRED last month, how­ever, that they did not “mess around with that except on sim­u­la­tion sys­tems.” In sim­u­la­tions, for exam­ple, Roberts said they were able to turn the engine con­trols from cruise to climb, “which def­i­nitely had the desired effect on the system—the plane sped up and the nose of the air­plane went up.”

Today he would not respond to ques­tions about the new alle­ga­tions from the FBI that he also messed with the sys­tems dur­ing a real flight.

The Tweet Heard Round the World

Roberts never heard from the FBI again after that Feb­ru­ary visit. His recent trou­bles began after he sent out a Tweet on April 15 while aboard a United Air­lines flight from Den­ver to ChicagoAfter news broke about a report from the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office reveal­ing that pas­sen­ger Wi-Fi net­works on some Boe­ing and Air­bus planes could allow an attacker to gain access to avion­ics sys­tems and com­man­deer a flight, Roberts pub­lished a Tweet that said, “Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM,? Shall we start play­ing with EICAS mes­sages? ‘PASS OXYGEN ON’ Any­one?” He punc­tu­ated the tweet with a smi­ley face.

The tweet was meant as a sar­cas­tic joke; a ref­er­ence to how he had tried for years to get Boe­ing and Air­bus to heed warn­ings about secu­rity issues with their pas­sen­ger com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems. His tweet about the Engine Indi­ca­tor Crew Alert Sys­tem, or EICAS, was a ref­er­ence to research he’d done years ago on vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in inflight info­tain­ment net­works, vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could allow an attacker to access cabin con­trols and deploy a plane’s oxy­gen masks.

In response to his tweet, some­one else tweeted to him “…aaaaaand you’re in jail. :)”

Roberts responded with, “There IS a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity that the course of action laid out above would land me in an orange suite [sic] rather quickly :)”

When an employee with United Air­lines’ Cyber Secu­rity Intel­li­gence Depart­ment became aware of the tweet, he con­tacted the FBI and told agents that Roberts would be on a sec­ond flight going from Chicago to Syra­cuse. Although the par­tic­u­lar plane Roberts was on at the time the agents seized him in New York was not equipped with an inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tem like the kind he had pre­vi­ously told the FBI he had hacked, the plane he had flown ear­lier from Den­ver to Chicago did have the same system.

When an FBI agent later exam­ined that Denver-to-Chicago plane after it landed in another city the same day, he found that the SEBs under the seats where Roberts had been sit­ting “showed signs of tam­per­ing,” accord­ing to the affi­davit. Roberts had been sit­ting in seat 3A and the SEB under 2A, the seat in front of him, “was damaged.”

“The outer cover of the box was open approx­i­mately 1/2 inch and one of the retain­ing screws was not seated and was exposed,” FBI Spe­cial Agent Hur­ley wrote in his affidavit.

Dur­ing the inter­ro­ga­tion in Syra­cuse, Roberts told the agents that he had not com­pro­mised the net­work on the United flight from Den­ver to Chicago. He advised them, how­ever, that he was car­ry­ing thumb dri­ves con­tain­ing mal­ware to com­pro­mise networks—malware that he told them was “nasty.” Also on his lap­top were schemat­ics for the wiring sys­tems of a num­ber of air­plane mod­els. All of this would be stan­dard, how­ever, for a secu­rity researcher who con­ducts penetration-testing and research for a living.

Nonethe­less, based on all of the infor­ma­tion that agents had gleaned from their pre­vi­ous inter­view with Roberts in Feb­ru­ary as well as the Tweets he’d sent out that day and the appar­ent signs of tam­per­ing on the United flight, the FBI believed that Roberts “had the abil­ity and the will­ing­ness to use the equip­ment then with him to access or attempt to access the IFE and pos­si­bly the flight con­trol sys­tems on any air­craft equipped with an IFE sys­tems, and that it would endan­ger pub­lic safety to allow him to leave the Syra­cuse air­port that evening with that equipment.”

When asked by WIRED if he ever con­nected his lap­top to the SEB on his flight from Den­ver to Chicago, Roberts said, “Nope I did not. That I’m happy to say and I’ll stand from the top of the tallest tower and yell that one.”

He also ques­tions the FBI’s assess­ment that the boxes showed signs of tampering.

“Those boxes are under­neath the seats. How many peo­ple shove lug­gage and all sorts of things under there?,” he said. “I’d be inter­ested if they looked at the boxes under all the other seats and if they looked like they had been tam­pered. How many of them are bro­ken and cracked or have scuff marks? How many of those do the air­lines replace because peo­ple shove things under there?”

He obtained phys­i­cal access to the net­works through the Seat Elec­tronic Box, or SEB. These are installed two to a row, on each side of the aisle under pas­sen­ger seats, on cer­tain planes. After remov­ing the cover to the SEB by “wig­gling and Squeez­ing the box,” Roberts told agents he attached a Cat6 eth­er­net cable, with a mod­i­fied con­nec­tor, to the box and to his lap­top and then used default IDs and pass­words to gain access to the inflight enter­tain­ment sys­tem. Once on that net­work, he was able to gain access to other sys­tems on the planes.

7. Here’s a reminder that we’ve been hear­ing sto­ries from secu­rity researchers about hack­ing into planes via their enter­tain­ment sys­tems for a few years now [81]:

“Hacker Says Phone App Could Hijack Plane”  [81]by Doug Gross; CNN [81]; 4/12/2013. [81]

Could this be the dead­liest smart­phone app ever?

A Ger­man secu­rity con­sul­tant, who’s also a com­mer­cial pilot, has demon­strated tools he says could be used to hijack an air­plane remotely, using just an Android phone.

Speak­ing at the Hack in the Box [82] secu­rity sum­mit in Ams­ter­dam, Nether­lands, Hugo Teso said Wednes­day that he spent three years devel­op­ing SIMON, a frame­work of mali­cious code that could be used to attack and exploit air­line secu­rity soft­ware, and an Android app to run it that he calls PlaneSploit.

Using a flight sim­u­la­tor, Teso showed off the abil­ity to change the speed, alti­tude and direc­tion of a vir­tual air­plane by send­ing radio sig­nals to its flight-management sys­tem. Cur­rent secu­rity sys­tems don’t have strong enough authen­ti­ca­tion meth­ods to make sure the com­mands are com­ing from a legit­i­mate source, he said.

“You can use this sys­tem to mod­ify approx­i­mately every­thing related to the nav­i­ga­tion of the plane,” Teso told Forbes [83]after his pre­sen­ta­tion. “That includes a lot of nasty things.”

He told the crowd that the tools also could be used to do things like change what’s on a pilot’s dis­play screen or turn off the lights in the cock­pit. With the Android app he cre­ated, he said, he could remotely con­trol a plane by sim­ply tap­ping pre­loaded com­mands like “Please Go Here” and the omi­nous “Visit Ground.”

The Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion said it is aware of Teso’s claims, but said the hack­ing tech­nique does not pose a threat on real flights because it does not work on cer­ti­fied flight hardware.

“The described tech­nique can­not engage or con­trol the aircraft’s autopi­lot sys­tem using the (Flight Man­age­ment Sys­tem) or pre­vent a pilot from over­rid­ing the autopi­lot,” the FAA said. “There­fore, a hacker can­not obtain ‘full con­trol of an air­craft’ as the tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant has claimed.”

Teso says he devel­oped SIMON in a way that makes it work only in vir­tual envi­ron­ments, not on actual aircraft.

But the risk is there, some experts say.

“His test­ing lab­o­ra­tory con­sists of a series of soft­ware and hard­ware prod­ucts, but the con­nec­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods, as well as ways of exploita­tion, are absolutely the same as they would be in an actual real-world sce­nario,” ana­lysts at Help Net Secu­rity wrote in a blog post [84].

Teso told the crowd that he used flight-management hard­ware that he bought on eBay and pub­licly avail­able flight-simulator soft­ware that con­tains at least some of the same com­puter cod­ing as real flight software.

Ana­lyst Gra­ham Clu­ley of Sophos Secu­rity said it’s unclear how dev­as­tat­ing Teso’s find would be if unleashed on an air­plane in flight.

“No one else has had an oppor­tu­nity to test this researcher’s claims as he has, thank­fully, kept secret details of the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties he was able to exploit,” Clu­ley said. “We are also told that he has informed the rel­e­vant bod­ies, so steps can be taken to patch any secu­rity holes before some­one with more mali­cious intent has an oppor­tu­nity to exploit them.”

..

Teso isn’t the first so-called “white hat” hacker to expose what appear to be holes in air-traffic security.

Last year, at the Black Hat secu­rity con­fer­ence [85] in Las Vegas, com­puter sci­en­tist Andrei Costin dis­cussed weak­nesses he said he found in a new U.S. air-traffic secu­rity sys­tem set to roll out next year. The flaws he found weren’t instantly cat­a­strophic, he said, but could be used to track pri­vate air­planes, inter­cept mes­sages and jam com­mu­ni­ca­tions between planes and air-traffic control.

8. Experts dispute Roberts’s claims.

“Experts: Plane Hack through Info­tain­ment Box Seems Unlikely”  [86]by Eliz­a­beth Weise; USA Today [86]; 5/18/2015.

Com­puter and avi­a­tion experts say it seems unlikely a Denver-based cyber-security researcher was able to com­pro­mise a jet’s con­trols via its in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, mak­ing it bank briefly to one side.

The claims of One World Labs founder Chris Roberts have been the sub­ject of much spec­u­la­tion after it was reported Fri­day that he told FBI agents he’d been able to hack into a flight he was on and cause it to turn side­ways by manip­u­lat­ing the engine con­trols from his computer.

Those sys­tems are sep­a­rate, said Jef­frey Price, an avi­a­tion secu­rity expert and avi­a­tion pro­fes­sor at Met­ro­pol­i­tan State Uni­ver­sity in Denver.

“From what all the air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers have been telling us, the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem is a dif­fer­ent sys­tem from the soft­ware that con­trols the avion­ics, flight con­trols and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems of the plane,” he said.

Fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials say they are assess­ing Roberts’ claims but so far have no cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion to sug­gest an airplane’s flight con­trol sys­tem can be accessed or manip­u­lated from its in-flight enter­tain­ment system.

Secu­rity experts say they can’t imag­ine the air­lines and FAA aren’t aware if Roberts was in fact able to ille­gally access planes con­trol sys­tems “15 to 20 times,” as he told FBI agents when he spoke with them ear­lier this year.

“Pilots know what’s hap­pen­ing with their planes from the small­est main­te­nance issue up to any­thing seri­ous,” said Rob Sad­owski, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing for RSA, the world’s largest com­puter secu­rity conference.

“We all know that from sit­ting on planes when they tell us, ‘We can’t get the door light to go on, so we’re not tak­ing off,’” he said.

Roberts is well known and respected in the secu­rity indus­try and speaks at mul­ti­ple con­fer­ences on var­i­ous secu­rity top­ics, includ­ing air­craft secu­rity, said Sad­owski. Roberts spoke [87] at the most recent RSA con­fer­ence in March.

How­ever, he doesn’t think it’s likely Roberts was actu­ally able to get from the plane’s in-flight enter­tain­ment net­work to its flight con­trol systems.

“As some­one in the indus­try who looks at the design of sys­tems like this, I would find it very hard to believe that these sys­tems were not iso­lated,” he said.

Some secu­rity experts worry that that may not always be true.

Price report [88]  that a report issued by the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office [89] in Jan­u­ary described pos­si­ble prob­lems as the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion moves from the cur­rent radar-based air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem to one that is based on satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and automation.

“While it’s doubt­ful whether this guy could have accessed any­thing really impor­tant by hack­ing the in-flight enter­tain­ment sys­tem, it’s likely that he will be able to do so in the near future,” Price said.

Most of the com­puter experts con­tacted also noted they spend a lot of time fly­ing, and hope no one would put an air­plane at risk sim­ply to show they could.

“I want to believe that if I saw any­one onboard any plane that I was trav­el­ing on try and plug any­thing into the plane that didn’t look like it was sup­posed to be there, I would be the first per­son not just alert­ing the crew but likely jump­ing up and tack­ling the per­son,” said Brian Ford, with secu­rity firm Lancope.


The Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion said it is aware of Teso’s claims, but said the hack­ing tech­nique does not pose a threat on real flights because it does not work on cer­ti­fied flight hardware.

“The described tech­nique can­not engage or con­trol the aircraft’s autopi­lot sys­tem using the (Flight Man­age­ment Sys­tem) or pre­vent a pilot from over­rid­ing the autopi­lot,” the FAA said. “There­fore, a hacker can­not obtain ‘full con­trol of an air­craft’ as the tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant has claimed.“

9. Apple is developing a body-monitoring app that, like the Google technology discussed above, will open up new vistas for the maintenance of health and, as theorized in the article below, new vistas for malefactors to disrupt or kill those they dislike.

 “Apple’s Upcoming Health App Is the Start of Something Huge” by Ryan Tate; Wired; 3/17/2014. [24]

 Apple is poised to launch a body-monitoring app known as Healthbook, tracking everything from sleep to nutrition to exercise to vital signs.

That’s the word from 9-to-5 Mac [90], which published a detailed look at the app on Monday, and as described, this project could prove to be a tipping point for mobile healthcare — a computing sector that has long been on the brink of explosive popularity without actually breaking through.

According to the 9-to-5 Mac rundown, Apple Healthbook is an incredibly broad undertaking. It’s designed to track your blood sugar, heart rate, breathing rate, weight, hydration, and physical movements. It even tracks health tests. Pundits are already speculating that it will be a key selling point for Apple’s forthcoming iOS 8 mobile operating system or its long-rumored “iWatch” smartwatch or both. We know that Apple has hired fitness guru Jay Blahnik and various engineers with medical sensor experience, which would indicate the company is preparing some sort of wearable health monitoring device.

Health [91] and fitness [92] apps have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. One company, Azumio, now offers 40 health monitoring and fitness apps for the Apple iPhone alone. PayPal co-founder Max Levchin is pushing Glow, an app designed to help couples get pregnant. And HealthTap [93] provides a clever and carefully curated medical question-and-answer system that brokers online sessions with doctors. Systems like these can significantly reduce healthcare costs [93], and many health providers are interested in subsidizing their deployment and use.

Apple Healthbook may compete with existing healthcare apps, but it also could help them flourish. As 9-to-5 Mac points out, it could serve as a unified interface to health and fitness apps in the same way that Apple’s Passbook app helps you juggle airline boarding passes, tickets, and gift cards from a wide range of apps. And as noted [94] by venture capitalist MG Siegler, Healthbook could encourage Apple to build more bridges between its devices and third-party sensors, making it easier to find, say, a high-end heart-rate monitor that works with your iPhone. . . .

10a. Apple is not the only tech firm working on stunning medical advances. Exemplifying the Brave New World of Big Tech in medecine, Google (an internet company, remember) is developing nanotechnology that can monitor a customer’s biology for signs of heart disease and cancer.

“Google Is Developing a Cancer and Heart Attack Detecting Pill” by Samuel Gibbs; The Guardian; 10/29/2014 [25].

 Google [95] is working on a nanoparticle pill that could identify cancers, heart attacks and other diseases before they become a problem.

The pill would contain magnetic particles approximately 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. These tiny particles will have antibodies or proteins attached to them that detect the presence of “biomarker [96]” molecules inside the body that indicate diseases such as cancer or an imminent heart attack.

“Essentially the idea is simple; you just swallow a pill with the nano particles, which are decorated with antibodies or molecules that detect other molecules,” explained Andrew Conrad, head of life sciences inside the Google’s “moonshot” X research lab to WSJD Live conference in California Tuesday [97]. “They course through your body and because the cores of these particles are magnetic, you can call them somewhere and ask them what they saw.”

Conrad explained that the particles would be analogous to sending thousands of doctors down into the population of a large city to monitor what is going on with individuals, describing current medical techniques as having one doctor fly over the city it in a helicopter trying to see what’s causing issues with individual people.

“If you look at your wrist you can see these superficial veins – just by putting a magnet there you can trap [the nanoparticles],” Conrad said explaining that a wrist-worn device like a smartwatch could be used to read what the particles have detected on their trip through the blood stream.

“We ask them: Hey, what did you see? Did you find cancer? Did you see something that looks like a fragile plaque for a heart attack? Did you see too much sodium?” said Conrad.

The system known as the “nanoparticle platform” is Google’s latest venture into the lucrative health market, which is worth around 10% of the economy of developed nations. More than £100bn a year is spent on the National Health Service in Britain. . . .

10b. Contemplating the Brave New World of mobile/digital/internet-related super technology of the type being developed by Google (and Apple, as we see below), we should never lose sight of the socio/political viewpoint of Google. The Competitive Enterprise Institute was a major force behind the recent King vs. Burwell case–the most recent (overturned) challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

While folks like Michael Greve, for­mer long­time chair­man of the Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute (CEI) and a leader of the group push­ing the King vs Bur­well law­suit [98](with the CEI’s help and fund­ing [99]), may have failed in their attempts to deprive health­care to mil­lions of low-income Amer­i­cans after the Supreme Court’s rul­ing this week [100], it’s worth not­ing that Google is among the funders of the CEI, along with the Koch Brothers.
“Google Is Help­ing to Fund the Group that’s Try­ing to kill Oba­macare in the Supreme Court” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 3/18/2015. [26]

The Obama admin­is­tra­tion said on Mon­day that 16.4 mil­lion unin­sured peo­ple had gained health cov­er­age since major pro­vi­sions of the Afford­able Care Act began to take effect in 2010, dri­ving the largest reduc­tion in the num­ber of unin­sured in about 40 years

— NY Times [101]

Accord­ing to the lat­est gov­ern­ment fig­ures, 16.4 mil­lion pre­vi­ously unin­sured Amer­i­cans now ben­e­fit from health­care cov­er­age thanks to Oba­macare, includ­ing large gains [102] for blacks and Lati­nos. Con­ser­v­a­tive crit­ics have yet to come up with a coher­ent response beyond “so what!” [103]— how­ever you look at it, that’s a lot of Amer­i­cans who won’t be left bleed­ing in the dirt if they get sick.

Still, as we know, Oba­macare is still under attack — just one pend­ing Supreme Court rul­ing away from being almost com­pletely dis­man­tled, a deci­sion that could put mil­lions back in the ranks of the unin­sured. What’s less well known is that the think tank push­ing for the death of Oba­macare is partly funded by… Google.

Ear­lier this month, the New York Times reported [104]on this “obscure think tank” — the Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute [105](CEI) — and its cen­tral role in try­ing to kill Oba­macare:

In the orbit of Wash­ing­ton think tanks, the Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute [105]is an obscure name with a mod­est bud­get that belies its polit­i­cal con­nec­tions to con­ser­v­a­tive titans like the Koch brothers.

But the insti­tute, a lib­er­tar­ian research group, enjoyed a coming-out of sorts on Wednes­day, as the law­suit that it orga­nized and bankrolled — chal­leng­ing the Afford­able Care Act — was heard by the Supreme Court [106]. The case has the poten­tial to end fed­eral insur­ance sub­si­dies [107]for some 7.5 mil­lion peo­ple in 34 states.

But, while the Times did men­tion that the CEI is largely bankrolled by the Koch broth­ers, it didn’t dig into some of the group’s smaller fun­ders. Fun­ders includ­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley giants like Google and Face­book. Could there be a clearer antithe­sis to the val­ley mantra of “Don’t Be Evil” than an orga­ni­za­tion which exists to deny 7.5m peo­ple access to basic health insurance?

11. Illustrating the perils of the Brave New World tech has ushered in–and why we strongly support the NSA (warts and all), we offer up the [largely suppressed] fact that one Vietnamese criminal syndicate obtained the personal information of two thirds of the American people. The information is contained in the recent book Future Crimes, by Marc Goodman.

Godman suggests that, in the future, hackers could interfere with internet-connected medical devices to kill people from afar. That is particularly haunting in light of the technological developments in medical high tech being brought into existence by Google and Apple.

Be sure to read the entire article, using the link below.

“Cops and Hackers” by Hannah Kuchler; Financial Times; 2/15/2015; p. 7.  [27]

. . . . In Future Games, Goodman spills out story after story about technology has been used for illegal ends, from the Vietnamese gang that was able to buy the personal data of two-thirds of all Americans to a suspected Chinese state-sponsored attack  in which confidential aircraft designs were stolen from the US military. His predictions are often depressingly plausible. Today, for examle, we have Cryptolocker software that encrypts data on computers until the user pays a ransom in bitcoin; tomorrow, Goodman suggests, the same tactic could be used on a connected home with a smart door lock to prevent a resident returning–or, worse still, on an internet-connected medical device such as a pacemaker that could be tampered with to kill someone from afar. . . .

12. The program concludes with an crystallization of a very important concept discussed by David Golumbia in Uncomputing.org. Obviously, the interests described below are not concerned with democratic political ideals in any size, shape, form or manner. The underlying despair inherent in such views reminds us of Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West [108]–a text that was fundamental to the development of fascist ideology. (We discuss the Spengler tex [109]t is our interviews [110] with Kevin Coogan [111].) The Spengler text was a major influence on Francis Parker Yockey, among others.

“Tor, Tech­noc­racy, Democracy”  [28]by David Golum­bia; Uncomputing.org [28]; 4/23/2015. [28]

“Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant corporate-digital leviathanHack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self [112] walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (rightly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrongly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . . First, [Tor co-creator] Din­gle­dine claimed that Tor must be sup­ported because it fol­lows directly from a fun­da­men­tal “right to pri­vacy.” Yet when pressed—and not that hard—he admits that what he means by “right to pri­vacy” is not what any human rights body or “par­tic­u­lar legal regime” has meant by it. Instead of talk­ing about how human rights are pro­tected, he asserts that human rights are nat­ural rights and that these nat­ural rights cre­ate nat­ural law that is prop­erly enforced by enti­ties above and out­side of demo­c­ra­tic poli­tiesWhere the UN’s Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion on Human Rights [113] of 1948 is very clear that states and bod­ies like the UN to which states belong are the exclu­sive guar­an­tors of human rights, what­ever the ori­gin of those rights, Din­gle­dine asserts that a small group of soft­ware devel­op­ers can assign to them­selves that role, and that mem­bers of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties have no choice but to accept them hav­ing that role. . . Fur­ther, it is hard not to notice that the appeal to nat­ural rights is today most often asso­ci­ated with the polit­i­cal right, for a vari­ety of rea­sons (ur-neocon Leo Strauss was one of the most promi­nent 20th cen­tury pro­po­nents of these views [114]). We aren’t sup­posed to endorse Tor because we endorse the right: it’s sup­posed to be above the left/right dis­tinc­tion. But it isn’t. . . .