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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].)

WFMU-FM is pod­cast­ing For The Record–You can sub­scribe to the pod­cast HERE [3].

You can sub­scribe to e‑mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE [4]

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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]

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.)

[8]Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of the Charleston shoot­ing, we note Ron Paul’s estab­lish­ment of a tem­plate [9] 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 [10] and sev­er­al posts [11], Green­wald defend­ed Matthew Hale against solic­i­ta­tion of mur­der [12] charges. Green­wald ran inter­fer­ence [13] for the “lead­er­less resis­tance strat­e­gy.” [14] 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 [15] for “Com­bat 14,” the para­mil­i­tary wing of the Ukrain­ian fas­cist group Svo­bo­da [16], 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 [17] 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 [9] 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 [18] 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 [19] of high-qual­i­ty (and pos­si­bly ille­gal) facial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­o­gy  by Microsoft and Face­book, among oth­ers; a num­ber of sto­ries about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of hack­ing [20] into the elec­tron­ics of, and pos­si­bly hijack­ing [21] or sab­o­tag­ing, a jet air­lin­er, using a smart­phone; new tech­nol­o­gy being devel­oped by Apple [22] to per­mit the mon­i­tor­ing of vital signs and oth­er crit­i­cal, inti­mate health infor­ma­tion; nan­otech­nol­o­gy being devel­oped by Google [23] per­mit­ting the intro­duc­tion of micro­elec­tron­ics into the blood­stream to mon­i­tor for signs of can­cer or heart dis­ease; Google’s efforts [24], along with those of the Koch Broth­ers and Face­book, to fund insti­tu­tions try­ing to destroy the Afford­able Care Act; poten­tial­ly cat­a­stroph­ic [25] con­se­quences of crim­i­nal tech­nocrats abus­ing the emerg­ing won­ders being devel­oped by Big Tech; review of the con­cept of tech­no­crat­ic fas­cism [26] 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 [10] and sev­er­al posts [11], Green­wald defend­ed Matthew Hale against solic­i­ta­tion of mur­der [12] charges. Green­wald ran inter­fer­ence [13] for the “lead­er­less resis­tance strat­e­gy.” [14] In par­tic­u­lar, Green­wald pro­vid­ed appo­site legal assis­tance for the Nation­al Alliance.

“Bal­ti­more & The Walk­ing Dead” by Mark Ames; Pan­do Dai­ly; 5/1/2015. [9]

. . . . So when Rand Paul went on Lau­ra Ingraham’s radio pro­gram to blame Bal­ti­more on black cul­ture and val­ues and “lack of fathers,” [27] the lib­er­tar­ian whom Time [28] 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” [29]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 [30], 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 [31] with RON PAUL and GLENN GREENWALD. Horn­berger believes that 19th cen­tury ante­bel­lum slave-era Amer­ica was “the freest soci­ety in his­tory” [32]. . . 

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. [18]

. . . . All of which makes it slight­ly shock­ing to dis­cov­er the iden­ti­ty of anoth­er recent win­ner of Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty’s big award: Peter Thiel [33], 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 [34]. . . .

. . . . So what exact­ly is “Stu­dents For Lib­er­ty”? Accord­ing to its web­site [35], “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 [36], recent­ly joined the list of big cor­po­rate spon­sors [37]. SFL’s Board of Advi­sors includes such heroes of free­dom as “His Serene High­ness Prince von Liecht­en­stein” [38] — whose roy­al fam­i­ly rules over an exclu­sive off­shore bank­ing tax haven [39] favored by glob­al bil­lion­aires [40] 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 [41] and FoxNews truther [42] Andrew Napoli­tano. Ron Paul’s 2012 cam­paign [43] for pres­i­dent — sup­port­ed by Snow­den [44] and Green­wald [45] — was almost entire­ly fund­ed by Peter Thiel [43].

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 [46], who serves on Rand Paul’s finance team and co-host­ed Sil­i­con Val­ley fundrais­ers.

In 2011, Palan­tir spon­sored [47] the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foundation’s Pio­neer Awards [48], 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 [49]. . . .

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. [50]

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 [51] 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 [52].

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 [53]Pover­ty Law Cen­ter’s Racist Skin­head Glos­sary [53].

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 [54] and Hen­ry Krin­kle [55] — 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 [56] 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 [57] for slaves on the McLeod Plan­ta­tion in Charleston.

Oth­ers appear to have been tak­en at the Boone Hall plan­ta­tion [58] 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 [59] 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. [60]

. . . . . 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.”  [19]by Ben Sobel; Wash­ing­ton Post; [19] 6/11/2015. [19]

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 [61] return­ing cus­tomers and offer them indi­vid­u­al­ized pric­ing — or find “pre-iden­ti­fied shoplifters” and “known liti­gious indi­vid­u­als.” Microsoft has patent­ed [62] 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 [63] 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. [64]

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 [65]. Facebook’s algo­rithm, Deep­Face, gets a 97.25 per­cent rat­ing. The FBI, on the oth­er hand, has rough­ly [64]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 [66] 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 [67] user-uploaded pho­tos — with 350 mil­lion more uploaded every day. The direc­tor of engi­neer­ing at Facebook’s AI research lab recent­ly sug­gested [68] 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 [69] 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 [70].


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 [71] 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 [20]:

“Unit­ed Will Reward Peo­ple Who Flag Secu­rity Flaws—Sort Of” by Kim Zetter; Wired [20]; 5/14/2015. [20]

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 [72] 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 [73] 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 [72] 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 [74] 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 [75] 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 [76] 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: [21]

“Feds Say That Banned Researcher Com­man­deered a Plane” by Kim Zetter; Wired [21]; 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 [77] (.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 [78].

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 [79]:

“Hack­er Says Phone App Could Hijack Plane”  [79]by Doug Gross; CNN [79]; 4/12/2013. [79]

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 [80] 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 [81]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 [82].

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 [83] 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”  [84]by Eliz­a­beth Weise; USA Today [84]; 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 [85] 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 [86]  that a report issued by the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office [87] 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. [22]

 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 [88], 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 [89] and fit­ness [90] 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 [91] 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 [91], 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 [92] 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 [23].

 Google [93] 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 [94]” 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 [95]. “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 [96](with the CEI’s help and fund­ing [97]), may have failed in their attempts to deprive health­care to mil­lions of low-income Amer­i­cans after the Supreme Court’s rul­ing this week [98], 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. [24]

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 [99]

Accord­ing to the lat­est gov­ern­ment fig­ures, 16.4 mil­lion pre­vi­ously unin­sured Amer­i­cans now ben­e­fit from health­care cov­er­age thanks to Oba­macare, includ­ing large gains [100] for blacks and Lati­nos. Con­ser­v­a­tive crit­ics have yet to come up with a coher­ent response beyond “so what!” [101]— 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 [102]on this “obscure think tank” — the Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute [103](CEI) — and its cen­tral role in try­ing to kill Oba­macare:

In the orbit of Wash­ing­ton think tanks, the Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute [103]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 [104]. The case has the poten­tial to end fed­eral insur­ance sub­si­dies [105]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.  [25]

. . . . 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 [106]–a text that was fun­da­men­tal to the devel­op­ment of fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy. (We dis­cuss the Spen­gler tex [107]t is our inter­views [108] with Kevin Coogan [109].) The Spen­gler text was a major influ­ence on Fran­cis Park­er Yock­ey, among oth­ers.

“Tor, Tech­noc­racy, Democ­ra­cy”  [26]by David Golum­bia; Uncomputing.org [26]; 4/23/2015. [26]

“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 [110] 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 [111] 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 [112]). 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. . . .