Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Snowden’s Ride, Part 5: Update on The Underground Reich and U.S. Internet, Media Business

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: We’ve cov­ered Eddie “The Friend­ly Spook” Snow­den’s exploits in numer­ous pre­vi­ous posts: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII, Part VIIIPart IXPart X, Part XI.) Users of this web­site are emphat­i­cal­ly encour­aged to exam­ine these posts in detail, as it is impos­si­ble to do jus­tice to the argu­ments in those arti­cles in the scope of this post. 

(We will sum up and ana­lyze some of the key aspects of this bur­geon­ing line of inquiry in a future arti­cle.)

This post is direct­ly sup­ple­men­tal to the pre­vi­ous arti­cle, so we will begin by quot­ing direct­ly from the first part of this pre­sen­ta­tion.

“Suf­fice it to say, for our pur­pos­es here, that Snow­den’s activ­i­ties are–quite obviously–an intel­li­gence oper­a­tion direct­ed at Barack Oba­ma’s admin­is­tra­tion at one lev­el and the Unit­ed States and U.K. at anoth­er.

We note that the indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions involved with Snow­den, as well as Fast Eddie him­self, track back to the far right and ele­ments and indi­vid­u­als involved with the Under­ground Reich. Again, PLEASE exam­ine the pre­vi­ous posts on the sub­ject, as there is no way to flesh out this line of inquiry in this post. 

We have not­ed that Fast Eddie may be dou­bling for BND or some oth­er ele­ment of Ger­man intel­li­gence, pos­si­bly hav­ing been recruit­ed when post­ed by CIA to Gene­va, Switzer­land. Snow­den may also be act­ing at the instruc­tion of ele­ments in U.S.–perhaps Michael Mor­rell, per­haps an Under­ground Reich fac­tion of NSA, per­haps ele­ments from the Peter Thiel milieu. 

A pos­si­bil­i­ty that bears exam­i­na­tion in the con­text of Ger­man and/or Under­ground Reich eco­nom­ic war­fare against the U.S. involves L’Af­faire Snow­den as a gam­bit to under­mine Amer­i­can inter­net dom­i­nance.”

In this regard we note that a Forbes arti­cle says that Snow­den’s ride is indeed bad for U.S. inter­net busi­ness. (See text excerpt below.)

Com­ments by Neel­ie Kroes, Vice Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, augur poor­ly for U.S. inter­net com­pa­nies. (See text excerpt below.)

In a clar­i­fi­ca­tion of infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in a Reuters sto­ry about Snow­den by his “leak­ing jour­nal­ist” of choice, Glenn Green­wald, Snow­den stat­ed that his pur­pose was to alert peo­ple that the soft­ware they are using is also spy­ing on them. (See text excerpt below.)

Saint Edward’s pro­fes­sions of con­cern for the well-being of Mr. and Ms. Every­man can­not be tak­en at face val­ue. Snow­den is a fas­cist and cyn­ic of the first order. His Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of choice in 2012 was Ron Paul.

He is NOT doing this for altru­is­tic rea­sons. He does­n’t have an altru­is­tic bone in his body.

Snow­den DOES have some seri­ous nerve, how­ev­er. Snow­den has com­pared him­self to some­one act­ing in accor­dance with the Nurem­berg statutes, com­par­ing the NSA sur­veil­lance pro­gram to Nazi geno­cide. Aside from the obvi­ous absur­di­ty of this claim, it is grotesque for some­one who sup­port­ed a Nazi (Ron Paul) for Pres­i­dent to be hold­ing forth in this man­ner.

Such his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism also plays to the advan­tage of Ger­many.

Not inci­den­tal­ly, Snow­den’s Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of choice–Ron Paul–has opined that we were on the wrong side in World War II. (See text excerpt below.)

Snow­den’s part­ners in the WikiLeaks/Pirate Bay/Pirate Par­ty milieu are birds of the same feath­er, with Julian Assange’s Holo­caust-deny­ing crony Joran Jer­mas (aka “Israel Shamir”) hav­ing guid­ed Wik­iLeaks to the PRQ servers fund­ed by fas­cist mon­ey­bags Carl Lund­strom. Like Paul and Jer­mas, Lund­strom is part of a polit­i­cal milieu that includes David Duke.

In a spec­u­la­tive note, it is inter­est­ing and pos­si­bly sig­nif­i­cant that Glenn Green­wald start­ed a law firm that rep­re­sent­ed neo-Nazis. (See text excerpts below.)

In our next post on the sub­ject, we will review and rumi­nate about this com­plex, vital­ly impor­tant inquiry. 

In com­ments to this post,  Spit­firelist con­trib­u­tor “Pter­rafractyl” has not­ed some impor­tant points:

  • In the first of those com­ments, he notes that Swe­den’s Pirate Bay milieu con­tin­ues to evolve and, in part­ner­ship with oth­er Euro­pean “Pirate out­lets, appears to be angling to cor­ral web busi­ness that will afford anonymity/security.
  • Anoth­er com­ment notes that an orga­ni­za­tion in Swe­den has won legal recog­ni­tion of file shar­ing as a reli­gious activ­i­ty, which should facil­i­tate the pirat­ing of copy­right­ed video and music files.
  • A third com­ment notes how the Pirate Party–linked to the far-right, Nazi-linked Wik­iLeaks outfit–is deeply involved with the effort on behalf of Snow­den, et al in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. As we have sur­mised, the efforts by EU (read “Ger­many”) to alter Euro­pean data pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tions may lead to “a trade war.”
  • In an addi­tion­al com­ment, “Pter­rafractyl” informs us that two encrypt­ed e‑mail com­pa­nies, one of them used by Snow­den, have been closed, appar­ent­ly due to gov­ern­ment pres­sure. Let’s see how this plays into the hands of the GOP with their bat­tle cry about Oba­ma cham­pi­oning “big, repres­sive gov­ern­ment” etc. etc. etc. It will be inter­est­ing to see how young, ide­al­is­tic techies buy into this. It will also be inter­est­ing to see if the big Sil­i­con Val­ley tech com­pa­nies send their con­sid­er­able finan­cial resources to back the GOP.
  • Anoth­er of Pter­rafractyl’s com­ments informs us that the prog­nos­ti­ca­tions in this post are com­ing to pass. It turns out the Ger­man com­pa­nies are offer­ing encrypt­ed e‑mail ser­vices, seeking–obviously–to under­mine U.S. inter­net busi­ness. What is unclear is if the BND will be able to deci­pher the messages–a safe bet will be that they pos­sess such capa­bil­i­ty. Whether they would share such infor­ma­tion with NSA is unclear.
  • Pter­rafractyl also notes that the Chaos Com­put­er Club in Ger­many opines that the encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy is out­dat­ed, per­mit­ting up-to-date inter­ests to access the mes­sages.

“How The Snow­den Leaks And NSA Sur­veil­lance Are Bad For Busi­ness” by Dave Thi­er; Forbes; 7/9/2013.

EXCERPT: Red­dit gen­er­al man­ag­er Erik Mar­tin noticed some­thing strange when he was at a con­fer­ence in Latvia last month. There was a con­test held, with a prize of one year’s free web-host­ing for a small busi­ness — a decent val­ue, a fair­ly nor­mal prize. But when it came time to award it, nobody in the audi­ence want­ed it. It was from a U.S.-based com­pa­ny, and this was just days after Edward Snowden’s land­mark leaks about the NSA’s PRISM pro­gram hit the press. With that hang­ing over them, peo­ple at the con­fer­ence would have pre­ferred to go with a dif­fer­ent coun­try.

There’s a gen­er­al sense of unease about the U.S. government’s rela­tion­ship to the inter­net right now, and it’s start­ing to affect how inter­na­tion­al con­sumers choose their web ser­vices. I talked with Chris­t­ian Daw­son, head of host­ing com­pa­ny Servint and co-founder of the Inter­net Infra­struc­ture Coali­tion, a group found­ed to inform the pub­lic and law­mak­ers about, as he puts it, how the inter­net works. He says that while it’s hard to put togeth­er any true sta­tis­tics at this point, he’s heard a lot of anec­do­tal data about U.S.-based host­ing and oth­er web ser­vice com­pa­nies los­ing busi­ness to over­seas com­peti­tors since the Snow­den leaks.

“We have a great fear that we are going to see a big exo­dus for US-based busi­ness­es over the infor­ma­tion that’s been leaked,in part because there’s this tremen­dous lack of trans­paren­cy, and lack of trans­paren­cy is the absolute worst thing for these sit­u­a­tions,” he says. “We’re com­pet­ing on a glob­al scale, and if peo­ple don’t have a rea­son to trust the host they’re using, they can go else­where in just a cou­ple of clicks.”

Daw­son stress­es that the prob­lem isn’t just with the pro­gram itself. He has lit­tle com­ment on what the gov­ern­ment should or should not be doing to pro­tect the coun­try from ter­ror­ism. His prob­lem is with the lack of open dis­cus­sion sur­round­ing these efforts. The U.S. may not have the most restric­tive or the most repres­sive poli­cies sur­round­ing inter­net sur­veil­lance, but U.S. news is big news all over the world. Accord­ing to Daw­son, fear of the Patri­ot Act had already been dog­ging U.S. host­ing com­pa­nies for years, and the Snow­den leaks just added fuel to the fire. In a glob­al mar­ket as flu­id as some­thing like web host­ing, a lot of con­sumers would just as soon pre­fer to take their busi­ness else­where.

“The lack of clear, intel­li­gent lan­guage has put us at a tremen­dous mar­ket­ing dis­ad­van­tage,” he says. “These days, we’re find­ing that sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of our clien­tele val­ues pri­va­cy. It is not sim­ply the cus­tomer who has something­ to hide.” . . .

“Edward Snow­den’s not the Sto­ry. The Fate of the Inter­net Is” by John Naughton; The Guardian; 7/27/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . .But the Snow­den rev­e­la­tions also have impli­ca­tions for you and me.

They tell us, for exam­ple, that no US-based inter­net com­pa­ny can be trust­ed to pro­tect our pri­va­cy or data. The fact is that Google, Face­book, Yahoo, Ama­zon, Apple and Microsoft are all inte­gral com­po­nents of the US cyber-sur­veil­lance sys­tem. Noth­ing, but noth­ing, that is stored in their “cloud” ser­vices can be guar­an­teed to be safe from sur­veil­lance or from illic­it down­load­ing by employ­ees of the con­sul­tan­cies employed by the NSA. That means that if you’re think­ing of out­sourc­ing your trou­ble­some IT oper­a­tions to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.

And if you think that that sounds like the para­noid fan­ta­sis­ing of a news­pa­per colum­nist, then con­sid­er what Neel­ie Kroes, vice-pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, had to say on the mat­ter recent­ly. “If busi­ness­es or gov­ern­ments think they might be spied on,” she said, “they will have less rea­son to trust the cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ulti­mate­ly miss out. Why would you pay some­one else to hold your com­mer­cial or oth­er secrets, if you sus­pect or know they are being shared against your wish­es? Front or back door – it does­n’t mat­ter – any smart per­son does­n’t want the infor­ma­tion shared at all. Cus­tomers will act ratio­nal­ly and providers will miss out on a great oppor­tu­ni­ty.” . . .

“About the Reuters Arti­cle” by Glenn Green­wald; The Guardian; 7/13/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . .A: Snow­den has enough infor­ma­tion to cause more dam­age to the US gov­ern­ment in a minute alone than any­one else has ever had in the his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States. But that’s not his goal. [His] objec­tive is to expose soft­ware that peo­ple around the world use with­out know­ing what they are expos­ing them­selves with­out con­scious­ly agree­ing to sur­ren­der their rights to pri­va­cy. [He] has a huge num­ber of doc­u­ments that would be very harm­ful to the US gov­ern­ment if they were made pub­lic. . . .

“Snowden’s New Talk­ing Point: Nazi War Crimes Tri­al” by Michael Crow­ley; Swampland.time.com; 7/13/2013.

EXCERPT: Along the way, Snow­den framed his sit­u­a­tion in strik­ing new terms, cit­ing the 1945–1946 Nurem­berg tri­als that con­vict­ed sev­er­al Nazi lead­ers of crimes against human­i­ty. Here’s how he put it:

I believe in the prin­ci­ple declared at Nurem­berg in 1945: “Indi­vid­u­als have inter­na­tion­al duties which tran­scend the nation­al oblig­a­tions of obe­di­ence. There­fore indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens have the duty to vio­late domes­tic laws to pre­vent crimes against peace and human­i­ty from occur­ring.”

Accord­ing­ly, I did what I believed right and began a cam­paign to cor­rect this wrong­do­ing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not part­ner with any for­eign gov­ern­ment to guar­an­tee my safe­ty. Instead, I took what I knew to the pub­lic, so what affects all of us can be dis­cussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for jus­tice. . . .

Ron Paul: Amer­i­ca’s Most Dan­ger­ous Nazi by Alan J. Weber­man, p. 67.

EXCERPT: . . . . Paul betrayed his Nazism when he told Con­gress that Amer­i­ca fought on the wrong side dur­ing World War II: “Any aca­d­e­m­ic dis­cus­sion ques­tion­ing the wis­dom of our poli­cies sur­round­ing World War II is met with shrill accu­sa­tions of anti-Semi­tism and Nazi lover. No one is ever even per­mit­ted, with­out deri­sion by the media, the uni­ver­si­ty intel­lec­tu­als and the politi­cians, to ask why the Unit­ed States allied itself with the mur­der­ing Sovi­ets and then turned over East­ern Europe to them while ush­er­ing in a 45-year saber-rat­tling, dan­ger­ous Cold War peri­od.”   Amer­i­ca should have aligned itself with the Axis Pow­ers? That is the impli­ca­tion here. [26]. . .

“How Glenn Green­wald Became Glenn Green­wald” by Jes­si­ca Tes­ta; buzzfeed.com; 6/26/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . Green­wald also spent rough­ly five years defend­ing the First Amend­ment rights of neo-Nazis, includ­ing Matthew Hale, the “Pon­tif­ex Max­imus” of the Illi­nois church for­mer­ly known as the World Church of the Cre­ator, one of whose dis­ci­ples went on a mur­der­ous spree in 1999.

“I almost always did it pro bono,” Green­wald said. “I was inter­est­ed in defend­ing polit­i­cal prin­ci­ples that I believed in. I didn’t even care about mak­ing mon­ey any­more.” . . .

“Glenn Green­wald: Life Beyond Bor­ders” by Fred Bern­stein; out.com; 4/18/2011.

EXCERPT: . . . .By the third year of law school, he was work­ing for a large law firm. But real­iz­ing that rep­re­sent­ing Gold­man Sachs would have destroyed him psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, he set up his own firm, which rep­re­sent­ed sev­er­al neo-Nazis and oth­er unpop­u­lar clients.

When he and his for­mer boyfriend, Wern­er Achatz, an Aus­tri­an-born lawyer, tried to lease an apart­ment, they were told they could­n’t aggre­gate their incomes. “They said they only do that for mar­ried cou­ples,” Green­wald recalls. “We said we were a mar­ried cou­ple.” When that did­n’t fly, Green­wald became his own lawyer, suing the land­lord for sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion and mar­i­tal sta­tus dis­crim­i­na­tion.

By 2004 he had tired of lit­i­gat­ing, and was also at the end of an 11-year rela­tion­ship with Achatz. He rent­ed an apart­ment in Rio de Janeiro, expect­ing to remain there for two months. Emo­tion­al­ly drained, he says, “The last thing I was look­ing for was anoth­er rela­tion­ship. Espe­cial­ly in Rio.” But on his first day on the beach, he met Miran­da. . . .


21 comments for “Snowden’s Ride, Part 5: Update on The Underground Reich and U.S. Internet, Media Business”

  1. Regard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of web ser­vices shift­ing towards plac­ing like Swe­den, here’s a sto­ry from 2010 about Swe­den’s Pirate Par­ty start­ing its own Pirate-friend­ly ISP that gets around law-enforce­ment data-shar­ing laws by nev­er actu­al­ly stor­ing client infor­ma­tion:

    Deutsche Welle
    Swedish Pirate Par­ty launch­es new, anony­mous Inter­net ser­vice
    Author: Cyrus Fari­var
    Edi­tor: Louisa Schae­fer
    ate 22.07.2010

    Pirate ISP would not keep logs of IP address­es to ensure pri­va­cy, but experts say that the con­tro­ver­sial polit­i­cal par­ty may be poised for a chal­lenge of pend­ing Swedish pri­va­cy law.

    Inter­net users across Swe­den may soon have a lit­tle more anonymi­ty online as this week, mem­bers of Swe­den’s con­tro­ver­sial Pirate Par­ty launched the Pirate ISP, or inter­net ser­vice provider.

    The com­pa­ny would be just like any oth­er inter­net ser­vice provider, except that its lead­ers say that their ser­vice would offer more anonymi­ty by not stor­ing its users’ Inter­net Pro­to­col (IP) address­es, a unique iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber for any com­put­er, mobile phone or oth­er device on the Inter­net at any giv­en time. IP address­es have been used by law enforce­ment around the world to iden­ti­fy peo­ple who are down­load­ing ille­gal copies of media or who are vio­lat­ing copy­rights online.

    “We want to make more of a polit­i­cal state­ment about which inter­net ser­vice provider you use,” said Gus­tav Nipe, the Pirate ISP’s 21-year-old CEO, in an inter­view with Deutsche Welle.

    Nipe and around 90 per­cent of the dozens of the com­pa­ny’s first test cus­tomers in the city of Lund are mem­bers of Swe­den’s Pirate Par­ty. The par­ty, accord­ing to its web­site, stands for reform of copy­right law, abol­ish­ing the patent sys­tem, and the right to pri­va­cy.

    But crit­ics argue that the Pirate ISP is mere­ly try­ing to find a legal means to con­duct ille­gal activ­i­ty — large­ly by pro­vid­ing an anony­mous way for peo­ple to share ille­gal files like films, music and soft­ware, online.

    Pirate Par­ty crit­ics uncon­cerned

    “It does­n’t mat­ter,” said Hen­rik Pon­ten, an attor­ney with the Swedish Anti-Pira­cy Bureau. “Every month some­thing hap­pens like this. Every­one from the pirate side is try­ing to hide them­selves.”

    The Pirate Par­ty has recent­ly affil­i­at­ed itself with The Pirate Bay, a web­site that links to Bit­Tor­rent files that can be used to down­loaded ille­gal copies and oth­er pirat­ed media. The Pirate Bay’s Swedish founders were found guilty last year of pro­vid­ing assis­tance to copy­right infringe­ment and were sen­tenced to a year in prison and a fine of over three mil­lion euros. They are cur­rent­ly appeal­ing this deci­sion.

    Ear­li­er this month, Pirate Par­ty lead­ers said that if they were to win seats in Swe­den’s Par­lia­ment this fall, they would host the Pirate Bay web­site from with­in Par­lia­ment, there­by shield­ing it from fur­ther pros­e­cu­tion. Swe­den’s Pirate Par­ty does not have any mem­bers of par­lia­ment in Swe­den, but it does have two MEPs in Brus­sels.

    Pon­ten believes that the Pirate ISP will be found ille­gal as all ISPs must turn over IP address­es when asked for them by law enforce­ment. But, it remains unclear what will hap­pen if the Pirate ISP has no such data to begin with.

    Even if the com­pa­ny is found to be with­in the law, he said, Swedish soci­ety will not stand for it.

    “If they are suc­cess­ful, it means that every­one who does some­thing crim­i­nal will be drawn to them,” he said. “If that is the case, then that’s not just a prob­lem for us, that’s a prob­lem for every­one. That will be a strong rea­son for soci­ety to do some­thing about the inter­net ser­vice providers since soci­ety will nev­er accept that an ISP would be a safe har­bor for crim­i­nal activ­i­ty.”

    But the Pirate ISP’s young CEO says that his com­pa­ny is not try­ing to pro­mote any ille­gal behav­ior.

    “Pirate ISP is not about file-shar­ing, it’s being proac­tive against the Data Reten­tion Direc­tive,” Nipe said.

    The Data Reten­tion Direc­tive, more for­mal­ly known as Direc­tive 2006/24/EC, is a piece of Euro­pean Union leg­is­la­tion passed by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in 2006. The direc­tive requires that mem­ber states store telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions data for six to 24 months, includ­ing IP address and time of every email, phone call and text mes­sage.

    The direc­tive must now be passed by each of the mem­ber states, a process that is still ongo­ing. Some EU mem­ber states, includ­ing Roma­nia and Ger­many, have declared their nation­al laws attempt­ing to com­ply with the direc­tive as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. By con­trast, Swe­den’s is expect­ed to come for­ward in the fall, around the same time as the coun­try’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

    Legal fight loom­ing

    Accord­ing to indus­try watch­ers, the Swedish Pirate Par­ty and Pirate ISP, it seems, may be inten­tion­al­ly set­ting them­selves up for a legal bat­tle.

    “The law says that if you have the infor­ma­tion as an ISP you are oblig­ed to give it out but if you don’t have it then you can­not give it,” said Maerten Schultz, a law pro­fes­sor at Stock­holm Uni­ver­si­ty, in an inter­view with Deutsche Welle. “And they are not oblig­ed as of yet to keep this infor­ma­tion.”

    But that may change if the data reten­tion law does pass the Swedish Par­lia­ment lat­er this year.


    Note that the EU Court of Jus­tice fined Swe­den this year for its delays in imple­ment­ing the EU data reten­tion law so it sounds like the Pirate Par­ty’s plans for pro­vid­ing anony­mous wweb­host­ing ser­vices is in some sort of legal lim­bo. Although PRQ, the web host­ing com­pa­ny that used to host The far-right owned Pirate Bay and is cur­rent­ly one of the Wik­ileaks servers, was raid­ed and tem­porar­i­ly shut own last Octo­ber by Swe­den’s police. The rea­sons for the raid are unclear:

    PRQ, Web Host For Wik­iLeaks And Once For The Pirate Bay, Raid­ed By Swedish Police

    Andy Green­berg, Forbes Staff

    10/01/2012 @ 4:16PM

    The Stock­holm-based web host PeRiQ­ui­to AB, or PRQ, has long attract­ed some of the most con­tro­ver­sial sites on the Inter­net. Now it’s attract­ed a less friend­ly guest: Sweden’s police force.

    Stock­holm police raid­ed the free-speech focused firm Mon­day and took four of its servers, the company’s own­er Mikael Viborg told the Swedish news out­let Nyheter24.

    While a num­ber of bit­tor­rent-based file­shar­ing sites includ­ing PRQ’s most noto­ri­ous client, the Pirate Bay, have been down for most of Mon­day as well as PRQ’s own web­site, Viborg told the Swedish news site that the site out­ages were the result of a tech­ni­cal issue, rather than the police’s seizure of servers. And it’s not yet clear exact­ly whose servers the police seized: PRQ’s two thou­sand or so cus­tomers have at times includ­ed Wik­iLeaks, the North Amer­i­ca Man-Boy Love Asso­ci­a­tion, Pedophile.se, the Chechen rebel site Kavkaz Cen­tral, and the defama­tion-accused Ital­ian blog known as Peru­gia Shock, among oth­ers.

    “Even though I loathe what they say, I defend them,” Viborg told me when we spoke last August, regard­ing his most con­tro­ver­sial clients like Pedophile.se and NAMBLA. “We don’t coop­er­ate with the author­i­ties unless we absolute­ly have to.

    As of last sum­mer, Viborg said that PRQ con­tin­ued to host Wik­iLeaks. But he told me that the com­pa­ny no longer had any direc­tion con­nec­tion with the Pirate Bay, which has instead bounced among tem­po­rary hosts since its founders were con­vict­ed of copy­right theft in 2010.

    Update: In response to com­ments on this sto­ry, I’ve changed the head­line to make it clear that PRQ is the for­mer, not the cur­rent, web host for the Pirate Bay. The file­shar­ing-focused news site Tor­rent­f­reak writes that the Pirate Bay was actu­al­ly tak­en offline by a pow­er out­age, and will be back online “soon.”

    Two of the three Pirate Bay founders also cre­at­ed PRQ in 2004, and one of them is Got­tfrid Svartholm, a 27-year old Swede who was arrest­ed in Cam­bo­dia last month after being con­vict­ed of copy­right crimes in absen­tia, and is now also being charged with hack­ing into the IT firm Log­i­ca.


    Wik­iLeaks not­ed the raid in its Twit­ter feed Mon­day, describ­ing PRQ as “one of a num­ber of ISPs used by Wik­iLeaks.” But as of Mon­day after­noon, the secret-spilling site hadn’t been tak­en offline.

    As I learn more about the PRQ raid, I’ll post an update. For now, even PRQ’s own­ers may not know the rea­son behind the raid. Viborg has told me that the com­pa­ny has a pol­i­cy of no-ques­tions-asked ser­vice for many of its cus­tomers, even accept­ing cash pay­ments up front to avoid requir­ing any bank pay­ment details that might iden­ti­fy its serv­er room’s inhab­i­tants. “Gen­er­al­ly we don’t know who our cus­tomers are,” Viborg said. “By Swedish law, we’re not required to.”

    Also note that, while PRQ claimed that it was no longer host­ing The Pirate Bay at the time of the raid last Octo­ber, observers were puz­zled when they noticed that both PRQ and The Pirate Bay went down at the same time as the raid and then both came online again at the same time a cou­ple of days lat­er:

    Wik­iLeaks Web Host PRQ Comes Back Online After Police Raid, Along With The Pirate Bay
    Andy Green­berg, Forbes Staff 10/03/2012 @ 11:31AM

    Strange things have been occur­ring late­ly on the Swedish Inter­net: First the Stock­holm-based Web host firm PRQ, which caters to some of the world’s most con­tro­ver­sial sites, was raid­ed by police at the same time that the Pirate Bay went offline– despite PRQ’s claims that it doesn’t host the pop­u­lar file­shar­ing web­site.

    Now both PRQ and the Pirate Bay have come back online at the same time.

    On Wednes­day morn­ing, PRQ own­er Mikael Viborg told me that the Web host has now iden­ti­fied two of the four tar­gets of the police raid: A Swedish file­shar­ing site called tankafetast.nu that the police believe host­ed pirat­ed con­tent, and App­buck­et, a site whose domain was seized by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice ear­li­er this year and accused of offer­ing free access to paid Android apps. Viborg says he still doesn’t know the oth­er two tar­gets of the raid, which result­ed in the seizure of sev­er­al of his company’s servers. But he’s learned that the police were focused on intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty theft.

    Viborg main­tains that the raid had noth­ing to do with PRQ’s two most well-known asso­ciates: the secret-spilling web­site Wik­iLeaks or the Pirate Bay. Though Wik­iLeaks con­tin­ues to use PRQ’s ser­vices, Viborg says that the Pirate Bay hasn’t been host­ed at PRQ since the copy­right-flout­ing site’s founders were con­vict­ed of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty crimes in late 2010, despite the fact that two of the three founders of the Pirate Bay also cre­at­ed PRQ in 2004. One of the three, Got­tfrid Svartholm, was extra­dit­ed to Swe­den from Cam­bo­dia last month and also faces charges of hack­ing into the IT firm Log­i­ca.

    Since its founders’ con­vic­tion, the Pirate Bay’s abil­i­ty to stay online has been large­ly a mys­tery. Viborg and Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde say that the site now bounces around a series of tem­po­rary hosts, and that even they don’t know where it’s host­ed at any giv­en time.

    Still, the fact that PRQ’s websites–including the web host’s own site, PRQ.se–and the Pirate Bay went offline and came back online in tan­dem remains unex­plained. And Viborg admits it’s pos­si­ble that the Pirate Bay may have host­ed a relay serv­er in PRQ’s serv­er room, unbe­knownst to him, that bounced the site’s traf­fic to anoth­er loca­tion. But Viborg says that’s unlike­ly.

    “They could have a bounce ser­vice set up with us with­out us know­ing. But if they had, we would know by now. The police would have raid­ed us a long time ago,” says Viborg. “They wouldn’t have gone through the has­sle to raid these oth­ers tor­rent sites and ignore the fact that we were host­ing the Pirate Bay at the same time.”


    The Pirate Bay, for its part, says its down­time has been a result of a failed pow­er unit, accord­ing to the file­shar­ing-focused news site Tor­rent­f­reak.

    If there is any con­nec­tion between PRQ’s and the Pirate Bay’s down­time, Viborg spec­u­lates that both orga­ni­za­tions may have been hit by a series of dis­trib­uted denial of ser­vice attacks that flood­ed many Swedish sites with junk data ear­li­er this week. That attack took out sev­er­al of PRQ’s sites, a prob­lem that was exac­er­bat­ed by the police pre­vent­ing PRQ staff from access­ing their equip­ment. “If the Pirate Bay is host­ed in Swe­den, it could be in one of the oth­er data cen­ters affect­ed by this attack,” Viborg guess­es.

    Oth­er­wise, Viborg says, it may be “a very strange coin­ci­dence.”

    So yeah, while we don’t know who is cur­rent­ly host­ing The Pirate Bay (sure we don’t *wink* *wink*), it appears that The Pirate Bay and PRQ are able to oper­ate pret­ty much legal­ly. And it also appears that Swe­den’s Pirate Par­ty ISP, Seri­ous Tubes, might have been war­rant­i­ng a raid too:

    Swedish Pirate Par­ty faces legal action for pro­vid­ing Inter­net access to Pirate Bay
    The Pirate Par­ty was ordered to block access by next Tues­day or face legal action

    By Loek Essers
    Feb­ru­ary 20, 2013 11:53 am | IDG News Ser­vice

    The Swedish Pirate Par­ty faces a law­suit if it does not stop pro­vid­ing Inter­net access to The Pirate Bay file-shar­ing site by next Tues­day.

    The Pirate Par­ty was warned to stop pro­vid­ing access by the Rights Alliance, an orga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents the Scan­di­na­vian film indus­try. The par­ty received the warn­ing on Tues­day, said Anna Troberg, leader of the Swedish Pirate Par­ty on Wednes­day.

    Her par­ty has been pro­vid­ing Inter­net access to The Pirate Bay for almost three years because nobody else was will­ing to, Troberg said.

    The founders of The Pirate Bay, which facil­i­tates peer-to-peer file shar­ing, were found guilty in 2009 for being acces­sories to crimes against copy­right law, and their appeal was denied. The site is blocked in sev­er­al coun­tries.

    It is hard for The Pirate Bay, which since the founders’ con­vic­tion has restruc­tured its site, to find an ISP will­ing to con­nect it to the Inter­net, Troberg said. Accord­ing to Troberg, how­ev­er, what The Pirate Bay does is not ille­gal because they sim­ply pro­vide links to con­tent else­where. “There is no dif­fer­ence with Google,” she said, even though The Pirate Bay has been banned by courts in sev­er­al coun­tries because it helps users get access to copy­right-infring­ing mate­r­i­al.

    The Pirate Par­ty is a reg­is­tered ISP that buys band­width for The Pirate Bay at Seri­ous Tubes, an ISP that acts as a tran­sit provider for the Pirate Par­ty, Troberg said. The Rights Alliance sent Seri­ous Tubes the same cease-and-desist let­ter, pub­lished by Troberg, that it sent to the Pirate Par­ty.

    Seri­ous Tubes, how­ev­er, states on its site that the Pirate Par­ty hosts The Pirate Bay, which is incor­rect, accord­ing to Troberg. The Pirate Par­ty only buys band­width from Seri­ous Tubes, she said. Seri­ous Tubes did not reply to a request for com­ment.

    Pro­vid­ing access to sites such as The Pirate Bay, which facil­i­tate file-shar­ing of copy­right con­tent, is ille­gal and doing so is a crim­i­nal act, wrote Sara Lind­bäck, a lawyer for the Rights Alliance, in the group’s let­ter to the orga­ni­za­tions. The Pirate Par­ty and Seri­ous Tubes con­tribute to copy­right infringe­ments made pos­si­ble by the file-shar­ing site by pro­vid­ing access, the Alliance said.

    If the orga­ni­za­tions don’t respond to the order by Tues­day, Feb. 26, a legal pro­ce­dure will be start­ed, Lind­bäck wrote. She did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    Courts have ordered Swedish ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay in the past, as men­tioned by the Rights Alliance in the let­ter, Troberg said. But since then, The Pirate Bay has changed, she said. Accord­ing to her, the Pirate Par­ty is doing noth­ing wrong. “The only thing we do is make sure they have Inter­net access. What we are doing is not ille­gal,” Troberg said, adding that it is not dif­fer­ent from what oth­er ISPs do.

    The Pirate Bay can still be accessed in Swe­den, she not­ed. The Pirate Par­ty has expect­ed for a year that a warn­ing like this would come, accord­ing to Troberg. “We are pre­pared,” she said. She could­n’t say if the case would go to court, how­ev­er.


    A week after the threat of the law­suit, the Swedish Pirate Par­ty stopped host­ing The Pirate Bay and has report­ed­ly left Swe­den alto­geth­er, with servers remain­ing in places like Nor­way and Spain:

    Swedish Pirate Par­ty stops host­ing The Pirate Bay due to legal threats

    By Rick Burgess

    On Feb­ru­ary 26, 2013, 3:30 PM

    The Pirate Bay has vacat­ed its Swedish home­land in hopes of dodg­ing legal trou­bles brew­ing for Pirat­par­ti­et, oth­er­wise known as the Pirate Par­ty of Swe­den. A local anti-pira­cy group, Rights Alliance, threat­ened to sue Pirat­par­ti­et for pro­vid­ing band­width to The Pirate Bay for rough­ly three years now. To avoid a law­suit against the Pirate Par­ty, TPB’s oper­a­tion will be rely­ing on its numer­ous loca­tions out­side of Swe­den.

    The Pirate Bay has already made its qui­et tran­si­tion out of Swe­den. The infa­mous file-shar­ing site is cur­rent­ly host­ed in mul­ti­ple loca­tions, most notably Nor­way, Catalun­ya and Spain. TPB’s recent­ly expand­ed mul­ti­plic­i­ty of hosts actu­al­ly inspired the new “Hydra Bay” logo pic­tured to the side.

    The Pirate Par­ty is a move­ment that start­ed to gain trac­tion in Europe around 2006. The group’s core prin­ci­ples (pdf) are based upon a mis­sion of copy­right reform (the slow abol­ish­ment of patents and legal­iz­ing all non-com­mer­cial copy­ing, for exam­ple), sup­port­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic ideals and expand­ing per­son­al free­doms. In 2009, the Pirate Par­ty pro­cured two seats on the Euro­pean par­lia­ment and has since spread its wings glob­al­ly to about 60 dif­fer­ent regions, most notably in Rus­sia, Aus­tralia and Cana­da.


    Although Pirat­par­ti­et is pur­port­ed­ly no longer help­ing to host TPB, two sis­ter Pirate Par­ty groups locat­ed in Nor­way and Catalun­ya have filled in for Swe­den’s absence.

    And as we saw with The Pirate Bay’s con­ver­sion to the “Hydra Bay”, there’s no short­age of locals in the EU that will pro­vide sim­i­lar ser­vices. So it will be very inter­est­ing to how suc­cess­ful the Pirate Par­ty move­ment will be at lever­ag­ing the fall­out of the Snow­den affair. It will also be inter­est­ing to see if Swe­den’s cash-for-anonymi­ty web-host­ing sec­tor expe­ri­ences a surge in busi­ness this year. The part­ner­ing of busi­ness­es con­cerned over loss of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty with web-host­ing com­pa­nies owned by peo­ple ide­o­log­i­cal­ly opposed to patent law should be a sight to see. Strange days.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 14, 2013, 5:53 pm
  2. Move over Sci­en­tol­ogy...:

    Deutsche Welle
    Swe­den rec­og­nizes infor­ma­tion-shar­ing as reli­gion
    Three attempts in the past year have paid off for a new­ly rec­og­nized reli­gion in Swe­den that views infor­ma­tion as holy and copy­ing as a sacra­ment. Its lead­ers have pre­vi­ous ties to the Pirate Par­ty Swe­den.

    Author: Cyrus Fari­var
    Edi­tor: Stu­art Tiff­en
    Date 06.01.2012

    A file-shar­ing group known as the Church of Kopimism has received offi­cial recog­ni­tion from Swe­den as a spir­i­tu­al orga­ni­za­tion, it announced on Thurs­day.

    In late Decem­ber 2011, the Kam­markol­legi­et, or the Finan­cial and Admin­is­tra­tive Ser­vices, the pub­lic Swedish orga­ni­za­tion that deals with rec­og­niz­ing busi­ness­es and oth­er tax enti­ties, offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized the group. In Swe­den, this gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tion can allow rec­og­nized groups — which includes main­stream reli­gions, as well as Norse pagans — to file for appli­ca­tions for state fund­ing and to mar­ry cou­ples.

    Accord­ing to the Gagens Nyheter, Bertil Kall­ner of Swe­den’s Finan­cial and Admin­is­tra­tive Ser­vices said that a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty could “basi­cal­ly be any­thing.”

    “What’s impor­tant is that it is a com­mu­ni­ty for reli­gious activ­i­ties,” he added.

    Nordic coun­try hosts many file-shar­ing orga­ni­za­tions

    Swe­den has been the home of a num­ber of pro-file-shar­ing groups, includ­ing the con­tro­ver­sial web­site, The Pirate Bay, and lat­er, the Pirate Par­ty, which now has two seats in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Pirate Par­ties in many oth­er coun­tries have sprung up, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Europe. In late 2011, sev­er­al mem­bers of the Pirate Par­ty Ger­many sur­pris­ing­ly won seats in the Berlin state par­lia­ment.

    “For the Church of Kopimism, infor­ma­tion is holy and copy­ing is a sacra­ment,” the group said in an Eng­lish-lan­guage state­ment post­ed on its web­site.


    The Church of Kopimis­m’s chair­man, Gus­tav Nipe, pre­vi­ous­ly also helped found the Pirate Inter­net ser­vice provider last year, which was designed to chal­lenge Euro­pean pri­va­cy and data reten­tion law. Isak Ger­son, the group’s 20-year-old spir­i­tu­al leader, also has been involved in the Pirate Par­ty’s youth orga­ni­za­tion.

    Despite the new for­mal recog­ni­tion, the group’s web­site says it requires “no for­mal mem­ber­ship” to become a “kopimist.”

    “You just have to feel a call­ing to wor­ship what is the holi­est of the holi­est, infor­ma­tion and copy,” the orga­ni­za­tion wrote on its web­site. “To do this, we orga­nize kopy­act­ings — reli­gious ser­vices — where the kopimists share infor­ma­tion with each oth­er through copy­ing and remix.”

    Pow­ers of the con­fes­sion­al

    Also on Thurs­day, Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Pirate Par­ty Swe­den, wrote on his blog, that by rec­og­niz­ing file-shar­ing as a reli­gion, this may be a way for peo­ple who down­load unau­tho­rized dig­i­tal copies to skirt the law. That’s because, he argued, now Kopimist preach­ers “are defined as the ones facil­i­tat­ing holy copy­ing (and remix­ing).”

    “Trans­lat­ed to nerd­speak, that means the com­mu­ni­ca­tions between oper­a­tors of trackers/hubs and the peo­ple who par­take in the sacra­ment of copy­ing now car­ries con­fes­sion­al sta­tus, by and large mak­ing it ille­gal and impos­si­ble to col­lect as evi­dence in a tri­al,” he wrote.

    “That brings a whole boat­load of inter­est­ing legal ram­i­fi­ca­tions with regards to evi­dence col­lec­tion try­ing to per­se­cute the wor­shipers of holy copy­ing and remix­ing, does­n’t it?”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 14, 2013, 6:35 pm
  3. We learn­ing more about that those thou­sands of doc­u­ments Snow­den took are part of a “dead-man’s switch” that Snow­den is using to pro­tect him­self against “extreme­ly rogue behav­ior” by the US. Green­wald describes the doc­u­ments as con­tain­ing detailed “blue­prints” on how the NSA’s eaves­drop­ping sys­tems work that would enable read­ers to evade detec­tion or repli­cate it. Accord­ing to Green­wald, Snow­den does­n’t want the doc­u­ments released. So it seems like a rea­son­able assump­tion that Wik­iLeaks and who knows who else has an NSA how-to man­u­al that might be released at some point in the future or kept for pri­vate con­sump­tion:

    Jul 15, 1:46 AM EDT
    Jour­nal­ist: Edward Snow­den has ‘blue­prints’ to NSA

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Edward Snow­den has high­ly sen­si­tive doc­u­ments on how the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency is struc­tured and oper­ates that could harm the U.S. gov­ern­ment, but has insist­ed that they not be made pub­lic, a jour­nal­ist close to the NSA leak­er said.

    Glenn Green­wald, a colum­nist with The Guardian news­pa­per who first report­ed on the intel­li­gence leaks, told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press that dis­clo­sure of the infor­ma­tion in the doc­u­ments “would allow some­body who read them to know exact­ly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that sur­veil­lance or repli­cate it.”

    He said the “lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of doc­u­ments” tak­en by Snow­den con­sti­tute “basi­cal­ly the instruc­tion man­u­al for how the NSA is built.”

    “In order to take doc­u­ments with him that proved that what he was say­ing was true he had to take ones that includ­ed very sen­si­tive, detailed blue­prints of how the NSA does what they do,” the jour­nal­ist said Sun­day in a Rio de Janeiro hotel room. He said the inter­view was tak­ing place about four hours after his last inter­ac­tion with Snow­den.

    Green­wald said he believes the dis­clo­sure of the infor­ma­tion in the doc­u­ments would not prove harm­ful to Amer­i­cans or their nation­al secu­ri­ty, but that Snow­den has insist­ed they not be made pub­lic.

    “I think it would be harm­ful to the U.S. gov­ern­ment, as they per­ceive their own inter­ests, if the details of those pro­grams were revealed,” he said.

    He has pre­vi­ous­ly said the doc­u­ments have been encrypt­ed to help ensure their safe­keep­ing.

    Snow­den emerged from weeks of hid­ing in a Moscow air­port Fri­day, and said he was will­ing to meet Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s con­di­tion that he stop leak­ing U.S. secrets if it means Rus­sia would give him asy­lum until he can move on to Latin Amer­i­ca.

    Green­wald told The AP that he delib­er­ate­ly avoids talk­ing to Snow­den about issues relat­ed to where the for­mer ana­lyst might seek asy­lum in order to avoid pos­si­ble legal prob­lems for him­self.

    Snow­den is believed to be stuck in the tran­sit area of Moscow’s main inter­na­tion­al air­port, where he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23. He’s had offers of asy­lum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but because his U.S. pass­port has been revoked, the logis­tics of reach­ing whichev­er coun­try he choos­es are com­pli­cat­ed.

    Still, Green­wald said that Snow­den remains “calm and tran­quil,” despite his predica­ment.

    “I haven’t sensed an iota of remorse or regret or anx­i­ety over the sit­u­a­tion that he’s in,” said Green­wald, who has lived in Brazil for the past eight years. “He’s of course tense and focused on his secu­ri­ty and his short-term well-being to the best extent that he can, but he’s very resigned to the fact that things might go ter­ri­bly wrong and he’s at peace with that.”

    Green­wald said he wor­ried that inter­est in Snow­den’s per­son­al saga had detract­ed from the impact of his rev­e­la­tions, adding that Snow­den delib­er­ate­ly turned down near­ly all requests for inter­views to avoid the media spot­light.

    Asked whether Snow­den seemed wor­ried about his per­son­al safe­ty, Green­wald respond­ed, “he’s con­cerned.”

    He said the U.S. has shown it’s “will­ing to take even the most extreme steps if they think doing so is nec­es­sary to neu­tral­ize a nation­al secu­ri­ty threat,” Green­wald said. “He’s aware of all those things, he’s con­cerned about them but he’s not going to be in any way par­a­lyzed or con­strained in what he thinks he can do as a result of that.”

    Asked about a so-called dead man’s pact, which Green­wald has said would allow sev­er­al peo­ple to access Snow­den’s trove of doc­u­ments were any­thing to hap­pen to him, Green­wald replied that “media descrip­tions of it have been over­ly sim­plis­tic.

    It’s not just a mat­ter of, if he dies, things get released, it’s more nuanced than that,” he said. “It’s real­ly just a way to pro­tect him­self against extreme­ly rogue behav­ior on the part of the Unit­ed States, by which I mean vio­lent actions toward him, designed to end his life, and it’s just a way to ensure that nobody feels incen­tivized to do that.”

    He declined to pro­vide any more details about the pact or how it would work.

    Green­wald said he him­self has beefed up his own secu­ri­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly since a lap­top went miss­ing from his Rio home.

    “I don’t real­ly feel com­fort­able dis­cussing the spe­cif­ic mea­sures, but one would be real­ly irra­tional and fool­ish to have thou­sands of top-secret doc­u­ments from the most secre­tive agency of the world’s most pow­er­ful gov­ern­ment and not be thought­ful about added secu­ri­ty,” said the 46-year-old for­mer con­sti­tu­tion­al and civ­il rights lawyer who has writ­ten three books con­tend­ing the gov­ern­ment has vio­lat­ed per­son­al rights in the name of pro­tect­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty.

    Green­wald has also co-authored a series of arti­cles in Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo news­pa­per focus­ing on NSA actions in Latin Amer­i­ca. He said he expect­ed to con­tin­ue pub­lish­ing fur­ther sto­ries based on oth­er Snow­den doc­u­ments over the next four months.

    Upcom­ing sto­ries would like­ly include details on “oth­er domes­tic spy­ing pro­grams that have yet to be revealed,” but which are sim­i­lar in scope to those he has been report­ing on. He did not pro­vide fur­ther details on the nature of those pro­grams.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 15, 2013, 11:06 am
  4. Here’s an arti­cle on the impact the Snow­den affair is hav­ing on Wik­iLeak­s’s finances. So far, it has­n’t been espe­cial­ly help­ful:

    Wik­iLeaks Leak­ing Cash After Snow­den-Inspired Surge Slows
    By Ben Moshin­sky, Sale­ha Mohsin & Cor­nelius Rahn — Jul 10, 2013 10:18 AM CT

    Wik­iLeaks is leak­ing cash.

    Dona­tions to the Euro­pean anti-secre­cy web­site ini­tial­ly surged after it offered finan­cial sup­port for Edward Snow­den, the for­mer U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency con­trac­tor who revealed secrets about Amer­i­can sur­veil­lance, the group’s spon­sor says. Con­tri­bu­tions since have slid, accord­ing to the Ham­burg-based Wau Hol­land Foun­da­tion, main col­lec­tor of funds for Wik­iLeaks.

    Dona­tions surged to 1,000 euros ($1,285) a day after Snow­den stepped for­ward as the source of June news­pa­per reports about U.S. tele­phone and Inter­net sur­veil­lance, accord­ing to Bernd Fix, a spokesman for Wau Hol­land. Dai­ly con­tri­bu­tions have since dropped to about 100 euros ($128.50), or about three times the rate before Snowden’s emer­gence, a lev­el that is unlike­ly to put Wik­iLeaks in the black again after two years of deficits, Fix said in an e‑mail.

    The group has dra­mat­i­cal­ly cut expens­es as con­tri­bu­tions have dropped off, Kristinn Hrafns­son, a spokesman for Wik­iLeaks, said by tele­phone from Reyk­javik. He said the orga­ni­za­tion should be able to sur­vive at a low­er lev­el of activ­i­ty.

    “I’m fair­ly opti­mistic we’ll be able to raise enough funds to con­tin­ue our work,” he said. “We have adapt­ed to the sit­u­a­tion and will car­ry on.”

    The group, which pub­lished diplo­mat­ic and mil­i­tary doc­u­ments obtained by U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Man­ning in 2010, thrust itself into the news again this year by offer­ing legal and logis­ti­cal help for Snow­den. It put a char­tered air­plane on stand-by after Snow­den, who had worked as a gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor in Hawaii, sur­faced in Hong Kong fol­low­ing news­pa­per reports of mate­r­i­al he lat­er acknowl­edged pro­vid­ing about sur­veil­lance.
    Plane Arranged

    Ola­fur Vig­nir Sig­urvins­son, an Ice­land-based Wik­iLeaks rep­re­sen­ta­tive who arranged the plane for Snow­den, said by phone this week that the char­ter was made pos­si­ble through out­side funds from “friends,” though Snow­den even­tu­al­ly made it to Moscow on a reg­u­lar OAO Aeroflot flight. Wik­iLeaks “did have a hand in financ­ing” the flight to Moscow, said Hrafns­son, declin­ing to spec­i­fy the cost.

    Sig­urvins­son said there are “cur­rent­ly” no plans to fly Snow­den from the inter­na­tion­al tran­sit area of Moscow’s air­port, where he is seek­ing asy­lum in oth­er coun­tries. The U.S. has accused Snow­den of espi­onage and theft and revoked his pass­port.

    Wik­iLeaks said yes­ter­day on Twit­ter that Snow­den had not “for­mal­ly” accept­ed asy­lum in Venezuela, dis­put­ing ear­li­er reports. The group said “states con­cerned will make the announce­ment if and when the appro­pri­ate time comes. The announce­ment will then be con­firmed by us.” Wik­iLeaks has 1.9 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Twit­ter.
    Assange At Bay

    Wik­iLeaks has been strug­gling with financ­ing and rel­e­vance as founder Julian Assange is holed up at the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don to avoid extra­di­tion to Swe­den. The group also lost more than $50 mil­lion of poten­tial dona­tions after Visa Europe, Mas­ter­Card Inc. (MA) and Amer­i­can Express Co. (AXP) stopped pay­ments to the Wik­iLeaks in 2010, accord­ing to Assange.

    Rebec­ca Kauf­man, a spokes­woman at Mas­ter­card, and Jen­nifer Doidge, a spokes­woman for Visa, didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to voice­mails seek­ing com­ment.

    Visa and Mas­ter­Card, along with Pay­Pal, Bank of Amer­i­ca and West­ern Union had sus­pend­ed pro­cess­ing pay­ments for Wik­iLeaks when the site pub­lished clas­si­fied doc­u­ments leaked by Man­ning, who’s cur­rent­ly on tri­al in the U.S.

    The block­ade was lift­ed this year fol­low­ing a court bat­tle by Reyk­javik-based Dat­a­Cell, which process­es Wik­iLeaks pay­ments.

    The Supreme Court of Ice­land required the pay­ment gate­way opened, accord­ing to an agree­ment made with Dat­a­Cell, Visa Europe said in a state­ment today, and Visa Europe hasn’t sought to pre­vent com­pli­ance with that legal order.
    ‘Block­ade’ Effect

    “The bank­ing block­ade has had a dra­mat­ic effect” on Wik­iLeaks, Hrafns­son said. “The most seri­ous aspect of the bank­ing block­ade is that it stripped us of the abil­i­ty to expand and car­ry out the projects we had in mind.”

    The group last year spent almost 400,000 euros after receiv­ing just 69,000 euros in dona­tions, accord­ing to the Wau Hol­land Foundation’s annu­al report. While Wikileak’s fund­ing comes “most­ly from Wau Hol­land,” Hrafns­son said, he couldn’t imme­di­ate­ly say how much comes from oth­er sources.

    Wik­iLeaks can now process dona­tions via Mas­ter­Card and Visa through a pay­ment gate­way in France, Hrafns­son said.
    Oth­er Assis­tance

    The San Fran­cis­co-based Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion is rais­ing mon­ey online for Wik­iLeaks and oth­er jour­nal­ism orga­ni­za­tions, accord­ing to exec­u­tive direc­tor Trevor Timm. The foun­da­tion has tak­en in more than $300,000 since fundrais­ing began in mid-Decem­ber, with 40 per­cent going to Wik­iLeaks. The mon­ey for Wik­iLeaks goes to Wau Hol­land, he said.

    The press foun­da­tion also is rais­ing mon­ey to hire court stenog­ra­phers for Manning’s mil­i­tary tri­al to make the pro­ceed­ings avail­able to the pub­lic, Timm said.

    Wau Hol­land report­ed col­lect­ing 1.5 mil­lion euros for Wik­iLeaks from 2010-12, accord­ing to its annu­al report. It raised 1.3 mil­lion euros in 2010, it report­ed, with col­lec­tions declin­ing to 69,000 euros in 2012.

    The foun­da­tion list­ed the main expens­es for Wik­iLeaks as 178,000 euros stem­ming from “cam­paigns,” or from con­tent review, “jour­nal­ist con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion” and exter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. It spent 134,000 euros on logis­tics, 37,000 euros on infra­struc­ture and 18,000 euros on legal advice, accord­ing to Wau.

    Par­ing Expens­es

    “Devel­op­ment of dona­tions over the past two years has declined sub­stan­tial­ly, and is cur­rent­ly no longer able to pro­vide the ear­li­er lev­els sup­port for the project,” Wau stat­ed in the report. “Since Jan­u­ary 2013 the foun­da­tion has only been able to cov­er expen­di­tures in essen­tial infra­struc­ture, such as servers.”

    Wau Hol­land was set up in mem­o­ry of Her­wart “Wau” Hol­land-Moritz, who found­ed the Chaos Com­put­er Club in 1981 and died in 2001. The foundation’s aim is to “pro­mote and pur­sue his unique free­think­ing in rela­tion to free­dom of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and infor­ma­tion­al self-deter­mi­na­tion,” accord­ing to its web­site.

    Wik­iLeaks seeks dona­tions of 10 euros to 250 euros ($13 to $319) on its web­site via cred­it card through a French bank, or through Pay­Pal or with Bit­coins. It also gets mon­ey from crowd sourc­ing through the Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion, ask­ing for dona­tions from $25 to $5,000. The foun­da­tion also rais­es mon­ey for the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 16, 2013, 11:02 am
  5. While it’s look­ing like Snow­den could stay in Rus­sia for the fore­see­able future, for­mer GOP Sen­a­tor Gor­don Humphrey is pub­licly rec­om­mend­ing that Swe­den grant Snow­den asy­lum:

    For­mer Sen. Gor­don Humphrey: Swe­den should take Edward Snow­den

    By HADAS GOLD | 7/17/13 7:09 AM EDT Updat­ed: 7/17/13 10:39 AM EDT

    Swe­den should stand up to the Unit­ed States and offer Edward Snow­den asy­lum, for­mer GOP Sen. Gor­don Humphrey said in an e‑mail to POLITICO.

    “Respect­ful­ly, I say to Swe­den, ‘Amer­i­ca has done wrong in this instance. Stand up to her. Grant Edward Snow­den asy­lum. You will do the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States a great favor to resist their gov­ern­ment in this mat­ter and at this moment,” Humphrey wrote Wednes­day morn­ing.

    Humphrey said Swe­den would be the “ide­al coun­try” for the NSA leak­er because it is only a one hour flight from the Russ­ian bor­der and “no over­flight is nec­es­sary of coun­tries like­ly to coop­er­ate with the U.S. in forc­ing down an air­craft car­ry­ing Mr. Snow­den to asy­lum.”

    Addi­tion­al­ly, Humphrey said Swe­den “has a rep­u­ta­tion for high-mind­ed­ness” and “a strong tra­di­tion of jus­tice.”

    “And even though Swe­den is warm­ly friend­ly towards the Unit­ed States, it is firm in its deter­mi­na­tion to act inde­pen­dent­ly.”

    Accord­ing to Wik­iLeaks, Snow­den has not applied for asy­lum in Swe­den.

    Humphrey, who rep­re­sent­ed New Hamp­shire for two terms in the Sen­ate and was on the For­eign Rela­tions, Armed Ser­vices and Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tees, said he will be ral­ly­ing a few for­mer Mem­bers of Con­gress to “join togeth­er in appeal­ing to Swe­den and oth­er West­ern coun­tries to stand up to Wash­ing­ton and grant Mr. Snow­den asy­lum.”

    He said he has not reached out to the admin­is­tra­tion to express his views and believes at the moment it is more use­ful to appeal to the pub­lic than the gov­ern­ment.

    In an e‑mail to Snow­den pub­lished by the Guardian on Tues­day, Humphrey said he thinks the for­mer NSA con­tracter did “the right thing” in leak­ing infor­ma­tion about gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

    “I believe you have done the right thing in expos­ing what I regard as mas­sive vio­la­tion of the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion,” Humphrey wrote to Snow­den. “Hav­ing served in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate for twelve years as a mem­ber of the For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee and the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, I think I have a good ground­ing to reach my con­clu­sion.”

    In an e‑mail to jour­nal­ist Glenn Green­wald, who broke the sto­ry about Snow­den, Humphrey called Snow­den a “coura­geous whis­tle-blow­er.”

    “Yes. It was I who sent the email mes­sage to Edward Snow­den, thank­ing him for expos­ing aston­ish­ing vio­la­tions of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and encour­ag­ing him to per­se­vere in the search for asy­lum,” Humphrey wrote. “To my knowl­edge, Mr. Snow­den has dis­closed only the exis­tence of a pro­gram and not details that would place any per­son in harm’s way. I regard him as a coura­geous whis­tle-blow­er.”

    In a thank you note to Humphrey, Snow­den said that the infor­ma­tion he has can­not be com­pro­mised, not even by U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies.

    “No intel­li­gence ser­vice — not even our own — has the capac­i­ty to com­pro­mise the secrets I con­tin­ue to pro­tect. While it has not been report­ed in the media, one of my spe­cial­iza­tions was to teach our peo­ple at DIA how to keep such infor­ma­tion from being com­pro­mised even in the high­est threat counter-intel­li­gence envi­ron­ments (i.e. Chi­na).”

    Snow­den added “you may rest easy know­ing I can­not be coerced into reveal­ing that infor­ma­tion, even under tor­ture.”


    You have to won­der if the anony­mous third par­ties (pre­sum­ably Wik­iLeaks) that are cur­rent­ly hold­ing the doc­u­ment trea­sure-trove as part of Snow­den’s “Dead Man’s Switch” threat also share his will­ing­ness to be tor­tured before they’d be will­ing to divulge the secrets of the NSA. Prob­a­bly not:

    Snowden’s Con­tin­gency: ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ Bor­rows From Cold War, Wik­iLeaks

    By Kim Zetter
    4:31 PM

    The strat­e­gy employed by NSA whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den to dis­cour­age a CIA hit job has been likened to a tac­tic employed by the U.S. and Russ­ian gov­ern­ments dur­ing the Cold War.

    Snow­den, a for­mer sys­tems admin­is­tra­tor for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency in Hawaii, took thou­sands of doc­u­ments from the agency’s net­works before flee­ing to Hong Kong in late May, where he passed them to Guardian colum­nist Glenn Green­wald and doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er Lau­ra Poitras. The jour­nal­ists have han­dled them with great cau­tion. A sto­ry in the Ger­man pub­li­ca­tion Der Spie­gal, co-bylined by Poitras, claims the doc­u­ments include infor­ma­tion “that could endan­ger the lives of NSA work­ers,” and an Asso­ci­at­ed Press inter­view with Green­wald this last week­end asserts that they include blue­prints for the NSA’s sur­veil­lance sys­tems that “would allow some­body who read them to know exact­ly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that sur­veil­lance or repli­cate it.”

    But Snow­den also report­ed­ly passed encrypt­ed copies of his cache to a num­ber of third par­ties who have a non-jour­nal­is­tic mis­sion: If Snow­den should suf­fer a mys­te­ri­ous, fatal acci­dent, these par­ties will find them­selves in pos­ses­sion of the decryp­tion key, and they can pub­lish the doc­u­ments to the world.

    “The U.S. gov­ern­ment should be on its knees every day beg­ging that noth­ing hap­pen to Snow­den,” Green­wald said in a recent inter­view with the Argen­tinean paper La Nacion, that was high­light­ed in a much-cir­cu­lat­ed Reuters sto­ry, “because if some­thing does hap­pen to him, all the infor­ma­tion will be revealed and it could be its worst night­mare.”

    It’s not clear if Snow­den passed all of the doc­u­ments to these third par­ties or just some of them, since Green­wald says Snow­den made it clear that he doesn’t want the NSA blue­prints pub­lished.

    Either way, Snowden’s strat­e­gy has been described joc­u­lar­ly in the press as a “dead man’s switch” — a tac­tic pop­u­lar­ized in movies and thrillers where­by a bomber or crim­i­nal mas­ter­mind has a det­o­na­tor wired to a bomb and the only thing keep­ing it from explod­ing is his fin­ger on the det­o­na­tor but­ton. If police shoot him, he releas­es the but­ton and the bomb goes off.

    But Snowden’s case is actu­al­ly a kind of reverse dead man’s switch, says John Pra­dos, senior research fel­low for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Archive and author of sev­er­al books on secret wars of the CIA.

    “As an infor­ma­tion strat­e­gy, what Snow­den is doing is sim­i­lar to that, but it doesn’t have the same kind of impli­ca­tion,” Pra­dos says. “We’re not set­ting off a bomb or hav­ing some oth­er kind of weapon-of-mass-destruc­tion go off.”

    In the pop­u­lar sce­nar­ios, the per­son has con­trol over the event, and the weapon or dead­ly force is lib­er­at­ed or det­o­nat­ed only if that per­son is neu­tral­ized in some way and con­trol is tak­en away from him. But the ele­ment of con­trol is much dif­fer­ent in Snowden’s case.

    “In the dead man switch, my pos­i­tive con­trol is nec­es­sary in order to pre­vent the even­tu­al­i­ty [of an explo­sion],” Pra­dos said. “In Snowden’s infor­ma­tion strat­e­gy, he dis­trib­uted sets of the infor­ma­tion in such a fash­ion that if he is tak­en, then oth­er peo­ple will move to release infor­ma­tion. In oth­er words, his pos­i­tive con­trol of the sys­tem is not required to make the even­tu­al­i­ty hap­pen. In fact, it’s his neg­a­tive con­trol that applies.

    “The oper­a­tion of the sys­tem is reversed. He’s not call­ing up some­one every 25 hours say­ing I’m still free, don’t let the stuff out. The stuff is out, and if he isn’t free, then they let it out. The dynam­ic is reversed from the tra­di­tion­al con­cept of the dead man switch.”

    Green­wald told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that media descrip­tions of Snowden’s tac­tic have been over-sim­pli­fied.

    “It’s not just a mat­ter of, if he dies, things get released, it’s more nuanced than that,” he said. “It’s real­ly just a way to pro­tect him­self against extreme­ly rogue behav­ior on the part of the Unit­ed States, by which I mean vio­lent actions toward him, designed to end his life, and it’s just a way to ensure that nobody feels incen­tivized to do that.”


    Snowden’s case is not the first time this sce­nario has been used for infor­ma­tion dis­tri­b­u­tion instead of weapons. In 2010, Wik­ileaks pub­lished an encrypt­ed “insur­ance file” on its web site in the wake of strong U.S. gov­ern­ment state­ments con­demn­ing the group’s pub­li­ca­tion of 77,000 Afghan War doc­u­ments that had been leaked to it by for­mer Army intel­li­gence ana­lyst Bradley Man­ning.

    The huge file, post­ed on the Afghan War page at the Wik­iLeaks site, was 1.4 GB and was encrypt­ed with AES256. The file was also post­ed on tor­rent down­load sites.

    It’s not known what the file con­tains but it was pre­sumed to con­tain the bal­ance of doc­u­ments and data that Man­ning had leaked to the group before he was arrest­ed in 2010 and that still had not been pub­lished at the time. This includ­ed a dif­fer­ent war log cache that con­tained 500,000 events from the Iraq War between 2004 and 2009, a video show­ing a dead­ly 2009 U.S. fire­fight near the Garani vil­lage in Afghanistan that local author­i­ties said killed 100 civil­ians, most of them chil­dren, as well as 260,000 U.S. State Depart­ment cables.

    Wik­iLeaks has nev­er dis­closed the con­tents of the insur­ance file, though most of the out­stand­ing doc­u­ments from Man­ning have since been pub­lished by the group.

    It looks like we can add “crack­ing all the pub­licly released ‘uncrack­able’ encrypt­ed black­mail files” to the list of future fun things to do with quan­tum com­put­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 17, 2013, 10:51 am
  6. Snow­den to tes­ti­fy before the EU?

    Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Wants Snow­den, NSA Chief to Tes­ti­fy on Spy­ing

    By Ryan Gal­lagher
    Post­ed Thurs­day, July 18, 2013, at 2:31 PM

    The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is gear­ing up to launch an inves­ti­ga­tion into the recent­ly revealed NSA sur­veil­lance programs—and law­mak­ers are draw­ing up an inter­est­ing list of wit­ness­es who they want to invite to inter­view about the snoop­ing.

    In Sep­tem­ber, the par­lia­ment is set to begin a series of hear­ings as part of the inquiry, which was estab­lished fol­low­ing the expo­sure of sweep­ing spy efforts that extend across the world. Now, mem­bers of the par­lia­ment are putting for­ward names for indi­vid­u­als they want to call in to answer ques­tions. Among those sug­gest­ed so far are a series of high-pro­file fig­ures at the cen­ter of the sur­veil­lance rev­e­la­tions, includ­ing Edward Snow­den, the whis­tle-blow­er who leaked the secret doc­u­ments on the spy­ing; NSA chief Gen. Kei­th Alexan­der; and Guardian jour­nal­ist Glenn Green­wald, who was passed the doc­u­ments by Snow­den and has pub­lished sev­er­al scoops based on them in recent weeks.

    In the Unit­ed States, the reac­tion to the sur­veil­lance leaks has pri­mar­i­ly focused on the vast domes­tic phone records data­base, first revealed by the Guardian last month. But in Europe, the out­rage has been over the PRISM Inter­net sur­veil­lance pro­gram, which report­ed­ly enables the NSA to col­lect data on for­eign­ers from major U.S. com­pa­nies includ­ing Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo. Politi­cians across Europe have also respond­ed furi­ous­ly to alle­ga­tions that the U.S. gov­ern­ment has been bug­ging Euro­pean embassies and mis­sions in appar­ent vio­la­tion of a 1961 con­ven­tion on diplo­mat­ic rela­tions. And there has been a par­tic­u­lar­ly strong out­cry in Ger­many over reports that the NSA is col­lect­ing meta­da­ta on half a bil­lion phone calls and emails across the coun­try every month.

    Last week, at a meet­ing about the scope of its inquiry into the NSA’s sur­veil­lance, mem­bers of the Euro­pean Parliament’s civ­il lib­er­ties com­mit­tee agreed that they would invite U.S. author­i­ties, sur­veil­lance and pri­va­cy experts, data pro­tec­tion author­i­ties, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from par­lia­ments in EU mem­bers states to par­tic­i­pate in a series of at least 12 pub­lic hear­ings sched­uled for before the end of the year. On Thurs­day, Ger­man mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Jan Albrecht pub­lished a list of indi­vid­u­als he is request­ing be invit­ed. Aside from Snow­den and Green­wald, it includes a host of top sur­veil­lance experts, plus NSA whis­tle-blow­ers Thomas Drake and William Bin­ney, who have both in recent years spo­ken out pub­licly about the agency’s grow­ing spy­ing capa­bil­i­ties. Dutch MEP Sophie In ‘t Veld, vice chair of the civ­il lib­er­ties com­mit­tee, con­firmed in an email Thurs­day that she intends to invite Gen. Alexan­der. The inquiry’s con­clu­sions will even­tu­al­ly be pre­sent­ed in a report to the par­lia­ment and could have impli­ca­tions for data-shar­ing agree­ments between Europe and the Unit­ed States.

    Snow­den, no doubt, would like the oppor­tu­ni­ty to appear at one of the hear­ings. But he remains effec­tive­ly strand­ed at a Moscow air­port (for now) while he seeks tem­po­rary asy­lum in Rus­sia. He appar­ent­ly hopes to then move on to one of the Latin Amer­i­can nations that have offered him a safe haven—Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Despite the anger in Europe over the spy­ing Snow­den has revealed, gov­ern­ments in the EU have not been rush­ing to wel­come him with open arms. In a bizarre inci­dent ear­li­er this month, France, Spain, Italy, and Por­tu­gal alleged­ly refused to allow Boli­vian Pres­i­dent Evo Morales’ jet to pass through their air­space after sus­pi­cions were raised that Snow­den was on board. Boli­vian offi­cials blamed U.S. pres­sure for the deba­cle, describ­ing it as a “hos­tile act” that had been orches­trat­ed by the State Depart­ment.

    It’s also worth not­ing that Jan Albrecht, the Ger­man Green Par­ty MEP with close ties to the Pirate Pary that is lead­ing the calls for an inves­ti­ga­tion into NSA sur­veil­lance, has been sprear­head­ing the effort for a major EU over­haul in EU online data pro­tec­tion laws that Albrecht said would pri­mar­i­ly impact the web­ser­vices and busi­ness mod­els of US firms oper­at­ing in the EU. And US firms have report­ed­ly engaged in an unprece­dent­ed lob­by­ing effort to stop the changes. Those dig­i­tal pri­va­cy reform efforts, and the Pirate Par­ty in gen­er­al, could get a big boost form the Snow­den Affair:

    Ars Tech­ni­ca
    Pro­posed EU data pro­tec­tion reform could start a “trade war,” US offi­cial says
    Activist: “Noth­ing, not even ACTA, caused the US to lob­by on this scale.”

    by Cyrus Fari­var — Jan 31 2013, 7:35pm CDT

    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM—Back in 1998, British come­di­an Eddie Izzard quipped on his Dress to Kill tour that the Euro­pean Union was “500 mil­lion peo­ple, 200 lan­guages. No one’s got a clue what they’re say­ing to each oth­er. It’s the cut­ting edge of pol­i­tics in a very extra­or­di­nar­i­ly bor­ing way.” Fif­teen years on, it’s easy to under­stand how pre­scient his words were.

    But after spend­ing two days in the Bel­gian cap­i­tal, it’s clear that dig­i­tal­ly mind­ed offi­cials, activists, lob­by­ists and mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment are focused square­ly on what could become a mas­sive­ly impor­tant change to the Euro­pean Union’s rules con­cern­ing data pro­tec­tion. What’s more, they have the atten­tion of Amer­i­can tech firms as well.

    As we report­ed over a year ago, Jus­tice Com­mis­sion­er Viviane Red­ing of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­posed a “com­pre­hen­sive reform” to exist­ing data pro­tec­tion law, which would reg­u­late how online ser­vice com­pa­nies are allowed to keep infor­ma­tion on their cus­tomers. Right now, any­one who cares about Euro­pean tech issues has their eye on this ongo­ing leg­is­la­tion as it makes its way through var­i­ous Brus­sels bod­ies. The leg­is­la­tion is not expect­ed to take effect until 2016.

    And by all accounts, lob­by­ing pres­sure from Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives and their cor­po­rate allies is inten­si­fy­ing at an unprece­dent­ed lev­el as the draft amend­ments for data pro­tec­tion reform make their way through var­i­ous com­mit­tees push­ing to strength­en what the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has pro­posed. One eco­nom­ic offi­cer in the US For­eign Ser­vice even com­ment­ed this week (Google Trans­late) that the cur­rent reform draft could “insti­gate a trade war” with the US.

    Some Euro­pean leg­is­la­tors don’t mind the atten­tion. “With this reg­u­la­tion, we real­ly try to impact the US debate,” said Jan Philip Albrecht, a Green Par­ty mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (MEP) from north­ern Ger­many. He hopes that the entire par­lia­ment will vote on the reforms before the next Euro­pean Par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in June 2014.

    Albrecht is the “rap­por­teur,” or par­lia­men­tary liai­son between his Com­mit­tee on Civ­il Lib­er­ties, Jus­tice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion on this issue. Albrecht acknowl­edged that Amer­i­can tech com­pa­nies like Google, Face­book, Microsoft, Apple, Ama­zon, and oth­ers would be among the most direct­ly affect­ed should these new reforms that he has pro­posed take effect.

    “[Of course, reform isn’t affect­ing the US] direct­ly, but we hope that there would be a debate in the US about if it could be a good exam­ple for the US to fol­low,” he added.

    In this case, a new reg­u­la­tion would offer major improve­ments over cur­rent law. The data pro­tec­tion reforms as pro­posed by the Com­mis­sion would con­sol­i­date exist­ing data pro­tec­tion rules, would require data breach noti­fi­ca­tion with­in 24 hours, and would include a “right to be for­got­ten,” allow­ing cit­i­zens to “delete their data if there are no legit­i­mate grounds for retain­ing it.”

    At present, the data pro­tec­tion reform bill could also make data porta­bil­i­ty easier—moving data from LinkedIn to Facebook—and it could impose new fines of between 1 and 4 per­cent of glob­al rev­enues for com­pa­nies that vio­late the EU’s rules.

    At present, tech com­pa­nies doing busi­ness across the EU must pay atten­tion to the rules in all of the 27 mem­ber states (soon to be 28, when Croa­t­ia accedes to the union lat­er this year). Com­mis­sion­er Red­ing has stat­ed that allow­ing com­pa­nies to deal with the data pro­tec­tion author­i­ty in the main EU coun­try where they have their estab­lish­ment would col­lec­tive­ly save busi­ness­es around €2.3 bil­lion ($3.1 bil­lion) a year. In the case of Face­book, for exam­ple, that would be Ire­land, where the com­pa­ny has declared its inter­na­tion­al head­quar­ters.

    This month, MEP Albrecht pub­lished his draft response to the Commission’s proposal—and that’s cer­tain­ly ruf­fled some feath­ers.

    Here’s one of the most note­wor­thy addi­tions that he put forth in his 215-page draft (PDF) expand­ing on what the Com­mis­sion had ini­tial­ly pro­posed:

    The right to the pro­tec­tion of per­son­al data is based on the right of the data sub­ject to exert the con­trol over the per­son­al data that are being processed. To this end the data sub­ject should be grant­ed clear and unam­bigu­ous rights to the pro­vi­sion of trans­par­ent, clear and eas­i­ly under­stand­able infor­ma­tion regard­ing the pro­cess­ing of his or her per­son­al data, the right of access, rec­ti­fi­ca­tion and era­sure of their per­son­al data, the right to data porta­bil­i­ty and the right to object to pro­fil­ing. More­over the data sub­ject should have also the right to lodge a com­plaint with regard to the pro­cess­ing of per­son­al data by a con­troller or proces­sor with the com­pe­tent data pro­tec­tion author­i­ty and to bring legal pro­ceed­ings in order to enforce his or her rights as well as the right to com­pen­sa­tion and dam­ages result­ing of an unlaw­ful pro­cess­ing oper­a­tion or from an action incom­pat­i­ble with this Reg­u­la­tion. The pro­vi­sions of this Reg­u­la­tion should strength­en, clar­i­fy, guar­an­tee and where appro­pri­ate, cod­i­fy those rights.

    Beyond his for­mal response, the 30-year-old Ger­man leg­is­la­tor has endorsed a new peti­tion (the “Brus­sels Dec­la­ra­tion”) from civ­il lib­er­ties groups, dig­i­tal rights asso­ci­a­tions, and many of Europe’s tech­no­rati.

    “We are out­raged, because we, the cit­i­zens, are now kept in hun­dreds of data­bas­es, most­ly with­out our knowl­edge or con­sent,” the peti­tion thun­ders. “Over 1,200 com­pa­nies spe­cial­ize in trad­ing our per­son­al data, most­ly with­out our knowl­edge or con­sent, every time we browse the Inter­net over 50 com­pa­nies now mon­i­tor every click, most­ly with­out our knowl­edge or con­sent, we are con­stant­ly being cat­e­go­rized and judged by algo­rithms and then treat­ed accord­ing to the ‘per­ceived val­ue’ we may or may not bring to busi­ness with­out our knowl­edge and con­sent, and lob­by­ing is cur­rent­ly replac­ing Euro­pean cit­i­zens’ voic­es and man­i­fest con­cerns.”

    Sig­na­to­ries to the peti­tion include groups like Bits of Free­dom (Nether­lands), Elec­tron­ic Pri­va­cy and Infor­ma­tion Cen­ter (USA), Euro­pean Dig­i­tal Rights, Pri­va­cy Inter­na­tion­al (UK), the Chaos Com­put­er Club (Ger­many), La Quad­ra­ture du Net (France), and well-known Euro­pean activists, includ­ing Smári McCarthy (Ice­land), and Max Schrems (Aus­tria), whom Ars pro­filed last year.


    While it may seem sur­pris­ing that a Green Par­ty MEP is spear­head­ing the par­lia­men­tary response to the data pro­tec­tion reform, that doesn’t sur­prise the Euro­pean Parliament’s eldest and one of its most-respect­ed tech-savvy MEPs: Chris­t­ian Engström, a Pirate Par­ty mem­ber from Swe­den who was elect­ed to the body in 2009.

    “I would con­sid­er [Albrecht] as a Pirate,” he told Ars from his Brus­sels office. “I rec­og­nize a Pirate when I see one.”

    The Pirate Par­ty, eas­i­ly Europe’s smartest par­ty on tech issues, has had some head­way in Swe­den, Ger­many, Switzer­land and a hand­ful of oth­er Euro­pean states (and a lit­tle bit in the Unit­ed States). But it has strug­gled in recent months as its polit­i­cal nov­el­ty seems to have worn off a bit.

    Engström made the case that the Pirate Par­ty is in a sim­i­lar posi­tion to where the Greens were 40 years ago—representing a fair­ly fringe area of pol­i­cy but pres­sur­ing oth­er, larg­er par­ties to carve out their own posi­tion. “If we want any­thing to hap­pen, the Pirates are not going to get a major­i­ty in any par­lia­ment in the world,” he observed. “It’s sad, but it’s a fact of life. If we want pos­i­tive leg­is­la­tions we want peo­ple to copy our ideas, but we’re Pirates, so copy­ing is good.”

    For the moment, there are only two Pirates (Engström and his 25-year-old col­league, Amelia Ander­s­dot­ter, who is also from Swe­den) out of the entire 753-mem­ber body—less than one per­cent of the entire EU par­lia­ment.

    But Engström says that being part of the lib­er­al par­lia­men­tary group, The Greens-Euro­pean Free Alliance, may help their views be heard by a wider audi­ence. “Now we’re in the Green group, to adopt the Pirate Par­ty, [so we’re] up to 7 per­cent,” he said with a grin.

    Ander­s­dot­ter is also caus­ing quite a stir as the youngest mem­ber of the entire Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Plus, she has cre­at­ed her own real­i­ty Web series, dubbed “#exile6e,” named after the sec­tion of the par­lia­men­tary staff offices where she and her entourage are locat­ed, sep­a­rat­ed from Engström.

    An episode pub­lished 11 days ago, enti­tled “Data Pro­tec­tion,” shows Ander­s­dot­ter work­ing the minu­ti­ae of leg­isla­tive life—from hand-sign­ing doc­u­ments 224 times to speak­ing on data pro­tec­tion in the coun­cil cham­bers. Both Ander­s­dot­ter and Engström sit on the sec­ondary com­mit­tees that are con­sult­ing on the data pro­tec­tion reform process, and they seem to have full con­fi­dence that their views will be rep­re­sent­ed as the process advances.

    Wash­ing­ton fires back

    Estab­lished indus­try has been equal­ly force­ful in its oppo­si­tion. Eri­ka Mann, a for­mer 15-year MEP also from Ger­many who is now the head of Facebook’s Brus­sels-based pol­i­cy office, told the media ear­li­er this month that her employ­er was “con­cerned that some aspects of the report do not sup­port a flour­ish­ing Euro­pean Dig­i­tal Sin­gle Mar­ket and the real­i­ty of inno­va­tion on the Inter­net.”


    Just 10 days ago, Stock­holm host­ed a “data pro­tec­tion debate,” with many speak­ers from the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in the EU, and indus­try offi­cials, all of whom are express­ing deep con­cern that Brus­sels may force sub­stan­tial changes to tech com­pa­nies’ busi­ness mod­els. The Stock­holm debate was one of “10 oth­er data pro­tec­tion events” held across the EU.

    This week, John Rodgers, an eco­nom­ic offi­cer in the US For­eign Ser­vice, spoke in Berlin (Google Trans­late), not­ing that a vast right to delete such per­son­al infor­ma­tion was not tech­ni­cal­ly fea­si­ble and would pose a huge prob­lem for all glob­al­ly mind­ed com­pa­nies. Most sur­pris­ing­ly, Rodgers warned that the data pro­tec­tion reform as cur­rent­ly con­ceived could “insti­gate a trade war.”

    Accord­ing to report­ing by the Ger­man tech news site, Heise Online, Rodgers remind­ed the crowd that Amer­i­can and Euro­pean laws have very dif­fer­ent stan­dards when it comes to data pro­tec­tion. “We have the right to pri­va­cy in our con­sti­tu­tion, which, how­ev­er, rep­re­sents no fun­da­men­tal right to pri­va­cy,” he not­ed.


    Out­side observers say that they are shocked with the lev­el of atten­tion that Amer­i­cans have paid to this leg­isla­tive process.

    “Noth­ing, not even ACTA, caused the US to lob­by on this scale in Brus­sels,” said Joe McNamee, of Euro­pean Dig­i­tal Rights (EDRI), in an e‑mail to Ars. “What is even more sur­pris­ing is that demon­stra­bly false argu­ments are some­times being used, under­min­ing the excel­lent rep­u­ta­tion for pro­fes­sion­al­ism that the US rep­re­sen­ta­tives have always had. This is dam­age that won’t eas­i­ly be undone.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 18, 2013, 12:18 pm
  7. Hezbol­lah is now offer­ing Snow­den their “pro­tec­tion”.

    This is via Google Trans­late:


    Hezbol­lah Brigades show Astaadada­ha to pro­tect U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cer accused of “spy­ing”

    Author: MJM
    Edi­tor: HA, HH
    17/07/2013 11:53

    Range Press / Bagh­dad

    She Book Hezbol­lah in Iraq, on Wednes­day, its will­ing­ness to pro­tect intel­li­gence offi­cer, Amer­i­can Yalsabak Edward Snow­den accused of spy­ing and har­bor­ing of “claws” CIA, and with an eye to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of invest­ment infor­ma­tion pos­sessed to pro­tect the “oppressed”, while indi­cat­ed that they have the exper­tise that make It’s hard to be exposed to Snow­den.

    Said a senior leader of (the Islam­ic Resis­tance) Hezbol­lah Brigades in Iraq, in an inter­view with the offi­cial web­site of the bat­tal­ions and seen (range Press), he said that “Hezbol­lah Brigades is ready to house the for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cer Edward Snow­den in more than one place offers a safe liv­ing and can also be inter­act with him for invest­ment infor­ma­tion to pro­tect the largest num­ber of the oppressed. ”

    The leader, who did not men­tion the site name to “they can pro­tect Snow­den from the claws of the CIA and the large expe­ri­ence that we have all of these meth­ods, as well as pow­er resources in our hands as it is known to make it dif­fi­cult for Amer­i­cans to hurt him a in Knva”.

    And Edward Snow­den is an Amer­i­can and con­trac­tor tech­ni­cal and client employ­ee of the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency, he worked as a con­trac­tor with the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency before leak­ing details of the spy­ing pro­gram secret clas­si­fied as high­ly con­fi­den­tial to the press in June 2013, and June 21, 2013 sent him the U.S. judi­cia­ry for­mal­ly charged with espi­onage and theft of prop­er­ty gov­ern­ment and the trans­fer of infor­ma­tion relat­ing to nation­al defense with­out per­mis­sion and the delib­er­ate trans­fer of clas­si­fied intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion to a per­son not allowed him to see it.

    Snow­den was able to escape to Rus­sia, before they ask the Unit­ed States on 24 June 2013, from Rus­sia deliv­ered Snow­den, while Rus­sia replied sim­ply stop and will fol­low them to Cuba Val­ocuador which grant­ed him polit­i­cal asy­lum on its ter­ri­to­ry. On 16 July 2013, Snow­den made a for­mal request for tem­po­rary asy­lum in Rus­sia.

    Posted by Vanfield | July 19, 2013, 9:32 am
  8. Anoth­er shoe about to drop?

    Spy­ing fears high­light worth of data cen­tres
    by Matthew Allen, swissinfo.ch
    June 24, 2013 — 11:00

    The gran­ite grey slab of the Swiss­com data cen­tre out­side Bern can pro­tect its clients’ most valu­able assets from bombs, earth­quakes and even a direct air­craft hit. It’s only one of the rea­sons why there’s grow­ing inter­est in such hubs.

    The centre’s stark con­crete vaults also pro­tect the high­ly sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion of banks and oth­er clients from the pry­ing eyes of gov­ern­ments or eco­nom­ic spies. ‘Trust’ is the watch­word of the expand­ing Swiss data stor­age indus­try as it qui­et­ly carves out a high­ly lucra­tive glob­al niche.

    Recent rev­e­la­tions of Unit­ed States intel­li­gence agency spy­ing, cou­pled with ongo­ing reports of espi­onage ema­nat­ing from Chi­na, may have raised pub­lic con­scious­ness of the dan­gers to data but the indus­try has known about it for years.

    At the Swiss­com cen­tre in Zol­likofen, can­ton Bern, no stone has been left unturned to pro­tect its valu­able car­go from any form of threat. Six pow­er­ful diesel-pow­ered gen­er­a­tors are kept per­ma­nent­ly warmed, ready to kick into life with­in 15 sec­onds and able to pow­er the entire centre’s oper­a­tions in the event of total pow­er fail­ure.

    Thou­sands of video, heat and infra-red sen­sors would detect any­one who man­aged to get past the strict entrance secu­ri­ty con­trols. Staffing is kept to a min­i­mum, leav­ing the ranks of servers unmo­lest­ed.

    Enquiries relat­ed to encryp­tion tech­niques and oth­er mea­sures to pre­vent cyber intru­sion are met with a polite but firm “no com­ment”.

    Polit­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty, a tra­di­tion of con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and strong data pro­tec­tion laws have all added to Switzerland’s grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion as an inter­na­tion­al data safe house. Unlike in the US, even the Swiss gov­ern­ment would need a court to approve each request for data.

    “Clients increas­ing­ly want to entrust their data to a juris­dic­tion where there is legal cer­tain­ty,” Bruno Mess­mer, head of sourc­ing con­sult­ing at Swiss­com, told swissinfo.ch. “This will be one of Switzerland’s many strong sell­ing points in the future.”



    Swiss­com CEO found dead in home at age 49, police treat­ing case as sui­cide

    By Asso­ci­at­ed Press, Updat­ed: Tues­day, July 23, 7:39 AM

    GENEVA — Switzerland’s lead­ing telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny says its chief exec­u­tive has been found dead in an appar­ent sui­cide.

    Swiss­com says the body of 49-year-old Carsten Schlot­er was found Tues­day morn­ing at the CEO’s home in the Swiss can­ton (state) of Fri­bourg.

    A com­pa­ny state­ment Tues­day says “the police are assum­ing it was a case of sui­cide; an inves­ti­ga­tion into the exact cir­cum­stances is under­way.”

    Swiss­com, a pub­licly trad­ed com­pa­ny in which the Swiss gov­ern­ment has the major­i­ty stake, says no more details of his death were being dis­closed in con­sid­er­a­tion for his fam­i­ly.

    Schlot­er joined Swiss­com in 2000 as head of Swiss­com Mobile and was appoint­ed CEO in 2006.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 23, 2013, 2:18 pm
  9. More on the poten­tial fall­out from the Snow­den affair: instead of shut­ting down mass sur­veil­lance, now gov­ern­ments around the world might demand increased access to the col­lect­ed data instead:

    More on the poten­tial fall­out from the Snow­den affair: instead of shut­ting down mass sur­veil­lance, now gov­ern­ments around the world might instead demand increased access to the col­lect­ed data:

    The New York Times
    N.S.A. Leaks Revive Push in Rus­sia to Con­trol Net
    Pub­lished: July 14, 2013

    MOSCOW — Edward J. Snow­den, the for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency con­trac­tor, fled the Unit­ed States say­ing he did not want to live in a sur­veil­lance state.

    But now the Rus­sians are using his very pres­ence here — on Fri­day Mr. Snow­den said he intend­ed to remain in Rus­sia for some time while seek­ing asy­lum else­where — to push for tighter con­trols over the Inter­net.

    Two mem­bers of Russia’s Par­lia­ment have cit­ed Mr. Snowden’s leaks about N.S.A. spy­ing as argu­ments to com­pel glob­al Inter­net com­pa­nies like Google and Microsoft to com­ply more close­ly with Russ­ian rules on per­son­al data stor­age.

    These rules, rights groups say, might help safe­guard per­son­al data but also would open a back door for Russ­ian law enforce­ment into ser­vices like Gmail.

    “We need to quick­ly put these huge transna­tion­al com­pa­nies like Google, Microsoft and Face­book under nation­al con­trols,” Rus­lan Gat­tarov, a mem­ber of the upper cham­ber of the Russ­ian Par­lia­ment, or Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil, said in an inter­view. “This is the les­son Snow­den taught us.”

    In the Unit­ed States, the doc­u­ments leaked by Mr. Snow­den high­light­ed the increas­ing­ly close ties between the N.S.A. and the biggest high-tech com­pa­nies. His doc­u­ments revealed how Microsoft, Face­book, Google and oth­er com­pa­nies have coop­er­at­ed with the agency.

    If any­thing, requests by law enforce­ment agen­cies in Rus­sia, with its long his­to­ry of peo­ple bug­ging, inform­ing and spy­ing on one anoth­er, pos­es an even more stark quandary for com­pa­nies like Google and Face­book.

    Amer­i­can infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies oper­at­ing in Rus­sia rou­tine­ly face demands from law enforce­ment to reveal user data, and have less recourse than in the Unit­ed States to resist in the courts.

    The Russ­ian reac­tion may sur­prise Mr. Snow­den most of all. In an inter­view with The Guardian, he said he unveiled details of N.S.A. sur­veil­lance because “I don’t want to live in a world where there is no pri­va­cy and there­fore no room for intel­lec­tu­al explo­ration and cre­ativ­i­ty.”

    In a series of leaks to The Guardian, The Wash­ing­ton Post and oth­er news­pa­pers, Mr. Snow­den pro­vid­ed doc­u­ments show­ing the N.S.A. col­lect­ed logs of Amer­i­cans’ phone calls and inter­cept­ed for­eign­ers’ Inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions, with help from Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, through a pro­gram called Prism.

    The Rus­sians, who with only min­i­mal suc­cess, had for years sought to make these com­pa­nies pro­vide law enforce­ment access to data with­in Rus­sia, react­ed angri­ly. Mr. Gat­tarov formed an ad hoc com­mit­tee in response to Mr. Snowden’s leaks.

    Osten­si­bly with the goal of safe­guard­ing Russ­ian cit­i­zens’ pri­vate lives and let­ters from spy­ing, the com­mit­tee revived a long-sim­mer­ing Russ­ian ini­tia­tive to trans­fer con­trol of Inter­net tech­ni­cal stan­dards and domain name assign­ments from two non­govern­men­tal groups that con­trol them today to an arm of the Unit­ed Nations, the Inter­na­tion­al Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Union.

    The com­mit­tee also rec­om­mend­ed that Rus­sia require for­eign com­pa­nies to com­ply with its law on per­son­al data, which can require using encryp­tion pro­grams that are licensed by the Fed­er­al Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the suc­ces­sor agency to the K.G.B.

    Sergei Zheleznyak, a deputy speak­er of the Russ­ian Par­lia­ment in Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin’s Unit­ed Rus­sia par­ty, has sug­gest­ed leg­is­la­tion requir­ing e‑mail and social net­work­ing com­pa­nies retain the data of Russ­ian clients on servers inside Rus­sia, where they would be sub­ject to domes­tic law enforce­ment search war­rants.

    The Russ­ian Sen­ate is also propos­ing the cre­ation of a Unit­ed Nations agency to mon­i­tor col­lec­tion and use of per­son­al data, akin to the Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency, which over­sees nuclear mate­ri­als, to keep tabs on firms like Face­book and Google that har­vest per­son­al data.

    Many inde­pen­dent advo­cates for Inter­net free­dom have for years, how­ev­er, char­ac­ter­ized the Russ­ian pol­i­cy pro­pos­als as deeply wor­ry­ing, for their poten­tial to ham­per free com­mu­ni­ca­tion across bor­ders and expose polit­i­cal dis­si­dents inside author­i­tar­i­an states to per­se­cu­tion.

    Even before Mr. Snow­den arrived in the tran­sit zone of Moscow’s Shereme­tye­vo Air­port, Rus­sia had been press­ing for such con­trols. Its pro­pos­als had found some sup­port among oth­er gov­ern­ments that want­ed greater access to social net­work­ing and e‑mail data, but which did not ban such ser­vices out­right, as Chi­na does.

    In this light, Mr. Snowden’s arrival here and his deci­sion to extend his stay, announced Fri­day, seemed to have aid­ed their cause. Brazil’s for­eign min­is­ter, Anto­nio Patri­o­ta, for exam­ple, a week ago endorsed the Russ­ian pro­pos­al to trans­fer some con­trol over Inter­net tech­ni­cal stan­dards to the Unit­ed Nations telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions agency.

    In Rus­sia, a cot­tage indus­try already exists of com­pa­nies licensed by the F.S.B. to make soft­ware appli­ca­tions that replace Microsoft’s built-in encryp­tion on Win­dows. A Russ­ian law requires this for gov­ern­ment employ­ees and sev­er­al oth­er cat­e­gories of users. About two mil­lion Win­dows machines have had this change made in Rus­sia, accord­ing to Cryp­to­Pro, one of the com­pa­nies that makes the secu­ri­ty agency’s licensed encryp­tion key.


    Free­lance lib­er­tar­i­an jour­nal­ist Joshua Faust recent­ly spec­u­lat­ed that Snow­den might actu­al­ly be a Russ­ian defec­tor, not­ing Israel Shamir’s work in devel­op­ing clos­er ties between Wik­iLeaks and the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment (as well as Belarus’s gov­ern­ment). Inter­est­ing­ly, Mark Ames wrote a num­ber of high­ly crit­i­cal pieces about Foust a cou­ple of years ago after Foust attacked Ames over con­flict­ing accounts of a mas­sacre in Kaza­khstan. At that point, Glenn Green­wald jumped — who had a his­to­ry of spar­ring with Ames — into the fray, defend­ing Foust. Here’s Ames’s response.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 23, 2013, 6:52 pm
  10. For­mer Sen­a­tor and Snow­den-pen pal Gor­don Humphreys reit­er­at­ed his call for Swe­den to grant Snowen asy­lum while also express­ing a new fear that Snow­den’s claims of being tor­ture-proof don’t trans­late into being drug-proof:

    Gor­don Humphrey: Rus­sians could drug Edward Snow­den

    By HADAS GOLD | 7/24/13 1:39 PM EDT

    For­mer Sen. Gor­don Humphrey said he fears Russ­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices will drug Edward Snow­den in order to access the infor­ma­tion the NSA leak­er may still have on the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

    “The longer Mr. Snow­den remains in the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly if he fades from view, the more like­ly he will be sub­ject­ed to efforts to make him talk,” the for­mer New Hamp­shire GOP Sen­a­tor said in a state­ment to POLITICO on Wednes­day. “While Snow­den recent­ly stat­ed not even tor­ture could suc­ceed, he can eas­i­ly be drugged, for exam­ple.”

    Humphrey said that as long as Snow­den remains with­in easy reach of Russ­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices, he and the knowl­edge he car­ries “are in seri­ous dan­ger.” The Rus­sians are only on good behav­ior “for the moment” he said, because of the upcom­ing Sep­tem­ber G20 meet­ings and a pos­si­ble sum­mit between Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vlad­minir Putin and Barack Oba­ma.

    Snow­den has been holed up in a Moscow air­port since flee­ing Hong Kong in late June. He has applied for tem­po­rary asy­lum in Rus­sia and on Wednes­day was expect­ed to receive an offi­cial pass allow­ing him to leave the air­port and set­tle in Rus­sia while his asy­lum request is processed. For the moment though, Snowden’s Russ­ian lawyer said he is stay­ing in the air­port.


    In the state­ment, Humphrey reit­er­at­ed his call for Swe­den to offer Snow­den asy­lum.

    “Swe­den is the ide­al asy­lum,” Humphrey said, fol­lowed by address­ing Swe­den direct­ly. “Your coun­try enjoys a long-estab­lished rep­u­ta­tion for uphold­ing the rule of law and human rights. While friend­ly towards the Unit­ed States, Swe­den is firm­ly-prin­ci­pled and inde­pen­dent in its for­eign pol­i­cy. Yet, Amer­i­cans could rest easy, assured that Swe­den would not take advan­tage of the U.S while pro­vid­ing a safe asy­lum to Edward Snow­den.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 24, 2013, 1:39 pm
  11. The encrypt­ed email ser­vice used by Snow­den, Lavabit, sud­den­ly shut down today. The own­er cit­ed con­gres­sion­al pres­sure that he was­n’t legal­ly allowed to dis­cuss. He’s now rec­om­mend­ed that peo­ple avoid using ser­vices with phys­i­cal ties to the US with their pri­vate data:

    Snow­den’s email provider, Lavabit, shut­ters cit­ing legal pres­sure

    Jere­my Kirk, IDG News Ser­vice
    Aug 8, 2013 7:50 PM

    An email provider report­ed­ly used by for­mer NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den shut down on Thurs­day, cit­ing an ongo­ing court bat­tle that it could not dis­cuss.

    Lavabit, which launched in 2004, spe­cial­ized in pro­vid­ing a high-secu­ri­ty email ser­vice that employed advanced encryp­tion. It was designed to thwart the kind of sur­veil­lance tech­niques that Snow­den revealed in June were used by the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

    Snow­den used a Lavabit email address to invite peo­ple to a press con­fer­ence at Shereme­tye­vo Air­port in Moscow on July 12, accord­ing to a report from the inter­na­tion­al wire ser­vice Glob­al Post.

    Lavabit founder Ladar Lev­i­son wrote that he could­n’t describe the legal machi­na­tions under way. “As things cur­rent­ly stand, I can­not share my expe­ri­ences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appro­pri­ate requests,” he wrote in a front-page notice on his web­site.

    Lev­i­son wrote that Lavabit has “start­ed prepar­ing the paper­work need­ed to con­tin­ue to fight for the Con­sti­tu­tion in the Fourth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals. A favor­able deci­sion would allow me res­ur­rect Lavabit as an Amer­i­can com­pa­ny.”


    Lavabit’s web­site is large­ly offline, but Google’s cache still has a copy of its descrip­tion of how its ser­vice worked. Lavabit used three encryp­tion schemes to scram­ble email based around Ellip­ti­cal Curve Cryp­tog­ra­phy (ECC).

    E‑mail is encrypt­ed before it is sent to the com­pa­ny’s servers. The result of the encryp­tion process means that a mes­sage is, in the­o­ry, cryp­to­graph­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble to read with­out a pass­word, Lavabit wrote.

    “We say cryp­to­graph­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble because, in the­o­ry, an attack­er with unlim­it­ed com­put­ing resources could use brute force to deci­pher the orig­i­nal mes­sage,” accord­ing to the descrip­tion.

    It appears from the descrip­tion that Lavabit only retains a Secure Hash Algo­rithm (SHA) rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a per­son­’s pass­word. The hash, even if it was obtained by inves­ti­ga­tors with a court order, would like­ly not be of use to inves­ti­ga­tors seek­ing to decrypt Snow­den’s email.

    Lavabit warned that the encryp­tion’s strength also relies heav­i­ly on a secure pass­word select­ed by a user. Attack­ers could also inter­cept a mes­sage in tran­sit if SSL (Secure Sock­ets Lay­er) encryp­tion is not used for the com­mu­ni­ca­tion between a user and Lavabit’s servers. Unen­crypt­ed mes­sages could also be poten­tial­ly pulled from a user’s hard dri­ve.

    “Our goal was to make invad­ing a user’s pri­va­cy dif­fi­cult, by pro­tect­ing mes­sages at their most vul­ner­a­ble point,” Lavabit wrote. “That does­n’t mean a ded­i­cat­ed attack­er, like the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, could­n’t inter­cept the mes­sage in tran­sit or once it reach­es your com­put­er.”

    Lev­i­son could not imme­di­ate­ly be reached for com­ment. In clos­ing, he wrote: “This expe­ri­ence has taught me one very impor­tant les­son: with­out con­gres­sion­al action or a strong judi­cial prece­dent, I would strong­ly rec­om­mend against any­one trust­ing their pri­vate data to a com­pa­ny with phys­i­cal ties to the Unit­ed States.”

    Silent Cir­cle, anoth­er com­pa­ny offer­ing email encryp­tion ser­vices, also shut down their email ser­vices today, cit­ing “the writ­ing on the wall”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 8, 2013, 10:24 pm
  12. Adding to the pre­emp­tive clo­sure of two US-based email encryp­tion ser­vices, we now are learn­ing that Ger­many’s three largest email providers are going to start encrypt­ing all emails to address grow­ing pri­va­cy con­cerns. It sounds like it will include encrypt­ing the inden­ti­ties of the sender and receiv­er so pre­sum­ably meta-data col­lec­tion will also be pre­vent­ed by any­one sniff­ing the traf­fic over the inter­net. The traf­fic wars are heat­ing up:

    Ger­man email providers unite against spy­ing
    Pub­lished: 9 Aug 2013 17:29 CET

    Ger­many’s three biggest email providers announced on Fri­day a part­ner­ship to bol­ster the secu­ri­ty of mes­sages sent between them in the wake of rev­e­la­tions of US online sur­veil­lance scan­dal.

    Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions giant Deutsche Telekom as well as GMX and Web.de, both sub­sidiaries of Ger­many’s Unit­ed Inter­net, will auto­mat­i­cal­ly encrypt their email traf­fic from now on.

    Email con­tent as well as the iden­ti­ty of the sender and recip­i­ent and attach­ments will be encrypt­ed, Deutsche Telekom and Unit­ed Inter­net told reporters, pre­sent­ing the “Email Made in Ger­many” ini­tia­tive.

    The email ser­vices of t‑online.de, web.de and gmx.de rep­re­sent two-thirds of pri­vate email accounts used in Ger­many, or more than 50 mil­lion email address­es, accord­ing to the com­pa­nies.

    Deutsche Telekom chief exec­u­tive Rene Ober­mann said the rev­e­la­tions from Edward Snow­den ear­li­er this year, which detailed the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agen­cy’s gath­er­ing of vast amounts of phone call logs and inter­net data, had “deeply unset­tled” users.

    He said talks with oth­er email providers aimed at widen­ing the alliance had already tak­en place.

    Note that it’s not clear from the announce­ment if Ger­man secu­ri­ty ser­vices will have the encryp­tion keys. It also sounds like the encyp­tion will ini­tial­ly only be secure between cus­tomes of Deutsche Telekom’s and Unit­ed Inter­net’s web­ser­vices. Maybe lim­it­ing it to just those ser­vices might be due to the tech­ni­cal require­ments of encrypt­ing even the meta-data (where both the sender and receiv­er need to be using the same encryption/decryption meth­ods)? That make explain a tech­ni­cal need for the talk of in the above arti­cle about ‘widen­ing the alliance’:

    Ger­man com­pa­nies to auto­mat­i­cal­ly encrypt emails
    AP / August 9, 2013

    BERLIN (AP) — Two of Germany’s biggest Inter­net ser­vice providers say they will encrypt cus­tomers’ emails by default fol­low­ing reports that the U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency mon­i­tors inter­na­tion­al elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    Deutsche Telekom AG and Unit­ed Inter­net AG say emails sent by their cus­tomers will be auto­mat­i­cal­ly encrypt­ed start­ing Fri­day.

    Ini­tial­ly the encryp­tion will only be secure between cus­tomers of Deutsche Telekom’s T‑Online ser­vice and Unit­ed Internet’s GMX and WEB.DE ser­vices.

    The com­pa­nies claim these three providers account for two-thirds of pri­ma­ry email address­es in Ger­many.

    Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Ober­mann says the ini­tia­tive came because ‘‘Ger­mans are deeply unset­tled by the lat­est reports on the poten­tial inter­cep­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion data’’ revealed by NSA leak­er Edward Snow­den.

    It wasn’t imme­di­ate­ly clear if Ger­man secu­ri­ty ser­vices would have a key to decrypt the emails.

    It’ll be inter­est­ing to see how much the Ger­man pub­lic end up trust­ing the BND not to hack their emails and send it to the NSA any­ways fol­low­ing this lat­est move.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2013, 8:51 am
  13. More on the new Ger­man email encryp­tion scheme: Accord­ing to Ger­many’s Chaos Com­put­er Club it’s a pub­lic­i­ty stunt using out­dat­ed encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy:

    Ger­man com­pa­nies to auto­mat­i­cal­ly encrypt emails
    BERLIN (AP) — Two of Ger­many’s biggest Inter­net ser­vice providers said Fri­day they will start encrypt­ing cus­tomers’ emails by default in response to user con­cerns about online snoop­ing after reports that the U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency mon­i­tors inter­na­tion­al elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    The plan by Deutsche Telekom AG and Unit­ed Inter­net AG is the dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent of putting an enve­lope around a post­card. Cur­rent­ly most emails are sent across the web in plain view of any­one stand­ing between the sender and the recip­i­ent.

    Ini­tial­ly the encryp­tion will only be secure between cus­tomers of Deutsche Telekom’s T‑Online ser­vice and Unit­ed Inter­net’s GMX and WEB.DE ser­vices — which togeth­er account for two-thirds of pri­ma­ry email address­es in Ger­many — the com­pa­nies said.

    “Ger­mans are deeply unset­tled by the lat­est reports on the poten­tial inter­cep­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion data,” Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Ober­mann said in a state­ment. “Our ini­tia­tive is designed to coun­ter­act this con­cern and make email com­mu­ni­ca­tion through­out Ger­many more secure in gen­er­al.”

    But Com­put­er secu­ri­ty spe­cial­ists said the plan appeared to be lit­tle more than a pub­lic­i­ty stunt, because the tech­nol­o­gy being used to encrypt the emails while in tran­sit was out­dat­ed and did­n’t guar­an­tee they were safe from pry­ing eyes while on the com­pa­nies’ servers.

    “The tech­nol­o­gy employed does­n’t pre­vent ‘lis­ten­ing posts’ from being estab­lished on the sys­tem,” said Ger­many’s Chaos Com­put­er Club, which bills itself as Europe’s largest asso­ci­a­tion of hack­ers.

    NSA leak­er Edward Snow­den has alleged that the U.S. intel­li­gence agency and some of its for­eign part­ners rou­tine­ly sift through online traf­fic as part of an effort to pre­vent ter­ror­ism.

    A spokesman for Deutsche Telekom, Philipp Blank, told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press that the com­pa­ny does­n’t grant for­eign intel­li­gence agen­cies access to its traf­fic in Ger­many. But he added that “of course we are bound by Ger­man law.”

    Ger­man law grants domes­tic secu­ri­ty ser­vices broad pow­ers to inter­cept com­mu­ni­ca­tions and demand access to emails and phone data stored by com­mer­cial providers. It also allows them to pass infor­ma­tion on to for­eign intel­li­gence agen­cies under cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

    In one indi­ca­tion that Ger­man secu­ri­ty ser­vices won’t find their work hin­dered, the coun­try’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter issued a state­ment wel­com­ing the encryp­tion move.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2013, 1:55 pm
  14. @Pterrafractyl–

    Sev­er­al things to con­sid­er: sup­pose the BND DOESN’T share info with NSA?

    Note that Deutsche Telekom is the par­ent com­pa­ny of T‑Mobile and (now)Metro PCS.

    I won­der if Amer­i­can mobile users will grav­i­tate toward the Ger­man ser­vices?

    It’s a safe bet that BND will be access­ing all infor­ma­tion on those net­works.

    Also: it’ll be inter­est­ing to see if BND tries to sup­plant GCHQ as the pri­ma­ry NSA for­eign part­ner.

    In addi­tion, watch the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood front heat­ing up, with Oba­ma on both sides of “the Deutsche Coin Flip”–heads they win, tails you lose. (“COIN­tel­pro?”)

    Won­der if they will use Ger­man-based ops against U.S. in the future.

    Also: in response to GOP moves against Russia–note how they are play­ing the Egypt card.

    Oba­ma stuck on the Arab Spring pitch­fork, as I pre­dict­ed.

    It also brings to mind Grover Norquist’s pre­dic­tion that the GOP would make it impos­si­ble to gov­ern as a Demo­c­rat.

    They are doing a pret­ty good job.



    Posted by Dave Emory | August 9, 2013, 5:22 pm
  15. @Dave: It’s also inter­est­ing to note that there the report­ing on this so far leaves a major ques­tion large­ly unan­swered or unasked: how much access do the for­eign intel­li­gence agen­cies that are sup­ply­ing the NSA with data have to the giant pool of raw intel­li­gence? The glob­al spy­ing sys­tem described is con­stant­ly framed as as sys­tem where the NSA sweeps up data from all over the world, ana­lyzes it, and then doles out ter­ror tips or what­ev­er to its allies. But ear­ly on it was report­ed that GSHQ received access to the unedit­ed meta­da­ta on phone records back in 2010, and we know about the “Five Eyes” agree­ment where the US, the UK, Cana­da, New Zealand, and Aus­tralia have all had an agree­ment for the free-flow of intel­li­gence between nations since 1943. So do sim­i­lar secret arrange­ments exist between the “Five Eyes” and Ger­many and France?

    And what about Brazil? It was report­ed that the NSA and CIA had lis­ten­ing sta­tions in Brazil until at least 2002, a “priv­i­lege” shared by just 15 oth­er coun­tries around the world. And at this point we sim­ply don’t know if such facil­i­ty still exists. Merkel’s gov­ern­ment has already been caught bla­tan­ly lying to Ger­man vot­ers about her knowl­edge of these pro­grams. So are we sup­posed to actu­al­ly believe the Brazil­lian gov­ern­ment when they deny a sim­i­lar rela­tion­ship exists today? It’s not a triv­ial ques­tion because any glob­al solu­tion to the issue of pri­va­cy rights is going to be depen­dent on gov­ern­ments all over the world that have so far demon­strat­ed a capac­i­ty to just keep lying to their cit­i­zens on this top­ic. The issue of trust has been cen­tral to the response to this scan­dal, but it’s curi­ous­ly focused only on trust­ing US agen­cies and cor­po­ra­tions instead of the inabil­i­ty to trust vir­tu­al­ly all gov­ern­ments and major cor­po­ra­tions around the plan­et.

    The oth­er rea­son it’s kind of vital that we learn more about the nature of the data shar­ing arrange­ment is because of what John Lof­tus revealed decades ago about the man­ner in which for­eign intel­li­gence shar­ing arrange­ments are used by gov­ern­ments to spy on their own cit­i­zens. When we learned that the NSA has been secret­ly send­ing tips to the DEA for use in rou­tine drug busts and that oth­er US agen­cies are clam­or­ing for access to that data it rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not the BND or GSHQ are also send­ing tips on US cit­i­zens to US fed­er­al agen­cies and vice ver­sa because, hey, why not? Noth­ing we’ve seen sug­gests that it could­n’t or would­n’t be the case.

    So it’ll be inter­est­ing to see if are we going to learn more about those data-shar­ing agree­ments. Right now there are a lot of inter­ests that would love to keep this as an “NSA vs the world” sit­u­a­tion INSTEAD of the “NSA as the coor­di­na­tor of a glob­al spy­ing ring” sit­u­a­tion that it real­ly appears to be.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2013, 3:29 pm
  16. With the Snow­den affair tak­ing con­tin­u­ing to hold the cen­ter stage in Ger­many’s elec­tions, we’re now see­ing Merkel’s admin­is­tra­tion call for nego­ti­a­tions this month with the US for cre­at­ing new rules that restrict the US and Ger­many from spy­ing on each oth­er:

    Offi­cial: US, Ger­many will nego­ti­ate agree­ment not to spy on each oth­er in wake of NSA flap

    By Asso­ci­at­ed Press, Pub­lished: August 12

    BERLIN — Ger­many and the Unit­ed States will begin nego­ti­a­tions this month on an agree­ment not to spy on one anoth­er in wake of the rev­e­la­tions by NSA leak­er Edward Snow­den about mas­sive elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance by the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency, a senior Ger­man offi­cial said Mon­day.

    Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Ronald Pofal­la, told reporters such an agree­ment would offer a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to set stan­dards for the future work of West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies now that the Cold War is over. U.S. Embassy spokesman Peter Claussen said he had no imme­di­ate com­ment about Pofalla’s remarks, which were made fol­low­ing a meet­ing of a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee over­see­ing intel­li­gence ser­vices.

    Pofal­la gave no details about how the agree­ment, which he said would also cov­er eco­nom­ic intel­li­gence, might lim­it NSA oper­a­tions such as PRISM, which com­pels major Inter­net firms to hand over detailed con­tents of com­mu­ni­ca­tions such as emails, video chats and more.

    Pub­lic out­rage over Snowden’s alle­ga­tions has been espe­cial­ly strong in Ger­many, where pri­va­cy is cher­ished after the country’s painful his­to­ry of mass sur­veil­lance of the cit­i­zen­ry in com­mu­nist East Ger­many and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi state. With nation­al elec­tions in six weeks, the gov­ern­ment is under pres­sure to respond to pub­lic anger with­out endan­ger­ing its rela­tions with Wash­ing­ton, which shares intel­li­gence gleaned by NSA.

    U.S. offi­cials have defend­ed the NSA pro­grams as nec­es­sary to pre­vent ter­ror­ist attacks, includ­ing those in Europe.

    But Germany’s inde­pen­dent pri­va­cy watch­dogs say the sur­veil­lance pro­grams breach an EU‑U.S. pact meant to ensure cross-bor­der data pro­tec­tion. Ger­man offi­cials are seek­ing Euro­pean sup­port for a new glob­al char­ter safe­guard­ing per­son­al pri­va­cy online,

    Merkel raised the issue of alleged NSA spy­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma when he vis­it­ed Berlin in June. Her gov­ern­ment this month also can­celed a Cold War-era agree­ment that allowed the U.S. and Britain the author­i­ty to request Ger­man author­i­ties to con­duct sur­veil­lance oper­a­tions with­in the coun­try to pro­tect their troops sta­tioned there.

    But Merkel has also argued that gov­ern­ments had a duty to defend its cit­i­zens in an era of glob­al ter­ror­ism and has scoffed at com­par­isons between U.S. spy­ing and the mas­sive sur­veil­lance in com­mu­nist East Ger­many where she grew up.

    Fol­low­ing the par­lia­men­tary meet­ing, Pofal­la also said that coop­er­a­tion between NSA and Ger­many had avert­ed an aver­age of three to four attacks per week against Ger­man sol­diers in Afghanistan.


    Note that the ref­er­ence to three to four attacks per week against Ger­man sol­diers in Afghanistan that are avert­ed each week that Merkel’s spokesman referred to was, some­what iron­i­cal­ly, prob­a­bly a ref­er­ence to the same PRISM sys­tem Merkel’s gov­ern­ment denied know­ing any­thing about. Ok, maybe it was­n’t the same PRISM pro­gram. Maybe it was the oth­er PRISM pro­gram. Or the oth­er oth­er PRISM pro­gram:

    Are there real­ly two PRISMs, or just one PRISM with NATO involve­ment?
    By David Mey­er
    Jul. 18, 2013 — 1:47 AM PDT

    If you thought the PRISM deba­cle couldn’t get any more con­vo­lut­ed, then lis­ten up. It turns out that there are two PRISM pro­grams… or not, in which case the Ger­man gov­ern­ment may be head­ing for a fall. It depends on who you believe: the news­pa­per Bild or the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

    As I’ve men­tioned a few times, the Ger­man fed­er­al elec­tions are com­ing up and PRISM is a major issue. The oppo­si­tion par­ties have demand­ed answers about what Angela Merkel’s admin­is­tra­tion knew about the Amer­i­cans spy­ing on Ger­man cit­i­zens en masse. The gov­ern­ment is stick­ing to its line that only high­ly-tar­get­ed data-shar­ing takes place, in order to keep the pub­lic safe from ter­ror­ism, and that it nev­er knew about the wider PRISM pro­gram.

    On Wednes­day Bild pub­lished a major scoop, based on a doc­u­ment that was appar­ent­ly sent by NATO to all the region­al com­mands in Afghanistan back in 2011. This doc­u­ment laid out instruc­tions for coop­er­a­tion under a pro­gram called PRISM, which involved mon­i­tor­ing emails and phone calls, with access reg­u­lat­ed by the U.S. Joint World­wide Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Sys­tem (JWICS). This doc­u­ment nat­u­ral­ly made its way to the Ger­mans, who are some­what con­tro­ver­sial­ly deployed in Afghanistan and, as Bild framed it, this meant the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is lying about its PRISM igno­rance.

    Not so, replied the gov­ern­ment. Some­what bizarrely, the admin­is­tra­tion claimed that the doc­u­ment was refer­ring to a dif­fer­ent PRISM pro­gram that was “not iden­ti­cal” to the NSA’s big project. Merkel spokesman Stef­fen Seib­ert said that – accord­ing to the BND, Germany’s NSA equiv­a­lent – this PRISM was a NATO/ISAF scheme, spe­cif­ic to the Afghanistan sit­u­a­tion and not clas­si­fied as secret. The Min­istry of Defence chipped in with a denial that the Ger­mans had access to this PRISM sys­tem any­way.

    Then, late on Wednes­day night, Bild hit back with a series of coun­ter­claims. First off, the news­pa­per point­ed out that JWICS is designed for trans­mit­ting the most high­ly clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al.

    Regard­ing the claim that only U.S. per­son­nel could access this NATO/ISAF PRISM, Bild quot­ed its anony­mous Amer­i­can sources as say­ing all region­al com­mands – Ger­mans includ­ed – could request mon­i­tor­ing of a spe­cif­ic indi­vid­ual by ask­ing “civil­ian and mil­i­tary U.S. per­son­nel”, with the term “civil­ian” sup­pos­ed­ly indi­cat­ing spies. The paper also quot­ed these sources as say­ing the tech­niques employed across the two PRISMs were pret­ty darn sim­i­lar.

    So there we have it. If Bild got it right, Merkel is up for an elec­toral ham­mer­ing and the rest of the world needs to wrap its head around the idea of PRISM being a col­lab­o­ra­tive scheme at the NATO lev­el. How­ev­er, if the Ger­man spy agen­cies are being truth­ful then there are two PRISMs that, by crazy coin­ci­dence, both deal in the inter­cep­tion of emails and phone calls. You choose.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 13, 2013, 10:01 am
  17. Some­thing to think about regard­ing the BND’s claims that it’s only allowed by law to scan up to 20% of Ger­many inter­net traf­fic and only cur­rent­ly scan­ning 5%: 5% is much more than is nec­es­sary:

    Com­ment is free

    How much data the NSA real­ly gets

    The NSA claims it ‘touch­es’ only 1.6% of inter­net traf­fic – does­n’t sound a lot. In fact, that’s prac­ti­cal­ly every­thing that mat­ters

    Jeff Jarvis
    theguardian.com, Tues­day 13 August 2013 07.45 EDT

    Fear not, says the NSA, we “touch” only 1.6% of dai­ly inter­net traf­fic. If, as they say, the net car­ries 1,826 petabytes of infor­ma­tion per day, then the NSA “touch­es” about 29 petabytes a day. They don’t say what “touch” means. Ingest? Store? Ana­lyze?

    For con­text, Google in 2010 said it had indexed only 0.004% of the data on the net. So, by infer­ence from the per­cent­ages, does that mean that the NSA is equal to 400 Googles?

    Sev­en petabytes of pho­tos are added to Face­book each month. That’s .23 petabytes per day. So that means the NSA is 126 Face­books.

    Keep in mind that most of the data pass­ing on the net is not email or web pages. It’s media. Accord­ing to Sand­vine data (pdf) for the US fixed net from 2013, real-time enter­tain­ment account­ed for 62% of net traf­fic, P2P file-shar­ing for 10.5%.

    The NSA need­n’t watch all those episodes of Home­land (or maybe they should) or lis­ten to all that Cold­play – though, I’m sure the RIAA and MPAA are dying to know what the NSA knows about who’s “steal­ing” what, since that “steal­ing” alleged­ly accounts for 23.8% of net traf­fic.

    HTTP – the web – accounts for only 11.8% of aggre­gat­ed and down­load traf­fic in the US, Sand­vine says. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions – the part of the net the NSA real­ly cares about – accounts for 2.9% in the US.

    So, by very rough, beer-soaked-nap­kin num­bers, the NSA’s 1.6% of net traf­fic would be half of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the net. That’s one hel­lu­va lot of “touch­ing”.

    Keep in mind that, by one esti­mate, 68.8% of email is spam.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 13, 2013, 1:46 pm
  18. @Pterrafractyl–

    The “One PRISM” vs. “Two PRISMs” debate could­n’t be eas­i­er to resolve.

    Take it from some­one based in the Sil­i­con Val­ley for decades–had ANY com­pa­ny come up with a soft­ware per­form­ing func­tions sim­i­lar or iden­ti­cal to PRISM and TRIED to use the same name, they would have been sued from hell to break­fast.

    The big tech firms are NOTHING if not liti­gious and Peter Thiel has plen­ty of mon­ey!



    Posted by Dave Emory | August 13, 2013, 3:34 pm
  19. And with the clos­ing of Lavabit and Silent Cir­cle, Kim Dot­com just declared that his com­pa­ny is devel­op­ing ‘cut­ting edge’ encryp­tion soft­ware for the pur­pose of offer­ing com­plete­ly encrypt­ed emails ser­vices where even the data on the email serv­er is encrypt­ed. It sounds like this will nec­es­sar­i­ly involve the devel­op­ment of new­er, faster encryption/decryption tech­nol­o­gy to allow the email serv­er to keep every­thing encrypt­ed while still pro­vid­ed real-time func­tion­al­i­ty like look­ing through your inbox.

    In relat­ed news, Mr. Dot­com might need to start invest­ing in quan­tum com­put­ing research:

    Tele­por­ta­tion: Behind the Sci­ence of Quan­tum Com­put­ing
    Researchers were able to reli­ably tele­port infor­ma­tion between quan­tum bits.

    Melody Kramer

    Nation­al Geo­graph­ic

    Pub­lished August 14, 2013

    It might seem like some­thing straight from the Star Trek uni­verse, but two new research experiments—one involv­ing a pho­ton and the oth­er involv­ing a super-con­duct­ing circuit—have suc­cess­ful­ly demon­strat­ed the tele­por­ta­tion of quan­tum bits.

    If that sounds like gob­bledy­gook, don’t wor­ry. We got in touch with one of the researchers, physi­cist Andreas Wall­raff, of the Quan­tum Device Lab at the Swiss Fed­er­al Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy Zurich, to explain how his team and a team based at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo were able to reli­ably tele­port quan­tum states from one place to anoth­er.

    Peo­ple have done this before but it has­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly been reli­able. The new com­ple­men­tary research, which comes out in Nature today, is reliable—and there­fore may have wide­spread appli­ca­tions in com­put­ing and cryp­tog­ra­phy.

    Before we talk about the nit­ty-grit­ty part of tele­por­ta­tion, we need to define a few key words. Let’s start with a reg­u­lar, clas­si­cal bit of infor­ma­tion, which has two pos­si­ble states: 1 or 0. This bina­ry sys­tem is used by basi­cal­ly all com­put­ing and com­put­ing-based devices. Infor­ma­tion can be stored as a 1 or a 0, but not as both simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. (Relat­ed: “The Physics Behind Schro­ding­er’s Cat.”)

    But a quan­tum bit of information—called a qubit—can have two val­ues at the same time.

    “With the qubit, you can store more infor­ma­tion because you have infor­ma­tion in all of its pos­si­ble states,” Wall­raff says. “Where­as in the clas­si­cal mem­o­ry sys­tem, only one can be stored.” (More physics: “The Physics Behind Water­slides.”)

    Quan­tum tele­por­ta­tion relies on some­thing called an entan­gled state. An entan­gled state, in the words of Wall­raff, is a “state of two quan­tum bits that share cor­re­la­tions.” In oth­er words, it’s a state that can’t be sep­a­rat­ed.


    But Why Is It Use­ful?

    The advances these two research groups have made may improve the way quan­tum bits are sent, lead­ing to faster proces­sors and larg­er-scale encryp­tion tech­nolo­gies.

    Encryp­tion technology—which is used by every­one from cred­it card com­pa­nies to the NSA—is based on the fact that it’s real­ly, real­ly hard to find fac­tors of very large prime num­bers. And quan­tum com­put­ing is extreme­ly use­ful for fac­tor­ing very large prime num­bers.

    Divid­ing or mul­ti­ply­ing num­bers is fair­ly easy for any com­put­er, but deter­min­ing the fac­tors of a real­ly large 500- or 600-dig­it num­ber is next to impos­si­ble for clas­si­cal com­put­ers. But quan­tum com­put­ers can process these num­bers eas­i­ly and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.

    Cred­it card com­pa­nies, for instance, assign users a pub­lic key to encode cred­it card infor­ma­tion. The key is the prod­uct of two large prime num­bers, which only the web­site sell­er knows. With­out a quan­tum com­put­er, it would be impos­si­ble to fig­ure out the two prime num­bers that are mul­ti­plied togeth­er to make the key-which pro­tects your infor­ma­tion from being shared. (For more info, read this real­ly use­ful guide about the basics of quan­tum com­put­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Water­loo.)

    “If you want­ed to use clas­si­cal bits to do this, it would­n’t be effi­cient,” says Wall­raff. In oth­er words, clas­si­cal computers—the ones we use now for most stuff—can’t do any of the things quan­tum com­put­ers can do on a large scale.

    So while we might not be beam­ing Scot­ty up just yet, our com­put­ers, it appears, are one step clos­er to doing so.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2013, 12:13 pm
  20. http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/germany-declares-bitcoins-to-be-a-unit-of-account-a-917525.html

    ‘Pri­vate Mon­ey’: Bit­coins Gain Ground in Ger­many

    What exact­ly is the legal sta­tus of bit­coins?

    Bit­coins have rapid­ly gained pop­u­lar­i­ty, but what is the cur­ren­cy’s legal sta­tus? This week Ger­many revealed that it sees the vir­tu­al pay­ment method as “pri­vate mon­ey,” but its tax sta­tus remains unclear.

    The val­ue of bit­coins has become wide­ly accept­ed. The vir­tu­al, Inter­net-based cur­ren­cy can cur­rent­ly be trad­ed in for about $120 each, accord­ing to Mt. Gox, a pop­u­lar bit­coin exchange.

    But now they are also gain­ing a legal foot­ing — at least in Ger­many, where the Finance Min­istry has declared bit­coins to be a “unit of account.” The des­ig­na­tion stops well short of treat­ing bit­coins as cur­ren­cy or even e‑money, but it does clas­si­fy the vir­tu­al cur­ren­cy as a kind of “pri­vate mon­ey.” This comes as a result of a par­lia­men­tary inquiry made by Frank Schäf­fler, a mem­ber of the Bun­destag with the busi­ness-friend­ly Free Democ­rats, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s junior coali­tion part­ners.

    Bit­coins have been in the head­lines recent­ly due to the mas­sive volatil­i­ty of their exchange rate. When they were first intro­duced in 2009, they were essen­tial­ly worth­less, trad­ing for just five cents per bit­coin in July 2010. This year, how­ev­er, they rock­et­ed up in val­ue to a high of $230 per bit­coin in April before plung­ing back to their cur­rent rate of exchange. Some have attrib­uted the rise to con­cerns about the ongo­ing euro cri­sis in Europe.

    Gov­ern­ments have been uncer­tain of how to approach the bit­coin, though. In late July, Thai­land banned bit­coin trans­ac­tions out of con­cern that the state could lose con­trol over mon­ey flow. In the US, mean­while, state offi­cials in New York and fed­er­al offi­cials recent­ly opened an inves­ti­ga­tion into the vir­tu­al cur­ren­cy. The aim, accord­ing to a let­ter sent to finan­cial reg­u­la­tors by the Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on Home­land Secu­ri­ty, was to deter­mine the “threats and risks relat­ed to vir­tu­al cur­ren­cy.” New York state has sub­poe­naed 22 com­pa­nies involved with bit­coin trans­ac­tions, accord­ing to The New York Times.

    A First Step

    The impli­ca­tions of Ger­many’s new des­ig­na­tion remain uncer­tain. In June, the Finance Min­istry declared that prof­its on bit­coin invest­ments are tax free after a year. But now it appears that some trans­ac­tions involv­ing bit­coins could be taxed after all. A tax advi­sor told the Berlin-based dai­ly Die Welt that VAT would only have to be paid by peo­ple who use bit­coins com­mer­cial­ly.

    Oliv­er Flaskäm­per, head of the lead­ing Ger­man bit­coin mar­ket, bitcoin.de, told Die Welt that “from our per­spec­tive, our cus­tomers are engaged in pri­vate port­fo­lio man­age­ment from a tax point of few.” That would mean that trans­ac­tions would be tax free.

    Still, the ques­tion of how bit­coins should be taxed remains per­ti­nent. Some 7,500 shops and restau­rants world­wide accept pay­ment by bit­coin, accord­ing to the site Bitpay.com. Ulti­mate­ly, rules will have to be estab­lished for tax­ing trans­ac­tions with those places of busi­ness. Ger­many has tak­en a first step.

    Posted by Vanfield | August 20, 2013, 9:58 am
  21. In one of the more con­fus­ing NSA-relat­ed sto­ries to come out in the last week, there was report in the Ger­man tabloid Zeit about Ger­man gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments warn­ing Fed­er­al agen­cies to avoid using Win­dows 8 over con­cerns that the “Trust­ed Plat­form Mod­ule” (TPM) chip found in Win­dows machines might pro­vide the NSA back­door access to the machine. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment then issued a state­ment deny­ing that such a rec­om­men­da­tion was ever made. Microsoft, of course, denies such a back­door exists at all:

    Tech­week Europe
    Microsoft Seeks Calm On Ger­man Secu­ri­ty Pan­ic Over Win­dows 8

    Claims from a Ger­man pub­li­ca­tion that the NSA could eas­i­ly access Win­dows 8 machines are rebuffed
    On August 23, 2013 by Tom Brew­ster

    Claims that there is a back­door in Win­dows 8 giv­ing access to all ver­sions of the oper­at­ing sys­tem to US intel­li­gence have been gen­tly rebuffed by Microsoft.

    A reporter in Zeit had sug­gest­ed the back­door stemmed from the Trust­ed Plat­form Mod­ule, or TPM chip, which seeks to improve secu­ri­ty by pow­er­ing the Secure Boot process that checks for and ignores mali­cious low-lev­el code when a machine starts up. It does this through cryp­to­graph­ic keys that ensure code can­not be tam­pered with on load­ing and that the code is legit­i­mate.

    No Win­dows 8 back­door?

    The Zeit writer had sug­gest­ed the TPM could give the man­u­fac­tur­er of a device con­trol over it.

    He said that in light of the leaks from Edward Snow­den, it would not be a sur­prise if TPM 2.0, the ver­sion used by Win­dows 8, was actu­al­ly a back­door the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency (NSA) could eas­i­ly exploit. As the chips pow­er­ing TPM are man­u­fac­tured in Chi­na, the Chi­nese could eas­i­ly access Win­dows 8 machines too, the report alleged.

    The reporter attained doc­u­ments from the Ger­man gov­ern­ment that led him to reach his sup­po­si­tion. But the Ger­man gov­ern­ment has not said there is a back­door in the OS.

    The Office for Infor­ma­tion Secu­ri­ty (BSI) lat­er clar­i­fied the government’s posi­tion, and did say the use of TPM 2.0 and Win­dows 8 (TPM is used in oth­er non-Win­dows machines, includ­ing Chrome­books, mak­ing the claims even more ques­tion­able) meant the user had to deal with “a loss of con­trol over the oper­at­ing sys­tem and the hard­ware used”. This could lead to greater risk for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, it said.

    But the body said it had not warned the gen­er­al pub­lic nor gov­ern­ment bod­ies against using Win­dows 8.

    It said “the new­ly estab­lished mech­a­nisms can also be used for sab­o­tage by third par­ties”, but appeared only to be talk­ing gen­er­al­ly about vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty exploita­tion. There was no sug­ges­tion of a pur­pose­ful back­door, as Zeit had hypoth­e­sised, even if the BIS does have prob­lems with TPM.

    Microsoft has respond­ed to the ker­fuf­fle first by deny­ing it has ever pro­vid­ed such access to users’ data and by talk­ing up the secu­ri­ty ben­e­fits of TPM 2.0. It sug­gest­ed gov­ern­ment depart­ments would be wise to use the secu­ri­ty pro­tec­tions it pro­vides by default. But for those gov­ern­ments who want to gain back con­trol of their machines, they can go with OEMs who make Win­dows PCs with­out TPM.


    Some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing the sud­den inter­est by Rus­sia and Ger­many in hid­den microchip back­doors is how long it’s tak­en for this to become a per­ceived nation­al secu­ri­ty issue. For instance, the Pen­ta­gon was inves­ti­gat­ing Chi­nese kill switch­es get­ting embed­ded into chips used for the US mil­i­tary back in 2008 and Ger­many and Rus­sia are the sec­ond and third biggest arms exporters in the world and their defense indus­tries pre­sum­ably suf­fer from very sim­i­lar risks all these years:

    IEEE Spec­trum
    The Hunt for the Kill Switch
    Are chip mak­ers build­ing elec­tron­ic trap­doors in key mil­i­tary hard­ware? The Pen­ta­gon is mak­ing its biggest effort yet to find out
    By Sal­ly Adee
    Post­ed 1 May 2008 | 19:57 GMT

    Last Sep­tem­ber, Israeli jets bombed a sus­pect­ed nuclear instal­la­tion in north­east­ern Syr­ia. Among the many mys­ter­ies still sur­round­ing that strike was the fail­ure of a Syr­i­an radar–supposedly state-of-the-art–to warn the Syr­i­an mil­i­tary of the incom­ing assault. It was­n’t long before mil­i­tary and tech­nol­o­gy blog­gers con­clud­ed that this was an inci­dent of elec­tron­ic warfare–and not just any kind.

    Post after post spec­u­lat­ed that the com­mer­cial off-the-shelf micro­proces­sors in the Syr­i­an radar might have been pur­pose­ly fab­ri­cat­ed with a hid­den ”back­door” inside. By send­ing a pre­pro­grammed code to those chips, an unknown antag­o­nist had dis­rupt­ed the chips’ func­tion and tem­porar­i­ly blocked the radar.

    That same basic sce­nario is crop­ping up more fre­quent­ly late­ly, and not just in the Mid­dle East, where con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries abound. Accord­ing to a U.S. defense con­trac­tor who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, a ”Euro­pean chip mak­er” recent­ly built into its micro­proces­sors a kill switch that could be accessed remote­ly. French defense con­trac­tors have used the chips in mil­i­tary equip­ment, the con­trac­tor told IEEE Spec­trum. If in the future the equip­ment fell into hos­tile hands, ”the French want­ed a way to dis­able that cir­cuit,” he said. Spec­trum could not con­firm this account inde­pen­dent­ly, but spir­it­ed dis­cus­sion about it among researchers and anoth­er defense con­trac­tor last sum­mer at a mil­i­tary research con­fer­ence reveals a lot about the fever dreams plagu­ing the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense (DOD).

    Feed­ing those dreams is the Pen­tagon’s real­iza­tion that it no longer con­trols who man­u­fac­tures the com­po­nents that go into its increas­ing­ly com­plex sys­tems. A sin­gle plane like the DOD’s next gen­er­a­tion F‑35 Joint Strike Fight­er, can con­tain an ”insane num­ber” of chips, says one semi­con­duc­tor expert famil­iar with that air­craft’s design. Esti­mates from oth­er sources put the total at sev­er­al hun­dred to more than a thou­sand. And trac­ing a part back to its source is not always straight­for­ward. The dwin­dling of domes­tic chip and elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing in the Unit­ed States, com­bined with the phe­nom­e­nal growth of sup­pli­ers in coun­tries like Chi­na, has only deep­ened the U.S. mil­i­tary’s con­cern.

    Rec­og­niz­ing this enor­mous vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, the DOD recent­ly launched its most ambi­tious pro­gram yet to ver­i­fy the integri­ty of the elec­tron­ics that will under­pin future addi­tions to its arse­nal. In Decem­ber, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pen­tagon’s R&D wing, released details about a three-year ini­tia­tive it calls the Trust in Inte­grat­ed Cir­cuits pro­gram. The find­ings from the pro­gram could give the military–and defense con­trac­tors who make sen­si­tive micro­elec­tron­ics like the weapons sys­tems for the F‑35–a guar­an­teed method of deter­min­ing whether their chips have been com­pro­mised. In Jan­u­ary, the Trust pro­gram start­ed its pre­qual­i­fy­ing rounds by send­ing to three con­trac­tors four iden­ti­cal ver­sions of a chip that con­tained unspec­i­fied mali­cious cir­cuit­ry. The teams have until the end of this month to fer­ret out as many of the devi­ous inser­tions as they can.

    Vet­ting a chip with a hid­den agen­da can’t be all that tough, right? Wrong. Although com­mer­cial chip mak­ers rou­tine­ly and exhaus­tive­ly test chips with hun­dreds of mil­lions of log­ic gates, they can’t afford to inspect every­thing. So instead they focus on how well the chip per­forms spe­cif­ic func­tions. For a micro­proces­sor des­tined for use in a cell­phone, for instance, the chip mak­er will check to see whether all the phone’s var­i­ous func­tions work. Any extra­ne­ous cir­cuit­ry that does­n’t inter­fere with the chip’s nor­mal func­tions won’t show up in these tests.

    ”You don’t check for the infi­nite pos­si­ble things that are not spec­i­fied,” says elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor Ruby Lee, a cryp­tog­ra­phy expert at Prince­ton. ”You could check the obvi­ous pos­si­bil­i­ties, but can you test for every unspec­i­fied func­tion?”


    Semi­con­duc­tor off­shoring dates back to the 1960s, when U.S. chip mak­ers began mov­ing the labor-inten­sive assem­bly and test­ing stages to Sin­ga­pore, Tai­wan, and oth­er coun­tries with edu­cat­ed work­forces and rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive labor.

    Today only Intel and a few oth­er com­pa­nies still design and man­u­fac­ture all their own chips in their own fab­ri­ca­tion plants. Oth­er chip designers–including LSI Corp. and most recent­ly Sony–have gone ”fab­less,” out­sourc­ing their man­u­fac­tur­ing to off­shore facil­i­ties known as foundries. In doing so, they avoid the huge expense of build­ing a state-of-the-art fab, which in 2007 cost as much as US $2 bil­lion to $4 bil­lion.


    In 2004, the Defense Depart­ment cre­at­ed the Trust­ed Foundries Pro­gram to try to ensure an unbro­ken sup­ply of secure microchips for the gov­ern­ment. DOD inspec­tors have now cer­ti­fied cer­tain com­mer­cial chip plants, such as IBM’s Burling­ton, Vt., facil­i­ty, as trust­ed foundries. These plants are then con­tract­ed to sup­ply a set num­ber of chips to the Pen­ta­gon each year. But Cole­man argues that the pro­gram bless­es a process, not a prod­uct. And, she says, the Defense Depart­men­t’s assump­tion that onshore assem­bly is more secure than off­shore reveals a blind spot. ”Why can’t peo­ple put some­thing bad into the chips made right here?” she says.

    Three years ago, the pres­ti­gious Defense Sci­ence Board, which advis­es the DOD on sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ments, warned in a report that the con­tin­u­ing shift to over­seas chip fab­ri­ca­tion would expose the Pen­tagon’s most mis­sion-crit­i­cal inte­grat­ed cir­cuits to sab­o­tage. The board was espe­cial­ly alarmed that no exist­ing tests could detect such com­pro­mised chips, which led to the for­ma­tion of the DARPA Trust in IC pro­gram.

    Where might such an attack orig­i­nate? U.S. offi­cials invari­ably men­tion Chi­na and Rus­sia. Ken­neth Flamm, a tech­nol­o­gy expert at the Pen­ta­gon dur­ing the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion who is now a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin, would­n’t get that spe­cif­ic but did offer some clues. Each year, secure gov­ern­ment com­put­er net­works weath­er thou­sands of attacks over the Inter­net. ”Some of that prob­ing has come from places where a lot of our elec­tron­ics are being man­u­fac­tured,” Flamm says. ”And if you’re a respon­si­ble defense per­son, you would be stu­pid not to look at some of the stuff they’re assem­bling, to see how else they might try to enter the net­work.”

    John Ran­dall, a semi­con­duc­tor expert at Zyvex Corp., in Richard­son, Texas, elab­o­rates that any male­fac­tor who can pen­e­trate gov­ern­ment secu­ri­ty can find out what chips are being ordered by the Defense Depart­ment and then tar­get them for sab­o­tage. ”If they can access the chip designs and add the mod­i­fi­ca­tions,” Ran­dall says, ”then the chips could be man­u­fac­tured cor­rect­ly any­where and still con­tain the unwant­ed cir­cuit­ry.”


    A kill switch built to be trig­gered at will, as was alleged­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the Euro­pean micro­proces­sors, would be more dif­fi­cult and expen­sive to pull off, but it’s also the more like­ly threat, says David Adler, a con­sult­ing pro­fes­sor of elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing at Stan­ford, who was pre­vi­ous­ly fund­ed by DARPA to devel­op chip-test­ing hard­ware in an unre­lat­ed project.

    To cre­ate a con­trolled kill switch, you’d need to add extra log­ic to a micro­proces­sor, which you could do either dur­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing or dur­ing the chip’s design phase. A sabo­teur could sub­sti­tute one of the masks used to imprint the pat­tern of wires and tran­sis­tors onto the semi­con­duc­tor wafer, Adler sug­gests, so that the pat­tern for just one microchip is dif­fer­ent from the rest. ”You’re print­ing pic­tures from a neg­a­tive,” he says. ”If you change the mask, you can add extra tran­sis­tors.”

    Or the extra cir­cuits could be added to the design itself. Chip cir­cuit­ry these days tends to be cre­at­ed in soft­ware mod­ules, which can come from any­where, notes Dean Collins, deputy direc­tor of DARPA’s Microsys­tems Tech­nol­o­gy Office and pro­gram man­ag­er for the Trust in IC ini­tia­tive. Pro­gram­mers ”browse many sources on the Inter­net for a com­po­nent,” he says. ”They’ll find a good one made by some­body in Roma­nia, and they’ll put that in their design.” Up to two dozen dif­fer­ent soft­ware tools may be used to design the chip, and the ori­gin of that soft­ware is not always clear, he adds. ”That cre­ates two dozen entry points for mali­cious code.”

    Collins notes that many defense con­trac­tors rely heav­i­ly on field-pro­gram­ma­ble gate arrays (FPGAs)–a kind of gener­ic chip that can be cus­tomized through soft­ware. While a ready-made FPGA can be bought for $500, an appli­ca­tion-spe­cif­ic IC, or ASIC, can cost any­where from $4 mil­lion to $50 mil­lion. ”If you make a mis­take on an FPGA, hey, you just repro­gram it,” says Collins. ”That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you put the FPGA in a mil­i­tary sys­tem, some­one else can repro­gram it.”

    Almost all FPGAs are now made at foundries out­side the Unit­ed States, about 80 per­cent of them in Tai­wan. Defense con­trac­tors have no good way of guar­an­tee­ing that these eco­nom­i­cal chips haven’t been tam­pered with. Build­ing a kill switch into an FPGA could mean embed­ding as few as 1000 tran­sis­tors with­in its many hun­dreds of mil­lions. ”You could do a lot of very inter­est­ing things with those extra tran­sis­tors,” Collins says.


    A kill switch or back­door built into an encryp­tion chip could have even more dis­as­trous con­se­quences. Today encod­ing and decod­ing clas­si­fied mes­sages is done com­plete­ly by inte­grat­ed circuit–no more Enig­ma machine with its levers and wheels. Most advanced encryp­tion schemes rely on the dif­fi­cul­ty that com­put­ers have in fac­tor­ing num­bers con­tain­ing hun­dreds of dig­its; dis­cov­er­ing a 512-bit type of encryp­tion would take some machines up to 149 mil­lion years. Encryp­tion that uses the same code or key to encrypt and decrypt information–as is often true–could eas­i­ly be com­pro­mised by a kill switch or a back­door. No mat­ter what pre­cau­tions are tak­en at the pro­gram­ming lev­el to safe­guard that key, one extra block of tran­sis­tors could undo any amount of cryp­tog­ra­phy, says John East, CEO of Actel Corp., in Moun­tain View, Calif., which sup­plies mil­i­tary FPGAs.


    Mean­while, oth­er coun­tries appear to be awak­en­ing to the chip threat. At a Jan­u­ary hear­ing, a U.S. House Com­mit­tee on For­eign Affairs addressed Pak­istan’s ongo­ing refusal to let the Unit­ed States help it secure its nuclear arse­nal with Amer­i­can tech­nol­o­gy. Pak­istan remains reluc­tant to allow such inter­ven­tion, cit­ing fears that the Unit­ed States would use the oppor­tu­ni­ty to crip­ple its weapons with–what else?–a kill switch.


    This is a hot issue now so it will be inter­est­ing to see how the glob­al semi­con­duc­tor indus­try changes in com­ing years. The glob­al trade in weapons or oth­er prod­ucts that could be con­sid­ered to have nation­al secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions is rather mas­sive. Some­thing like a mod­ern com­put­er can be con­struct­ed from com­po­nents designed and built in dif­fer­ent nations all over the world so if there’s a break­down in transna­tion­al trust (where a nation can only trust domes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers for high-tech nation­al secu­ri­ty-relat­ed prod­ucts) we might end up see­ing a strange break­down in glob­al high-tech sup­ply chains. For instance, if gov­ern­ments sud­den­ly decid­ed that for­eign TPM chips man­u­fac­tur­ers coud­n’t be trust­ed with any machines run­ng­ing Win­dows 8, the already ail­ing Ger­many microchip sec­tor might take an even big­ger hit to glob­al demand:

    Don’t let para­noia over the NSA and TPM weak­en your secu­ri­ty

    Sum­ma­ry: Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists are scream­ing that the NSA and Microsoft are in cahoots to insert a back­door into all your hard­ware. The con­spir­a­cy is so vast, in fact, that they’ve even man­aged to snag Microsoft­’s most bit­ter rival.
    By Ed Bott for The Ed Bott Report | August 23, 2013 — 13:03 GMT (06:03 PDT)

    The unin­tend­ed by-prod­uct of Edward Snowden’s NSA doc­u­ment dump is a bull mar­ket in para­noid con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

    The lat­est exam­ple is the breath­less report out of Ger­many that Microsoft and the NSA have con­spired to give Amer­i­can spies access to every copy of Win­dows 8, enforced by a mys­te­ri­ous chip called the Trust­ed Plat­form Mod­ule, or TPM. “It’s a back­door!” scream the con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists.

    Appar­ent­ly, Microsoft is so pow­er­ful that it is able to influ­ence even its most bit­ter ene­mies. Con­sid­er this graph­ic, from a whitepa­per com­mis­sioned by the Trust­ed Com­put­ing Group, which man­ages the TPM stan­dard. It explains how the TPM chip uses cryp­to­graph­ic keys to ver­i­fy that an oper­at­ing sys­tem hasn’t been tam­pered with:
    [See pic]

    Notice any­thing off about that graph­ic? Yeah, that’s a Chrome­book logo. If you buy a Chrome­book, pow­ered by Google’s oper­at­ing sys­tem with­out a hint of Win­dows 8 any­where in it, it will be pro­tect­ed by a Ver­i­fied Boot process, enforced by the same TPM chip used in Win­dows devices.

    Here’s Google’s expla­na­tion:

    The goal of Ver­i­fied Boot is to pro­vide cryp­to­graph­ic assur­ances that the sys­tem code hasn’t been mod­i­fied by an attack­er on the Chrome­book. Addi­tion­al­ly, we use lock­able, non-volatile mem­o­ry (NVRAM) in the TPM to ensure that out­dat­ed sig­na­tures won’t be accept­ed. To put this into per­spec­tive, the sys­tem does all this in about 8 sec­onds.

    If you don’t want to boot Google-ver­i­fied soft­ware — let’s say you built your own ver­sion of Chromi­um OS — no prob­lem. You can flip the devel­op­er switch on your device and use the Chrome­book how­ev­er you’d like. It’s yours, after all!

    You can do the same thing on a Win­dows device by dis­abling the Secure Boot option. That option is on by default, to pre­vent rootk­its from being able to com­pro­mise a machine. But if you have phys­i­cal access to the machine, you can go into its set­tings and dis­able that option, at which point you are free to do what­ev­er you like.

    The point is, a TPM is a plat­form-neu­tral device. It pro­vides a secure way to encrypt data so that it can’t be accessed by any­one except you, and it pro­tects your device from being tam­pered with. Both of those fea­tures are high­ly desir­able these days.

    But who knows what’s going on in that chip? I mean, they say it’s just a secure place to store encrypt­ed keys, but who knows what else it can do? Obvi­ous­ly the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment or maybe the Chi­nese have intim­i­dat­ed the chip’s man­u­fac­tur­er, right?

    Uh, maybe not. The most pop­u­lar mak­er of TPM tech­nol­o­gy is Infi­neon Tech­nolo­gies AG, which is based in … Neu­biberg, Ger­many. Per­haps those intre­pid Ger­man jour­nal­ists could, you know, hop on a train and head down to Infi­neon to see for them­selves.


    If the chal­lenges of trust­wor­thy tech­nol­o­gy in the age of the inter­net seem over­whelm­ing just wait until the bio­met­ric rev­o­lu­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 25, 2013, 6:31 pm

Post a comment