The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

FBI's Latest Proposal for a Wiretap-Ready Internet Should Be Trashed | Julian Sanchez

“The FBI’s plan would effectively make an entire category of emerging secure platforms — such as the encrypted voice app Silent Circle or the Dropbox-like cloud storage service Spider Oak — illegal overnight.”

The FBI has some strange ideas about how to “update” federal surveillance laws: They’re calling for legislation to penalize online services that provide users with too much security.

I’m not kidding. The proposal was revealed in The Washington Post last week — and a couple days ago, a front-page story in The New York Times reported the Obama administration is preparing to back it.

Why? Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI have long feared their wiretap capabilities would begin “going dark” as criminals and terrorists — along with ordinary citizens — shift from telephone networks, which are required to be wiretap-ready under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), to the dizzying array of online communications platforms available today.

While it’s not yet clear how dire the going-dark scenario really is, the statutory “cure” proposed by the FBI — with fines starting at $25,000 a day for companies that aren’t wiretap capable — would surely be worse than the disease.

The FBI’s misguided proposal would impose costly burdens on thousands of companies (and threaten to entirely kill those whose business model centers on providing highly secure encrypted communications), while making cloud solutions less attractive to businesses and users. It would aid totalitarian governments eager to spy on their citizens while distorting business decisions about software design. Perhaps worst of all, it would treat millions of law-abiding users with legitimate security needs as presumed criminals — while doing little to hamper actual criminals.

Read more

Senate committee advances bill to prevent warantless email searches | guardian.co.uk

A bipartisan committee voted on Thursday to advance a bill to clamp down on warrantless government searches of email and other private electronic information.

The bill seeks to modify the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and require government and law enforcement agencies to get a judge’s approval in most cases in order to access electronic communications. A vote is now expected next month, but while the bill has cross-party support law officials, regulators and some senators are pushing for amendments to weaken its impact.

Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, co-sponsor of the bill with Utah’s Republican senator Mike Lee, said: “I think Americans are very concerned about unwanted intrusions into our private lives in cyberspace. There’s no question if someone wants to go into your house and go through your files and draws you are going to need a search warrant. But if you have those same files in the cloud you ought to have the same sense of privacy.”

Still smarting from SOPA, Congress to shy away from copyright in 2013 | Ars Technica

Last January, hundreds of websites went dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial proposal to use DNS filtering to censor websites suspected of infringing copyright. Millions of voters contacted their members of Congress to protest the legislation, and as a result dozens of members announced their opposition. The protests ended any serious consideration of copyright enforcement efforts for 2012.

"I think people are shell-shocked from that," SOPA opponent Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told The Hill's Jennifer Martinez. “It was sort of an unprecedented experience that members do not want to repeat.”

Lawmakers “have yet to even hint at efforts to revisit anti-piracy legislation,” Martinez reports. She called key figures on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, which have jurisdiction over the copyright issues. None of them were planning to bring up copyright enforcement issues in 2013.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chief sponsor of the Protect IP Act last year, remains concerned about the issue but has no plans to introduce legislation. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives were equally noncommittal.

[…] Of course, that could change at any time. We have no doubt that the RIAA and MPAA will start lobbying for a SOPA successor as soon as they think they can get away with it. But for now, Congress is still too terrified about provoking another Internet backlash to consider new copyright enforcement measures.

The federal government will continue to access Americans’ emails without a warrant, after the U.S. Senate dropped a key amendment to legislation now headed to the White House for approval. Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (which deals with publishing users’ Netflix information on Facebook pages) that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email or other data stored remotely (i.e., the cloud). The Senate was set to approve the video privacy bill along with the email amendment, which would have applied to a different law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. But then senators decided for reasons unknown to drop the amendment. Congress, at Last Minute, Drops Requirement to Obtain Warrant to Monitor Email | AllGov

Congress Demands United Nations Keep Hands Off the Internet | Threat Level

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a Senate resolution calling on the United States to oppose the United Nations gaining control of the internet.

The resolution (.pdf) vote by the House, which follows a similar move by the Senate, comes as the World Conference on International Telecommunications opened Monday in Dubai with some 190-plus nations discussing the global internet’s future.

The gestures by both legislative chambers are largely symbolic, however, as they mimic the U.S. government’s stance at the two-week meeting. The conference is designed to update the International Telecommunications Regulations governed by the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency responsible for global communication technologies.

“The 193 member countries of the United Nations are gathered to consider whether to apply to the internet a regulatory regime that the International Telecommunications Union created in the 1980s for old-fashioned telephone service,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon). He said that should be “strongly opposed.”

futurejournalismproject:

Cypherpunks
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is coming out with a book next month, co-authored with Jacob Applebaum, Andy Müeller and Jérémie Zimmerman.
Via OR Books:

Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute “the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed,” perpetually tracking our location, our contacts and our lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most of us willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance, for instance in relation to the “Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse” (money laundering, drugs, terrorism and pornography)? And do we have the ability, through conscious action and technological savvy, to resist this tide and secure a world where freedom is something which the Internet helps bring about?
The harassment of WikiLeaks and other Internet activists, together with attempts to introduce anti-file sharing legislation such as SOPA and ACTA, indicate that the politics of the Internet have reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future that guarantees, in the watchwords of the cypherpunks, “privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful”; in the other lies an Internet that allows government and large corporations to discover ever more about internet users while hiding their own activities.

futurejournalismproject:

Cypherpunks

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is coming out with a book next month, co-authored with Jacob Applebaum, Andy Müeller and Jérémie Zimmerman.

Via OR Books:

Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute “the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed,” perpetually tracking our location, our contacts and our lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most of us willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance, for instance in relation to the “Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse” (money laundering, drugs, terrorism and pornography)? And do we have the ability, through conscious action and technological savvy, to resist this tide and secure a world where freedom is something which the Internet helps bring about?

The harassment of WikiLeaks and other Internet activists, together with attempts to introduce anti-file sharing legislation such as SOPA and ACTA, indicate that the politics of the Internet have reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future that guarantees, in the watchwords of the cypherpunks, “privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful”; in the other lies an Internet that allows government and large corporations to discover ever more about internet users while hiding their own activities.

These bills are dead, they’re not coming back,” said Dodd. “And they shouldn’t.” He said the MPAA isn’t focused on getting similar legislation passed in the future, at the moment. “I think we’re better served by sitting down [with the tech sector and SOPA opponents] and seeing what we agree on. MPAA chief admits: SOPA and PIPA “are dead, they’re not coming back.” | Ars Technica (via infoneer-pulse)

(via infoneer-pulse)

perscientiamlibertas:

Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles

Federal prosectors added nine new felony counts against well-known coder and activist Aaron Swartz, who was charged last year for allegedly breaching hacking laws by downloading millions of academic articles from a subscription database via an open connection at MIT.

Swartz, the 25-year-old executive director of Demand Progress, has a history of downloading massive data sets, both to use in research and to release public domain documents from behind paywalls. He surrendered in July 2011, remains free on bond and faces dozens of years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

Like last year’s original grand jury indictment on four felony counts, (.pdf) the superseding indictment (.pdf) unveiled Thursday accuses Swartz of evading MIT’s attempts to kick his laptop off the network while downloading millions of documents from JSTOR, a not-for-profit company that provides searchable, digitized copies of academic journals that are normally inaccessible to the public.

Using a program named keepgrabbing.py, the scraping took place from September 2010 to January 2011 via MIT’s network, and was invasive enough to bring down JSTOR’s servers on several occasions, according to the indictment.

Continue reading

(via patternsofbehavior)

FBI Renewing Its Request For New Internet Surveillance Laws

anarcho-queer:

The FBI is renewing its request for new Internet surveillance laws, saying technological advances hinder surveillance and warning that companies should be required to build in backdoors for police.

We must ensure that our ability to obtain communications pursuant to court order is not eroded,” FBI director Robert Mueller told a U.S. Senate committee this week. Currently, he said, many communications providers “are not required to build or maintain intercept capabilities.

Mueller’s prepared remarks reignite a long-simmering debate pitting the values of privacy, limited government, and freedom to innovate against law enforcement requests that often find a receptive audience on Capitol Hill. Two days ago, for instance, senators delayed voting on a privacy bill that would require search warrants for e-mail after sheriffs and district attorneys objected.

In May, CNET disclosed that the FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a proposed law that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance. The bureau’s draft proposal would require that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.

It’s not exactly clear how much of the FBI’s problems in conducting surveillance arise from wireless communications, encryption, social networks, or VoIP; the bureau has not been eager to be specific. Microsoft’s Skype service has worked with law enforcement to make online chats and other user information available to police, the Washington Post reported in July.

An internal FBI strategy document from 2007 recently posted by Cryptome.org refers to “proposed amendments” to CALEA that would codify the authority of police to “process a subject’s communications traffic, including IP/packet-based communications.

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

Honestly, looking this over, you get the sense that it’s really designed to do one thing: scare those who fought against the various bills back to the table to compromise and get a bill out. It’s no secret that the administration’s overall preference is to get a law in place, rather than this executive order. That’s been a failed effort so far, but you have to wonder if this is a ploy to scare those who opposed the Cybersecurity Act into thinking that if they don’t approve some legislation, the exec order might be a bigger problem. There are way too many things left open ended in this draft, and while the administration can’t go as far as Congress on many things, the open-ended nature of this order could certainly lead to problems for the industries who opposed previous efforts. LEAKED! Here’s The White House’s Draft Cybersecurity Executive Order | Techdirt

Cops might finally need a warrant to read your Gmail | Ars Technica

Right now, if the cops want to read my e-mail, it’s pretty trivial for them to do so. All they have to do is ask my online e-mail provider. But a new bill set to be introduced Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee by its chair, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), seems to stand the best chance of finally changing that situation and giving e-mail stored on remote servers the same privacy protections as e-mail stored on one’s home computer.