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Paul Merrell

Trump administration pulls back curtain on secretive cybersecurity process - The Washin... - 0 views

  • The White House on Wednesday made public for the first time the rules by which the government decides to disclose or keep secret software flaws that can be turned into cyberweapons — whether by U.S. agencies hacking for foreign intelligence, money-hungry criminals or foreign spies seeking to penetrate American computers. The move to publish an un­classified charter responds to years of criticism that the process was unnecessarily opaque, fueling suspicion that it cloaked a stockpile of software flaws that the National Security Agency was hoarding to go after foreign targets but that put Americans’ cyber­security at risk.
  • The rules are part of the “Vulnerabilities Equities Process,” which the Obama administration revamped in 2014 as a multi­agency forum to debate whether and when to inform companies such as Microsoft and Juniper that the government has discovered or bought a software flaw that, if weaponized, could affect the security of their product. The Trump administration has mostly not altered the rules under which the government reaches a decision but is disclosing its process. Under the VEP, an “equities review board” of at least a dozen national security and civilian agencies will meet monthly — or more often, if a need arises — to discuss newly discovered vulnerabilities. Besides the NSA, the CIA and the FBI, the list includes the Treasury, Commerce and State departments, and the Office of Management and Budget. The priority is on disclosure, the policy states, to protect core Internet systems, the U.S. economy and critical infrastructure, unless there is “a demonstrable, overriding interest” in using the flaw for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. The government has long said that it discloses the vast majority — more than 90 percent — of the vulnerabilities it discovers or buys in products from defense contractors or other sellers. In recent years, that has amounted to more than 100 a year, according to people familiar with the process. But because the process was classified, the National Security Council, which runs the discussion, was never able to reveal any numbers. Now, Joyce said, the number of flaws disclosed and the number retained will be made public in an annual report. A classified version will be sent to Congress, he said.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Despite Administration's Promises, Most Government Transparency Still The Work Of Whist... - 0 views

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    "from the the-government-can-doxx-you,-but-not-itself dept Meet the new transparency/Same as the old transparency: The Justice Department has kept classified at least 74 opinions, memos and letters on national security issues, including interrogation, detention and surveillance, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice."
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    "from the the-government-can-doxx-you,-but-not-itself dept Meet the new transparency/Same as the old transparency: The Justice Department has kept classified at least 74 opinions, memos and letters on national security issues, including interrogation, detention and surveillance, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

How Edward Snowden started a conversation that is changing the world - Access Now - 0 views

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    "On January 17, 2014 - more than seven months after the first document was published in what we now refer to as the "Snowden revelations" - U.S. President Obama gave a speech at the Department of Justice that became known as the "NSA speech." In it he discussed the scope of post-9/11 surveillance. He explained the significant steps that the administration had taken, and would continue to take, to review foreign intelligence surveillance, including creating an independent review group. He also acknowledged a man by the name of Edward Snowden."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Europe's new lobbying rules are timid, shameless say transparency orgs | Ars Technica UK - 0 views

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    "Top European lawmakers on Wednesday promised to raise the curtain on meetings with lobbyists, but transparency organisations scoffed at their "timid," "disappointing," and "shameless" proposals."
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    "Top European lawmakers on Wednesday promised to raise the curtain on meetings with lobbyists, but transparency organisations scoffed at their "timid," "disappointing," and "shameless" proposals."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Take action to stop secret lobbying | Democracy International e.V. - 0 views

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    "On 12 September, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who sit on the committee on constitutional affairs (AFCO) will presumably vote on the report on "Transparency, integrity and accountability in the EU institutions". The report includes important proposals on how to make decision-making in Brussels more transparent and ethical."
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    "On 12 September, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who sit on the committee on constitutional affairs (AFCO) will presumably vote on the report on "Transparency, integrity and accountability in the EU institutions". The report includes important proposals on how to make decision-making in Brussels more transparent and ethical."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

'Mutable' Torrents Proposal Makes BitTorrent More Resilient - TorrentFreak - 0 views

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    " Andy on August 13, 2016 C: 39 News Behind the scenes, groups of individuals are trying to make BitTorrent better with steady, incremental updates. A new proposal tabled by P2P developer Luca Matteis envisions a tweak to the protocol that would allow greater resilience in the BitTorrent ecosystem."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Why Is Linux Foundation's Latest Change A Bad News For Linux And Open Source? - 0 views

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    "Short Bytes: Up until recently, the Linux Foundation allowed the individual members to elect two board members and ensure that the voice of Linux community is considered at the board meetings. In a shocking change, the Foundation has erased this clause and decided to benefit the corporate companies rather that whole community."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Linux Sucks 2014 [Bryan Lunduke]- YouTube - 2 views

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    [Published on Apr 28, 2014 "Linux Sucks". 2014 edition. Recorded live at LinuxFest Northwest on April 26th, 2014. How to yell at me: Blog: http://www.lunduke.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/BryanLunduke G+: https://plus.google.com/+BryanLunduke Category Entertainment License Standard YouTube License ]
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    [Published on Apr 28, 2014 "Linux Sucks". 2014 edition. Recorded live at LinuxFest Northwest on April 26th, 2014. How to yell at me: Blog: http://www.lunduke.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/BryanLunduke G+: https://plus.google.com/+BryanLunduke Category Entertainment License Standard YouTube License ]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The Digital Firehose: Free the Law: Democracy requires open court decisions - 0 views

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    "It is heartening to see that someone has noticed how most of our court documents and decisions are locked up behind a paywall and is willing to do something about it."
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    "It is heartening to see that someone has noticed how most of our court documents and decisions are locked up behind a paywall and is willing to do something about it."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

More Closed-Door Meetings, a New Chief Transparency Officer, and Growing International ... - 0 views

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    "Over the past month, trade officials have been frantically working to resolve outstanding disagreements over provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the midst of speculation that the deal is in deep trouble."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

TTIP Transparency in Practice | SumOfUs.org - 0 views

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    "TTIP or no TTIP -- our representatives in the European Parliament (MEPs) will play a crucial role when it comes to deciding whether this historic trade deal between the US and EU will become reality. With our democracy on the line and our health and environmental standards up for negotiation -- it couldn't be more vital for our MEPs to know exactly what they'll have to decide on. EU Commissioners say they're giving access to MEPs, but we know it's just not true. Share this infographic to make sure people all over Europe understand just how undemocratic this trade deal is."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

EFF Told to "Shut the Hell Up" About SOPA - TorrentFreak - 1 views

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    " Andy on August 7, 2015 C: 155 News Warnings from the EFF this week that Hollywood is making renewed efforts to obtain SOPA-like powers over Internet companies has touched a nerve, with filmmakers and anti-piracy activists attacking from all angles. The EFF should stop talking about the past, its critics say, and admit that the Internet won't get broken by Hollywood."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Mega Publishes First Transparency Report | TorrentFreak - 0 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! How good it would be if Governments, Lawmakers and many # ! Companies with pubic impact, published their own # ! 'Transparency Reports'...
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    " Andy on June 15, 2015 C: 0 Breaking After 2.5 years of operations the Mega cloud storage service has published its first transparency report. Aimed at inspiring confidence in how the company deals with complaints and protects privacy, the document reveals that Mega takes content down faster than Google and a maximum of 0.165% of users have been suspended."
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    " Andy on June 15, 2015 C: 0 Breaking After 2.5 years of operations the Mega cloud storage service has published its first transparency report. Aimed at inspiring confidence in how the company deals with complaints and protects privacy, the document reveals that Mega takes content down faster than Google and a maximum of 0.165% of users have been suspended."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers from Windows and Mac - 1 views

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    Linux has an intimidating image, making it seem like it would be difficult to start using it. But the switch from Windows and Mac is actually pretty easy, if you can ease yourself into it.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

The ratings: Most net neutrality groups get poor grades for funding transparency | Netw... - 1 views

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    "After a spate of news stories about alleged "astroturf" advocacy in a contentious U.S. net neutrality debate, the IDG News Service looked into the funding transparency of several think tanks and advocacy groups involved in the issue"
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    "After a spate of news stories about alleged "astroturf" advocacy in a contentious U.S. net neutrality debate, the IDG News Service looked into the funding transparency of several think tanks and advocacy groups involved in the issue"
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Why prominent 'hobbyist' operating systems face an existential crisis | PCWorld - 1 views

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    "Do you think Linux is an alternative, hobbyist operating system? Ha! Linux is mainstream. If you're looking for the next niche OS, you'll need to dive deep into the cracks and crevices: passion projects worked on by a handful of developers in their spare time." [# ! #Explore… # ! #Hack… #Create… # ! … #open The W@rld to #Computing… and vice versa. # ! And the more #Open, the #Better.]
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    "Do you think Linux is an alternative, hobbyist operating system? Ha! Linux is mainstream. If you're looking for the next niche OS, you'll need to dive deep into the cracks and crevices: passion projects worked on by a handful of developers in their spare time."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Transparency | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

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    "Knowing "what the government is up to" is often the first step in ensuring that the government respects the civil liberties of its citizens. Transparency is especially important given the government's increasingly secretive use of new technologies for law enforcement and national security purposes. From cell phone location tracking, the use of surveillance drones, secret interpretations of electronic surveillance law, and the expanding use of biometrics, EFF wants to hold the government accountable and uphold your digital rights."
Paul Merrell

Memo to Potential Whistleblowers: If You See Something, Say Something | Global Research - 0 views

  • Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We don’t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity. I’ve met many whistleblowers over the years, and they’ve been extraordinarily ordinary. None were applying for halos or sainthood. All experienced anguish before deciding that continuous inaction had a price that was too high. All suffered negative consequences as well as relief after they spoke up and took action. All made the world better with their courage. Whistleblowers don’t sign up to be whistleblowers. Almost always, they begin their work as true believers in the system that conscience later compels them to challenge. “It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience,” Matthew Hoh recalled this week.“It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy.”
  • Hoh describes his record this way: “After over 11 continuous years of service with the U.S. military and U.S. government, nearly six of those years overseas, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as positions within the Secretary of the Navy’s Office as a White House Liaison, and as a consultant for the State Department’s Iraq Desk, I resigned from my position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of war in 2009.” Another former Department of State official, the ex-diplomat and retired Army colonel Ann Wright, who resigned in protest of the Iraq invasion in March 2003, is crossing paths with Hoh on Friday as they do the honors at a ribbon-cutting — half a block from the State Department headquarters in Washington — for a billboard with a picture of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Big-lettered words begin by referring to the years he waited before releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. “Don’t do what I did,” Ellsberg says on the billboard.  “Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died, before you tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. You might save a war’s worth of lives.
  • The billboard – sponsored by the ExposeFacts organization, which launched this week — will spread to other prominent locations in Washington and beyond. As an organizer for ExposeFacts, I’m glad to report that outreach to potential whistleblowers is just getting started. (For details, visit ExposeFacts.org.) We’re propelled by the kind of hopeful determination that Hoh expressed the day before the billboard ribbon-cutting when he said: “I trust ExposeFacts and its efforts will encourage others to follow their conscience and do what is right.” The journalist Kevin Gosztola, who has astutely covered a range of whistleblower issues for years, pointed this week to the imperative of opening up news media. “There is an important role for ExposeFacts to play in not only forcing more transparency, but also inspiring more media organizations to engage in adversarial journalism,” he wrote. “Such journalism is called for in the face of wars, environmental destruction, escalating poverty, egregious abuses in the justice system, corporate control of government, and national security state secrecy. Perhaps a truly successful organization could inspire U.S. media organizations to play much more of a watchdog role than a lapdog role when covering powerful institutions in government.”
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  • Overall, we desperately need to nurture and propagate a steadfast culture of outspoken whistleblowing. A central motto of the AIDS activist movement dating back to the 1980s – Silence = Death – remains urgently relevant in a vast array of realms. Whether the problems involve perpetual war, corporate malfeasance, climate change, institutionalized racism, patterns of sexual assault, toxic pollution or countless other ills, none can be alleviated without bringing grim realities into the light. “All governments lie,” Ellsberg says in a video statement released for the launch of ExposeFacts, “and they all like to work in the dark as far as the public is concerned, in terms of their own decision-making, their planning — and to be able to allege, falsely, unanimity in addressing their problems, as if no one who had knowledge of the full facts inside could disagree with the policy the president or the leader of the state is announcing.” Ellsberg adds: “A country that wants to be a democracy has to be able to penetrate that secrecy, with the help of conscientious individuals who understand in this country that their duty to the Constitution and to the civil liberties and to the welfare of this country definitely surmount their obligation to their bosses, to a given administration, or in some cases to their promise of secrecy.”
  • Right now, our potential for democracy owes a lot to people like NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Kirk Wiebe, and EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. When they spoke at the June 4 news conference in Washington that launched ExposeFacts, their brave clarity was inspiring. Antidotes to the poisons of cynicism and passive despair can emerge from organizing to help create a better world. The process requires applying a single standard to the real actions of institutions and individuals, no matter how big their budgets or grand their power. What cannot withstand the light of day should not be suffered in silence. If you see something, say something.
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    While some governments -- my own included -- attempt to impose an Orwellian Dark State of ubiquitous secret surveillance, secret wars, the rule of oligarchs, and public ignorance, the Edward Snowden leaks fanned the flames of the countering War on Ignorance that had been kept alive by civil libertarians. Only days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in a case where a reporter had been ordered to reveal his source of information for a book on the Dark State under the penalties for contempt of court (a long stretch in jail), a new web site is launched for communications between sources and journalists where the source's names never need to be revealed. This article is part of the publicity for that new weapon fielded by the civil libertarian side in the War Against Ignorance.  Hurrah!
Paul Merrell

ExposeFacts - For Whistleblowers, Journalism and Democracy - 0 views

  • Launched by the Institute for Public Accuracy in June 2014, ExposeFacts.org represents a new approach for encouraging whistleblowers to disclose information that citizens need to make truly informed decisions in a democracy. From the outset, our message is clear: “Whistleblowers Welcome at ExposeFacts.org.” ExposeFacts aims to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war. At a time when key provisions of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments are under assault, we are standing up for a free press, privacy, transparency and due process as we seek to reveal official information—whether governmental or corporate—that the public has a right to know. While no software can provide an ironclad guarantee of confidentiality, ExposeFacts—assisted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and its “SecureDrop” whistleblower submission system—is utilizing the latest technology on behalf of anonymity for anyone submitting materials via the ExposeFacts.org website. As journalists we are committed to the goal of protecting the identity of every source who wishes to remain anonymous.
  • The seasoned editorial board of ExposeFacts will be assessing all the submitted material and, when deemed appropriate, will arrange for journalistic release of information. In exercising its judgment, the editorial board is able to call on the expertise of the ExposeFacts advisory board, which includes more than 40 journalists, whistleblowers, former U.S. government officials and others with wide-ranging expertise. We are proud that Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was the first person to become a member of the ExposeFacts advisory board. The icon below links to a SecureDrop implementation for ExposeFacts overseen by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and is only accessible using the Tor browser. As the Freedom of the Press Foundation notes, no one can guarantee 100 percent security, but this provides a “significantly more secure environment for sources to get information than exists through normal digital channels, but there are always risks.” ExposeFacts follows all guidelines as recommended by Freedom of the Press Foundation, and whistleblowers should too; the SecureDrop onion URL should only be accessed with the Tor browser — and, for added security, be running the Tails operating system. Whistleblowers should not log-in to SecureDrop from a home or office Internet connection, but rather from public wifi, preferably one you do not frequent. Whistleblowers should keep to a minimum interacting with whistleblowing-related websites unless they are using such secure software.
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    A new resource site for whistle-blowers. somewhat in the tradition of Wikileaks, but designed for encrypted communications between whistleblowers and journalists.  This one has an impressive board of advisors that includes several names I know and tend to trust, among them former whistle-blowers Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern, Thomas Drake, William Binney, and Ann Wright. Leaked records can only be dropped from a web browser running the Tor anonymizer software and uses the SecureDrop system originally developed by Aaron Schwartz. They strongly recommend using the Tails secure operating system that can be installed to a thumb drive and leaves no tracks on the host machine. https://tails.boum.org/index.en.html Curious, I downloaded Tails and installed it to a virtual machine. It's a heavily customized version of Debian. It has a very nice Gnome desktop and blocks any attempt to connect to an external network by means other than installed software that demands encrypted communications. For example, web sites can only be viewed via the Tor anonymizing proxy network. It does take longer for web pages to load because they are moving over a chain of proxies, but even so it's faster than pages loaded in the dial-up modem days, even for web pages that are loaded with graphics, javascript, and other cruft. E.g., about 2 seconds for New York Times pages. All cookies are treated by default as session cookies so disappear when you close the page or the browser. I love my Linux Mint desktop, but I am thinking hard about switching that box to Tails. I've been looking for methods to send a lot more encrypted stuff down the pipe for NSA to store. Tails looks to make that not only easy, but unavoidable. From what I've gathered so far, if you want to install more software on Tails, it takes about an hour to create a customized version and then update your Tails installation from a new ISO file. Tails has a wonderful odor of having been designed for secure computing. Current
Paul Merrell

Transparency Toolkit - 0 views

  • About Transparency Toolkit We need information about governments, companies, and other institutions to uncover corruption, human rights abuses, and civil liberties violations. Unfortunately, the information provided by most transparency initiatives today is difficult to understand and incomplete. Transparency Toolkit is an open source web application where journalists, activists, or anyone can chain together tools to rapidly collect, combine, visualize, and analyze documents and data. For example, Transparency Toolkit can be used to get data on all of a legislator’s actions in congress (votes, bills sponsored, etc.), get data on the fundraising parties a legislator attends, combine that data, and show it on a timeline to find correlations between actions in congress and parties attended. It could also be used to extract all locations from a document and plot them on a map where each point is linked to where the location was mentioned in the document.
  • Analysis Platform On the analysis platform, users can add steps to the analysis process. These steps chain together the tools, so someone could scrape data, upload a document, crossreference that with the scraped data, and then visualize the result all in less than a minute with little technical knowledge. Some of the tools allow users to specify input, but when this is not the case the output of the last step is the input of the next. Tools Existing and planned Transparency Toolkit tools include include scrapers and APIs for accessing data, format converters, extraction tools (for dates, names, locations, numbers), tools for crossreferencing and merging data, visualizations (maps, timelines, network graphs, maps), and pattern and trend detecting tools. These tools are designed to work in many cases rather than a single specific situation. The tools can be linked together on Transparency Toolkit, but they are also available individually. Where possible, we build our tools off of existing open source software. Road Map You can see the plans for future development of Transparency Toolkit here.
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    If you think this isn't a tool for some very serious research, check the short descriptions of the modules here. https://github.com/transparencytoolkit I'll be installing this and doing some test-driving soon. From the source files, the glue for the tools seems to be Ruby on Rails. The development roadmap linked from the last word on this About page is also highly instructive. It ranks among the most detailed dev roadmaps I have ever seen. Notice that it is classified by milestones with scheduled work periods, giving specific date ranges for achievement. Even given the inevitable need to alter the schedule for unforeseen problems, this is a very aggressive (not quite the word I want) development plan and schedule. And the planned changes look to be super-useful, including a lot of "make it easier for the user" changes.   
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