Tag Archives: fbi

Officials Continue to Dodge Attempts to Disclose Use of Stingrays – Reason (blog)

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

Elvert Barnes / FlickrWhen three men were arrested for robbing a drug dealer in Tallahassee, Florida, in 2013, prosecutors seemed to have a slam dunk case. As The Washington Post reported, Tadrae McKenzie and his friends used BB guns to rob a drug dealer, taking $130 worth of marijuana and his cellphone. A few days later the local police tracked them down and charged them with possession as well as armed robbery with a deadly weapon.

During the trial, the defense raised questions about how the police were able to locate the suspects so quickly, but the police and prosecution refused to answer. The judge ordered them to disclose the information, but instead of complying, the prosecution offered the defendants a plea bargain. McKenzie and his friends could have spent anywhere from three to 30 years in jail for their crime. Instead, the three men received probation with no jail time. As Cato Institute policy analyst Adam Bates pointed out during a panel discussion yesterday, the reason for the discrepancy was that the police and prosecution were unwilling to admit they had used a surveillance tool called a “Stingray” to find the criminals.

Stingrays mimic the signal of a cellular tower and lure nearby mobile phones to connect to their fake network. Through this connection, law enforcement can track the cellphone’s location and even download its content. The device allowed cops in Tallahassee to locate the three robbers with ease by tracking the drug dealer’s stolen phonebut when faced with the necessity of acknowledging the technology’s existence and explaining in court how it was used, the government’s lawyers opted to drop the case rather than speak candidly.

“Through the use of nondisclosure agreements, a refusal to honor freedom of information requests, and deceit toward courts and the public, the full capabilities of these devices, the extent of their use by law enforcement, and the existence of policies to govern their use remain secret,” Bates writes in a report on law enforcement use of Stingrays.

The report explains that nondisclosure agreements between local law enforcement and the FBI and Harris Corp. (the manufacturer of the devices) keep the public in the dark about these cellular surveillance devices: “The government plainly views sacrificing individual prosecutions, even for serious crimes, as an acceptable price for concealing the nature of stingray surveillance,” Bates argues. “The FBI’s nondisclosure agreement is clear: in exchange for permission to use stingray devices, state and local officials must surrender prosecutorial discretion to the federal government.”

Advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have tried to increase transparency about the government’s use of Stingrays, with varying degrees of success. In 2014, the Florida chapter of the ACLU filed a freedom of information request and was granted access to documents about the Sarasota Police Department’s use of the devices. Before the department could hand over the information, the U.S. Marshals intervened, raiding the department and seizing the requested documents.

The ACLU has been able to gather some data, though. It found that at least 23 states and the District of Columbia have law enforcement deploying Stingrays.

A House Oversight Committee report, published in December, found that in from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) spent more than $71 million to acquire and use cell-site simulators, and has 310 devices agency-wide. In the same span, the Department of Homeland Security spent more than $24 million for 124 devices for that agency. Since January 2006, the Treasury Department has spent more than $1.3 million and possess three devices.

The lack of transparency and accountability has led to much concern about civil liberties violations. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RUtah) is planning to introduce two bills to demand more congressional oversight of how the federal government use Stingrays. Reason reporter Eric Boehm provides a more in-depth look at the proposed legislation here.

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Officials Continue to Dodge Attempts to Disclose Use of Stingrays – Reason (blog)

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5 Common Misconceptions About Bitcoin – The Merkle

Posted: at 12:55 am

Satoshi Nakamotos creation is often seen as something it is not, as there are a lot of misconceptions that simply dont want to go away. Sometimes, because some want to smear bitcoin, and often because others fail to do their homework properly. Here are a few common misconceptions about bitcoin that the average joe keeps on believing:

Ponzi schemes usually involve a central entity trying to persuade possible investors, telling them they will make a huge profit. In these schemes, the only way those on top can make money is at the expense of others. Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer currency, there is no central entity. It does not require a constant flow of money to sustain itself, not does it require new adopters to survive.

Moreover, it is important to note that, if it was all a Ponzi scheme, we would assume Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoins creator, would live an extravagant lifestyle. He owns roughly 1 million bitcoins a little over US$1 billion at the time of press. Yet, these coins havent been moved in years.

It is true that Silk Road, an infamous dark web marketplace, helped bitcoin grow in 2011. In 2013, the FBI took down the Silk Road, but that did not stop bitcoin from growing. Recently, bitcoins market caphit $15 billion, as the ecosystem of legitimate businesses who accept bitcoin keeps on growing. In some cases, businesses can even get a special license that allows them to legally accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

Nevertheless, bitcoin is used by criminals, just like fiat currencies, commodities, app store gift cards, gym membership vouchers and pretty much anything with value.

In the early days, it was very hard to use bitcoin as almost no one was accepting the cryptocurrency. Nowadays, however, there are thousands of businesses accepting bitcoin throughout the world, and one can not only buy food, but also get a haircut, hire a lawyer, and even get a lightsaber. Theres a useful app out there, called Bitcoin Map, that lets users know which brick-and-mortar businesses around them accept bitcoin.

Heres a video of a transaction at Subway:

Hackers have been successful at stealing large amounts of bitcoin in the past, but that doesnt mean the cryptocurrency isnt safe. Most bitcoin thefts were a result of inadequate wallet security, and since then risk-mitigating measures have been taken. Yet, these high-profile bitcoin heists can make the currency look unsafe.

Users need to properly secure their wallets , and that means backing them up and encrypting them. Offline wallets are the safest way one can store their bitcoins, and even these should be backed up.

Although you dont need a bank account or a social security number to pay with bitcoin, transactions arent completely anonymous. Every transaction is publicly recorded on the blockchain in order to prevent certain actions, such as spending the same bitcoin twice.

Granted, its hard to use bitcoin transactions to uncover someones real identity, but it is possible. If someones transactions are tracked down to an exchange, for example, it is possible authorities uncover the persons identity through a subpoena. To protect ones privacy, a bitcoin address should only be used once.

If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.

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5 Common Misconceptions About Bitcoin – The Merkle

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EXCLUSIVE NSA Whistleblower: Agency ‘Absolutely’ Tapping Trump’s Calls – Breitbart News

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:00 pm


Binney was an architect of the NSAs surveillance program. He became a famed whistleblower when he resigned on October 31, 2001 after spending more than 30 years with the agency.


Asked whether he believes the NSA is tapping Trump, Binney replied: Absolutely. How did they get the phone call between the president and the president of Australia? Or the one that he made with Mexico? Those are not targeted foreigners.

Binney further contended the NSA may have been behind a data leak that might have revealed that Michael Flynn, Trumps national security adviser, allegedly misled Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials about the contents of his phone calls with Russias ambassador to Washington.

Regarding Flynns case, Binney stated of the NSA:

If they werent behind it, they certainly had the data. Now the difference here is that FBI and CIA have direct access inside the NSA databases. So, they may be able to go directly in there and see that material there. And NSA doesnt monitor that. They dont even monitor their own people going into databases.

So, they dont monitor what CIA and FBI do. And theres no oversight or attempted oversight by any of the committees or even the FISA court. So, any way you look at it, ultimately the NSA is responsible because they are doing the collection on everybody inside the United States. Phone calls. Emails. All of that stuff.

He was speaking on the podcast edition of this reporters talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio, broadcast on New Yorks AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphias NewsTalk 990 AM.

During the interview, Binney referred to a 2008 report referencing two NSA whistleblowers who said they worked at the agencys station in Fort Gordon, Georgia and were asked to not only monitor phone calls of U.S. citizens but transcribe them.

Utilizing data provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Guardian and Washington Post in June 2013 released a series of articles reporting that the NSA was collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans.

Prior to those reports, National Intelligence Director James Clapper claimed on March 12, 2013 during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the NSA was not wittingly collecting data on Americans.

Not wittingly, Clapper said when asked whether the NSA was spying on U.S. citizens. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.

During the interview, Binney charged that the NSA was over-funded and out of control.

He offered recommendations for how he says Trump can reign in the agency:

He can order that they put a filter on the front end of all their collection that eliminates any U.S. citizens anywhere in the world unless they have a warrant for it. If they dont, then he has to put people in jail if they violated.

So, I mean, thats the way to do it. The other way is to cut their budget. I mean they are given too much money anyway. When they are given too much money, they get to do wild and crazy things. And this is wild and crazy. Violations of the Constitutions 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments.

On Wednesday, Trump singled out the NSA and FBI in a series of tweets about Flynns case as well as reports in the New York Times and Washington Post claiming further contacts between Trump advisors and Russia.

The Times on Tuesday seemed to be quoting from intercepted phone calls to report on alleged contacts between Trump campaign aides and Russian intelligence agents.

The Times reported:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trumps 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said.

Aaron Klein is Breitbarts Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio. Follow him onTwitter @AaronKleinShow.Follow him onFacebook.

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EXCLUSIVE NSA Whistleblower: Agency ‘Absolutely’ Tapping Trump’s Calls – Breitbart News

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Former NSA Analyst Claims Intel Community Will Go ‘Nuclear’ Against Trump – Daily Caller

Posted: at 9:00 pm


John Schindler, a former National Security Agency analyst and current columnist for the New York Observer, said Wednesday that the intelligence community will go nuclear against President Donald Trump.

The national security columnist also quoted a senior intelligence official telling him that Trump will die in jail.Now we go nuclear. [Intelligence community] war going to new levels. Just got an [email from] from senior [intelligence community] friend, it began: He will die in jail,’ Schindler tweeted.

The Observer columnist has for months taken a strong stance against Trump. He recently wrote an article called The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins. (RELATED: Rep King: Leakers In Intel Community Have To Be Purged)

This came after President Trump angrily tweeted about continued leaks to major media outlets. Information is being illegally given to the failing [New York Times] & [Washington Post] by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia, Trump wrote. (RELATED: Journalists Go Nuts Over Rehashed New York Times Story)

Schindler received heat for his tweet suggesting a coup by the intelligence community.

ABC News chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran tweeted, If this source is for real, talk of a Deep State coup arent insane. [The president] will die in jail? Who do you think you are?

The former NSA analyst stood by his comment and said, Surprisingly, some US spies consider [the president] colluding with [Russian intelligence services] + Kremlin, [including] election theft, to be kinda treason-y.

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Former NSA Analyst Claims Intel Community Will Go ‘Nuclear’ Against Trump – Daily Caller

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Organize to defeat Trump’s Muslim ban – Fight Back! Newspaper

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:51 am

Commentary by Danya Zituni |

February 12, 2017

Minneapolis protest against Trump’s Muslim ban. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Tampa, FL – On Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States which bars entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries regardless of whether they have valid visas, green cards or refugee status.

This is a racist attack that specifically targets the people of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. These same countries in the Middle East and Africa have been subjected to the terror of U.S. wars, bombings and economic sanctions for decades. With military bases in foreign lands, armed personnel in 130 countries, and a military budget larger than the next ten governments combined, the U.S. ruling class maintain a worldwide empire of oppression that is constantly at war.

Sovereign governments that dare not bow to U.S. political and economic domination are punished with crippling sanctions as a form of collective punishment against civilians, and are targeted for brutal overthrow through direct invasion or proxy groups. Sanctions on Iran alone have resulted in massive inflation and 40% of the entire population in poverty, while the total death toll from ten years of the U.S.-led War on Terror is estimated at 2 million lives, according to a study from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Trumps executive order calls for a review of the visa and refugee programs arguing numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since Sept. 11, 2001. But why should people perceive foreign-born terrorists as grave domestic threats when the FBI continually manufactures its own plots? In 2012, Petra Bartosiewicz in The Nation reviewed the post-9/11 body of terrorism cases and concluded that nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. Many informants are incentivized by money, and can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment. The U.S. government provides the weapons, suggests the targets, and entraps Muslims to justify their War on Terror.

The billions invested yearly by the U.S. government into racist state repression and genocidal wars for corporate profit could instead be used to finance and improve education, health care, people’s rights and welfare. However, it is not in the interests of bank-bailing and investor-driven politicians to make such radical changes a reality. Only through organizing independent of the political establishment controlled by and built for the rich can oppressed people harness and exercise our collective power as a conscious and united force to demand change. Through coordinated action we are saying that there can be no business as usual until our demands are met, and that the ruling class who own everything in society cant actually produce anything or make schools run without subservient students or workers.

A federal judge issued a temporary halt on Feb. 4 against the Muslim ban after tens of thousands of people protested in airports, communities and campuses across the country. Around 1000 Yemini owned stores closed for eight hours on Feb. 2 in the city of New York. Grassroots, mass-based organizations such as Arab American Action Network (AAAN) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) have continued to organize and raise demands for sanctuary campuses and cities. The Council on American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) has engaged in a legal battle with the Trump administration over the ban.

Additionally, one of the biggest victories for Muslim communities recently was the dismantling of a long existent bi-partisan Muslim registry called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). NSEERS devastated our communities, alongside aggressive FBI surveillance and vicious entrapment. Thousands of families were torn apart, jobs were lost; some communities never fully recovered. Only after 14 years of almost constant organizing by groups such as Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) was it successfully dismantled.

The lesson of our recent victories, and nearly every historic struggle that won people’s basic rights under this system, is that we need to build organizational power opposed to both parties of the capitalist 1% and their oppressive policies. Organizing paves the way for people to learn through struggle the necessity of organization as a means to protect their rights and welfare, a lesson we must consistently summate when educating our communities about their rights.

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NSA so concerned over Donald Trump’s ties to Russia they’ve ‘withheld information from presidential briefings’ – The Independent

Posted: at 9:00 am

A websitethat until very recently waspublished by Donald Trump’s son-in-law has claimed thatUS spies are withholding their most sensitive intelligence from the White House.

For the past three weeks, according to a former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst and counter-intelligence officer, some the America’s spy agencieshave begun withholdingintelligence from the Oval Officeamid fears”the Kremlin has ears inside” the White House situation room.

The claims follow reports thatNational Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed lifting sanctions against Moscow with a Russian diplomat before Mr Trump took office.

An NSA official told the New York Observer it was holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, while onePentagon worker said: “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point. Since January 20, weve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the [situation room].”

The FBI is still investigating Gen Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Nine sources told theWashington Postthe pair had discussed sanctions imposed on Russia by outgoing President Barack Obama, despite Gen Flynn twice saying “no” in response to interview questionswhen asked if the sanctions, over Russias interference in the US election, were brought up.

In the past Mr Trump has been criticised for a perceived lack of respect for the intelligence community, while as President-elect he called the storm over Russian hacking of the election a “political witch-hunt”.

The New York Observer’s website is an amalgamation of several media brands bought by Mr Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Mr Kushnerwas the owner of the news website until last month when he was named a senior White House adviser.

He is married to Mr Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka.

NSA so concerned over Donald Trump’s ties to Russia they’ve ‘withheld information from presidential briefings’ – The Independent

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Former NSA contractor indicted in stolen data case – CNN

Posted: at 9:00 am

Harold Thomas Martin III, 52, faces 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information.

The indictment alleges Martin removed classified documents from 1996 to 2016. He is accused of keeping documents in his home or car.

The documents include highly classified materials from the National Security Agency, the US Cyber Command, the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office. Among the documents are ones that reveal US military gaps, capabilities and operations, as well as ones that contained foreign intelligence collection methods, targeting information and technical user materials.

Martin’s attorney had no comment when contacted by CNN.

FBI investigators haven’t concluded what Martin’s motivation was for stealing the documents. At a hearing in late October a public defender representing Martin said his client was a hoarder who was “completely out of control.”

Before his arrest in August, Martin worked as a contractor to the National Security Agency through consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which fired him after he was charged. He has a long history working with sensitive government intelligence, and served in the US Navy and Naval Reserves for more than 10 years, reaching the rank of lieutenant.

The information he had digitally in his car, the feds said, was equivalent to approximately 50,000 gigabytes, enough to store 500 million documents containing images and text.

The government said Martin had a document “regarding specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies.” That document was not only classified but marked need-to-know only, and Martin should not have been privy to that information, prosecutors said in court filings.

Also found were files containing personal information of government employees, and an email chain with “highly sensitive information” on the back of which were handwritten notes “describing the NSA’s classified computer infrastructure and detailed descriptions of classified technical operations.”

Among the documents the FBI believes Martin stole were some detailing a hacking tool that the NSA developed to break into computer systems in other countries, law enforcement sources said when he was arrested. Documents detailing the tools were posted on the Internet in recent months, though no connection to Martin has been offered.

Martin’s attorneys have argued previously in court that he is not a flight risk because he does not have his passport and has a wife and home in Maryland. They noted his military service.

Martin will make his next appearance in court on February 14.

CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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Donald Trump is not the cyberpunk future – The Verge

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:20 am

Earlier this week, always-excellent comics site The Nib published a piece declaring 2017 to be a 1990s cyberpunk dystopia. Theres a good argument that weve been moving toward a cyberpunk present for years, especially as science fictional technologies get closer to reality among other things, the comic cites personal drones, hackable smart appliances, and smartphones. But its punchline was specific to the two-week-old Trump administration: Most dystopian of all, we now have a villainous business tycoon running the nation with the biggest army of killer robot drones in the world.

Dystopian may be the right word for the current political environment, but cyberpunk is the completely wrong one.

Cyberpunk as an actual literary genre is too diverse and complex to be pinned down in a few bullet points, even before it’s been splintered into post-cyberpunk and biopunk and splatterpunk and whatnot. But as a cultural reference point, it evokes a few instantly recognizable tropes. Youve got the street-smart techno-wizards, for instance. The virtual fever dreams. The barrage of brand names. The hardboiled cynicism. And, perhaps above all, cyberpunk pivots on unfathomable corporate power.

2017 is all about the limits of the megacorp

If there’s one thing that defines our popular conception of cyberpunk, it’s the grandly ruthless multinational company, often some kind of computing or biotechnology powerhouse, that transcends mere state authority. Sometimes the company makes government irrelevant; sometimes the company is a government, as in the million franchised states of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. The hackers-versus-suits mythos transcends any specific story: its as universally recognized as (when its not outright crossed with) Tolkiens orcs and elves. But so far, 2017 is not the year of the megacorp it’s the year we’re reminded of the megacorp’s limits.

Last week, for example, President Donald Trump passed an executive order on immigration: a drastic ban on not just new refugees, but initially current green card and visa holders from a number of Muslim-majority nations. It was a direct threat to the largely pro-globalization tech industry, stranding some employees overseas and making it dangerous for others to go abroad in the future. And Silicon Valley a place full of people who want to cure death, rewrite reality, and fight the rise of killer artificial intelligences metaphorically cast its eyes down, shuffled its feet, and tried to formulate an objection.

At best, companies reacted immediately with vocal dismay, decrying the order in public statements and lobbying for change. At worst, they expressed vague concern and quietly provided their employees with logistical strategies, until public pressure was strong enough to do more. They were cautious, conciliatory, and pragmatic: Elon Musk, a multibillionaire who thinks nothing of declaring hell colonize Mars, determined that getting rid of the ban was “just a non-zero possibility” and asked his Twitter followers to help him rewrite it. The world’s most cyberpunk-y businesses, the ones busy developing virtual reality headsets while enmeshing humanity in massive data networks that track our every move, didn’t ready their salaried assassins and killer viruses as their sci-fi stand-ins would. Their leaders donated money to the ACLU and showed up at airport protests. They may have far more power than the average citizen, but they seemed just as dependent on the whims of the White House as the rest of us.

Trump isnt a manifestation of cyberpunk, hes the backlash against it

Yes, Trump himself is a businessman but not the kind that cyberpunk fiction immortalized. He’s not a menacing executive mastermind or a decadent posthuman, but an emotionally fragile real estate mogul who decided that the presidency was a step up from building gaudy towers and allegedly scamming his biggest fans. His particular mix of business and politics looks less like an omnipotent fusion of government and corporation than a petty kleptocracy, bent on filling overpriced hotel rooms and personally enriching some fellow billionaires. Its the traditional mainstream Republicans, with whom Trump has a distinctly strained relationship, who are pushing hardest to outright privatize the country.

Individual pieces of cyberpunk-related fiction certainly evoke our political reality. (Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan is eerily apt, if you fuse its election arcs fascist-lite presidential candidate with his vindictive, blankly jovial opponent.) But the genres broadest tropes are rooted in exactly the kind of world order that Trump declares hell break up. Trump isnt a manifestation of our cyberpunk future, hes a backlash against it.

Late last year, author Emmett Rensin wrote an essay in The Outline decrying the idea of tech entrepreneurs as mythical heroes and villains, which Resnin argued allows them to project power in excess of its reality.” While Resnin primarily contended that this perception lets modern-day robber barons get away with building a financial oligarchy, framing companies as all-powerful also obscures the larger dynamics of US politics. If you see everything through the lens of corporate warfare or sociopaths drinking Soylent, you lose track of whos holding the nuclear codes. (You also end up ignoring the threat of chemical and fossil fuel companies, whose sci-fi endgame is an all-purpose environmental apocalypse.)

Look, for all I know, Google does have corporate assassins

A company like Google wields a great deal of control over our lives. But the biggest threat right now is not that its mission statement suddenly changes to Be Evil, as popular cyberpunk plots might suggest. Its that it confidently pursues idealistic missions without accounting for how that work could be hijacked by outside forces, whether or not its a willing participant in the process. This has already occurred with mass surveillance of email metadata; what happens when the FBI reprograms ubiquitous service robots as an ad hoc police force?

Of course, were only seeing the surface level of things, so I could always be wrong. Maybe Elon Musks measured tweets are just a cover while SolarCity completes a hostile takeover of the US electrical grid while planting Russian false flags. Maybe Trump is secretly deferring to his Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel in exchange for a shot at eternal life in one of Thiels cyber-gothic vampire covens. Maybe the levers of power are not in the hands of people who want to pull America back to an ugly past, but ones who will dispassionately push us into a terrifying new future. At this point, though, that seems almost like a comforting fantasy.

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Donald Trump is not the cyberpunk future – The Verge

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Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to … – The Hill

Posted: at 5:55 am

Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We’re here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry try to counter the rise in cyber threats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you’re a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we’re here to give you …


–NSA CONTRACTOR INDICTED: A federal grand jury on Wednesday issued an indictment of a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing thousands of pages of classified documents. Herald Thomas Martin III, 52, was charged with 20 counts of “willful retention of national defense information,” according to a statement released by the Justice Department shortly after the indictment was returned. Martin worked at the NSA between 2012 and 2015 while he was an employee at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. The indictment alleges that Martin had been stealing and maintaining mounds of highly classified information starting as early as 1996, until his arrest last August.

To read the rest of our piece,click here.

–FBI NOT ANTICIPATING IMMEDIATE CHANGE ON ENCRYPTION: Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump pens letter to Chinese president New York Post reporter sues after being fired for critical Trump tweet: report Sessions urges respect in Senate farewell speech MORE’s White House has discussed encryption policy with the FBI, a bureau official indicated Wednesday. James Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, said he is unaware of any planned changes on encryption policy under the new administration. “There have been some discussions, obviously, about this,” he said at an encryption policy at an event in Washington, D.C. “It is a big topic and one that people have discussed,” he continued. “I am not aware of any policy change or even a determination at this point in time, given how soon we are into the new administration.”

To read the rest of our piece,click here.

–NATO’S NEW CYBER GUIDE: NATO on Wednesday released the first major revision to the Tallinn Manual, the closest thing there is to a rulebook for nation-led cyber operations. Like the original 2013 manual, the new version is the result of a study by NATO to gauge consensus opinions from international law experts on what types of cyber statecraft are acceptable. “Let me assure you, the manual will sit on the desk of every legal advisor in every ministry of defense and every ministry of foreign affairs in the entire world,” Director and General Editor Michael Schmitt said at a press briefing before its launch at the Atlantic Council headquarters in Washington. Both manuals pull together law originally developed to cover fields ranging from armed conflicts to outer space to extrapolate the likely legal consequences for cyber operations. But while the first draft covered war-like cyber attacks between nations, the new draft adds legal analysis of peacetime operations.

To read the rest of our piece,click here.


–SENATORS MAKE PLAY ON RUSSIAN SANCTIONS: A bipartisan group of senators is moving to check President Trump on Russia by bolstering congressional oversight before he can lift sanctions.

Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia Lindsey Graham: Floor action to silence Warren long overdue Overnight Defense: McCain, Spicer spar over Yemen raid | Senate bill would limit Trump on Russia sanctions | Trump cozies up to military MORE (R-S.C.), Ben CardinBen CardinOvernight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia Overnight Defense: McCain, Spicer spar over Yemen raid | Senate bill would limit Trump on Russia sanctions | Trump cozies up to military Senators move to limit Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (D-Md.), Marco RubioMarco RubioWarren seizes spotlight after GOP rebuke Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia Overnight Defense: McCain, Spicer spar over Yemen raid | Senate bill would limit Trump on Russia sanctions | Trump cozies up to military MORE (R-Fla.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownOvernight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia Overnight Defense: McCain, Spicer spar over Yemen raid | Senate bill would limit Trump on Russia sanctions | Trump cozies up to military Sanders, Dems read Coretta Scott King’s letter after Warren silenced MORE (D-Ohio), John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia Overnight Defense: McCain, Spicer spar over Yemen raid | Senate bill would limit Trump on Russia sanctions | Trump cozies up to military Navy’s No. 2 on base closures: Don’t give away ‘waterfront property’ MORE (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillOvernight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia Overnight Defense: McCain, Spicer spar over Yemen raid | Senate bill would limit Trump on Russia sanctions | Trump cozies up to military Senators move to limit Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (D-Mo.) introduced legislation Wednesday setting up a period of congressional oversight before Trump could roll back financial penalties.

The legislation, known as the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would require Trump to notify Congress before he lifts sanctions tied to the invasion of Ukraine or Russia’s meddling in the White House race.

“To provide relief at this time would send the wrong signal to Russia and our allies who face Russian oppression. Sanctions relief must be earned, not given,” said Graham, a frequent GOP critic of the president.

To read the rest of our piece,click here


–FAR MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ALUMINUM CANS. A palate cleansinginformational videofor stressful times. (Via Boing Boing)


–ENCRYPTION CHALLENGES FOR FBI ‘MANAGEABLE’: The challenges that data encryption pose for law enforcement are manageable, according to a new analysis by a Washington, D.C., think tank, to be released later Thursday.

The research from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which was shared with The Hill, found no instances in which encryption played a “determinative role” in recent major terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States.

The think tank also concluded that encryption does not play a major role in terrorists’ efforts to recruit followers over the internet.

The report comes at a moment of heightened concern over cybersecurity and a debate about encryption and federal authorities’ access to secured communications.

To read the rest of our piece,click here.


–EVERYBODY: Here are16 people to watch in tech, including a bunch of cybersecurity folk.


Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.

Most Americansthink they know more about cybersecuritythan Donald Trump or Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonKaine: Sometimes I feel like I live in ‘alternate reality’ Warren seizes spotlight after GOP rebuke Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to limit Trump on Russia MORE. (The Hill)

A digital liberties group is pushing the EU toabandon its data transfer pactwith the U.S. (The Hill)

President Trump and Intel tout new$7 billion investmentto create 10K jobs. (The Hill)

FTC names a deregulation supporterhead ofits Bureau of Consumer Protection. (The Hill)

DHS is bringingmarket-ready techto the RSA conference. (The Hill)

ForcePoint Security Labs spots a reconnaissancehacking campaigntargeting U.S. based embassies. (ForcePoint blog)

Republicans flock to “Confide,”a secure messaging app, to avoid email breaches. (Axios)

Websites should let youcut and paste passwords.(Troy Hunt)

The Virginian cybersecurity firmInvincia is soldto the Brit behemoth Sophos. (Washington Post)

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Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-NSA contractor indicted over alleged theft | NATO’s new cyber guide | Senators move to … – The Hill

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Updated! Meet the Libertarian-Leaning GOP Texas State Senator[s] Whose Career[s] Donald Trump Wants To Destroy – Reason (blog)

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 10:53 pm

UPDATED (2:20 P.M.): The Texas state senator in question below turns out to be a complicated matter; it could be as many as four, three of whom are Republicans. Scroll down for new information.

Donald Trump campaigned as “the law and order” candidate, so it’s not surprising that he is likely to govern as one, too.

Still, when it comes to the issue of civil-asset forfeiture laws, even the dirtiest of Dirty Harry wannabes will grant there’s something really creepy about the cops and the courts having the ability to take your stuff without even charging you with anything, much less convicting you of anything.

But here’s an exchange via the Twitter feed of CNBC’s Steve Kopack that should send chills down the spineand bile up the windpipeof every American who gives a damn about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and whether or not Lady Gaga included “under God” during her satanic Super Bowl incantations (she did).

Civil-asset forfeiture, which often doesn’t require any sort of criminal charge, is big bucks. As Scott Shackford has noted, in 2014, the FBI alone snatched up $5 billion in seized assets. It’s common for local police departments to grab whatever they can from whomever they can (often, the relatives or friends of people assumed to be drug dealers and the like). C.J. Ciaramella took a long, disturbing look at the way the state of Mississippi gilds its budget with seized assets.

Again, we’re not talking about drug lords who are charged, have their assets frozen, are found guilty, and then have their assets sold at auction to pay reparations, or anything like that. The way a ton of asset forfeiture works is that the cops, or a prosecutor, or somebody else takes your stuff, claiming that it’s connected to some sort of illegal activity. You may or may not be involved in anything illegal, but it’s on you to get your stuff back. The likely next attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a big fan of asset forfeiture, so it’s likely to be an issue, even in states that are trying to rein it in. And it should be reined in, like a crazy horse: It’s not about law and order, it’s about unaccountable power.

Konni Burton, Texas ObserverThe Texas state senator referred to in the video above appears to be Konni Burton of Colleyville. Get this, too: She’s a libertarian-leaning Republican and here’s how she explained the situation to the Texas Observer:

“Right now, law enforcement can seize property under civil law, and it denies people their basic rights,” said Burton, who sits on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. “There’s a basic problem with this process that I want to correct.”…

Now it’s uniting politicians who might not otherwise be willing to break bread, according to Matt Simpson, senior policy strategist for ACLU Texas.

“It’s an issue that crosses party lines; it’s not Democrat versus Republican or liberal versus conservative,” he told the Observer, adding that he hasn’t “seen a bill we wouldn’t support in relation to civil asset forfeiture reform, especially some of the stronger ones.”

Local police departments and other law enforcement agencies in Texas get about $42 million a year from seized assets, creating a moral hazard that even Donald Trump would recognize. And as far as ruining Burton’s careeror that of anyone else involved in the effortthe president might want to consider that regular Americans understand that there’s been a massive decrease in violent and property crime over the past couple of decades. These days, people are often worried about how bullying authorities are likely to act, creating a bipartisan push for all sorts of criminal-justice reform.

Hat tip: BalkansBohemia’s Twitter feed.

Update: Various Texas media sources say that it’s not actually clear whom Trump and Sheriff Harold Eavenson are discussing in the video clip above. Eavenson has refused to name the senator directly and now the Dallas Morning News reports that in addition to Burton, other possible senators include en. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen), Bob Hall (R-Rockwall), and Don Huffines (R-Dallas).

“He was just being emphatic that he did not agree with that senator’s position,” Eavenson said, adding of the senator in question, “I’m not into assassinating his character.”

Eavenson will become president of the National Sheriff’s Association in June. He has been active in the Sheriff’s Association of Texas.

Well, sure, maybe. Then again, the fact that there are so many suspects underscores how unpopular civil-asset forfeiture is across traditional political parties.

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Updated! Meet the Libertarian-Leaning GOP Texas State Senator[s] Whose Career[s] Donald Trump Wants To Destroy – Reason (blog)

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