A Call to Cryptographic Arms

“The world is not sliding, but galloping into a new transnational dystopia. This development has not been properly recognized outside of national security circles. It has been hidden by secrecy, complexity and scale. The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen. The internet is a threat to human civilization.

These transformations have come about silently, because those who know what is going on work in the global surveillance industry and have no incentives to speak out. Left to its own trajectory, within a few years, global civilization will be a postmodern surveillance dystopia, from which escape for all but the most skilled individuals will be impossible. In fact, we may already be there.

While many writers have considered what the internet means for global civilization, they are wrong. They are wrong because they do not have the sense of perspective that direct experience brings. They are wrong because they have never met the enemy. “

Excerpt from Julian Assange, “A Call to Cryptographic Arms

Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Cypherpunks, Surveillance State

“There’s not a barrier anymore between corporate surveillance, on the one hand, and government surveillance, on the other. You know, Facebook is based—has its servers based in the United States. Gmail, as General Petraeus found out, has its servers based in the United States. And the interplay between U.S. intelligence agencies and other Western intelligence agencies and any intelligence agencies that can hack this is fluid. So, we’re in a—if we look back to what’s a earlier example of the worst penetration by an intelligence apparatus of a society, which is perhaps East Germany, where up to 10 percent of people over their lifetime had been an informer at one stage or another, in Iceland we have 88 percent penetration of Iceland by Facebook. Eighty-eight percent of people are there on Facebook informing on their friends and their movements and the nature of their relationships—and for free. They’re not even being paid money. They’re not even being directly coerced to do it. They’re doing it for social credits to avoid the feeling of exclusion. But people should understand what is really going on. I don’t believe people are doing this or would do it if they truly understood what was going on, that they are doing hundreds of billions of hours of free work for the Central Intelligence Agency, for the FBI, and for all allied agencies and all countries that can ask for favors to get hold of that information.

William Binney, the former chief of research, the National Security Agency’s signals intelligence division, describes this situation that we are in now as ‘turnkey totalitarianism,’ that the whole system of totalitarianism has been built—the car, the engine has been built—and it’s just a matter of turning the key. And actually, when we look to see some of the crackdowns on WikiLeaks and the grand jury process and targeted assassinations and so on, actually it’s arguable that key has already been partly turned. The assassinations that occur extrajudicially, the renditions that occur, they don’t occur in isolation. They occur as a result of the information that has been sucked in through this giant signals interception machinery.”

— Excerpt from “Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Cypherpunks, Surveillance State” (Democracy Now!, 29 November 2012)

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And here’s another comment from Assange, on a related subject:

“I’m quite interested in the philosophy of technique. Technique means not just a piece of technology but it means, say, majority consensus on a board, or the structure of a parliament — it’s systematized interaction. For example, it seems to me that feudal systems came from the technique of mills. Once you had centralized mills, which required huge investments and which were easily subject to physical control, then it was quite natural that you would end up with feudal relations as a result. As time has gone by we seem to have developed increasingly sophisticated techniques. Some of these techniques can be democratized; they can be spread to everyone. But the majority of them — because of their complexity — are techniques that form as a result of strongly interconnected organizations like Intel Corporation. Perhaps the underlying tendency of technique is to go through these periods of discovering technique, centralizing technique, democratizing technique — when the knowledge about how to do it floods out in the next generation that is educated. But I think that the general tendency for technique is to centralize control in those people who control the physical resources of techniques.”

From “The Web can create revolutions — or jail revolutionaries” (Salon, 02 December 2012)

 

U.S. Justice Department’s Warrantless Spying Increased 600% in Past Decade

“The Justice Department use of warrantless internet and telephone surveillance methods known as pen register and trap-and-trace has exploded in the last decade, according to government documents the American Civil Liberties obtained via a Freedom of Information Act claim.

DOJ Wiretaps - ACLUPen registers obtain, in real time, non-content information of outbound telephone and internet communications, such as phone numbers dialed, and the sender and recipient (and sometimes subject line) of an e-mail message. A trap-and-trace acquires the same information, but for inbound communications to a target. No probable-cause warrant is needed to obtain the data. Judges are required to sign off on these orders when the authorities say the information is relevant to an investigation.

In 2001, the DoJ issued only 5,683 reported “original orders.” Fast forward to 2011, the latest year for which data is available, the number skyrocketed to 37,616 — a more than sixfold increase. Though these can be used to track e-mail, the vast majority are used to get information on mobile phone users’ phone calls and texts.

According to the ACLU:

Because these surveillance powers are not used to capture telephone conversations or the bodies of emails, they are classified as ‘non-content’ surveillance tools, as opposed to tools that collect ‘content,’ like wiretaps. This means that the legal standard that law enforcement agencies must meet before using pen registers is lower than it is for wiretaps and other content-collecting technology. Specifically, in order to wiretap an American’s phone, the government must convince a judge that it has sufficient probable cause and that the wiretap is essential to an investigation. But for a pen register, the government need only submit certification to a court stating that it seeks information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. As long as it completes this simple procedural requirement, the government may proceed with pen register or trap and trace surveillance, without any judge considering the merits of the request.

Even more alarming, the latest figures — which were for years 2010 and 2011 — open only a tiny window into the U.S. surveillance society.

Consider that last year mobile carriers responded to a staggering 1.3 million law enforcement requests — which come from federal, state and local police, as well as from administrative offices – for subscriber information, including text messages and phone location data. That’s according to data provided to Congress that was released in July.

The nation’s major phone providers said they were working around the clock and charging millions in fees to keep up with ever-growing demands.

AT&T, the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier, told Congress that it had received 63,100 subpoenas — no judicial oversight required — for customer information in 2007. That more than doubled to 131,400 last year. By contrast, AT&T reported 36,900 court orders for subscriber data in 2007. That number grew to 49,700 court orders last year, a weak growth rate compared to the doubling of subpoenas in the same period.

Not surprisingly, the number of people affected by such orders has jumped as well […]

All of this only concerns disclosed monitoring. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in ongoing litigation, claims the National Security Agency, with the help of the nation’s telecoms, is hijacking all electronic communications.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, filed the latest pen register and trap-and-trace reports for 2010 and 2011 with Congress, which the law requires. But the Justice Department refused to release the numbers publicly and did so only after the ACLU sued.”

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Read the full article at: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/09/warrantless-surveillance-stats/

Hummingbird robo-drone gets 1.8-gigapixel camera

“The U.S. Army is getting ready to deploy a trio of prototype A160 Hummingbird drones as it evaluates the aircraft for a more full-fledged development program. One key characteristic that sets these unmanned air vehicles apart from others, such as the Predator, already more famously serving in the war zone is that the Hummingbirds are rotorcraft–that is, they fly like helicopters rather than planes.
A160 Hummingbird Drone (U.S. Army)The Hummingbirds will be equipped with DARPA’s Argus-IS sensor system, which features a 1.8-gigapixel color camera–gear that the Army a year ago described as “the largest video sensor ever used to conduct tactical missions.” The Army said at the time that Argus can track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet and, attached to an A160, should be able to scan almost 25 square miles. It will allow operators to scan a wide field of view and download images in real time.

Here’s more on the cutting-edge capabilities that Argus offers:

This represents a big technological leap over current airborne surveillance systems…Those that deliver high-resolution images are limited to very small fields of view…and those covering broader areas provide low-resolution imagery.

In addition, ARGUS-IS operators on the ground can designate “windows” around up to 65 specific sites or targets they want to monitor. They can choose buildings, road intersections or other fixed locations the system will “stare” at, or people or vehicles to trail, even if they’re moving in different directions.

“And if you have a bunch of people leaving a place at the same time, they no longer have to say, ‘Do I follow vehicle one, two, three or four'” [Argus program manager Brian] Leininger said. “They can say, ‘I will follow all of them, simultaneously and automatically.'”

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Excerpt from “Hummingbird robo-drone gets 1.8-gigapixel camera” by Jonathan Skillings (CNet, 27 December 2011)

One of my favorite leaked HBGary emails ….

“Ok I don’t mind insinuating and talking about the difficulty in government in doing this work. But I want to outwardly convey us as a security company, not an intelligence company that works for law enforcement. The guys that know cam read between the lines. If I outwardly exude intelligence them I could scare some folks off.”

— Aaron Barr, CEO of HBGary Federal in a private email leaked by Anonymous