Snooping on government snoopers

Hackers decide to turn their gaze on government. The Caravan

RAHUL M FOR THE CARAVAN
Participants at the Delhi edition of the Cryptoparty.
SATYAKAM GOSWAMI SAT IN A CONFERENCE HALL in the Institute of Informatics & Communication in Delhi University’s South Campus, furiously typing code into his laptop. He typed the string “/var/log/tor#”, into a Linux terminal, then turned to me and said, “I am one step away, man.” It was around midnight on a muggy July Saturday, and Goswami had been here for six hours. He resumed typing—and cursing under his breath in Telugu as he realised that the online instructions he was following weren’t helping.

Around him, the room bustled with the activity of around 25 other people, all participants at a Cryptoparty, a cryptography event at which programmers and non-programmers meet to share information and expertise on tools that can help thwart government spying.

Goswami was one of the organisers of the event, which was led by Bernadette Längle, a German ‘hacktivist’ who is a member of  the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), Europe’s largest association of hackers. Längle was one of the organisers of the CCC’s Chaos Communication Congress in 2012, an international hackers’ meet held in Hamburg that year. While processing participant applications for the Congress, she came across a group that wanted to organise what they called a “Cryptoparty” at the meet. “I thought Cryptoparty would be a bunch of guys coming together, learning crypto and having a party,” she told me. Only at the event did she realise that Cryptoparties are rather more political affairs, at which participants experiment with ways of combating governmental intrusions into privacy and freedom.

After she graduated, Längle decided she wanted to travel. “I hadn’t been to America or Asia, and I don’t think I want to enter America,” she said. “I thought India might be a good point to start.” While she was exploring her options, she met Goswami online. “I first met Bernadette on an IRC channel, ‘hasgeek’, where she expressed her interest to come to India,” Goswami said. “I suggested that she write a proposal to CIS [the Centre for Internet and Society, in Bangalore].” Längle applied, and was accepted to work with the organisation for six months.

When Längle was teaching a one-week course on email cryptography at a CIS event, a participant suggested to her that she organise a Cryptoparty in the city. “I thought I was travelling anyway, and I can make a Cryptoparty everywhere I go,” Längle said. This led to the Bangalore Cryptoparty on 30 June, followed by the Delhi edition on 6 July. Längle then held a Cryptoparty in Dharamsala in the second week of July, and plans to hold another in Mumbai in October. At each of these, she gave tutorials on specific aspects of cryptography, such as the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption and decryption program, which Edward Snowden used to communicate with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald during their now-famous collaboration. Participants would then experiment with these tools, sending emails and messages to each other using secure channels. The Delhi edition, which saw around 70 participants, continued late into the night, with the last exhausted stragglers shutting off their gadgets and heading home at 4 am.

I met Längle again the day after the Delhi event; with her was Pranesh Prakash, policy director at CIS, who is a commentator on issues related to surveillance and privacy. Both agreed that the Indian government’s Central Monitoring System programme, as well as Edward Snowden’s recent leaks, had resulted in a greater interest in cryptography in the country in recent months. “Without the PRISM stuff, there wouldn’t have been so many people attending,” Längle said. “People are concerned about that.” Prakash believes that the NSA leaks have served as a loud wake-up call about a longstanding state of affairs. “It’s this I-told-you-so moment for lots of people right now,” he said. “This isn’t the first time there have been revelations about the NSA spying beyond their authority. These revelations have been happening at least since 2006.”

Rahul M is the photo coordinator at The Caravan.

– See more at: http://caravanmagazine.in/lede/crypto-night#sthash.FyafGCOo.dpuf

The New World Disorder

Tariq Ali, in this exclusive interview, seamlessly switches from contemporary historian to scholar-at-large to polemicist to raconteur, as he tackles many of the impinging issues of our times. By SASHI KUMAR, Frontline

He was in southern India after nearly 30 years. He had come to Kerala to deliver the Chinta Ravindran Memorial Lecture at Thrissur. My friend, the well-known writer Paul Zacharia and I were showing him the sights and we had just been to the site of the archaeological dig at Pattanam near Kodungalloor where he saw the unearthed pottery and artefacts that were reconstructing the fascinating story of an early society in these parts, already in maritime contact with West Asian ports and ancient Rome. From there we proceeded to the nearby Cheraman juma masjid, considered the first mosque in India, and perhaps the second in the world, dating back to A.D. 629. There was only a little evidence of that ancient patrimony left; the quaint old native structure had been all but pulled down some 50 years back and a more commodious, more standardised edifice built around it. All that was left were some pillars, a section of a doorway, another of a beamed ceiling and a crumbling staircase leading up to the attic, all in wood. But a photograph of the structure, as it was in 1905, hung on the wall.
Continue reading “The New World Disorder”

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?

A former FBI counterterrorism agent claims on CNN that this is the case

?by?

CNN Clemente

Former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente, on CNN, discussing government’s surveillance capabilities Photograph: CNN screegrab
The real capabilities and behavior of the US?surveillance?state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are. Continue reading “Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?”

Prominent Bangladeshi blogger still in a critical condition

Asif Mohiuddin has since been arrested. This is a section from a mail he wrote just prior to his arrest: “I love my country very much and will fight for my rights till the end but now I am mentally and physically very?upset, so I am asking for your help”

Dated: 18.01.2013:?In an exclusive telephone interview Asif Mohiuddin tells Deutsche Welle?s Bengali Service he thinks “fundamentalists may be involved in the attack” on him Monday evening in Bangladesh.

“My blog posts angered them and they had threatened me couple of times before,” he tells DW. Mohiuddin was 2012’s User Winner for “Best Social Activism Campaign” at Deutsche Welle’s International Blog Awards (The BOBs). The prominent Bangladeshi Internet activist was assaulted in a knife attack by three unidentified men earlier this week in Dhaka.
The injuries Mohiuddin sustained left doctors in no doubt that his attackers intended to kill him. Meanwhile, Mohiuddin’s family expressed concern for Asif’s safety, since he has no police protection in the hospital. His family fears there may be another attempt on his life.

Blogger Asif Mohiuddin arrested over ?blasphemous? blog posts

11 bloggers on Bangladesh government’s hit list (ed)

By Benjamin Ismail: Reporters sans frontiers

Asif Mohiuddin, a?militant atheist blogger?who has been hounded by Bangladeshi Islamists and officials, was arrested today by the Detective Branch of the Dhaka police and is currently being interrogated about his recent posts. The police say he could be taken before a judge tomorrow.
?We call for Mohiuddin?s immediate and unconditional release,? Reporters Without Borders said. ?After being the victim of knife attack in January, he is in very poor health and needs constant medical attention. The Detective Branch told us he is being ?treated well? but the opposite is happening ? he continues to be held in deplorable conditions of hygiene and lack of access to medical treatment. Continue reading “Blogger Asif Mohiuddin arrested over ?blasphemous? blog posts”

Indian police set up lab to monitor social media

18 March 2013 2114 hrs ZDNet

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 22.44.09

MUMBAI: Mumbai police have set up India’s first “social media lab” to monitor Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites, sparking concerns about freedom of speech online. Continue reading “Indian police set up lab to monitor social media”

Your Wife Has Just Left the Country

Saudi Arabia Implements SMSTracking System

By??Nov. 24, 2012

?Saudi women board a taxi in Riyadh 14 Ju
HASSAN AMMAR / AFP / GETTY IMAGES?Saudi women have few travel choices: they either must take a taxi or have a male companion drive. But a new campaign encourages women to flout the ban.

Saudi Arabia has long been the only country in the world that does not allow women to drive. Now, there appears to be a new development in controlling the movements of its female population: the Kingdom has reportedly introduced an electronic tracking system alerting male guardians when a woman has left the country.
Map of the territory and area covered by prese...
Map of the territory and area covered by present-day Saudi Arabia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reports emerged of the system last week when?Manal al-Sherif, a women?s rights campaigner who has urged women to defy the driving ban, was alerted by a husband who received a message from the immigration authorities advising him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh. He happened to be traveling with her.
(MORE😕IKEA Edits Women Out of Saudi Arabian Catalog)
Women are treated as legal minors in the Saudi guardianship system, requiring permission from their male guardian if they want to work or study. Women who want to travel outside the country need their male guardian to sign what is known as a ?yellow sheet? at the airport or border.
Badriya al-Bishr a columnist critical of the Kingdom?s conservative interpretation of Islamic law,?said to the AFP?that women were being held under a ?state of slavery?,?adding?that ?this is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned.?
The system notifying male guardians that their dependents?which includes their wife, children and foreign workers sponsored by them?had left the country appears to have been in place for a couple of years now.?Ahmed Al Omran, a Saudi blogger, explains that?it appears that this service, which in the past was an opt-out service, is now reaching those who had previously registered their details with the Ministry of Interior.
?The problem is not that there is now an electronic system that sends an SMS when women travel,??writes Omran. ?The problem is that the government is enforcing rules of male guardianships even on the rest of us who don?t believe in such rules.?
There are signs that the Kingdom is slowly changing its approach to the rights of women. Last year King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections. What impact that will have on the guardianship system however is yet to be determined.
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The Ugly Truth

The Bombs-Away?Election

Many Americans are rightly disgusted by the non-choice they are offered in the presidential race every four years. This year is no different despite the serious problems that the United States faces at home and abroad. Mitt Romney has no actual plan to fix the economy, and the record of President Barack Obama over the past four years speaks for itself. Romney is a big-government Republican, while Obama is an even-bigger-government Democrat. Either will increase the deficit to the bankruptcy point; Romney through more spending on arms, soldiers, and wars, Obama with a sorely needed health-care program that will break the bank because it was created in collusion with the health-care and insurance industries and makes no effort to limit costs. Continue reading “The Ugly Truth”

The New Totalitarianism of Surveillance Technology

If you think that 24/7 tracking of citizens by biometric recognition systems is paranoid fantasy, just read the industry newsletters

by?Naomi Wolf

Published on Friday, August 17, 2012 by?The Guardian/UK
A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy ? with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were ? so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.
Watching You, Newkirk Avenue and East 16th Street
(photo: Flickr user Flatbush Gardener)

Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.
Except that it?turned out to be true.?News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government ? for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd. Continue reading “The New Totalitarianism of Surveillance Technology”

False flag operations by MI5

Face to Face with Annie Machon


Annie Machon: ex-MI-5 whistle-blower, activist and author joins Jack Etkin for an elucidating and revealing look at ‘Deep State’ and high-level national and international intelligence and security methodologies. Annie covers subjects such as false-flag/black operations, the MI-5’s botched attempt on Gaddafi’s life, the London Tube bombing (7/7), 9/11 and others. This penetrating and articulate interview is a must see.