Palantir 101: InfoSec Gov Deployed Malware Explained


For those who are completely new to the Palantir Platform or could simply use a refresher, this talk will start from scratch and provide a broad overview of Palantir’s origins and mission. A live demonstration of the product will help to familiarize newcomers with Palantir’s intuitive graphical interface and revolutionary analytical functionality, while highlighting the major engineering innovations that make it all possible.  -Palantir

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An NSA Coworker Remembers The Real Edward Snowden: ‘A Genius Among Geniuses’


Perhaps Edward Snowden’s hoodie should have raised suspicions.

The black sweatshirt sold by the civil libertarian Electronic Frontier Foundation featured a parody of the National Security Agency’s logo, with the traditional key in an eagle’s claws replaced by a collection of AT&T cables, and eavesdropping headphones covering the menacing bird’s ears. Snowden wore it regularly to stay warm in the air-conditioned underground NSA Hawaii Kunia facility known as “the tunnel.”

His coworkers assumed it was meant ironically. And a geek as gifted as Snowden could get away with a few irregularities.

Months after Snowden leaked tens of thousands of the NSA’s most highly classified documents to the media, the former intelligence contractor has stayed out of the limelight, rarely granting interviews or sharing personal details. A 60 Minutes episode Sunday night, meanwhile, aired NSA’s officials descriptions of Snowden as a malicious hacker who cheated on an NSA entrance exam and whose work computers had to be destroyed after his departure for fear he had infected them with malware.

But an NSA staffer who contacted me last month and asked not to be identified–and whose claims we checked with Snowden himself via his ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner—offered me a very different, firsthand portrait of how Snowden was seen by his colleagues in the agency’s Hawaii office: A principled and ultra-competent, if somewhat eccentric employee, and one who earned the access used to pull off his leak by impressing superiors with sheer talent.

The anonymous NSA staffer’s priority in contacting me, in fact, was to refute stories that have surfaced as the NSA and the media attempt to explain how a contractor was able to obtain and leak the tens of thousands of highly classified documents that have become the biggest public disclosure of NSA secrets in history. According to the source, Snowden didn’t dupe coworkers into handing over their passwords, as one report has claimed. Nor did Snowden fabricate SSH keys to gain unauthorized access, he or she says.

Instead, there’s little mystery as to how Snowden gained his access: It was given to him.

“That kid was a genius among geniuses,” says the NSA staffer. “NSA is full of smart people, but anybody who sat in a meeting with Ed will tell you he was in a class of his own…I’ve never seen anything like it.”

When I reached out to the NSA’s public affairs office, a spokesperson declined to comment, citing the agency’s ongoing investigation into Snowden’s leaks.

But over the course of my communications with the NSA staffer, Snowden’s former colleague offered details that shed light on both how Snowden was able to obtain the NSA’s most secret files, as well as the elusive 30-year old’s character:

  • Before coming to NSA Hawaii, Snowden had impressed NSA officials by developing a backup system that the NSA had widely implemented in its codebreaking operations.
  • He also frequently reported security vulnerabilities in NSA software. Many of the bugs were never patched.
  • Snowden had been brought to Hawaii as a cybersecurity expert working for Dell’s services division but due to a problem with the contract was reassigned to become an administrator for the Microsoft intranet management system known as Sharepoint. Impressed with his technical abilities, Snowden’s managers decided that he was the most qualified candidate to build a new web front-end for one of its projects, despite his contractor status. As his coworker tells it, he was given full administrator privileges, with virtually unlimited access to NSA data. “Big mistake in hindsight,” says Snowden’s former colleague. “But if you had a guy who could do things nobody else could, and the only problem was that his badge was green instead of blue, what would you do?”
  • As further evidence that Snowden didn’t hijack his colleagues’ accounts for his leak, the NSA staffer points to an occasion when Snowden was given a manager’s password so that he could cover for him while he was on vacation. Even then, investigators found no evidence Snowden had misused that staffer’s privileges, and the source says nothing he could have uniquely accessed from the account has shown up in news reports.
  • Snowden’s superiors were so impressed with his skills that he was at one point offered a position on the elite team of NSA hackers known as Tailored Access Operations. He unexpectedly turned it down and instead joined Booz Allen to work at NSA’s Threat Operation Center.
  • Another hint of his whistleblower conscience, aside from the telltale hoodie: Snowden kept a copy of the constitution on his desk to cite when arguing against NSA activities he thought might violate it.
  • The source tells me Snowden also once nearly lost his job standing up for a coworker who was being disciplined by a superior.
  • Snowden often left small, gifts anonymously at colleagues’ desks.
  • He frequently walked NSA’s halls carrying a Rubik’s cube–the same object he held to identify himself on a Hong Kong street to the journalists who first met with him to publish his leaks.
  • Snowden’s former colleague says that he or she has slowly come to understand Snowden’s decision to leak the NSA’s files. “I was shocked and betrayed when I first learned the news, but as more time passes I’m inclined to believe he really is trying to do the right thing and it’s not out of character for him. I don’t agree with his methods, but I understand why he did it,” he or she says. “I won’t call him a hero, but he’s sure as hell no traitor.”


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Bradley Manning To Serve Prison Sentence as Female, Chelsea Manning
(examples of injustice shared on following episode)

Michael Hastings was afraid his car was tampered with!

CLIP:  Gun Confiscation Begins In California

NSA files: why the Guardian in London destroyed hard drives of leaked files

NSA Intel Review: Transparent ‘outsiders’ end up being CyberSec ‘insiders’ in more White-house Hypocrisy

LULZ: FBI Says Anonymous no longer effective.. Anonymous responds by Dumping more FBI Databases

Chicken Nuggets..!? Strange Fibers..!? Morgellon’s Disease..!? Human Nuggets..!?

WTF: Swat COP Says America has become a battleground and have same dangers as soldiers in Afghanistan??

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Ex-Military Bio–Enviro–Engineer: Chemtrails Are Real

Top Geoengineer Admits to Poisoning our Skies When Confronted

CIA-connected SAIC Awarded Government “Cyber Security” Contract

Mainstream Media Tactic: Label All Opposing Views As ‘ Conspiracy Theories ‘

11 Governments Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet

UNBELIEVABLE: Oil Companies Raided In Price-Fixing Probe

Tennessee Governor Vetoes Ag-Gag Anti-Whistleblower Bill

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November 23, 2012 – DCMX Radio:  Texas to Block NDAA/TSA, California Face Scanning, NSA Cyber Silence, Obama’s Secret Inauguration, 2025 Police Drones

Texas Threatens to BLOCK the implementation of NDAA & TSA

NSA prohibits disclosure of Obama CyberSecurity effort

Facial Recognition Technology Explosion in California

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein wants to raise your retirement age!

Chief Justice Roberts behind another ‘Secret Inauguration’ for President Obama 2nd Term

Manufacturer Design Competition promoting Automated Police Drones for US Highways by 2025

Every Week Night 12-1am EST (9-10pm PST)

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Anonymous Releases How-to Instructions on Fooling Facial Recognition

New Tips and Tricks to Fool Surveillance Cameras now Known to be using advanced algorithm technology for automated Facial Recognition and profiling. With a few of the right LED lights, and a 9 volt battery on the brim of a hat, one can walk around with a veil of protection yet not stand out in public.

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Statement from Jeremy Hammond, alleged Anonymous hacker, July 23 2012
23 July 2012 – Statement from Jeremy Hammond, alleged Anonymous hacker – read in Foley Square, NYC

Thanks for everybody coming out in support! It is so good to know folks on the street got my back. Special thanks to those who have been sending books and letters, and to my amazing lawyers.

I remember maybe a few months before I was locked up I went to a few noise demonstrations a the federal jail MCC Chicago in support of all those locked up there. Prisoners moved in front of the windows, turned the lights on and off, and dropped playing cards through the cracks in the windows. I had no idea I would soon be in that same jail facing multiple trumped up computer hacking “conspiracies.”

Now at New York MCC, the other day I was playing chess when another prisoner excitedly cam e up as was like, “Yo, there are like 50 people outside the window and they are carrying banners with your name!” Sure enough, there you all were with lights, banners, and bucket drums just below our 11th floor window. Though you may not have been able to here us or see us, over one hundred of us in this unit saw you all and wanted to know who those people were, what they were about, rejuvenated knowing people on the outside got there back.

As prisoners in this police state – over 2.5 million of us – we are silenced, marginalized, exploited, forgotten, and dehumanized. First we are judged and sentenced by the “justice” system, then treated as second class citizens by mainstream society. But even the warden of MCC New York has in surprising honesty admitted that “the only difference between us officers here and you prisoners is we just haven’t been caught.”

The call us robbers and fraudsters when the big banks get billion dollar bailouts and kick us out of our homes.

They call us gun runners and drug dealers when pharmaceutical corporations and defense contractors profit from trafficking armaments and drugs on a far greater scale.

They call us “terrorists” when NATO and the US military murder millions of innocents around the world and employ drones and torture tactics.

And they call us cyber criminals when they themselves develop viruses to spy on and wage war against infrastructure and populations in other countries.

Yes, I am one of several dozen around the world accused of Anonymous-affiliated computer hacking charges.

One of many here at MCC New York facing trumped up “conspiracy” charges based on the cooperation of government informants who will say anything and sell out anyone to save themselves.

And this jail is one of several thousand other jails, prisons, and immigrant detention centers – lockups which one day will be reduced to rubble and grass will grow between the cracks of the concrete.

So don’t let fear of imprisonment deter you from speaking up and fighting back. Silencing our movement is exactly what they hope to accomplish with these targeted, politically motivated prosecutions. They can try to stop a few of us but they can never stop us all.

Thanks again for coming out.

Keep bringing the ruckus!


You can write to Jeremy in prison here:


Jeremy Hammond    18729-424
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, New York, 10007
original paste


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October 26, 2012 – DCMX Radio: More Benghazi Cover-Up, Civilian Drone Deaths, Executive ‘Cyber’ Order, Massive Cylinder UFO on Film

Drone Attacks Update, Civilians still Targeted

Obama’s Drone Joke

Massive Cylinder UFO Captured on Film!!

Cyber Security Going Crazy

Obama Romney Benghazi Libya Corruption & Cover-UP

Other Random News

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U.N. Calls For ‘Anti-Terror’ Internet Surveillance

United Nations report calls for Internet surveillance, saying lack of “internationally agreed framework for retention of data” is a problem, as are open Wi-Fi networks in airports, cafes, and libraries.

The United Nations is calling for more surveillance of Internet users, saying it would help to investigate and prosecute terrorists.

A 148-page report (PDF) released today titled “The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes” warns that terrorists are using social networks and other sharing sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Dropbox, to spread “propaganda.”

“Potential terrorists use advanced communications technology often involving the Internet to reach a worldwide audience with relative anonymity and at a low cost,” said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The report, released at a conference in Vienna convened by UNODC, concludes that “one of the major problems confronting all law enforcement agencies is the lack of an internationally agreed framework for retention of data held by ISPs.” Europe, but not the U.S. or most other nations, has enacted a mandatory data-retention law.

That echoes the U.S. Department of Justice’s lobbying efforts aimed at convincing Congress to require Internet service providers to keep track of their customers — in case police want to review those logs in the future. Privacy groups mounted a campaign earlier this year against the legislation, which has already been approved by a House committee.

The report, however, indicates it would be desirable for certain Web sites — such as instant-messaging services and VoIP providers like Skype — to keep records of “communication over the Internet such as chat room postings.” That goes beyond what the proposed U.S. legislation, which targets only broadband and wireless providers, would cover.

Other excerpts from the UN report address:

Open Wi-Fi networks: “Requiring registration for the use of Wi-Fi networks or cybercafes could provide an important data source for criminal investigations… There is some doubt about the utility of targeting such measures at Internet cafes only when other forms of public Internet access (e.g. airports, libraries and public Wi-Fi hotspots) offer criminals (including terrorists) the same access opportunities and are unregulated.”

Cell phone tracking: “Location data is also important when used by law enforcement to exclude suspects from crime scenes and to verify alibis.”

Terror video games: “Video footage of violent acts of terrorism or video games developed by terrorist organizations that simulate acts of terrorism and encourage the user to engage in role-play, by acting the part of a virtual terrorist.”

Paying companies for surveillance: “It is therefore desirable that Governments provide a clear legal basis for the obligations placed on private sector parties, including… how the cost of providing such capabilities is to be met.”

Today’s U.N. report was produced in collaboration with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which counts the World Bank, Interpol, the World Health Organization, and the International Monetary Fund as members.

via CNet News

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August 13, 2012 – DCMX Radio: Weekend News, Non-Event Update, Giving Thanks, Wikileaks Teasers & The Conspiracy of Privately Contracted Security, Cyber-Security

The Conspiracy driving Private Contractors, Private Security, and Privatized CyberSecurity. Major Players trying to remain Name-less. Government influence on outsourcing, etc.

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August 3, 2012 – DCMX Radio: Re-cap Week’s Alternative News, Intro to CyberWar: Viruses, Hacking, & Black Security Breaches, Protecting Your Computer, Securing Your Internet Connection & Maintaining Privacy Online

Cyber Security Industry Explosion, Intelligence Spying, Data-mining, Black-Hats, White-Hats, Gray-Hats abound. Alphabet Agencies, Corrupt Globalist Corporations exploiting your info. Micro Tutorial on Protecting Your Computer, Securing Your Internet Connection, Maintaining ‘some’ Privacy Online

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NSA: Security Conguration Recommendations for Apple iOS 5 Devices

>>>>    NSA_Apple_IOS_5_Security_Protocols  <<<<


Purpose. This document provides security-related usage and con guration recommendations for Apple
iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This document does not constitute Department
of Defense (DoD) or United States Government (USG) policy, nor is it an endorsement of any particular
platform; its purpose is solely to provide security recommendations. This guide may outline procedures
required to implement or secure certain features, but it is also not a general-purpose con guration manual.
The guidance provides recommendations for general-purpose business use of iOS devices for processing data
that is UNCLASSIFIED, and possibly Sensitive But Unclassi ed. Such data may carry various designations
such as For Ocial Use Only, Law Enforcement Sensitive, or Security Sensitive Information. Approval for
processing such Sensitive But Unclassi ed data is dependent upon risk decisions by Designated Approving
Authorities (or their analogs in non-DoD entities).
Audience. This guide is primarily intended for network/system administrators deploying Apple’s iOS
devices or supporting their integration into enterprise networks. Some information relevant to IT decision
makers and users of the devices is also included. Readers are assumed to possess basic network and system
administration skills for Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows systems, and they should have some familiarity
with Apple’s documentation and user interface conventions.
Scope. Apple’s mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad, are prominent examples of a new generation
of mobile devices that combine into a single device the capabilities of a cellular phone, laptop computer,
portable music player, camera, audio recorder, GPS receiver and other electronics. The capabilities of such
devices are considerable but, as with any information system, also pose some security risks. Design features
can seriously mitigate some risks, but others must be considered as part of a careful, holistic risk decision that
also respects the capabilities enabled by such devices. Major risks, and available mitigations, are discussed
in Section 1.3.
Security guidance for mobile devices must cut across many previously discrete boundaries between tech-
nologies. For example, scrupulous deployment of an iPhone includes consideration not just the settings on
the device itself, but those of the Wi-Fi networks to which it will connect, the VPNs through which it will
tunnel, and the servers from which it will receive its con guration. This guide provides recommendations for
the settings on an iOS device itself, as well as closely-related information for the network and con guration
resources upon which deployment of iOS devices depends.

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FBI Escalates War On Anonymous

The Feds raid the home of unofficial Anonymous spokesperson Barrett Brown.

They’re after his Twitter records, chat logs, IRC conversations, his computer, and apparently everything else, according to the search warrant obtained by BuzzFeed.

Last month, the FBI raided the Dallas home of Barrett Brown, the journalist and unofficial spokesperson for the Internet hacktivist group Anonymous.

According to the search warrant, the agents were after any information from Brown involving a “conspiracy to access without authorization computers,” one of three serious charges listed in the document.

The Feds seized Brown’s computer and cellphone, searched his parent’s home as well, and demanded his Twitter records, chat logs, IRC conversations, Pastebin info, all his Internet browsing activity, and almost any form of electronic communications Brown conducted.

The warrant, exclusively obtained by BuzzFeed, suggests the government is primarily after information related to Anonymous and the hacking group Lulzec.

The authorities also appear to be interested in info on two private intelligence contracting firms, HBGary and EndGame Systems, two companies Brown has frequently clashed with and criticized on a website he founded called Echelon2.

Brown, a 30 year old journalist who has written for Vanity Fair and the Guardian, is perhaps the most high profile target thus far in the FBI’s investigation into a series of hacks that have shaken the corporate and defense establishment.

Brown, currently at work on a book about Anonymous, believes he’s being wrongly investigated. “I haven’t been charged with anything at this point, although there’s a sealed affidavit to which neither I nor my attorney have access,” he emailed BuzzFeed. “I suspect that the FBI is working off of incorrect information.”

His full statement can be read here.



Michael Hastings | BuzzFeed Staff


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STOP CISPA: Come Togeter – Take Action



The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523) is a bill introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Rogers (D-MI) and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD) in late 2011. It amends the National Security Act of 1947 to allow private companies and US government intelligence agencies to share information regarding perceived cyber threats.


1. CISPA’s language, particularly in reference to how it defines “cyber threat,” is far too broad. 

The bill’s definition of a “cyber threat” is so vague that it may potentially allow CISPA to encompass a far broader range of targets and data than initially contemplated by its authors. “Cyber threat” is a critical term in the bill, and is defined therein as:

…information directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to a system of network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from —

(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or

(B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.

Under this overly broad, vague definition, whistleblowers and leakers such as Wikileaks, tech blogs carrying the latest rumours and gossip from companies, news and media sites publishing investigations, security researchers and whitehat pen testers, torrent sites (including our beloved Pirate Bay), and of course, yours truly, Anonymous, would all be ripe targets.

Additionally, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes, CISPA’s broad definition of “cybersecurity” is so vague that it leaves open the door “to censor any speech that a company believes would ‘degrade the network.’” Going one step further, the bill’s inclusion of “intellectual property” provides for the strong possibility that both private companies and the federal government will likely be granted “new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement.” (Full EFF letter here)

2. CISPA demonstrates a complete disregard for reasonable expectations of privacy protection and essential liberties by providing for unaccountable sharing of user data.

As laid out, CISPA allows a large, nearly unchecked quantity of any and all information on a target to be obtained and shared between private companies and government agencies. The bill’s text states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes…share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government.”

Why is this problematic? As it stands, CISPA’s text allows for a slippery slope of information and data that could be shared amongst private companies and the federal government without any regard for a target’s personal privacy protections. Such information could very well include account names and passwords, histories, message content, and other information not currently available to agencies under federal wiretap laws.

In a position letter addressed to Congress on 17 April 2012, CISPA critics point out:

CISPA  creates  an  exception  to  all  privacy  laws  to  permit  companies  to  share  our   information  with  each  other  and  with  the  government  in  the  name  of  cybersecurity.   Although  a  carefully-­‐crafted  information  sharing  program  that  strictly  limits  the   information  to  be  shared  and  includes  robust  privacy  safeguards  could  be  an   effective  approach  to  cybersecurity,  CISPA  lacks  such  protections  for  individual   rights.    CISPA’s  ‘information  sharing’  regime  allows  the  transfer  of  vast  amounts  of   data,  including  sensitive  information  like  internet  use  history  or  the  content  of   emails,  to  any  agency  in  the  government  including  military  and  intelligence  agencies   like  the  National  Security  Agency  or  the  Department  of  Defense  Cyber  Command. 

3. The broad language in CISPA provides for the uncertain future expansion of federal government powers and a slippery slope of cybersecurity warrantless wiretapping. 

Of particular concern is the word “notwithstanding,” which is a dangerously broad word when included in legislation. The use of “notwithstanding” will allow CISPA to apply far beyond the stated intentions of its authors. It is clear that the word was purposefully included (and kept throughout rewrites) by the bill’s authors to allow CISPA to supersede and trump all existing federal and state civil and criminal laws, including laws that safeguard privacy and personal rights.

The fact that the sponsors and authors of CISPA claim that they have no intentions to use the overly broad language of the bill to obtain unprecedented amounts of information on citizens should be of little comfort to a concerned onlooker. As it stands, if CISPA passes in Congress and is signed into law by the President, its broad language WILL be law of the land and WILL be available for use by agencies and companies as desired. Why should our only protection against rampant cyber-spying be us trusting the government or companies NOT to take CISPA over the line of acceptable (if any) data collection?


Below are some various ways that YOU can get involved in the online and real world struggles against CISPA. It will take all of us to stop this bill, but we did it before with SOPA, PIPA, and [hopefully] ACTA, and we’re confident that it can be done once more with CISPA. The voice of the People WILL be heard loud and clear, and you can help because your voice matters. It’s time to stand up for your rights because, in the end, who else will? Internet, unite!

  • Educate a Congressman about the Internet and pitfalls of CISPA – here
  • Call a Congressman directly about the bill – here
  • Email a Congressman directly about the bill – here
  • Sign and pass around online petitions – here || here || here
  • Spread awareness. Tweet, blog and post about CISPA. Use the hashtags #StopCISPA and #CISPA so everyone can follow. Change your profile picture to an anti-CISPA image or add a STOP CISPA banner.
  • Tweet to CISPA’s proponents, @HouseIntelComm and @RepMikeRogers and let them know about the pitfalls of CISPA.
  • Let CISPA’s sponsor, Rep. MikeRogers, know how much his bill fails – here
  • Check out Fight For The Future’s #CongressTMI movement in regard to CISPA – here
  • Join the Twitter Campaign and Contact a Representative about CISPA – here
  • Protest. Organise in front of Congress and let them know what happens when they try to govern the Internet and strip our liberties in the name of national security. If you organise an IRL protest, please contact us@YourAnonNews so we can facilitate spreading the word on it and helping boost attendance.


Ok…clearly you like reading and knowing the issues thoroughly. We’re proud of your dedication and passion to better educating yourself and others about this concerning bill. Below are additional helpful resources that you can check out to get an even better understanding of CISPA and how it will affect the world of tomorrow should it pass and become law.

  • Full text of CISPA, including recent rewrites and Amendments – here
  • Full list of CISPA co-sponsors – here
  • Full list of companies and groups that explicitly support CISPA – here
  • Center for Democracy & Technology’s CISPA Resource Page – here
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Statement on CISPA and its Intellectual Property Implications
  • Video news report from RT, ‘CISPA is a US cyber-security loophole’ – watch
  • CNET In-Depth: Even an attempted rewrite of CISPA failed to safeguard civil liberties and privacy – read
  • CISPA is pushed by a for-profit cyber-spying lobby that stands to profit immensely from the bill becoming law in the US – read
  • Why CISPA Sucks – read
  • A brilliant series of TechDirt articles on CISPA shed some light on the bill and point out exactly where its flaws are found — CISPA is a Really Bad Bill, and Here’s Why – read
    – Did Congress Really Not Pay Attention to What Happened with SOPA? CISPA Ignorance is Astounding -read
    – Forget SOPA, You Should Be Worried About This Cybersecurity Bill – read

NOTE: Even Obama seems to dislike CISPA — On 17 April 2012, the White House issued a statement criticising CISPA for lacking strong privacy protections and failing to set forth basic security standards.


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Hacks of Valor: Why Anonymous Is Not A Threat to National Security

Over the past year, the U.S. government has begun to think of Anonymous, the online network phenomenon, as a threat to national security. According to The Wall Street Journal, Keith Alexander, the general in charge of the U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, warned earlier this year that “the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack.” His disclosure followed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s release of several bulletins over the course of 2011 warning about Anonymous. Media coverage has often similarly framed Anonymous as a threat, likening it to a terrorist organization. Articles regularly refer to the Anonymous offshoot LulzSec as a “splinter group,” and a recent Fox News report uncritically quoted an FBI source lauding a series of arrests that would “[chop] off the head of LulzSec.”

This is the wrong approach. Seeing Anonymous primarily as a cybersecurity threat is like analyzing the breadth of the antiwar movement and 1960s counterculture by focusing only on the Weathermen. Anonymous is not an organization. It is an idea, a zeitgeist, coupled with a set of social and technical practices. Diffuse and leaderless, its driving force is “lulz” — irreverence, playfulness, and spectacle. It is also a protest movement, inspiring action both on and off the Internet, that seeks to contest the abuse of power by governments and corporations and promote transparency in politics and business. Just as the antiwar movement had its bomb-throwing radicals, online hacktivists organizing under the banner of Anonymous sometimes cross the boundaries of legitimate protest. But a fearful overreaction to Anonymous poses a greater threat to freedom of expression, creativity, and innovation than any threat posed by the disruptions themselves.

Hackers inserted a prank article on the PBS Web site declaring that the deceased rapper Tupac Shakur was “alive and well” in New Zealand.

No single image better captured the way that Anonymous has come to signify the Internet’s irreverent democratic culture than when, in the middle of a Polish parliamentary session in February 2012, well-dressed legislators donned Guy Fawkes masks — Anonymous’ symbol — to protest their government’s plan to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The treaty, designed to expand intellectual-property protection, involved years of negotiation among the United States, Japan, and the European Union, which are all like-minded on copyright law. It had the support of well-organized and well-funded companies, particularly in Hollywood and the recording industry. Although originally negotiated in secret, its contents were exposed by WikiLeaks in 2008. As a result, public pressure caused the treaty’s negotiators to water down many of its controversial provisions. But the final version still mimicked the least balanced aspects of U.S. copyright law, including its aggressive approach to asset seizure and damages. And so a last-minute protest campaign across Europe, using the symbolism of Anonymous, set out to stop the agreement from coming into force. So far, it has succeeded; no signatory has ratified it.

That is power — a species of soft power that allows millions of people, often in different countries, each of whom is individually weak, to surge in opposition to a given program or project enough to shape the outcome. In this sense, Anonymous has become a potent symbol of popular dissatisfaction with the concentration of political and corporate power in fewer and fewer hands.

It is only in this context of protest that one can begin to assess Anonymous’ hacking actions on the Internet. Over the last several years, the list of Anonymous’ cyber targets has expanded from more-or-less random Web sites, chosen for humor’s sake, to those with political or social meaning. In 2010, Anonymous activists launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack — an action that prevents access to a Web site for several hours — against Web sites of the Motion Picture Association of America and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the major trade groups for the film and music industries. The action came in response to revelations that several Indian movie studios had used an Indian company called Aiplex to mount vigilante DDoS attacks against illegal file-sharing sites.


By: Yochai Benkler, April 4, 2012

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Good evening, NATO.

We are Anonymous.

It has come to our attention that a NATO draft report has classified Anonymous a potential „threat to member states’ security”, and that you seek retaliation against us.

It is true that Anonymous has committed what you would call ‘cyber-attacks’ in protest against several military contractors, companies, lawmakers, and governments, and has continuously sought to fight against threats to our freedoms on the Internet. And since you consider state control of the Internet to be in the best interest of the various nations of your military alliance, you therefore consider us a potential threat to international security.

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