Man of the Year: Edward Snowden

Recapping 2013: Snowden, part 1

December 23, 2013

It’s that time of the year – the time to draw conclusions, and make forecasts – and you know, just remember notable things that happened this year. And with regards to the internet, one of the most notable events of the year is the NSA spying scandal. And of course, for this, we have Edward Snowden to thank.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the story of Edward Snowden, you haven’t been keeping tabs on what’s going on around the world. A quick recap – former NSA contractor comes into possession of some highly classified information regarding what the NSA is doing, and decides to make this information public. Interesting note – he used quite a bit of social engineering to do it. In other words, he didn’t procure all the information using his own credentials – instead, he asked others to give out their logins and passwords. Sounds pretty unbelievable, given the secure nature of NSA’s work, but there you have it. Snowden worked as a computer systems administrator at the Hawaii facility and apparently people are willing to give up their passwords to admins if asked nicely – a total of 20 to 25 NSA employees reportedly has done so.

The best part is, even the NSA doesn’t know and most likely will not know the extent of the leaks until Snowden is finished with publishing them. He has been releasing information on NSA’s programs gradually throughout the year, starting this summer, and recently has announced that he’s saving essentially “the best for last”, and there’s much more to come. So, why doesn’t the US government know what kind of information he got away with? The Hawaii facility, from which he copied the files, simply doesn’t have software which tracks activity of its users in the local network – and you’d think that a supposedly highly secure agency dealing with confidential data would keep tighter control over things like that.

Anyway, so what’s going on with Edward Snowden these days? Well, he first started his life as a leaker in Hong Kong. Actually, he initially wanted to go to Iceland and receive and asylum status there – but he was afraid the American government would not let him do that. Then he decided to go to Ecuador through Russia and Cuba – but after he landed in Moscow, the US government annulled his passport, rendering his travel plans useless. After being grounded in Moscow he was essentially stuck in legal limbo, unable to leave as no country would give him asylum status in absentia – or, you know, allegedly some countries were pressured by the U.S. to give Snowden the cold shoulder.

And that’s the story of how Snowden finally settled in Russia – after being stuck in the transit zone of one of Moscow’s airports – again, allegedly, as no one could actually find him anywhere in the public areas – he filed for temporary asylum – and Russian migration services satisfied his request. He’s been here for about half a year now – and according to an interview which was aired on Sunday on the Brazilian channel Globo, he’s happy that he was granted asylum here. Well, frankly, it’s not like he had a choice at the time. In any case, apparently he’s not wasting time here – apart from sending various media outlets more leaks from time to time, he’s studying Russian – and according to his statement, he now knows it well enough to “wish a Merry Christmas” in Russian.

http://voiceofrussia.com/radio_broadcast/36172287/256426195/

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More information about Google which, together with Facebook, provides the CIA information about the world’s citizens:
http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/ZD6Bc7SRBoOib9bLbsRSPN/Microsoft-Google-security-Edward-Snowden-won-where-Barack.html
http://diversdiverse.skynetblogs.be/apps/search/?s=Google+Obama

Who thinks his image is damaged on the Internet, can now be insured. Korneel Warlop from the Belgian Assurance Company Axa. “We work with companies to ensure that the data automatically arrive at the end of the search lists so no one reads them.”

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Over kruitvat

I am working for the Belgian human rights association 'Werkgroep Morkhoven' which revealed the Zandvoort childporn case (88.539 victims). The case was covered up by the authorities. During the past years I have been really shocked by the way the rich countries of the western empire want to rule the world. One of my blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Je travaille pour le 'Werkgroep Morkhoven', un groupe d'action qui a révélé le réseau pornographique d'enfants 'Zandvoort' (88.539 victims). Cette affaire a été couverte par les autorités. Au cours des dernières années, j'ai été vraiment choqué par la façon dont l'Occident et les pays riches veulent gouverner le monde. Un de mes blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Ik werk voor de Werkgroep Morkhoven die destijds de kinderpornozaak Zandvoort onthulde (88.539 slachtoffers). Deze zaak werd door de overheid op een misdadige manier toegedekt. Gedurende de voorbije jaren was ik werkelijke geschokt door de manier waarop het rijke westen de wereld wil overheersen. Bezoek onze blog «Latest News Syria» (WordPress) ------- Photo: victims of the NATO-bombings on the Chinese embassy in Yougoslavia
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3 reacties op Man of the Year: Edward Snowden

  1. kruitvat zegt:

    December 24, 2013 – Edward Snowden broadcasts Channel 4’s alternative Christmas Day message:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/24/edward-snowden-channel-4-christmas-day-message

    NSA whistleblower records message from Russia, filmed by Laura Poitras, warning of the dangers of a loss of privacy

    Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who prompted a worldwide debate when he leaked a cache of top secret documents about US and UK spying, has recorded a Christmas Day television message in which he calls for an end to the mass surveillance revealed by his disclosures.

    The short film was recorded for Channel 4, which has 20-year history of providing unusual but relevant figures as an alternative to the Queen’s Christmas message shown by other UK broadcasters. It will be Snowden’s first television appearance since arriving in Moscow.

    The address, broadcast at 4.15pm on Christmas Day, was filmed in Russia – where Snowden is living after being granted temporary asylum – by Laura Poitras, a film-maker who has closely collaborated with him on the NSA stories.

    Snowden said George Orwell “warned us of the danger of this kind of information” in his dystopian novel, 1984.

    Snowden said: “The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us – are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.

    “A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.”

    Snowden notes the political changes that have taken place since his leaked the cache documents to newspapers including the Guardian. He highlights a review of the NSA’s power that recommended it be no longer permitted to collect phone records in bulk or undermine internet security, findings endorsed in part by Barack Obama, and a federal judge’s ruling that bulk phone record collection is likely to violate the US constitution.

    Snowden says: “The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.”

    The latter comment echoes a sentiment expressed by Snowden during a series of interviews in Moscow with the Washington Post, another paper that has carried revelations based on documents leaked by him. In this, Snowden said the effect of his actions had meant that “the mission’s already accomplished”.

    In the newspaper interview, he added: “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.

    “All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed.”

    The alternative Christmas message, a counterpoint to the traditional festive broadcast by the Queen, began in 1993 with a broadcast from the writer and gay activist Quentin Crisp. Other notable participants include Iran’s then-president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2008, and a team of midwives two years later.

  2. kruitvat zegt:

    Google and Pentagon

    December 23, 2013 – A robot developed by a Japanese start-up recently acquired by Google is the winner of a two-day competition hosted by the Pentagon’s research unit Darpa.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25493584

    December 15, 2013 – Google buys Pentagon-funded robotics firm behind fastest-legged robot – Google has purchased the cutting-edge robotics firm which supplies mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The tech giant is keeping secret what it will produce with the acquired technology.
    Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that designs robots like BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat, and Atlas, is now the eighth robotic company to join Google’s ranks in the last six months, the company confirmed Friday, according to The New York Times.
    The robotics company – based in Waltham, Massachusetts – is known for its fascinating robots that have a sense of balance and can walk and run on almost any kind of terrain. Boston Dynamics was established in 1992 and is known for supplying robotics technology mostly for Pentagon clients, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
    http://rt.com/usa/google-buys-boston-dynamics-265/

  3. kruitvat zegt:

    March 14, 2012 – Google Adds (Even More) Links to the Pentagon
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/pentagon-google/

    On Monday, the Defense Department’s best-known geek announced that she was leaving the Pentagon for a job at Google. It was an unexpected move: Washington and Mountain View don’t trade top executives very often. But it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. The internet colossus has had a long and deeply complicated relationship with America’s military and intelligence communities. Depending on the topic, the time, and the players involved, the Pentagon and the Plex can be customers, business partners, adversaries, or wary allies. Recruiting the director of Darpa to join Google was just the latest move in this intricate dance between behemoths.

    To the company’s critics in Congress and in the conservative legal community, Google has become a puppet master in Obama’s Washington, with Plex executives attending exclusive state dinners and backing White House tech policy initiatives. “Like Halliburton in the previous administration,” warned the National Legal and Policy Center in 2010, “Google has an exceptionally close relationship with the current administration.” To the company’s foes outside the U.S. — especially in Beijing — Google is viewed as a virtual extension of the U.S. government: “the White House’s Google,” as one state-sponsored Chinese magazine put it.

    But in the halls of the Pentagon and America’s intelligence agencies, Google casts a relatively small shadow, at least compared to those of big defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Northrop Grumman, and SAIC. Yes, a small handful of one-time Googlers joined the Obama administration after the 2008 election, but most of those people are now back in the private sector. Sure, Google turned to the network defense specialists at the National Security Agency, when the company became the target of a sophisticated hacking campaign in 2009. (Next week, the Electronic Privacy Information Center goes to federal court in an attempt to force the NSA to disclose what exactly it did to help Google respond.) The Lockheeds and the Northrops of the world share with the Pentagon information about viruses and malware in their networks every day.

    Government work is, after all, only a minuscule part of Google’s business. And that allows the Plex to take a nuanced, many-pronged approach when dealing with spooks and generals. (The company did not respond to requests to comment for this article.)

    Google has a federally focused sales force, marketing its search appliances and its apps to the government. They’ve sold millions of dollars’ worth of gear to the National Security Agency’s secretive eavesdroppers and to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s satellite watchmen. And they’re making major inroads in the mobile market, where Android has become the operating system of choice for the military’s burgeoning smartphone experiments. But unlike other businesses operating in the Beltway, Google doesn’t often customize its wares for its Washington clients. It’s a largely take-it-or-leave-it approach to marketing.

    “They shit all over any request for customization,” says a former Google executive. “The attitude is: ‘we know how to build software. If you don’t know how to use it, you’re an idiot.’”

    Some of that software, though, only made it to Mountain View after an infusion of government cash. Take the mapping firm Keyhole, backed by In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. Google bought Keyhole in 2004 — and then turned it into the backbone for Google Earth, which has become a must-have tool in all sorts of imagery analysis cells. When I visited a team of Air Force targeteers in 2009, a Google Earth map highlighting all the known hospitals, mosques, graveyards, and schools in Afghanistan helped them pick which buildings to bomb or not.

    Around the same time, the investment arms of Google and the CIA both put cash into Recorded Future, a company that monitors social media in real time — and tries to use that information to predict upcoming events.

    “Turns out that there are several natural places to take an ability to harvest and analyze the internet to predict future events,” e-mails Recorded Future CEO Christopher Ahlberg. “There’s search, where any innovation that provides improved relevance is helpful; and intelligence, which at some level is all about predicting events and their implications. (Finance is a third.) That made Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel two very natural investors that provides us hooks into the worlds of search and intelligence.”
    The government and Google have more than a mutual interest in mining publicly available data. The feds ask Google to turn over information about its customers. Constantly. Last fall, the Justice Department demanded that the company give up the IP addresses of Wikileaks supporters. During the first six months of 2011, U.S. government agencies sent Google 5,950 criminal investigation requests for data on Google users and services, as our sister blog Threat Level noted at the time. That’s an average of 31 a day, and Google said it complied with 93 percent of those requests.

    Google is pretty much the only company that publishes the number of requests it receives — a tactic which sometimes causes teeth to grind in D.C. But it’s essential to the well-being of Plex’s core business: its consumer search advertising. Google, as we all know, keeps a titanic amount of information about every aspect of our online lives. Customers largely have trusted the company so far, because of the quality of its products, and because there’s some sense that the Plex and the Pentagon aren’t swapping data wholesale. These small acts of resistance maintain that perceived barrier.

    Not long ago — in the middle of the last decade, say — Google held an almost talismanic power inside military and intelligence agencies. Google made searching the web simple and straightforward. Surely, the government ought to be able to do the same for its databases.

    “You kept hearing: ‘how come this can’t work like Google,’” says Bob Gourley, who served as the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Chief Technology Officer from 2005 to 2007. “But after a while the technologists got educated. You don’t really want Google.”

    Or at least, not in that way. Even complex web searches are single strands of information. Intelligence analysts are hunting for interlocking chains of events: Person A in the same cafe as person B, who chats with person C, who gives some cash to person D. Those queries were so intricate, government engineers had to program each one in by hand, not so long ago. But lately, more sophisticated tools have come onto the market; the troops and spooks have gotten better at integrating their databases. Google’s products are still used, of course. But it’s just one vendor among many.

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