Thoughts on privacy

Thoughts on privacy
By Doc Searls
Aug 31 2013
<http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/doc/2013/08/31/thoughts-on-privacy/>

In Here Is New York, E.B. White opens with this sentence: “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy.” Sixty-four years have passed since White wrote that, and it still makes perfect sense to me, hunched behind a desk in a back room of a Manhattan apartment.

That’s because privacy is mostly a settled issue in the physical world, and a grace of civilized life. Clothing, for example, is a privacy technology. So are walls, doors, windows and shades.

Private spaces in public settings are well understood in every healthy and mature culture. This is why no store on Main Street would plant a tracking beacon in the pants of a visiting customer, to report back on that customer’s activities — just so the store or some third party can “deliver” a better “experience” through advertising. Yet this kind of thing is beyond normative on the Web: it is a huge business.

Worse, the institution we look toward for protection from this kind of unwelcome surveillance — our government — spies on us too, and relies on private companies for help with activities that would be a crime if the Fourth Amendment still meant what it says. (Here’s what The Onion prophetically reported about this irony more than two years ago.)

I see two reasons why privacy is now under extreme threat in the digital world — and the physical one to, as surveillance cameras bloom like flowers in public spaces, and as marketers and spooks together look toward the “Internet of Things” for ways to harvest an infinitude of personal data.

The end-to-end principle was back-burnered when client-server (akacalf-cow) got baked into e-commerce in the late ’90s. In a single slide Phil Windley summarizes what happened after that. It looks like this:

The History of E-commerce
1995: Invention of the cookie.
The end.

For a measure of how far we have drifted away from the early promise of networked life, re-read John Perry Barlow‘s “Death From Above,” published in January 1995, and his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” published one year later. The first argued against asymmetrical provisioning of the Net and the second expressed faith in the triumph of nerds over wannabe overlords.

[snip]

The Baby and the Baath Water

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  From 2011, but provides good context and history for what is happening there now.  DLH]

From: “David S. H. Rosenthal” <dshr@abitare.org>
Subject: Syria
Date: August 31, 2013 6:41:26 AM PDT

THE BABY AND THE BAATH WATER
By Adam Curtis
Jun 16 2011
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/06/the_baby_and_the_baath_water.html>

What is happening in Syria feels like one of the last gasps of the age of the military dictators. An old way of running the world is still desperately trying to cling to power, but the underlying feeling in the west is that somehow Assad’s archaic and cruel military rule will inevitably collapse and Syrians will move forward into a democratic age.

That may, or may not, happen, but what is extraordinary is that we have been here before. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite – and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that “the Syrian people are naturally democratic” and that all that was neccessary was to get rid of the elites – and a new world of “peace and progress” would inevitably emerge.

What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today.

I thought I would tell that story.

In 1968 a CIA agent called Miles Copeland wrote a book called ‘The Game of Nations’ that revealed what went on in 1947. Back then Copeland was part of a mangement consulting team in Washington who were working out how America should contain the threat of communism in the Middle East, now the old European Empires had gone. This was before the CIA existed, and Copeland describes how they got together an odd group of diplomats, secret agents left over from the war, advertising men from Madison Avenue, and “pipe-smoking owls” (which is what intellectuals were called in those days).

[snip]

Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern

Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern
Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines
By Nafeez Ahmed
Aug 30 2013
<http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines>

On 21 August, hundreds – perhaps over a thousand – people were killed in a chemical weapon attack in Ghouta, Damascus, prompting the US, UK, Israel and France to raise the spectre of military strikes against Bashir al Assad’s forces.

The latest episode is merely one more horrific event in a conflict that has increasingly taken on genocidal characteristics. The case for action at first glance is indisputable. The UN now confirms a death toll over 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom have been killed by Assad’s troops. An estimated 4.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. International observers have overwhelmingly confirmed Assad’s complicity in the preponderance of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people. The illegitimacy of his regime, and the legitimacy of the uprising, is clear.

Experts are unanimous that the shocking footage of civilians, including children, suffering the effects of some sort of chemical attack, is real – but remain divided on whether it involved military-grade chemical weapons associated with Assad’s arsenal, or were a more amateur concoction potentially linked to the rebels.

Whatever the case, few recall that US agitation against Syria began long before recent atrocities, in the context of wider operations targeting Iranian influence across the Middle East.

In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria,” with a view to pressure him to be “more conciliatory and open to negotiations” with Israel. One faction receiving covert US “political and financial support” through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business”, he told French television:

“I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

The 2011 uprisings, it would seem – triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes – came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

[snip]

Re: The parody shirt the NSA doesn’t want you to wear

[Note:  This comment comes from reader Brett Glass.  DLH]

From: Brett Glass <brett@lariat.net>
Subject: Re The parody shirt the NSA doesn’t want you to wear
Date: August 30, 2013 10:00:30 PM PDT
To: “Dewayne Hendricks” <dewayne@warpspeed.com>

The NSA is abusing the law.

The law says:

Sec. 15. (a) No person may, except with the written permission
of the Director of the National Security Agency, knowingly use the
words ‘National Security Agency’, the initials ‘NSA’, the seal of
the National Security Agency, or any colorable imitation of such
words, initials, or seal in connection with any merchandise,
impersonation, solicitation, or commercial activity in a manner
reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is
approved, endorsed, or authorized by the National Security Agency.

Could anyone possibly believe for a microsecond that the parody shirt (with the
credo “Peeping while you’re sleeping” on the seal) had been “approved, endorsed
or authorized” by the NSA?

–Brett Glass

Is the NSA surveillance program really about spying on environmentalists?

Is the NSA surveillance program really about spying on environmentalists?
By Sarah Laskow
Aug 26 2013
<http://grist.org/news/is-the-nsa-surveillance-program-really-about-spying-on-environmentalists/>

At the Guardian, Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, has an idea about what might be driving the massive expansion of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program that we’ve learned so much about lately. It’s not concerns about religious fundamentalists who hate America. Instead, he suggests, the government is worried about environmental activism:

But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis — or all three.

Who would have thunk? It turns out the U.S. government is worried about climate change, after all. At least if being worried about climate change lets them use all their cool spy gear.

Across the government, security professionals are fretting about natural disasters and global oil shortfalls, Ahmed explains. The Department of Defense has written that “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.” They’re nervous about what this means: What are people going to do when they realized they’re, to use the technical term, totally screwed? The Army’s Strategic Studies Institute has suggested that, in the case of a total freak-out, it might be necessary to “use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States.”

Who are those hostiles? Why, they might just be environmentalists.

[snip]

U.S. spy agencies mounted 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, documents show

U.S. spy agencies mounted 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, documents show
By Barton Gellman and Ellen Nakashima
Aug 30 2013
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-spy-agencies-mounted-231-offensive-cyber-operations-in-2011-documents-show/2013/08/30/d090a6ae-119e-11e3-b4cb-fd7ce041d814_story.html>

U.S. intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, the leading edge of a clandestine campaign that embraces the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Washington Post.

That disclosure, in a classified intelligence budget provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, provides new evidence that the Obama administration’s growing ranks of cyberwarriors infiltrate and disrupt foreign computer networks.

Additionally, under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, U.S. computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious U.S. control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed “covert implants,” sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions.

The documents provided by Snowden and interviews with former U.S. officials describe a campaign of computer intrusions that is far broader and more aggressive than previously understood. The Obama administration treats all such cyber-operations as clandestine and declines to acknowledge them.

The scope and scale of offensive operations represent an evolution in policy, which in the past sought to preserve an international norm against acts of aggression in cyberspace, in part because U.S. economic and military power depend so heavily on computers.

“The policy debate has moved so that offensive options are more prominent now,” said former deputy defense secretary William J. Lynn III, who has not seen the budget document and was speaking generally. “I think there’s more of a case made now that offensive cyberoptions can be an important element in deterring certain adversaries.”

Of the 231 offensive operations conducted in 2011, the budget said, nearly three-quarters were against top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation. The document provided few other details about the operations.

Stuxnet, a computer worm reportedly developed by the United States and Israel that destroyed Iranian nuclear centrifuges in attacks in 2009 and 2010, is often cited as the most dramatic use of a cyberweapon. Experts said no other known cyberattacks carried out by the United States match the physical damage inflicted in that case.

[snip]

Re: Feds plow $10 billion into ‘groundbreaking’ crypto-cracking program

[Note:  This comment comes from a reader of Dave Farber’s IP List.  DLH]

From: Whitfield Diffie <whitfield.diffie@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Feds plow $10 billion into “groundbreaking crypto-cracking_program_=
Date: August 30, 2013 7:38:43 PM EDT
To: Dave Farber <dave@farber.net>

Feds plow $10 billion into “groundbreaking” crypto-cracking program
Consolidated Cryptologic Program has 35,000 employees working to defeat enemy
crypto.

I think there is a misunderstanding here.  Both inside and outside
NSA, the word `cryptology’ refers to the combination of cryptography
and cryptanalysis.  According to an old edition of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff dictionary (though I doubt it has changed), cryptology means

The science which treats of hidden, disguised, or encrypted communications.
It embraces communications security and communications intelligence.

Department of Defense
Dictionary  of
Military and Associated Terms
JCS Pub. 1, 3 January 1972

As reflected in the second sentence, however, `cryptology’ is also
used in the government to embrace all of signals intelligence.

I don’t doubt that NSA continue to work on cryptanalysis but I
doubt that it could be spending a fifth of the intelligence budget on
it; I think that just refers the overall sigint budget.

Whit