Tag Archives: government

The FBI’s New Unit Can Spy on Skype and Wireless Communications

<blockquote class=’posterous_long_quote’><p>Four years and $54 million later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is finally ready to launch a surveillance unit capable of spying on Skype conversations and other Internet communications.</p><p>The Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC) is a collaborative effort between the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. All three agencies will build&nbsp;customized hardware to enable wiretapping on wireless and Internet conversations per court order requests.</p></blockquote>

CREEPY.

The House GOP Plan To Gut The FCC

Today, as phone, video, and broadcast services have become merely bits passing over a wire, Congress’s intentions embodied in the 1996 Act have been completely subverted. Through a wave of mergers and years of litigation (helped along by some gymnastic labeling fiestas by the FCC), new companies have found it almost impossible to compete.

We have Ma Cell instead of Ma Bell, with just two companies — AT&T and Verizon — utterly dominant, their vast spectrum holdings, control over handset manufacturing, and provision of backhaul adding up to moats around their businesses that Sprint and T-Mobile can’t cross. We have a handful of cable incumbents — chiefly Comcast and Time Warner — controlling high-speed wired access to everything at whatever prices they want to charge.

Given this context, and its direct impact on consumers’ pocketbooks and innovation in America, you’d think that Congress would want to have an empowered regulator able to do something to protect the country from the rational, profit-seeking depredations of our new generation of monopolists.

Instead, the House Republicans are going in exactly the opposite direction. They’re lining up big-company support to push legislation early next week on the floor of the House that would gut the FCC. The bill, H.R. 3309, is called the “FCC Process Reform Act of 2011.”

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center via @wiredmag

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

The Internet isn’t just pipes; it’s a belief system (via @Om)

Draconian new anti-piracy laws that are being pushed through both the Senate and the House of Representatives are about more than just an academic debate over different legislative methods for fighting copyright infringement. They make it clear that media and content companies are fundamentally opposed to the way the Internet works. These laws are being promoted by media and entertainment conglomerates as a way to fight what they see as massive content theft, but in order to combat that evil, they are effectively trying to get Congress to take over the Internet — and trample on important principles like freedom of speech as well.

Finally, here’s an aweosme video sumamrizing the insane legislation:

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Take action! This is very, very bad.

Mozilla Takes a Stand Against Dept of Homeland Security via @RWW

Sometimes you have to take a stand, even if that means standing against the United States Department of Homeland Security. That is what Mozilla is doing concerning the MafiaaFire extension to Firefox.

According to Anderson, the questions Mozilla asked were similar to these:

  • Have any courts determined that the Mafiaafire add-on is unlawful or illegal in any way? If so, on what basis? (Please provide any relevant rulings)
  • Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request based on other reasons? If other reasons, can you please specify.
  • Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which your request to Mozilla to take down the Mafiaafire  add-on is based?

The question about the extension is less about professional sports teams, piracy and copyright and more about threats to the open Internet. Mozilla is an open source supporter and its developers are big contributors to open source projects and community members on code-sharing forum GitHub. Mozilla is looking for due process and transparency from DHS. It is the right stand to take, even if MafiaaFire and the seized sites it redirects from are not the most upstanding citizens of the World Wide Web.

WikiLeaks Archive – China’s Battle With Google

China: “The Web is fundamentally controllable.”

Click-through for the entire, excellent article. This a must-read for anyone concerned about internet privacy, international diplomacy, and what real terrorism looks like.  And why Wikileaks is an absolutely necessary component of today’s media landscape.

Lefty Startup Offers Free Apps for Democratic Candidates

free-apps.pngThe founders of Campaign Live want to level the playing field for political candidates running for state, county and local office – if those candidates are Democrats.

The month-old company has been offering Facebook, MySpace, Web and mobile Web apps for between $0 and $999, depending on a client’s ability to pay. But today Campaign Live announced a generous promotion: free apps for any Democratic candidate during election season between now and Nov. 2.

Google & Verizon Propose Enforceable Net Neutrality

I love it when the mainstream media gets whiff of closed-door meetings, creates a story out of their worst fears, then finds out the meeting was convened to discuss the exact opposite of the reported story. I love it, except when I believe the “Rumor News” and start to distrust Google.

Sorry Google; don’t be evil to me!

Wikileaks Data Spurs App Development – ReadWriteCloud

While politicians, pundits, military, and journalists assess and debate the fallout from Wikileaks’ release of the “Afghan War Diary” – the legality and ethics of Wikileaks, its impact on the war efforts, the rise of the “world’s first stateless news organization” – a number of developers are diving right into the 91,000 some odd classified documents and seeing what they can do with the data.

Update to my previous WikiLeaks post: information is, in fact, still able to permeate even the strictest legal strangleholds. I applaud these lunies who risk life and limb to develop the code that empowers us to understand the data we pay for yet are systematically denied access to by the people we’ve put in power. Take it back!