Massive Government Leak of Social Security Numbers Highlights Failed NSA Policies

In another of a long string of failures for the US government to protect its own data, one starts to notice a pattern. Federal agencies seem to be unable to properly protect even their most crucial data. They lack the expertise to be able to repel attackers that are continuously trying to break into their systems from around the world.

The question that arises is "What can we do improve this situation"? and the answer is clear. Fix failed policies at the clandestine agencies. Policies that lean on offensive cyberwarfare over security. It is well known thanks to the Snowden files that the US hoards 0day attacks (bugs that compromise security that are undiscovered and unpatched) and saves them until the security flaws become public. This means that these holes are left in the computers that utilize the software worldwide until such time that someone else discovers and discloses the flaws.

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New Music Video by Muse Features JFK Anti Surveillance Speech - Ed Snowden

The new music video by Muse begins featuring the famous speech by John F Kennedy that warned Americans about powerful clandestine agencies that engage in subterfuge and stay hidden from public scrutiny.

It then begins the actual song, which is about not believing in Nationalistic causes as justification to take away fundamental freedoms. The imagery shows figures from the debate over the NSA such as Edward J Snowden and President Barack Obama and puts those figures along side famous dictators and images of oppressive regimes.

There is a link to the full video at the bottom of this page.

Here is the full stub from that speech, with the part of the speech that is used in the music video in bold:


Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate very much your generous invitation to be here tonight.

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Edward Snowden Speaks at Amnesty International

Edward Snowden made a live appearance to speak with supporters of Amnesty International about NSA and GCHQ spying and the sunset of Section 215 of the Patriot Act in the United States.

You can view the full video here:

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FBI & District Attorney Daniel Conley Say Some Really Stupid Things About Encryption On Capitol Hill

This article is a brief overview.  Full transcription of this hearing can be found here.

The FBI has been proposing that a backdoor should be built into all encryption, a backdoor that only US law enforcement could access; something that is neither technologically nor logistically possible.  Apart from not being possible, it's very obviously not desirable as it would make everyone less safe.

The FBI took their insanely stupid & nonsensical proposal to Congress.  Hilariously ignorant phrases were uttered there.  A sampling of them is below.

Amy Hess, the FBI's executive assistant director for science & technology said the following amazingly ignorant things:

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US Congress Hearings on Encryption Technology Are Disastrous for the FBI

The US government held hearings this week on encryption technology, and discussed both the merits of encryption and privacy, and the dangers of inaccessible data. The meeting was to broach the idea of allowing federal agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA access to the data of all American software by mandating that back doors be built into all current and future technology created by Americans.

Here is a full video of the hearing:

This hearing is interesting because the members of congress on the panel seem to be well informed on the issues of creating backdoors, and seem to be strongly opposed to mass surveillance as well as the huge economic fallout that would occur from a loss in the trust of American products.

Here is a full transcript of the meeting with the most important parts in bold.

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It's Official - Net Neutrality Returns to the United States on June 12th 2015

The official timer has begun on the return of net neutrality to the US. The full set of rule changes was posted to the Federal Register yesterday and the rules will become effective on June 12th 2015. The sweeping changes reclassify internet providers as common carriers which puts them under new rules that do not allow them to discriminate on traffic based on its type of data or its destination.

At this point, the only avenue left for the telecom and cable industries is to try to tear things down in court and to get an injunction on the rule change within the next 59 days. There can also be an act of congress to reduce the authority of the FCC, but political experts say any legislation would be unlikely to pass as president Obama has threatened to veto any proposed laws that will negate net neutrality.

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John Oliver Interviews Edward Snowden in Russia

Last week tonight with John Oliver interviewed Edward Snowden to talk about the issue of surveillance.

The full interview can be seen here:

It was an atypical interview (as always) and John focused on the issue of getting Americans to care about the issue. In a depressing series of questions to random people in New York City, Americans had no idea who Edward Snowden was, what he did, or the impact of his actions. Some people even confused him with Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame.

John jokingly interrupted Snowden during the interview, pressing Snowden on the issue that as soon as you get technical in your explanations or cite complex legal documents, Americans stop caring about the issue. It is comedy, but it is a very poignant way to look at how Americans view the issue.

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The FCC Releases the Full Text of It's New Net Neutrality Rules -- an Overview

The US Federal Communications Commission finally released it's finalized set of new regulations that encompass internet service providers, wireless carriers, and internet backbone carriers. The new rules are designed to restore the net neutrality authority that the FCC lost by legislative challenge in 2013.

The FCC seeks to restore its authority by reclassifying the internet as a utility, also known as "Title II Reclassification" which is what advocates for net neutrality overwhelmingly desired.

The full text is available here (warning, it is 400 pages of government-grade legalese):

We will provide a broad overview and the best layman explanations below.

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FCC Reclassifies Internet Carriers As Utilities -- Net Neutrality is Here to Stay

In a major victory to citizens worldwide, the Federal Communications Commission just announced that they will reclassify the Internet as a utility. This gives the FCC the power to enforce rules on how the internet works, specifically it allows them to ban slowing down any services on the internet.

The change will place bans on blocking services, throttling services, or creating "fast lanes" for services that pay a premium. It is in response to major events over the last few years that have led to a need for legislation or regulatory change.

Some of the more visible events have been: Netflix has been bullied into peering agreements with Comcast and Verizon, Comcast has been caught blocking the Bittorrent protocol, multiple cellular carriers have throttled and blocked streaming content, data caps have led to throttling of content, and finally the one that impacts VikingVPN directly: Some ISPs have throttled OpenVPN services.

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Reddit to Make Big Donations to Privacy Organizations

A Reddit contest has raised large sums of money for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Free Software Foundation, and The Tor Project Inc. The contest was based on votes by the community for the causes that they cared about, and the top 10 votes will receive donations directly from Reddit. The total sum is 10% of Reddit's ad revenue for 2014.

This means that almost a quarter of a million dollars will be distributed to the EFF, the FSF, and Tor equally.

It shows that privacy is a cause that Redditors as a community deeply care about, and the funding will help those organizations to fight for the right to privacy for everyone. These organizations defend the internet from the increasing threat of intrusive marketing and illegal government and corporate spying.

Congratulations to the EFF, the FSF, and Tor for the influx in funds to help them operate and thrive!

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