Groklaw falls victim to the NSA…

Groklaw, an award-winning legal news website has stopped work, saying it cannot operate under current US surveillance policies.  Pamela Jones, Groklaw founder, cited the alleged US practice of screening emails from abroad and storing messages “enciphered or otherwise thought to contain secret meaning” for five years.  Groklaw had promised its sources anonymity, but said it could not now ensure contributors would stay secret.  A screenshot of the Groklaw websitePeople, remember when I said: “…privacy is something you make for yourself…”?  We all know the NSA is snooping around and now we’re seeing fallout from it.  “There is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad,” Ms Jones wrote, adding: “There is now no shield from forced exposure.”  Ms Jones suggested that the anonymity of Groklaw contributors could be at risk, since emails were screened by the US government.  “I can’t do Groklaw without your input,” she said. “There is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate.”  London-based patent lawyer Andrew Alton, of Urquhart-Dykes and Lord, said: “Groklaw has been a great resource because it brings together all the available documents, instead of reading second or third hand analysis.  “I understand why Ms Jones has decided it cannot continue.  “There is a danger that, by encouraging people to contribute, those individuals might be incriminating themselves.”  As the Villainous VooDoo has warned before, Big Brother Obama is listening.  Had enough yet?

UPDATE – 09/16/13 – Interesting reading on the subject.

Encryption App Silent Circle Shuts Down…

The communications encryptions firm ‘Silent Circle’ chose to shut down it’s e-mail service as one if its competitors ‘Lavabit’ recently shut down it’s core email service.  Lavabit cited that he had been the subject of a U.S. government investigation and gag order.  It appears the NSA came knocking and instead of fighting for our disappearing privacy rights, Lavabit decided to fold.  Silent-Circle-screenshot5Co-founder and CTO Jon Callas said in a blog post Friday that Silent Circle’s e-mail service had “always been something of a quandary for us.” This, in spite of the fact that one of Silent Circle’s other co-founder is Phil Zimmermann, inventor of the popular e-mail encryption software PGP.  Electronic mail uses standard internet protocols that cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communication has, Callas said. “Email as we know it with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP cannot be secure.”

“We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Yesterday, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they ‘be complicit in crimes against the American people.’ We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail.”  Callas said Silent Circle had not received subpoenas, warrants or anything other similar request from any government. The company had been debating what to do about its email service for weeks, and up until Friday was ready to phase the service out so that it would continue for existing customers. “It is always better to be safe than sorry,” Callas said.  What he meant was “…better whipped and submissive than free…”

Friends, this is truly sad.  On a daily basis, I see our rights and liberties evaporating due to the efforts of our government and it’s agencies that LIE to us and SPY on us, all under the banner of Social Reform.  This post show that a society that fears and distrusts it’s own leaders cannot thrive.  Had enough yet?

UPDATE – 08/15/13 – Monterey-based Privato Security sped up the launch of its email service.  “I think it is a golden opportunity for us,” CEO Neal Smith, 68, said Tuesday.  Privato works by sending an email to a cloud server, an Internet-based storage system, where it stays — heavily encrypted — until the recipient downloads it, instantly deleting it from the server.  Check it out.

UPDATE – 08/16/13 – NBC reports that senior US Attorney James Trump sent Lavabit founder Ladar Levison and his lawyer a veiled arrest threat when Levison shut down his private email service (used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden) rather than comply with a secret order to spy on his customers.  More interesting reading on the subject here.

UPDATE – 08/23/13 – Ladar Levison, the owner of the now-shuttered encrypted email service used by Edward Snowden said that he will continue to defend online security free of government surveillance, hopefully with success in courts or a possible move of his company overseas.

UPDATE – 08/29/13 – Usage for Tor doubles in wake of secure email shutdowns.

UPDATE – 09/16/13 – Interesting reading on the subject.


Looks like Edward Snowden has leaked another little tidbit about the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.  According to The Guardian, the NSA taps all you do online and XKeyscore is the program they use to do it.  This program essentially makes available everything you’ve ever done on the Internet – browsing history, searches, content of your emails, online chats, even your metadata – available without any prior authorization — no warrant, no court clearance, no signature on a dotted line. snowdenSome NSA flunky simply plugs in a private email address, and seconds later, your online history is no longer private.  That is more power than government should have over its own people.  XKeyscore is the second black mark on the NSA’s record in the past few weeks. The Guardian’s first story uncovered PRISM, a highly controversial surveillance program that reportedly allows the security agency to access the servers of major Internet organizations including Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, YouTube and Skype, among others.  As I mentioned on a previous post, you should have no expectation of privacy when communicating digitally.  There are however, steps you can take to limit what is collected about you.  I’ve started using the Startpage search engine rather than Google.  StartPage combines the powerful search results of Google with the strong privacy features of Ixquick, the world’s most private search engine.  No IP addresses are stored, no personal data is gathered or passed on to third parties, and no identifying cookies are placed on your browser. Startpage also offers secure SSL encryption, a proxy option that allows anonymous web surfing, full third-party certification, and numerous other privacy features.  I recommend switching to Startpage immediately.  FYI, work continues on the Villainous VooDoo data encryption solution; stay tuned…

UPDATE – 08/21/13 – A new report by the Wall Street Journal says the NSA “has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic.” And while the NSA is only supposed to “target” foreigners, the NSA sometimes “retains the written content of e-mails sent between citizens within the U.S.”

Privacy is something you have to make for yourself…

Whistleblower Edward Snowden claims that American & multinational telecom companies collaborate with the NSA.  Well Duh!  Of course!, do you really think the NSA needs to collaborate with anyone to read your email?  Let’s get real; you should have no expectation of privacy when communicating digitally.  Period.  There are steps you can take to secure your online presence and while some methods work better than others, I prefer Tor.  As for your data, any fully vetted public-key cryptosystem such as PGP (with an appropriate key length) should meet most peoples needs.  Most people.  For those of you looking to up your game in data encryption, the Villainous VooDoo has been hard at work on something.  Stay tuned…

UPDATE – 08/16/13 – It seems the NSA has been quite busy infringing on our privacy rights.  A newly leaked NSA audit documents 2,776 violations of privacy rules or court orders, mostly involving unauthorized collection of data on Americans or eavesdropping on foreign intelligence targets who entered the United States.  Watch what you say, big brother is listening…

UPDATE – 08/21/13 – A new report by the Wall Street Journal says the NSA relies on extensive collaboration with domestic telecommunications companies to get access to Internet traffic. “The programs, code-named Blarney, Fairview, Oakstar, Lithium and Stormbrew, among others, filter and gather information at major telecommunications companies.” Filtering occurs at more than a dozen “major Internet junctions.”

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