Archive | Internet Security RSS feed for this section

Act Now: Call Congress right away – Protest Internet Censorship!

16 Dec

http://getyourcensoron.com/china.html

Are we becoming a police state? Five things that have civil liberties advocates nervous

10 Dec

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/the-daily-need/are-we-becoming-a-police-state-five-things-that-have-civil-liberties-advocates-nervous/12563/

December 7, 2011

Oakland police officers in riot gear line Frank H. Ogawa plaza, the site of an Occupy Wall Street encampment, Tuesday, Oct. 25. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Is our Constitution under siege?

Many civil liberties advocates fear it might be. They’re worried about a provision tucked into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, approved by the Senate last week, that would allow the military to detain without a trial any American citizen accused of being a terrorist, or of supporting terrorists who plot attacks against the United States. The ACLU called the proposal “an extreme position that will forever change our country.”

The indefinite detention provision is just one of many trends in policing and law enforcement that have civil liberties advocates alarmed. New external threats, as well as technological advancements, are posing new challenges to our Constitutional rights, advocates say. Policymakers are debating those issues in Congress and in the courts right now, and the decisions they make could have fundamental consequences for what it means to be an American.

Here are five issues that are especially worrisome to civil liberties watchdogs:

 

1. Indefinite military detentions of U.S. citizens

The provision, part of the bill that authorizes Pentagon spending for 2012, was drafted by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and has bipartisan support in the Senate. The thinking, according to supporters, is that “America is part of the battlefield” in the so-called war on terror, as Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire put it, so Americans should be fair game when it comes to finding and arresting terrorists.

The bill, however, takes the power to arrest and detain terrorists away from law enforcement officials, like the police or FBI, and gives it to the military, which, under the law, would have the power to imprison an American who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” indefinitely, “without trial until the end of the hostilities.” And those hostilities aren’t likely to “end” any time soon, since the law that authorizes the use of military force against terrorists has no expiration date.

2. Targeting U.S. citizens for killing

Last week, lawyers for the Obama administration defended for the first time the administration’s decision to target radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, for killing. Awlawki, who was born in New Mexico, was killed in an American missile strike in September; the ACLU has criticized the targeted killing program as blatantly violating the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees that no American citizen shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

At a national security conference last week, the lawyers for the Obama administration, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, said American citizens are legitimate targets for killing when they take up arms against the U.S., according to the Associated Press. Jameel Jaffer, a deputy legal director for the ACLU, said in an interview in September that the targeted killing program sets up a precedent in which “U.S. citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government.”

3. Arresting witnesses for recording police actions

The raids at Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country have earned media attention primarily for their glaring instances of police brutality. But they’ve also tested the boundaries of police authority when it comes to limiting media access to police operations. As many as 30 journalists have been arrested covering Occupy protests, including many who clearly identified themselves as credentialed members of the media. Officials in New York and L.A., for example, have also tried to tightly restrict media access to the Occupy encampments, setting up barricades far away from the actual raids and allowing only hand-picked journaliststo go behind police lines.

Civil liberties advocates have decried these tactics as attempts to stifle media coverage of the raids. But the media blackouts are representative of a broader trend in law enforcement in recent years in which the police have been arresting citizens simply for recording official police actions in public places. Twelve states, for example, have adopted “eavesdropping” laws that prohibit people from videotaping police actions without the officers’ consent. And in California, police officials have openly stated that they will arrest people taking photographs without “apparent esthetic value” if those people seem suspicious. Several courts have ruled these policies unconstitutional.

4. Using GPS to track your every move

The Supreme Court is scheduled to rule soon on a case that could have far-reaching consequences for privacy in the 21st Century. The justices were asked to decide whether the police could use GPS devices to track people suspected of crimes without first obtaining a warrant. Police across the country use GPS devices to track the movements of thousands of criminal suspects every year, but critics say the practice violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

In oral arguments in November, several justices expressed concern that, as technology improves, the power to track a U.S. citizens’ every move would only become more dangerous. “If you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States,” Justice Stephen Breyer told the lawyer for the Justice Department, which is defending warrantless GPS tracking. That, Breyer added, “sounds like ’1984.’”

5. Surveillance drones spying on American soil

The use of drones to spy on states like Pakistan and Iran has become so popular in national security circles that many domestic law enforcement agencies are now considering using these spy planes to conduct covert surveillance on American soil. Drones are already used to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, but now many police officials across the country are advocating for the use of drones in other types of police actions, like hunting fugitives, finding missing children and monitoring protest movements.

These drones, advocates note, can not only monitor large urban expanses, they can also use artificial intelligence “seek out and record certain types of suspicious behavior,” whatever that may be. The Orlando police, for example, initially requested two spy drones to help police the Republican National Convention next year, before changing their minds for budgetary reasons. Some police officials have even openly discussed arming the spy planes with “non-lethal weapons” like Tasers or bean bag guns.

These drones, and other tactics imported from battlefield to American soil, are an example of how the “war on terror” has threatened core protections guaranteed to American citizens by the Constitution, civil liberties advocates say. The erosion of these protections has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike. And, as the ACLU put it, the debate over these tactics “goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans.”

Last modified: December 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down

9 Dec

http://www.pcworld.com/article/218155/get_internet_access_when_your_government_shuts_it_down.html

Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut.

By Patrick Miller, David DawPCWorld    Jan 28, 2011 5:50 pm

Revolutionary How-Tos
Revolutionary How-Tos

What to do when your government shuts down your Internet access and other useful tools.

  1. Take Your Tech Off the Grid
  2. Start A Revolution With Your Personal Tech

These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it’s organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we’ve seen in Egypt, that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you’re trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can’t rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.

Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi

Even if you’ve managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won’t be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can’t get online to find you. If you’re trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can’t rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network of sorts–essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you’re in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn’t really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop.

However, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make good use of Daihinia ($25, 30-day free trial), an app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we haven’t tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring each device on the network to be within range of the original access point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.

Advanced freedom fighters can set up a portal Web page on their network that explains the way the setup works, with Daihinia instructions and a local download link so they can spread the network even further. Lastly, just add a Bonjour-compatible chat client likePidgin or iChat, and you’ll be able to talk to your neighbors across the city without needing an Internet connection.

Back to Basics

Remember when you stashed your old modems in the closet because you thought you might need them some day? In the event of a total communications blackout–as we’re seeing in Egypt, for example–you’ll be glad you did. Older and simpler tools, like dial-up Internet or even ham radio, could still work, since these “abandoned” tech avenues aren’t being policed nearly as hard.

In order to get around the total shutdown of all of the ISPs within Egypt, several international ISPs are offering dial-up access to the Internet to get protesters online, since phone service is still operational. It’s slow, but it still works–the hard part is getting the access numbers without an Internet connection to find them.

Unfortunately, such dial-up numbers can also be fairly easily shut down by the Egyptian government, so you could also try returning to FidoNet–a distributed networking system for BBSes that was popular in the 1980s. FidoNet is limited to sending only simple text messages, and it’s slow, but it has two virtues: Users connect asynchronously, so the network traffic is harder to track, and any user can act as the server, which means that even if the government shuts down one number in the network, another one can quickly pop up to take its place.

You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create an ad-hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio, since the signals are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of these efforts are still getting off the ground, but hackers are already cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into and out of the country.

Always Be Prepared

In the land of no Internet connection, the man with dial-up is king. Here are a few gadgets that you could use to prepare for the day they cut the lines.

Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio, a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don’t try to stream any videos with this, now), but it’s exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar.

In response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated shutdown. Bre Pettis, founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor and creator of the Makerbot 3D printer, has called for “Apps for the Appocalypse,” including a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to the Internet. If his comments are any indication, Appocalypse apps may be headed your way soon.

Tons of cool tech are also just waiting to be retrofitted for these purposes. David Dart’s Pirate Box is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file sharing and local P2P purposes, but it wouldn’t take much work to adapt the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the event of an Internet shutdown.

Whether you’re in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with these apps, tools, and techniques, you won’t have to worry about anyone–even your government–keeping you from doing just that.

Patrick Miller hopes he isn’t first against the wall when the revolution comes. Find him on Twitter orFacebook–if you have a working Internet connection, anyway.

David Daw is an accidental expert in ad-hoc networks since his apartment gets no cell reception. Find him on Twitter or send him a ham radio signal.