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Privacy Crime Encryption The Internet Your Rights Online

Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist 720

schwit1 passes on this snippet from Public Intelligence: "A flyer designed by the FBI and the Department of Justice to promote suspicious activity reporting in internet cafes lists basic tools used for online privacy as potential signs of terrorist activity. The document, part of a program called 'Communities Against Terrorism,' lists the use of 'anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address' as a sign that a person could be engaged in or supporting terrorist activity. The use of encryption is also listed as a suspicious activity along with steganography, the practice of using 'software to hide encrypted data in digital photos' or other media. In fact, the flyer recommends that anyone 'overly concerned about privacy' or attempting to 'shield the screen from view of others' should be considered suspicious and potentially engaged in terrorist activities. ... The use of PGP, VPNs, Tor or any of the many other technologies for anonymity and privacy online are directly targeted by the flyer, which is distributed to businesses in an effort to promote the reporting of these activities."
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Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist

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  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:08PM (#38904697)

    I remember the loathsome brochures passed around in the Government during the Reagan / G.H.W. Bush drug wars years. They basically boiled down to

    - anyone acting strangely might be on drugs, and
    - anyone not acting strangely might be on drugs, and covering it up.

    Sounds like the DOJ is falling down the same rathole once again.

  • a home based ISP? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:11PM (#38904759)

    If you login to you comcast webmail you may be a terrorist?

  • Code? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bucky24 ( 1943328 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:11PM (#38904761)
    "Suspicious or coded writings, use of code word sheets, cryptic ledgers, etc"

    To the average citizen, most programming languages would fit this.
  • by madhatter256 ( 443326 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:13PM (#38904785)

    My grand parents knew friends who were arrested as they were suspected communists during the witch hunt years McArthur was going after people who simply had an opinion about the government...

  • Working = Terrorism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wamoc ( 1263324 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:13PM (#38904809)
    So this means that anytime I am at a public place and fire up a VPN to access work materials I am engaged in terrorist activities? Hopefully tech companies will shed some light over how absurd the FBI and DoJ are being on this.
  • Fake (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reservoir Penguin ( 611789 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:25PM (#38905009)
    This is obviously a fake flyer, where is your sense of humour people? Mention "Tripwire", seriously?
  • by Morris Thorpe ( 762715 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:28PM (#38905055)

    There's a news story in Ann Arbor in which a pediatrician is accused of peeping involving a minor. Police confiscated his computer based on the investigation. That's great and I'm glad they caught the guy.

    But....after analyzing his computer, the cops presented the "evidence" they found.
    The detective was (can't find the news story right now, sorry) quoted as listing images, an electronic receipt to a child porn site and....the fact that the doctor deleted cookies and added other privacy measures to his browsing! The quote assumed that he must have been up to no good if he was careful about his privacy.

    More telling. Out of the 200-plus comments on the story, none referenced this.

  • Re:Code? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:28PM (#38905063) Journal

    According to Esperantist legend, when Zamenhof (the initial creator of the Esperanto language) went to medical school, his father found his initial work notes on the language and burned it all, fearing that it was evidence that young Zamenhof was a spy.

    This was in 1881, according to the sources I could find. So the "OMG SEECRET CODEZ" panic is well over a century old, at least.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:29PM (#38905091)

    There are some people who are simply intensly private. Nothing to hide, no borderline paranoia, no affairs, no extreme opinions political, religious or any other kind. You know. Average. Introverts.

    I remember once I found a website translating strings into binary code. Used to chat with my brother like that for weeks. We both have laptops, and travel, not frequently, but enough to encrypt the hard drives. I might buy another laptop if I lose it, and lose forever the data on it, but nobody else gets to access my mail or other websites accounts, and other things, like work or personal projects.

    There's this thing called identity theft in case you haven't heard of it. Dumbass cops. Suits or uniforms, they're the same damn stock.

  • Ask for it by name. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by utkonos ( 2104836 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:30PM (#38905105)
    I see that the FBI still has a rock hard boner because of the Anarchist Cookbook.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:53PM (#38905445) Homepage

    A useful metric for law enforcement organizations is what fraction of their work is self-generated, and what fraction is complaint-driven. When a police department responds to a call to 911 or a crime report, they're performing a service function. When they run a drug sting, they're doing self-generated work. Some self-generated law enforcement work is useful and necessary, but too much of it corrupts an organization.

    The FBI was traditionally complaint-driven. Historically, their self-generated work didn't go well. The Red Squads and the investigation of the civil rights movement of the Hoover era are historical examples.

    The FBI's anti-terrorism operation is mostly self-generated work. So is their Internet operation. (40% of FBI Internet investigative resources are devoted to kiddie porn. Most of the rest is "national security". Fraud on the Internet, about 4%. The FBI is soft on Internet fraud - stopping that takes real work, and results are measurable.)

    Measurability is the big issue here. On their complaint-based work, law enforcement success rates are easily measured. There were N bank robberies last year, and the people who did M of them were caught. Success rate: M / N. Running a law enforcement operation on that basis keeps it productive and honest. Metrics for self-generated police work tend to be less meaningful. The US has had so little terrorism in the last decade that metrics for that are mostly have an N of zero.

    Measurability was William Bratton's approach. Bratton headed the Boston PD, the NYPD, and the LAPD, and is generally considered to have improved all of them. He was big on measuring results, and put in systems to track, on a daily basis, how his cops were doing against crooks. There was a lot of software and mapping involved, and twice-weekly crime strategy meetings. In a big department, it was quite possible to have a whole crime spree before someone at the command level noticed a pattern. He fixed that. Focusing his cops on solving identified problems tended to keep his departments pointed in the right direction.

  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:57PM (#38905513) Journal

    It's worse than that Jim!

    They hired an evil professor to design an entire literature class about How To Implement Big Brother.

    Animal Farm
    Brave New World
    Minority Report
    Fahrenheit 451
    Harrison Bergeron (short story)

    Your choice of five more.

    Maybe some cop porn would make up for it though.

  • Re:Fake (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:06PM (#38905707)

    "FBI Zeroes In on Potential Terrorists: Operation Tripwire standardizes field offices' handling of clues to locate 'sleeper cells.'"
    http://articles.latimes.com/2003/dec/13/nation/na-tripwire13 [latimes.com]

    "Operation Tripwire: Montgomery County Police Department - Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities" (37 page manual)
    http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/pol/districts/ISB/sid/ViceIntelligence/operationtripwirewebready.pdf [montgomerycountymd.gov]

    "To identify potential terrorist sleeper cells, Operation Tripwire commissions all JTTFs to ask specific questions of specific industries (e.g., suspicious behavior of airline passengers) then looks for patterns from the collected data. We're collecting and analyzing data on radicalism in prisons. We're coordinating new initiatives for railroads and cruise ships."

    http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2004/july/njttf070204 [fbi.gov]

  • Re:Chicken or egg? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:15PM (#38905877) Homepage

    Founding Fathers were largely considered to be terrorists by the British.

    My personal definition of terrorists is one who targets and attacks civilians.

    Hijacking the planes, an act of terrorism.
    Crashing planes into the Twin Towers, an act of terrorism.
    Crashing planes into the Pentagon, a legitimate act of war.

    Had 9-11 involved a UPS cargo plane being crashed into the Pentagon I would not have called them terrorists.

    Bombing of the U.S.S. Cole was not an act of terrorism, it was an act of partisan warfare.

  • by Mista2 ( 1093071 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:57PM (#38907591)

    Personal encryption is not easy on a PC, but remarkably hard on common mobile devices. I still dont know of any easy to use system for supporting PGP on my iPad/iPhone, or even on Android. I do have an app that can decode PGP blobs, but it is such a painn having to copy and paste between the apps.
    Why cant this be built in to the mail clients?
    The answer is the same reason governments are scared of RIMs encrypted BB mail system. They cant back door it, so they hope it doesnt gain wide acceptance.
    Want to run your browser in private mode and do not track - this actually stands out in the crowd making it easier to see you because noone else is making a stealth attempt, and forever-cookies just ignore the request to not track anyway.
    But dont worry, when you walk down the street in most cities now you are going to show up on someones CCTV, and blimp drones can over for months over a city, or anywhere of interest. You have no expenctation to privacy in your own back yard according to the cops now. ANd they dont need a warrant to place a GPS on your car if they do it while parked out in the open. The only place they cant do it is in your own garage. Your driveway is however fair game. And requesting your cell traffic logs - trivial. They can even st up a spoof cell tower without a warrant, catching their target AND every other innocent cell phone that is in range.
    Get stopped for a random breath test, and the cops can rip the contents of your mobile for whatever reason, just like they can ask you to pop the trunk for whatever reason.
    Broder security in the US can conficate any encrypted device if you refuse to decrypt it to show them whtats on it, and your mail can be pulled from GMail if stored form more than 6 months as this is considered Abandoned, even if you are contantly accessing it with iMap.
    It's harder than ever to protect you privacy, and this in no way will stop the next terrorist parking a truck full of fertiliser outside a federal building if they are insane enough. Welcome to America - land of the free.

  • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @06:54PM (#38909255)

    Maybe you have stumbled on how to the privacy problem. Create an open source, open project that puts the private lives of guys like Schmidt and Zuckerberg on line 24/7, so that they can't even go to the John without everyone knowing if its #1 or #2. Let cameras, cell phones, video recorders, monitor the activities of their family and friends 24/7. Better yet turn the entire exercise into a reality TV show and give prizes for the best submissions.

    I don't know why, but I have this feeling that all of a sudden they would begin to have a different perspective with regard to online privacy.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @08:28PM (#38910271) Homepage

    You know what I don't mind abandoning privacy but I have to look corporations and governments in the eye and say 'YOU FUCKING FIRST'.

    That's what it really all boils down to, if corporations are going to keep secrets and not tell me anything I want to know, well, that's pretty much rock solid evidence that they are not to be trusted. So measure of harm, which is likely to be more damaging and risky, me keeping secrets or corporations keeping secrets. Reality than is who should be first to give up secrecy individuals or corporations.

    Now lets look at governments, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning anyone. This is unto itself damming evidence that government should not be trusted with too many if any secrets at all. The individuals within government, those actual, lying cheating and stealing political appointees and those dissembling politicians who routinely lie with false claims of national security are proof that's its a top down change in rules about secrecy that is required not bottom up.

    I gather from this report that the FBI is making a public statement that the 'far too many secrets keeping government of the United States of America', can not be trusted and is very likely a terrorist organisation.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein