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Someone Built a Tool To Get Congress' Browser History (vice.com) 68

A software engineer in North Carolina has created a new plugin that lets website administrators monitor when someone accesses their site from an IP address associated with the federal government. It was created in part to protest a measure signed by President Trump in April that allows internet service providers to sell sensitive information about your online habits without needing your consent. Motherboard reports: A new tool created by Matt Feld, the founder of several nonprofits including Speak Together, could help the public get a sense of what elected officials are up to online. Feld, a software engineer working in North Carolina, created Speak Together to share "technical projects that could be used to reduce the opaqueness between government and people," he told Motherboard over the phone. "It was born out of just me trying to get involved and finding the process to be confusing." The tool lets website administrators track whether members of Congress, the Senate, White House staff, or Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff are looking at their site. If you use Feld's plug-in, you'll be able to see whether someone inside government is reading your blog. You won't be able to tell if President Trump viewed a web page, but you will be able to see that it was someone using an IP address associated with the White House. The tool works similarly to existing projects like CongressEdits, an automated Twitter account that tweets whenever a Wikipedia page is edited from IP addresses associated with Congress.

Someone Built a Tool To Get Congress' Browser History

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  • Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @09:00AM (#54608745)

    I just hope he will donate that tool free of charge to pornhub if they give him the data they collect.

  • Now all we need is a tool to signal every time somebody from the Congress uses TOR.

  • I mean, I didn't vote for the guy, but that's all the news there is here now

  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_saint1138 ( 1353335 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @09:15AM (#54608815)

    This does not have anything to do with Congress' browser histories.

    This tool makes it easier to determine if Congress visits YOUR WEBSITE ONLY.

    This info is in the summary, but come on SlashDot, there is no need for the clickbait headlines.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Swedish version of this called Creeper [gnuheter.com] has existed since 2007.

  • Hilarious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @09:29AM (#54608893)

    This is good. The website end has always been able to store visitor information and do whatever the hell it wants with it. So, this guy writes a tool that uses the #1 privacy invasion in the world today to protest letting ISPs store which IP addresses clients on your home network connect to, which doesn't even crack the top 100, thanks to SSL and browsers pushing auto-SSL.

    Just for comparison, Facebook knows who you are, where you live, what and where you like to eat, who your friends are, what your politics are, what websites you visit, what products you purchase, and everything else about you. What does you ISP know about you? They know that you spend a lot of time on Facebook.

    Oh, but Zuckerberg is a progressive and Trump is a Republican. Everyone get your pitchforks and torches so we can go protest the second one.

    • Re:Hilarious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @09:36AM (#54608927)

      I can avoid using Facebook.

      I cannot avoid using my ISP.

      • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kainosnous ( 1753770 ) <slashdot@anewmind.me> on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @10:23AM (#54609207)

        I can avoid using Facebook.

        I cannot avoid using my ISP.

        You can use a VPN to hide your traffic from your ISP. They would only know when and how much your location makes connections. VPN technology is pretty easy to setup and is generally good for security.

        On the other hand, to block Facebook, you would have to null route their hostnames. That can become a chore. Even if you don't intend to visit Facebook, unless they are null routed somehow, simply surfing most popular sites will connect you to Facebook. And that's just one site. There's tons of other trackers on the web, and most people couldn't even name a few of them. Yes, there are tools to restrict these, but they aren't as effective as a simple VPN.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That just makes you VPN provider your ISP in the same sense.

    • Re:Hilarious (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @10:04AM (#54609065)

      Trump is a Republican.

      Trump may be many things be he isn't a Republican. The Republican Party was a convenient tool for him to use for his own ends; but in the end he only cares about what is best for Trump, the Republican Party or anyone else be damned. If destroying the Republican Party enables him to get the adulation he so desperately craves he'll be the first to toss on gasoline and light a match.

    • Just for comparison, Facebook knows who you are, where you live, what and where you like to eat, who your friends are, what your politics are, what websites you visit, what products you purchase, and everything else about you.

      I can safely say that facebook knows very little about me. Everything they know about me is either from harvested public records or something someone else has written. Being uncool has been very easy and saved me a lot of money on electronics that spy on you.

      What does you ISP know about you?

      Far more than they should.

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      Orgasmatron stated:

      Just for comparison, Facebook knows who you are, where you live, what and where you like to eat, who your friends are, what your politics are, what websites you visit, what products you purchase, and everything else about you.

      Yeah, about that: if you use NoScript, you can use the following user script in its Application Boundary Enforcer (NoScript/Options/Advanced/ABE) subsection to block Facebook scripts from operating on other websites:

      Site .facebook.com .fbcdn.net
      Accept from .facebook.com .fbcdn.net
      Deny INCLUSION(SCRIPT, OBJ, SUBDOC)

      That, plus denying third-party cookies should do a reasonable job of keeping Mr. Zuckerberg's nose out of your non-Facebook browsing.

  • by ard ( 115977 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @09:33AM (#54608909)

    So here's an existing system tracking Media and government access in Sweden:

    https://mediacreeper.com/index
    http://gnuheter.com/creeper/senaste

    Basically, you put the 'creeper' tag on your home page, and it logs accesses from netblocks known to be used by media and gov't.

    • I'll bet that works fine until the media adds "mediacreeper.com" to their ad-block blacklist, or block it on their corporate proxies.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    An IP address "associated" with the federal government could be just about anybody. You can bet that the media will try to pin every visit to a disreputable web site on President Trump personally, though. I am not a big Trump fan, but the vitriol against him has reached epidemic proportions. Gee, I wonder if any Democrats get caught up in this "Dragnet" and that it will be reported in the media anywhere? Sounds like more fake news where the conspiracy theorists have a field day with no direct evidence whats
  • I think that this sort of thing is a good argument in favor of the legislation change. This collecting of information was not enabled by the change. This is something that people could have done anyway, and still can do, and even the ISPs could have used similar technology already.

    I'm not saying that it isn't bad for ISPs to sell info. I'm not in favor of the big ISPs, but I believe they are what they are because of government intervention, and not in spite of it. Also, this legislation doesn't explicitly

  • Just a tool? Surely you meant wrote an AI?
  • TFA doesn't say... Then again, IT reporting is difficult stuff.

  • So you can find out what elected officials get up to online... or what regular people do when they slack off at work, if their work happens to be a government agency.

  • What the hell is the difference between this and the normal logs produced by the web server?

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