open standards, open designs, free software, free hardware, and decentralization

Standard

I was watching a Democracy Now segment this morning, “We Do Not Live in a Free Country”: Jacob Applebaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance, and was inspired to learn more about (the adorable) Applebaum and his work as a hacker, activist, computer security researcher, and chief developer of the TOR project. Personal tidbits aside, here are some tools/technologies he has helped bring to my attention. In an era of rampant state surveillance and cyber spying (see FBI Seizes Riseup Email Network Server and CISPA Critics Warn Cybersecurity Bill Will Increase Domestic Surveillance and Violate Privacy Rights) I am ever grateful to the brilliant nerds (and I mean this most lovingly), who know how to build these.

TOR, an anonymity network, ensures every person “has the right to read without restriction and the right to speak freely with no exception” [1]. TOR client software routes Internet traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers in order to conceal a user’s location or usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using TOR makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity, including visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages and other communication forms, back to the user, and is “intended to protect users’ personal freedom, privacy, and ability to conduct confidential business by keeping their internet activities from being monitored” [2]. The TOR client is free software and use of the TOR network is free of charge.

During the Linux Conference Australia (LCA) 2012, Jacob mentioned TextSecure, which allows encrypted text messaging between Android phones. He also mentioned FreedomBox, the GNOME project, the Ada Initiative (what does freedom mean, he asked, if half of our population is oppressed?), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. At the end of his talk, he said, securing freedom will require “a dedication to open standards, open designs, free software, free hardware, and decentralization” [3].

*ACLU on CISPA

1. “We Do Not Live in a Free Country”: Jacob Applebaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance

2. Wikipedia

3. LCA: Jacob Applebaum on Surveillance and Censorship

UPDATE 4/19/2013 via DemocracyNow

House Passes CISPA Despite Obama Veto Threat 

House lawmakers have passed a controversial cybersecurity bill that allows companies to share customer information with the government. The Obama administration has threatened a veto of CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, following public pressure from critics who say it would violate privacy rights. CISPA passed the House last year but was filibustered in the Senate. Companies including AT&T and Comcast have backed it, while critics including the American Civil Liberties Union mobilized against CISPA, saying it would “create a loophole in all existing privacy laws, allowing companies to share Internet users’ data with the National Security Agency, part of the Department of Defense, and the biggest spy agency in the world — without any legal oversight.”

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