Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

HOPE X: Community Infrastructure for FOSS Projects

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

James Vasile, Open Internet Tools Project

Infrastructure is any mechanism that helps developers and users engage. OpenITP believes that community infrastructure should come from the community. We're used to infrastructure like roads: someone else builds and maintains it. A lot of FOSS projects build their own infrastructure and wind up repeating efforts and not doing a great job of it.

OpenITP tries to find a middle ground between building infrastructure and everyone fending for themselves. They do this by coordinating between projects with similar needs.

Projects need more than just code to succeed:

HOPE X: Ethical Questions and Best Practices for Service Providers in the Post-Snowden Era

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Nicholas Merrill, Calyx Internet Access, @nickcalyx
Ladar Levison, Lavabit
Declan McCullagh, @declanm

FBI Agents asked Ladar to turn over his SSL key. This meant 1. that the SSL key belonged to the provider, not the user; 2. that they would need to decrypt everyone's communication to find what they wee looking for; 3. that was beyond what he felt he could morally do. It was even worse, that he was prevented from telling anyone about the request.

Question: Could you talk to an attorney?

Ladar: Because the request was tied to criminal investigation, I was able to consult an attorney. If it's a classified warrant you need permission from the FBI before contacting a lawyer. He wanted to talk to others to get more information about these types of requests, but he couldn't.

Question: If you start a big company. What do you do when a government agency asks to tap your metadata, you appeal and you lose?

HOPE X: Hacking Money

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Finn Brunton

Begins by saying money is something that you can, and should, hack on. He speculates that the theme of the next century will be "infrastructural struggles for autonomy." Infrastructural: low level standards, licenses, etc. rather than wars. Autonomy: self-government, decentralization, etc. He sees money as one of the primary theaters where this will happen.

What is money? A puzzle. Cowry shell fossils from the Indian Ocean were found in West Africa. How did they get there? They were traded as money. They were an integral part of the West African slave trade. You can't use them for anything with them once you have them, except for use them as jewelry. But jewelry is a high bandwidth signal of social status, used to cement social bonds. We can think of it like a page rank. They represent power, power that can be traded.

The Knights Hospitaller in Malta were granted the right to mint money. They funded military operations by minting coins that could later be redeemed for silver when the fighting was done.

HOPE X: SecureDrop: A WikiLeaks in Every Newsroom

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Garrett Robinson, Security and Privacy Engineer, Mozilla
William Budington, Developer, EFF
Yan Zhu, Technologist, EFF

The Freedom of the Press Foundation processes payments for WikiLeaks and raises funds for encryption and free speech initiatives. Secure Drop is their open source whistleblower platform.

Thomas Drake leaked info on the NSA's Trailblazer program. He was indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage act in 2005. The act wasn't meant to be used on journalists, but that's what it's been used for. In recent years, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou, Edward Snowden have been prosecuted. There's an attack on whistleblowers, and there haven't been good tools to communicate with reporters.

HOPE X: Ask the EFF - This Year On the Internet

Liveblogged at HOPE X. The speakers have cautioned that this talk is not legal advice.


Nate Cardozo, Attorney
Kurt Opsahl, Attorney
Adi Kamdar, Activist
Peter Eckersley, Technology Projects Director
Eva Galperin, Global Policy Analyst

It's been a busy year at the EFF. They've been focusing a lot on the national security space over the last year.

Kurt Opsahl works on NSA cases. Jewel v. NSA has been going on since 2008, related to AT&T's involvement with NSA wiretapping. First Unitarian v. NSA is focused on the right of association, and your right to anonymity in who you associate with. Just earlier this week, the EFF and ACLU joined Smith v. Obama. Kurt also works on a case arguing that National Security Letters are unconstitutional and is defending the decision against appeal.

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