Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

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.

HOPE X: Bless the Cops, and Keep Them Far Away From Us

Livebglogged at HOPE X.

Alex Muentz

Hackers are in the media, but not well understood. Why do hackers expose problems and break things? Hackers are consumer protectors, like Ralph Nader, or Upton Sinclair. Hackers are presented as folk heroes, folk devils, plain criminals, and/or national security threats. The State is using the moral panic over hacking to show force and require new powers.

Most criminals don't get caught. The hackers who are doing public-facing consumer protection are easy targets for prosecution, and receive more.

18 USC 1030/CFAA Bans unauthorized or 'excess of authorized' access to a 'protected computer.' Obtaining information, causing damage, furthering fraud, or procuring others to do so. Results in criminal and civil penalties. The law has no First Amendment or self defense exceptions.

HOPE X: Building an Open Source Cellular Network at Burning Man

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Johnny Diggz, Geeks Without Bounds
Willow Brugh, Geeks Without Bounds

VizThink by Johnny Diggz.

Geeks Without Bounds holds hackathons to match people with skills with humanitarian groups that need those skills. In times of crisis, communication is one of the top priorities. But those channels are usually for "first responders" rather than residents.

Johnny Diggz is a cofounder of Geeks Without Bounds and many tech companies. Most recently he is the Chief Evangelist at Tropo. Willow Brugh is one of our own at the Center for Civic Media, as well as a cofounder of Geeks Without Bounds and an affiliate at the Harvard Berkman Center.

HTTP Must Die

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Yan Zhu, EFF
Parker Higgins, EFF

VizThink by Willow Brugh.

Why is HTTP bad? HTTP touches everything we do. Agencies such as the NSA can use this to see everything we do online.

Even if you support HTTPS, not using it all the time exposes you to vulnerabilities. The NSA's QUANTUM intercepts requests to services like Yahoo and redirects them to NSA-operated FOXACID servers to infect them with malware, before a secure connection is established. The NSA also uses unencrypted cookies to determine who to target.

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