Internet Surveillance News

25 Apr 2015 Pirate Party Australia’s guide to protecting your online privacy under the Australian government’s new mandatory data retention scheme.

25 May 2015 Senator Scott Ludlam learned about Tor, VPNs, PGP and OTR at a cryptoparty in Sydney.

28 May 2015 Apple co-found Steve Wozniak says Australia’s data retention laws are unethical.

31 May 2015 Information about Australia’s Pine Gap spy base, and its role in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

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Beyond end-to-end encryption

“With end-to-end encryption, messages are scrambled as they leave the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device. It renders messages unreadable if they are intercepted, for example by criminals or law enforcement.” – BBC News

“Imagine a letter, right, the metadata is the name and address on the envelope, not the content of the letter.” – George Brandis, Attorney-General for Australia

“Metadata is a term that can mean, it means different things to different people.” – Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Former Minister for Communications

“Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” – NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker

We kill people based on metadata.” – General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA

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Onion routing explained

When you visit a website on your computer or mobile device, you are potentially sharing that information with advertisers, hackers, co-workers and governments. Even though the content you are viewing is likely to be encrypted with HTTPS, your metadata (including the URL and IP address of websites you visit, your IP address, the time and date, information about your web browser and computer hardware) can be collected and stored by anyone eavesdropping on the wire between you and the web server, to be used against you in targeted advertising campaigns, phishing scams, profiling, and soon robot assassination.

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Encrypted Email Backup in the Cloud (Windows)

Is your Inbox full? Do you want to combine mail from multiple accounts into one convenient location? Are you concerned that your private messages are being stored insecurely (i.e. not encrypted) on a server that could be accessed by your co-workers, the government, or hackers?

This tutorial will show you how to download your email messages into a local mail reader (Thunderbird Portable) and backup the files securely (with encryption) in the cloud provider of your choice. I use Microsoft’s OneDrive in my example; you could use DropBox, Google Drive, OwnCloud, a network share, or local storage such as a USB drive.

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Preventing VPN leaks on Linux

A Raspberry Pi running OpenVPN with a D-Link DUB-1312 Ethernet adapter
A Raspberry Pi model B running OpenVPN with a D-Link DUB-1312 Ethernet adapter

In a previous post I showed how a firewall app on Android can prevent metadata leaks when you connect to a wireless network but have not yet connected to your VPN. This guide achieves the same goal with OpenVPN or Torguard Lite on a Linux PC, blocking all outgoing connections and then allowing connections only to to the VPN server.

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The Australian Panopticon

The Panopticon is a theoretical prison designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The shape of the prison places every inmate within view of a watchtower. Although it is physically impossible for the watchman to observe all cells at the same time, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched, effectively changing their behaviour.

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This conversation is (not) private

Is it possible for you to have a private conversation with another person over the internet right now? You might be surprised by the number of ways ways your digital communications can be intercepted.

“The question is are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is: no, we must not” – British PM David Cameron

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TorGuard VPN on Android

If you connect to the internet through a public WiFi hotspot, or at school or at work, the metadata and contents of your online communications can be intercepted and viewed (or altered) by the network operator or another malicious party on the network. If you connect from an Australian residential address or personal mobile device, the Australian Government will be storing your metadata from 13 Oct 2015. One of the ways to protect your privacy is to send all of your internet traffic through a Virtual Private Network.

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What does Metadata look like?

The Australian government will soon be collecting and storing metadata from every mobile phone in the country, along with details about your internet-connected devices and the websites you visit. What does metadata look like?

German Green party politician Malte Spitz gave ZEIT ONLINE six months of his phone metadata collected by his service provider. This was combined with geolocation data, Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites to form a detailed story of his locations and activities.

Read more: Tell-all telephone | Data Protection | Digital | ZEIT ONLINE