Edward Snowden’s New Job: Protecting Reporters From Spies – ANDY GREENBERG 14.17. 02.10 AM


This story is part of our special coverage, The News in Crisis.wired_newspackageintros_snowden-wide

When Edward Snowden leaked the biggest collection of classified National Security Agency documents in history, he wasn’t just revealing the inner workings of a global surveil­lance machine. He was also scrambling to evade it. To com­municate with the journalists who would publish his secrets, he had to route all his messages over the anonymity soft­ware Tor, teach reporters to use the encryption tool PGP by creating a YouTube tutorial that disguised his voice, and eventually ditch his comfortable life (and smartphone) in Hawaii to set up a cloak-and-dagger data handoff halfway around the world.

Now, nearly four years later, Snowden has focused the next phase of his career on solving that very specific instance of the panopticon problem: how to protect reporters and the people who feed them informa­tion in an era of eroding privacy—without requiring them to have an NSA analyst’s expertise in encryption or to exile them­selves to Moscow. “Watch the journalists and you’ll find their sources,” Snowden says. “So how do we preserve that con­fidentiality in this new world, when it’s more important than ever?”

Since early last year, Snowden has quietly served as president of a small San Francisco–based nonprofit called the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Its mission: to equip the media to do its job at a time when state-­sponsored hackers and government surveillance threaten investigative reporting in ways Woodward and Bernstein never imagined. “Newsrooms don’t have the bud­get, the sophistication, or the skills to defend them­selves in the current environment,” says Snowden, who spoke to WIRED via encrypted video-chat from his home in Moscow. “We’re trying to provide a few niche tools to make the game a little more fair.”

The group’s 10 staffers and a handful of contract coders, with Snowden’s remote guidance, are working to develop an armory of security upgrades for reporters. Snowden and renowned hacker Bunnie Huang have partnered to develop a hardware modification for the iPhone, designed to detect if malware on the device is secretly transmitting a reporter’s data, including location. They’re developing a piece of software called Sunder that uses code written by Frederic Jacobs, one of the programmers for the popular encryption app Signal1; Sunder would allow journalists to encrypt a trove of secrets and then retrieve them only if several newsroom colleagues combine their passwords to access the data. And the foundation’s coders are building a plug-and-play version of Jitsi, the encrypted video-chat software Snowden himself uses for daily communication. They want newsrooms to be able to install it on their own servers with a few clicks. “The idea is to make this all paint-by-numbers instead of teaching yourself to be Picasso,” Snowden says.

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New Snowden documents prove the hacked NSA files are real – Paul Szoldra Aug 19, 2016


Edward SnowdenFormer US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live by video during a student-organized world-affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto on February 2, 2015.REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Newly released documents from former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden confirm what many experts had already believed: The 234-megabyte archive of NSA hacker tools, exploits, and implants that leaked online earlier this week is real.

The key to confirming the leaked files, which was uploaded to various file-sharing sites earlier this week by a group called the “Shadow Brokers,” came in a top-secret agency manual published on Friday by Sam Biddle of The Intercept. It instructed NSA hackers on how to track their malicious software by using a 16-character string buried in the code.

The tracking string in the manual, ace02468bdf13579, also appears inside code for a software implant called “Second Date,” which was leaked as part of the archive posted earlier this week.

But that’s not the only piece of evidence that shows the leak was, in essence, a software “toolbox” for NSA hackers to target adversaries. Among other files in the archive are implants code-named Banana Glee, Jet Plow, and Zesty Leak, which were all documented in a top-secret 50-page catalog of NSA tools that was published in late 2013.

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Snowden Designs a Device to Warn if Your iPhone’s Radios Are Snitching – ANDY GREENBERG 07.21.16. 9:01 AM


When Edward Snowden met with reporters in a Hong Kong hotel room to spill the NSA’s secrets, he famously asked them put their phones in the fridge to block any radio signals that might be used to silently activate the devices’ microphones or cameras. So it’s fitting that three years later, he’s returned to that smartphone radio surveillance problem. Now Snowden’s attempting to build a solution that’s far more compact than a hotel mini-bar.

On Thursday at the MIT Media Lab, Snowden and well-known hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang plan to present designs for a case-like device that wires into your iPhone’s guts to monitor the electrical signals sent to its internal antennas. The aim of that add-on, Huang and Snowden say, is to offer a constant check on whether your phone’s radios are transmitting. They say it’s an infinitely more trustworthy method of knowing your phone’s radios are off than “airplane mode,” which people have shown can be hacked and spoofed. Snowden and Huang are hoping to offer strong privacy guarantees to smartphone owners who need to shield their phones from government-funded adversaries with advanced hacking and surveillance capabilities—particularly reporters trying to carry their devices into hostile foreign countries without constantly revealing their locations.

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CIA ex-boss: secretive spooks tolerated in UK more than in US – Mark Brown Sunday 29 May 2016 16.49 EDT


Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden in New York earlier in May.

British people are not demanding more transparency from the intelligence services as loudly as Americans, the former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA has said.

Michael Hayden played a pivotal, leading role in American intelligence until he was replaced as director of the CIA shortly into the presidency of Barack Obama.

In a wide-ranging talk on the fourth day of the Hay festival, Hayden addressed CIA torture, targeted killings, what he thinks about Edward Snowden and how Facebook is perhaps a greater threat to privacy than government.

Hayden said the security services were changing faster in the US than the UK. “You as a population are far more tolerant of aggressive action on the part of your intelligence services than we are in the United States,” he said.

The US intelligence services would not have validation from the American people unless there was a certain amount of knowledge, an increased transparency, he said.

Hayden talked about the tensions between the need to know and the need to protect.

In his newlypublished book Hayden calls Snowden naive and narcissistic and says he wanted to put him on a “kill list”.

On the next page he said Snowden “highlighted the need for a broad cultural shift” in terms of transparency and what constitutes consent. On Sunday he said there was no contradiction between the two assertions.

“The 2% of what Snowden revealed that had to do with privacy accelerated a necessary conversation. The other 98% was about how the US and foreign governments collected legitimate material … that was incredibly damaging.”

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The Age of Transparency – By Sean P. Larkin May/June 2016 Issue


International Relations Without Secrets

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at May 27, 2016 1.50

Transparency has long been a rare commodity in international affairs. But today, the forces of technology are ushering in a new age of openness that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago. Governments, journalists, and nongovernmental organ­izations (NGOs) can now harness a flood of open-source information, drawn from commercial surveillance satellites, drones, smartphones, and computers, to reveal hidden activities in contested areas—from Ukraine to Syria to the South China Sea.

Over the next decade, the market-driven explosion of surveillance sensors and data analytics will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to global affairs. Commercial satellites will capture daily images of the entire globe, offering inexpensive and automated reports on everything from crop yields to military activity. Journalists, NGOs, and bloggers will increasingly use crowdsourced data to uncover wartime atrocities and expose government hypocrisy. Private security companies will discover the sources of cyberattacks and data theft. Biometric systems will expose the identities of clandestine operatives, and government agencies will struggle to contain leakers and whistleblowers.

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Future of national security whistleblowing at stake in US inquiry – Ewen MacAskill and Spencer Ackerman Monday 23 May 2016 07.00 EDT


Exclusive: Pentagon source goes on record against whistleblower program

Exclusive: Pentagon source goes on record against whistleblower program

Former head of the CIA David Petraeus, in an interview published in the Financial Times on 6 May, was asked if Edward Snowden should be prosecuted. “Unquestionably,” said Petraeus.

Leave aside the issue of hypocrisy – Petraeus shared classified information with his lover and was not charged with a felony – and instead think about what he says next. “If Snowden had wanted to help that debate, he could have very easily been a whistleblower who could have gone to the appropriate organization and offered his views. He didn’t.”

It is a line that has been repeated by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and just about every other establishment figure asked about Snowden. Rather than a leak to the media, they argue, there were alternative routes: he could have taken his concerns to Congress or pursued the official internal route, through the inspector general’s office.

But a powerful new insider account undermines the idea that the inspector general’s office offers whistleblowers a safe route. John Crane supervised the whistleblower-protection unit of the Pentagon inspector general, which has oversight responsibility for defense department components such as the National Security Agency. His story, told at length in Mark Hertsgaard’s powerful new book Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden, suggests that an office meant to aid whistleblowing can put whistleblowers in danger.

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Snowden’s Chronicler Reveals Her Own Life Under Surveillance – ANDY GREENBERG 02.04.16. 9:03 AM


Laura Poitras has a talent for disappearing. In her early documentaries like My Country, My Country and The Oath, her camera seems to float invisibly in rooms where subjects carry on intimate conversations as if they’re not being observed. Even in Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning film that tracks her personal journey from first contact with Edward Snowden to releasing his top secret NSA leaks to the world, she rarely offers a word of narration. She appears in that film exactly once, caught as if by accident in the mirror of Snowden’s Hong Kong hotel room.

Now, with the opening of her multi-media solo exhibit, Astro Noise, at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art this week, Snowden’s chronicler has finally turned her lens onto herself. And she’s given us a glimpse into one of the darkest stretches of her life, when she wasn’t yet the revelator of modern American surveillance but instead its target.

The exhibit is vast and unsettling, ranging from films to documents that can be viewed only through wooden slits to a video expanse of Yemeni sky which visitors are invited to lie beneath. But the most personal parts of the show are documents that lay bare how excruciating life was for Poitras as a target of government surveillance—and how her subsequent paranoia made her the ideal collaborator in Snowden’s mission to expose America’s surveillance state. First, she’s installed a wall of papers that she received in response to an ongoing Freedom of Information lawsuit the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed on her behalf against the FBI. The documents definitively show why Poitras was tracked and repeatedly searched at the US border for years, and even that she was the subject of a grand jury investigation. And second, a book she’s publishing to accompany the exhibit includes her journal from the height of that surveillance, recording her first-person experience of becoming a spying subject, along with her inner monologue as she first corresponded with the secret NSA leaker she then knew only as “Citizenfour.”

Poitras says she initially intended to use only a few quotes from her journal in that book. But as she was transcribing it, she “realized that it was a primary source document about navigating a certain reality,” she says. The finished book, which includes a biographical piece by Guantanamo detainee Lakhdar Boumediene, a photo collection from Ai Weiwei, and a short essay by Snowden on using radio waves from stars to generate random data for encryption, is subtitled “A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance.” It will be published widely on February 23.

“I’ve asked people for a long time to reveal a lot in my films,” Poitras says. But telling her own story, even in limited glimpses, “provides a concrete example of how the process works we don’t usually see.”

That process, for Poitras, is the experience of being unwittingly ingested into the American surveillance system.

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http://www.wired.com/2016/02/snowdens-chronicler-reveals-her-own-life-under-surveillance/

Snowden’s Girlfriend Lives With Him in Moscow (and His Life Isn’t Awful) – By Daniel Politi – OCT. 11 2014 7:33 AM


When Edward Snowden first started leaking NSA secrets last year one bit of the story that had nothing to do with national intelligence got lots of attention: he supposedly abandoned his girlfriend. Stories from the time noted how Snowden had lied to his girlfriend about the purpose of his Hong Kong trip, where he would eventually become the subject of an intense manhunt by media and U.S. officials alike. Her father, Jonathan Mills, even talked to media about how Snowden had left his daughter “to fend for herself.”

Fast forward a year and it turns out things are a bit more complicated. It seems Mills ended up reconciling with Snowden and she’s been living with him in Moscow since July, according to a new documentary that premiered in New York on Friday night. “The surprise revelation … upends the widespread assumption that Snowden had deserted Lindsay Mills and that she, in a fit of pique, fled Hawaii where they had been living to stay with her parents in mainland US,” notes the Guardian.

Citizenfour, which was filmed by Laura Poitras and uses all first-hand footage to tell Snowden’s tale, provides a rare glimpse into the whistleblower’s personal life, which he has long been reluctant to talk about. So why should we care about his girlfriend, who described herself as a “pole-dancing superhero” in a blog she took down shortly after Snowden started leaking information? Because it shows his life isn’t as awful as some might want to believe. Glenn Greenwald explains at the Intercept:

The fact that he is now living in domestic bliss as well, with his long-term girlfriend whom he loves, should forever put to rest the absurd campaign to depict his life as grim and dank. Snowden not only changed how the world thinks about a number of profoundly important political issues by defying its most powerful government, but then was able to build a happy, healthy and fulfilling life for himself. And if he can do that, so can other whistleblowers, which is precisely why so much effort has been devoted to depicting him in all sorts of false lights.