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Tag: internet privacy

FBI Seizes Server in Anonymous Pittsburgh Bomb Threat Case

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Feds roiled progressives, leftists, and free speech activists last Wednesday when they removed a server from the co-location of  Riseup and May First/People Link offices in NYC  — all part of an FBI probe into bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh, according to the organization Riseup.

The FBI appeared to target the server because it  hosted Mixmaster, which is operated by European Counter Network (“ECN”) and allows people to send anonymous emails.

Riseup promotes itself as providing online communication tools for people and groups promoting social change. May First/People Link describes itself as a ” a politically progressive member-run and controlled organization that redefines the concept of “Internet Service Provider” in a collective and collaborative way. ”

Disabling Mixmaster shutdown several other services, and led Riseup to accuse the FBI of using a “sledge hammer approach.” Riseup states in a press release that the seizure closed down over 300 email accounts, between 50-80 email lists including the oldest discussion list in Italy on the topic of “cyber rights”, and several other websites, none accused of wrongdoing.

Riseup spokesperson Devin Theriot-Orr stated, “We sympathize with the University of Pittsburgh community who have had to deal with this frightening disruption for weeks. We oppose such threatening actions. However, taking this server won’t stop these bomb threats” because the anonymizing software does not log sources or routes of messages. “The only effect it has is to also disrupt e-mail and websites for thousands of unrelated people.”

To read more click here.

Feds Target WikiLeaks with Controversial Court Order

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Using a law passed before the birth of the Internet, the U.S. government has obtained a controversial court order to force Google and a small Internet provider, Sonic.net, to hand over information regarding a WikiLeaks volunteer, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The WikiLeaks volunteer was identified as Jacob Applebaum, and the government’s request included the email addresses of people Applebaum had corresponded with in the last two years, but not the full emails, the Journal reported. Both Google and the Internet service provider, Sonic.net Inc., pressed for the right to inform Applebaum, 28, who has not yet been charged with any wrongdoing, the Journal reported.

“The court clashes in the WikiLeaks case provide a rare public window into the growing debate over a federal law that lets the government secretly obtain information from people’s email and cellphones without a search warrant,” the Journal wrote.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, passed in 1986, three years before the Internet existed, has bumped up against a coalition of tech companies-including Google, Microsoft Corp. and AT&T, which have pushed to  update the law in to conform to standards of the Internet age.

They’d like to see the law require search warrants in digital investigations.

“The law was designed to give the same protections to electronic communications that were already in place for phone calls and regular mail,” reports the Journal, “but it didn’t envision a time when cellphones transmitted locations and people stored important documents on remote services, such as Gmail, rather than on their own computers.”

To read more click here.