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BLOG: An EFF sticker on your laptop is an Insider Threat warning sign?

Darlene Storm | June 25, 2013
In light of recent leaks about NSA's PRISM, it seems dubious that government domestic surveillance could still be labeled as "going dark."

In light of recent leaks about NSA's PRISM, it seems dubious that government domestic surveillance could still be labeled as "going dark." Nevertheless, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified [pdf] last week that the FBI is still "going dark." Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "The rapid pace of advances in mobile and other communication technologies continues to present a significant challenge for conducting court-approved electronic surveillance of criminals and terrorists. ... Because of this gap, law enforcement is increasingly unable to gain timely access to the information to which it is lawfully authorized and that it needs to protect public safety, bring criminals to justice and keep America safe." 

Note that he didn't say the feds don't have the capabilities for surveillance, only that "There is a growing gap between law enforcement's legal authority to conduct electronic surveillance, and its ability to conduct such surveillance." Mark Jaycox, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that the "FBI needs to provide better reasons and more information about why they need this, when technologists and academics across the board are consistently saying and have shown ... the whole 'going dark' messaging is incorrect in the golden age of surveillance."

An EFF sticker on your laptop is an Insider Threat warning sign?

Speaking of the EFF . . . You surely appreciate the EFF that fights for your digital and privacy rights and opposes government surveillance. Yet according to a former security clearance investigator, Nicole Smith, supporting the EFF is a "warning sign." That's ludicrous! If you are on the Internet and you don't support the EFF, then that seems a lot more like a warning sign about a person. But while talking about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Smithtold Time:  

In a photograph posted online after Snowden revealed himself, his laptop displays a sticker touting the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a longstanding advocate for online rights and staunch opponent of government surveillance. That would have been enough of a warning sign to make it into his file, Smith says, but investigators wouldn't have come across it because clearance interviews aren't performed at their homes: "You're not around that person's personal belongings to make any other additional observations about that person's characters." 

Last year at Def Con, NSA Chief General Keith Alexander wore a t-shirt that ironically sported the EFF logo on the sleeve. No doubt that was to better blend in before the denials of domestic spying and possible word games began. Security expert Bruce Schneier said, "Everyone is playing word games. No one is telling the truth." He advised us to "just assume the government collects everything" about everybody.

When it comes to word games, Yahoo News reported that since February 2011 when James Carney became the White House Press Secretary, he's claimed he "did not have the answer" exactly 1,905 times in response to journalists' questions. In fact, the 1,905 times of not knowing is "a subset of nearly 10,000 instances when Carney declined to answer, passed off the question to a subordinate, or claimed ignorance about the subject matter."

 

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