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Unsealed Court Docs Reveal How U.S. Secretly Forced Google to Hand Over Email Data of Journalist Jacob Appelbaum as Part of WikiLeaks Investigation

In Appelbaum, Archive, DOJ, Google, Surveillance, USA, WikiLeaks on June 20, 2015 at 8:12 PM

06/20/2015

Ryan Gallagher/TheIntercept:

Newly unsealed court documents obtained by The Intercept reveal the Justice Department won an order forcing Google to turn over more than one year’s worth of data from the Gmail account of Jacob Appelbaum (pictured above), a developer for the Tor online anonymity project who has worked with WikiLeaks as a volunteer. The order also gagged Google, preventing it from notifying Appelbaum that his records had been provided to the government.

PDF

The surveillance of Appelbaum’s Gmail account was tied to the Justice Department’s long-running criminal investigation of WikiLeaks, which began in 2010 following the transparency group’s publication of a large cache of U.S. government diplomatic cables.

According to the unsealed documents, the Justice Department first sought details from Google about a Gmail account operated by Appelbaum in January 2011, triggering a three-month dispute between the government and the tech giant. Government investigators demanded metadata records from the account showing email addresses of those with whom Appelbaum had corresponded between the period of November 2009 and early 2011; they also wanted to obtain information showing the unique IP addresses of the computers he had used to log in to the account.

The Justice Department argued in the case that Appelbaum had “no reasonable expectation of privacy” over his email records under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Rather than seeking a search warrant that would require it to show probable cause that he had committed a crime, the government instead sought and received an order to obtain the data under a lesser standard, requiring only “reasonable grounds” to believe that the records were “relevant and material” to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Google repeatedly attempted to challenge the demand, and wanted to immediately notify Appelbaum that his records were being sought so he could have an opportunity to launch his own legal defense. Attorneys for the tech giant argued in a series of court filings that the government’s case raised “serious First Amendment concerns.” They noted that Appelbaum’s records “may implicate journalistic and academic freedom” because they could “reveal confidential sources or information about WikiLeaks’ purported journalistic or academic activities.”

However, the Justice Department asserted that “journalists have no special privilege to resist compelled disclosure of their records, absent evidence that the government is acting in bad faith,” and refused to concede Appelbaum was in fact a journalist. It claimed it had acted in “good faith throughout this criminal investigation, and there is no evidence that either the investigation or the order is intended to harass the … subscriber or anyone else.”

Google’s attempts to fight the surveillance gag order angered the government, with the Justice Department stating that the company’s “resistance to providing the records” had “frustrated the government’s ability to efficiently conduct a lawful criminal investigation.”

The Justice Department wanted to keep the surveillance secret largely because of an earlier public backlash over its WikiLeaks investigation. In early 2011, Appelbaum and other WikiLeaks volunteers’ – including Icelandic parlimentarian Birgitta Jonsdottirwere notified by Twitter that the Justice Department had obtained data about their accounts. This disclosure garnered widepread news coverage and controversy; the government says in the unsealed court records that it “failed to anticipate the degree of  damage that would be caused” by the Twitter disclosure and did not want to “exacerbate this problem” when it went after Appelbaum’s Gmail data.

The court documents show the Justice Department said the disclosure of its Twitter data grab “seriously jeopardized the [WikiLeaks] investigation” because it resulted in efforts to “conceal evidence” and put public pressure on other companies to resist similar surveillance orders. It also claimed that officials named in a subpeona ordering Twitter to turn over information were “harassed” after a copy was published by Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald at Salon in 2011.

The only specific evidence of the alleged harassment cited by the government is an email that was sent to an employee of the U.S. Attorney’s office that purportedly said: “You guys are fucking nazis trying to controll [sic] the whole fucking world. Well guess what. WE DO NOT FORGIVE. WE DO NOT FORGET. EXPECT US.”

Google accused the government of hyperbole and argued that the backlash over the Twitter order did not justify secrecy related to the Gmail surveillance. “Rather than demonstrating how unsealing the order will harm its well-publicized investigation, the government lists a parade of horribles that have allegedly occurred since it unsealed the Twitter order, yet fails to establish how any of these developments could be further exacerbated by unsealing this order,” wrote Google’s attorneys. “The proverbial toothpaste is out of the tube, and continuing to seal a materially identical order will not change it.”

But Google’s attempt to overturn the gag order was denied by magistrate judge Ivan D. Davis in February 2011. The company launched an appeal against that decision, but this too was rebuffed, in March 2011, by District Court judge Thomas Selby Ellis, III.

The government agreed to unseal some of the court records on Apr. 1 this year, and they were apparently turned over to Appelbaum on May 14 through a notification sent to his Gmail account. The files were released on condition that they would contain some redactions, which are bizarre and inconsistent, in some cases censoring the name of “WikiLeaks” from cited public news reports.

Not all of the documents in the case – such as the original surveillance orders in the case contested by Google – were released as part of the latest disclosure. Some contain “specific and sensitive details of the investigation” and “remain properly sealed while the grand jury investigation continues,” according to the court records from April this year.

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Appelbaum, who is based in Berlin, called the case “a travesty that continues at a slow pace” and said he felt it was important to highlight “the absolute madness in these documents.”

He told The Intercept: “After five years, receiving such legal documents is neither a shock nor a needed confirmation. … Will we ever see the full documents about our respective cases? Will we even learn the names of those signing so-called legal orders against us in secret sealed documents? Certainly not in a timely manner and certainly not in a transparent, just manner.”

The 32-year-old, who has recently collaborated with Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras to report revelations about National Security Agency surveillance for German news magazine Der Spiegel, said he plans to remain in Germany “in exile, rather than returning to the U.S. to experience more harassment of a less than legal kind.”

“My presence in Berlin ensures that the cost of physically harassing me or politically harassing me is much higher than when I last lived on U.S. soil,” Appelbaum said. “This allows me to work as a journalist freely from daily U.S. government interference. It also ensures that any further attempts to continue this will be forced into the open through [a Mutal Legal Assistance Treaty] and other international processes. The German goverment is less likely to allow the FBI to behave in Germany as they do on U.S. soil.”

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The Justice Department’s WikiLeaks investigaton is headed by prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia. Since 2010, the secretive probe has seen activists affiliated with WikiLeaks compelled to appear before a grand jury and has involved the FBI attempting to infiltrate the group with an informant. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the government had obtained the contents of three core WikiLeaks staffers’ Gmail accounts as part of the investigation.

A dozen outstanding search warrants and court orders have been issued in the WikiLeaks inquiry, says attorney Ahmed Ghappour, who is representing independent journalist Alexa O’Brien in her effort to have the documents unsealed. That is on top of the three disclosed earlier this year, the orders disclosed by Twitter and one more revealed by a small Internet provider, Sonic, for data about whom Appelbaum e-mailed.

Appelbaum Keynote, Snowden Statement & Assange Q&A @ Internet Ungovernance Forum 2014

In Appelbaum, Archive, Assange, NSA, NSA Files, Snowden, Surveillance, Turkey, WikiLeaks on September 9, 2014 at 1:05 AM

09/04-05/2014 @ Internet Ungovernance Forum/Livestream via Çapul TV

Jacob Appelbaum Keynote

“I’ll tell you something which no one knows about yet, but they will soon. Sometimes the NSA compromises the computers of terrorists, and then they let those terrorist attacks happen. Anyway… Just thought I’d let that sink in for a second. I look forward to those stories becoming public.”


Snowden Statement (PDF)
 Read By Turkish Activist Isik Mater


WikiLeaks
‘ Julian Assange Q&A

Horizon – Inside the Dark Web (2014) feat. Berners-Lee, Assange, Appelbaum, Syverson, Chaum, Schneier, Angwin

In Activism, Anonymous, Appelbaum, Archive, Assange, Bitcoin, Encryption, GCHQ, ICANN, Internet, NSA, NSA Files, Silk Road, Snowden, Surveillance, Technology, Tor, WikiLeaks on September 4, 2014 at 1:50 AM

horizon-inside-the-dark-web

09/03/2014

Twenty-five years after the world wide web was created, it is now caught in the greatest controversy of its existence: surveillance.

With many concerned that governments and corporations can monitor our every move, Horizon meets the hackers and scientists whose technology is fighting back. It is a controversial technology, and some law enforcement officers believe it is leading to ‘risk-free crime’ on the ‘dark web’ – a place where almost anything can be bought, from guns and drugs to credit card details.

Horizon delves inside the ‘dark web’.

Featuring interviews with inventor of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-LeeWikiLeaks‘ Julian Assange, computer security researcher and Tor Project developer Jacob Appelbaum, co-developer of Onion Routing Paul Syverson, inventor, cryptographer and Internet anonymity pioneer David Chaum, cryptographer and computer security expert Bruce Schneier, journalist and technology researcher Julia Angwin.


References:

GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications

Dragnet Nation – Julia Angwin

CO-TRAVELER Analytics: NSA Collects 5 Billion Cellphone Locations Per Day, Tracking Movements/Mapping Relationships

Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms – David Chaum (1981) (PDF/<1MB)

List of David Chaum Articles

Anonymous Connections and Onion Routing  – Reed, Syverson, Goldschlag (1998) (PDF/<1MB)

The Tor Network: We’re Living In Interesting Times – Roger Dingledine & Jacob Appelbaum @ 30c3

Cypherpunks

NSA & GCHQ Target Tor Network (TOP SECRET Docs)

Silk Road/Ross Ulbricht

Bitcoin

ICANN and the 7 Keys to the Internet

Encryption Works / How to Combat Online Surveillance

NSA’s XKeyscore Source Code Targets Tor and Tails Users

In Appelbaum, Archive, Internet, NSA, NSA Files, Surveillance, Tails, Tor on July 31, 2014 at 12:29 PM

07/03/2014

J. Appelbaum/A. Gibson/J. Goetz/V. Kabisch/L. Kampf/L. Ryge/DasErste:

The investigation discloses the following:

  • Two servers in Germany – in Berlin and Nuremberg – are under surveillance by the NSA.
  • Merely searching the web for the privacy-enhancing software tools outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark and track the IP address of the person doing the search. Not only are German privacy software users tracked, but the source code shows that privacy software users worldwide are tracked by the NSA.
  • Among the NSA’s targets is the Tor network funded primarily by the US government to aid democracy advocates in authoritarian states.
  •  The XKeyscore rules reveal that the NSA tracks all connections to a server that hosts part of an anonymous email service at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It also records details about visits to a popular internet journal for Linux operating system users called “the Linux Journal – the Original Magazine of the Linux Community”, and calls it an “extremist forum”.

It is a small server that looks like any of the other dozens in the same row. It is in a large room devoted to computers and computer storage, just like every other room in this industrial park building on Am Tower Street just outside the city of Nuremberg. That the grey building is surrounded by barbed wire seems to indicate that the servers’ provider is working hard to secure their customers’ data.

Yet despite these efforts, one of the servers is targeted by the NSA.

The IP address 212.212.245.170 is explicitly specified in the rules of the powerful and invasive spy software program XKeyscore. The code is published here exclusively for the first time.

After a year of NSA revelations based on documents that focus on program names and high-level Powerpoint presentations, NDR and WDR are revealing NSA source code that shows how these programs function and how they are implemented in Germany and around the world.

Months of investigation by the German public television broadcasters NDR and WDR, drawing on exclusive access to top secret NSA source code, interviews with former NSA employees, and the review of secret documents of the German government reveal that not only is the server in Nuremberg under observation by the NSA, but so is virtually anyone who has taken an interest in several well-known privacy software systems.

The NSA program XKeyscore is a collection and analysis tool and “a computer network exploitation system”, as described in an NSA presentation. It is one of the agency’s most ambitious programs devoted to gathering “nearly everything a user does on the internet.” The source code contains several rules that enable agents using XKeyscore to surveil privacy-conscious internet users around the world. The rules published here are specifically directed at the infrastructure and the users of the Tor Network, the Tails operating system, and other privacy-related software.

More…

Related Links:

Does The XKeyscore Source Code Leak Point To Another NSA Leaker?

Dear NSA, Privacy is a Fundamental Right, Not Reasonable Suspicion

NSA & GCHQ Target Tor Network (TOP SECRET Docs)

Cryptome – letter of demand

In Aaron Swartz, Activism, Al Jazeera NEWSHOUR, Algeria, Anonymous, Appelbaum, Archive, ASIO, Assange, Australia, Big Data, CIA, CYBERCOM, DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE, DEA, DoD, Drones, EFF, FED, Five Eyes, FOI, FOIA, G4S, Google, Greenwald, India, Indonesia, INSCOM, Internet, INTERPOL, Iran, Iraq, Jeremy Hammond, Jonsdottir, Julian Assange, leaksource, LEAKSOURCE ORIGINAL NEWS, LeakSourceRadio, LulzSec, Microsoft, NASA, NATO, NSA Files, OpIndia, OpIsrael, OpKashmir, OpLastResort, Pirate Bay, Pirate Party, Poitras, Police Brutality, Police State, Politics, PSYOP, Putin, Russia, Sabu, Satoshi Nakamoto, SCOTUS, SOCOM, Stratfor, TrapWire, World Revolution on July 14, 2014 at 7:09 AM

 

Cryptome have released a letter of demand.

 

The letter dated 14th July 2014 states the intent of demand on all the documents taken by Edward Snowden from the NSA for “accounting and public release of all documents”.

 

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The demand comes as continued frustration mounts surrounding the way Glenn Greenwald and the Intercept have handled the drip feed of information, redacted slides and working with United States Government consent.

Only a few hundred actual documents having being released through a mesh of media outlets, which has led to the distinct lack of any meaningful academic research. The small number of citizen activists and researchers that have made any sense out of the releases are muted by the booming LRAD  “leave Brittany alone” Greenwald media punklets which croon and sway at the orgy of ceremonial award back slapping.

Cryptomes “legal action” should be replaced by “storm the studio..this is a hostile takeover..no prisoners!”

Obvious from the past year is that the development application and security industry has been asleep at the wheel and really can offer no tangible help in respect to personal privacy and security, and it is now a well known fact , security is a myth.

The relevance of the Snowden files is slowly fading into the sunset, a fireplace of badly written books and a crappy movie will be all that people will remember…or is this the whole point?

If only…

 

 

 

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