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  • Jun 24th, 2015 @ 3:16pm

    (untitled comment)

    As geolocation is something I spend a lot of time on myself, I can tell you that this is not so magical.

    The photo of the armor above was taken by someone with an iPhone or Android Phone set to track the person's geolocation, and when it was uploaded to VKontakte, a popular Russian social network, it showed its exact coordinates -- click through all the links and you'll come to that.

    But how was that photo found, you ask? Isn't that a miracle?

    No, because there was a video uploaded from Stary Oskol with Buks that got a lot of attention as people watch for these things. Then after they have a sighting they looked for "photos near" using the functiong on VKontakte. If they have one photo in Stary Oskol, they can click and see an entire deck of all of them and go cruising through.

    Stary Oskol, a Russian town, has Google Street View, and so it's easy to go right in from those coordinates on the map and see what the road looks like and match something like a crack in Google's view and in the photo.

    Stary Oskol has gotten a lot of attention because Buks were spotted there (it's a Russian city near the Ukrainian border) by teenagers taking amateur videos and then the same Buks were found later in Ukraine by Bellingcat's team.

    This business is not as open as its boosters claim, however. Like many "open source" things, it's actually dominated by very closed societies. Most of the people doing this locating are anonymous using pseudonyms. So you don't know who you are dealing with. They say they have to use pseudonyms to be protected from "Kremlin trolling" if they are in the West or even arrest or worst if they are in Russia or Ukraine. Yet the most reputable ones doing this don't use pseudonyms and work closely with journalists who actually check out these stories on the ground.

    I know surpher @5urpher well, he has helped me out when I have been stuck on hard finds a number of times and I see him drop in on others stumped and give them crucial clues. How does he do this? Most likely he's an ordinary guy who lives in this region and knows the terrain well, and obsesses over maps and pictures on Twitter. But maybe he's in intelligence? And how can we know? Some of his finds are just too incredible.

    Yet even to suggest this, I've found, gets some of these anonymous sources so angry that they block you or stop following you and they will never talk to you again.

    Like many geeks in these sorts of "magical" causes, they are incredibly thin-skinned and sometimes wildly angry and crazy.

    There is no substitute for real life in meat-world. Elliot Higgins rightly deserves credit for his painstaking work (and it takes hundreds of hours so only the most geeky nerds would stick with it) and for putting this method on the map, literally and figuratively. Yet it's when someone like Simon Ostrovsky of Vice checks his work and actually travels the thousands of miles to these locations and confirms them that they hold up.

    And lurking behind this is an Internet ideology that ultimately seems to imagine that all of us can force politicians and generals and oligarchs we don't like into a Panopticon where we can use all the clues they leave in official media or accidental social media into "gotchas," that makes "the crowd" doing magic geolocation to be "democratically" in charge, "holding feet to the fire."

    I've seen entire castles of air built on scrutinizing videos over and over and matching them to random things -- such as the contention that the POWs at Krasny Partizansk were executed -- which those released and some other key eye witnesses don't confirm this. Nobody has really done the due diligence required to check that story because in part it's labor intensive and in part it's dangerous, the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" militants are deadly and harsh to journalists who don't get their approval and take their escorts and essentially embed with them.

    Yet old-fashioned journalism by foot on the beat and making cold real phone calls really does beat pixels. All of this social media stuff is routinely dismissed by the Russian government and all they do is close down any accounts associated with it. If the State Department invokes it, they are dismissed.

    And whenever the conclusions don't suit anyone in power, including liberal mainstream media, it will be dismissed as couch warrior stuff. Only if geolocation is accompanied by old-fashioned journalistic methods can it be credible.

  • Oct 25th, 2014 @ 9:35pm

    Appalling Placement of Snowden-Related Tech in Government Office

    Another operation by the Snowdenistas, trying to sneak this under the radar, then count on skittish liberals being too scared to sound politically correct if they object.

    This is appalling at every level. NO ONE in the loop with the stolen Snowden documents should be getting jobs in government.

    The Pentagon Papers Supreme Court decision doesn't protect technicians. It protects journalists who leaked government documents in the public interest.

    Snowden has gone far, far beyond the public interest in leaking numerous documents that undermined and harmed national security and relations with allies, and aided and abetted Russia, China and terrorist groups.

    None of this is related to the privacy and civil rights of Americans.

    Ashkan was brought in because Barton Gellman made mistakes in his reporting that cost him credibility with the tech community. We don't know that he didn't keep copies for himself or that he might not leak items not intended to be leaked.

    No one willing to help commit the crime of stealing and publishing should be in government.

    Journalists rely on the technicalities of the Supreme Court decision to skirt just shy of jail with this sort of case. But nothing says technicians are exonerated, and in fact it was the intention of the Court to go behind actual public interest.

    This was an op in the crypto wars.

  • May 30th, 2014 @ 12:59am

    Re: Mmm, gotta love those double-standards and special pleading

    Um, dear. It's not merely that "the French do it" - it's that *they do a bad thing*.

    That's not something you seem able to concede. PS they sell Mistrals to the Russians, too.

    We have the right -- indeed duty! -- to spy on people who harm us. The end.

    Your problem with this is obvious -- and creepy.

    The US cannot be shown to be doing anything unlawful and has numerous check and balances.

    Not a single case has ever been made.

    No one has actually ever proved that the US weakened encryption. Fulfilling a customer's request in an order requesting this -- from the NSA -- isn't damaging standards.

    The standards are open, the geeks sit in the workshops, they can complain if they see something in these *open* standards going haywire.

    I don't see any lawsuits from Cisco or anybody else claiming standards are damaged. It's hacker lore, nothing more.

    Traitor is what Snowden is. Betraying his homeland, its values, and its security -- not to mention his oath. Look it up yourself.

  • May 29th, 2014 @ 11:10pm

    Ed is a Felon

    Let's see now. Gates revealed that the French were doing bad things, grabbing commercial data as bad as the Chinese.

    So he revealed that in a bid to deter it. Good!

    The Chinese do bad things, hacking into our business, media, government to steal secrets and economic data.

    We then hack back to try to deter them and get a jump on them. Obviously, we have no need of their economic data except in so far as we need to see what they're stealing for us.

    So Snowden reveals our techniques for doing that. Great! That's called being a traitor.

    Nope, I'm not seeing any moral equivalence here.

    I'm seeing that Ed is a felon.

    And Masnick is profoundly ethically challenged, as per usual.

  • Jan 18th, 2014 @ 7:31am

    Snowdenistas are Far Worse

    Oh, nonsense. Some reporter corners an NSA officer in a bar and goads them into saying something intemperate -- say, that's the sort of gotcha that happened with Rolling Stone and McChystal, remember?

    But what some NSA individual spouts in his off hours isn't policy. There are checks and balances on that individual, starting first with his own agency, with numerous regulations, FISA courts, Congress, regular courts -- and the media. Everything related to Snowden has proceeded exactly by the books -- lawful extradition requests -- even very late in the day giving him plenty of time to run. He was never forced to flee to Russia and had weeks before his passport was revoked.

    Meanwhile, the Snowdenistas themselves spout violent nonsense and what recourse do we have against them?

    The other day a Tor developer told me on Twitter "Congress should go die in a fire." Really? Where's all the pearl-clutching from Mike about that?

    More chilling, Jacob Appelbaum said in his 30c3 speech in Germany that he believes (wrongly) that NSA data collection is "like" the British writs of assistance, and the early Colonialist rebels shot them over this. Really? What's that supposed to mean? And yet no one blinked an eye.

    Assange and Appelbaum called on sysadmins to rise up, sabotage their computers and/or leak more classified files. This is coercive, and leads to reckless violence, including placing troops in harm's way and revealing agents who are pursuing enemies legitimately. Appelbaum says he thinks it would be ethical to leak all these names of what he views as representatives of some lawless state and is only barely restrained from some ethical journalistic notion that is increasingly threadbare.

    All of that is much, much more troublesome than some guy from the NSA in a bar spouting off. These are anarchists willing to use lies, force, and sabotage to change a system from a liberal democracy to a communist commune.

    And for all we know, to take up another hypothesis, these bar leaks may in fact be part of a psy war technique to create a climate of intimidation to force Snowden to come home, with Myasnick is them helping. Happy?

    Jillian York proudly told everyone she heard some NSA guy say something like this (God knows why she was meeting him in the first place) and she reported him. Good little KGB-style informant.

    I see what kind of country you'd make America, Mike Myasnick, with all this talk -- like the Soviet Union. No thanks.

  • Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:50am

    Violaion of Developer Policy

    This extension appears to violate Google's develope policy:

  • Oct 28th, 2013 @ 3:37pm

    Balance is Possible

    @Brazenly Anonymous

    When you lawfare like that with FOIA, they object, and rightly so.

    @silverscarcat No. The whole reason there is a secret court and the notion of warrantless searches under this law is precisely because terrorism *is* an exception. There is no reason to be absolutist about this. Otherwise, we get the Tsarnaevs with their Youtube and bomb-making rights intact, and other people's limbs severed from their bodies. It's okay to have a balance, you know? The NSA hasn't shredded the constitution. They've dealt with terrorists lawfully under an existing exceptional law.

    And duh, I get it that exceptional laws slide and get expanded and are open to abuse. And that's why it's good to have adversarial defense and even adversarial journalism. But OK, then, prove these exceptional procedures were abused then outside the narrow purpose of stopping terrorism. They weren't in this case. This is not "Interneting while Muslim." The US is a target, and jihadists keep coming at it. It's ok to fight them. Leaving them to their "freedom" i.e. licentiousness means taking away other people's freedom.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was designed with a balance clause. Art. 30 says no one right can be used to take away another. So the right to speech or privacy or religion doesn't get to trump someone else's right to those rights or to the very right to life.

    The fact that the DEA has to get info from the NSA and then "reconstruct it" tells us not that the DEA is wrong but that these procedures are wrong. While professional law-enforcers see the need to keep these agencies separate, and there are good reasons to separate functions, in an interconnected world where druglords in Mexico and the US are only a cell phone or email way from easy connection, why do we have to have the gathering of intelligence by these agencies behind such firewalls in this case?

    @Brazenly Anonymous If they came for the terrorists, they did the right thing; terrorists kill people. This isn't about people wildly suspected of terrorism that had nothing to do with it, but people who did very precise things over time, repeatedly, with a very sinister group that kills people. Try to grasp the difference. There are distinctions.

    @Anonymous Coward so far his lawyer has not been able to make any objections stick OR has chosen not to make the objections perhaps hoping for a plea bargain. Ask the lawyer.

    As for wishing to be one of the 100s who die than have millions "lose their privacy," that's whack -- and there isn't any such artificial choice. No one has read your email. And this suspect has been properly pursued. Both are possible.

  • Oct 28th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Muhtorov Properly Arrested

    From the very beginning, since covering this case for more than a year ago, those of us who followed it said it was likely related to FISA intelligence.

    Even so, Muhtorov was properly arrested. m-case-to-be-test-for-fisa-surveillance-intelligence.html?cid=6a00e54fce13cf8834019b006067c4970b

    I don't see that it was "cherry picked," it's just that it was publicized at least among those following Eurasia, it got a lot of attention in Denver, and there was so much speculation about it that it seemed a good choice to start.

    Civil rights lawfarers can gear up all they like. The reality is, human rights work should be distinguished from terrorism and that's what this case is about. Attempts to exonerate Muhtorov's actions put the human rights movement in danger especially in Uzbekistan by blurring these distinctions for the sake of somebody's power struggle in Washington for control over the Internet (and by that I mean EFF, TechDirt and all its pals).

  • Sep 27th, 2013 @ 8:59pm

    No Proof

    You mean, he's still a dirt-bag and is still making up stuff to try to distract from that fact.

    We have no evidence that the NSA is grabbing the *content* of our communications deliberately, with human eyes destroying our privacy. Machine gathering of some meta data and even some whole texts (although not proven in a court of law) would still not mean a privacy erosion if it were not *looked at* and *used* to mount unlawful surveillance or arrest.

    He was not arrested for this supposed refusal involving the NSA, but for insider trading.

  • Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:03am


    The government shouldn't be recruiting or hiring hackers and needs to definitely review and winnow out all these contractors it is using through which hackers slip through.

    It's right to crack down on criminals and the government has to learn to do its own blackhatting without adopting the geeky open source cult that is responsible for so much destruction.

    The entire computer science field needs to reform and establish ethics, the government can lead the way.

    Time to end the infatuation with the little miscreants and their "brilliance" which is literally harming our national security.

  • Mar 8th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Re: You Can Seize Property from a Trespasser

    Links to court documents:,%20Aaron%20Indictment.pdf 2/N46/swartz/swartz-suppress2.pdf

  • Mar 8th, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So what? Given how much you've written on this case, you should read the court documents which establish that the 4th amendment wasn't violated and the lawyer didn't make the case. He claimed he was about to when Swartz committed suicide, but that was just a spin.

  • Mar 8th, 2013 @ 5:33pm


    The rules are different for trespassers. Read the court documents.

  • Mar 8th, 2013 @ 5:27pm

    You Can Seize Property from a Trespasser

    Eric Holder was right to scold the media, and the copyleftist tech media starting with TechDirt and CNET have been the worst!

    A press release from the DOJ describing the maximum terms for *charges* is not the same thing as a *sentence* after what we call "a trial" is heard with a judge and jury -- and adversarial defense. To keep haranguing like literalist code-is-lawyers about this concept of "35 years" merely because abstractly, yes, these are the maximum sentences under the *charges* means you don't get how the independent judiciary works. And no, Swartz wasn't "bullied" into a plea bargain, but offered such a low bargain precisely because his conduct -- as Holder explained -- was not for mercenary reasons from all indications. As Holder said, he doesn't look at the charges, he looks at the *conduct* -- the acts, not the hysterical hypotheses of you geeks looking literally at these maximum sentences. Few court cases involve maximum sentences.

    As for the notion that Swartz would get 7 years if he refused to plea, there's no evidence for that, either, because again, it's what the prosecutors think they can get if they make their case -- but there are many mitigating circumstances. Holder said it was never the government's intent for him to serve 3-5 months. As for the notion that having a felony on his record would ruin his life, he should have thought of that each time he committed such giant hacks serving as a "propaganda of the deed" -- and he committed at least three of them. With all his friends like Lessig, there's no indication he would have ever been lacking in jobs or positions. To be sure, he was banned from Harvard after this big hack, and it would be interesting to know what their thinking was, if what his friends keep ranting is true, that he "had authorized access" and it was "all forgiven and JSTOR didn't press charges". So why was he banned? That's a question to ask about his conduct and intent, not just their possible "oppression" -- which seems less likely.

    As for Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman's claims that Heymann "lied," while she's understandably distraught and entitled to her grief and rage, she's not entitled to her facts. The case files published on the Internet let her know that his lawyers tried that gambit of claiming that the evidence was seized without a warrant. But citing Sanchez, the precedent case about such issues *when a person is trespassing*, then the government *can* seize the property. It was used to commit the offense, after all -- the laptop was hidden under a box in a wiring closet and logged directly into the LAN to use the system not as intended, after repeated circumvention efforts were caught and Swartz was knocked off the network. The lawyer doesn't seem to have argued successfully otherwise when Sanchez was invoked.

    As for witholding exculpatory evidence, until we hear what that is, we can't make a judgement about it, and given how Swartz's girlfriend misrepresented Heymann "lying" about the "failure to get a warrant" when the feds had the right to impound property from a person committing a trespass, it's hard to accept it on good faith.

    The DOJ isn't "admitting" errors because it hasn't made them. As Holder said to Coryn, in the Ted Stevens case, he found prosecutorial misconduct and overreach and he called it. If it were present in the Swartz case, he would call it, too. It wasn't. He didn't. Watch the whole video and not just the tendentious coverage of it in Huffpo and Slate: -go-prison-more-3-or-4-months aron-swartzs-prosecutors-did-their-job-properly.html

  • Feb 2nd, 2013 @ 7:31pm

    Those Other Clams Not Opening Up on Fishing Expeditions

    I'll tell you what other clams are not opening up to fishing expeditions and are tighter than the clams in the federal government -- the hacker community in MIT. They know more than they are telling; they aren't talking. They are scared.

    I've studied all the blogs and chat and tweets on this and thought about it a lot, and my question now is this:

    Did Aaron Swartz help Bradley Manning download all those quarter of a million cables and other files illegally by helping create for him a scraper script and/or helping him move and store the files?

    After all, Swartz really got to be an expert at that sort of "movement" work -- he dl'd the Library of Congress, PACER, and JSTOR files in record time and efficiently, although he did get caught. Even so, he was an expert.

    Or did Swartz help Danny Clark do that, and Danny Clark helped Manning? Or some other MIT hacker?

    The feds were absolutely right to fish in these waters, because Bradly Manning, who is properly arrested and will be appropriately tried, regardless of any issues with his mistreatment, did go to the MIT hacker community in 2010 with his then-boyfriend while on leave during his service in the Iraq war, and did then eventually reach Assange at WikiLeaks and did from all accounts leak the files he had obtained. I always thought he had to have had help.

    The narratives at Empty Wheel and other sites where people ask a lot of questions to try to prove their case that the "feds are overreaching" in fact help create the plausible set of suppositions that Swartz and/or others helped WikiLeaks. Certainly Jacob Appelbaum was front and center helping WikiLeaks and was properly questioned by the grand jury.

    Once you suspend the hagiography, there really are a lot of questions to ask about Swartz, and you could sadly conclude that he killed himself precisely because he realized that he had either inadvertently or deliberately helped prosecute Manning, or sent someone else to the grand jury, or worse. We'll never know. But it's more likely he committed suicide over the despair and shame of such a thing, than fear of serving a mere six months in jail, in the plea bargain. That's never been a persuasive reason for his suicide. (Naturally, his suicide could be completely unrelated to his Internet causes and his hacking case, but based on sheer depression or personal matters.)

    You have to ask what it was that his ex-girlfriend told the grand jury as well, she's mentioned in the court documents.

    My operating theory is that WikiLeaks, with this accusation that Swartz was their source, was hoping to act quickly to pin the blame that might accrue to any hacker at MIT or anywhere else in the Manning loop on a dead man who wouldn't talk. I also assume they'd like to distract attention from Jacob Appelbaum -- again, to a dead man. They are opportunistic thugs. This is in keeping with their character. -hack-for-wikileaks.html

    One of the things that is tripping you up here is your certitude that the Feds "drew a blank" back then on these connections. You don't know that because the trial hasn't taken place. That's just something some prosecutor or other party leaked to the Wall Street Journal and which you reported because it fit your theories of fishing and overreach. You don't know that they leaked that as a false flag operation or just because there are wars among them on the theories of the case. It means nothing.

    There is nothing to say that the Lamo chat logs published in Wired in fact will be used in the trial. They don't quite rise to the test of "trial truth," in my view, but this is a court martial. Furthermore, investigators said they found further proof of Manning's contact with Assange during the hearings, and we haven't seen that this was somehow "thrown out," or "countered" by the lawyer, who actually hasn't really made much of a robust defense on "I am a political prisoner!" grounds, preferring to lurch from "my transgender made me do it!" to procedural wrangles and admissiblity wrangles that haven't worked -- to simply gutting out his client's time in solitary so he can book it against his sentence to have him serve less time. What a strategy! 900 days! That's like the Siege of Leningrad. He should have been holding press conferences daily on the court house steps. He wasn't.

    Remember David House? He wouldn't talk to the grand jury. But he published his notes. His notes let us know that the grand jury asked House whether Danny Clark had breakfast on the morning following the BUILDS open house with Bradley Manning at the Oxford Spa. So that means there is testimony about that or an allegation about that or something. He pleaded the fifth. But David House got mugged on Twitter and accused of all kinds of Bradsploitation by bloggers, and he seems rather quiet lately. The grand jury wanted to know about the girl with the purple hair, too. Who *is* the girl with the purple hair?

    I think you nervously posted this blog because you think there might be something to it and you just want to be on the record as admitting it in case it comes out later. But you and Empty Wheel and other leftwing bloggers want to convert your analysis of "the fishing expedition" into a "prosecutorial overreach" narrative, even if in fact it may have been justified. You all want to liberate stuff and hack stuff, but committing treason big time, you might want to stop short there, and begin to mumble piously about "crossing a line" as Lessig has been doing about his dead protege.

    Swartz's FOIAs were made not out of concern for Manning -- he didn't really campaign for Manning. They were made for concern about what Bradley told House in the brig in Quantico during his visit, to see what in fact House may have given them or may have said that they monitored or something.

    Bradly Manning is going to allocute (confess). That means he might name names. There may be no way to get those people he named because maybe the feds can't pin it on people. Maybe it's not a crime for you as a script kiddie to give scraping tips to Bradass87. But maybe if you did you might want to consider moving to Canada now.

  • Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:54pm

    You are Fake, James

    So, James, did you write a script called ""? No.

    Did you have 4 million files on your LawMeme? No.

    Did you make a fake account and an alias to go on Internet Archive? No. It's open.

    Did you write a script that grabbed other people's articles that were not your own, or not contributed to a site you edited? No.

    Did you break into a wiring closet to do this job? No.

    Did you wear a bicycle helmet to disguise your face while performing this hack? No.

    Did you run away from campus police after you had done this? No.

    So why are you pretending in such a fake way that you are "just like" Aaron and "they might get you"?

    Honestly, you unicorn fairy-world dwellers think you can accomplish everything through language. If you just say a law is "outdated," why, it must be! Voila! If you think a prosecutor has "overreached," why, that must be true! Because you say so!

    Look at the past cases of this nature. No hacker in the US or UK has ever gotten anything remotely resembling 35 years.

  • Jan 21st, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But he is a felon. He knowingly and deliberately and with cunning to hide his tracks hacked a system in a major, dramatic way to destroy *an institution* entirely and prevent *choice* on the Internet to have pay walls and walled gardens. I'm for prosecuting such Bolshevism in exactly the way it was indeed prosecuted -- with a series of careful allegations, that the defense was free to reject, and ultimately a plea bargain of 6 months. That's exactly right.

  • Jan 21st, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Plea Bargain BS

    Well, no. You aren't "hounded to the grave" unless you are an emotionally fragile coddled child genius with bipolar or autism spectrum or both.

    Again, if you don't want cases to be pressured to serve the task of deterrent of criminal hackers, you have to be for SOPA/PIPA which would define these cases more clearly and make it harder to overreach. Oh, but you didn't want the rule of law, you wanted code-as-law and you wanted "the Internet" to overthrow Congress and the courts. So, you get what you get.

  • Jan 21st, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: And this is why you fail.

    No, this is why I tell the truth, because Swartz didn't stop SOPA, Mitch Kapor's funded groups, going back for 10 years working the usual stealth cadre networks, got it stopped. The rest is just window dressing.

  • Jan 21st, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Um, 6 Months is Not Very Much

    It doesn't matter if plea-bargaining isn't used in every case; it was in this one and the high-priced lawyers didn't object! They didn't take the deal, but there's a far, far cry from the 35 or even 50 years you all were screaming about like bansheesh, and the...6 months offered for a legitimate and lawful guilty plea. Ortiz even noted that the lawyer was free to ask for probation given the prosecution's recognition that it wasn't a crime for personal gain.

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