Category Archives: Surveillance

Tech Security, Doxxing, Encryption

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For a 59 minute long, radio clean version for syndication purposes, please visit the archive.org collection.

The Main Event

This week Bursts spoke with William Budington, a digital security expert, about various topics under that heading. We spoke about: encryption for texting, email and mobile devices operating systems; about anonymity on the internet; safer practices with social media; doxxing; and more.

The conversation was ranging and a bit thick at times due to Bursts very specific style of posing questions. Thusly, the notes will be very long with lots of links embedded for further reading on the topic, posted in the Further Reading section below. If there are other topics around security that you’d like to hear discussed on this show, drop us an email at thefinalstrawradio@riseup.net and we’ll mull it over. This chat was by no means the end of a conversation. The practices and tools we talked about here are meant to keep you SAFER, but can’t promise your safety. But hopefully some of these words can get more of us to take our digital hygiene more seriously!

Announcements

Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted

We received this notice after the show aired, but hope that folks read these notes and get this info. Herman Bell is one of the New York 3, the same group of defendants as Jalil Muntaqim, who we featured an interview with in our last episode:
Black Panther Party political prisoner Herman Bell was viciously assaulted by guards at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock) on September 5, 2017. While being “escorted” by a guard back to his housing unit, a guard struck Herman, age 69, in the face causing his glasses to drop to the floor. This same guard then repeatedly punched Herman about the face, head and body. Responding to a commotion, 5-6 other guards arrived and joined in the assault. One of them was able to knee Herman in the chest causing two cracked ribs. Another guard took out a bottle of mace and sprayed it all over Herman’s face, eyes and mouth.

Herman was then taken to the prison infirmary. X-rays have confirmed fractured ribs. Herman’s left eye is damaged from the mace and blows. He has bruises to his body and is suffering headaches, a sign of a possible concussion.

Herman Bell has now been charged with “assault on staff”. Defying common sense, they allege that Herman, for no apparent reason, slapped the guard escorting him. He did this, they claim, in a location out of the view of all inmates but in the presence of other guards. He is now in the Special Housing Unit (box) at Five Points Correctional Facility where he was transferred after the incident.

Herman Bell has not had a disciplinary violation in over 20 years. He was scheduled to begin a three day family visit with his wife a few days after the incident, their first such visit in over 2 1/2 years. In addition he is to appear before the parole board, for the 8th time, in February 2018.

Herman has, however, been the target of guard harassment due to his political background. Visitors report that guards processing them and in the visiting room comment that they are visiting a “cop killer” or “terrorist”. Some guards have been seen passing around the book “Badge of the Assassin” written by Herman’s prosecutor.

At this time, we are encouraging everyone to take the time to write to Herman or send him a get-well card, so that the authorities know we are paying attention and are concerned for Herman. Stay tuned for updates as we develop this campaign.

Herman Bell’s new address is:

Herman Bell #79C0262
Five Points Cor. Fac.
P.O. Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541​

2018 Certain Days Calendar

I’d like to quickly announce that the 2018 Certain Days: Freedom For Political Prisoners Calendar has just been posted as ready for pre-order. The calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between outside organizers in Montreal, Toronto, and New York, in partnership with three political prisoners being held in maximum-security prisons in New York State: David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes and Herman Bell. The proceeds from Certain Days 2018 will be divided among these groups: Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association (Palestine), Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) and other groups in need. More info on the project and where to sign up is at certaindays.org

T-Shirt Designs

For all you artistically minded listeners out there, who would like to see their art worn by people (potentially) all over the world, The Final Straw is looking for tshirt desgins! If you like the show, or love it, or just think it’s ok-ish but like to make designs then this challenge is for you.

We will be accepting submissions until the (end of November), and lest you think this is a one way street, the winner of this challenge will recieve a special prize from each of us (Bursts and William) of a personal and one of a kind mixtape which will include all sorts of audio goodies. Runners up will also get prizes, so never fear there’s no heirarchy here.

Want in?? Just email your submission and any relevant info to thefinalstrawradio@riseup.net and keep your ears peeled for the winner announcement.

Show Notes begin in vain

For a starter on COINTELPRO, check out the wikipedia page on the topic.

The Whisper Systems (Signal) case referenced concerning user data disclosure to government is explained by WS folks. Also, here’s a link to Weapons of Math Destruction, the book by Cathy O’Neil that William references.

Doxxing

Anti-Repression Committee in the Bay deals with, among other things, doxxing by the far right in order to build charges against anti-racists.
Discord Chat logs leaked from the Far Right prior to and after #Charlottesville on Unicorn Riot.
Oh Crap! What Now? digital security page
Time to Beef Up Defense Against Far Right Doxxing
Equality Labs released this dope guide to safer practices which overlaps with a lot of the interview and links presented here
In case it’s too late, check out Crash Override Network‘s guide to post-Doxxing mitigation

Bigger Toolkits

That One Privacy Site
The EFF‘s Security Self Defense Guide
Riseup‘s offerings on safer practices and tools

Device Safety

Your Phone is a Cop part one and two
On the topic of vulnerability markets, zerodium.com/program.html got brought up.

Specific Tools

PGP
Enigmail for is an add-on to the Thunderbird email client that makes creating a pgp key set easier.
The Onion Router (TOR) produced this really great package for safer browsing called the Torbrowser package.
TAILS is a portable operating system so you can operate a computer and leave less traces
Signal is a phone app for end-to-end encryption available for iphones, android phones and desktops.
HTTPSEverywhere is a useful add-on for your web browser

VPNs

One VPN intro, including links to clients you can use, can be found at riseup

VPN services to check out
https://www.mullvad.net/
https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/

Online Presence

One tool mentioned to help minimize your online presence is DeleteMe by ABINE.com

Data Brokers you may want to scrub yourself from include:
Spokeo
BeenVerified
PeekYou
PeopleFinders

Various other nefarious tech the state and non-state actors may deploy

IMSI catchers, or phone spoofers, include the name-brand Stingray. The ACLU has this little site that allows you to see what law enforcement agencies they know to have (and probably use) them!
In reference to the Automatic License Plate Readers mentioned by William, here’s an article on the subject

Playlist here

TFSR: “The Inspection House”, surveillance, Bentham, Foucault & intentions (with Emily Horne & Tim Maly)

http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/inspection-house
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Jeremy Bentham (died 1832) on display at London College into the 1970’s. Note his mummified head between his feet…

This week William speaks with Emily Horne and Tim Maly about their book “The Inspection House; An Impertinent Field Guide to Modern Surveillance”, which was published in October 2014 by Coach House Books in their Exploded Views series. This interview comes right before the authors book tour of locations in Canada.

From the book’s website:

“In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. While Bentham’s design was ostensibly for a prison, he believed that any number of places that require supervision—factories, poorhouses, hospitals, and schools—would benefit from such a design. The French philosopher Michel Foucault took Bentham at his word. In his groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as a means for ever-finer mechanisms of control.

Forty years later, the available tools of scrutiny, supervision, and discipline are far more capable and insidious than Foucault dreamed, and yet less effective than Bentham hoped. Public squares, container ports, terrorist holding cells, and social networks all bristle with cameras, sensors, and trackers. But, crucially, they are also rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution.”

In the interview, Emily and Tim talk about Jeremy Bentham’s life, the intended and actual uses of the panopticon, the dangers of the well intentioned, and more!
The book has a lot of good stuff in it, history and analysis and humor. For more info about “The Inspection House” and about the author’s Canadian tour, you can visit http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/inspection-house

The Panopticam (live streaming & timelapse from the top of the cabinet in which Jeremy Bentham sits)

Metro.UK article on Jeremy Bentham’s attendence record at the University College of London since his passing in 1838.

Episode playlist: www.ashevillefm.org/node/11859