The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity

CAT | International

Tulips and windmill

DutchNews.nl reports that ISPs in the Netherlands will no longer be required to retain data for law enforcement.

Since 2009, national laws have required keeping records on the activities of all users for a period of one year. In 2014 the EU determined that such mass storage was a violation of fundamental privacy rights.

This court ruling brings the EU and Dutch rules into accord by ending the data retention requirement.

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Woman hiding at corner

Recently a colleague was reading a blog post by a Russian based VPN provider which talked about their privacy stance. He was incredulous. “Why would anyone trust a Russian VPN company?!?!”

It is a reasonable question about many locations. Russia, China, Iran, and many other companies are justifiably known for Internet monitoring and censorship. Of course, in the post Snowden era, a lot of attention has been focused on US surveillance as well.

I think that many people have the feeling that they should trust anyone but their own governments. After all, foreign intelligence services are unlikely to do anything about any intercepts unless they see some kind of global doomsday scenario. You might worry that your local intelligence agency could pass along information to local law enforcement, but that too seems generally unlikely. Exposing such intercepts would also expose sources and methods, which are some of the most highly protected secrets out there.

To me the question is what the VPN / Privacy provider is ALLOWED to keep private. It is clear that many governments put a huge amount of pressure, or actually pass laws, on companies to keep all kinds of user activity records. Interestingly that is not the case in the United States.

Anonymizer has no requirement to keep any records about what our users do through our service, or any way to identify associate any activity with a given user. Our systems are architected so that we don’t need to refuse to provide any of that information, we are simply incapable of doing so.

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Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

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EU flag on keyboard

If this amendment passes, it will significantly reduce the perceived advantages of using servers outside the US. No only would the server still be subject to whatever legal process exists in the hosting country, but they would also be open to legal hacking by the USG.

Newly Proposed Amendment Will Allow FBI to Hack TOR and VPN Users | Hack Read

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Sauron-BrazilA Brazilian court is enforcing a constitutional ban on anonymity by requiring Apple and Google to remove Secret, an anonymous social network chatting app from their app stores. Microsoft is being required to remove Cryptic, a similar windows phone app.

In addition to that, they have been ordered to remove the app from the phones of all users who have installed it. These kinds of retroactive orders to have companies intrusively modify the contents of all of their customer’s devices are concerning. At least these apps are free, if users had paid for them, that would introduce another complication.

One wonders how this will apply to tourists or business travelers visiting Brazil. Will their phones be impacted as well?

The law exists to allow victims of libel or slander to identify and confront their those speakers.

While this ruling only applies to Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and only with respect to the Secret and Cryptic apps, the underlying principle extends much further. There are still final rulings to come, so this is not the last word on this situation.

Anonymizer has had a great many Brazilian customers for many years. Anonymizer provides those users important protections which are well established in international human rights law. We certainly hope that they will continue to be allowed to use our services.

Brazil Court Issues Injunction Against Secret And Calls For App To Be Remotely Wiped | TechCrunch

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Vodafone logo

Vodafone Lays Bare Scale of Phone Tapping – WSJ

Vodafone recently released a “Law Enforcement Disclosure Report”. Because Vodafone provides services in so many countries, this provides a unique  insight into the range of surveillance capabilities and requirements across a spectrum of nations. In six countries they are required to provide direct connections to their network for the local government. This allows those governments to capture content and meta-data without making individual requests to Vodafone. They are not saying which 6 countries those are out of fear of penalties or retaliation.

In Albania, Egypt, Hungary, India, Malta, Qatar, Romania, South Africa and Turkey it is illegal to reveal information about various kinds of intercepts, so the report does not provide information on those countries.

The report also provides good information on the frequency of requests for information from various countries.

One lesson from this is, despite the impression one might have gotten from the Snowden leaks, the US is far from the only country doing this kind of surveillance. 

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Australia computer mouseAttorney General’s new war on encrypted web services – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au

Australia’s Attorney-General’s department is proposing that all providers of Internet services ensure that they can decrypt user communications when so ordered. Any services where the provider has the keys will obviously be able to do this.

Australians may want to start to start taking steps to protect themselves now.

End to end encryption is your friend. At least that way, you need to be informed and compelled if they want access to your data.

Another important step is to get your “in the clear” communications into another jurisdiction using a VPN service like Anonymizer Universal.

Finally, let your voice be heard on this issue by reaching out to your members of parliament.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Stomp by boot

US Tech Sanctions In Sudan Are Empowering The Regime, Tamping Down Opposition | Techdirt

This article makes an interesting argument that sanctions against repressive regimes, particularly sanctions that block providing communications and security technologies to end users, harm dissidents more than they do the repressive regimes they are designed to target.

In particular, companies are unable to provide cryptography and anonymity tools to the people who really need them.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Turkey Rubber StampTurkey passed legislation to allow the government to censor access to websites within four hours of receiving an allegation of privacy violations. WSJ Article behind paywall.  CNET Article

The law also requires web hosts to store all traffic information for two years. While the putative purpose of the legislation is privacy protection, it is widely assumed that this is an attempt to grab more control of the Internet, which has been repeatedly blasted by the Turkish government reporting on government corruption and graft.

As usual with these attempts at censorship, interested citizens can generally get around them. VPNs like Anonymizer Universal allow anyone to punch a hole through the national censorship firewalls to access any content.

I would be very interested to hear about efforts to block tools like Anonymizer in countries enforcing Internet censorship, like Turkey and the UK. Blocking of circumvention tools is already well documented in both China and Iran, and has been seen sporadically in many other countries.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Sochi passport stampsSochi visitors entering hacking ‘minefield’ by firing up electronics | Security & Privacy – CNET News

UPDATE: According to Errata security the NBC story about the hacking in Sochi total BS. Evidently: They were in Moscow, not Sochi. The hack was from sites they visited, not based on their location. They intentionally downloaded malware to their Android phone. So, as a traveler you are still at risk, and my advice still stands, but evidently the environment is not nearly as hostile as reported.

According to an NBC report, the hacking environment at Sochi is really fierce. After firing up a couple of computers at a cafe, they were both attacked within a minute, and within a day, both had been thoroughly compromised.

While you are vulnerable anywhere you use the Internet, it appears that attackers are out in force looking for unwary tourists enjoying the olympics.

Make sure you take precautions when you travel, especially to major events like the Sochi Olympics.

  • Enable whole disk encryption on your laptop (FileVault for Mac and TrueCrypt for Windows), and always power off your computer when you are done, rather than just putting it to sleep.
  • Turn off all running applications before you connect to any network, particularly email. That will minimize the number of connections your computer tries to make as soon as it gets connectivity.
  • Enable a VPN like Anonymizer Universal the moment you have Internet connectivity, and use it 100% of the time.
  • If you can, use a clean computer with a freshly installed operating system.
  • Set up a new Email account which you will only use during the trip. Do not access your real email accounts.
  • Any technology you can leave behind should be left back at home.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook and Google+.

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Welcome to episode 13 of our podcast for September, 2013.
In this episode I will talk about:
A major security breach at Adobe
How airplane mode can make your iPhone vulnerable to theft
Russian plans to spy on visitors and athletes at the winter Olympics
Whether you should move your cloud storage to the EU to avoid surveillance
Identity thieves buying your personal information from information brokers and credit bureaus
How to stop google using your picture in its ads
Why carelessness lead to the capture of the operator of the Silk Road
And how Browser Fingerprinting allows websites to track you without cookies.

Please let me know what you think, and leave suggestions for future content, in the comments.

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