A judge rules

It’s not the last word, but a hint of rulings to come. Below are excerpts from the Times’ story about a federal judge ruling against one NSA data-siphoning program.

In a statement distributed by the journalist Glenn Greenwald, who was a recipient of leaked documents from Mr. Snowden and who wrote the first article about the bulk data collection, Mr. Snowden hailed the ruling.

“I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” Mr. Snowden said. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”

Though long and detailed, the ruling is not a final judgment, but rather a request for an injunction to stop the data collection while the plaintiffs pursued the case. It turned on whether there was a substantial likelihood that they would ultimately succeed and whether they would suffer substantial harm in the meantime.

But Judge Leon left little doubt about his view.

(Among other things, the judge stated the following)

“…it is significantly likely that on that day, I will answer that question in plaintiffs’ favor.”

I’d be at risk of re-posting the entire article if I were to paste more. But there’s more juicy stuff to be read—particularly about how effective the judge thinks the programs have been at thwarting terrorism—so head on over and read it.

Business cards

business card front

I’m excited about my new business cards, created with design help by my friend Matt Albacete. Here’s the back:

business card back

My name is set in different versions of the typeface ZXX, all designed by a former NSA staffer to thwart optical character recognition. And yes, it’s purely for show.

But the security suggestions aren’t.

With some 91 percent of American adults keeping cell phones mostly on their persons, effectively everyone’s full-time location data is gathered and stored by your carriers and the government. To boot, sophisticated software analyzes who crosses paths with whom. Unless we adopt practices formerly considered crazy-paranoid, whistleblowing will become a thing of the past.

And the cash-for-transit reference? That’s because it’s hard to be anonymous in a car when automatic license plate scanning is so ubiquitous. Even public transit anonymity is going down the tubes—in Chicago, anyway—with new payment systems that penalize you (75 cents tacked onto each $2.25 ride) if you don’t use the card that’s tied to your identity.

With my journalism work, I’ll have to pay the premium. You should, too.

 

Newsroom security beefing up…

From a Times article featuring The Guardian’s editor testifying before a British Parliament committee:

Since the revelations, newspapers, particularly those that have dealt with Mr. Snowden’s material, have also had to adjust to a harsh new reporting environment, security experts and journalists said, as governments and others seek secret material held by reporters.

“The old model was kind of like your house,” said Marc Frons, the chief information officer of The New York Times. “You locked your front door and windows, but not your desk drawer, even if it had your passport inside. In the new model, you have locks on everything.”

The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal declined to comment about internal security arrangements.

But Mr. Rusbridger told Parliament that the newspaper “went to more precautions over this material than any other story we have ever handled.”

SecureDrop in my house? You’d never know.

image

I’m well on my way to the prerequisites to install SecureDrop, the new anonymous submission system for those who would receive and publish things that might endanger the sender.

Originally coded by the late Aaron Swartz with help from Kevin Poulsen, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has taken up the mantle, updated the code and provided instructions for creating one’s own system.

Long live the whistleblower.

Wisdom from people who live in cabins

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Tiny-house construction in the Beaver Brook community in the forest of upstate New York. Thanks to the photographer, Jace Cooke, for the Creative Commons license.

Head over to cabinporn.com for a real show. (Not that kind, you sex addict. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The folks behind the site, the residents of Beaver Brook, posted this quote recently.

It’s my experience that artist communities are almost always camps because they appropriate space that nobody else wants (at the time), but by virtue of a creative progressive view of neighborhoods they create a demand from others that ultimately marginalizes them, so they are forever transient. – James Lynch, founder of Fforest camp.

Blue Sky innovation; work for Chicago Tribune

Take note: graph the number of tech startups in Chicago the past five years and you’ll very nearly get a parabolic function. (No, this isn’t an actual graph of it, but it does closely represent the data.)

Most startups employ just one or two people full-time. Maybe the more-developed ones have a third person part-time. But it’s still a mind-blowing statistic. It means a good many people are cultivating business ideas, and they’re finding it easy enough to give those ideas a go.

If you ‘re in the tech sector, or you live in Chicago and care about its economy, you should check in with Blue Sky Chicago every once in a while. A project by the Tribune, it’s trying to cover the local innovation space much like the Atlantic, or the Verge, covers the national space. I expect great things.

Not the least of which because they commissioned a piece from me. It’s about Starter School, the new outgrowth of The Starter League that adds business training to the mix of coding and app design.

Don’t you think it’s a chicken-and-egg question? Obviously if people are doing cool things, decent local media will find and cover it. But if local media starts covering a topic really well, more people will learn of it, learn the basics from the reports, and put their hats in the ring. Thanks, Tribune, for helping usher in the next wave of Chicago startups.

Adversarial journalism part 2

Did you see the New York Times op-ed debate between Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald? It’s about “the future of journalism,” and the Times doesn’t use that language lightly. If you’re interested in the press, you should at least read a short commentary, like this one. But for a more thorough selection, see my relevant pulls below.

Greenwald appeared in the column on the heels of announcing, a bit prematurely, his new media venture—described succinctly as something supporting “adversarial journalism.” I don’t think what he spoke of in the column is really all that adversarial (in the real sense of the word), and I bet Greenwald wouldn’t either. But compared to the way a lot of old-guard American outlets operate, it seems we can all agree to use the descriptor.

After the break, here’s Greenwald in his first important declaration:  Continue reading