Taibbi: Beware the Slippery Slope of Facebook Censorship

The social network is too big and broken to properly function, and these “fixes” will only create more problems

Inside Google’s Effort to Develop a Censored Search Engine in China

Google analyzed search terms entered into a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for a censored search engine it has been planning to launch in China, according to confidential documents seen by The Intercept.

Oil, Spies and Audiotape in East Timor

This article was originally published in Stratfor Worldview.

The Australian Capital Territory’s Magistrates Court, as the country’s tribunal for “less serious criminal matters” is known, begins an unusual hearing July 25. The government is prosecuting two men with no prior record: lawyer Bernard Collaery and his client, an Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) operative named only as “Witness K” in the indictment. The charge is that they conspired to violate Section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act by disclosing information about ASIS. The government, citing national security, wants the trial held behind closed doors. But a secret trial would do less for public safety than for the reputation of the politicians involved.

Statement from the Mother of Reality Winner

My daughter Reality has decided to change her plea. I believe that this plea is in Reality’s best interest at this time. Given the time and circumstances and the nature of the Espionage charge I believe that this was the only way that she could receive a fair sentence. I still disagree strongly with the use of the Espionage charge against citizens like Reality. The use of the Espionage charge prevents a person from defending themselves or explaining their actions to a jury, thus making it difficult for them to receive a fair trial and treatment in the court system.

By suing WikiLeaks, DNC could endanger principles of press freedom

In 1993, WILK radio host Frederick Vopper broadcast a conversation intercepted by an illegal wiretap and sent anonymously to the Pennsylvania radio station, in which two teachers union officials discussed violent negotiating tactics. The officials sued Vopper, arguing that he should be liable for the illegal wiretap that captured their comments. But the Supreme Court disagreed. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the Bartnicki v. Vopper decision, “A stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.”

Dear Canada: Accessing Publicly Available Information on the Internet Is Not a Crime

Canadian authorities should drop charges against a 19-year-old Canadian accused of “unauthorized use of a computer service” for downloading thousands of public records hosted and available to all on a government website. The whole episode is an embarrassing overreach that chills the right of access to public records and threatens important security research.

At the heart of the incident, as reported by CBC news this week, is the Nova Scotian government’s embarrassment over its own failure to protect the sensitive data of 250 people who used the province’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request their own government files. These documents were hosted on the government web server that also hosted public records containing no personal information. Every request hosted on the server contained very similar URLs, which differed only in a single document ID number at the end of the URL. The teenager took a known ID number, and then, by modifying the URL, retrieved and stored all of the FOIA documents available on the Nova Scotia FOIA website.

Forget Comey and McCabe. Support FBI whistleblower Terry Albury

For the past three weeks, two former FBI officials—Andrew McCabe and James Comey—have received wall-to-wall media coverage and substantial monetary support from people across the United States in the form of donations and books sales following their feuds with President Trump. But it’s a third former FBI official, unknown to virtually anyone—Terry Albury—who faces actual jail time from the Trump Justice Department and is far more deserving of the support of journalists everywhere.

A few weeks ago, Albury, a former FBI special agent based out of Minnesota, became the second person the Trump administration—after Reality Winner—prosecuted for allegedly leaking documents to the media. Critically, one of the documents he is assumed to have leaked directly impacts journalists’ rights and press freedom.

End Espionage Act Prosecutions of Whistleblowers

We the undersigned organizations and individuals call for an end to the use of the constitutionally dubious Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who give information to the media on matters of public concern.

It is entirely inappropriate to use a law supposedly aimed at actual spies and saboteurs, against individuals who act in good faith to bring government misconduct to the attention of the public. Yet, we have seen this statute used with greater frequency against whistleblowers.

New US Espionage Act prosecution has troubling implications for press freedom

The Committee to Protect Journalists today said it is concerned by the U.S. Department of Justice’s use of the Espionage Act to charge an FBI agent for allegedly leaking information to a reporter.

“Over the past decade, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in the use of an antiquated World War I-era law to go after journalistic sources. The result has been a chilling effect,” said Alexandra Ellerbeck, North America program coordinator at CPJ. “Rather than rolling back the use of this law, which is all but guaranteed to ensnare journalists, the Trump Administration has boasted about pursuing leakers even as it has ushered in a new era of overt hostility to the press.”

Ahead of Trial, Government Vilifies NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner

As whistleblower Reality Winner nears trial, prosecutors for the United States government have focused on framing Winner as “anti-American,” denying her bail and due process, and depriving her defense attorneys of adequate access to resources.

Winner, an Air Force veteran working for an intelligence contractor in Augusta, Georgia, printed out and mailed a classified NSA document to The Intercept in May 2017. The document reported that Russian hackers conducted cyberattacks against a United States voting software supplier and sent phishing emails to more than 100 election officials leading up to the November 2016 election, though the data used to develop this analysis was not included in the report.