GCHQ data collection regime violated human rights, court rules

GCHQ’s methods for bulk interception of online communications violated privacy and failed to provide sufficient surveillance safeguards, the European court of human rights has ruled.

But the ECHR found that GCHQ’s regime for sharing sensitive digital intelligence with foreign governments was not illegal, and it explicitly confirmed that bulk interception with tighter safeguards was permissible.

The Government’s Argument that Reality Winner Harmed National Security Doesn’t Hold Up. Here’s Why.

Whistleblower Reality Winner was officially sentenced to 63 months in prison on Thursday, after a federal judge rubber-stamped a plea deal already agreed to by the prosecution and Winner’s lawyers. As the prosecution acknowledged, it is the longest sentence for a journalist’s source in federal court history.

Google complicity in Chinese censorship could endanger press freedom elsewhere

In 2010, after four years of offering Chinese users a heavily censored version of its search engine, Google decided it would no longer block search results at the request of the Chinese state. “Our objection is to those forces of totalitarianism,” Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, told The New York Times at the time, adding that he hoped that Google’s stance would apply pressure toward “progress and a more open Internet in China.” Today, the internet in China is more closed than ever.

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.