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BLOG: Pro-privacy folks likened to digital al-Qaida; feds want to 'blind' hackers

Network World | Aug. 12, 2013
The world is increasingly more dangerous for hackers and privacy advocates; the FBI allegedly would rather teach hackers a lesson, “blind them,” than hire them, and pro-privacy Snowden supporters have been likened to a digital al-Qaida.

Cab drivers participating in "Taxis on Patrol" are like a "Neighborhood Watch on Wheels," on the lookout for potential suspicious behavior and crimes. Recruiting them for See Something Say Something is not surprising because cabbies see and hear a lot. In fact, one Las Vegas taxi driver who "hates" hackers and called them "awful people," told CBS Interactive's Violet Blue that he drove some hacker-hating FBI guys to the security conferences to recruit hackers.

Feds going to security conferences to hire hackers is not surprising, but the taxis driver alleged that this fed said, "They just needed to hire them. But he said they didn't want to give them jobs. He said he'd rather catch them and teach them a lesson. He said he wanted to blind them." To which the driver responded with, "I said you should cut their fingers off. That'll teach them a lesson. The FBI guys liked that one."

Pro-privacy folks likened to digital al-Qaida

It may or may not be to "teach a lesson," but it's no secret that the FBI considers people who value online privacy to be potentially suspicious of terrorist activities. According to a Communities Against Terrorism flyer, the FBI told Internet cafes to consider people suspicious and report them if they "are overly concerned about privacy, attempts to shield the screen from view of others." Cyber cafe surfers "should" be considered suspicious and potential terrorists if they use "encryption or use of software to hide encrypted data in digital photos, etc." Other potential terrorist indicators at Internet cafes include "suspicious communications using VOIP or communicating through a PC game" and the "use of anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address."

That was issued years ago, but apparently people valuing privacy are now likened to a digital al-Qaida. During a cybersecurity speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center, former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden called whistleblower Edward "Snowden supporters and privacy proponents 'nihilists, anarchists... twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in a five or six years'." Hayden speculated that if the U.S. can get hold of Snowden, then his supporters may want to come after the U.S. military networks.

"Hayden wasn't done yet," Motherboard reported. "He hadn't effectively established the symbolic link between pro-privacy activists/hackers and Islamic terrorists. Few self-respecting US officials would miss an opportunity to make the association, thereby broadening the 'terrorist' definition."

"So if they can't create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after? Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida," asked Hayden, equating digital activism with violent terrorist spectacle.


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