WikiLeaks has begun a new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named Vault 7 by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever
publication of confidential documents on the agency.
The first full part of the series, Year Zero , comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last
month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election .
Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized zero day exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to
more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has
provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.
Year Zero introduces the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of zero day weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple's iPhone,
Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.
Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force 204 its own
substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities.
By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other weaponized
malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its own NSA with even less accountability and without publicly answering the
question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.
In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source
wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.
Once a single cyber weapon is loose it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that:
There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and
the global arms trade. But the significance of Year Zero goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.
Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the Year Zero disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of armed cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program
and how such weapons should analyzed, disarmed and published.
Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in Year Zero for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United
States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in Vault 7 part one ( Year Zero ) already eclipses the total number of
pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.
Police in the US believe an Amazon Echo overheard the murder of a man found dead in a hot tub. They want a copy of any audio recorded by the Echo personal assistant, conveniently stored in Amazon's cloud.
The cops think the Alexa-powered Echo, which was found in the kitchen, may have recorded what went on that night, even though you supposedly need to say a wake up word to activate Alexa.
Presumably worried about sales, Amazon is refusing to hand over said recordings, and has gone to court to fight their corner.
Amazon refused to fully comply with the search warrant, and has now filed a motion to the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas, to quash the order. The tech giant says any conversation a customer has with their Echo is covered by the First Amendment.
Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials.
Leaving aside the legal arguments, Amazon is keen to ensure that the police can't use its devices as perpetual bugs in the homes of their owners. If legal precedent is established for that, sales will go off the side of a cliff.
London Internet Exchange (LINX), Europe's major internet traffic hub is changing its rules to gag or to hide capabilities from the directors of
companies enabling secret government snooping on networks under Britain's Investigatory Powers Act.
LINX members, hundreds of internet companies, have been given less than two weeks' warning of an effect of new LINX rules enabling surveillance orders or requests to be kept secret. LINX claims 780 organisations as members, a who's who of the world's
biggest and best-known internet service and content providers, including Amazon and the BBC.
The plans will be proposed at an extraordinary general meeting in London on Tuesday. At the meeting, members will be asked to approve a new gag clause , banning directors they appoint from asking members to agree or approve technical or security
changes to enable or support surveillance.
The proposals would also prevent LINX members from being asked to back potential court challenges to illegal surveillance. LINX claims to be a member-run organisation. The board and elected directors are there to ensure that the company is run in the
interests of the owners -- the members.
Liberty is launching a landmark legal challenge to the extreme mass surveillance powers in the Government's new Investigatory Powers Act -- which lets the
state monitor everybody's web history and email, text and phone records, and hack computers, phones and tablets on an industrial scale.
Liberty is seeking a High Court judicial review of the core bulk powers in the so-called Snoopers' Charter -- and calling on the public to help it take on the challenge by donating v
ia crowdfunding platform CrowdJustice
Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said:
Last year, this Government exploited fear and distraction to quietly create the most extreme surveillance regime of any democracy in history. Hundreds of thousands of people have since called for this Act's repeal because they see it for what it is -- an
unprecedented, unjustified assault on our freedom.
We hope anybody with an interest in defending our democracy, privacy, press freedom, fair trials, protest rights, free speech and the safety and cybersecurity of everyone in the UK will support this crowdfunded challenge, and make 2017 the year we
reclaim our rights.
The Investigatory Powers Act passed in an atmosphere of shambolic political opposition last year, despite the Government failing to provide any evidence that such indiscriminate powers were lawful or necessary to prevent or detect crime.
Liberty will seek to challenge the lawfulness of the following powers, which it believes breach the public's rights:
Bulk hacking -- the Act lets police and agencies access, control and alter electronic devices like computers, phones and tablets on an industrial scale, regardless of whether their owners are suspected of involvement
in crime -- leaving them vulnerable to further attack by hackers.
Bulk interception -- the Act allows the state to read texts, online messages and emails and listen in on calls en masse, without requiring suspicion of criminal activity.
Bulk acquisition of everybody's communications data and internet history -- the Act forces communications companies and service providers to hand over records of everybody's emails, phone calls and texts and entire web
browsing history to state agencies to store, data-mine and profile at its will. This provides a goldmine of valuable personal information for criminal hackers and foreign spies.
Bulk personal datasets -- the Act lets agencies acquire and link vast databases held by the public or private sector. These contain details on religion, ethnic origin, sexuality, political leanings and health problems,
potentially on the entire population -- and are ripe for abuse and discrimination.
In a challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) by MP Tom Watson, represented by Liberty, the CJEU ruled the UK Government was breaking the law by indiscriminately collecting and accessing the nation's internet activity
and phone records.
DRIPA forced communications companies to store records of everybody's emails, texts, phone calls and internet communications and let hundreds of public bodies grant themselves access with no suspicion of serious crime or independent sign-off.
Judges ruled the regime breached British people's rights because it:
Allowed indiscriminate retention of all communications data.
Did not restrict access to the purpose of preventing and detecting precisely defined serious crime.
Let police and public bodies authorise their own access, instead of requiring prior authorisation by a court or independent body.
Did not require that people be notified after their data had been accessed.
Did not require that the data be kept within the European Union.
DRIPA expired at the end of 2016 -- but its powers are replicated and vastly expanded in the Investigatory Powers Act, with no effort to counter the lack of safeguards found unlawful in the case.