Yahoo was just revealed to be the very first US internet company to build a program, at the request of US Intelligence Services, to search every single incoming message of every single user in real time.
Let me say that again. Every. Single. Incoming. Message. Every user.
This is an absolutely unprecedented privacy violation. Surveillance experts and former government officials are saying they have never seen such a broad demand for real-time digital surveillance, nevermind one that calls for the creation of a new computer program. This program, essentially a wire-tap on the web, is beyond the scope of any of the already overreaching surveillance laws currently on the books.
“The order issued to Yahoo appears to be unprecedented and unconstitutional. The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicionless search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Patrick Toomey.
Communication giants Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Apple have all rushed to put out statements assuring users that they had not received or complied with similar directives, some going so far as to say that if they had they would challenge it in court. Apple pointed to a recent statement by CEO Tim Cook, which reads, “I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”
Meanwhile, Yahoo issued a statement that does not outright deny that the program existed, nor address the myriad of privacy and security concerns that have been raised.
Even former Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer, Alex Stamos, is appalled by the program. When he found out about it in 2015 he immediately resigned his position, telling coworkers that he had been excluded from the decision to implement the program. He also cited flaws that seriously endangered the security of user data and left the program vulnerable to hackers.
Yahoo is a sinking ship. This is not the first security problem Yahoo has struggled with. Just last month it was revealed that over 500 million (and possibly many many millions more) Yahoo user accounts were compromised by “state sponsored actors.” This hack was almost certainly a result of Yahoo consistently refusing to invest in the necessary and standard security practices adopted by their competitors after a massive hack six years ago, to which Yahoo also fell victim.
And their security is not going to get any better. Yahoo was recently sold to Verizon for 4.8 billion dollars. Telecom companies including Verizon have been colluding with the NSA for years to gather information on billions of people worldwide, as Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations have shown. Beyond handing your data to a prying NSA, Verizon also notoriously created an innovative way to track your online habits on both your phone and on your non-Verizon devices like personal laptops. They then sell your information to marketers. The Verizon-Yahoo merger is going to compound the security issues these two companies have created, resulting in a service where your communication becomes nothing more than a piece of data to be rifled through by the government and sold to the highest bidder.
You deserve to have the safety and privacy you expect. It’s time to dump Yahoo.
PITTSBURGH, PA––Popular Pittsburgh-based punk band Anti-Flag will headline a free concert at Mr Smalls Theater on Thursday, November 3rd, as part of the nationwide “Rock Against the TPP” tour, which features high profile musicians and celebrities sounding the alarm about the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the unpopular corporate deal that has been a contentious issue this election year. The show runs from 6pm - 11pm and will also feature legendary Pittsburgh labor singer Anne Feeney, buzzworthy bi-lingual rockers Downtown Boys, plus Taina Asili, Evan Greer, Ryan Harvey, and Son of Nun, as well as speakers from a wide range of organizations opposing the TPP.
The TPP has little to do with trade, but instead grants multinational corporations extraordinary new powers to threaten jobs, the environment, affordable medicine, free speech, and food safety.
Anti-Flag are one of the most popular musical acts to emerge from Pittsburgh, and tour extensively performing politically charged punk rock that’s half circle pit, half picket line. The band issued the following statement ahead of the November 3rd concert: “The Rock Against The TPP shows that we have played across the US and Canada were so amazing that we had to curate one in our beloved hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh, an international epicenter of the labor movement - a city where union loyalty and the fight for human rights courses through the veins of its citizens to this very day. The Rock Against The TPP shows are beyond educational, they’re inspirational. They are a true testament to music’s ability to bring people together and create positive change; a rally to energize us all to continue to fight against The TPP and all of the ills it will bring to the world.”
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about ‘free trade,’ it’s about corruption,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future and lead organizer of the tour, “we’re harnessing the power of music and culture to sound the alarm about this corporate power grab and stop it in its tracks.”
Organized by digital rights group Fight for the Future in partnership with legendary guitarist Tom Morello (Prophets of Rage, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) and riot-folk singer Ryan Harvey’s record label Firebrand Records, previous stops on the Rock Against the TPP tour have featured high-profile participants including actress Evangeline Lilly, hip hop icon Talib Kweli, comedian Hari Kondabolu, Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, legendary punk band Anti-Flag, Danbert Nobacon of the UK sensation Chumbawamba, and ANTI records songwriter Jolie Holland. The roadshow has already drawn large crowds in Denver, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Toronto.
The Rock Against the TPP tour brings together a broad coalition of supporters including digital rights groups, labor unions, environmental groups, and small businesses, and is sponsored by Backbone Campaign, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America (CWA), CREDO, Demand Progress, Friends of the Earth, the International Labor Rights Forum, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, SumOfUs, the Teamsters, and United Steelworkers. The Pittsburgh stop is also backed by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, PA Fair Trade Coalition, and Fight Back Pittsburgh.
The Rock Against the TPP tour has drawn large crowds across the U.S., making it the biggest nationwide ground mobilization against the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal to date. These photos and videos are available for use by press. Contact: email@example.com with inquiries.
Portland, OR. Photo credit: Gaetano Vacarro
Denver, CO. Photo credit: Evan Greer
San Francisco, CA. Photo Credit: Peter Booth Lee
Talib Kweli in Seattle. Photo Credit: Rick Barry
Denver, CO. Photo credit: Evan Greer
Tom Morello finale in Denver. Photo: Courtesy FFTF
Seattle, WA. Photo: Rick Barry
Evangeline Lilly at rally in Denver. Photo: Evan Greer
Media Contact: Jon Reinish, 202-999-0461 JReinish@skdknick.com
HelloVote Revolutionizes Voter Registration, Brings Millions of Tough-to-Reach Millennials, Minority Voters into the Political Process
New York, New York (September 21, 2016) – HelloVote, a first-of-its-kind voter registration chat bot that allows voters to register using SMS text or Facebook Messenger, debuts in the heat of the 2016 Presidential election - just in time for National Voter Registration Day and state-level registration deadlines. HelloVote has the potential to transform voter participation by bringing registration firmly into the digital era.
Census data reveals that as a whole 33% of eligible voters are not registered - and that two of this election cycle’s most valued groups, Latino voters and voters 18-24, are vastly under-registered by about 40%. Nearly 30% of self described liberals are not registered. Only about 50% of voters without a college degree are registered; and the less money you earn the more likely you are rely on your phone for internet access. HelloVote takes the registration process right to the voter – instead of the other way around, and may make millennials, immigrants and communities of color the decisive game changers in this closely contested election up and down the ballot by leveraging up to date technology and social media.
Voters can go to hello.vote, text 384-387 on their mobile device, or (go to m.me/hellovote in Facebook messenger) to prompt the registration process. Text messaging is quickly becoming the country’s preferred way of communicating, with a 98% open rate and an average 90 second response time.
Using HelloVote, the entire registration process takes under one minute – a key factor when nearly 20% of respondents tell Pew that registration takes too much time. The effort is being magnified through a diverse range of national and regional partners including MTV, SEIU CA, Genius, Twilio, HeadCount, General Assembly, Auttomatic (makers of WordPress), Mijente, the Shade Room, Latino Victory Project, TurboVote, Care2, West Elm, the Asian American Resource Center, Korean Resource Center, Presente.org, Daily Kos, the Bus Federation, 18 Million Rising, and New American Leaders Project as well as celebrity supporters. New partnerships will be announced on a rolling basis over the next several weeks.
“A full ninety-six percent of Americans have a mobile phone and now they can use it to register to vote – bringing voter registration to any smartphone or flip phone holder and transforming an archaic process,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, an expert in voter technology who is one of the five co-founders of HelloVote. “This election is probably the most-discussed in our lifetime, and HelloVote aims to turn talkers into voters. The reality is that today we work, play and shop on our phones. HelloVote is a revolution in democracy making and bringing voter registration out of the dark ages and into the current cycle, hopefully making the difference for people who may never have registered but can now by text.”
HelloVote’s technology works in compliance with voter registration regulation in all 50 states. Americans will be able to text-to-register up until their state’s registration deadlines.
“Democracy depends on participation, and technology has the power to significantly reduce barriers that have traditionally stopped people from voting,” said Twilio Vice President of Product Management, Patrick Malatack. “HelloVote is a great example of how communications can make any user experience more efficient. By making it easier for people to sign up from anywhere, on any mobile phone with no Internet required - HelloVote has streamlined the voter registration process. We are excited to see more people getting out and voting in 2016 as a result of this valuable service.”
“Whether it’s social media, video, podcasts, or simply news articles we’re bookmarking on our phones, information about this election has been omnipresent, both easy to access and interact with,” said Nat Guevara, head of communications for Genius. “Voter registration should be just as ubiquitous, convenient, and available to as many communities as possible. We’re partnering with HelloVote to make the registration process less daunting so that our audience can prioritize what’s actually important: informing themselves on the issues they care about and making it out to the polls.”
“We’re very excited to partner with Hello Vote on this cutting edge platform which uses text messaging and Facebook to register Latinos to vote,” said Cesar J. Blanco, Interim Director for Latino Victory Project. “The stakes are too high to sit this election out. Now more than ever, it’s paramount that organizations leverage new and exciting technology to find potential voters where they’re at, and get them to vote. This program represents the future of voter registration, and Latino Victory Project is ready to mobilize our communities around our issues and priorities.”
“General Assembly is a global community of learners 350,000 strong, and our students and alumni take part in our programs both on campus and online, said Liz Simon, Vice President of Legal and External Affairs at General Assembly. “Having the option to get registered via text – and get their friends registered – is the best way to engage our community here in the States. We’re excited that members of the GA network, no matter where they are or what their party affiliation, have this user-friendly way to get involved in the political process.“
"This is the kind of technology that truly can change the game. HelloVote makes voter registration as easy as sending a few texts, literally,” said Andy Bernstein, executive director, HeadCount. “HeadCount will be rolling HelloVote on National Voter Registration Day and organizing 200+ musicians to post on social media about it.”
“For the past several cycles, experts have been stumped on how to register Latino voters who remain under-activated and participate at lower levels than other demographic groups,” said Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Placing technology right in the hands of the voter is one solution we believe in and that’s why we look forward to bringing as many Latino voters into the political process as possible in partnership with HelloVote.”
“Our goal is to get as many Care2 members registered to vote as possible, and Hello!Vote is making that so much easier than any other tool we’ve found, said Emily Logan, Director of Acquisition and Retention at Care2. “That ease of use is so important to make sure the barriers for registration are low and that everyone is able to have their voice heard through voting.”
“We are employing every tool available to engage the people who’s lives have been hurt and whose votes have been previously suppressed to make sure that our communities move forward, not backwards, this election season,” said Marisa Franco, director of Mijente. “HelloVote will be a crucial addition to flex the power of the 200,000 new potential voters in the Phoenix area who have come of age since 2012.”
“Neighborhood by neighborhood, and cell phone by cell phone, we’ll fight for more Latinx community participation in voting. HelloVote raises the voices of everyday folks who would otherwise be discouraged from actively participating in our democracy,” said Statement from Matt Nelson, Executive Director, Presente.org. This kind of innovation moves us toward a more just, more democratic country that includes ALL of us—especially our families, friends, and neighbors who are heavily impacted by racial, economic, and gender injustice.”
“It is critical for democracy to get everyone involved in the upcoming election,” said Peter Slutsky of Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com. We are thrilled to work with HelloVote to help make it as easy as possible for U.S. voters to register and make their voices heard.”
HelloVote is the first chatbot-based tool that allows voters to register over text message or Facebook Messenger in under one minute. HelloVote dramatically improves the user experience of civic participation for millions of mobile-first Americans in collaboration with partners nationwide. Co-created by Tiffiniy Cheng, Jeff Lyon, Josh Levinger, Holmes Wilson, and Elana Berkowitz, HelloVote is a non-partisan 501c3 project of Fight for the Future and the Fight for the Future Education Fund.
LEAVENWORTH, KS––A prison disciplinary board has decided to punish imprisoned transparency advocate Chelsea Manning with 14 days of solitary confinement (with 7 days suspended) forcharges directly related to her suicide attempt in July, and possession of an unmarked book in her cell. The decision is the latest example of the U.S. government’s campaign of harassment and mistreatment of Chelsea, who has been incarcerated in all male military facilities for 6 years.
See a detailed summary of the charges Chelsea faced here.
Chelsea Manning released the following statement to supporters:
“My three member disciplinary board took place today.
I presented evidence and was allowed to question witnesses through the board president. The hearing lasted four hours. There was a break for lunch.
I waited nervously for the board to vote. I received the decision after 30 minutes.
I was acquitted of the “Resisting The Force Cell Move Team” charge.
I was found guilty of the “Conduct Which Threatens” charge. This charge was for the suicide attempt.
I was found guilty of the “Prohibited Property” charge, which was for an unmarked copy of “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy,” by Gabriella Coleman.
My punishment is 14 days in solitary confinement. 7 of those days are “suspended.” If I get in trouble in the next six months, those seven days will come back.
The term for this status is “disciplinary segregation.”
There is no set date set for this to start. After I receive the formal board results in writing, I have 15 days to appeal. I expect to get them in the next few days.
I am feeling hurt. I am feeling lonely. I am embarrassed by the decision. I don’t know how to explain it.
I am touched by your warm messages of love and support. This comforts me in my time of need.”
Last week, following a 5-day hunger strike and a flurry of public protest, the government finally agreed to provide Chelsea with some of the health care that she needs. Despite the good news related to medical treatment, Chelsea will now be punished with solitary confinement, which the United Nations has condemned as a form of torture.
The July incident where Chelsea attempted to take her own life followed years of the government systematically denying her access to medically recommended treatment for gender dysphoria, and previous threatsof solitary confinement following minor prison “infractions,” including possession of mislabeled general research materials that Chelsea used for article writing and an expired tube of toothpaste.
After she receives written notification of her solitary confinement sentence, Chelsea has 15 days to appeal the disciplinary board’s decision.
Fight for the Future, the digital rights group that has been supporting Chelsea, is encouraging all supporters of human rights to sign the petition at FreeChelsea.comcalling for the U.S. government to drop these unjust charges. Celebrities including Michael Stipe of REM, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, have uploaded videos speaking out on Chelsea’s behalf and asking fans to sign the petition. The group plans to keep supporters updated on Chelsea’s situation, and ways to take action to support her.
Note: for verification purposes, see this tweet from Chelsea Manning’s attorney at the ACLU, Chase Strangio.