Big Brother Alert

Some disturbing documents and other information have been uncovered by some heroic sleuths in the IT world. (Hat tip to Infoshop News.) It relates to private information being handed over to the government by ISPs and cell-phone providers.

First off, if you have a cellphone, you should know that Sprint/Nextel “has provided GPS location data about its wireless customers to law enforcement over 8 million times.

The hero in the story is a guy named Christopher Soghoian, a grad student in IT at Indiana University. He’s obtained a number of ISP “Lawful Interception Guides”, which detail what information is available to government spies and the process for obtaining that information. The Yahoo guide comes complete with sample subpoena language and other fill-in-the-blanks documents for opening the spy portals.

If you want to see this document for yourself, you can download it from cryptome.org. Yahoo is not alone in opening the peephole for government spies. They also have similar documents for Cox, SBC, Ameritech, SBC-Ameritech, Cingular, Cricket, Nextel, PacTel, and GTE.

The ultimate gist of all of this is that you should treat the Internet like a telephone: assume that Big Brother is “listening” in on you. Don’t store sensitive information on anyone else’s server (I’m talking to YOU, facebook and myspace hounds). It’s best to keep your email on your own computer using Apple Mail, Outlook, etc.; but if you MUST use a web mail client (hotmail, gmail, etc.), then delete your mail as soon as possible (anything you wish to keep can be copied to your local computer).

Since this blog and the rest of the purplearth domain are hosted by Yahoo, I have downloaded a copy of Yahoo’s spying guide, but Yahoo has been rattling legal sabers with the cryptome site. So if this link stops working, discreetly contact us and we’ll get you a copy.

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