Humint Events Online: Project Vigilant: the Highly Disturbing Privatization of Goverment Spying

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Project Vigilant: the Highly Disturbing Privatization of Goverment Spying

Excellent piece from Glenn Greenwald, including some new info about the Manning/wikileaks case:
Uber is the Executive Director of a highly secretive group called Project Vigilant, which, as Greenberg writes, "monitors the traffic of 12 regional Internet service providers" and "hands much of that information to federal agencies." More on that in a minute. Uber revealed yesterday that Lamo, the hacker who turned in Manning to the federal government for allegedly confessing to being the WikiLeaks leaker, was a "volunteer analyst" for Project Vigilant; that it was Uber who directed Lamo to federal authorities to inform on Manning by using his contacts to put Lamo in touch with the "highest level people in the government" at "three letter agencies"; and, according to a Wired report this morning, it was Uber who strongly pressured Lamo to inform by telling him (falsely) that he'd likely be arrested if he failed to turn over to federal agents everything he received from Manning.

So, while Lamo has repeatedly denied (including in his interview with me) that he ever worked with federal authorities, it turns out that he was a "volunteer analyst" for an entity which collects private Internet data in order to process it and turn it over to the Federal Government. That makes the whole Manning case all the more strange: Manning not only abruptly contacted a disreputable hacker out of the blue and confessed to major crimes over the Interent, but the hacker he arbitrarily chose just happened to be an "analyst" for a group that monitors on a massive scale the private Internet activities of American citizens in order to inform on them to U.S. law enforcement agencies (on a side note, if you want to judge what Adrian Lamo is, watch him in this amazing BBC interview; I've never seen someone behave quite like him on television before).

In terms of what they mean for the Manning case, those revelations require a lot more analysis, but I want to focus on the much more important aspect of these revelations: namely, what Project Vigilant does as well as the booming private domestic espionage industry of which they are a part. There's very little public information about this organization, but what they essentially are is some sort of vigilante group that collects vast amount of private data about the Internet activities of millions of citizens, processes that data into usable form, and then literally turns it over to the U.S. Government, claiming its motive is to help the Government detect Terrorists and other criminals. From the Forbes report:
According to Uber, one of Project Vigilant's manifold methods for gathering intelligence includes collecting information from a dozen regional U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs). Uber declined to name those ISPs, but said that because the companies included a provision allowing them to share users' Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies. A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can "develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address."
They're tracking 250 million IP addresses a day, compiling dossiers, and then turning them over to federal agencies -- with the ability to link that information to "any name."
Oy. Read more at the link... it gets worse.

And be sure to watch this BBC clip with Adrian Lamo-- what a creepy, drugged-out freak:


Blogger Robert said...

Wow! Creppy doesn't even begin to describe this Lamo freak! Jesus, how many drugs are going through his system during this interview!?? He looks/acts like a zombie.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

In my view one and all must glance at this.

4:14 PM  

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