New Bill Being Proposed in California to Combat Burner Phones

Technology and the law are constantly racing, with each one taking steps to catch up with the other. From the arguments Apple and the FBI are having regarding privacy and encryption to something as simple as Segways being illegal in public, technology is creating new gadgets and systems and the law is creating laws to either change or catch up with the issue. An issue that has long plagued law and the courts is burner phones, but a new bill in California could change that.

Burner phones follow a simple concept, you pay for them and the credit you need to use them. Once they are finished with, you can either dispose or top up the phone. Due to the throwaway nature, they are used by people with stuff to hide, with it recently being revealed that the terrorists who attacked Paris used burner phones not encryption to avoid detection.

The new bill, dubbed the “Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act Of 2016″ would require anyone who sells prepaid devices to register and record the identity of those who purchased the phone. The specifics are the customer would be required to provide a credit card, social security number or driving license number, the same requirements people are required to provide for mobile contracts.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California is the one proposing the bill and states that the ” bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery”.

Terrorists Used Burner Phones Not Encryption To Evade Detection

In light of the recent discussions regarding privacy vs security, such as those being discussed by Apple and the FBI in congress, the discussion often comes back to the encryption and whether groups or government agencies should be able to break it when it comes to security. It could perhaps be damaging to groups like the FBI to learn that it wasn’t encryption that stopped the people responsible for the terrorist attacks in Paris from being detected earlier on but it was instead burner phones.

Burner phones is a term used to describe phones that are used only briefly before being disposed or burned. The concept being that the longer you hold onto a device the easier it is to track and monitor your actions with it. Several phones linked to the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks only activated their phones the day before, or even minutes before the events occurred.

Currently, all the burner phones involved had sent no online chat messages or emails, throwing more doubt over if terrorists use methods which federal agencies are often targeting and claim they need access to monitor and track.

With little to no evidence that encryption played any part in their communications, recent calls to unlock encryption communication because of these events could struggle to hold the sway they did before while traditional methods of burner phones and “dead drops” (where you leave a package or message at a specific location for picking up at a later date) could require more old-fashioned work to catch early on.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Suggests Like Attack On ISIS

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wants us to use make love and not war when it comes to dealing with pro-ISIS users on Facebook. This message comes as Facebook admits defeat in the effort to stop the tide of Islamic State accounts and propaganda that is appearing on the social media network lately.

It isn’t like Facebook isn’t trying to combat this hate coming from these terrorists, they simply can’t keep up with the sheer amount of posts and accounts being created. This was revealed at the World Economic Forum in Davos where it was said that Facebook is “doing everything it can to prevent extremist content being published”, but it’s just a drop in the ocean. “When you take one down, another pops up”.

While this technically sounds like a defeat, it isn’t. It just means that the tactics have to change and it also means that the social aspect of the site is needed. Facebook is proposing that everyone ‘like’ ISIS posts, which in itself sounds ludicrous. But there is deeper thought behind this and this tactic has worked in the past. The method that Sandberg calls a “like attack” is simple and it aims to defeat negative posts by clicking the like button and then flooding that page with positive messages.

Sandberg went on to explain that this action in no way is a sign of support for this kind of hate speech, but rather a way to stand united against the enemy. A single branch is easy to break, but when you got a whole stack of branches together, then you got something close to unbreakable. The same tactic was used a while ago against the german NPD, the far-right National Democratic Party, where over 100,000 people “liked” that page that actually didn’t like the message. Instead of posting hate and defamatory posts, they simply flooded the page with messages of tolerance and hope instead.

The effect is simple, right now it’s Facebook that is trying to catch up by banning people and deleting posts. The suggested method would turn it all around and put the ISIS supporters on the defense. They’ll be so busy themselves trying to delete all the positive messages that they won’t have time to spread their hate.

Whether people will accept this proposal and whether it will work, that’s something only time will tell. But I think we all can agree on one thing: The faster we get rid of this plague, the better off we are and the entire planet too for that matter. What is your opinion on this strategy, let us know in the comments.

Would-Be Bomber Found Guilty After Asking Twitter for Target Advice

 

The impression of terrorists in the current age as shady types who make use of encryption and anonymizing services to meticulously plan devastating attacks. In the case of Mohammed Rehman and his wife, Sana Ahmed Khan, this was not true. The couple was arrested and found guilty in the Old Bailey court on counts of preparing an act of terrorism. These plans of terrorism were uncovered by an undercover police investigator who saw Rehman posting publicly on Twitter asking for advice on what location in London he should target.

Mohammed Rehman and his wife had planned to commemorate the 7/7 attacks in London, 10 years on, by executing an attack on either the London Underground or Westfield Shopping centre. Either of this attacks would have had the potential for massive casualties. He seemed to make no effort to hide his online activities, with evidence found of him searching Youtube for footage of the London bombings and searched for information on his ‘beloved predecessor’ Shehzad Tanweer, one of the 7/7 bombers. Neither Rehman nor his wife made use of encryption or tools such as the dark web to plan their attack.

Rehman went under the Twitter name “Silent Bomber”, with the handle “@InServiceToGodd”. The profile even went one step further, with the bio reading: “Learn how to make powerful explosives from the comfort of ones’ bedroom.” Back in May, Rehman used the account to post to his followers “Westfield shopping centre or London underground?” he asked. “Any advice would be appreciated greatly.” He also included a link to an Al-Quida press release regarding the 7/7 attacks from 2005. He seemed to make no secret of his plans for terrorism, telling one Twiter user “Why don’t you head to the London Underground on the 7th July if you got the balls.” The account has since been suspended by Twitter.

What makes this case interesting is that it seems to directly oppose the growing claim from governments and security agencies that easy access to encryption and the dark net is blinding intelligence agencies. All of the information needed to discover this potential attack was fully public, and thankfully in this instance was found and acted upon by the correct authorities.

While it seems like a lot of the terrorism and fear in the world right now stems from IS and similar sinister groups, this case seems to imply that this is less true than we have been led to believe. This case was one of seven that David Cameron used as a justification for military actions in Syria, but it turns out that while the instigators may have idolized parts of IS’ ideals, they were in fact lone idiots trying to imitate.

If more of the 6 remaining foiled plots come to light as similarly careless and foolish, it risks undermining both military action and pushes for infringements on the privacy and freedom imposed on the British people with tools like the Snooper’s Charter.

Photograph: PA

Anonymous’ Strike against ISIS Has Begun

Well known hacktivist group Anonymous may attract split opinions about their actions, but I think we can agree that their latest campaign is a good one. A couple of weeks ago the group announced that they would use their abilities to strike against the terrorist group ISIS and their online presence. Today Anonymous announced the beginning of such and posted a new video online. They also listed a lot of Twitter and Facebook accounts they had taken down, accounts used to spread their propaganda and recruit followers; this information is available at the source below.

The video starts out with a clarification, that they are made up from all sorts of people and that the ISIS doesn’t represent Muslims as they want to make us all believe.

“We are Muslims, Christians, Jews alike.” … “hackers, crackers, Hacktivist, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy next door … students, administrators, workers, clerks, unemployed, rich, poor.” … “young, or old, gay or straight… from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity. United as one, divided by zero.” … “the terrorists that are calling themselves [the] Islamic State (ISIS) are not Muslims,” the video states.

“This is just the beginning,” the video continues. “We will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails, and expose you… From now on, no safe place for you online… You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure… We own the internet… We are Anonymous; we are Legion; we do not forgive, we do not forget, Expect us.”

Source: AnonHQ

Justin Carter Out On Bail After Anonymous Person Posted $500,000 Bail

When does your online life become your real life? Always, apparently. As a bonus anything you do in your life, especially any felony actions will stay to haunt you forever! Justin Carter, 19 and a gamer at heart was placed in jail and given a $500,000 bail for making a comment.

“Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head,” “I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” Making this comment on Facebook after a League of Legends match.

Not only is the comment considered a “Terroristic Threat” or “Criminal Threat” in some places, it can carry a 10 year prison sentence. Carter has already spent nearly four months in jail awaiting trial. Making a comment, sometimes even taking a single action could place the title of Felon over your name for the rest of your life in the United States, there are no second chances.

For those of you who are gamers, most likely know that what he said is just trash talk, and anyone in their right mind would likely know that he was not serious. After making the comments Carter supposedly followed the comment with “lol” and “JK”, which stand for Laugh Out Loud, and Just Kidding.

Much trash talk from gamers or anyone online for that matter, many times consist of homophobic, racist, threatening and sexist remarks. While many websites, and even games give you a feature to report said comments, or even posts, someone felt the need to report this comment to the police.

For those of you who have heard about this before, and are following the case, you might be interested in learning that Carter has been released from jail. According to Kotaku an anonymous person posted the $500,000 bail. If found guilty, Carter could spend up to 10 years in prison, and carry the lifetime title of felon, not a title that you earn from a video game, but a title you earn in real life. One that will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. If he does earn this title, he will likely be forced to work a dead end job, and be judged by everyone he meets for the rest of his life.

In the State of Texas a “Terrorist Threat” is a third-degree felony.

Do you feel that Carter deserves to earn the title of a felon, and serve a lengthy prison sentence. Or do you think he should be free?

Image courtesy of Christian Post.