Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy

Salon

Forbes‘ technology writer Andy Greenberg reports that at the Defcon Security Conference yesterday, an individual named Chet Uber appeared with revelations about the case of accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning and government informant Adrian Lamo.  These revelations are both remarkable in their own right and, more important, highlight some extremely significant, under-examined developments unrelated to that case.  This is a somewhat complex story and it raises even more complex issues, but it is extremely worthwhile to examine.

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.  

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