Personal data from millions of Facebook users was available on open web for years

Mark Zuckerberg cardboard cutouts


We’ve all heard by now about the massive leak of the personal data of three million Facebook users and friends when a personality app, myPersonality, was used to extract personal information. The data was then used by Cambridge Analytica as part of their election targeting efforts.

Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, apologized for the breach, and blamed it on the app company that shared the data. His solution was to more carefully screen the thousands of other apps; Facebook recently banned 200 of them.

But, like many times before, this was just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve just learned that intimate details about these three million users were freely available on the web for anyone to access for years, according to a New Scientist investigation.

According to New Scientist, “Academics at the University of Cambridge distributed the data from the personality quiz app myPersonality to hundreds of researchers via a website with insufficient security provisions, which led to it being left vulnerable to access for four years. Gaining access illicitly was relatively easy.”

According to the report, the intent was to make all of the data available to those who registered as a collaborator on the project. More than 280 people from nearly 150 institutions registered, including researchers at universities and employees from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

That makes Zuckerberg’s approach to protecting data by punishing the app companies both naive and totally ineffective.

For those who didn’t qualify for access, there was another easy way to access it: a publicly available name and password have been freely available on the web for anyone to use for the past four years!

According to New Scientist, “The publicly available username and password were sitting on the code-sharing website GitHub. They had been passed from a university lecturer to some students for a course project on creating a tool for processing Facebook data. Uploading code to GitHub is very common in computer science as it allows others to reuse parts of your work, but the students included the working login credentials too.”

“This type of data is very powerful and there is real potential for misuse,” says Chris Sumner at the Online Privacy Foundation.

What’s the lesson here? Never participate in online games or tests in which you provide data that helps others target information back to you unless it’s totally innocuous data. As we all know, you can hardly move anywhere on the web without being asked to fill out a questionnaire or survey. Every one of them should be met with suspicion.

More importantly, this shows that no company is able to protect your personal data and you just have to assume it will end up in the hands of others, often cybercriminals. Facebook was hugely irresponsible, and some think criminal, in thinking they could just request that the data not be shared and take the word of a company that was motivated not to comply. With the thirst for personal data by most everyone these days, the only way to prevent its dissemination is to never provide it. These games and surveys may seem to be fun, but they are often just as nefarious as an anonymous caller asking for your bank account number.

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Drug Users Take Over Corridors of San Francisco Civic Center BART Station

Drug Users Take Over Corridors of San Francisco Civic Center BART Station

April 30th, 2018


Via: CBS:

Shocking video is calling attention to what’s going on in one of the busiest BART stations in the Bay Area: drug users blatantly shooting up out in the open as commuters walk by, others slumped along filthy corridors.

It’s a gauntlet commuters walk through every morning at the Civic Center BART and Muni station.

Regular commuter Shannon Gafford knows people have to see it to believe it. “One morning I said, ‘I got to pull out the camera and show my friends this. They’re not going to believe it,’� he said.




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Cambridge Analytica-linked Kogan collected Facebook users’ private messages

Through Aleksandr Kogan’s “This Is Your Digital Life” app, the Cambridge University researcher was able to collect the data, which was then shared with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Data was collected not just from users who installed the app, but from their friends and contacts, too.

In the wake of the scandal, Facebook sent out automatic notifications to affected users. At the bottom of the notification, in fine print, read: “A small number of people who logged into This Is Your Digital Life also shared their own news feed, timeline, posts and messages, which may have included posts and messages from you.”

Kogan downplayed the extent of this snooping, and told the New York Times that private messages were only harvested from a small number of people, likely “a couple thousand.” He also said that the messages were for a separate research project, and were never provided to Cambridge Analytica.

Users granted Kogan permission to do this. Mailbox access was included in the list of permissions they accepted when they installed his app. Kogan insists that only the messages of app users were gathered, not those of their friends. He also told the Times that the data “was obviously sensitive so we tried to be careful about who could access it.”

However, in a 2014 lecture in a Russian university, Kogan told students that through his app, he could predict “basically anything” about a person “quick and cheap,” and that this project had major commercial benefits. Reading users’ messages was central to the project.

“It’s messaging… this is private information, which no one sees,” Kogan told the students. “You can also load all of that. We usually load 3,000 (messages) per person. And there they talk about everything.”

The revelation that third-party apps read users’ explicitly private data comes just days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a five-hour grilling in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He repeatedly told the committee that users have full control over who sees their information.

“Every time someone chooses to share, they choose who they want to share it with,” said Zuckerberg.

The Facebook chief also told the panel that his company had introduced new privacy controls, but stopped short of saying he would be willing to alter the company’s business model to better protect user privacy.

Facebook is conducting an internal audit to discover how many third-party apps scraped user data. Zuckerberg told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) that such an audit could take “many months,” and that he expected to find “a handful” of breaches from other firms.

Following over a month of privacy scandals at the social media company, a majority of Americans believe their personal data is unsafe with Facebook. Six in 10 Americans also think the government should increase regulations on social media and technology companies in general to prevent their private user data from being shared without their consent.

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Don’t sweat it: MyFitnessPal users unfazed despite hacking of 150mn accounts

The hack took place in late February but was revealed on March 29. Under Armour shares fell by as much as 4.6 percent to $15.59 in after-hours trading following the announcement, according to Bloomberg. Given the somewhat sensitive nature of this particular information, many users chose to make light of the breach.

“On March 25, 2018, we became aware that during February of this year an unauthorized party acquired data associated with MyFitnessPal user accounts. The affected information included usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords – the majority with the hashing function called bcrypt used to secure passwords,” Under Armour’s Chief Digital Officer Paul Fipps wrote in an emailed statement. That said he needn’t have worried judging by how the Twitterati have taken it in their stride.

“Once we became aware, we quickly took steps to determine the nature and scope of the issue. We are working with leading data security firms to assist in our investigation. We have also notified and are coordinating with law enforcement authorities.” Some online even praised how the company dealt with the situation.

User names, email addresses and passwords were all stolen in what is one of the largest data breaches in recorded history. However, given that the hack didn’t include any credit card information (payment information is collected and processed off-platform) or government-issued data like social security numbers and driver’s license numbers, reaction online has been somewhat lighthearted.

“Email addresses are valuable for spammers because the attackers would know that active, real users are behind these addresses,” said Engin Kirda, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston as cited by Bloomberg. “The dark web is usually where data like this is sold to the highest bidder.”

Under Armour did not disclose how the breach was carried out and the perpetrator has yet to be identified. The breach was the largest known hack of consumer data announced this year and ranks in the top five data breaches of all time.

READ MORE: Equifax exec charged with insider trading, profiting $1mn in ‘largest data breach in US history’

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Street drug laced with BUG SPRAY transforms casual users into crazed ZOMBIES

Image: Street drug laced with BUG SPRAY transforms casual users into crazed ZOMBIES

(Natural News)
One of the least expensive but deadliest street drugs available today is known as KD, Katie or Zombie. This drug may contain different ingredients, but the common denominator is always bug spray. Users take marijuana, banana leaves, tobacco or spice and lace it with a bug spray, most often Raid. This concoction is then smoked, giving users a 45-minute high that leaves them virtually unconscious. Some people choose to make their own drugs, while others buy it for around $20 a bag. Irrespective of where they get it, however, it is incredibly addictive and absolutely lethal.

In recent weeks, Indianapolis medics have had to deal with around a dozen KD overdoses each day, with some people overdosing repeatedly on the same day. Even for those users who don’t actually overdose on KD its effects are incredibly disturbing and cause what have been described by authorities as “zombie-like” reactions.

Onlookers describe users who become “slow and lethargic,” drool, and lose all motor function or the ability to communicate with others. In short, while in the throes of a high, KD users become totally unaware of and utterly unable to control their actions.

“We find them with their clothes off, eating the grass, pulling dirt out of the ground and trying to put it in their mouth,” Fire Department Captain Chris Major told CBS-affiliate WTTV.

This is perhaps unsurprising considering the ingredients in a typical bug spray like Raid. Inquisitr reported that these sprays generally contain piperonyl butoxide, permethrin, cypermethrin and imiprothrin, among others – all of which are incredibly harmful chemicals. And, when mixed with other ingredients and smoked, this cocktail becomes even more toxic. (Related: Commonly used insecticides impair child brain development even at low exposure levels.)

“You look at what it does to a bug,” firefighter Scott Lebherz told the Indy Star, “and then you got to think what it’s doing to your brain, and your body and everything else.”

Health officials have warned that smoking this drug carries an “extreme risk of fatality,” but users become addicted so quickly that few have heeded the warnings. The fire department reports that the drug is so fast-acting that many overdose victims are found with the drug still in their hands. (Related: Is your insect repellent made from toxic ingredients?)

Men’s Health recently reported:

Bug sprays often have high concentrations of pyrethroids, a pesticide that is meant to knock out or kill bugs like roaches. According to a 2014 study by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, “Animal studies of pyrethroid toxicity have shown hyperglycemia and elevated plasma levels of noradrenaline and adrenaline” — meaning the drug will give users one big adrenaline rush before having a rapid comedown. This quick high can make it highly addictive.

Indianapolis authorities are urgently trying to determine the source of the KD being sold on the city’s streets.

See for more news coverage of zombies. Seriously.

Sources for this article include:



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“Dumb F–ks”: Julian Assange Reminds Us What Mark Zuckerberg Thinks Of Facebook Users

Julian Assange fired off a tweet Friday afternoon reminding people of the time Mark Zuckerberg called his users “Dumb fucks” because they trusted him with their private information. 

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

The exchange, originally published by Business Insider‘s editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson in 2010, was an early instant messenger conversation then 19-year-old Zuckerberg had with a college friend shortly after he launched “The Facebook” in his dorm room.

At the time Business Insider published the exchange, Facebook had “faced one privacy flap after another, usually following changes to the privacy policy or new product releases.” 

But the company’s attitude toward privacy, as reflected in Mark’s early emails and IMs, features like Beacon and Instant Personalization, and the frequent changes to the privacy policy, has been consistently aggressive: Do something first, then see how people react.

And this does appear to reflect Mark’s own views of privacy, which seem to be that people shouldn’t care about it as much as they do — an attitude that very much reflects the attitude of his generation.

After all, here’s what early Facebook engineering boss, Harvard alum, and Zuckerberg confidant Charlie Cheever said in David Kirkpatrick’s brilliantly-reported upcoming book The Facebook Effect.

“I feel Mark doesn’t believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping stone. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong.”

Kirkpatrick had this to say about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in his book:

“Mark really does believe very much in transparency and the vision of an open society and open world, and so he wants to push people that way. I think he also understands that the way to get there is to give people granular control and comfort. He hopes you’ll get more open, and he’s kind of happy to help you get there. So for him, it’s more of a means to an end. For me, I’m not as sure.” 

Zuckerberg reportedly hacked into people’s email using their TheFacebook passwords…

At one point early on on Facebook history, Zuckerberg – nervous about an upcoming report in the Harvard Crimson, used “TheFacebook” login data of Crimson staff to crack into their Harvard email accounts to see if the paper was going to include a claim that he had stolen an idea for a TheFacebook feature called “Visualize Your Buddy.” 

Tim and Elisabeth decided to drop John’s claims from the story. But, this time, they decided to go ahead and publish a story on ConnectU’s claims against Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg was not content to wait until the morning to find out if the Crimson would include John’s accusations in its story.

Instead, he decided to access the email accounts of Crimson editors and review their emails. How did he do this? Here’s how Mark described his hack to a friend:

Mark used his site,, to look up members of the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. Then he examined a log of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members had ever entered an incorrect password into If the cases in which they had entered failed logins, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members’ Harvard email accounts. He successfully accessed two of them.

In other words, Mark appears to have used private login data from TheFacebook to hack into the separate email accounts of some TheFacebook users.

In one account he accessed, Mark saw an email from Crimson writer Tim McGinn to Cameron, Tyler, and Divya. Another email Mark read was this one, from Crimson managing editor Elisabeth Theodore to Tim McGinn:

From: Elisabeth Susan Theodore
To: Timothy John McGinn
Subject: Re: Follow-up

OK, he did seem very sleazy. And I thought that some of his answers to the questions were not very direct or open. I also thought that his reaction to the website was very very weird. But, even if it’s true so what? It’s an [redacted] thing to do but it’s not illegal, right? –Business Insider

Lo and behold, Mark’s cavalier attitude towards Facebook user data is costing him billions at a time he’s actively shedding shares as part of a $12 billion liquidation which started last September

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FB is blocking users from posting URL to a website allowing them to find out what data FB has collected on them

Frequently it isn’t information you’ve given to Facebook, it’s information gathered from other users.

Take, for instance, my case: I created an account with a realistic name (but not mine). They wanted a face photo, ostensibly to prove I wasn’t a bot — so I took a photo of a roomie who didn’t mind and that dressed up as me, scrubbed the exif info, and sent them that. Now, this was not a photo that had been posted anywhere else, it was a photo explicitly for this purpose. I then filled in just enough information to give people I was contacting a way to verify I was who I was — things like a couple colleges I’d attended, where I’d met many of them, and a couple interests. I posted no other photos of myself, though I did customize my page with some nature shots I’d taken, again exif scrubbed and posted nowhere else. Then I added a few friends who I’d told out-of-band to be expecting the request.

Every person I sent a request to accepted it. I used FB’s messenger to chat with them, and even got an add request from a couple others. Within a day or two, my account was locked and they wanted more photos to verify me.

So I resubmitted the photo. A couple days passed, account was unblocked and asked for a phone number to help with lockouts.

Here is the bit that proves what I originally said: I gave them a burner number that I keep for distribution to sources I don’t trust/don’t care about. This included a coworker from another department who asked me for a professional favor at one point, and who added me to her phone’s contact list.

The instant I finished verifying the phone number by responding to a text (thus confirming that FB can send texts to said number), suddenly my list of suggested friends gained a bunch of ex-coworkers and relations to them. They had used her contact list to map out a network of people likely related to me via her.

Ultimately that account was blocked after multiple “We’ve detected suspicious activity, give us more information on you” false-starts. Now, this was always logging in from the same browser, from the same host, on the same IP, and talking to the same people or adding new ones that FB knew were at least as linked to me as the ones it had suggested via that contact list, because they were invariably contacts of contacts I already had on my list (friend circles, after all). Eventually FB locked my account and said “We have to send you a text message, you need to respond with the code.” Well, the text message didn’t show up for days and had timed out by then. So I retried — same thing. Retry again, but this time sent myself messages from other phones on other carriers, all of which arrived instantly. My suspicion is that Facebook intentionally delayed the messages, because after a few attempts they blocked the account entirely. The only way to undo it? Give them government ID or multiple other items such as bills and subscription info for things.

Straight-up information harvesting.

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Should Facebook And Google Pay Users When They Sell Data Collected From Users?


Zero Hedge–Let’s imagine a model in which the marketers of data distribute some of their immense profits to the users who created and thus “own” the data being sold for a premium.

It’s not exactly news that Facebook, Google and other “free” services reap billions of dollars in profits by selling data mined/collected from their millions of users. As we know, If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold, also phrased as if the service is free, you are the product.

Correspondent GFB recently asked, why aren’t Facebook et al. sharing a slice of the profits reaped from users’ data with the users who create the data? Given the enormous data processing capabilities of these tech giants, it’s certainly not a technical issue to credit each user a micro-payment when the data they create and thus “own” (since the creator of any digital product is by rights the owner of that product, including data sold to marketers) is sold.

Is the presumption that the collector of users’ data “own” that data via the collection process false, legally and ethically? Teams of attorneys may well be employed to support this claim on legal grounds, but what about the ethics of this data-mining of the many to profit the few with the means to collect and sell the data harvested from users?

Now that the ethical foundation of all these tech giants has been revealed to be nothing but shifting sand, it’s a line of inquiry worth pursuing. In some ways it parallels the situation in biomedicine: if a private-sector corporation harvests a particular genetic variation from an individual, do they “own” the variation because they detected it, or does the individual whose tissue/blood was harvested retain some ownership?

We need to differentiate sites and services that 1) do not collect data from users and 2) sell display advertising seen equally by all users (i.e. the traditional media model) and sites and services that 1) collect data from users as their “business model” / reason to exist and 2) sell marketing/advertising for a premium because it’s targeted to individual users.

The difference between these two models is obvious: one is “broadcast” available equally to users and advertisers alike. The other is “targeted marketing” based on data harvested from individual users.

I think the ethical case for sharing the profits reaped from selling the premiums gained by targeting users based on data harvested from them is strong. Note that the premium is derived not from some unique technology or intellectual property developed by Facebook, Google et al. but specifically and directly from the sale of data harvested from users.

Let’s imagine a model in which the marketers of data distribute some of their immense profits to the users who created and thus “own” the data being sold for a premium. This could be viewed as a royalty paid to the creators of the data or as a dividend paid to the pool of “owners” of the data being collected and sold.

However the payment is labeled, the point is that the profits should be shared with those who are creating the data being sold.

There are plenty of profits to be shared:

*  *  *

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‘Bitcoin is #1 Priority’: New Snowden Leaks Show NSA is Targeting Cryptocurrency Users

The National Security Agency (NSA) managed to find ways to ‘track down senders and receivers’ of Bitcoins, according to an internal NSA report dated March 2013. The findings come from classified NSA documents, exposed by ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden and first published by The Intercept.

Crucially, the tracking may also have involved amassing information from bitcoin users’ computers. One NSA memo suggests that the NSA collected some Bitcoin users’ password information, internet activity and MAC address,  which is a type of unique device identification number.

Bitcoin is a digital currency which uses encryption to regulate its units of currency. From the outset, cryptocurrencies were designed to circumvent the control of banks and provide discretion for financial transactions. But they could not easily evade the attention of national governments, who take a keen interest in controlling flows of money.

Bitcoin was the most assiduously targeted cryptocurrency, with a report from March 2013 stating that “Bitcoin is #1 priority,” although other currencies such as Liberty Reserve were also on the agency’s radar.

In order to track Bitcoin, the NSA used a programme called MONKEYROCKET, a sub-programme of OAKSTAR, which gathered data from the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Asia, according to the documents.

Part of this effort involved tricking targets into using privacy software that was actually funneling information directly to the agency.

Financial privacy “is something that matters incredibly” to the Bitcoin community, Emin Gun Sirer, associate professor and co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts at Cornell University, told The Intercept. “People who are privacy-conscious will switch to privacy-oriented coins” after learning of the NSA’s operations, he added.

The exact justification underpinning the surveillance remains unclear, although digital currencies such as bitcoin are known to pose numerous difficulties for security agencies because their anonymity means financial transactions cannot be monitored.

One NSA document states that the agency was “seeking to attract targets engaged in terrorism” which it could ‘exploit’.  However the memo goes on to say that “other targeted users will include those sought by NSA offices such as Int’l Crime & Narcotics, Follow-The-Money and Iran.” which could indicate a wider purpose, beyond terrorism, for the tracking.

In a report also from March 2013, the NSA states that the anonymous nature of bitcoin currency means that it enables “organised crime and cyber targets” to move and to launder money.

In March 2018 it was revealed that illegal child abuse imagery was detected in Bitcoin’s blockchain, according to a study from German researchers. The discovery could put cryptocurrency users at risk as anyone who downloads a blockchain can be held liable for illegal content.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have fallen significantly this year, leading some investors to fear the cryptocurrency bubble could burst in 2018. On Tuesday, Bitcoin was up 2.88 percent, trading near the $8,500 mark.

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Snowden Documents Expose How the NSA Worked To Track Bitcoin Users

A new report from The Intercept reveals that the National Security Agency has been able to track users of the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin since at least 2013. The revelation is detailed in newly released classified documented obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden and provided to the The Intercept. The documents show the agency accessing the fiber-optic cables which allow internet traffic to travel around the world in order to gain access to private information of bitcoin users.

The Intercept reported:

“Classified documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the National Security Agency indeed worked urgently to target Bitcoin users around the world — and wielded at least one mysterious source of information to “help track down senders and receivers of Bitcoins,” according to a top-secret passage in an internal NSA report dating to March 2013. The data source appears to have leveraged the NSA’s ability to harvest and analyze raw, global internet traffic while also exploiting an unnamed software program that purported to offer anonymity to users, according to other documents.”

An internal NSA report from March 15, 2013 stated that the agency was interested in monitoring traffic for other cryptos; however, “Bitcoin is #1 priority”. Another memo from March 29, 2013 indicated that the NSA collected users’ passwords, internet history, and a unique device identification number known as a MAC address. The memo suggests analysts were also tracking internet users’ internet addresses, network ports, and timestamps. The documents also indicate the use of the NSA’s powerful internal search engine, XKeyScore.

“As of 2013, the NSA’s Bitcoin tracking was achieved through program code-named OAKSTAR, a collection of covert corporate partnerships enabling the agency to monitor communications, including by harvesting internet data as it traveled along fiber optic cables that undergird the internet,” The Intercept wrote. The NSA used a sub-program of OAKSTAR – known as MONKEYROCKET – to gather data from the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Asia.

MONKEYROCKET is also apparently falsely promoted to the public as a tool for anonymity. The documents describe MONKEYROCKET as a “non-Western Internet anonymization service” with a “significant user base” in Iran and China. One document notes that the goal ofMONKEYROCKET was to “attract targets engaged in terrorism, [including] Al Qaida” to use the “browsing product,” which “the NSA can then exploit.”  This is known as a honey pot in computer security. The NSA deceives users into believing they are secure and anonymous and then uses the program to track the activities of users. The documents do not clarify what type of program or software MONKEYROCKET actually is, but the description aligns with a virtual private network, or VPN, which is designed to encrypt and mask internet traffic.

Matthew Green, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, told The Intercept that the revelations are “bad news for privacy.” Green also said he is “pretty skeptical” that using Tor, the popular browser which promises anonymity, could escape the eyes and ears of the NSA. Green’s comments are bolstered by recently released documents which indicate that the TOR project is nearly entirely funded by agencies with connections to the U.S. government.

Another disturbing aspect of the latest Snowden revelation is the possibility that this program may have been used to illegally gather information in the Silk Road trial. In that trial, Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to three life sentences after the court was convinced he was the accused mastermind who created the Silk Road website which allowed drugs to be purchased using Bitcoin. Ulbricht’s attorneys attempted to have the charges thrown out throughout his trial because they believed the U.S. government had illegally obtained access to Ulbricht’s computers and property. The judge overruled such objections, and the entire premise was dismissed as a conspiracy. The Intercept noted that “although the documents leaked by Snowden do not address whether the NSA aided the FBI’s Silk Road investigation, they show the agency working to unmask Bitcoin users about six months before Ulbricht was arrested.”

These new documents show that the NSA had access to Bitcoin users around the world around the same time that Ulbricht’s case was heating up, pointing to plausibility that the NSA used this program (or another still secret tool) go gain access to the private documents of Ross Ulbricht. The question remains as to how many other Bitcoin and cryptocurrency users’ information was accessed by the NSA or other agencies of the U.S. government. Until there is a transparent investigation with subpoena power that looks into the hidden activities of the NSA and other intelligence agencies, the American public remains in the dark regarding the depth and nature of the American surveillance state.



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