Friday, December 30, 2011

Anonymous Vs EFF: Corporate Donation Riles Activists

Anonymous Versus EFF? Corporate Donation Riles Activists

by Ryan Singel, wired.com
November 14th 2011

Online freedom advocates blasted the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on Monday, angry that the digital rights group accepted money for its annual awards ceremony from Palantir, a secretive data mining software firm involved in a convoluted plot to bring down Wikileaks.

Palantir, which has made hundreds of millions of dollars selling high-end data analysis tools to secretive govenerment agencies, was exposed in February as being party to an attempt to win a federal contract to wage a disinformation and hacking campaign against Wikileaks and its supporters, including journalists and Anonymous.

The company is the premier sponsor of the EFF’s award ceremony Tuesday.

In a presentation unearthed by Anonymous hackers, someone at Palantir used the company’s powerful software to create a visualization of a Wikileaks support network. That network included New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee and Salon.com commentator Glenn Greenwald – that despite Palantir’s promises that it has “voluntarily develeoped new technologies and a rigourous frame work to protect privacy.”

Palantir, along with three other firms, were seeking to get money from the government to take action against Wikileaks, in a scheme that backfired disastrously.

Mike Godwin, who served as EFF’s first general counsel in the 1990s, tweeted:  ”I simply have no explanation for the Palantir/EFF thing. I don’t have language for it.”

Godwin was hardly alone.

A group of Anonymous members issued a “statement of concern,” which read, in part:

Palantir was involved in ‘Team Themis’ which attempted to undermine Wikileaks, and its supporters (including Anonymous and Glenn Greenwald), through a campaign of strategic ‘attacks’. In agreeing to accept Palantir as one of its sponsors the EFF has called into question the legitimacy of its role as a ‘defender of civil liberties in a digital age’.

As for the EFF, spokeswoman Rebecca Jeschke says the money doesn’t mean anything.

“Palantir wanted to support the Pioneer Awards and we were happy with the contribution. As with all our sponsors, and for that matter all our contributors to EFF, it doesn’t mean we endorse them,” Jeschke told Wired. “They offered a contribution – I don’t think that should legitimize them or delegitimize them in anyone’s opinion. People should make their own decisions about Palantir.”

The EFF’s Pioneer Awards celebration being held Tuesday night in San Francisco will be honoring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Professor Ian Goldberg – co-inventor of the instant message encryption protocal called Off-The-Record, and Tunisian blog Nawatt.org.

The full presentation on disrupting Wikileaks, which Palantir CEO Alexander Karp  apologized for, n the Charlie Rose show as the work of a rogue employee, can be seen here.

Palantir Technologies, funded in part by the CIA’s venture capital arm and co-founded by ex-PayPal founder Peter Thiel, quickly grew to become one of the dominant beneficiaries of the post-9/11 intelligence spending boom. Palantir also sells its software to hedge funds and banks, and was used to spot fraud in Obama’s stimulus package.

In an October presentation to aspiring entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s startup school, Palantir co-founder Stephen Cohen described demoing the software to a room full of intelligence operatives who high-fived each other after seeing the software at work.

Though the title of the talk was about using technology to disrupt terrorism while protecting civil liberties, Cohen did not mention privacy protections during his talk.

Palantir did not reply to a request for comment.

Original Page: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/eff-palantir/

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