Successful inquiry into #OpWardrive

The Joy of Tech #354 - They always dreamed of having a home in the range
The Joy of Tech #354 - They always dreamed of having a home in the range

On Wednesday September 21st, EFF Austin [ @EFFaustin ] was notified about the Austin Police Department’s (APD) Digital Analysis Response Team’s [ DART, @APDDART ] “Operation Wardrive” [ #OpWardrive ] via the KVUE [ @KVUE ] news article that originally appeared at the following URI (it’s relatively common for journalism operations to reuse the same URI to track stories as they develop, sometimes redirecting to new articles):
http://www.kvue.com/news/local/APD-conductiong-Operation-Warfare-to-keep-internet-users-safe-130218768.html

For reference, the text of the original KVUE article is cited in EFF Austin’s response.

Beginning with KVUE’s article, which appears to have been the only source of information and perspective on APD’s intent, a largely uncoordinated but similarly informed collective action took place across multiple points of interface and communication with APD and the Austin City Council [ @AustinTexasGov, #ATXCouncil ]. This seems to have ensured that officials and decision makers in a position to intervene were made aware of public sentiment in a timely manner. Sufficient public concern was observed to motivate officials towards action.

There is uncertainty about whether “Operation Wardrive” has been canceled or postponed, as reflected in this sequence of tweets from KVUE’s account on Thursday morning.

@KVUE (Thu Sep 22 10:23am, 10:20am, 9:30am CST)
@KVUE (Thu Sep 22 10:23am, 10:20am, 9:30am CST)

APD Chief of Police Art Acevedo is more clear in his email response (Thu Sep 22 10:13:55am CST) to Austinite Mark Boyden‘s thoughtful email addressed to all Austin City Council members, several local activists, Acevedo, and APD Public Information Office Manager Anna Sabana.

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. This WarDrive idea was not approved by APD Executive Staff and in fact has been disapproved. We will be releasing a statement later today. Although the involved unit’s intent was noble (educating the public about the risks to your personal information), a PSA or other educational effort would be much more effective. To place you further at ease, the idea was killed before actual implementation.

The APD Public Information Office did not publish a formal statement on Thursday via APD News Releases nor the City of Austin Communications and Public Information Office.

KVUE’s Shelton Green [ @SheltonG_KVUE, bio, email ] reached out to EFF Austin seeking our perspective for a follow-up story. EFF Austin President Jon Lebkowsky [ @jonl, wikipedia, homepage ] sat for that interview, which was crafted into the following story, which led the news on KVUE last night (Thu Sep 22 10:00pm).

What’s Next?

As Shelton Green mentions at the end of the story, EFF Austin would like to work with the Austin Police Department Digital Analysis Response Team to craft a winning public education campaign on the risks as well as the virtues of operating an open, publicly-accessible wireless access point. We’ve begun to compile information and gather existing recommendations in this space (if you have sources, please add as a comment or mention to @EFFaustin with hashtag #OpWardrive).

EFF Austin has also decided to continue with our Texas Public Information Act Open Records request. We expect to receive an assessment of the viability of each of our 10 specific inquiries along with an estimate of fees we must pay to have the records processed.

Yesterday, some members of the EFF Austin Board of Directors were frankly shocked by the arrival of an unsolicited $10 donation. I had forgotten we even have a Paypal account. But it made us feel good, and reminded us that we are embarking on a path which will have attendant fees and expenses. We would like to help serve the public interest by walking that path, and would therefore like to ask if you can help support our efforts. If you like what we’re doing, please consider donating (we’re a nonprofit) to help us defray approaching expenses. There’s a Paypal donate button at the upper right of this page.

We believe in transparency and sunlight’s powers of disinfection. EFF Austin will provide transparency into our expenses and you can be sure we will sing praises to our supporters for their role in helping us act. Thank you.

If you’d like to get more involved, consider following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook, joining our interesting email discussion list, or coming to our next meetup.

Tom Brown: Identity as if People Mattered

Tom presented at the first of the revived EFF-Austin monthly meetings, June 1st at the Flying Saucer. He presented an overview of Internet identity and authentication issues, including some history, going back to Microsoft’s Passport and the .net initiative called Hailstorm, which were about authentication and storing an individual’s information – and which were ultimately not broadly adopted. Tom compared Facebook Connect to Passport/Hailstorm – they’re proprietary services, and they’re efficient, but not resilient. He talked about the evolution of a commons-based approach (Identity Commons) via the Internet Identity Workshop, and Kaliya Hamlin’s concept of user-centric identity – which is about the “Freedom to be who you want to be online – the right to anonymity and pseudonymity,” methods for identify validation and sharing the information you specifically want to share (vs having the data taken from you), and having an ability to control and curate the information about you that appears online. He also brought up the important question of ownership of a personal identifier – who can you trust? How do we avoid being locked into a (commercial) provider of identity/authentication services (like Facebook). A couple of important concepts here: Federation, which is the OpenID model, and delegation, which is the model used in OAuth (used by Twitter) and Facebook Connect. Tom talked about the question whether User-Centric identity is dead. One next step, the OpenID Connect project, isn’t user-centric, but the National Institute for Standards and Technology, there’s a new National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace that is intended to be designed based on a user-centric federation model. (Tom’s slides are at http://effaustin-identity.heroku.com/#1.

June 1 Meeting: What’s up with the Internet Identity Movement?

Identity as if PEOPLE mattered…

Why should you care about the Internet Identity Movement? What makes it a BIG DEAL? How identity is handled online has always been a huge issue, and is a big issue for your privacy and online experience.

Tom Brown at IIW
Tom Brown at IIW. Photo by ValeskaUX

Back by popular demand! EFF-Austin’s resuming monthly public meetings on Internet and cyber liberties topics of interest.

Our first event is June 1st, 7PM at the Flying Saucer, 815 W 47th St at the Triangle. Free RSVP here.

Tom Brown
Tom Brown

Our very special guest speaker is coder extraordinaire Tom Brown, just returned from Internet Identity Workshop #12

The IIW is an open space workshop focused on user-centric digital identity. Attendees at IIW12 included many more people traveling from overseas and representation from the U.S. government with the emerging NSTIC initiative. We will have a conversation about the good, bad and ugly of NSTIC and the relationship and progress of protocols supporting user-centric identity including OpenID, OAuth and OStatus and derivatives like OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0.

Bio: Tom Brown is an open source software developer who can be found on github.com as herestomwiththeweather. Tom has added OpenID, OAuth and OpenTransact to popular open source ruby projects and has attended most of the identity workshops since IIW7. Tom co-founded SuperBorrowNet, Inc. and maintains the oscurrency project in use by the Austin Time Exchange, the Bay Area Community exchange and emerging community exchanges in Oregon, Canada and Ireland.