Subpoenaed Tor developer dodges FBI, leaves US
rayzer at riseup.net
Wed May 18 09:59:07 PDT 2016
Money.Cnn. See article for links n shit:
"The FBI's attempts to break into Tor are starting to manifest in
FBI agents are currently trying to subpoena one of Tor's core software
developers to testify in a criminal hacking investigation, CNNMoney has
But the developer, who goes by the name Isis Agora Lovecruft, fears that
federal agents will coerce her to undermine the Tor system -- and expose
Tor users around the world to potential spying.
That's why, when FBI agents approached her and her family over
Thanksgiving break last year, she immediately packed her suitcase and
left the United States for Germany.
"I was worried they'd ask me to do something that hurts innocent people
-- and prevent me from telling people it's happening," she said in an
exclusive interview with CNNMoney.
The FBI declined to comment on the matter, citing a policy to neither
confirm nor deny the existence of ongoing investigations.
However, according to an FBI agent familiar with the case, FBI agents in
Atlanta and Los Angeles are seeking Lovecruft's help to investigate a
hacking case in which she, in their eyes, is "connected."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for Internet
freedom, has now taken up her cause.
"Her primary goal is to make sure she can come back to the United States
when she wants to do that," said Nate Cardozo, a senior staff attorney
at EFF. "And to have threats of subpoenas explained or go away."
"Please call me"
It started when FBI Special Agent Mark W. Burnett stopped by Lovecruft's
parents' home in Los Angeles while the family was on vacation in Hawaii.
He left his card, on which he wrote, "Please call me."
Her mother immediately called Ben Rosenfeld, an attorney in San
Francisco who specializes in technology and surveillance law.
On Dec. 2, he called Agent Burnett and presented himself as Lovecruft's
lawyer. Lovecruft told CNNMoney she had been willing to meet the FBI
with her attorney present. But Rosenfeld was told by agents that they
would circumvent him and approach Lovecruft directly. At the time, the
FBI wouldn't say why it sought her.
There were clues, though.
In late 2015, it was becoming apparent that the FBI was aggressively
trying to pierce Tor's veil of anonymity.
Tor hides someone's physical location by bouncing computer signals
throughout its worldwide network. And while it's run by a U.S.
government-backed nonprofit to protect free speech, Tor is also a
preferred tool for hackers, drug traffickers, and child pornographers.
The FBI has managed to hack Tor users in the past. To pull this off, the
FBI has also compelled institutions, like Carnegie Mellon University, to
Lovecruft, one of the few people intimately familiar with Tor's inner
workings, feared she would be pressured to assist as well.
"That would undermine all the work that we do to protect human rights
activists, women researching birth control... all these people need
privacy. They need what Tor provides," she said. "I would not undermine
Lovecruft thought she'd get caught up in the FBI's perceived war on
hackers. The Department of Justice has come down hard on digital
dissidents like Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide when facing federal
charges in 2013. Fearing a similar fight, Lovecruft refused to leave her
San Francisco apartment for a week.
"There was this feeling the air had changed, and that I couldn't
breathe," she said. "I'd look at my bike and think, I'm not supposed to
go outside. Maybe some agents will pick me up off the street if I ride
my bike. I'm just going to stay here, and not respond to anyone when
Flight to Berlin
Lovecruft had intended to move to Germany someday, but she put those
plans on overdrive. She booked a flight to Berlin that weekend,
including a return flight she had no intention of taking -- just to
avoid raising suspicions.
On Dec. 7, without seeing family or friends, she took a taxi to San
Francisco International Airport. She nervously made her way past TSA
agents wearing a $1 pair of blue-green aviator sunglasses, unsure if she
was breaking any laws by leaving the country.
When the plane lifted from the tarmac, Lovecruft sent a message on
Twitter, letting loved ones know she slipped away.
But it's not over. In April, FBI Special Agent Kelvin Porter in Atlanta
called her lawyer. This time, he wanted to know where to send a subpoena
for Lovecruft to help testify in a criminal hacking case.
Cardozo at the EFF is adamant that Lovecruft hasn't violated the law by
dodging the FBI. He and Lovecruft acknowledge that the FBI might have a
legitimate reason to seek her help. But they just want to figure out
what that is.
Lovecruft, speaking from Berlin by phone on an encrypted app, still
sounds worried: "I don't know what they want. I don't know what happens
to me if I go back."
CNNMoney (New York) First published May 17, 2016: 8:44 AM ET
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