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Saudi Arabian Telecom Pitches to Moxie Marlinspike 128

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the indirect-terrorism dept.
An anonymous reader sent in this excerpt from Moxie Marlinspike's weblog: "Last week I was contacted by an agent of Mobily, one of two telecoms operating in Saudi Arabia, about a surveillance project that they're working on in that country. Having published two reasonably popular MITM tools, it's not uncommon for me to get emails requesting that I help people with their interception projects. I typically don't respond, but this one (an email titled 'Solution for monitoring encrypted data on telecom') caught my eye. ... The requirements are the ability to both monitor and block mobile data communication, and apparently they already have blocking setup. ... When they eventually asked me for a price quote, and I indicated that I wasn't interested in the job for privacy reasons, they responded with this: ' I know that already and I have same thoughts like you freedom and respecting privacy, actually Saudi has a big terrorist problem and they are misusing these services for spreading terrorism and contacting and spreading their cause that's why I took this and I seek your help. If you are not interested than maybe you are on indirectly helping those who curb the freedom with their brutal activities.'"
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Saudi Arabian Telecom Pitches to Moxie Marlinspike

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  • by pecosdave (536896) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @03:11AM (#43717567) Homepage Journal

    our officials here have snooped on us in every way possible for years. When they can't figure out how to snoop (old Skype) they simply hire Microsoft to buy the company and add a back-door.

    The Saudi's could learn a lot from us.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you don't spy on your own people, the terrorists win. Heard it all before.

  • by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @03:21AM (#43717603) Homepage Journal

    The ruling al-Saud family will soon have to come with a follow-up for the current king. In the same time, a complete army of foreign experts & technicians is required to keep the entire Saudi infrastructure ( telco, roads, water supply, power generation ) running. Moreover, the Saudi government is continuously spying upon its citizens, as a habit. Women are slowly beginning to protest against the enormous discrimination and contempt they live under.

    All of this taken together mixes up quite explosively. Mark my words: 25 years from now, Saudi Arabia as we know it will have gone down

    • The ruling al-Saud family will soon have to come with a follow-up for the current king. In the same time, a complete army of foreign experts & technicians is required to keep the entire Saudi infrastructure ( telco, roads, water supply, power generation ) running. Moreover, the Saudi government is continuously spying upon its citizens, as a habit. Women are slowly beginning to protest against the enormous discrimination and contempt they live under.

      All of this taken together mixes up quite explosively. Mark my words: 25 years from now, Saudi Arabia as we know it will have gone down

      Sooner than that, I think. The succession passes brother to brother among the sons of Abdulaziz. The youngest was born in the mid 1940s. The available heirs are getting older and older very very fast.

      When the brothers are all gone, Saudi Arabia will fall into chaos and that could happen in the next few years.

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      The discrimination against women is not a result of the royal family. It's a result of the capitulation of the royal family to the demands of the religious fanatics to avoid seeming insufficiently Islamic. If the house of Saud falls, things will get much, much worse for anybody who isn't a straight, Sunni Muslim, male.
      • The house of Saudi is essentially ceremonial, like the Queen of England. The terrorists already run the country, and with western/eastern help have spread worldwide, who, in case you haven't noticed, are reveling in the total destruction. So when the Great Pirates once again bring order to the galaxy, they will be heroes.

    • Hopefully we'll manage to finish repatriating all that American oil they went and put their country on top of before that happens...

    • Mark my words: 25 years from now, Saudi Arabia as we know it will have gone down

      I agree with you, but my fear is that what's going to replace it will be much much worse. The Arab Spring has shown that if given the choice, Muslims will choose to enslave themselves in repressive Islamo-fascist regimes. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the successor regime to the House of Saud ends up being Osama Bin Laden's dream government. Even Turkey has gone backwards. 10 years ago they had a legitimate shot at joining the EU and now the unspoken truth is that the EU will never let them in becau

      • They weren't given a 'choice'. It was the choice they were given. The only thing that bloomed during the "Arab Spring" was the arms trade..

  • The Saudi bloke seems to have said nothing wrong... and he is sincere. Which is more than you can say about Moxie -- who's protecting "privacy" by revealing one side of a private conversation.

    • Actually, let me reverse my own comment... (having read up on Saudi Arabia's human right's record).

      The issue is the Saudi's can target terror with these MITM tools -- true. But they also have a track record targeting basic human rights (free press, faith).

      Moxie is well within his rights turning down the job. However, its best he did not reveal the name of the Saudi gent (who still seems sincere).

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wait... so your conditions for a government being able to intercept all communications consist solely of their "human rights record"? And you see nothing wrong with this?

        • No, they'd be something akin to a wiretap warrant issued by (mostly) just judges following (mostly) just laws.

          They do have significant terror issues and want to be able to do these intercepts...

          The problem is their track record on human rights. Being ruled by just laws is a human right. It's upto Moxie. But have you considered the implications of moxie revealing this man's name. Think about it Mr. ..? Mr. Anonymous Coward.

          And btw, your govt. is *able* to intercept communications. Including this. But I thin

      • Actually, let me reverse my own comment... (having read up on Saudi Arabia's human right's record).

        The issue is the Saudi's can target terror with these MITM tools -- true. But they also have a track record targeting basic human rights (free press, faith).

        Moxie is well within his rights turning down the job. However, its best he did not reveal the name of the Saudi gent (who still seems sincere).

        I'm sure the Saudis would be interested in people seeking to free slaves as well.

  • "If you're not with us, you're against us."

    That's really the best line they can come up with? I just got a faint ping on my dubiousonar.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I used to get this line a lot after writing some papers on/developing a darknet. I was even harassed about it by a government employee at a conference.

      It's the same old weary rhetoric they use to push controversial legislation; Terrorism and child protection. These are the two things that governments have spread enough FUD about to immediately silence any debate on the protection of privacy.

      It's not just citizens under oppressive regimes that have to operate under the premise that they are being monitored.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      "If you're not with us, you're against us."

      That's really the best line they can come up with? I just got a faint ping on my dubiousonar.

      well, they had to come up with SOMETHING.
      you know, since their emails were being read by the state thought police and of course they know it.

      once you get enough gestapo going on in a country, the communications cease to be to the person they're addressed to and end up being done for the sake of the people running surveillance - and even the people running the surveillance come trapped in the surveillance - like 4 stasi agents ratting each other out after trying to get each other to perform some crime or ano

      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        Being fair though, while the line was a bit over the top starring sylvester stallone, it was pretty valid to make.

        Moxie refused for a set of reasons, the agent pointed out that by refusing for those reasons, that though the work could possibly be used to violate principals Moxie does not wish violated -- that by refusing the work, Moxie would be allowing a greater form of evil to continue for fear of creating a smaller form of evil.

        I mean, I'm not saying I AGREE with anyone here, but I believe that's what t

  • Point of view (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @04:38AM (#43717841) Homepage
    One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Terrorism is a tactic.

      You can fight for freedom without resorting to terrorism, you can be a terrorist without having any interest in freedom.

      Sure you get a media bias and "friendly" governments tend get a pass, but really it has nothing to do with which side you are on and everything to do with what you actually do.

    • yeah no kidding
    • Hey, when a government gets blowback for being repressive and corrupt, the only valid response is to become more repressive and corrupt.

      Right?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the participants in the "arab spring" used a variety of tools to facilitate and coordinate their activities - including twitter.

    The saudis have since bought a major stake in twitter. I wonder why..

    So this article is no doubt just a part of what they are doing to stop being overthrown.

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @05:07AM (#43717935)

      the participants in the "arab spring" used a variety of tools to facilitate and coordinate their activities

      I'm glad you used quotes around "arab spring", in reality it has turned out to be an islamist winter [washingtontimes.com].

      • Yeah, right, ...due to lack of U.S. 'leadership' (translation: outside meddling)?

      • by tqk (413719)

        I'm glad you used quotes around "arab spring", in reality it has turned out to be an islamist winter [washingtontimes.com].

        That's from Oct. 2011. "This won't turn out well, kids!"

        Why does it appear we're experiencing a full court press denouncing the Arab Spring this morning? Were you guys there poo pooing Hungary's and Czechoslovakia's attempted revolts too? Revolutions can be messy and all of these countries have a lot of messy stuff lingering from their previous regimes. We're still waiting for Russia to get over its problems after "getting rid of the Soviets" (chyaa, right!). Hell, we're still waiting for the UK to get

      • "There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity,” President Obama said in May. In his typically weak manner, he also cautioned that, “we must proceed with a sense of humility."

        1. He is correct about the humility. Unless we are interested in creating a proper constitution that does not allow religion in lawmaking, with associated 15+ year pacification-level military involvement, i.e. 10x more, more like what we did after

  • If you don't do it, somebody will. If the price is right, why not that somebody be me ? We are living the biggest capitalist economy of the world. And money makes the world go round, despite what some nut-jobs believe...
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      No, rotational inertia makes the world go round. Money is a very recent addition that facilitates trade and allows a select (lucky/ruthless) few to accumulate and leverage wealth far in excess of anything our ancestors could have dreamed of. Not everyone agrees that it's the best way to run the world, and many of us consider things like principles, compassion, etc. to be the more valuable assets.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why does everyone assume it really was a Saudi agent? Could just as well have been a western agent testing him.
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Why would a western agent care? Technology export restrictions? We already know the Saudi's are doing this sort of thing, and much of the west is already using or at least developing such tools to monitor their own populace.

  • From Ars Technica [arstechnica.com]:

    "One of the design documents that they volunteered specifically called out compelling a [certificate authority] in the jurisdiction of the UAE or Saudi Arabia to produce SSL certificates that they could use for interception," Marlinspike wrote in a blog post.

    Clearly there is something wrong with the public key infrastructure on the web.

  • ' I know that already and I have same thoughts like you freedom and respecting privacy, actually Saudi has a big terrorist problem and they are misusing these services for spreading terrorism and contacting and spreading their cause that's why I took this and I seek your help. If you are not interested than maybe you are on indirectly helping those who curb the freedom with their brutal activities.'"

    Is this a quote from the Saudi government? Sounds like something Canada's Vic Toews would say. Or maybe somebody from Washington D.C.....

    I'm confused.....

    • by Kreigaffe (765218)

      You're expecting too much. I've yet to find a business anywhere that didn't send out personal communications with poor spelling and grammar and punctuation, and I've yet to find out that hasn't posted signage on their premises somewhere that is void of typos.

      If I see one more " thank's! " in my life.. it won't matter, because one is already too many. how do you even fucking make a mistake like that good fucking.....

  • Smart guy, but a bit of a windbag. Expressing himself clearly obviously isn't one of his strong suits.

    And TBH, betraying a confidence and humiliating people in public also rates as unethical. I normally don't give a damn about muslims, but that's pretty rude.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Suite yourself. I'd say tyrants deserve all the exposure and humiliation we can pile on them.

  • In their twisted for of reality they could arrest you for "aiding the enemy".

    In other news: Don't go to the States, you could get arrested for downloading a song.

  • Cisco, Bluecoat, or on of the other big firms will "help" them.
  • In next weeks slashdot I expect to see something about Moxie Marlinspike being asked to deliver a nice shiny yacht to Saudi Arabia and it going horribly wrong when he gets arrested for piracy :)

  • Your ethics won't be the only thing in danger.

  • well if you wont fix "our " problem ... you are the problem
  • The head of Saudi Arabia's religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis.

    Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites - and especially Twitter - "has lost this world and his afterlife".

    Twitter was the platform for those who did not have any platform, he said.

    BBC News Middle East [bbc.co.uk]

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