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Saudi Arabian Telecom Pitches to Moxie Marlinspike 128

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 vikingpower ( 768921 ) 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

  • Re:Dumbass. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @04:13AM (#43717775)

    instead of doing real work that helps real people.

    Are we talking about the same Moxie Marlinspike?
    Who wrote things like:
    (aguably the most used encrypted communications apps for Android)

    I could go on. Hell, I haven't even gotten to the talks he's done and the vulnerabilities he's disclosed.
    Seriously, if you're that dismissive of Moxie Marlinspike, you MUST have cured a major disease or something. Please, do tell.

  • Re: Moxie (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ellie K ( 1804464 ) on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @08:04AM (#43718525) Homepage Journal

    Aside from the fact that he's been championing against the certificate authority system...

    Yes! I was wondering when someone would mention this! Anyone who's curious can glance at Moxie's repositories on Github. It is exactly as you described, about his efforts to make a better certificate authority system. I don't know if it was because it gave the U.S. too much power, or because it was not especially reliable (I think DigiNotar or Digi something cert auth break happened around then), many other issues.

    I have mixed feelings about Moxie. He's very much the Anarchist, rebel hax00r. But he isn't insufferably arrogant like some of his peers are. He's a good sailor (not yachts!); sometimes I like what he has to say. And he looks sweet, handsome in the one photo I've seen of him, not overstated or hipster-odious. Anyway, the last time I checked, Moxie was a Twitter employee.

    Good point too about the oddity that "agents of a foreign power", whether Saudi Arabia or any other, would approach Moxie for such work. It is unlikely that Saudi Arabia would be less informed than you and I. Moxie has a hefty entry in Wikipedia. I even wrote a post on my hobby blog about one of his projects a few years ago! I have no doubt that retaining Moxie's services would be worthwhile. But there are many less visible, less vocal alternatives.

    I wish I could say "thank you" to whomever submitted the original post here. Good find!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2013 @11:56AM (#43720851)

    This is perfectly right. The reason al Qaeda exists is Wahabism, and the Wahabis came to power in the first place as a part of the partnership with the Sauds. At any rate, the root cause of terrorism is Islam, which at its heart preaches all the things that the Wahabis practice. Sure, implementations vary across the Muslim empire, but the bottom line - encourage terror against Infidels until they accept Islamic supremacy - is pretty much common from Morocco to Mindanao.

    If one visits Saudi Arabia, one notes how rigid that country is about being Islamic. During Ramadan, non-Muslims have to eat privately, and similarly, any non-Muslim religious activities have to be clandestine. In Saudi offices, during the Muezzin (call to prayer, which is 5 times a day), it is mandatory for all Muslims (practicing or nominal) to take prayer breaks. It's illegal to build churches, synagogues or any temples of other religions in KSA. But before atheists here get all excited about that, note that Atheism is not the official religion of KSA - Islam is, and it's NEVER illegal to build mosques anywhere. And of course, as is well known, Mecca & Medina are off-limits to non-Muslims - something unparalleled today in other religions: non-Catholics can very much visit the Vatican, non-Jews can visit Jerusalem, non-Hindus can visit Varanasi and so on. Not so in Islam.

    Not just that - in Saudi Arabia, any material that has nothing about religion but is judged by their equivalent of the KGB as being 'un-Islamic' has a good chance of being impounded. I've heard horror stories of people on ships that were just in transit in Saudi ports who got their books impounded for that very reason. If al Qaeda ever did take over in Riyadh and establish their Caliphate, how much worse could they conceivably be? There is already no religious freedom in that country, and those troglodytes are just offering more Islam.

    In short, just like in Syria, there is no right side to pick in Saudi Arabia - they are all Islamic fanatics who want to perfect a theocracy and export Jihad worldwide. The Saudis actively do it - Aramco, which is wholly owned by the Saudi government, funds dawa (Islamic proselytization) worldwide, and also funds Jihadi groups, like the Sunni rebels in Syria. Those Sunni rebels are directly allied with the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, so it would make no difference who runs Riyadh. (Of course, with the US itself supporting al Qaeda in Syria, it loses any rationale to speak against terror, especially when it steadfastly refuses to recognize the link between jihad terror and Islam)

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken