Week 20 discussion

I LOVED Micah’s lecture this week! I thought it was super interesting and also surprisingly a lot more relevant to what we’re trying to do in our libraries. I mean, not that we’re going to set up airgapped computers anytime soon, but I think contextualizing what whistleblowers and journalists use is important because we can actually support both of them by making these tools and strategies more common (that’s the point I was trying to make at the end).

And something else that I am thinking of now that I didn’t think of during the lecture is this: it’s actually pretty valuable to know about these high level threat models, because even if you don’t encounter them directly out in the wild, you will get questions about them in privacy classes! People are always curious about this kinda stuff, and now you can say “Micah Lee, the guy who taught Glenn Greenwald about GPG encrypted email so he could talk to Ed Snowden, told me…”

What did everyone else think? Here are our discussion questions for this week to get us started:

  • What’s unique about this threat model? How does it overlap with other threat models
    we’ve discussed?
  • How would you use these strategies and tools in your own communities?

Librarians use airgapped computers to format orphaned usb drives all the time. Someone mentioned this before, yes? #computerlab

oh yeah I’d forgotten that people talked about that! good reminder too that there are different kinds of airgaps – some that aren’t currently connected to the internet, and some that will NEVER BE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET EVER AND HAVE ALL NETWORK CONNECTIVITY STUFF ON THE BOARD SOLDERED CLOSED OH MY GOD. lol

Yeah, the airgapped computer for reformatting thumb drives is the only overlap I can think of off the top of my head too. Micah’s lecture was really interesting and I’m glad to have heard about their procedures at the Intercept, but feels really far beyond the realm of what anyone I actually encounter would be facing. I feel like the main ways my library can support people with a threat model like that is to make our privacy practices very explicit and consistent. For example, while the majority of the computers in the library wipe all user data when they are restarted, the 7 most frequently used machines are on a different system. We are supposed to have Deep Freeze installed on them in January. Beyond that… I’m not sure.

That said, his lecture did spur me to spend some time playing with my Tails drive again, which I hadn’t done since NYC. I also had a conversation about Tails with my two other librarian coworkers (we’re a small shop), who both want one, and we are going to try, again, to convince IT to install Tor on our computers.

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