State Dept./Federal Agency use of Tor

Heather Akers-Healy filed this request with the U.S. Department of State of the United States of America.
Tracking # F-2015-00630
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Appeal

Communications

From: Heather Akers-Healy

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Documents (including memoranda, correspondence, email, agreements, invoices and purchase orders) regarding the Tor Project, particularly documentation on any known United States agency use of Tor. Tor is free software designed to make it possible for users to surf the Internet anonymously. It was developed in part with US government funding and released by the Naval Research Laboratory in 2004 under a free license. (See torproject.org.)

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Heather Akers-Healy

From: Department of State

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Department of State

A letter stating the request for reduced or waived fees has been rejected.

From: Heather Akers-Healy

This letter is an appeal for the rejection of my request for a fee waiver on request number F-2015-00630.

I request that fees be waived as I am making this request in the public interest, and as a member of the news media. I have established a project at MuckRock looking into the surveillance-related activities of government agencies. This project garnered international media attention and was written up in Forbes. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/runasandvik/2013/11/26/illuminating-the-united-states-billion-dollar-intelligence-budget-project-spylighter-documents-surveillance-technology-used-by-the-nsa/) The Forbes article was covered in several other media outlets, and even reported in Spanish. (http://www.desdeabajo.info/actualidad/internacional/item/23165-spylighter-documenta-la-compra-de-tecnolog%C3%ADa-de-vigilancia-masiva-por-parte-de-la-nsa.html)

I have an ongoing relationship with Runa Sandvik, a well-known journalist and technologist who wrote the article at Forbes. I have also written at other media outlets about documents received from previous FOIA requests (http://www.occupy.com/article/why-we-need-whistleblowers).

All documents released to MuckRock are published on the MuckRock website where they can be viewed by the public free of charge. The documents are not merely posted, but routinely analyzed by journalists at MuckRock and media outlets around the world. MuckRock has over 1,000 active users and tens of thousands of readers. An incomplete list of outlets reporting news broken at MuckRock can be found here:
 https://pinboard.in/u:morisy/t:muckrock_press/

My first successful FOIA request to the NSA for contracts with Vupen was widely reported. A few examples of press regarding that release are below:

Threatpost: http://threatpost.com/nsa-bought-exploit-service-from-vupen-contract-shows

Gawker: http://gawker.com/nsa-paid-french-hackers-for-software-exploits-1341604032

The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/09/17/nsa_vupen/

Information Week: http://www.informationweek.com/security/government/nsa-contracted-with-zero-day-vendor-vupe/240161389

Computing: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2295155/nsa-bought-zero-day-vulnerabilities-from-security-company-vupen
Slate: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/09/17/nsa_paid_french_hacker_company_vupen_for_software_exploits.html

RT: http://rt.com/usa/nsa-vupen-exploit-hack-978/

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2013/09/17/nsa-french-hacking-tools-vupen/

The Hacker News: http://thehackernews.com/2013/09/nsa-bought-hacking-tools-from-vupen.html
The Daily Dot: http://www.dailydot.com/politics/nsa-malware-vupen/

Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpolitik/nsa-kauft-infos-ueber-sicherheitsluecken-von-vupen-a-922765.html

The information sought does contribute to the public understanding and is in the public interest. Tor users number over 2 million world-wide and are known to be targeted for surveillance by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Tor is also rumored to be used by the military and other government organizations. It benefits the public to have a greater understanding of the operations of agencies acting on their behalf.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I am willing to pay $50 beyond the free search and copy time. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Heather Akers-Healy

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