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[liberationtech] Mexico's most vulnerable reporters lack digital security skills

Griffin Boyce griffinboyce at
Wed Feb 27 05:28:38 PST 2013

On Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 7:42 PM, Ryan Gallagher <ryan at>wrote:

> On 27 February 2013 00:01, Eva Galperin <eva at> wrote:
>> I'm not sure that I would support ranking drug cartels as a less
>> technologically sophisticated threat than the government in Mexico.
> If I were working out of Mexico it would be under the assumption that the
> cartels could, if they really wanted to, obtain the same info that is
> available to law enforcement agencies and/or government officials via the
> use of surveillance tech.

  Coalitions between government and the cartels is commonplace in Mexico,
which makes this type of surveillance trivial for cartels who suspect that
someone is talking to the press.

  I'd posit that in this case the human element is more of a factor than
either surveillance or poor tech resources. Torture is not uncommon.
Cartels are more "local" than the average surveillance state. They're able
to piece together information from a broad range of sources, and use that
to find out who is talking to reporters or writing stories.

  Given that their m.o. is to disembowel anonymous reporters and hang them
from a bridge after torturing their family, it's not *really* surprising
that so few are willing to go against them.

  As for what to suggest, there are a lot of things that trip up anonymous

   - Telling people about your blog, or that you blog
   - Responding to blog-related email from home, without using Tor/VPN
   - Relying on proxies that fail open and expose your IP address
   - Using the same google analytics ID across blogs/sites
   - Giving even basic details about yourself, such as age,
   siblings/family, gender, things that happen to you in public, etc.

  It's better to anonymize personal information wherever possible.  It
sounds almost ridiculous, but this trips up anonymous bloggers and writers
all the time.  And when you're talking about cartels specifically, you
almost can't be too paranoid.


"What do you think Indians are supposed to look like?
What's the real difference between an eagle feather fan
and a pink necktie? Not much."
~Sherman Alexie

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