Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Delivery for Mr. Assange (twitter.com/bitnk)
211 points by state on Jan 17, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 82 comments

Can be followed on twitter as well


also, e-mail sent to Assange informing him of the parcel:


I bet it's some viral marketing thing. Assange is about to learn about the crisp, refreshing taste of Bud Light.

I didn't get this part ...

> There are over 9000 identical parcels! So, if the first parcel fails to reach you, we will undertake a second and third attempt.

Surely they haven't made 9000 camera parcels?

"Over 9000" is a meme, so don't take it literally.

You may want to follow this on twitter instead of using the IP Address given in the link.

I only say this in case it's just one server behind this IP address, and the camera / phone is posting it's images to it as well. Viral traffic could potentially ruin the entire experiment.

I can no longer edit the post, but if a mod wants to switch it to a Twitter link I agree that would be a good idea. I didn't expect this to be so popular.

How does it holds internet connection? Police will definitely notice it for Julian - and will x-ray it. Then they'll see wires and circuitry inside. Bomb? Would be interesting to see progress...

Alternatively, it is a bomb, and one cleverly prepared to maximize the likelihood that it is opened by its intended target. (Somehow I imagine Mr Assange is careful about opening unsolicited packages these days -- but if he becomes aware of this one, he might relax that standard).

Perhaps my tinfoil hat needs adjusting.

Does not. That's the first thing that came into my mind when I saw it.

At least now we all know who gave this crazy idea to some secret agent agencies if this indeed happens.

No, it doesn't.

It's possible it won't be detected.

Parcels sent locally don't go through nearly the level of security as customs puts foreign packages through.

It'd be surprising if a high profile place such as an embassy didn't have its own off-site mail sorting facility. Many high profile non-government places already do this. It's fairly easy to evacuate a mail facility full of contractors (from Pitney-Bowes or other) every time you receive a suspicious package or your systems detect harmful chemicals; to do the same with your corporate HQ would be far more disruptive.

For the US Embassy yes, but there can't be more than a dozen people working at the Ecuadorian embassy (I believe it's physically located inside a block of flats). Diplomatic missions for poorer, or smaller, countries tend to be relatively mundane affairs.

Isn't it technically a foreign package travelling from the UK (I presume) to the Ecuadorean embassy, which is Ecuadorean soil?

It is not actually their soil :) [1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomatic_mission#Extraterrito...

Contrary to popular belief, embassies are not in fact foreign soil.

Yeah, I'm pretty surprised that Her Majesty's government hasn't already raided the Ecuadorian embassy, taken Assange into custody, and handed him over to the Swedes. Ecuador is a pretty insignificant country, and it's not like they'd catch any flak from the American government for such a move.

The diplomatic fallout in the event of a raid would be huge. There was a meeting of all foreign ministers of South America who issued a joint statement to condemn the UK for threatening to raid the embassy.

Would it be that big of a deal? South America (with the possible exception of Brazil) isn't exactly that economically or politically influential.

Unless of course you're a powerful British business leader with business interests in South America, in which case the relationships would be pretty darn important and you'd be communicating that to your MP.

For example, British Petroleum has significant interests in South America.

You're suggesting that England - one of the most powerful countries in the world - should throw away all ties with an entire continent of countries, just so they can arrest a man to be questioned about sexual assault allegations?

Yes, it's obvious the real reason they want to get to him, but come on.

...because when you have Argentina grandstanding over the Falkland Islands the best thing to do is piss off everyone else in South America. The UK needs all the goodwill it can get in the region.

If you attack someone's embassy, suddenly all of your own embassies are vulnerable to people who want to attack you. MAD.

If they did that, every other country in the world would be within their rights to enter British embassies and detain people they don't like. That would not be a wise move

There is precedent:

"Thatcher—who was kept apprised of the situation by Whitelaw—determined that British law would be applied to the embassy, despite the Vienna Convention, under which the embassy is considered Iranian soil."


That building had been completely taken over by non-Iranians. Even still, the British didn't enter it until the hostage-takers began executing the Iranians.

"Three further shots were fired during the course of the imam's conversation with Oan. Oan announced that a hostage had been killed, and the rest would die in 30 minutes unless his demands were met. A few minutes later, Lavasani's body was dumped out of the front door."

Considering they were at the time holding 52 American hostages in the US embassy in Tehran, the Iranians couldn't credibly complain about the British rescue operation representing a violation of their rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

I guess I don't think that precedent is going to generalize to many other situations.

In all practical terms, the Ecuadorian authorities expect their embassy to be inviolable. It is this expectation and their insistence on this expectation that complicates this matter to no end. It is simply not in British interests to be seen dismissing this expectation as unimportant. My personal view is that a deal should be possible that is acceptable to both Assange and Ecuador, to end this stalemate. Her Majesty's diplomatic representation in Ecuador should be able to make a compelling proposal that saves the day and the face of everyone involved.

> It is simply not in British interests to be seen dismissing this expectation as unimportant.

Maybe that's understating it a bit.

The United Kingdom itself has embassies all over the world, filled with important British people and often in places where they might not be uniformly liked. The British have far more to lose by a breakdown of diplomatic protections than the Ecuadorians do.


What an excessively bad idea as well as a diplomatic gaffe! I am pretty surprised that Her Majesty's government has not been able to negotiate a deal that is acceptable to both Assange and the Ecuador final authority on their involvement in this matter. Assange may want to close the case too. There are offers possible that he will accept.

The British government has no authority to negotiate. It is not up to them to talk to Assange. The UK has legally binding treaty obligations to enforce the European Arrest Warrant that Sweden issued.

It is up to Sweden, not the UK, to decide whether it wants to negotiate or not.

I'm pretty sure they also have legally binding treaty obligations not to enter the embassy, and I guess it would be a question for some international law experts, but from the months of no change it appears to me that this treaty obligation trumps the treaty obligation to arrest him.

Or if it's being sent from, say, Switzerland.

He is in the Ecuadorean embassy in the UK

We'll see a policeman's face with a look that says "I wonder what this little hole is for."

Simplest way would be a cell phone + app I'd think.

Hmm... sending a device into an embassy, that is recording data (video), possibly sound, and transmitting it.

Isn't this an act of espionage? While cool, this seems like a bad idea to me.

> Isn't this an act of espionage?

I'm no spook, but I'd be surprised if the usual protocol for such situations is to advertise the presence of a camera on a high-traffic website.

I agree, very ballsy art. I don't believe I have ever explicitly seen a law here in the US (I know this is UK, just comparing) forbidding cameras within a package, but I would think there would be some law on the books somewhere they could apply (not saying that is a good thing, esp in light of recent events).

A reason it might not be allowed is due to fire risk - anything operated from batteries is supposed to be turned off, and with the battery terminals isolated ... these are guidelines from the postal services ...



CFAA, wire fraud. It fits any crime.

General espionage / covert surveillance should cover it better.

Just be glad Carmen Ortiz is not on the case. I'm sure she'd come up with a few decades' worth of counts.

Anyone else want to see assange giving a thumbs up and rapping at the end of this?

Knowing the internet, he'd probably sing "Never Gonna Give You Up"

I want Assange to open the package while doing the gangnam style elevator guy dance and then closing the package and sending it off to its next adventure.

He forgot the rapping but he did give thumbs up!

Wow, I was just thinking how cool it would be to watch a package be delivered online. Anyone know how the images are being transmitted?

Probably a cell phone

Copy that. I wrote something like this over bonded GSM links (1G) in Australia circa late 2000/early 2001. Also carried a GPS feed. 10 seconds was about normal then for a CIF JPEG over 2 x ~8kbps links (very lossy and unreliable though). This is higher res, but then data speeds have improved.

Interesting experiment. Some of the Twitter posts say where the parcel is, but there is no EXIF data on the images posted. I would guess that either the images were geotagged but are processed to remove it, or the author separately uploads GPS data along with images.

Any chance of providing a time series of the parcel's location?

>Any chance of providing a time series of the parcel's location?

Let's do that /after/ it arrives.

It's going to get opened...

You've only got to look at the xray image on the bottom of this site to see why - http://archive.is/lIwe8

Doesn't load for me :(

Edit: Seems a bit overloaded and only slowed down.

Here's a saved version: http://archive.is/lIwe8

This looks straight out from a Hollywood movie. Now, this makes me curious. Who is behind this?

Google for !Mediengruppe Bitnik. They are a "media collective" based in Zurich[1]. And this is not their first hack.


Must be someone anonymous :)

Pretty Awesome little technique. Any chance we could do this for presidents?

Awesome! But I hope they have some plan to fix this:

"!Mediengruppe Bitnik ‏@bitnk moving again. but: USER IS over daily photo limit: bitnik!"

edit: Nvm, seems it was only a photo limit on the pic.twitter.com service.

It appears the ec2 instance has died. They should put an ELB in front of it (I assume you can get static ips for elbs).

ELBs are accessed via a CNAME as it's on scalable/changable infrastructure - you can't get a (reliable) static IP.

Also audio feed would be interesting as well. Is there somewhere array of saved images kept?

Example URL:

The filename s in the form YYYYMMDDHHMMSS.jpg - you could probably guess the path to past images if you wanted to, or even knock up a script that would download them all.

"knock up a script that would download them all"

That doesn't seem to end well for people lately.

If you scroll down the main site, all the previous pictures are listed with mouse over captions

Scroll TFA down. More. Past the Tweets. Bingo.

Can anyone explain the URL to me?

It's a normal URL, but with an IP address in the domain part.

Your browser normally uses a DNS server to resolve the domain name portion of a URL to the hosting server's IP address — news.ycombinator.com resolves to, for example — but it skips that step if it sees something that looks like an IP address itself.

(In either case, it tells the server what the original hostname was, so that it's possible to host more than one website at a single IP address.)

Thank you!

Its not an URL. Its an IP.

It is a URL, the host component is simply provided as an IP address instead of a Domain, so that the domain cannot be stricken from DNS records in order to take the site down.

Well, even if it's an IP, it is still a URL.

"a URL". One doesn't say "an uniform resource locator".

People who pronounce "URL" as "earl" say "an URL".

(One of my coworkers does this, Australian if it helps.)

Although it's not correctly pronounced as earl. (You sound each letter separately.)

So using "an" would be yet another mistake.


Definitely think this is a bad idea. If the Royal Mail find out they might destroy the package.

And that's a bad thing? I don't think they're concerned about property damage. They're doing it to see what happens.

I'm not 100% sure but it does sound to me like it might be illegal as it's passing through and taking unauthorised photographs of Government offices (the Post Office) and the Ecuadorian Embassy.


It's a package outfitted with a camera and an internet connection that periodically uploads photos en route to Julian Assange. The page updates with each image and contains a record of all the images.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact