Category: Privacy

Diane Feinstein doesn’t like it when she herself is the victim of government spying

| March 18, 2014 | Reply

Hypocrisy is not a beautiful thing, though sometimes it is a tiny bit gratifying. Rolling Stone reports. My favorite is #8:

8. The CIA was so angered by the Senate having its hands on the Panetta Review that it spied on the work of its Senate overseers.

[O]n January 15, 2014, CIA Director [John] Brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and Vice Chairman Chambliss that without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a “search” – that was John Brennan’s word – of the committee computers at the offsite facility. This search involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee by the CIA, but also a search of the “stand alone” and “walled-off” committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.

According to Brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the Internal Panetta Review. The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the Internal Review, or how we obtained it.

Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers.

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Stop Watching Us Campaign aimed at NSA

| February 12, 2014 | Reply
Stop Watching Us Campaign aimed at NSA

StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at https://rally.stopwatching.us. This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties law and advocacy center that has been fighting the NSA’s unconstitutional spying for years. Learn more at https://eff.org.

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The Intercept is launched

| February 11, 2014 | Reply

Glenn Greenwald recently left The Guardian to begin a new journalistic enterprise, which has now launched. The mission statement of The Intercept is as follows:

The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media, was created by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill. It has a two-fold mission: one short-term, the other long-term.

Our short-term mission is to provide a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Although we are still building our infrastructure and larger vision, we are launching now because we believe we have a vital obligation to this ongoing and evolving story, to these documents, and to the public.

Our NSA coverage will be comprehensive, innovative and multi-faceted. We have a team of experienced editors and journalists devoted to the story. We will use all forms of digital media for our reporting. In addition, we will publish primary source documents on which our reporting is based. We will also invite outside experts with area knowledge to contribute to our reporting, and provide a platform for commentary and reader engagement.

Our long-term mission is to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues. The editorial independence of our journalists will be guaranteed. They will be encouraged to pursue their passions, cultivate a unique voice, and publish stories without regard to whom they might anger or alienate. We believe the prime value of journalism is its power to impose transparency, and thus accountability, on the most powerful governmental and corporate bodies, and our journalists will be provided the full resources and support required to do this.

While our initial focus will be the critical work surrounding the NSA story, we are excited by the opportunity to grow with our readers into the broader and more comprehensive news outlet that the The Intercept will become.

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Exclusive interview of Edward Snowden by German Television

| February 7, 2014 | Reply

Fascinating interview of Edward Snowden by German Television Channel NDR.

As reported by Jay Syrmopoulos, this interview of Edward Snowden was largely ignored by the U.S. corporate media.

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Real NSA Reform

| January 18, 2014 | 1 Reply

President Obama kicked off a meek and week NSA reform effort. The EFF has described what real reform would involve. [Reposted with creative commons permission by the EFF):

1. Stop mass surveillance of digital communications and communication records.

It doesn’t matter what legal authority is being cited—whether it’s the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act, or an executive order—the government should not be sweeping up massive amounts of information by and about innocent people first, then sorting out whether any of its targets are included later. The NSA has disingenuously argued that simply acquiring this data isn’t actually "collecting" and that no privacy violation can take place unless the information it stores is actually seen by a human or comes up through an automated searches of what it has collected. That’s nonsense. The government’s current practices of global dragnet surveillance constitute general warrants that violate the First and Fourth Amendments, and fly in the face of accepted international human rights laws. Obama needs to direct the NSA to engage only in targeted surveillance and stop its programs of mass surveillance, something he can do with a simple executive order.

2. Protect the privacy rights of foreigners.

The NSA's surveillance is based upon the presumption that foreigners are fair game, whether their information is collected inside the US or outside the US. But non-suspect foreigners shouldn't have their communications surveilled any more than non-suspect Americans. The review group recommended limited protections for non-US persons and while that is a good start, the president should do more to ensure that actual suspicion is required before either targeted or untargeted surveillance of non-US persons.

3. Don’t turn communications companies into the new Big Brother: no data retention mandate.

Obama’s review group recommended ending the NSA’s telephone records program, which we strongly agree with, but then indicated that a reasonable substitute would be to force American communications companies to store the data themselves and make it available to the government. The group ultimately recommended a data retention mandate if companies won’t comply voluntarily. But companies shouldn’t be pressed into becoming the NSA’s agents by keeping more data than they need or keeping it longer than they need to. To the contrary, companies should be working on ways to store less user data for less time—decreasing the risks from data breaches and intrusions like the one that just happened to Target. Data retention heads in the wrong direction for our security regardless of whether the government or private parties store the information.

4. National Security Letters need prior judicial review and should never be accompanied by a perpetual gag order.

One recommendation of the review group we heartily endorse is reining in National Security Letters. The FBI uses these letters to demand user data from communications service providers with no judicial review. Providers are forbidden from talking about receiving NSLs, which means the letters also serve as perpetual gag orders. EFF was successful in convincing a federal judge to strike down these NSLs last year. The case is on appeal but Obama can remedy the situation more quickly by instructing the FBI not to issue NSLs without prior judicial review, and to limit its use of gag orders.

5. Stop undermining Internet security, weakening encryption, and infiltrating companies.

Recent revelations show that the NSA is undermining Internet encryption, making us all less secure when we use technology. These practices include weakening standards, attacking technology companies, and preventing security holes from being fixed. As the president’s review group recognized, this has serious consequences for any industry that relies on digital security—finance, medicine, transportation, and countless others, along with anyone in the world who relies on safe, private communication. Obama should follow the recommendations of his review group and immediately stop the NSA’s efforts to undermine or weaken the security of our technologies.

[More]

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Is there anyone out there still defending the NSA?

| December 29, 2013 | Reply

Is there anyone out there still defending the NSA and criticizing Edward Snowden? The NSA is thoroughly corrupt.  Why the fuck do they think that law abiding citizens put locks on our doors and carefully employ passwords when we use our devices on the internet? This is arrogant and illegal activity–just because their big budget has allowed them to invade our privacy ubiquitously doesn’t make it legal. Hundreds or thousands of NSA operatives should be escorted out in handcuffs, starting with those at the top. Consider today’s report by Der Spiegel–it is a detailed article filled with red flags:

Sometimes it appears that the [NSA's] spies are just as reliant on conventional methods of reconnaissance as their predecessors.

Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.

These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the “most productive operations” conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks “around the world.”

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How Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald broke the NSA story

| November 29, 2013 | Reply

This is an interview with Laura Poitras regarding her early contacts with Edward Snowden. Excellent background and a peak into Poitras’ thought process.

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Sign of the times regarding government surveillance

| November 21, 2013 | 3 Replies

Back in June, ProPublica published an article advising methods for communicating over the Internet while maintaining privacy. Edward Snowden’s revelations have now caused ProPublica to issue a big red flag on its article. Encryption might no longer be effective.

How did we get to this point where it is obviously illegal for the government to break into my house and rummage through my drawers without probable cause, but they rummage through my data with the help of and coercion of corporate communications companies? They do it because they CAN do it. These revelations also point out that in the political world explanations are streams of sounds (or scribbles) that would lack any punch except that they are created by entities that can threaten violence. In the case of the NSA, it is the violence of the police state. It is a violence so pronounced that it has ruined the possibility of investigative journalism which, until recent times, was the People’s best chance to keep their government in check.

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Encryption tools for journalists

| October 1, 2013 | Reply

Glenn Greenwald recently answered questions on Reddit, including the following:

Reddit comment: “Thanks for doing this. At the university I work at, we are putting together a workshop for Media Professionals, including journalists regarding IT security. We plan on covering: PGP, truecrypt, TOR, OTR, and strongbox. What tools, concepts, or techniques should we be teaching aspiring journalists?”

Glenn Greenwald: “That’s so great to hear. One of the most gratifying things I’ve seen since this all started is how many journalists now communicate using PGP, Pidgen, OTR, TOR and similar instruments of encryption.
Just as was true for me, so many national security journalists – including some of the most accomplished ones at large media outlets, the ones who work on the most sensitive materials – had no idea about any of that and used none of it. Now they do. In this age of a War on Whistleblowers and sources and ubiquitous surveillance, it’s absolutely vital that journalists learn advanced encryption methods and use it.”

It’s a shame that modern day journalists need to spend so much time learning about and using encryption technology to protect their sources from spying by the United States and other governments. What would the founding fathers have said about this more than 200 years ago, that the federal government is spying on its own citizens without probable cause and even spying on journalists?

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