Surveillance / Intrussion
Webcam Spying: All the Gov Surveillance Agencies are Doing It
Apparently the GCHQ, the British equivalent to the National Security Agency (NSA) has been watching millions of Yahoo users with their webcams.
Documents given to the press by Edward Snowden state that this scheme called operation Optic Nerve (ON) was a collaboration of the GCHQ and the NSA in order to gather 1.8 million users’ images from webcams between 2008 and 2010.
According to the report, “it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”
The document continues: “Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for ‘mugshots’ or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face. The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright.”
The tech corporation stated: “We were not aware of nor would we condone this reported activity. This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy that is completely unacceptable and we strongly call on the world’s governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December. We are committed to preserving our users’ trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services.”
In 2013, Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Operational Technology Division commented : “The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera—without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording—for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations.”
Spying via webcam is apparently quite easy.
Last December, researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) discovered security vulnerabilities within the Apple iSight system in the MacBook laptop and iMac desktop units that allow an third party to disable the webcam indicator LED.
Matthew Brocker and Stephen Checkoway authored a paper entitled, “iSeeYou: Disabling the MacBook Webcam Indicator LED” which outlines the process of reprogramming the iSight camera via the microcontroller to disable the LED activation light.
The paper reads: “In the past few years, the ever-expanding set of sensors present in commodity laptops and smartphones has prompted the security and privacy community to begin searching ways to detect and limit the undesired use of sensors,” the “iSeeYou. At the same time, researchers have demonstrated attacks exploiting the presence of sensors.”
This allowed Brocker and Checkoway to take photos and video of the subject from the webcam.
Shockingly, their technique also worked on 1Mac G5 and Intel-based iMacs; as well as 2008 MacBook Pros.
According to the paper: “Our results in this paper demonstrate that, at least in some cases, people have been correct to worry about malware covertly capturing images and video. We show a vulnerability in the iSight webcam that affects a particular range of Apple computers … that can be exploited to turn on the camera and capture images and video without the indicator illuminating.”
Jesse Ventura goes Off the Grid on DRONES
Published by NextNewsNetwork
If another country surveilled the United States with unmanned aircrafts, what would our government do? In this #OffTheGrid clip, Jesse Ventura argues that we’d probably declare war! What do you think the U.S. would do? Tweet Jesse @GovJVentura.
Download your free Next News “Heroes & Villains” Poster here: http://nextnewsnetwork.com/the-2013-h…
Feds want to track your DNA like a licence plate (Yep we’re there)
This isn’t surprising. I think many of us just assumed that to some degree this sort of research has been going on. The surveillance state contractor infrastructure expands, and our privacy shrinks, again.
This is the yin and yang of Big Data. All the data points now floating out in the cybersphere about us, our health, our political dispositions, what food we eat, what beer we drink, are just waiting to be connected into patterns. This has great potential to make life better for human beings. Big Data can help us live healthier, work more efficiently, identify business opportunities, etc. The possibilities are as vast as the stars in the galaxy.
But Big Data also has great danger as many of us recognize. The government with what often seems like unlimited resources running algorithms over the ocean of readily available data is a scary proposition. And as the surveillance state infrastructure expands (if we let it) the vast sums of taxpayer dollars available (thanks Congress) will provide perverse incentives for firms to develop ever more invasive technologies.
Of course it’s not like American companies are the only ones developing this stuff either.
Documents WND located through routine database research reveal the ability to follow people by detecting “certain characteristics of operational interest” is designed for U.S. military and intelligence-gathering superiority.
It remains unknown when such capabilities might transition to the realm of domestic counterterrorism or law enforcement operations; however, the feds – through the Air Force Research Lab, or AFRL – are recruiting private-sector assistance in order to make this “biosignature” spying a reality.
Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
About Nick Sorrentino
Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
The Day We Fight Back – Tomorrow We Take A Stand!
As I posted last month, on February 11, a broad coalition of internet-involved organizations will go online to protest massive electronic surveillance by governments around the world including illegal NSA spying. The Day We Fight Back action hopes to repeat the successful beating of SOPA/PIPA bills in 2012. The protest coalition includes organizations holding high stakes on online freedoms, like the open-source software developer Mozilla Foundation, link aggregator Reddit, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, Campaign for Liberty, the ACLU, Tumblr and almost 6,000 more as of writing this post.
If Aaron Swartz was still with us I am sure he would be on the front line.
ChrisInMaryville will be participating in this protest.
Per Mike at Liberty Blitzkrieg who will also be participating: The protest is encouraging websites to put up a banner that will highlight ways to call and email your Congressional representatives in order to push them to support the USA Freedom Act, the only NSA focused legislation currently moving through Congress that actually has teeth to it in order to defend the 4th Amendment.
The organizations web site explains it’s mission:
DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET,
In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.
In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.
Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.
WHAT WE’LL DO ON FEBRUARY 11th:
If you’re in the US: Thousands of websites will host banners urging people to call/email Congress. We’ll ask legislators to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, support the USA Freedom Act, and enact protections for non-Americans.
If you’re not in the US: Visitors will be asked to urge appropriate targets to institute privacy protections.
The Hill covered the protest. Here are some excerpts:
Thousands of websites on Tuesday will take a stand against government surveillance by plastering protests across their home pages.
Tech companies and civil liberties organizations are hoping the demonstration, called The Day We Fight Back, will replicate their success in defeating the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in 2012.
This time activists are focusing their energy on supporting the USA Freedom Act, which would end or curtail many of the most controversial surveillance programs at the National Security Agency and elsewhere.
More than 4,500 websites have pledged to help people contact their representatives in Congress to push for the Freedom Act, which was authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Many sites are planning to post a banner on their pages with a widget so people can make a phone call or send an email to the lawmakers’ offices.
“Dear Internet, we’re sick of complaining about the NSA,” the banner reads. “We want new laws that curtail online surveillance. Today we fight back.”
Advocacy groups across the political spectrum, from the environmentalist organization Greenpeace to the conservative FreedomWorks have signed onto the push.
Now here’s a very powerful video on the protest. In many ways this is a tribute to the legacy and sacrifices of the late Aaron Swartz.
This is the civil rights issue of our time. 5,443 websites have announced their participation. Be on the right side of history.
New Snowden Interview (Full Video)
By CBC News
Edward Snowden says ‘no chance’ of fair trial in U.S.
Ex-NSA contractor living in Russia on temporary visa
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden says he has no plans to return to the United States because he sees “no chance to have a fair trial.”
The former NSA contractor, who is now living in Russia on a temporary one-year visa, is wanted by the U.S. government under charges of espionage and theft of government property.
- Why Edward Snowden did us all a favour
- Timeline of Edward Snowden and the NSA privacy leaks
- Why whistleblowers are crucial for democracy
- 10 whistleblowers and the scandals they spurred
“Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public and myself, but it’s unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which through a failure in law did not cover national security contractors like myself,” Snowden said in an online Q&A session Thursday afternoon with the website Free Snowden.
Snowden, who is responsible for one of the largest leaks of classified government information in U.S. history, has always maintained he acted in the interest of the American public. But, he said, the law under which he was charged, the 1917 Espionage Act, doesn’t allow him to use a public interest defence in the courts.
“This is especially frustrating, because it means there’s no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury,” he said.
He added he could eventually return if reforms were made to the Whistleblower Protection Act, so that it also covers contractors.
Snowden also said reports of death threats being made by unnamed U.S. intelligence officials were “concerning” and said people should be bothered by officials disregarding Fifth Amendment rights to be free from abuses by authority.
“The fact that it’s also a direct threat to my life is something I am aware of, but I’m not going to be intimidated,” he said during the Q&A. “Doing the right thing means having no regrets.”
During a speech announcing changes to U.S. surveillance programs earlier this month, President Barack Obama mentioned Snowden and said his “sensational” revelations of classified spying programs could impact U.S. operations for years to come.
Some privacy advocates have pressed Obama to grant Snowden amnesty or a plea deal if he returns to the U.S., but the White House has dismissed those ideas. If found guilty under the Espionage Act, penalties could include imprisonment or death.
With files from The Associated Press
Copyright © CBC 2014
Republished with permission
By Tim Brown
Tennessee Introduces Anti-NSA Legislation
The Volunteer State is on a roll. Siding with eight other states, Tennessee has introduced a bill to attempt to keep the National Security Agency out of its state. The legislation targets NSA warrantless data gathering in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
State Senator Stacey Campfield (R) and State Representative Andy Holt (R) have sponsored SB1849 known as the “Tennessee Fourth Amendment Protection Act.” This bill is based on the model legislation drafted by the OffNow coalition.
You may recall Campfield from his previous comment regarding “assault pressure cookers” following the Boston Bombing.
According to SB1849, the State of Tennessee would be prohibited from “providing material support to…any federal agency claiming the power to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant,” which is required by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
According to Campfield, “We have an out of control federal agency spying on pretty much everybody in the world. I don’t think the state of Tennessee should be helping the NSA violate the Constitution and the basic privacy rights of its citizens – and we don’t have to. This bill may not completely stop the NSA, but it will darn sure stop Tennessee from participating in unjustified and illegal activities.”
NSA researcher James Bamford said that the NSA runs most of the data it gathers “from code breaking to word captures,” through computers at an Oak Ridge, Tennessee computing facility and NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the legislation deals with four main areas:
- Prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. Includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity.
- Makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court.
- Blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.
- Disincentivizes corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.
Currently, the top secret facility Multiprogram Research Facility (MRF) is located on the East Campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by the University of Tennesse-Battelle. NSA researchers use the facility to build incredibly fast computers to crack encryption. Several sources have indicated the MRF will be working together with the massive storage facility in Utah. The content of the data stored in the Utah facility could be decrypted by the computers being developed at the MRF.
Already, there are efforts underway by grassroots activists to tackle the Utah facility, while others have suggested turning off their water, or as recent California legislation seeks to do; turn off their water and electricity.
The Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey says that though the Oak Ridge facility’s work is legitimate, he believes the University of Tennessee needs to not be involved in the spy business.
“The main thing to understand is that this bill denies the NSA material support from the state, and that includes state universities,” said Maharrey. “People are going to be upset because they see value in Oak Ridge. But this legislation only bans material support to those activities which are part of the warrantless mass-surveillance that the federal government has been engaging in, and not everything else. The bottom line is that the people of Tennessee don’t want the NSA consuming massive amounts of their resources so the agency can spy on them, and pretty much everybody in the world too. It has to stop.”
“When Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward announced her plan to introduce the Fourth Amendment Protection Act a few weeks back, it was a novelty,” Maharrey said. “People had this attitude like, ‘Oh, that’s cute. But it will never amount to anything.’ Today Tennessee makes the eighth state considering action to refuse cooperation with the NSA, and mark my words – more are coming. Big ones. James Madison said that when a number of states refused to cooperate with officers of the Union, it would create roadblocks which the federal government would be unwilling to encounter. This is not symbolic. We intend to box them in and make the NSA stop violating the Constitution.”
Tennessee has taken major steps to beat back the usurpations of the federal government’s violations of the Constitution. Just last week, legislation was introduced to nullify Obamacare and all federal gun laws. It’s nice to see states exercising rights they never gave to the federal government in an attempt to bring their creature back under control.
Why Obama Speech Spells No Change to Global Surveillance| Brainwash Update
Published by breakingtheset
Abby Martin calls out Obama’s long awaited speech regarding NSA surveillance, dissecting aspects of the speech that suggest no real change to global surveillance policies.
Rating Obama’s NSA Reform Plan: EFF Scorecard Explained
[...]President Obama announced a series of reforms to address abuses by the National Security Agency. We were heartened to see Obama recognized that the NSA has gone too far in trampling the privacy rights of people worldwide. In his speech, the President ensured that National Security Letters would not come with perpetual gag orders, brought new levels of transparency and fairness to the FISA court, and ended bulk collection of telephone records by the NSA. However, there is still much more to be done.
We’ve put together a scorecard showing how Obama’s announcements stack up against 12 common sense fixes that should be a minimum for reforming NSA surveillance. Each necessary reform was worth 1 point, and we were willing to award partial credit for steps in the right direction. On that scale, President Obama racked up 3.5 points out of a possible 12.
By Adam Dick
Judge Napolitano on NSA Using Radio Waves to Track and Attack Computers
Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses with host Shepard Smith on Fox News the New York Times report that the National Security Agency has surreptitiously installed devices in nearly 100,000 computers so the agency can use radio waves to spy on and alter data in the computers – even if the computers are not connected to the internet. Napolitano, an RPI Advisory Board member, examines the new revelations and Congress’s ongoing failure to end the mass spying: