Posts tagged spying
Google Employees Speak Out About Government Spying. Fear NSA induced hit to business
I recently wrote that I thought all the NSA spying and “partnering” with US tech companies could impact the economy negatively. If businesses which buy from US tech companies can’t count on confidentiality many times those businesses simply won’t do business. With all the big US tech firms tied in with the NSA in one way or another why would any foreign companies ever choose to use an American operating system, or tablet, or PC, or whatever?
For example the German government has warned that it feels Windows 8 from Microsoft may have NSA friendly “back doors” built into the software. If this is the case who in their right mind would buy the system?
This is bad news. Tech is the driver of the US real economy. It’s not finance, insurance, or real estate, it’s a real industry which makes things, and right now we lead the world. But if the 4th Amendment no longer applies in this country (it still does) and the government can burrow its way into everything built from code, we have got more than a government overreach problem. People are going to lose jobs.
Google agrees and thankfully is saying something.
(From The New York Times)
The backlash against government Internet surveillance could hurt the United States economy, partly because businesses and consumers could abandon United States cloud companies, said Richard Salgado, the director for law enforcement and information security at Google, in testimony before the Senate judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law.
He cited studies like one from Forrester that predicted the cloud computing industry could lose $180 billion, 25 percent of its revenue, by 2016.
Already, countries like Brazil are considering so-called data localization laws, which would require that all data related to Brazilian companies and citizens be stored in Brazil. This movement “has gained considerable traction since the revelation of the Prism program,” Mr. Salgado said, and added that companies like Google “could be barred from doing business in one of the world’s most significant markets.”
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.
Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper contradicts White House, says Obama was aware of spying on allies0
Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper contradicts White House, says Obama was aware of spying on allies
Either the president knew, and lied. Or the president did not know and was incompetent and dangerously out of touch. Take your choice.
Yup, the country is in good hands.
(From the Washington Times)
America’s top intelligence official acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama and other senior White House officials were well aware of U.S. surveillance activities targeting leaders of friendly foreign nations — a stark contradiction of the administration’s insinuation in recent days that the president was unaware of such spying.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper described the targeting of foreign leaders, including American allies, as a “fundamental” aspect of intelligence gathering, and said neither the CIA nor the National Security Agency can tap into a given leader’s private communications without White House oversight.
Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
They Call It Socialization – social media edition
“Southern California’s Glendale Unified School District has hired an outside company to spy on their students’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube activities, going truly above and beyond in the name of student safety.”
Glendale must be really flush with cash to be able to afford an extracurricular spy operation. Just in case you are curious, they spend about the same as Blount County per student ($8823 vs. $8701*) and are also “below the state average” in California of $9292 (barely higher than Tennessee at $9123). As the cost of living is much higher there than Tennessee, it might be worthwhile to figure out how they pull this off – or you could just keep trying tax increase referendums.
(*=DISCLAIMER: We know this spending number does not include the $15-17 Million per year variable rate demand option debt service on the new school buildings nor their original construction costs, among other things.)
“We monitor only public posts to social networks. We do not monitor privatized pages, SMS, MMS, email, phone calls, voicemails,” Frydrych added.
Well of course not. That would be a waste of money and duplication of effort. We are already paying taxes for other government workers to spy on those things.
Sounds to me like Glendale is just getting a leg up on the Common Core “state” Standards. The federal data mining of “the children” is just getting started (see page 62).
Image credit: http://www.bcpublicrecord.com
Written by Daniel McAdams
President’s Spy Review Commission Provides Unintended Comedy
Government commissions are always set up to cover up or hide government incompetence or maliciousness once exposed. They are put together when the government fails spectacularly — as on 9/11 — and they are staffed with government insiders who can be trusted to not dig too deeply into government responsibility for its own failures or even its lawlessness. Look on the board of any government commission and you will always see the consummate insiders like Lee Hamilton.
Rarely is anyone fired for the mistakes made, and the conclusions always involve setting up more reform commissions and review boards to employ the multitude of government/quasi-government revolving door beneficiaries who populate the rarefied air of posh suburban settlements like McLean and Great Falls.
Sometimes these government CYA commissions can be quite comical, as Zero Hedge’s Tyler Durden points out in a recent article. In the case of Durden’s piece, the title says it all:
“As Head Of NSA Review Group Obama Appoints Same Person Who ‘Apologized’ For Lying To Congress”
President Obama announced to great Beltway fanfare late last week that he was setting up a commission to review the policies and procedures of the NSA. This was announced as part of a larger reform of NSA surveillance that the president promised, including inserting an adversarial “privacy rights” voice in the secret FISA Court proceedings.
We can only guess who might be appointed as the FISA Court’s “privacy rights” advocate — maybe Diane Feinstein?
By CBC News Posted: Aug 6, 2013 5:11 AM ET | Last Updated: Aug 6, 2013 5:30 AM ET
Surveillance questions snowball: 5 stories you may have missed
From a new spy tool to heckling hackers
As former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden settles into a new, albeit temporary, home in Russia, he’s left a storm of questions about mass surveillance in his wake.
Part of the famous fugitive’s deal with Moscow is that he’s not allowed to release information harmful to the United States during his one-year reprieve in the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
But before Snowden left the transit zone in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for a more hospitable location in Russia, he released a torrent of documents about the United States’ use of mass surveillance — further stirring up a surveillance controversy he ignited in early June.
In the past week, media outlets published shocking new details based on the documents from Snowden, while U.S. officials continued to struggle with the fallout by publishing documents of their own.
Here’s a look at the top five mass surveillance stories from the past few days.
U.S. doles out money to U.K. spy agency
How close is too close? The Guardian revealed on Thursday that in the past three years, the U.S. National Security Agency paid at least £100 million — about $157 million Canadian — to its United Kingdom counterpart.
The payments raise fears about the grip that Washington may hold on the U.K. intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Documents suggest the NSA felt that the GCHQ “remains short of the full NSA ask” and the GCHQ worried that “it must pull its weight.”
In the documents, the U.K. intelligence agency also brags that it supplied “unique contributions” to the U.S. investigation into an American who attempted a car bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square in 2010.
Surveillance tool collects ‘nearly everything’
In June, Snowden made a bold statement to the Guardian. He said that while sitting at his desk, he could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”
Now, the Guardian says they have the documents that triggered Snowden’s statement. On Wednesday, they released leaked files from Snowden that reveal the existence of a top-secret NSA program called XKeyscore.
The program gives analysts the ability to sift through vast databases that contain emails, online chats and browsing histories of millions of people. Users don’t appear to require a warrant or authorization to use the program. Snowden said he used it during his time as a Booz Allen contract working at the NSA.
Documents tout it as the “widest reaching” system for developing intelligence from computer networks, and say it covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet” from content of emails and websites visited to searches. A 2008 document brags that intelligence captured by XKeyscore had helped capture 300 terrorists.
The Guardian describes the quantity of communications accessible via XKeyscore and other such programs as “staggeringly large,” with one 2007 NSA report estimating about up to two billion records are added every day to NSA databases that already contain more than one trillion records.
Some telecommunications experts compared the program to efforts by private companies to collect “big data” to better understand customer habits. But the news also spurred renewed calls for transparency about how much personal information is being collected and by whom.
NSA director faces heckling hackers
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is still struggling to counter public backlash after the first round of revelations by Snowden in early June.
At the Black Hat conference — an annual get-together of hackers and security experts in Las Vegas — NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander used his keynote speech to defend the government’s collection of phone and internet records.
Hecklers interrupted the four-star general’s speech, calling him a liar and telling him to read the constitution. But Alexander largely held his own and appeared to get a favourable reception in the end after jousting with the hecklers.
The director of the intelligence agency also revealed a few new details during the speech in an attempt to assuage public concern. He said that only 35 analysts at NSA are authorized to query a database of U.S. phone records.
Alexander also said that NSA’s collection of phone call metadata and internet records of foreigners has resulted in the disruption of 54 terrorist activities, including 13 in the United States. Of those disrupted activities, 42 — more than three-quarters — were terrorist plots.
Back in Washington, lawmakers were skeptical of the number. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat who chairs the Senate judiciary committee said, “Not by any stretch can you get 54 terrorist plots.”
NSA counters with its own document dump
New surveillance revelations kept Washington politicians busy during the past week. There was word Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama convened a meeting with members of Congress. And on Wednesday, a judiciary committee hearing discussed the bulk collection of phone and internet records.
Shortly before the judiciary committee got underway, the Obama administration released three documents about record collection that it had declassified from top secret, part of its effort to placate opposition.
The documents are an April 2013 secret court order and two briefing papers for Congress from 2009 and 2011. Among the findings in them:
- The court order says the government can only access phone records when there is a “reasonable” suspicion that the number is associated with terrorism.
- Phone and internet metadata programs violated court orders in 2009 due to both “technical compliance” and “human implementation” errors. Those issues were later fixed, documents say.
- There’s a computer-run program that sifts through phone records using certain approved terms and then dumps that information into a “corporate store.”
Civil liberties advocates said the documents reveal a broader collection of records than previously thought.
When bulk records turn into evidence
If document releases from both sides weren’t enough, a court case also provided news on the hot topic.
It came out in a terrorism prosecution involving two Pakistan-born brothers living in Florida who are accused of a plot to bomb sites in New York in 2012.
A Miami federal court filing in the case revealed a change of course for the U.S. The justice department acknowledged the need during a terrorism prosecution to tell defendants that bulk record surveillance was used to build the case against them.
That acknowledgement may provide citizens and privacy advocates with the nugget of information they need to challenge NSA surveillance. For years, cases challenging the laws failed because there was no proof an individual had been prosecuted using these mass surveillance techniques.
Copyright © CBC 2013
Republished with permission
Posted by Judy Morris
Reuters: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans
(Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records.
Read the rest at Reuters, here.
NSA’s XKeyscore gives one-click real-time access to almost any internet activity
The structure of XKeyscore, leaked by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, is sourced from a classified internal presentation from 2008 and a more recent Unofficial User Guide, presumably obtained by Edward Snowden when he was a contractor for the National Security Agency in the past year.
It shows that XKeyscore – then located on 750 servers around 150 sites worldwide – is a vast collection and storage program that served as the entry point for most information that was collected by the NSA. The Guardian claims that in one 30-day period in 2012 the program acquired 41 billion records.
The information is not just metadata – depersonalized analytical usage statistics that allow spies to spot patterns – but includes almost all types of personal information. Using any piece of personal data on a subject – an email address, or the IP address of a computer – an agent could look up all online user activities, such as Google map searches, website visits, documents sent through the internet or online conversations. The service operates both, in real time, and using a database of recently stored information.
All that appears to have been necessary to log into the system is to fill in a compulsory line on a form that gave a reason for why a certain person needed to be investigated. The form was not automatically scanned by the system or a supervisor, and did not require a US legal warrant, as long as the person whose name was typed in was a foreigner (even if his interactions were with a US citizen).
The slides appear to vindicate security specialist Edward Snowden’s claims made during the original video he recorded in Hong Kong last month.
Posted by Judy Morris
Ron Paul: House leadership voted for ‘police state’
“[W]e should be careful about believing that even if it had somehow miraculously survived the Senate vote and the President’s veto, it would have resulted in any significant change in how the Intelligence Community would behave toward Americans,” Mr. Paul wrote in his weekly column. “The U.S. government has built the largest and most sophisticated spying apparatus in the history of the world.”…
The Texas Republican writes that Mr. Amash’s amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, Michigan Republican, was an important move “to at least bring attention to what the US intelligence community has become: an incredibly powerful conglomeration of secret government agencies that seem to view Americans as the real threat.”
“The leadership — not to my surprise — of both parties in the House voted for the police state,” he continued.
Read the rest at The Washington Times, here.
“I don’t mind spying on terrorists, I just don’t like spying on all Americans.” – Rand Paul
By 2016 we will have had 16 years of cluelessness. We’ve used up our margin. We don’t have the luxury of having a guy as president who doesn’t understand where the country is going. We need an adult in the White House, and the neocon nonsense has got to stop. Otherwise, I don’t even want to say.
Paul said the issue resonates particularly with young people, a key demographic Republicans need to attract in order to succeed in national elections.
“If you talk about some privacy issues like that, I think you will find youth coming to you,” said Paul, who said his own decision on whether to run for president won’t come until next year.
Read more from http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/
Posted by Judy Morris
Democratic establishment unmasked: prime defenders of NSA bulk spying by Glenn Greenwald
One of the worst myths Democratic partisans love to tell themselves – and everyone else – is that the GOP refuses to support President Obama no matter what he does. Like its close cousin – the massively deceitful inside-DC grievance that the two parties refuse to cooperate on anything – it’s hard to overstate how false this Democratic myth is. When it comes to foreign policy, war, assassinations, drones, surveillance, secrecy, and civil liberties, President Obama’s most stalwart, enthusiastic defenders are often found among the most radical precincts of the Republican Party.
The rabidly pro-war and anti-Muslim GOP former Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, has repeatedly lavished Obama with all sorts of praise and support for his policies in those areas. The Obama White House frequently needs, and receives, large amounts of GOP Congressional support to have its measures enacted or bills its dislikes defeated….
In reality, the fate of the amendment was sealed when the Obama White House on Monday night announced its vehement opposition to it, and then sent NSA officials to the House to scare members that barring the NSA from collecting all phone records of all Americans would Help The Terrorists™.
Read the rest at The Guardian, here.