Tag Archives: NSA

NSA: House bill would lower standards for collecting individuals’ data

Draft bill would allow collection of electronic communications records based only on ‘reasonable articulable suspicion’

US phone data NSA: House bill would lower standards for collecting individuals data
The House intelligence committee is circulating a draft bill that would permit the government to acquire the phone or email records of an “individual or facility” inside the US for up to a year.
Continue reading «NSA: House bill would lower standards for collecting individuals’ data»

The move by the House intelligence committee’s leadership – the Republican chairman Michael Rogers of Michigan and Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland – would significantly prohibit mass surveillance of all Americans’ phone data, a shift in position by two of the most stalwart congressional defenders of the practice. It comes as the New York Times reports that Barack Obama will propose ending bulk collection.

Obama’s self-imposed deadline on revamping the National Security Agency’s collection of bulk domestic phone data is set to expire on Friday.

The bill, titled the End Bulk Collection Act of 2014 and currently circulating on Capitol Hill, would prevent the government from acquiring “records of any electronic communication without the use of specific identifiers or selection terms,” some 10 months after the Guardian first exposed the bulk collection based on leaks by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

But the bill would allow the government to collect electronic communications records based on “reasonable articulable suspicion”, rather than probable cause or relevance to a terrorism investigation, from someone deemed to be an agent of a foreign power, associated with an agent of a foreign power, or “in contact with, or known to, a suspected agent of a foreign power.”

A draft of the bill acquired by the Guardian proposes the acquisition of such phone or email data for up to a year and would not necessarily require prior approval by a judge. Authorisation of the collection would come jointly from the US attorney general and director of national intelligence.

The NSA or the FBI would not be able to collect the content of those communications without probable cause.

Nor does the House intelligence committee’s draft bill require phone companies or any other private entity to store bulk phone records on behalf of the NSA – a proposal that has met with stiff opposition from the telecom companies. In essence, the draft bill gets rid of bulk collection, but makes it easier for government authorities to collect metadata on individuals inside the US suspected of involvement with a foreign power.

The House intelligence committee proposal represents competition to a different bill introduced last fall by privacy advocates in the Senate and House judiciary committees known as the USA Freedom Act.

That bill, which has 163 co-sponsors in both chambers, does not lower the legal standard for data collection on US persons, and would prohibit the NSA from searching for Americans’ identifying information in its foreign-oriented communications content databases, something the House intelligence bill would not.

A spokesperson for the House intelligence committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Rogers and Ruppersberger have scheduled a press conference on Tuesday morning to discuss what they described in a release as “Fisaimprovement legislation” – a reference to the seminal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which their bill would amend.

While a judge would not necessarily review the collection of a US individual’s phone or email records ahead of time, the House intelligence committee bill would require judicial review of the collection procedures and associated privacy protections to “reasonably limit the receipt, retention, use and disclosure of communications records associated with a specific person when such records are not necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess the importance of such information”.

A telecom or internet service provider could challenge the collection order before the secret Fisa court under the House intelligence committee proposal. The court would also have latitude to reject challenges “that are not warranted by existing law or consists of a frivolous argument for extending, modifying or reversing existing law or for establishing a new law”, and to impose contempt of court penalties for noncompliant companies.

The attorney general and the director of national intelligence would have to “assess compliance with the selection and the civil liberties and privacy protection procedures” associated with the collection every six months, and submit those assessments to the Fisa court and the intelligence and judiciary committees of the House and Senate.

Additionally, and in keeping with an October proposal from Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California, the House intelligence committee proposal would permit the NSA to continue surveillance for 72 hours on a suspected foreigner’s communications content if that person enters the US.

The House intelligence committee proposal contains provisions embraced by critics of widespread NSA surveillance. It would create a privacy advocate before the Fisa çourt; mandate additional declassification of Fisa court rulings; require the Senate to confirm the NSA director and inspector general.

It also requires annual disclosure of the number of times “in which the contents of a communication of a United States person was acquired under this Act when the acquisition authorized by this Act that resulted in the collection of such contents could not reasonably have been anticipated to capture such contents.”

But in a sign of the continuing contentiousness on Capitol Hill over changes to NSA surveillance, James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican and co-author of the USA Freedom Act, preemptively rejected the House intelligence committee proposal, calling it “a convoluted bill that accepts the administration’s deliberate misinterpretations of the law.

“It limits, but does not end, bulk collection. Provisions included in the draft fall well short of the safeguards in the USA Freedom Act and do not strike the proper balance between privacy and security,” Sensenbrenner said in a statement late on Monday.

On Friday, the Obama administration and the intelligence agencies will face the expiration of a Fisa court order for bulk domestic phone records collection. That expiration represents a deadline imposed by Obama in January for his administration to come to reach consensus on the specific contours of post-NSA phone metadata collection.

According to a New York Times report late on Monday, Obama will propose ending bulk phone data collection and replacing it with individualised orders for telecom firms to provide phone records up to two “hops” – or degrees of separation – from a phone number suspected of wrongdoing. The effort goes further towards the position favoured by privacy advocates than Obama proposed in January. Obama will request the Fisa court bless the current bulk collection program for a final 90-day renewal as he attempts to implement the new plan, the Times reported.

The White House declined to comment on Monday about either the End Bulk Collection Act or the USA Freedom Act.

Source: TheGuardian

Tech giants to press Obama on NSA reform in private White House meeting

 Tech giants to press Obama on NSA reform in private White House meeting

Technology industry leaders were due to question Barack Obama about privacy issues and his progress towards ending the National Security Agency’s collection of bulk telephone data on Friday, in their second White House meeting over Silicon Valley’s surveillance concerns.
Continue reading «Tech giants to press Obama on NSA reform in private White House meeting»

Executives from Facebook, Google and Yahoo were invited by the administration to the private Oval Office discussion amid continued anger over revelations stemming from leaks last June by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Reform efforts in Washington have stalled somewhat since Obama called for the US government to stop collecting domestic phone data in January but suggested an unspecified third party might be able manage the database instead – leaving Congress and the intelligence community locked in a battle over how to proceed.

This has doubly complicated matters for the US technology industry, which fears public surveillance concerns are damaging its international business interests but which has little appetite for replacing the NSA’s role with a private sector database provider.

Friday’s meeting comes just days after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called Obama to express his displeasure with the latest round of NSA revelations. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true, full reform,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on 13 March.

Zuckerberg, who was expected to attend the Oval Office event with Google chairman Eric Schmidt, said he had been “confused and frustrated” by reports of the behaviour of the US government. “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government,” he wrote.

“The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

This week, Rajesh De, the NSA’s general counsel, said all communications content and associated metadata harvested by the NSA under a 2008 surveillance law occurred with the knowledge of the companies – both for the internet collection program known as Prism and for the so-called “upstream” collection of communications moving across the internet.

Executives from Netflix and Palantir, the big data mining company, are also expected to attend the White House meeting, where a major topic of conversation is expected to be the imminent overhaul of how the US collects the phone records of millions of US mobile users.

Obama’s speech in January worried many in the tech and telecoms community, who are concerned that the burden of collecting and keeping that data will merely be passed on to them.

Following Obama’s announcement, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others said the proposal represented “positive progress on key issues including transparency from the government and in what companies will be allowed to disclose, extending privacy protections to non-US citizens, and Fisa court reform.”

But they said crucial details remain to be addressed and additional steps were needed. Others were more critical. Alex Fowler, head of privacy and public policy at Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, said Obama’s proposals did not represent meaningful change.

“Overall, the strategy seems to be to leave current intelligence processes largely intact and improve oversight to a degree. We’d hoped for, and the internet deserves, more. Without a meaningful change of course, the internet will continue on its path toward a world of balkanization and distrust – a grave departure from its origins of openness and opportunity,” he wrote in a blog post.

Silicon Valley executives have made clear that they want greater transparency over the government’s collection of their users data and more oversight. But talks seem to have foundered in recent months with tech executives becoming increasingly concerned that little will change.

Source: TheGuardian

Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors

Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has long been in the crosshairs of the U.S. government.  Now, more details exposed by The Intercept reveal that the National Security Agency (NSA)’s British counterpart, GCHQ, monitored Internet users who visited the WikiLeaks website and that the Obama administration urged allies to file charges against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the site’s founder.

Continue reading «Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors»

The article was written by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher, and is the latest piece on The Intercept based off documents Edward Snowden leaked to Greenwald and other journalists.

WikiLeaks is a target of a U.S. grand jury case, though the Washington Post reported last November that the Justice Department has indicated no charges would be filed since they couldn’t prosecute without targeting other media organizations and journalists.  But the grand jury is not the only way the U.S. set its sight on WikiLeaks, which rose to prominence after they published hundreds of thousands of secret documents exposing the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. diplomatic dealings.

Greenwald and Gallagher report on three documents that show the extent of U.S. and British targeting of WikiLeaks.  They contradict the U.S. government’s insistence that they only target “terrorists” for surveillance.

One document shows that the GCHQ used its surveillance system to sweep up the IP addresses of those visiting the WikiLeaks website and the search terms people used to reach the site.  These included Americans.  “How could targeting an entire website’s user base be necessary or proportionate?” asked Gus Hosein, the head of Privacy International, in an interview with The Intercept.  “These are innocent people who are turned into suspects based on their reading habits. Surely becoming a target of a state’s intelligence and security apparatus should require more than a mere click on a link.”
piwik2 Snowden Documents Reveal Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Visitors

A separate file reveals how the Obama administration wanted allies like Australia and Germany to file charges against WikiLeaks for publishing the Afghan war logs, which detailed civilian deaths caused by soldiers and other aspects of the war.

A third document shows that the NSA considered designating WikiLeaks a “malicious foreign actor.”  According to The Intercept, such a designation would “have significantly expanded the agency’s ability to subject the group’s officials and supporters to extensive surveillance.

Such a designation would allow WikiLeaks to be targeted with surveillance without the use of ‘defeats’ – an agency term for technical mechanisms to shield the communications of U.S. persons from getting caught in the dragnet.”  There is no confirmation that the NSA did decide to use the designation, though.

Source: Alternet.org

Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

gchq surveillance illegal lawyer Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal
 
A substantial part of the GCHQ’s dragnet snooping program is most likely illegal and was approved by government ministers despite breaching human rights and surveillance laws, a legal analysis requested by British MPs has found, The Guardian reports.
Continue reading «Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal»

In a 32-page opinion, leading public law barrister Jemima Stratford QC warns that Britain’s primary surveillance law is vague to the point of allowing the British intelligence agency to ignore privacy safeguards laid out by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The advice cited by The Guardian says that the murkiness of the law has created a situation where GCHQ staff are able to reply on “gaps in the current statutory framework to commit serious crime with impunity.”

The paper explicitly warns that GCHQ staff who passed on intelligence which was later used in the commission of a US drone strike against “non-combatants” could later face dire consequences.

“An individual involved in passing that information is likely to be an accessory to murder. It is well arguable, on a variety of different bases, that the government is obliged to take reasonable steps to investigate that possibility,” The Guardian cites the advice as saying.

The opinion suggested the UK should consider publishing a Memorandum of Understanding with any country it shares intelligence with that would clarify what the data is used for under British law. It would also outline how the data would be stored and destroyed.

All 46 members of the all-party parliamentary group on drones, chaired by Labour MP Tom Watson, were sent the legal advice.

nsa 1 Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal
 

Regulatory lapse

The cross-party parliamentary group reportedly sought the legal advice after receiving reports that the CIA relied on NSA surveillance to conduct the CIA’s clandestine drone program.

The advice, based on five hypothetical scenarios, found multiple areas in which the GCHQ had legally overstepped its bounds under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which establishes the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation.

- GCHQ is not allowed to intercept “internal” contents data between two British residents under RIPA, even if the data is routed via a transatlantic cable;

- GCHQ can intercept metadata and “external” contents data under RIPA, although this is considered a disproportionate interference with Article 8 of the ECHR;

- The executive has retained a largely unrestrained discretion to permit transfer of UK data to the NSA under RIPA;

- RIPA does not place any restriction on the uses to which intercept material might be put, other than its admissibility in court;
 
 
nsa 2 Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

- The current framework for the retention, use and destruction of metadata is inadequate and potentially unlawful.

- The government has an obligation to investigate and prevent UK agents, visiting forces and visiting agents becoming “accidental” accessories to murder under domestic law, if data or facilities are knowingly given to the US, even though it will be used in a drone strike that is most likely unlawful under UK law;

It also noted that RIPA has been left behind as advances in technology have rendered virtually meaningless the difference between “contents” and “communications” data.

The advice says RIPA gives “too wide a discretion” to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and “provides almost no meaningful restraint on the exercise of executive discretion in respect of external communications.”

Such surveillance may also be a breach of the ECHR, it adds.

“We consider the mass interception of external contents and communications data is unlawful. The indiscriminate interception of data, solely by reference to the request of the executive, is a disproportionate interference with the private life of the individuals concerned.”

In June 2013, media reports using thousands of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden extensively detailed the surveillance activities of GCHQ and its larger US counterpart, the NSA.

One of the key revelations focused on Operation Tempora, a GCHQ program that mines vast amounts of information by tapping into undersea cables that carry internet and phone traffic passing in and out of the UK. GCHQ and Hague, have repeatedly insisted the agency acts in accordance with the law.

gqqqqq 1 Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

Last year, Hague told MPs: “It has been suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with the US to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless.”

GCHQ also maintains all its work is “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence Services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.”

Last week, however, the ECHR ordered British ministers to provide submissions on mass GCHQ’s surveillance programs to determine whether they had violated the European convention on human rights.

Meanwhile, GCHQ chief Iain Lobban announced he will step down by year’s end, the Foreign Office said. Officials denied his departure was linked to public anger over the Snowden revelations.

Source: RT

NSA and GCHQ target ‘leaky’ phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data

 NSA and GCHQ target leaky phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data

The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet, according to top secret documents.
Continue reading «NSA and GCHQ target ‘leaky’ phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data»

The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.

Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes.

Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets.

Exploiting phone information and location is a high-priority effort for the intelligence agencies, as terrorists and other intelligence targets make substantial use of phones in planning and carrying out their activities, for example by using phones as triggering devices in conflict zones. The NSA has cumulatively spent more than $1bn in its phone targeting efforts.

The disclosures also reveal how much the shift towards smartphone browsing could benefit spy agencies’ collection efforts.

 NSA and GCHQ target leaky phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data

 

 

One slide from a May 2010 NSA presentation on getting data from smartphones – breathlessly titled “Golden Nugget!” – sets out the agency’s “perfect scenario”: “Target uploading photo to a social media site taken with a mobile device. What can we get?”

The question is answered in the notes to the slide: from that event alone, the agency said it could obtain a “possible image”, email selector, phone, buddy lists, and “a host of other social working data as well as location”.

In practice, most major social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, strip photos of identifying location metadata (known as EXIF data) before publication. However, depending on when this is done during upload, such data may still, briefly, be available for collection by the agencies as it travels across the networks.

Depending on what profile information a user had supplied, the documents suggested, the agency would be able to collect almost every key detail of a user’s life: including home country, current location (through geolocation), age, gender, zip code, martial status – options included “single”, “married”, “divorced”, “swinger” and more – income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and number of children.

The agencies also made use of their mobile interception capabilities to collect location information in bulk, from Google and other mapping apps. One basic effort by GCHQ and the NSA was to build a database geolocating every mobile phone mast in the world – meaning that just by taking tower ID from a handset, location information could be gleaned.

A more sophisticated effort, though, relied on intercepting Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and using them to collect large volumes of location information.

So successful was this effort that one 2008 document noted that “[i]t effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.”

The information generated by each app is chosen by its developers, or by the company that delivers an app’s adverts. The documents do not detail whether the agencies actually collect the potentially sensitive details some apps are capable of storing or transmitting, but any such information would likely qualify as content, rather than metadata.

Data collected from smartphone apps is subject to the same laws and minimisation procedures as all other NSA activity – procedures that the US president, Barack Obama, suggested may be subject to reform in a speech 10 days ago. But the president focused largely on the NSA’s collection of the metadata from US phone calls and made no mention in his address of the large amounts of data the agency collects from smartphone apps.

The latest disclosures could also add to mounting public concern about how the technology sector collects and uses information, especially for those outside the US, who enjoy fewer privacy protections than Americans. A January poll for the Washington Post showed 69% of US adults were already concerned about how tech companies such as Google used and stored their information.

The documents do not make it clear how much of the information that can be taken from apps is routinely collected, stored or searched, nor how many users may be affected. The NSA says it does not target Americans and its capabilities are deployed only against “valid foreign intelligence targets”.

The documents do set out in great detail exactly how much information can be collected from widely popular apps. One document held on GCHQ’s internal Wikipedia-style guide for staff details what can be collected from different apps. Though it uses Android apps for most of its examples, it suggests much of the same data could be taken from equivalent apps on iPhone or other platforms.

The GCHQ documents set out examples of what information can be extracted from different ad platforms, using perhaps the most popular mobile phone game of all time, Angry Birds – which has reportedly been downloaded more than 1.7bn times – as a case study.

From some app platforms, relatively limited, but identifying, information such as exact handset model, the unique ID of the handset, software version, and similar details are all that are transmitted.

Other apps choose to transmit much more data, meaning the agency could potentially net far more. One mobile ad platform, Millennial Media, appeared to offer particularly rich information. Millennial Media’s website states it has partnered with Rovio on a special edition of Angry Birds; with Farmville maker Zynga; with Call of Duty developer Activision, and many other major franchises.

Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, said it had no knowledge of any NSA or GCHQ programs looking to extract data from its apps users.

“Rovio doesn’t have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks,” said Saara Bergström, Rovio’s VP of marketing and communications. “Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned [NSA and GCHQ].”

Millennial Media did not respond to a request for comment.

In December, the Washington Post reported on how the NSA could make use of advertising tracking files generated through normal internet browsing – known as cookies – from Google and others to get information on potential targets.

However, the richer personal data available to many apps, coupled with real-time geolocation, and the uniquely identifying handset information many apps transmit give the agencies a far richer data source than conventional web-tracking cookies.

Almost every major website uses cookies to serve targeted advertising and content, as well as streamline the experience for the user, for example by managing logins. One GCHQ document from 2010 notes that cookie data – which generally qualifies as metadata – has become just as important to the spies. In fact, the agencies were sweeping it up in such high volumes that their were struggling to store it.

“They are gathered in bulk, and are currently our single largest type of events,” the document stated.

The ability to obtain targeted intelligence by hacking individual handsets has been well documented, both through several years of hacker conferences and previous NSA disclosures in Der Spiegel, and both the NSA and GCHQ have extensive tools ready to deploy against iPhone, Android and other phone platforms.

GCHQ’s targeted tools against individual smartphones are named after characters in the TV series The Smurfs. An ability to make the phone’s microphone ‘hot’, to listen in to conversations, is named “Nosey Smurf”. High-precision geolocation is called “Tracker Smurf”, power management – an ability to stealthily activate an a phone that is apparently turned off – is “Dreamy Smurf”, while the spyware’s self-hiding capabilities are codenamed “Paranoid Smurf”.

Those capability names are set out in a much broader 2010 presentation that sheds light on spy agencies’ aspirations for mobile phone interception, and that less-documented mass-collection abilities.

The cover sheet of the document sets out the team’s aspirations:

 NSA and GCHQ target leaky phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data

 

Another slide details weak spots in where data flows from mobile phone network providers to the wider internet, where the agency attempts to intercept communications. These are locations either within a particular network, or international roaming exchanges (known as GRXs), where data from travellers roaming outside their home country is routed.

 NSA and GCHQ target leaky phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data

 NSA and GCHQ target leaky phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data

These are particularly useful to the agency as data is often only weakly encrypted on such networks, and includes extra information such as handset ID or mobile number – much stronger target identifiers than usual IP addresses or similar information left behind when PCs and laptops browse the internet.

The NSA said its phone interception techniques are only used against valid targets, and are subject to stringent legal safeguards.

“The communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets are not of interest to the National Security Agency,” said a spokeswoman in a statement.

“Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true. Moreover, NSA does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission. We collect only those communications that we are authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – regardless of the technical means used by the targets.

“Because some data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of data. In addition, NSA actively works to remove extraneous data, to include that of innocent foreign citizens, as early as possible in the process.

“Continuous and selective publication of specific techniques and tools lawfully used by NSA to pursue legitimate foreign intelligence targets is detrimental to the security of the United States and our allies – and places at risk those we are sworn to protect.”

The NSA declined to respond to a series of queries on how routinely capabilities against apps were deployed, or on the specific minimisation procedures used to prevent US citizens’ information being stored through such measures.

GCHQ declined to comment on any of its specific programs, but stressed all of its activities were proportional and complied with UK law.

“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters,” said a spokesman.

“Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework that ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

 

 

• A separate disclosure on Wednesday, published by Glenn Greenwald and NBC News, gave examples of how GCHQ was making use of its cable-tapping capabilities to monitor YouTube and social media traffic in real-time.

GCHQ’s cable-tapping and internet buffering capabilities , codenamed Tempora, were disclosed by the Guardian in June, but the new documents published by NBC from a GCHQ presentation titled “Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV” set out a program codenamed Squeaky Dolphin which gave the British spies “broad real-time monitoring” of “YouTube Video Views”, “URLs ‘Liked’ on Facebook” and “Blogspot/Blogger Visits”.

A further slide noted that “passive” – a term for large-scale surveillance through cable intercepts – give the agency “scalability”.

The means of interception mean GCHQ and NSA could obtain data without any knowledge or co-operation from the technology companies. Spokespeople for the NSA and GCHQ told NBC all programs were carried out in accordance with US and UK law.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/nsa-gchq-smartphone-app-angry-birds-personal-data

 

 

 

NSA is after industrial spying – Snowden to German TV

 snowden nsa industrial interview.si NSA is after industrial spying – Snowden to German TV

 

The NSA agency is not preoccupied solely with national security, but also spies on foreign industrial entities in US business interests, former American intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, has revealed in an interview to German TV.

Edward Snowden chose the German ARD broadcaster to make his first TV interview ever since he became a whistleblower. The interview was made in strict secrecy in an unspecified location in Russia, where Snowden is currently living under temporary asylum.
Continue reading «NSA is after industrial spying – Snowden to German TV»

“There is no question that the US is engaged in economic spying,” said Snowden, from a teaser aired late on Saturday.
If an industrial giant like Siemens has something that the NSA believes “would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they’ll take it,” the whistleblower said, giving an example.

 

snowden tv interview ard NSA is after industrial spying – Snowden to German TVReuters / Tobias Schwarz

 

Edward Snowden disavowed participation in any future publications of the documents he withdrew from the NSA databanks, saying in the same interview that he no longer possesses any NSA data. The information has been distributed among a number of trustworthy journalists, who are going to decide for themselves what to make public and in what sequence.

The full 30-minute version will be aired at 11pm local time (22:00 UTC) on Sunday right after prime-time talk show, ‘Günther Jauch’.

The former NSA contractor’s revelations about US global spying activities, including snooping on its closest allies, put transatlantic ties “to the test,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel last November and demanded that Washington give Germany clarity over the future of the NSA in the country.

Snowden’s revelation hit Berlin particularly hard because Germany is a non-Anglophone country, and therefore is not a member of the ‘Five eyes’ intelligence alliance that incorporates NSA-equivalent agencies in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Deutsche Welle points out. While members of the ‘Five eyes’ were exchanging intelligence on a regular basis, Berlin had to consider itself satisfied with less data, while both Washington and London, for example, were blatantly listening to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone right in the middle of Germany’s capital.

The Germans – according to polls – have lost confidence in the US as a trustworthy partner, and the majority of them consider NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a hero.

 

snowden nsa industrial interview .si NSA is after industrial spying – Snowden to German TVNational Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

 

In order to mend fences, US President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on German TV. On January 18 President Obama told the ZDF TV channel that “As long as I’m president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany will not have to worry about this.”

Yet Germany remains skeptical about US promises of discontinuing spying on foreign leaders, and is in the vanguard of a number of European countries aiming to change data privacy rules in the EU.

Former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, remains in Russia, where his temporary political asylum status could be extended every year. He has no plans for returning to the US where he would face trial for alleged treason.

“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,” said Snowden during his public Q&A session last Thursday.

 

Unbebiebable! MSNBC cuts Congresswoman during NSA LIVE to report… Justin Bieber

breaking news.si Unbebiebable! MSNBC cuts Congresswoman during NSA LIVE to report... Justin Bieber

A US government privacy board dubs the NSA’s phone calls hoarding illegal and calls to shut… wait, it’s Justin Bieber. And so the Congresswoman being interviewed was dumped mid-sentence to report the “breaking news” of Bieber’s DUI arrest.

On Thursday, the MSNBC put out a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) slamming NSA hoarding of phone data, calling it ‘illegal.’ The privacy watchdog, established by US Congress in 2004, also urged President Barack Obama to end the NSA surveillance program.

Congresswoman Jane Harman was called in to discuss the recommendation of the US government privacy watchdog. But as Harman got round to urging Congress to “seriously consider discontinuing section 215”, matters of national importance were put aside.

…We’ve got some breaking news out of Miami, stand by if you will. Right now in Miami Justin Bieber has been arrested on a number of charges,” announced Andrea Mitchell, the MSNBC news anchor, interrupting the congresswoman.

 
Matters of international importance were promptly shelved, in a brouhaha surrounding the pop star, who was said to have been charged with driving under the influence, driving with an expired license, resisting arrest with a possibility of facing up to six months in jail. If you were Congresswoman Harman, would you stand by?

Snowden can extend his asylum every year – lawyer

snowden extend asylum lawyer0.si Snowden can extend his asylum every year – lawyer

Though Edward Snowden’s temporary political asylum in Russia is set to expire in August, his lawyer says the NSA whistleblower has the right to extend his status every year until he is eligible for citizenship.

Snowden will make up his mind very soon, his legal representative in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, told Kommersant newspaper.
Continue reading «Snowden can extend his asylum every year – lawyer»

Meanwhile, a top Russian lawmaker has indicated that Russia will most likely extend Snowden’s asylum. “He will not be sent out of Russia,” Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “It will be up to Snowden,” The New York Times quoted him as saying.

Kucherena did not rule out that Snowden will apply for an extension of his asylum and maybe even seek Russian citizenship in the future.

In an article published by The New Yorker earlier this week, Snowden dismissed as “absurd” accusations from US lawmakers that he might have spied on behalf of Russia when taking troves of classified US government documents. Snowden insisted that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”

Snowden asked why he would have initially fled to Hong Kong and why was he “stuck in the airport forever” – in reference to the forty days he spent stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport – if he was a spy. “Spies get treated better than that,” he said.

Snowden’s statement follows accusations made by the chairs of both the House and Senate intelligence committees last Sunday, which insinuated that he might have collaborated with Russia’s special services.

Speaking to RT earlier this week, Kucherena dismissed any accusations against his client, stressing that he has spent a lot of time with Snowden since June of last year and would have been aware if he had cooperated with the Russian government.

But I assure everyone that all day-to-day issues, housing rental etc. – all these questions he resolves himself or with my help.”

The lawyer reminded that Snowden recently obtained a job after spending nearly all of his savings.

“So in this case I cannot say that there is any government involvement, because there is none. His life is modest.”

Source: RT

Republicans vote to end NSA bulk phone metadata surveillance program

rtxwkrc.si Republicans vote to end NSA bulk phone metadata surveillance program

The Republican National Committee has passed a resolution pushing conservative lawmakers to put an end to the National Security Agency’s blanket surveillance of American citizens’ phone records.

The resolution also calls for an investigation of the NSA’s metadata collection practices, which it labeled a “gross infringement” of the rights of US citizens. Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the NSA has been authorized to collect and store the records of nearly all domestic phone calls – the phone numbers involved and duration of the calls, but not the content of the conversations themselves.

Specifically, the RNC will push Republican lawmakers to pass amendments to Section 215 stating that“blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence — electronic, physical, and otherwise — of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court.”

The resolution also adds that “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

While Republicans have generally been split on their reaction to the NSA’s spying programs – libertarian-leaning lawmakers have been more critical of the NSA than national security “hawks” – Time reported that no RNC members spoke out against the new resolution when it came up for a voice vote. It reportedly passed with an “overwhelming majority.”

Exactly how lawmakers will receive this new resolution remains unclear. Despite the apparent widespread support within the RNC to reign in the NSA, the party’s Republican legislators are not obligated to vote according to these suggestions.

Still, the move reflects growing unease concerning the NSA’s practices within the conservative movement and will undoubtedly be embraced by civil liberties advocates who have called for an overhaul of the surveillance program ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking details about the agency’s behavior to the press.

Last week, President Barack Obama announced reforms of his own regarding the surveillance efforts while simultaneously defending the program as necessary. He stated that going forward, government officials will need to obtain a court order to access the archive of data collected by the NSA. Though Obama did not say who would be in charge of overseeing the archive, he called on Congress, intelligence officials, and Attorney General Eric Holder to take the next steps.

“I believe we need a new approach,” Obama said. “I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata collection program as it currently exists, and establishes a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata.”

While Obama’s proposals were welcomed, some civil liberties groups – such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch – stated that he did not go far enough, offering only “vague assurance” that the government would not abuse its powers.

Source: RT