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Thread: Privacy Alert! Big Brother is watching and listening, UPDATED

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  1. #221
    US privacy group challenging NSA and FBI collection of phone records

    Electronic Privacy Information Center to file petition asking supreme court to suspend FBI's blanket collection of data

    The legal challenge is one of several launched since Snowden's leaks were reported by the Guardian and Washington Post last month. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

    The US supreme court will be asked to suspend the blanket collection of US telephone records by the FBI under an emergency petition due to be filed on Monday by civil rights campaigners at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic).
    This new legal challenge to the power of government agencies to spy on Americans follows the publication last month by the Guardian of a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordering Verizon to hand over metadata from its phone records.
    Previous attempts to appeal against the rulings of these courts have floundered due to a lack of public information about who might be caught up in the surveillance net, but the disclosure of specific orders by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has opened the door to a flurry of new challenges. It comes as a similar legal challenge was filed in Britain on Monday.
    The latest from Epic asks the supreme court to rule that the NSA and FBI have stretched the law governing state intrusion to such a point that checks and balances put in by lawmakers have become meaningless.
    Under section 1861 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), authorities seeking such records from phone companies must show "that there are reasonable grounds to to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation".
    But lawyers acting for Epic argue that the sweeping nature of Fisa court orders revealed by Snowden make a mockery of this "relevancy" clause.
    "It is simply not possible that every phone record in the possession of a telecommunications firm could be relevant to an authorized investigation," says a copy of the petition seen by the Guardian.
    "Such an interpretation of Section 1861 would render meaningless the qualifying phrases contained in the provision and eviscerate the purpose of the Act."
    The petition seeks a "writ of mandamus" to immediately overturn the order of the lower court, presided on in secret by judge Roger Vinson, or alternatively a "writ of certiorari" to allow supreme court justices to review the decision.
    Epic lawyers also argue the original order is unconstitutional because it gives too much power to federal agencies, which could be abused to interfere in other areas of government.
    "Because the NSA sweeps up judicial and congressional communications, it inappropriately arrogates exceptional power to the executive branch," says the petition.
    A number of other legal challenges have been launched since Snowden's leaks began to be reported by the Guardian and Washington Post last month.
    The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit with a Federal court in New York which accused the US government of a process that was "akin to snatching every American's address book".
    It claimed the NSA's acquisition of phone records of millions of Verizon users violates the first and fourth amendments, which guarantee citizens' right to association, speech and to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.
    And on Capitol Hill, a group of US senators have introduced a bill aimed at forcing the US federal government to disclose the opinions of the FISA court that determines the scope of the eavesdropping on Americans' phone records and internet communications.

  2. #222
    NSA and GCHQ spy programmes face legal challenge

    Privacy campaigners file claim saying laws used to justify data trawling by Prism and Tempora programmes are being abused

    GCHQ, in Cheltenham, harvests millions of emails, phone calls and Skype conversations from undersea cables that carry internet traffic in and out of the UK. Photograph: Reuters

    The British and US spy programmes that allow intelligence agencies to gather, store and share data on millions of people have been challenged in a legal claim brought by privacy campaigners.
    Papers filed on Monday call for an immediate suspension of Britain's use of material from the Prism programme, which is run by America's National Security Agency.
    They also demand a temporary injunction to the Tempora programme, which allows Britain's spy centre GCHQ to harvest millions of emails, phone calls and Skype conversations from the undersea cables that carry internet traffic in and out of the country.
    Lawyers acting for the UK charity Privacy International say the programme is not necessary or proportionate. They say the laws being used to justify mass data trawling are being abused by intelligence officials and ministers, and need to be urgently reviewed.
    Privacy International has submitted a claim to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which is supposed to review all complaints about the conduct of Britain's spy agencies. The organisation hopes for a public hearing and early rulings because of the seriousness of the situation.
    The group was prompted into legal action by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden and the leak of top secret papers he gave to the Guardian. This led to a series of stories about the extent of modern-day surveillance and the disclosure of activities that have provoked a worldwide debate about the behaviour of western intelligence agencies.
    In a 22-page statement of grounds, Privacy International refers to the Prism programme, which allows the NSA to intercept the communications of non-US citizens living outside America from global internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo.
    The Guardian revealed that some of this information has been shared with GCHQ. So far the government has refused to say under what legal authority this has been done – if GCHQ had wanted to get this material for itself in the UK, it would have to apply under the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers act (Ripa) for a warrant from a minister.
    Campaigners fear Britain is circumventing its own rules to make it easier to get intelligence, and that the emails and calls of Britons are almost certainly being swept up by the NSA.
    "The contents of an individual's phone calls and emails and the websites they visit can be information of a obviously private nature," the claim says.
    "If UK authorities are to be permitted to access such information in relation to those located in the UK in secret and without their knowledge or consent, the European convention on human rights (ECHR) requires there to be a legal regime in place which contains sufficient safeguards against abuse of power and arbitrary use. There is no such regime."
    In modern communications, emails and phone calls made in the UK pass electronically through the US and can be intercepted by the NSA.
    "Through their access to the US programme, UK authorities are able to obtain private information about UK citizens without having to comply with any requirements of Ripa," the claim argues.
    The second ground focuses on Tempora, a system that stores for up to 30 days vast quantities of data drawn from undersea internet cables.
    The Guardian revealed this programme is part of an over-arching project at GCHQ called "Mastering the Internet". The data is shared with NSA and by last year 550 analysts from both countries were filtering through the contents.
    Privacy International argues this amounts to "blanket surveillance".
    "Such surveillance cannot be justified as a proportionate response to a legitimate aim. Bulk interception of communications and bulk inspection of such data is disproportionate interference with the rights guaranteed by article 8 of the ECHR, and it is not being undertaken pursuant to a legal regime containing sufficient safeguards to render it in accordance with the law."
    The claim says Ripa "does not provide sufficiently specific or clear authorisation for such wide-ranging and universal interception of communications, nor any sufficient or proper safeguards against misuse that are known and available to the public".
    Carly Nyst, the head of international advocacy at Privacy International, said the group had wanted to bring the legal challenge through a normal court so the arguments could be heard in public.
    But the UK government had insisted the group go through the IPT, which has only ever upheld 10 complaints against any of the agencies from more than 1,000 cases.
    "We have been forced to take our concerns to a secret tribunal, the IPT," she said. "It shouldn't be a surprise. Why would the government want their dirty laundry aired in public when it can be handled by a quasi-judicial body that meets and deliberates in secret, the decisions of which are neither public nor appealable to any higher authority?"
    She added: "In one of the world's most respected and stable democracies, there exists a system of 'oversight' that would be at home in any authoritarian regime. A public debate about the covert activities of British intelligence services is drastically needed and long overdue."
    Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, added: "One of the underlying tenets of law in a democratic society is the accessibility and foreseeability of a law. If there is no way for citizens to know of the existence, interpretation, or execution of a law, then the law is effectively secret. And secret law is not law. It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion."
    The civil rights group Liberty has also made a complaint to the IPT. It believes that its own electronic communications and those of its staff may have been unlawfully intercepted by the security services and GCHQ.

  3. #223
    The Snowden video sequel and Brazil fallout

    The worldwide debate over US surveillance which the NSA whistleblower was eager to provoke is clearly emerging

    Through her communications minister, Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, expressed "indignation" over revelations of NSA spying on Brazilians. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

    Whistleblowers are typically rendered incommunicado, either because they're in hiding, or advised by their lawyers to stay silent, or imprisoned. As a result, the public hears only about them, but never from them, which makes their demonization virtually inevitable. With that fact in mind, we published - almost a month ago - a 10-minute video interview with Edward Snowden to enable people to hear directly from him about what he did, why he did it, and what he hoped to achieve.
    For the last two weeks, Snowden has been unable to speak publicly as he attempts to secure asylum. During that time, all sorts of accusations, innuendo, and other demonization campaigns have been directed at him by political officials and various members of the US media.
    Today, we published below another video of new excerpts from the interview which Laura Poitras and I conducted with Snowden, this one 7-minutes long. It was filmed in Hong Kong on June 6. The video is taken from the extensive footage Poitras filmed as part of the documentary she has been making on the surveillance state. The new excerpts can be seen here.
    In these new excerpts, Snowden addresses directly many of the questions that have been raised and much of what has been said about him. Whatever one's views are on NSA surveillance and these disclosures, assessments should be formed based on all of the evidence, including Snowden's words, rather than exclusively on unverified government assertions.
    In the Washington Post today, the greatest whistleblowing hero of the prior generation, Daniel Ellsberg, has a truly superb Op-Ed arguing that, in light of radical changes in the US since his leak, Snowden was absolutely right to leave the US. He also writes:
    "Snowden believes that he has done nothing wrong. I agree wholeheartedly. More than 40 years after my unauthorized disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, such leaks remain the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden's leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts."
    I encourage everyone to read Ellsberg's entire argument, as few people have greater authority than he to speak about courageous whistleblowing. Relatedly, NYU Journalism professor Jay Rosen and Charles Pierce have both written about what they call "the Snowden effect": the tidal wave of revelations about US surveillance policy stemming not only from the documents he enabled us to report, but also the resulting unprecedented focus on the Surveillance State. Writes Pierce: "Whether he likes it or not, this is the 'national conversation' that the president said he wanted. Edward Snowden, world traveler, international man of luggage, made it impossible to avoid."
    As for the revelations I wrote about yesterday regarding mass, indiscriminate NSA surveillance of millions of Brazilian citizens, the fallout in Brazil is substantial and growing. The New York Times this morning has a good summary of the rising anger among the citizenry and political class over these revelations. The most influential television program in the country, Fantastico, did an excellent investigative segment last night really highlighting why this is such a significant scandal; it includes the country's Communications Minister conveying that President Dilma Rousseff reacted with "indignation" to the story and vowing criminal investigations (the segment can be seen here). Senators are scheduling formal investigative hearings and calling for international action.
    In the first video we published, Snowden indicated that his primary motive was to shine light on the ubiquitous global surveillance apparatus being secretly constructed by the US and its allies in order to prompt a meaningful worldwide debate. It's hard to contest that substantial progress has been made in fulfilling this objective.

  4. #224
    Edward Snowden: 'The US government will say I aided our enemies' –

    video interview
    PART TWO here:

    In the second part of an exclusive interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden contemplates the reaction from the US government to his revelations of top-secret documents regarding its spying operations on domestic and foreign internet traffic, email and phone use. This interview was recorded in Hong Kong on 6 June 2013

    Watch the first part of the exclusive interview with Edward Snowden

    Read the Guardian's full NSA files coverage

  5. #225
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    What Germany Thinks Of "The Biggest Bugging Scandal In History"

    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/07/2013 20:45 -0400

    Having taken the US, Hong Kong, Russia, Europe and of course Latin America by storm, Snowden's revelations are now focusing on the symbiotic relationship between the NSA and Germany's (very experienced) secret services.

    According to an interview that will be published in this week's edition of Spiegel, "American intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden criticizes the methods and power of the National Security Agency. Snowden said the NSA people are "in bed together with the Germans." He added that the NSA's "Foreign Affairs Directorate" is responsible for partnerships with other countries. The partnerships are organized in a way that authorities in other countries can "insulate their political leaders from the backlash" in the event it becomes public "how grievously they're violating global privacy." Telecommunications companies partner with the NSA and people are "normally selected for targeting" based on their "Facebook or webmail content."

    In other words, more of the same everywhere that "developed" people are "hated for their freedoms" (sic).

    So how does Germany - which unlike the US, has had extensive historic experience with assorted iterations of secret police, first the Gestapo then Stazi - react? The following opinion piece also from Spiegel exposes how different, and also how familiar, the German and US responses to the "the biggest bugging scandal in history" truly are.

    From Jan Fleischhauer of Spiegel:

    Having experienced two dictatorships with notoriously effective intelligence systems, Germans are furious about NSA eavesdropping. Now they want to put even stricter rules in place -- but without paying the necessary price.

    So maybe I'm not in the best position to comment on the NSA spying scandal. Ten days ago, I traveled to the United States to stay in a vacation home on the East Coast. "As a patriot, I find that traveling to America has become unacceptable," a colleague of mine texted me on Monday. In my own defense, I can only say that the scope of the scandal could not have been foreseen when I began my journey.

    Since then, however, one has much to fret about. If I understand things correctly, the Americans are in the fast lane to setting up a state of hyper-surveillance in Europe ruled over by data dictator Barack Obama. And all good Germans are united in their outrage. Even Sigmar Gabriel, head of the center-left Social Democrats, is calling for prosecutors to launch an investigation into the head of the NSA.

    Here in America, it's hard to come by reliable information on the scandal. I open up the New York Times every day hoping to learn something deeper. But even though it's the leading newspaper among the world's left-leaning elite, it only devoted a small side section to the biggest bugging scandal in history. On Tuesday, it broke a pattern by publishing a piece about the uproar sparked by revelations that the US had bugged the EU diplomatic representation in Washington. But, of course, it only got a slot on Page 4, behind stories about Syria, Egypt and the lax lending practices of Chinese banks. In fact, the "Gray Lady" deemed its coverage of Wimbledon more important than writing about how the US intelligence agency has violated the civil rights of millions.

    Different Concepts of Privacy

    It's hard to explain to Americans how Germans see this issue. Try telling someone from the US why we Germans have no problem sitting in a sauna full of naked people but get nervous when the Google camera-car rolls by and takes digital images of our houses. I gave it my best shot, but let's just say this: Our concept of the private sphere is not immediately clear to people abroad.

    I've also learned that it is no easy task to clarify to Americans why Germans are more than happy to consign their children to state care when they are just one year old but would go through hell and high water to keep their personal information out of state hands. In most cases, Americans don't like the state nosing into their personal affairs. But, when it comes to internal and external security, they have resigned themselves to the necessity of government meddling.

    For some reason, we Germans have taken the exact opposite approach: We delegate things to the state that we could take care of ourselves. But when it comes to issues we can't do alone, we don't trust the state to do them either.

    The problem with American bugging is that it will never be exactly clear what we're supposed to be afraid of. The threat is rather abstract -- but that makes it all the more threatening.

    To understand why Germans are so hyper-attuned to data-privacy issues, one probably has to look into our past. There is good reason for a land that has experienced two dictatorships -- one with a Gestapo, the other with a Stasi -- to be more sensible when it comes to the dangers of absolute monitoring.

    Not Just to America 's Benefit

    The sad truth is that the Germans have and continue to benefit mightily from America's spying program. Unfortunately, Germany is far from being an empty patch on the global map of Islamic extremism. And the lion's share of the information on the activities of extremists in Germany has been provided by the very agencies that we are now so livid about. They are America's eyes and ears on the world -- but they are ours, too.

    So far, Germans have been able to count on others providing tips when things threatened to get serious. But that can't continue forever. Likewise, when it comes to the surveillance business, there are no free lunches. This has prompted the BND, Germany's foreign intelligence agency, to ask for more funding for its own Internet-surveillance activities. But, as things now look, we would prefer to give our intelligence services fewer means to defend us from attacks than to expose ourselves to accusations that we violated civil rights. The Green party has already branded the current fiasco as a "meltdown of the constitutional state."

    Politicians should be honest enough with voters to spell out the costs, should the country move away from data surveillance. If a suitcase bomb were to explode soon in a major German city because we were too late in sifting through the meta-data of the perpetrators, it would be nice if the Justice Ministry could muster the courage to explain to people that these kinds of attacks are now the price we pay for the right to determine what happens with our personal information -- a right we currently place so much value on.

    Why Bug the EU?

    Yet one major mystery remains at the end of this week of outrage: Why on earth would the United States bug an EU embassy? What did the Americans expect to learn from such eavesdropping? Was it really so crucial for them to unveil why it's no longer forbidden to sell bent cucumbers in the EU or why restaurants aren't allowed to put olive oil dispensers on tables?

    There can be only one explanation: The NSA must have a form of institutional punishment set up for its employees. Whoever screws up is forced to listen to EU diplomats talk for hours on end. But, on the bright side, the current fiasco will put an end to this particular violation of human rights as well.

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  6. #226
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Former NSA Employee, Whistleblower Thomas Drake: Time For A New American Revolution

    July 8, 2013 by Sam Rolley

    During a Restore the Fourth rally in Washington D.C. last week, former National Security Agency employee-turned-whistleblower Thomas Drake called on Americans to revolt against government surveillance and information control.

    “I call for a new American Revolution declaring our independence from the surveillance state and government control of information,” he said.

    Drake went on to decry the Federal government’s unquenchable thirst for power, saying that the United States “has become the kind of secret, undemocratic, authoritarian, imperialist nation against whom we fought the first American Revolution.”

    “We the people do not consent to the surveillance state,” Drake said. “We will not forsake our rights for the sake of national security. We will not accept that the end justifies the means. We will not accept the government granting itself license to steal our liberty and our information away from us.”

    Drake was prosecuted in 2010 under the Espionage Act for allegedly disclosing classified information on the NSA’s wire-tapping program.

    Eventually, with help from the Government Accountability Project, he was cleared of all charges related to the government’s goal of putting him in jail for “the rest of his natural life.” Drake pleaded guilty to a simple misdemeanor of “exceeding authorized use of a computer” and was sentenced to one year of probation and community service. While, perhaps, the justice system didn’t completely fail Drake in the end, the government he angered effectively dismantled his career and disrupted his life in terrible ways.
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  7. #227
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Published on Jul 2, 2013

    Glenn Greenwald explains what the NSA is doing talks about whistleblower Edward Snowden . You can share this playlist: to give it an extra boost!
    This is going to go up on Your first act of solidarity with Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and your act of defiance against the NSA will be to tweet, to Facebook, to text. To do that with the video of this. We want to crash those NSA servers.

    And what Sherry's asking can be even extra boosted by clicking here first for this playlist then sharing that playlist on Twitter and Facebook

    This video encourages others to share this. Here's an excerpt of Glenn Greenwald's great speech. That's the thing, this video then, this playlist will promote that.

    Every single day they are collecting hundreds of millions of our email records and the email records around the world to find out who is emailing us, to whom we are sending emails, what our IP address is when we open the emails and read them, which means what our physical location is, and then being able to piece together what our network is—who our associations are, what our life patterns are, what it is that we do on the Internet, what our interests are, what animates us—a whole variety of information that they are sucking up and vacuuming, not about individuals who they think are guilty of terrorism but about human beings indiscriminately.

    A brand new technology enables the National Security Agency to redirect into its repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day. What we are really talking about here is a globalized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency. It doesn't mean they're listening to every call. It means they're storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time and it does mean that they're collecting millions upon million upon millions of our phone and email records. It is a globalized system designed to destroy all privacy and what's incredibly menacing about it is it is all taking place in the dark, with no accountability and virtually no safeguards and the purpose of our story and the purpose of Edward Snowden's whistleblowing is not singularly or unilaterally to destroy those systems. The purpose is to say that if you the United States government and the governments around the world want to create a globalized surveillance system in which we no longer have any privacy in our individual lives or on the Internet you at least ought to have us know about it, have you do it in the sunlight so that we can decide democratically whether that's the kind of system and the kind of world which we want to live.

    This is an easy way to express solidarity with people who are whistleblowers and journalists. The tools are right below the video. All you have to do is click here first and then you can share the playlist on Twitter and on Facebook. ANd when you tweet it you can add these hashtags to reach more people.

    "Glenn Greenwald delivered a speech where he talked about connecting and meeting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden for the first time."

    ★ CLICK HERE and then share playlist with others:

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  8. #228
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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  9. #229
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    Great information and very informative!

  10. #230
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    DOJ Says Public Has No Right To Know About The Secret Laws The Feds Use To Spy On Us
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