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  1. #551
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Big Brother Surveillance – It Is Not Just For Governments Anymore

    By Michael Snyder, on March 12th, 2014

    Traditionally, when we have thought of “Big Brother technology” we have thought of government oppression. But these days, it isn’t just governments that are using creepy new technologies to spy on all of us. As you will see below, “Big Brother surveillance” has become very big business. In the information age, knowledge is power, and big corporations seem to have an endless thirst for even more of it. So it isn’t just governments that are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. Corporations have discovered that they can use Orwellian technologies to make lots of money, and this is likely only going to get worse in the years ahead. Below, I have shared a few examples of this phenomenon…
    Private Companies Are Using Automated License Plate Readers To Spy On You
    Did you know that people that work for private companies are driving around scanning our license plates?
    I never knew this until I came across an article about it the other day. The following is an excerpt from that article
    Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any *industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.
    An automated reader attached to the spotter car takes a picture of every *license plate it passes and sends it to a company in Texas that already has more than 1.8 billion plate scans from vehicles across the country.
    These scans mean big money for Sousa — typically $200 to $400 every time the spotter finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default — so he runs his spotter around the clock, typically adding 8,000 plate scans to the database in Texas each day.
    Your Cell Phone Is Spying On You
    If you carry a cell phone around with you, then you are willingly offering up a whole host of information about yourself. This is something that I have written about previously, but I never realized that some private companies are now setting up sensors in businesses to purposely capture information from the cell phones of anyone that walks in. Yes, this is actually happening according to the Wall Street Journal
    Fan Zhang, the owner of Happy Child, a trendy Asian restaurant in downtown Toronto, knows that 170 of his customers went clubbing in November. He knows that 250 went to the gym that month, and that 216 came in from Yorkville, an upscale neighborhood.
    And he gleans this information without his customers’ knowledge, or ever asking them a single question.
    Mr. Zhang is a client of Turnstyle Solutions Inc., a year-old local company that has placed sensors in about 200 businesses within a 0.7 mile radius in downtown Toronto to track shoppers as they move in the city.
    Entire “Big Brother Housing Developments” Are Now Being Designed
    Would you live in a housing development with a sophisticated “video surveillance program” and that uses automated license plate scanners to monitor everyone who comes and goes from the community?
    In a country that is becoming increasingly obsessed with “security”, these new kinds of housing developments are surely going to be quite popular. The following is an excerpt from an article about one of these communities that is being built in California
    A new, scenic development surrounded by winding waterways is billed as a safe haven.
    Only four bridges lead in and out of the area with security checkpoints and a fiberoptic video surveillance program. Every license plate scanned on those roads will be cross-checked with a DMV database for stolen cars.
    The first homes are already going up at River Islands, and the people who move in can expect to be part of a new era in policing.
    Disney Implements The “MagicBand” Tracking Device
    Would you wear an RFID tracking device that allows you to buy stuff and that monitors you wherever you go?
    Well, Disney actually wants their customers to willingly use this technology.
    They are calling it the “MagicBand”, and perhaps you have already watched one of the new Disney commercials about it. You can see what Disney has to say about “MagicBand” right here.
    In the video posted below, activist Mark Dice discusses this troubling move by Disney…
    Our “Smart Televisions” Are Spying On Us
    How would you feel if I told you that your expensive new television is actually spying on you?
    You probably would not be too excited to hear that.
    Well, depending on the actual brand, this is really happening. In fact, one brand of television actually sends information about every button that press on your remote back to corporate headquarters
    An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family’s privacy.
    He began investigating the £400 LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him ‘targeted’ adverts — for cars, and Knorr stock cubes — based on programmes he’d just been watching.
    Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV — which connects to the internet — was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his set.
    He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG’s corporate headquarters in South Korea.
    Data Mining – Your Personal Information Is Big Business
    There are huge companies that most people have never even heard of that do nothing but buy and sell our personal information. The collection of this personal information is called “data mining”, and it is extremely profitable.
    In fact, there is one company called Acxiom that made a profit of more than 77 million dollars in one recent year by collecting and selling info about all of us.
    In case you were wondering, yes, Acxiom almost certainly has a profile on you too
    The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.
    As long as these technologies are legal and businesses can make money this way, they are going to keep doing it.
    So even if we stopped the rapid expansion of “Big Brother surveillance” by the governments of the world, the reality is that private corporations are going to keep pushing the envelope.
    We live in a world that is rapidly changing, and unless a miracle happens we soon will not have very much privacy left at all.

    March 12th, 2014 | Tags: Big Brother Surveillance, Big Brother technology,Creepy New Technologies, Orwellian technologies, Spy On All Of Us | Category: Big Brother
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  2. #552

    What a load of crap.....if you believe that I have some swamp land for sale......

  3. #553
    Private Companies Are Using Automated License Plate Readers To Spy On You
    Did you know that people that work for private companies are driving around scanning our license plates?
    I never knew this until I came across an article about it the other day. The following is an excerpt from that article
    Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any *industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.
    WOW I had no idea...

  4. #554
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    The Big Question: Why Didn’t NSA Spying Stop The Boston Bombing?

    by admin · March 23, 2014
    by Ralph Lopez, June 27, 2013

    The US government and the NSA go into full spin mode trumpeting their victories in the plots that didn’t happen while conveniently ignoring the one that did.

    Not only did the “don’t worry if you’ve done nothing wrong” Big Brother government not stop the Boston Marathon suspects, it knew who they were. It knew where they lived (190 Norfolk Street, Cambridge.) If they didn’t know, they could have asked me, and I’d have looked it up for them in public court records from Tamerlan’s 2009 domestic violence charge.

    Oh yes, they were on the welfare records too. They weren’t exactly leading a desperado life underground.

    If we are to believe the FBI’s own words, Dzhokhar, the younger brother, said they downloaded the plans for the bombs from the Internet.

    Long before that, no less than the full apparatus of Russian intelligence made the determination that the US should be warned about Boston suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and it did. Many times.

    Yet the NSA now heralds that it has stopped plots in as many as 20 countries. But that’s not what they get paid to do. They get paid to stop them right here. Right there, in front of the Boston Public Library. I’ve been there many times. Right where dozens of people with supposed lost limbs, some of them double amputations.

    Yea, that’s it guys. Don’t give me that dumb look. Right there.

    Does this get any worse? Yes it does. Even after the bombing, Frick and Frack at the NSA, Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security couldn’t figure out who the suspects were from close-up pictures, and had to ask the public for help in identifying them. Some people even say that the FBI was putting on a show, because they must have known who the suspects were. You know, law enforcement and public working together, culminating with the Big Lockdown, and then the people once again safe thanks to total submission to authority (horay!)

    Except that big show might have cost a good man his life, by tipping off the suspects that they were wanted men. If we are to believe the FBI’s own words that the Boston suspects were behind the murder of MIT officer Sean Collier, would it not have been better to not put their faces on TV, and instead try to surround the house and take them by surprise? Then they wouldn’t have had time to panic and allegedly run across town killing police officers.

    Which proves one thing: the NSA surveillance has nothing to do with our safety. If Boston doesn’t prove the point, how about this: sweeping NSA surveillance started seven months before 9/11.

    This is according to the CEO of Qwest, one of the telecommunications companies approached by the Bush administration to solicit cooperation in its new surveillance scheme. That’s right, i said seven months before 9/11.

    So if it was seven months before 9/11, what does all this have to do with national security? Does anyone else see something fraudulent about the NSA’s claims that this is all about our safety? Or is it just me?

    Jeff Baumer (remember him?) is allegedly just learning how to live his life all over again, minus his legs. The FBI said that Dzhokhar told them that they downloaded the bomb plans from the website “Inspire.” He allegedly had it on his computer.

    As long as you are reading our emails and texts for signs that we might be thinking of doing wrong, NSA guys, and that includes you General Alexander (I know you are listening,) as long as you are titillating over our lovers quarrels with our wives and girlfriends, then why the hell didn’t you read that?

    We have seen seen this before. Prior to the American Revolution, a man named James Otis Jr., one of the Founding Fathers, took on one of the King’s most hated prerogatives, that of searching through a man’s home, letters, or personal effects for any reason, or no reason at all. The British General Warrant was the exact equivalent of the unfettered license now claimed by the NSA and the Executive Branch to listen in on conversations presumed private, and otherwise read one’s communications and track one’s activities .

    Otis thundered in his speeches that “a man’s house is his castle,” and that giving government bureaucrats this power without the oversight of the courts amounted to “tyranny, ” for then every man with this power “may be a tyrant…a tyrant in a legal manner.” Otis argued that every such man would be “accountable to no person for his doings,” and would “reign secure in his petty tyranny, and spread terror and desolation around him.”

    Otis railed that this power would be abused by the underlings of higher-ranking bureaucrats, putting us at the mercy of “menial servants.”

    “What is this but to have the curse of Canaan with a witness on us: to be the servants of servants, the most despicable of God’s creation?” – Otis raged.

    Otis predicted that this power, run rampant, would have little to do with legitimate law enforcement, just as the Boston Marathon and the implementation of NSA spying seven months before 9/11 bear out. Moreover, though it would still be years before the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, it was after Otis’ fiery “a man’s house is his castle” speech, in February 1761, that john Adams wrote: “the child independence was then and there born.”
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  5. #555
    Obama: US must 'win back the trust of ordinary citizens' over data collection

    President confirms plans to end NSA bulk telephone collection as House committee says it is close to reform bill deal

    Barack Obama in The Hague. 'There's a tendency to be sceptical of government, and to be sceptical of US intelligence services,' he said. Photograph: Sean Gallup/AP

    Barack Obama confirmed on Tuesday that the US plans to end the National Security Agency's systematic collection of Americans’ telephone records, as leaders of the House intelligence committee insisted they were close to a deal with the White House to revamp the surveillance program.
    Under plans to be put forward by the Obama administration in the next few days, the NSA would end the so-called bulk collection of telephone records, and instead would be required to seek a new kind of court order to search data held by telecommunications companies.
    The proposals come nine months after the practice was first disclosed by the Guardian, based on leaks from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Obama conceded that the revelations had caused trust in the US to plunge around the world.
    “We have got to win back the trust not just of governments, but, more importantly, of ordinary citizens. And that's not going to happen overnight, because there's a tendency to be sceptical of government and to be sceptical of the US intelligence services,” Obama said at a news conference in The Hague, where world leaders are gathered for a summit on nuclear security.
    Obama said he believed the reform proposals presented to him by the US intelligence agencies were “workable”, and would “eliminate” the concerns of privacy campaigners. “I am confident that it allows us to do what is necessary in order to deal the threat of a terrorist attack, but does so in a way that addresses people's concerns,” he said.
    Activists gave a cautious welcome to Obama's plans. Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in an article for the Guardian: “The president is acknowledging that a surveillance program endorsed by all three branches of government, and in place for more than a decade, has not been able to survive public scrutiny. It's an acknowledgement that the intelligence agencies, the surveillance court and the intelligence committees struck a balance behind closed doors that could not be defended in public.”
    Obama will ask the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, which gives legal oversight to the system, to approve the current bulk collection program for a final 90-day period as he attempts to implement his plan.
    Attention will now be focused on how that can be achieved in Congress. In Washington on Tuesday, leaders of the House intelligence committee outlined their proposals for NSA reform, which they say would also end bulk phone record collection but which have been greeted with scepticism by civil liberties campaigners.
    The bill being pushed by the committee’s Republican chairman, Mike Rogers of Michigan, and its ranking Democrat, Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland – both NSA allies – would empower the government to compel phone companies and internet service providers to turn over records with a “reasonable articulable suspicion” of connection to terrorism or espionage, along with data of individuals up to two “hops” – or degrees of separation – away.
    Although a single order could involve sprawling into the data of thousands of individuals, Rogers and Ruppersberger said their bill would represent “ending bulk collection”. Both men have been vocal defenders of the phone records program but they now concede that it made their colleagues and constituents uncomfortable. "We're beyond that," Rogers said. "Now our goal, and our number one goal, always has been, not about about bulk collection, but: how do we catch these people trying to call in to the United States? Can we do it in a way that prevents another 9/11?"
    Ruppersberger, whose district includes the NSA's Fort Meade headquarters, added: "Mike and I knew we had to deal with the perception and get the confidence of the American people."

    Both leaders said they were close to alignment with the White House proposal, which they said currently provides greater up-front judicial scrutiny on the data collection than their own effort. "We think the White House is now moving toward our position on this. We've been sharing text with them for the past few weeks," Rogers said.

    Neither the White House nor the House intelligence committee proposal would require telecommunications firms to keep such records any longer than the current 18-month maximum, a significant shift away from the five years during which they are currently held by NSA. The moves represent a significant overhaul of the secret mass collection practices of the past 13 years, as exposed by Snowden.

    Under the House intelligence committee bill, judges on the secret Fisa court would approve the NSA's procedures for acquiring the data from the firms, but would only review the specific data collection after the collection occurs. According to a draft of the bill, judges who considered the data collection improper could order a purge of it.
    The introduction of the bill sets up a legislative battle with a more far-reaching reform effort, authored by GOP congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Democratic senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The Leahy-Sensenbrenner bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, permits the government to acquire data related to an "ongoing" terrorism investigation – the standard set out in the Patriot Act, which since 2006 the NSA has contended its bulk collection of Americans' phone data meets.
    Rogers and Ruppersberger forcefully rejected that proposal. "We believe the other bills out there don't meet that standard of still being able to protect Americans through intelligence-gathering," Rogers said.

    On Monday night, Sensenbrenner was just as critical of the Rogers-Ruppersberger bill, describing it as “convoluted” and insufficiently protective of Americans' privacy. “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,” he said.
    Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said on Tuesday that she would hold a hearing on the White House and House intelligence committee proposals, a further indication that the Leahy-Sensenbrenner initiative faces an uphill struggle to avoid being squeezed out.

    “I believe the president’s plan is a worthy effort. I have said before that I am open to reforming the call records program as long as any changes meet our national security needs and address privacy concerns, and that any changes continue to provide the government with the means to protect against future terrorist attacks,” Feinstein said.

    In a statement, Leahy, who chairs the Senate judiciary committee, also welcomed Obama's plan to end collection of US phone records. "That is a key element of what I and others have outlined in the USA Freedom Act, and that is what the American people have been demanding," he said.
    “I look forward to having meaningful consultation with the administration on these matters, and reviewing its proposal to evaluate whether it sufficiently protects Americans’ privacy. In the meantime, the president could end bulk collection once and for all on Friday by not seeking reauthorisation of this program. Rather than postponing action any longer, I hope he chooses this path.”
    A spokeswoman for one of the major telephone companies, Sprint, said: "We are reviewing the Obama administration’s proposal with great interest and look forward to seeing additional details of the administration’s proposal."
    Senator Mark Udall, the Colorado Democrat who has been a prominent critic of bulk surveillance, said he was encouraged by the president's plans. "The constitution is clear … the ongoing bulk collections of Americans' call records is an unacceptable invasion of our privacy that doesn't make us safer and must be brought to an end," he said.

    Another Democratic critic, Ron Wyden of Oregon said Obama's shift against bulk collection was a victory. "This is the start of the end of dragnet surveillance in America," said Wyden, who said he spoke to the White House on Monday night.
    "It's very clear now that the administration agrees with us," hailing a switch from both the Bush and Obama administration stance that "collecting these records is vital to western civilisation".
    Udall and Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky urged Obama to immediately cease the collection of any phone or email data without a court approved warrant and criticised the House intelligence bill as insufficient. "There may be potential for abuse in the House proposal," Udall said.

  6. #556
    March 19, 2014 NSA ‘records all phone conversations’ in unnamed target country ( MYSTIC ) Reply

    Cyber Security, Intelligence Gathering • Tags: United States, Barack Obama, Utah, National Security Agency, NSA, Washington Post, Edward Snowden, Mystic
    US agency records every phone conversation in unnamed target nation, according to exiled whistle-blower Edward Snowden and others
    UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 4:23am
    The Washington Post

    NSA taps ‘all calls’ in one country.

    The US National Security Agency is recording every single phone call in one particular country, with the agency able to rewind and review conversations up to a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.

    The programme, called Mystic, began in 2009. Its Retro tool, short for “retrospective retrieval”, and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.
    At the request of US officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country or other countries where the system’s use is envisioned.
    In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.
    Analysts listen to only a tiny fraction of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts”, for processing and long-term storage.
    No other NSA programme disclosed to date has swallowed a nation’s telephone network whole.
    In a statement, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the NSA, declined to comment on “specific alleged intelligence activities”.
    Speaking generally, she said “new or emerging threats” were “often hidden within the large and complex system of modern global communications, and the United States must consequently collect signals intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify these threats”.
    NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, in an e-mailed statement, said that “continuous and selective reporting of specific techniques and tools used for legitimate US foreign intelligence activities is highly detrimental to the national security of the United States and of our allies, and places at risk those we are sworn to protect”.
    Some of the documents provided by Snowden suggest that high-volume eavesdropping may soon be extended to other countries, if it has not been already. The Retro tool was built three years ago as a “unique one-off capability”, but last year’s secret intelligence budget named five more countries for which the Mystic programme provided “comprehensive metadata access and content”, with a sixth to be in place by last October.
    Ubiquitous voice surveillance, even overseas, pulls in a great deal of content from Americans who telephone, visit and work in the target country.
    It may also be seen as inconsistent with US President Barack Obama’s January 17 pledge “that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security”, regardless of nationality.
    The emblem of the Mystic programme depicts a cartoon wizard with a telephone-headed staff. Among the agency’s bulk collection programmes disclosed over the past year, its focus on the spoken word is unique.
    Most of the programmes have involved the bulk collection of either metadata – which does not include content – or text, such as e-mail address books.
    In the first year of its deployment, a programme officer wrote that the project “has long since reached the point where it was collecting and sending home far more than the bandwidth could handle”.
    Because of similar capacity limits across a range of collection programmes, the NSA is leaping forward with cloud-based collection systems and a gargantuan new “mission data repository” in Utah.
    According to its overview briefing, the Utah facility is designed “to cope with the vast increases in digital data that have accompanied the rise of the global network”.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as NSA taps ‘all calls’ in one country.

  7. #557
    Apparently Metadata Does Reveal Everything About You to NSA

    Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent
    March 17, 2014

    Last summer, Senator Dianne Feinstein defended the use of metadata, downplaying it to the press.
    Feinstein said: “As you know, this is just metadata. There is no content involved. In other words, no content of a communication. That can only be, these records, I’m not talking about content, the records can only be accessed under heightened standards. The information goes into a database, the metadata, but cannot be accessed without what’s called, and I quote, ‘reasonable, articulable suspicion’ that the records are relevant and related to terrorist activity.”
    President Obama told Americans earlier this year that the NSA is “not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.”
    But just in case they do, Obama said: “When mistakes are made — which is inevitable in any large and complicated human enterprise — they correct those mistakes.”
    A study from Stanford University (SU) Law School Center for Internet and Society (LSCIS) shows exactly why metadata is an important topic when it comes to surveillance and the National Security Agency (NSA).
    Findings of the study showed that metadata is sensitive information that can be analyzed to reveal intimate and personal details about the person being spied on.
    Jonathan Mayer, co-author of the study explained: “We did not anticipate finding much evidence one way or the other. We were wrong. We found that phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even in a small population and over a short time window. We were able to infer medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more, using solely phone metadata.”
    During the project initiated by Stanford Security Lab (SSL), requested that the 500 volunteers install the ‘MetaPhone’ app to their mobile devices.
    The participants, who used Facebook to install the app, allowed researchers to syphon information from their smartphone at will, including:
    • Monitor phone calls
    • Record text messages
    • Geo-location
    • Duration of call
    Last year it was reported that the NSA used a secret court order to syphon telephone records from millions of Verizon US customers.
    Telephony metadata, which Verizon is ordered to give to the NSA, is defined as “comprehensive communications routing information . . . session identifying information, trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers and time and duration of call.”
    That innocuous metadata that the NSA has been collecting includes trunk identifiers which are used to gather the metadata.
    In fact, when hacking into a call, a trunk identifier can be used to not only gather information about the call, but to listen in on the conversation from both the caller and receiver.
    Trunking is the way that the police can change their signal when on the radio every few seconds so that it cannot be syphoned by hackers. It is used by cell phone towers to encrypt the signal for a secure line.
    Trunking follows the sender and receiver when they change channels so that GPS-like surveillance is conducted.
    This allows the surveillance apparatus to have a continues stream regardless of when the channel changes every few seconds, which in turn allow those listening in to have a steady signal without breaks. Effectively, they can listen to the entire conversation and follow the signal as it changes.

  8. #558
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    EFF: An NSA ‘Reform Bill’ of the Intelligence Community, Written by the Intelligence Community, and for the Intelligence Community

    April 2, 2014 by Electronic Frontier Foundation

    This post, written by legislative analyst Mark Jaycox, was originally published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on April 2.
    Representatives Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced HR 4291, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (.pdf), to end the collection of all Americans’ calling records using Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Both have vehemently defended the program since June, and it’s reassuring to see two of the strongest proponents of the National Security agency’s actions agreeing with privacy advocates’ (and the larger public’s) demands to end the program. The bill needs only 17 lines to stop the calling records program, but it weighs in at more than 40 pages. Why? Because the “reform” bill tries to create an entirely new government “authority” to collect other electronic data.

    Collecting All Americans’ Calling Records Is So 2012

    The bill only ends the government collection of all Americans’ calling records using Section 215 of the Patriot Act — a good, albeit very small, first step. It also tries to prohibit the mass collection of other records like firearm sales and tax records. Unfortunately, it may still allow the government to argue for such collection as long as the NSA uses a “specific identifier or selection term.” In short: The government may still try to search these records and potentially other records. The bill leaves almost all of Section 215 as-is, the sole fix being that the section would no longer apply to calling records. The bill also stays mum on the NSA’s ability to mass spy on financial records, credit card records or other purchasing records using Section 215.

    Collecting All Americans’ Internet Records Is The Future

    The next 20 pages of the bill create a process where the government sends orders directed at electronic communication service providers for the collection of “records created as a result of communications of an individual or facility.”
    The words simply switch out one form of unconstitutional mass collection for another. And this latter version is even scarier than the mass collection of Americans’ calling records. A “facility” could include an entire internet service provider (ISP) like Comcast or company like Google. And the bill’s use of “electronic communication” doesn’t use the definition found in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), but the one found in criminal law, which includes any transfer of data like uploaded documents to the cloud, calendar entries or address book entries. Under the bill, the government might try to argue that the order can collect any type of record created as the result of any “electronic communication” as long as the communication is of an agent of a foreign power or someone in contact with the agent or foreign power. This is an incredibly broad standard.
    What’s worse is that the order doesn’t need prior judicial approval of who is targeted, where the information is supposed to be collected and why the government is searching for the information. The new order could collect the content of the communication or U.S. personal information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, names or addresses. That’s because the order must only be “reasonably designed” to not acquire such information. There is no mandate in the bill banning such collection or deleting such information upon collection.
    The new order has “civil liberties and privacy protection procedures,” written by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. But don’t let the name fool you. The procedures only have to “reasonably limit” the collection, retention or searching of records not useful for foreign intelligence information. It’s too bad that “foreign intelligence information” is essentially defined in FISA to mean “everything.” The procedures are reviewed every year by the FISA court; and once accepted, the government sends out orders to companies for records without any additional judicial approval.
    The above procedures to minimize certain information (“minimization procedures”) take after ones found in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, which is used to unconstitutionally mass collect innocent users’ phone calls and emails. Unfortunately, the procedures in Section 702 fail at even nominally protecting innocent users’ communications. Section 702 requires the procedures to be “reasonably designed” to exclude wholly domestic American communications. Despite the fact that the FISA court found the NSA collecting tens of thousands of such emails, the court thought NSA’s targeting procedures were still “reasonable.” We also know that the procedures fail time after time and are designed to retain and search the very communications the NSA isn’t supposed to be retaining and searching. Both are good reasons to think such procedures won’t work for the bill’s newly devised order. We won’t even know how much they fail (or succeed) because the procedures are filed in secret and stamped classified. Keeping the law secret worked out well in the past, so it should work out well in the future, right?
    The bill is what’s expected from the House Intelligence Committee. The committee was created to oversee the intelligence community, but it has been coopted for quite some time. Though it stops the mass collection of all Americans’ calling records, the bill’s creation of a new order to conduct unconstitutional mass spying on any record created by a communication is disturbing. And it’s a bill that will surely fail to pass Congress when real reform bills that would stop all uses of Section 215 to conduct mass spying, like the USA Freedom Act, are already on the table. Tell Congress now to support NSA reform that will stop every government use of Section 215 to mass spy on innocent users.

    Filed Under: Conservative Politics, Government, Privacy, Staff Reports
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  9. #559
    Edward Snowden: US government spied on human rights workers

    Whistleblower tells Council of Europe NSA deliberately snooped on groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

    Edward Snowden speaks via video link with members of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

    The US has spied on the staff of prominent human rights organisations, Edward Snowden has told the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Europe's top human rights body.
    Giving evidence via a videolink from Moscow, Snowden said the National Security Agency – for which he worked as a contractor – had deliberately snooped on bodies like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
    He told council members: "The NSA has specifically targeted either leaders or staff members in a number of civil and non-governmental organisations … including domestically within the borders of the United States." Snowden did not reveal which groups the NSA had bugged.
    The assembly asked Snowden if the US spied on the "highly sensitive and confidential communications" of major rights bodies such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, as well as on similar smaller regional and national groups. He replied: "The answer is, without question, yes. Absolutely."
    Snowden, meanwhile, dismissed NSA claims that he had swiped as many as 1.7m documents from the agency's servers in an interview with Vanity Fair. He described the number released by investigators as "simply a scare number based on an intentionally crude metric: everything that I ever digitally interacted with in my career."
    He added: "Look at the language officials use in sworn testimony about these records: 'could have,' 'may have,' 'potentially.' They're prevaricating. Every single one of those officials knows I don't have 1.7m files, but what are they going to say? What senior official is going to go in front of Congress and say, 'We have no idea what he has, because the NSA's auditing of systems holding hundreds of millions of Americans' data is so negligent that any high-school dropout can walk out the door with it'?"
    In live testimony to the Council of Europe, Snowden also gave a forensic account of how the NSA's powerful surveillance programs violate the EU's privacy laws. He said programs such as XKeyscore, revealed by the Guardian last July, use sophisticated data mining techniques to screen "trillions" of private communications.
    "This technology represents the most significant new threat to civil liberties in modern times," he declared.
    XKeyscore allows analysts to search with no prior authorisation through vast databases containing emails, online chats, and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.
    Snowden said on Tuesday that he and other analysts were able to use the tool to select an individual's metadata and content "without judicial approval or prior review".
    In practical terms, this meant the agency tracked citizens not involved in any nefarious activities, he stressed. The NSA operated a "de facto policy of guilt by association", he added.
    Snowden said the agency, for example, monitored the travel patterns of innocent EU and other citizens not involved in terrorism or any wrongdoing.
    The 30-year-old whistleblower – who began his intelligence career working for the CIA in Geneva – said the NSA also routinely monitored the communications of Swiss nationals "across specific routes".
    Others who fell under its purview included people who accidentally followed a wrong link, downloaded the wrong file, or "simply visited an internet sex forum". French citizens who logged on to a suspected network were also targeted, he said.
    The XKeyscore program amounted to an egregious form of mass surveillance, Snowden suggested, because it hoovered up data from "entire populations". Anyone using non-encrypted communications might be targeted on the basis of their "religious beliefs, sexual or political affiliations, transactions with certain businesses" and even "gun ownership", he claimed.
    Snowden said he did not believe the NSA was engaged in "nightmare scenarios", such as the active compilation of a list of homosexuals "to round them up and send them into camps". But he said that the infrastructure allowing this to happen had been built. The NSA, its allies, authoritarian governments and even private organisations could all abuse this technology, he said, adding that mass surveillance was a "global problem". It led to "less liberal and safe societies", he told the council.
    At times assembly members struggled to follow Snowden's rapid, sometimes technical delivery. At one point the session's chairperson begged him to slow down, so the translators could catch up.
    Snowden also criticised the British spy agency GCHQ. He cited the agency's Optic Nerve program revealed by the Guardian in February. It was, he said, one of many "abusive" examples of state snooping. Under the program GCHQ bulk collects images from Yahoo webcam chats. Many of these images were "intensely private" Snowden said, depicting some form of nudity, and often taken from the "bedrooms and private homes" of people not suspected of individualised wrongdoing. "[Optic Nerve] continued even after GCHQ became aware that the vast majority had no intelligence value at all," Snowden said.
    Snowden made clear he did believe in legitimate intelligence operations. "I would like to clarify I have no intention to harm the US government or strain [its] bilateral ties," he asserted, adding that he wanted to improve government, not bring it down.
    The exiled American spy, however, said the NSA should abandon its electronic surveillance of entire civilian populations. Instead, he said, it should go back to the traditional model of eavesdropping against specific targets, such as "North Korea, terrorists, cyber-actors, or anyone else."
    Snowden also urged members of the Council of Europe to encrypt their personal communications. He said that encryption, used properly, could still withstand "brute force attacks" from powerful spy agencies and others. "Properly implemented algorithms backed up by truly random keys of significant length … all require more energy to decrypt than exists in the universe," he said.
    The international organisation defended its decision to invite Snowden to testify. In a statement on Monday, it said: "Edward Snowden has triggered a massive public debate on privacy in the internet age. We hope to ask him what his revelations mean for ordinary users and how they should protect their privacy and what kind of restrictions Europe should impose on state surveillance."
    The council invited the White House to give evidence but it declined.
    In the Vanity Fair interview the whistleblower said he paid the bill in the Mira Hotel using his own credit card because he wanted to demonstrate he was not working for a foreign intelligence agency. "My hope was that avoiding ambiguity would prevent spy accusations and create more room for reasonable debate," he told the magazine. "Unfortunately, a few of the less responsible members of Congress embraced the spy charges for political reasons, as they still do to this day."
    The NSA says Snowden should have brought his complaints to its own internal oversight and compliance bodies. Snowden, however, insisted he did raise concerns formally, including through emails sent to the NSA's lawyers. "I directly challenge the NSA to deny that I contacted NSA oversight and compliance bodies directly via email," he stated.

  10. #560
    DuckDuckGo: the plucky upstart taking on Google with secure searches

    Gabriel Weinberg launched DuckDuckGo as a search engine that puts privacy first, rather than collecting data for advertisers and security agencies

    Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of DuckDuckGo.

    DuckDuckGo bills itself as "the search engine that doesn't track you". After the revelations in the US National Security Agency files, that sounds tempting.
    Named after the playground game duck duck goose, the site is not just banking on the support of people paranoid about GCHQ and the NSA. Its founder, Gabriel Weinberg, argues that privacy makes the web search better, not worse. Since it doesn't store your previous searches, it does not and cannot present personalised search results. That frees users from the filter bubble – the fear that, as search results are increasingly personalised, they are less likely to be presented with information that challenges their existing ideas.
    It also means that DuckDuckGo is forced to keep its focus purely on search. With no stores or data to tap, it cannot become an advertising behemoth, it has no motivation to start trying to build a social network and it doesn't get anything out of scanning your emails to create a personal profile.
    Having answered one billion queries in 2013 alone, DuckDuckGo is on the rise. We asked Weinberg about his website's journey.
    Why did you set up DuckDuckGo in 2008?

    DuckDuckGo didn't come out of any real direct motivation to start a search engine. I had come off my last company in 2006, [The Names Database, a social network that Weinberg sold for $10m], and I was focused on a bunch of personal projects.
    One was fighting spam in search results. There were a lot of sites that were just obviously spam in Google at the time, but they seemed pretty easy to identify. Another was crowdsourced data. I found myself going to Wikipedia and IMDB a lot, sites that used crowdsourced data, where you just get answers. The third leg was that I went to this stained-glass class, where they handed out a list of links that were the best places to go for more information on stained-glass production. They didn't match the Google search results. So I started a third project about getting the links out of people's heads, to find out where the best stuff was.
    DuckDuckGo is based in the small town of Paoli, Pennsylvania. How much do you think that the location puts you outside the general Silicon Valley milieu?

    Yeah, we don't feel connected to that scene. I'm not actually from here, interestingly enough. My wife and I picked here together to move to because we thought it would be a good place to raise a family and for other, deeper reasons that don't make sense to people outside the US. I think anyone in a similar position in Silicon Valley would have raised a ton more money a ton earlier. But that hasn't been our focus. And also, just look at how we've got 75% remote workers. That's a very non-Silicon Valley thing to do. Normally you hire the best engineers that you can out of Ivy League schools and bring them all in one place so you can get them in the company.
    After all these years, it seems as if people are finally talking about privacy …

    Yes, I do think that's fair. I don't think it's a fad. One of the big things people have noticed in the last year is the ads that follow them around the internet and that's perhaps the most visible notion of this new tracking mindset that most companies are adopting. Those trends are not disappearing. More tracking on the internet, more surveillance, so I think as people find out about it they're going to be wanting to opt out in some percentage.
    A billboard advertising the new duckduckgo search engine. When you started, your sole aim was to build a better search engine. When did you decide that privacy was crucial to that?

    Instant answers and spam filtering were really the initial focus there and still are in terms of product differentiation. But very quickly after that – I would have done it from the beginning had I actually thought about it, but I hadn't – was privacy.
    The data that you share with your search engine is the most personal data. Because you don't hold back with your search engine. You don't think about it in that context. You think "oh, I've got a financial problem … just type it in!" And so, that search history is really personal.
    It has [also] increasingly been used for marketing, it is available to subpoena and, as we know from the last year, it's also available through other hidden means for surveillance. Most money a search engine makes comes from showing an ad for something commercial like a car or shoes when users search for them, and it doesn't impact that business model to not track.
    Why not just anonymise the data you collect, rather than offer totally incognito searches?

    The reality shows that every time someone had tried to anonymise data, it's been a failure. As long as you can tie searches together and you keep any shred of the information, any personal information that can tie things back to you, then I think it's not truly private.
    Are you against tracking on a personal level, or is this just business?

    No, I do have a philosophical opposition. I think of it as more privacy policy than general. I think they should be set up to be the minimal collection as needed, as opposed to the maximal collection possible.
    The other way to look at that is I think they should have a quid pro quo, which is "you're giving up this particular piece of personal information and you're getting this benefit in return", as opposed to the current status quo, which is "we will collect anything we can and not tell you what the benefits are", just say, in general, "sure, you'll benefit from this".
    I think that is the key difference. And you've seen some companies start to move to this direction, but very slowly.
    Is it possible to make a good search engine without collecting Google levels of data?

    I believe you can switch to us today, and you'll be fine. And people are. And you can have a better experience! But also, if you look at your Google searches and what's coming up, really the amount that they're using your search history to change the search results is minimal. They are not really using that data currently to improve your search results in any significant way – as far as we can tell. They're using it for other things. They're using it to track you across the ad network.
    Does that mean you've backed off a bit in your fight against personalised searches?

    We've not backed off! I guess to restate my case I don't think that personal data, that personalisation, has been very useful.The case that everyone mentions is when, say, you type in the weather or you type in pizza and you want local weather or a local pizza place.
    Do people eat pizza in the UK?
    I figured so. So, we can do that in our instant answer box – using your location on the fly, and not store it – and not change the actual link results. So I think most of what people want that they call personalisation is really localisation and we can do that without tracking people.
    You've said before that tracking might be used to charge people more if their profiles reveal they have a lot of money. Is that something you can really see happening, or is it a worst-case scenario?

    It's real, and it already is happening, and will be increased. My general view is that if information is out there that can lead companies to improve their profits, then they will do so unless it's regulated against.
    So I definitely think it's out there, I think people just don't know that it exists yet.

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