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Privacy News Stories
Excerpts of Key Privacy News Stories in Major Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important privacy news stories reported in the media that suggest a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full stories on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These privacy news stories are listed by date posted to this webpage. You can explore the same articles listed by order of importance or by article date. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: This comprehensive list of privacy news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Obama Opens NSA’s Vast Trove of Warrantless Data to Entire Intelligence Community, Just in Time for Trump
2016-01-13, The Intercept
Posted: 2017-01-23 20:43:58
https://theintercept.com/2017/01/13/obama-opens-nsas-vast-trove-of-warrantles...

The Obama administration on Thursday announced new rules that will let the NSA share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorization with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. The new rules allow ... those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad. Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along. The last-minute adoption of the procedures is one of many examples of the Obama administration making new executive powers established by the Bush administration permanent, on the assumption that the executive branch could be trusted to police itself. Executive Order 12333 ... serves as authorization for the NSA’s most massive surveillance programs. In 2014, a former state department official described NSA surveillance under 12333 as a “universe of collection and storage” beyond what Congress has authorized. This massive database inevitably includes vast amount of American’s communications — swept up when they speak to people abroad, when they go abroad themselves, or even if their domestic communications are simply routed abroad. That’s why access was previously limited to data that had already been screened to remove unrelated information and information identifying U.S. persons.

Note: For an important viewpoint on the real complexities going on with recent reporting on Trump links to Russia, CIA involvement in Syria, and media manipulations, don't miss this provocative article by Glenn Greenwald and this interview he gave to Fox News. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Foreigners must provide social media accounts to enter U.S.
2016-12-23, Miami Herald/McClatchy
Posted: 2017-01-02 19:52:52
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article122774904.html

Foreign travelers will now be asked to provide links to their social media accounts before they enter the U.S. after the government implemented a new policy designed to identify “potential threats”. The request to provide links to accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn is optional. But privacy advocates and some technology companies oppose the move on the grounds it violates civil liberties and freedom of expression. The new policy, which was originally proposed this summer, was adopted Dec. 19 for people arriving via the ... Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which now asks about social media accounts in its online form. There is no clear indication of how the information gathered will be used. “An open-ended inquiry into ‘online presence’ would give DHS a window into applicants’ private lives,” a coalition of 28 civil rights and technology groups wrote in a letter in August in opposition to the proposal. “Scrutiny of their sensitive or controversial online profiles would lead many visa-waiver applicants to self-censor or delete their accounts, with consequences for personal, business, and travel-related activity. “The risk of discrimination based on analysis of social media content and connections is great and will fall hardest on Arab and Muslim communities,” the letter said. “It also poses significant risks to journalists, whose profession requires confidentiality and whose social media networks may convey a profile that, taken out of context, could be misconstrued.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of privacy.


Want to help protesters at Standing Rock? Do more than ‘check in’
2016-10-01, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2016-11-07 18:41:15
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Want-to-help-protesters-at-Standi...

Protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, N.D., rallying against the Dakota Access oil pipeline have been calling for reinforcements since summertime. As of this week, about 800 people had come. But in the course of just a few days, more than 1.5 million people marked themselves present at the pipeline protest using Facebook - even though they weren’t actually there. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that law enforcement agencies across the country use location tracking and social media data to identify activists. Protesters have reported phones turning on on their own, phone calls cutting out and live video streams being interrupted as evidence that they’re being spied on, said Jennifer Cook, the policy director for the ACLU of North Dakota. Law enforcement agencies ... said they are not relying on Facebook’s check-in system to track protesters. Last week, video of violent clashes between lines of police and protesters circulated online, showing demonstrators running from officers as 142 people were arrested. Most of them were charged with rioting and criminal trespassing. About 300 people have been arrested since the protests began over the summer. Tensions have intensified in recent weeks as the pipeline’s construction moves closer to a river crossing that activists view as a critical water source that they fear will be compromised by the oil main, which many Native American tribes have said treads on sacred land.

Note: For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


AT&T Secretly Selling Customers’ Data to Law Enforcement
2016-10-25, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2016-10-31 18:40:37
http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/AT-T-Secretly-Selling-Cu...

AT&T runs a secret program called Project Hemisphere that that searches millions and millions of call records and analyzes cellular data to help law enforcement spy on Americans, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast. Police use the data to solve crimes by monitoring if specific cellular towers in the vicinity of wrongdoings picked up a known suspect’s cell phone. The surveillance project comes to light as the company is on the verge of acquiring Time Warner in one of the biggest media mergers in memory. Law enforcement agencies pay from $100,000 to over $1 million a year for Hemisphere access. Back in 2013, The New York Times called Hemisphere a partnership between AT&T and the government, but Daily Beast says it’s actually “a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers.” No warrant is required to access Hemisphere, but it does require a promise not to publicly disclose Hemisphere. AT&T owns significant shares in both the landline and cell phone space, which allows the company to possess information that is used by at least 28 intelligence centers. Documents show that AT&T wants to keep Hemisphere a secret, but suspects and anyone charged with a crime have the right to know the evidence against them. “The Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence,” documents obtained by the Beast said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Yahoo 'secretly scanned customer emails' at request of US intelligence
2016-10-04, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-10-10 15:34:55
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/yahoo-secretly-scann...

Yahoo has been accused of secretly building a customised software programme to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials. The company complied with a classified US government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI. Reuters said that a number of surveillance experts said this represented the first case to surface of a US Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time. The agency also said it was unable to determine what data the company had handed over, and if the intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo. US phone and Internet companies are known to have handed over bulk customer data to intelligence agencies. But some former government officials and private surveillance experts said they had not previously seen either such a broad directive for real-time Web collection or one that required the creation of a new computer program. “I’ve never seen that, a wiretap in real time on a ‘selector’,” said Albert Gidari, a lawyer who represented phone and Internet companies on surveillance. A selector refers to a type of search term used to zero in on specific information. He added: “It would be really difficult for a provider to do that.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Over eight years, President Barack Obama has created the most intrusive surveillance apparatus in the world. To what end?
2016-09-07, Foreign Policy
Posted: 2016-10-02 14:52:36
http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/09/07/every-move-you-make-obama-nsa-security-su...

Over his two terms, Obama has created the most powerful surveillance state the world has ever seen. From 22,300 miles in space, where seven Advanced Orion [spy satellites] now orbit; to a 1-million-square-foot building in the Utah desert that stores data intercepted from personal phones, emails, and social media accounts; to taps along the millions of miles of undersea cables that encircle the Earth like yarn, U.S. surveillance has expanded exponentially since Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009. The effort to wire the world ... has cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion. Yet has the president’s blueprint for spying succeeded on its own terms? An examination of the unprecedented architecture reveals that the Obama administration may only have drowned itself in data. Privacy hasn’t been traded for security, but for the government hoarding more data than it knows how to handle. A panel set up by Obama [in 2013] to review the NSA’s operations concluded that the agency had stopped no terrorist attacks. Beyond failures to create security, there is the matter of misuse or abuse of U.S. spying, the effects of which extend well beyond violations of Americans’ constitutional liberties. Obama, meanwhile, has taken virtually no steps to fix what ails his spying apparatus, [but] has gone after people blowing the whistle on intelligence abuses. The Justice Department has charged eight leakers — more than double the number under all previous presidents combined.

Note: The above was written by James Bamford, whistleblower and author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America." Former US Senator Frank Church warned of the dangers of creating a surveillance state in 1975. By 2013, it had become evident that the US did not heed his warning. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Oliver Stone on Snowden relevance: 'The US government lies all the time'
2016-09-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-09-25 23:08:35
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/10/oliver-stone-snowden-us-governme...

Oliver Stone has taken aim at the US government for deceiving people about the levels of surveillance that exist in the country. His new film Snowden, about the controversial NSA informant Edward Snowden, received its world premiere. The drama ... tells of the former CIA employee’s discovery that the agency had constructed a system to spy on the public. “Americans don’t know anything about it because the government lies about it all the time,” Stone said at a press conference. “What’s going on now is pretty shocking. This story not only deals with eavesdropping but mass eavesdropping, drones and cyberwarfare. As Snowden said himself the other day, ‘It’s out of control, the world is out of control.’” The film also features a cameo from Snowden himself, who still resides at an undisclosed location in Russia while he searches for asylum elsewhere. Stone hopes that he may return to US ground but is doubtful. “Obama could pardon him and we hope so,” he said. “But he has vigorously prosecuted eight whistleblowers under the espionage act, which is an all-time record for an American president, and he’s been one of the most efficient managers of this surveillance world. It is the most extensive and invasive surveillance state that has ever existed and he’s built it up.” The film-maker ... likens [the current situation] to a George Orwell novel. “I never thought this could happen,” he said. “But from 2001 on, it’s very clear that something radical has changed. There’s more to it that meets the eye and whatever they tell you, you’ve got to look beyond.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on questionable intelligence agency practices and the disappearance of privacy.


How ‘Snowden’ the movie could help win a pardon for Snowden the man
2016-09-20, Reuters
Posted: 2016-09-25 23:06:38
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-intelligence-nsa-snowden-commenta-idUSK...

The days leading up to last Friday’s release of director Oliver Stone’s Snowden looked like one long movie trailer. The American Civil Liberties Union ... announced a campaign to win a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contract employee who leaked hundreds of thousands of its highly classified documents. The next day, the House Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan letter to the president that advised him against any pardon. The week before, Stone had invited me to a private screening of his movie, [along with] a small group of former government employees who were whistleblowers before Snowden – and paid a high price for it. The reason they had been persecuted is that U.S. law makes no distinction between revealing illegal government activity to the press about eavesdropping on Americans or engaging in torture, and betraying the country by passing secrets for money or ideology to foreign governments. The Espionage Act was enacted nearly a century ago following World War One, and has already been amended several times. One key issue confronting the next president ... is whether the law needs to be amended again – this time to separate the whistleblowers from the spies. Today ... the battle lines have been drawn between those in government – both the executive branch and Congress – who view the theft of government secrets as espionage, regardless of the motive, and those in civil-liberties groups and the media who see motive as a critical distinction.

Note: The above was written by James Bamford, whistleblower and author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Powerful NSA hacking tools have been revealed online
2016-08-16, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-08-22 12:27:15
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/powerful-nsa-hacking-t...

Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days. A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate. The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO). The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said [former TAO operator] Blake Darche. Some former agency employees suspect that the leak was the result of a mistake by an NSA operator, rather than a successful hack by a foreign government of the agency’s infrastructure. It is not unprecedented for a TAO operator to accidentally upload a large file of tools ... one of the former employees said. “What’s unprecedented is to not realize you made a mistake,” he said. “You would recognize, ‘Oops, I uploaded that set’ and delete it.” Critics of the NSA have suspected that the agency, when it discovers a software vulnerability, frequently does not disclose it, thereby putting at risk the cybersecurity of anyone using that product.

Note: Former US Senator Frank Church warned of the dangers of creating a surveillance state in 1975. By 2013, it had become evident that the US did not heed his warning. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


This Company Has Built a Profile on Every American Adult
2016-08-05, BloombergBusinessweek
Posted: 2016-08-14 22:18:25
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-05/this-company-has-built-a-pr...

For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able to search troves of ... addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person’s car - and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. Now they can combine that information with the kinds of things marketers know about you, such as which politicians you donate to, what you spend on groceries, and whether it’s weird that you ate in last night, to create a portrait of your life and predict your behavior. IDI, a year-old company in the so-called data-fusion business, is the first to centralize and weaponize all that information for its customers. Chief Executive Officer Derek Dubner says the system isn’t waiting for requests from clients - it’s already built a profile on every American adult, including young people who wouldn’t be swept up in conventional databases, which only index transactions. These personal profiles include all known addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; every piece of property ever bought or sold, plus related mortgages; past and present vehicles owned; criminal citations, from speeding tickets on up; voter registration; hunting permits; and names and phone numbers of neighbors. The reports also include photos of cars taken by private companies using automated license plate readers - billions of snapshots tagged with GPS coordinates and time stamps to help PIs surveil people or bust alibis. IDI also runs two coupon websites ... that collect purchasing and behavioral data.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the erosion of privacy.


Tape over your laptop camera? Why it might not be as paranoid as it seems
2016-06-24, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Posted: 2016-07-03 14:45:28
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/laptop-camera-security-tape-1.3649678

A photo circulating online of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's personal laptop has ignited a conversation about data security. The photo shows a smiling Zuckerberg sitting next to his laptop. His computer's camera and microphone are covered with tape. Tape? Yes, tape. Covering a computer's camera doesn't protect the device from being hacked, but it does prevent a hacker from being able to see whatever the camera sees. Covering a laptop's microphone can muffle the audio enough to prevent a hacker from listening in, uninvited. Security experts say it's not paranoid - it's good sense. A hacker can get access to your entire computer, without your knowledge, relatively easily. [Security professional Dave] Lewis said he's been able to breach a system and take control of a person's laptop camera without their knowledge. "And it doesn't even always trip the light that shows the camera is live," he added. Unsurprisingly to many, women tend to be targets for this kind of hacking. It's more common than we think, said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the ... University of Toronto. Scott-Railton said this practice is called "ratting," adding sometimes hackers will trade access to hacked computers. He said the same kind of software used to hack women's webcams is used to hack political dissidents, members of activist groups, and journalists. "These are people that are regularly targeted by different hacking groups because of their work. We have evidence that they're spied on through their webcams," he said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy.


Secret Rules Make it Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists
2016-06-30, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-07-03 14:43:09
https://theintercept.com/2016/06/30/secret-rules-make-it-pretty-easy-for-the-...

Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials - far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. The classified rules ... govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. Obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter (or NSL) requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch. The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled ... reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules. The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources - as had happened with Rosen - and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first. Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules. The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of Inspector General reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL.

Note: The aggressive pursuit of leaks and journalists that report them led BBC to recently ask: "Is the US government at war with whistleblowers?" Read more about the FBI's use of secret National Security Letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation and the disappearance of privacy.


Google My Activity shows everything that company knows about its users – and there’s a lot
2016-06-30, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-07-03 14:39:18
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/google-my-activ...

Google has launched a new site that shows absolutely everything it knows about its users. And there’s an awful lot of it. The new My Activity page collects all of the data that Google has generated by watching its customers as they move around the web. And depending on your settings that could include a comprehensive list of the websites you’ve visited and the things you’ve done with your phone. Google has long allowed its users to see the kinds of information that is being generated as people use the company’s products, including letting people listen in on automated recordings that it has made of its users. But the new page collects them together in a more accessible – and potentially more terrifying – way. The page shows a full catalogue of pages visited, things searched and other activity, grouped by time. It also lets people look at the same timeline through filters – looking at specific dates, which go all the way into the past, and specific products like Google search, YouTube or Android. When users open up the page for the first time, pop-ups make the case for why it has been launched and why Google collects quite so much data. By tracking people around the internet it can tailor those ads – but people can use the same site to opt out from the tracking entirely, or just delete information that they would rather wasn’t used for advertising. Users aren’t automatically opted into the interest-based advertising tools, despite heavily rolling out the feature.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the disappearance of privacy.


Whistle-Blower, Beware
2016-05-26, New York Times
Posted: 2016-05-29 21:44:51
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/opinion/whistle-blower-beware.html

June 6 will be the third anniversary of The Guardian’s publication of top-secret documents provided by [Edward] Snowden that showed that the National Security Agency was collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Mr. Snowden [has been] denounced ... as a traitor. [Former Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said in a Democratic presidential debate [that], “He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistle-blower.” Thomas Drake would disagree. Mr. Drake was a senior N.S.A. official who had also complained, 12 years earlier, about warrantless surveillance. He went up the chain of command [to] the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General. Things did not go well. F.B.I. agents raided his house. He was forced to resign and was indicted on 10 felony charges arising from an alleged “scheme” to improperly “retain and disclose classified information.” He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for “exceeding authorized use of a government computer” in exchange for the government’s dropping the other charges. He now works at an Apple store. Mr. Snowden followed the Drake case closely in the news media and drew the obvious conclusion: Going through [official] channels was worse than a dead end. [John] Crane, a former assistant inspector general in the Defense Department who oversaw the whistle-blower program, has now come forward alleging that Mr. Drake was persecuted by the very officials in his office who were supposed to protect him.

Note: John Crane was forced out of the Pentagon in 2013. His story is told in a new book, titled, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing In The Age of Snowden by Mark Hertsgaard. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Snowden calls for whistleblower shield after claims by new Pentagon source
2016-05-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-05-29 21:42:46
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/snowden-whistleblower-protecti...

Edward Snowden has called for a complete overhaul of US whistleblower protections after a new source from deep inside the Pentagon came forward with a startling account of how the system became a “trap” for those seeking to expose wrongdoing. The account of John Crane ... appears to undermine Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and [others] who argue that there were established routes for Snowden other than leaking to the media. Crane, a longtime assistant inspector general at the Pentagon, has accused his old office of retaliating against a major surveillance whistleblower, Thomas Drake. Not only did Pentagon officials provide Drake’s name to criminal investigators, Crane told the Guardian, they destroyed documents relevant to his defence. Thomas Drake’s legal ordeal ruined him financially. His case served as a prologue to Snowden’s. In 2002, Drake and NSA colleagues contacted the Pentagon inspector general to blow the whistle on [a] tool, Trailblazer, for mass-data analysis. Crane, head of the office’s whistleblower unit, assigned investigators. For over two years, with Drake as a major source, they ... prepared a lengthy secret report [that] eventually [helped] to kill the program. As far as Crane was concerned, the whistleblower system was working. But after an aspect of the NSA’s warrantless mass surveillance leaked to the New York Times, Drake himself came under investigation and eventually indictment [for] hoarding documentation – exactly what inspector-general investigators tell their whistleblowers to do.

Note: John Crane was forced out of the Pentagon in 2013. His story is told in a new book, titled, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing In The Age of Snowden by Mark Hertsgaard. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Hidden Microphones Exposed As Part of Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area
2016-05-13, CBS News (San Francisco affiliate)
Posted: 2016-05-23 18:22:28
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/13/hidden-microphones-exposed-as-par...

Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed. Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it. Jeff Harp, a ... security analyst and former FBI special agent said, “They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there’s microphones that are planted in places that people don’t think about, because that’s the intent!” FBI agents hid microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop outside the Oakland Courthouse without a warrant to record conversations, between March 2010 and January 2011. Federal authorities are trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud and used these recordings as evidence. The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors who will ask the judge to throw out the recordings, told KPIX 5 News that, “Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy … private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected ‘oral communication.'”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


How strangers can hack the phone in your pocket
2016-04-17, CBS News
Posted: 2016-05-08 17:59:12
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-overtime-how-strangers-can-hack-the-ph...

"There's really only two types of companies or two types of people which are those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and haven't." That's what mobile security expert John Hering tells 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi about the danger of cellphone hacking. To prove his point, Hering assembled a group of ace hackers. Jon Oberheide showed 60 Minutes an app he created that looks legitimate but allows him to take control of a phone and suck out ... information [such as] contacts, recent purchases and text messages. Another hacker, Adam Laurie, uses radio frequency identification to hack phones. "He didn't need my phone number," Alfonsi explains. "All he had to do was physically touch my phone." He demonstrated by brushing by her in the lobby of her hotel. When he did ... her phone [automatically] dialed Laurie, allowing him to listen in on anything discussed in the room with Alfonsi's phone. A so-called "CryptoPhone" ... alerts the user when someone is trying to attack or hack into his or her phone. "Certain government facilities will try to get into your phone if you get too close to them," Alfonsi explains. To demonstrate, Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America, a company that specializes in countersurveillance technologies, took Alfonsi for a ride ... near a secure government facility. As they were driving past, a red line appeared on the CryptoPhone, indicating that ... if she were using a regular phone, the government agency could hear her call and read her text messages.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years
2016-05-03, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-05-08 17:57:27
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/03/nsa-and-cia-double-their-warrantless-sear...

From 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report. The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672 - more than double the 2013 figure. And that doesn’t even include the number of FBI searches on that database. A recently released ... court ruling confirmed that the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database, not only for national security probes but also to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes. No estimates have ever been released of how often that happens. The missing data from the FBI is of great concern to privacy advocates. The USA Freedom Act, passed in June 2015, “conspicuously exempts the FBI” from disclosing how often it searches the 702 database, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) wrote in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in October 2015. “There is every reason to believe the number of FBI queries far exceeds those of the CIA and NSA,” POGO wrote. “It is essential that you work with the attorney general to release statistics on the FBI’s use of U.S. person queries.” The new report also leaves unanswered how many Americans’ communications are collected in the first place.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Microsoft sues government for secret searches
2016-04-14, CNN
Posted: 2016-04-24 23:05:33
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/14/technology/microsoft-secret-search-lawsuit/

Microsoft filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday. The company accuses the federal government of adopting a widespread, unconstitutional policy of looking through Microsoft customers' data - and forcing the company to keep quiet about it. Over the past 18 months, federal judges have approved 2,600 secret searches of Microsoft customers. In two-thirds of those cases, Microsoft can't even notify their customers that they've been searched - ever - because there's no expiration date on these judicial orders. At issue here is the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which creates a double standard when it comes to a person's right to know when police are rummaging through their stuff. "People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud," Microsoft says in its lawsuit. "The government, however, has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations." In its lawsuit, Microsoft claims that federal agents have been violating the company's First Amendment right to speak to its own customers, as well as their customers' Fourth Amendment right to know when they're being searched. This lawsuit also notes the odd, modern distinction that the government makes between searching your computer and searching your information on a company's computer. Law enforcement agents often remain covert when they dig through information stored on company data backup services.

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Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism
2016-03-10, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-03-20 22:33:28
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/03/10/surprise-nsa-data...

The “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy. The ACLU of Massachusetts blog Privacy SOS explains [that] domestic law enforcement officials now have access to huge troves of American communications, obtained without warrants, that they can use to put people in cages. This basically formalizes what was already happening. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. It certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy.

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