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


Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important privacy news stories reported in the major media that suggest a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full stories on their mainstream 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.


Privacy News stories


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.

Stories about NSA surveillance, Snowden leaks win Pulitzers for two news groups
2014-04-14, CNN
Posted: 2014-04-21 08:17:39
http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/14/us/pulitzer-prizes-journalism

Two news organizations' stories about National Security Agency surveillance, based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden, have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service, often described as the highest prize in American journalism. The Washington Post and ... The Guardian each received the prize on [April 14]. The recognition of the NSA reporting was most significant because of the questions raised by Snowden's leaks and the reaction to them. Snowden, who has been living in Russia while seeking asylum from U.S. prosecution, said in a statement that the Pulitzer board's recognition of the coverage was "vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government." "We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance." While Snowden provided a trove of documents, reporters including Glenn Greenwald, working for the Guardian; Barton Gellman, working for The Post; and Laura Poitras, who worked with both, pored over the raw information, decided with their editors what parts were ethical to publish, and turned the information into stories that stunned readers around the world.

Note: For more on the historic Snowden revelations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




The “Cuban Twitter” Scam Is a Drop in the Internet Propaganda Bucket
2014-04-04, The Intercept
Posted: 2014-04-14 07:44:13
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/04/04/cuban-twitter-scam-social-media...

This week, the Associated Press exposed a secret program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development to create “a Twitter-like Cuban communications network” run through “secret shell companies” in order to create the false appearance of being a privately owned operation. Unbeknownst to the service’s Cuban users was the fact that “American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes”–specifically, to manipulate those users in order to foment dissent in Cuba and subvert its government. This sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for ”propaganda,” “deception,” “mass messaging,” and “pushing stories.” One previously undisclosed top-secret document–prepared by GCHQ for the 2010 annual “SIGDEV” gathering of the “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance comprising the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.–explicitly discusses ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda. Those programs, carried out in secrecy and with little accountability ... threaten the integrity of the internet itself, as state-disseminated propaganda masquerades as free online speech and organizing. There is thus little or no ability for an internet user to know when they are being covertly propagandized by their government, which is precisely what makes it so appealing to intelligence agencies, so powerful, and so dangerous.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




NSA performed warrantless searches on Americans' calls and emails – Clapper
2014-04-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2014-04-07 14:47:16
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/01/nsa-surveillance-loophole-americ...

US intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has [performed] warrantless searches on Americans’ communications. The NSA's collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans' details within the databases. Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed the use of this legal authority to search for data related to “US persons”. The legal authority to perform the searches, revealed in top-secret NSA documents provided ... by Edward Snowden, was denounced by Wyden as a “backdoor search loophole.” Many of the NSA's most controversial programs collect information under the law affected by the so-called loophole. These include Prism, which allows the agency to collect data from Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and other tech companies, and the agency's Upstream program – a huge network of internet cable taps. Confirmation that the NSA has searched for Americans’ communications in its phone call and email databases complicates President Barack Obama’s initial defenses of the broad surveillance in June. Wyden and Udall [said] “Today’s admission by the Director of National Intelligence is further proof that meaningful surveillance reform must include closing the back-door searches loophole and requiring the intelligence community to show probable cause before deliberately searching through ... the communications of individual Americans."

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls
2014-03-18, Washington Post
Posted: 2014-03-25 10:35:54
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-surveillance-progra...

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance. The voice interception program, 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. 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 fraction of 1 percent 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. At the request of U.S. officials, The Washington Post is withholding details that could be used to identify the country where the system is being employed or other countries where its use was envisioned.

Note: Though technically it is illegal for the NSA to snoop on Americans without good cause, all they have to do is to share this technology with another country like the UK, and then ask the UK to do the snooping and send the results back to them, thereby circumventing the law. For more on NSA surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




NSA posed as Facebook to infect computers with malware, report says
2014-03-12, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2014-03-25 10:34:06
http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-nsa-posing-facebook-malwa...

The National Security Agency has reportedly used automated systems to infect user computers with malware since 2010. At times the agency pretended to be Facebook to install its malware. The NSA has been using a program codenamed TURBINE to contaminate computers and networks with malware "implants" capable of spying on users, according to the Intercept, which cited documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Between 85,000 and 100,000 of these implants have been deployed worldwide thus far. To infect computers with malware, the NSA has relied on various tactics, including posing as Facebook. The federal agency performed what is known as a "man-on-the-side" attack in which it tricked users computers into thinking that they were accessing real Facebook servers. Once the user had been fooled, the NSA hacked into the user's computer and extracted data from their hard drive. Facebook said it had no knowledge of the NSA"s TURBINE program. However, [Facebook] said it is no longer possible for the NSA or hackers to attack users that way, but Facebook warned that other websites and social networks may still be vulnerable to those types of attacks. "This method of network level disruption does not work for traffic carried over HTTPS, which Facebook finished integrating by default last year," Facebook told the National Journal.

Note: For more on NSA surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Indiana Woman Sues US Customs Over Detention
2014-02-20, CBS Cleveland
Posted: 2014-03-17 08:13:27
http://cleveland.cbslocal.com/2014/02/20/indiana-woman-sues-us-customs-over-d...

An Indiana University faculty member has sued two U.S. customs agents for detaining her after the government eavesdropped on emails she exchanged with a Greek friend. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a federal lawsuit [on February 19] alleging the customs agents violated Christine Von Der Haar’s constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. “This case raises troubling issues about the power of the government to detain and question citizens,” said Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana legal director who represents Von Der Haar. The lawsuit alleges Von Der Haar, a senior lecturer in the sociology department at Indiana University in Bloomington, was confined in a guarded room at Indianapolis International Airport for more than 20 minutes on June 8, 2012, while she was questioned about her relationship with her friend. The lawsuit alleges the questioning was based on surreptitious monitoring of communications between Von Der Haar and her friend, Dimitris Papatheodoropoulus. The two “communicated frequently through emails. Some of these emails were flirtatious and romantic in nature,” the lawsuit said. Von Der Haar felt she had no choice but to answer questions from the agents, whom she believed to be armed, and did not believe she could leave until they released her, the lawsuit said. “The detention of Dr. Von Der Haar was without cause or justification,” the complaint said, and “caused her anxiety, concern, distress and other damages.” The lawsuit names the two customs agents as defendants and seeks damages.

Note: For more on government abuses of civil liberties, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ
2014-02-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2014-03-04 07:42:51
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/27/gchq-nsa-webcam-images-internet-...

Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. Yahoo ... denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy". Optic Nerve, the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show, began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012. The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ's existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs. Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users' feeds ... to avoid overloading GCHQ's servers. The documents describe these users as "unselected" – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Judge Tosses Muslim Spying Suit Against NYPD, Says Any Damage Was Caused by Reporters Who Exposed It
2014-02-21, The Intercept
Posted: 2014-02-24 11:38:45
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/21/judge-tosses-muslim-spying-suit...

A federal judge in Newark has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for spying on New Jersey Muslims, saying if anyone was at fault, it was the Associated Press for telling people about it. In his ruling ... U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini simultaneously demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to give law enforcement alarming latitude in the name of fighting terror, greenlighted the targeting of Muslims based solely on their religious beliefs, and blamed the media for upsetting people by telling them what their government was doing. The NYPD’s clandestine spying on daily life in Muslim communities in the region — with no probable cause, and nothing to show for it — was exposed in a Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories by the AP. The stories described infiltration and surveillance of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey alone. In a cursory, 10-page ruling issued before even hearing oral arguments, Martini essentially said that what the targets didn’t know didn’t hurt them: "None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance."

Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




NSA monitored US law firm and overseas client
2014-02-16, Boston Globe/New York Times
Posted: 2014-02-16 16:05:14
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/02/16/eavesdropping-ensnared-law-...

The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: US lawyers. A top-secret document, obtained by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that a US law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States. The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance of Americans ensnared by the eavesdroppers and is of particular interest because US lawyers with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance. The government of Indonesia had retained the law firm for help in trade talks, according to the February 2013 document. The NSA’s Australian counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate, notified the agency that it was conducting surveillance of the talks, including communications between Indonesian officials and the US law firm, and offered to share information. The NSA is banned from targeting Americans, including businesses, law firms, and other organizations based in the United States, for surveillance without warrants, and intelligence officials have repeatedly said the NSA does not use spy services of its partners in the so-called Five Eyes alliance — Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand — to skirt the law. The Australians told officials at an NSA liaison office in Canberra, that “information covered by attorney-client privilege may be included” in the intelligence gathering. Most attorney-client conversations do not get special protections under US law from NSA eavesdropping.

Note: For more on intense deception perpetrated by the intelligence community, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time
2014-02-05, Washington Post
Posted: 2014-02-11 08:45:17
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/new-surveillance-technology...

From 10,000 feet up, tracking an entire city at one glance: Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems is trying to convince cities across the country that its surveillance technology can help reduce crime. Its new generation of camera technology is far more powerful than the police cameras to which America has grown accustomed. But these newer cameras have sparked some privacy concerns. A new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed [from small aircraft] that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements. Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton [OH] in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, [and] for security at NASCAR races. Defense contractors are developing similar technology for the military, but its potential for civilian use is raising novel civil liberties concerns. In Dayton, where Persistent Surveillance Systems is based, city officials balked last year when police considered paying for 200 hours of flights, in part because of privacy complaints. The Supreme Court generally has given wide latitude to police using aerial surveillance as long as the photography captures images visible to the naked eye.

Note: For more on surveillance by government agencies and corporations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Intel officials believe Snowden has 'doomsday' cache
2013-11-26, MSN/Reuters
Posted: 2014-02-11 08:44:00
http://news.msn.com/us/intel-officials-believe-snowden-has-doomsday-cache

British and U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a "doomsday" cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud. The cache contains documents generated by the NSA and other agencies and includes names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former U.S. officials and other sources briefed on the matter said. One source described the cache of still unpublished material as Snowden's "insurance policy" against arrest or physical harm. U.S. officials and other sources said only a small proportion of the classified material Snowden downloaded during stints as a contract systems administrator for NSA has been made public. Some Obama Administration officials have said privately that Snowden downloaded enough material to fuel two more years of news stories. "The worst is yet to come," said one former U.S. official who follows the investigation closely. Snowden ... is believed to have downloaded between 50,000 and 200,000 classified NSA and British government documents. [It is] estimated that the total number of Snowden documents made public so far is over 500. Glenn Greenwald, who met with Snowden in Hong Kong and was among the first to report on the leaked documents for the Guardian newspaper, said the former NSA contractor had "taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published."

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Snowden: NSA conducts industrial espionage too
2014-01-26, CBS News/Reuters
Posted: 2014-02-03 11:00:20
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snowden-nsa-conducts-industrial-espionage-too/

The U.S. National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its value to national security, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden told a German TV network. ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm, Siemens as one target. "If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security - then they'll take that information nevertheless," Snowden said. Snowden's claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks. The NSA planted most of the software after gaining access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by Snowden. Frequent targets of the programme, code-named Quantum, included units of the Chinese military and industrial targets.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End
2014-01-23, New York Times
Posted: 2014-01-28 10:19:03
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/politics/watchdog-report-says-nsa-progra...

An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down. The findings are laid out in a 238-page report [that represents] the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational. The Obama administration has portrayed the bulk collection program as useful and lawful. But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country. The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.” The report also sheds light on the history of the once-secret bulk collection program. It contains the first official acknowledgment that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court produced no judicial opinion detailing its legal rationale for the program until last August, even though it had been issuing orders to phone companies for the records and to the N.S.A. for how it could handle them since May 2006.

Note: The PCLOB report is titled "Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," and is available here. For more on government attacks to privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




NSA collects millions of text messages daily in 'untargeted' global sweep
2014-01-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2014-01-20 10:36:45
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/16/nsa-collects-millions-text-messa...

The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents. The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets. The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity. On average, each day the NSA was able to extract: • More than 5 million missed-call alerts, for use in contact-chaining analysis (working out someone’s social network from who they contact and when) • Details of 1.6 million border crossings a day, from network roaming alerts • More than 110,000 names, from electronic business cards, which also included the ability to extract and save images. • Over 800,000 financial transactions, either through text-to-text payments or linking credit cards to phone users The agency was also able to extract geolocation data from more than 76,000 text messages a day, including from “requests by people for route info” and “setting up meetings”.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers
2014-01-15, New York Times
Posted: 2014-01-20 10:31:58
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/nsa-effort-pries-open-computers-not-conn...

The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks. While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials. The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target. In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user. Among the most frequent targets of the N.S.A. and its Pentagon partner, United States Cyber Command, have been units of the Chinese Army, which the United States has accused of launching regular digital probes and attacks on American industrial and military targets, usually to steal secrets or intellectual property. But the program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Keep the focus on facts about NSA spying
2014-01-16, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2014-01-20 10:30:26
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Keep-the-focus-on-facts-about-NSA-spyin...

To have a genuinely constructive debate, data must be compiled, evidence must be amassed and verifiable truths must be presented. This truism is particularly significant when it comes to debates about security and liberty. Without facts, we get the counterproductive discourse we are being treated to right now - the one hijacked by National Security Administration defenders throwing temper tantrums, tossing out fear-mongering platitudes and trying to prevent any scrutiny of the agency. Tune into a national news program and you inevitably will hear pundits who have spent the last decade mindlessly cheering on wars and warrantless wiretapping now echoing the talking points emanating from surveillance-state apparatchiks like Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. This week, these two lawmakers, who head the House Intelligence Committee, summarized all the bluster in a press release that should be enshrined for posterity. In an attempt to defend the NSA, the bipartisan duo breathlessly claimed that whistle-blower Edward Snowden ended up "endangering each and every American" by exposing the government's mass surveillance (i.e., metadata) programs. They indicted Snowden's patriotism and said his disclosures of the NSA's unlawful and unconstitutional programs "aligned him with our enemy." But the facts now leaking out of the government's national security apparatus are doing the opposite. They are debunking - rather than confirming - the NSA defenders' platitudes.

Note: For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Stealth Surprises in NSA Report Take on Non-NSA Spying
2013-12-20, ABC News
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:31:41
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/stealth-surprises-nsa-report-nsa-spying/story?i...

The White House's expert NSA panel may have made headlines ... for telling President Barack Obama to knock off the collection of Americans' meta-data, but surveillance experts said they were surprised that the panel also took to task some controversial non-NSA-related spy tactics as well. One recommendation was to impose much stricter oversight on the FBI's ability to issue National Security Letters (NSLs), which have been used to obtain telephone call records and credit reports in terrorism and espionage cases. Another even more peculiar recommendation by the five national security experts ... was their advice that "governments" shouldn't hack into bank accounts and drain funds. "Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems," the unanimous Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies report warned Obama. "That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about," Kel McClanahan, executive director of government transparency group National Security Counselors, told ABC News. Michelle Richardson, the American Civil Liberties Union's legislative council in Washington, also said the findings on "NSLs" and government hacking were unexpected -- but welcomed.

Note: The fact that this expert panel would even mention governments manipulating financial accounts suggests that if it hasn't already happened, some were seriously considering this. For lots more on this strange news, click here. For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished
2013-12-23, Washington Post
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:25:36
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/edward-snowden-after-mo...

Taken together, the [Edward Snowden] revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations. Six months after the first revelations ... Snowden agreed to reflect at length on the roots and repercussions of his choice. He was relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation. Snowden offered vignettes from his intelligence career and from his recent life as “an indoor cat” in Russia. But he consistently steered the conversation back to surveillance, democracy and the meaning of the documents he exposed. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” he said. Snowden ... had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment,” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. The NSA’s business is “information dominance,” the use of other people’s secrets to shape events. At 29, Snowden upended the agency on its own turf.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief
2013-12-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:24:08
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/gchq-targeted-aid-agencies-ger...

British and American intelligence agencies had a comprehensive list of surveillance targets that included the EU's competition commissioner, German government buildings in Berlin and overseas, and the heads of institutions that provide humanitarian and financial help to Africa, top-secret documents reveal. The papers show GCHQ [and the NSA were] targeting organisations such as the United Nations development programme, the UN's children's charity Unicef and Médecins du Monde, a French organisation that provides doctors and medical volunteers to conflict zones. The head of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) also appears in the documents, along with text messages he sent to colleagues. One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear that the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another important American ally – the "Israeli prime minister". Ehud Olmert was in office at the time. Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren. The names and details are the latest revelations to come from documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. They provoked a furious reaction. The disclosures reflect the breadth of targets sought by the agencies, which goes far beyond the desire to intercept the communications of potential terrorists and criminals, or diplomats and officials from hostile countries.

Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer
2013-12-20, CNBC/Reuters
Posted: 2013-12-30 16:21:15
http://www.cnbc.com/id/101290438

As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry. Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products. Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year. The RSA deal shows one way the NSA carried out what Snowden's documents describe as a key strategy for enhancing surveillance: the systematic erosion of security tools. NSA documents released in recent months called for using "commercial relationships" to advance that goal, but did not name any security companies as collaborators.

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