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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.


The real shocker in the WikiLeaks scoop
2017-03-14, Washington Post
Posted: 2017-03-20 12:57:15
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-real-shocker-in-the-wikileaks-sco...

WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange’s revelation last week of the CIA’s arsenal of hacking tools had a misplaced tone of surprise. Some scary initial stories argued that the CIA could crack Signal and WhatsApp phone encryption, not to mention your toaster and television. But ... the hardest question here is whether the CIA and other government agencies have a responsibility to disclose to software vendors the holes they discover in computer code, so they can be fixed quickly. This may sound like a no-brainer. The problem is that there’s a global market for “zero-day” exploits (ones that are unknown on the day they’re used). U.S. intelligence agencies buy some of these exploits; so do other countries’ spy services, criminal gangs and the software vendors themselves. A recent report by the Rand Corp. [calculated that] there are about two dozen companies selling or renting exploits to the United States and its allies, with many of these contractors making between $1 million and $2.5 million annually. More than 200 zero-day exploits studied by Rand went undetected for an average of 6.9 years. Given this evidence, Rand argued, “some may conclude that stockpiling zero-days may be a reasonable option” to combat potential adversaries. But let’s be honest: The real shocker in the WikiLeaks scoop is the demonstration ... that the U.S. government can’t keep secrets. It makes little sense for the CIA to argue against disclosing its cyber-tricks to computer companies if this valuable information is going to get leaked ... anyway.

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


With WikiLeaks Claims of C.I.A. Hacking, How Vulnerable Is Your Smartphone?
2017-03-07, New York Times
Posted: 2017-03-13 19:44:39
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/technology/cia-hacking-documents-wikileaks...

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released a significant cache of documents that it said came from a high-security network inside the Central Intelligence Agency. WikiLeaks called the documents Vault 7, and they lay out the capabilities of the agency’s global covert hacking program. By the end of 2016, the C.I.A. program had 5,000 registered users, including government employees and contractors, [and] had produced more than a thousand hacking systems. The files have circulated among former United States government hackers and contractors in “an unauthorized manner, one of whom provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive,” WikiLeaks said. The software targeted by the hacking program included the most popular smartphone operating systems. Apple’s iPhone software ... was a particular target, including the development of several “zero day” exploits - a term for attacking coding flaws the company would not have known about. Google’s Android ... received even more attention. By 2016, the C.I.A. had 24 weaponized Android “zero day” software programs. The C.I.A. also targeted ... internet-connected computers and home and industrial devices running the Linux operating system. In 2010, the Obama administration promised to disclose newly discovered vulnerabilities to companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. But the WikiLeaks documents indicate that the agency found security flaws, kept them secret and then used them for surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Note: See the wikileaks webpage summarizing this most important leak. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


WikiLeaks CIA files: Spy agency looked at ways to hack and control cars to carry out assassinations
2017-03-07, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2017-03-13 19:42:03
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/wikileaks-cia-d...

WikiLeaks has alleged that the CIA looked into vehicle interference methods that could potentially enable it to assassinate people without detection. According to the whistle-blowing organisation, the CIA explored the tactic in October 2014. It hasn’t included any more details about the alleged practice. WikiLeaks included the claim in its release announcing ‘Vault 7’, a huge batch of documents, which Julian Assange claims to account for the CIA’s “entire hacking capacity”. “As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” reads a passage in the release. “The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.” The CIA has also been accused of using malware and hacking tools to turn TVs into covert microphones and remotely break into smartphones. The latter, according to WikiLeaks, allowed it to bypass encryption on a number of popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp. WikiLeaks describes Vault 7 as “the largest intelligence publication in history” and says that the initial batch of 8,761 files is just the first in a series of releases.

Note: See the wikileaks webpage summarizing this most important leak. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media
2017-02-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2017-03-06 21:03:02
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/robert-mercer-breitbart-war-...

I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Google’s first suggested link ... leads to a website called CNSnews.com and an article: “The Mainstream media are dead.” How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center. It receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Since 2010, Mercer has donated $45m to different political campaigns – all Republican – and another $50m to non-profits – all rightwing, ultra-conservative. This is a billionaire who is ... trying to reshape the world according to his personal beliefs. He is reported to have a $10m stake in the [Cambridge Analytica], which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group. It specialises in “election management strategies” and “messaging and information operations”, refined over 25 years. In military circles this is known as “psyops” – psychological operations. Cambridge Analytica makes the astonishing boast that it has psychological profiles based on 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters. With this, a computer ... can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s incredibly dangerous.

Note: The above article provides a detailed look at how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control.


Your Samsung TV is eavesdropping on your private conversations
2015-02-09, CNN News
Posted: 2017-02-27 13:24:21
http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/09/technology/security/samsung-smart-tv-privacy/

Many Samsung "SmartTVs" come equipped with voice recognition, which allows you to bark commands at your TV. Since the television is always listening for your voice, Samsung has warned its SmartTV customers that every word is being captured and sent over the Internet. Samsung says it needs to send your voice commands to a third-party, because that company converts your speech to text. But Samsung also collects your voice commands to perform research and determine whether it needs to make improvements to the feature. Samsung noted that a microphone appears on the screen when the voice recognition feature is turned on, notifying customers that their voice is being captured. You can opt-out of the SmartTV voice recognition feature. But even if you opt out, your voice commands will still be captured. The SmartTV has a set of pre-programmed commands that it recognizes even if you opt out of voice recognition. Samsung will collect the text of those pre-programmed voice commands (though not your voice itself) and analyze how much you're using certain commands. "Samsung does not retain voice data or sell it to third parties," the company said in a statement. "If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature ... the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV."

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


Trove of Stolen Data Is Said to Include Top-Secret U.S. Hacking Tools
2016-10-19, New York Times
Posted: 2017-02-13 17:42:01
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/us/harold-martin-nsa.html?_r=0

Investigators pursuing what they believe to be the largest case of mishandling classified documents in United States history have found that the huge trove of stolen documents in the possession of a National Security Agency contractor included top-secret N.S.A. hacking tools that two months ago were offered for sale on the internet. They have been hunting for electronic clues that could link those cybertools - computer code posted online for auction by an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers - to the home computers of the contractor, Harold T. Martin III, who was arrested in late August. But so far, the investigators have been frustrated in their attempt to prove that Mr. Martin deliberately leaked or sold the hacking tools. Mr. Martin ... has insisted that he got in the habit of taking material home so he could improve his skills and be better at his job. The material the F.B.I. found in his possession added up to “many terabytes” of information ... which would make it by far the largest unauthorized leak of classified material from the classified sector. That volume dwarfs the hundreds of thousands of N.S.A. documents taken by Edward J. Snowden. [Mr. Martin] long held a high-level clearance and for a time worked with the N.S.A.’s premier hacking unit, called Tailored Access Operations, which breaks into the computer networks of foreign countries and which developed the hacking tools.

Note: It was reported in 2014 that the NSA had developed specialized tools to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Reporters' Spy Saga Gives Glimpse of UK Surveillance Culture
2017-02-01, ABC News/Associated Press
Posted: 2017-02-06 08:36:33
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/reporters-spy-saga-glimpse-uk-surv...

British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance. Investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The [Northern Echo newspaper] has often provided painful reading for Cleveland Police, a department responsible for a Chicago-sized patch of England's industrial northeast. The small force has weathered a series of scandals. A minority officer, Sultan Alam, was awarded 800,000 pounds ... after allegedly being framed by colleagues in retaliation for a discrimination lawsuit. The judgment made national headlines. Cleveland Police issued a statement insisting the force wasn't racist. The next day, an anonymous caller told Breen an internal police report suggested otherwise. The following morning her byline was across the front page beneath the words: "Institutional racism uncovered within Cleveland Police." Breen ... eventually forgot the episode. Cleveland Police didn't. The force secretly began logging calls to and from Breen, Hetherington and a third journalist from another newspaper. It was later calculated that the surveillance covered over 1 million minutes of calling time. The Echo isn't unique. Britain's wiretapping watchdog ... revealed in 2015 that 82 journalists' communications records had been seized as part of leak investigations across the country over a three-year period.

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


Devices sprout ears: What do Alexa and Siri mean for privacy?
2017-01-14, Christian Science Monitor
Posted: 2017-01-30 00:28:25
http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2017/0114/Devices-sprout-ears-What-do-Ale...

Between your laptop, smartphone, smart TV, and perhaps a virtual assistant, how many microphones are in your home? The number of households with a hands-free assistant is growing by millions each year, but their convenience may come at a price. With law enforcement already using smart-device collected data as evidence, digital privacy rights are becoming more important. Amazon’s ... Echo family of devices are all variations on the theme of a smart speaker that can listen to, understand, and respond to voice commands. Like Siri’s implementation in recent iOS devices ... the device is always listening, so you don’t have to put down what you’re doing and find your phone to get an answer. But some worry there’s a fine line between always listening, and always recording. Are we truly alone when we’re with our devices? Amazon maintains a database of your conversations with the Echo. Police in Bentonville, Ark. have already submitted a search warrant for “audio recordings, transcribed records, and other text records” from the Echo of 2015 murder suspect James Andrew Bates. Amazon refused to turn over data from its servers beyond basic account information, [but] this case should be a wake-up call. The Fourth Amendment establishes the “sanctity of the home,” which prevents law enforcement from an unjustified search of a house. The “third-party doctrine,” [however] permits police to access information voluntarily shared with a third party such as your bank or phone company, even without a warrant.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing privacy news articles from reliable major media sources.


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.


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