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.

NSA’s indiscriminate spying ‘collapsing,’ Snowden says in open letter
2013-12-17, Washington Post/Associated Press
Posted: 2013-12-23 16:15:31
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/nsas-indiscriminate-spying-collapsing-sno...

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in a lengthy “open letter to the people of Brazil” that he has been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of documents and that the NSA’s culture of indiscriminate global espionage “is collapsing.” In the letter, Snowden commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying. He wrote that he would be willing to help the South American nation investigate NSA spying on its soil but could not fully participate in doing so without being granted political asylum, because the U.S. “government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.” The documents revealed that Brazil is the top NSA target in Latin America, in spying that has included the monitoring of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s cellphone and hacking into the internal network of the state-run oil company Petrobras. In his letter, Snowden dismissed U.S. explanations to the Brazilian government and others that the bulk metadata gathered on billions of e-mails and calls was more “data collection” than surveillance. “There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying ... and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever,” he wrote. “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.” Brazilian senators have asked for Snowden’s help during hearings about the NSA’s targeting of Brazil, an important transit hub for transatlantic fiber-optic cables that are hacked.

Note: To read Snowden's full, inspiring letter, click here.




Former whistleblowers: open letter to intelligence employees after Snowden
2013-12-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-23 16:13:53
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/11/whistleblowers-open-lett...

At least since the aftermath of September 2001, western governments and intelligence agencies have been hard at work expanding the scope of their own power, while eroding privacy, civil liberties and public control of policy. What used to be viewed as paranoid, Orwellian, tin-foil hat fantasies [turn] out post-Snowden, to be not even the whole story. We've been warned for years that these things were going on: wholesale surveillance of entire populations, militarization of the internet, the end of privacy. Secret laws, secret interpretations of secret laws by secret courts and no effective parliamentary oversight whatsoever. By and large the media have paid scant attention to this, even as more and more courageous, principled whistleblowers stepped forward. The unprecedented persecution of truth-tellers, initiated by the Bush administration and severely accelerated by the Obama administration, has been mostly ignored, while record numbers of well-meaning people are charged with serious felonies simply for letting their fellow citizens know what's going on. Numerous ex-NSA officials have come forward in the past decade, disclosing massive fraud, vast illegalities and abuse of power in [that] agency, including Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe. The response was 100% persecution and 0% accountability by both the NSA and the rest of government. Since the summer of 2013, the public has witnessed a shift in debate over these matters. The reason is that one courageous person: Edward Snowden.

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




Law enforcement using methods from NSA playbook
2013-12-08, USA Today
Posted: 2013-12-17 11:00:20
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/08/cellphone-data-spying-ns...

The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. Local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not. The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal [that] about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. At least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Privacy Information Center say the swelling ability by even small-town police departments to easily and quickly obtain large amounts of cellphone data raises questions about the erosion of people's privacy as well as their Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Note: For more on massive government intrusions of citizens' privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




NSA review to leave spying programs largely unchanged, reports say
2013-12-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-17 10:46:57
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/nsa-review-to-leave-spying-progr...

A participant in a White House-sponsored review of surveillance activities described as “shameful” an apparent decision to leave most of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk spying intact. Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, said [on December 13] that ... “The review group was searching for ways to make the most modest pivot necessary to continue business as usual.” Should the review group’s report resemble descriptions that leaked ... the report “does nothing to alter the lack of trust the global populace has for what the US is doing, and nothing to restore our reputation as an ethical internet steward,” said Meinrath, who met with the advisory panel and White House officials twice to discuss the bulk surveillance programs that have sparked international outrage. Leaks about the review group’s expected recommendations to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal strengthened Meinrath and other participants’ long-standing suspicions that much of the NSA’s sweeping spy powers would survive. The Times quoted an anonymous official familiar with the group saying its report “says we can’t dismantle these programs, but we need to change the way almost all of them operate”. According to the leaks, the review group will recommend that bulk collection of every American’s phone call data continue, possibly by the phone companies instead of the NSA, with tighter restrictions than the “reasonable, articulable suspicion” standard for searching through them that the NSA currently employs.

Note: For more on massive government intrusions of citizens' privacy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Corporate Espionage Undermines Democracy
2013-11-26, MSN/Reuters
Posted: 2013-12-02 10:02:12
http://money.msn.com/business-news/article.aspx?feed=OBR&Date=20131127&ID=171...

It’s not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation’s largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups. That’s the lesson of a new report on corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations by ... Essential Information. The title of the report is Spooky Business, and it is apt. Spooky Business is like a Canterbury Tales of corporate snoopery: Hiring investigators to pose as volunteers and journalists. Hacking. Wiretapping. Information warfare. Physical intrusion. Investigating the private lives of nonprofit leaders. Dumpster diving using an active duty police officer to gain access to trash receptacles. Electronic surveillance. Many different types of nonprofit civic organizations have been targeted by corporate spies: environmental, public interest, consumer, food safety, animal rights, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control and social justice. A diverse constellation of corporations has planned or executed corporate espionage against these nonprofit civic organizations. Food companies like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Burger King, McDonald’s and Monsanto. Oil companies like Shell, BP and Chevron. Chemical companies like Dow and Sasol. Also involved are the retailers (Wal-Mart), banks (Bank of America), and, of course, the nation’s most powerful trade association: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Plenty of mercenary spooks have joined up to abet them, including former officials at the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service and U.S. military. Sometimes even government contractors are part of the snooping.

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




Canada allowed widespread NSA surveillance at 2010 G20 summit
2013-11-28, NBC News/Reuters
Posted: 2013-12-02 09:49:48
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/53688035#.UpkAXo2f8h0

Canada allowed the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct widespread surveillance during the 2010 Group of 20 summit in Toronto, according to a media report that cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp ... cited briefing notes it said showed the United States turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the top-secret U.S. agency as President Barack Obama and other world leaders met that June. One of the bylines on the CBC report was Glenn Greenwald, the U.S. journalist who has worked with Snowden on several other NSA stories. CBC ... quoted an NSA briefing note describing the operation as "closely coordinated with the Canadian partner". The Canadian equivalent of the NSA is the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC. CBC said the documents did not reveal the targets of the NSA operation, but described part of the U.S. eavesdropping agency's mandate at the Toronto summit as "providing support to policymakers". CSEC, which has a very low public profile, employs about 2,000 people. It is part of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network that also includes the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Last month, Brazil angrily demanded an explanation for media reports which said CSEC agents had targeted its mines and energy industry.

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




Edward Snowden a 'hero' for NSA disclosures, Wikipedia founder says
2013-11-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-12-02 09:48:22
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/25/edward-snowden-nsa-wikipedia-fou...

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has called on Barack Obama to rein in the National Security Agency as he described the whistleblower Edward Snowden as "a hero" whom history will judge "very favourably". Wales called for a "major re-evaluation" of the NSA, adding that the public "would have never approved this sweeping surveillance program" had it been put to a vote. The revelations, Wales said, had been "incredibly damaging and embarrassing to the US. It makes it very difficult for someone like me to go out, as I do, [to] speak to people in authoritarian countries, and say: 'You shouldn’t be spying on activists, you shouldn’t be censoring the internet', when we [in the US] are complicit in these acts of extraordinary intrusion into people’s personal lives. [Snowden] has exposed what I believe to be criminal wrongdoing, lying to Congress, and certainly [an] affront to the Fourth Amendment. I think that history will judge him very favourably. There is a growing sense of concern in Congress about this, a growing sense in Congress that public is angry about this, that they have been misled and I think we are going to see legislation to change this."

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




FISA court order that allowed NSA surveillance is revealed for first time
2013-11-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-11-26 08:10:53
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/19/court-order-that-allowed-nsa-sur...

A secret court order that authorised a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on [November 18], among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program. Another later court order found that what it called "systemic overcollection" had taken place. In a heavily redacted opinion Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former presiding judge of the FISA court, placed legal weight on the methods of surveillance employed by the NSA, which had never before collected the internet data of “an enormous volume of communications”. The methods, known as pen registers and trap-and-trace devices, record the incoming and outgoing routing information of communications. Kollar-Kotelly ruled that acquiring the metadata, and not the content, of email and internet usage in bulk was harmonious with the “purpose” of Congress and prior court rulings – even though no surveillance statute ever authorized it and top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI threatened to resign in 2004 over what they considered its dubious legality. The type of data collected under the program included information on the "to", "from" and "bcc" lines of an email rather than the content. Metadata, wrote Kollar-Kotelly, enjoyed no protection under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, a precedent established by the Supreme Court in 1979 in a single case on which the NSA relies currently.

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




US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to 'unmask' Britons' personal data
2013-11-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-11-26 08:09:12
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/20/us-uk-secret-deal-surveillance-p...

The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programs, an NSA memo describes how in 2007 an agreement was reached that allowed the agency to "unmask" and hold on to personal data about Britons that had previously been off limits. The memo ... says the material is being put in databases where it can be made available to other members of the US intelligence and military community. Until now, it had been generally understood that the citizens of each country were protected from surveillance by any of the others. But the Snowden material reveals that: • In 2007, the rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet. • These communications were "incidentally collected" by the NSA, meaning the individuals were not the initial targets of surveillance operations and therefore were not suspected of wrongdoing. • The NSA has been using the UK data to conduct so-called "pattern of life" or "contact-chaining" analyses, under which the agency can look up to three "hops" away from a target of interest – examining the communications of a friend of a friend of a friend. Three hops for a typical Facebook user could pull the data of more than 5 million people into the dragnet.

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




Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly
2013-10-22, New York Times
Posted: 2013-11-12 08:56:05
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/business/security-check-now-starts-long-bef...

The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information. It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information. The measures go beyond the background check the government has conducted for years, called Secure Flight, in which a passenger’s name, gender and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists. Now, the search includes using a traveler’s passport number, which is already used to screen people at the border, and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. “I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly,” said Edward Hasbrouck, a consultant to the Identity Project, one of the groups that oppose the prescreening initiatives. “The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion.” Critics argue that the problem with what the agency calls an “intelligence-driven, risk-based analysis” of passenger data is that secret computer rules, not humans, make these determinations. Civil liberties groups have questioned whether the agency has the legal authority to make these assessments.

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




GCHQ and European spy agencies worked together on mass surveillance
2013-11-01, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-11-12 08:53:10
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/01/gchq-europe-spy-agencies-mass-...

The German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency. The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The files also make clear that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US. The Guardian revealed the existence of GCHQ's Tempora programme, in which the electronic intelligence agency tapped directly into the transatlantic fibre optic cables to carry out bulk surveillance. GCHQ officials expressed admiration for the technical capabilities of German intelligence to do the same thing, [saying] the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had "huge technological potential and good access to the heart of the internet – they are already seeing some bearers running at 40Gbps and 100Gbps". Bearers is the GCHQ term for the fibre optic cables, and gigabits per second (Gbps) measures the speed at which data runs through them.

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




No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A.
2013-11-03, New York Times
Posted: 2013-11-12 08:46:10
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/world/no-morsel-too-minuscule-for-all-consu...

When Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, sat down with President Obama at the White House in April to discuss Syrian chemical weapons, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and climate change, it was a cordial, routine exchange. The National Security Agency nonetheless went to work in advance and intercepted Mr. Ban’s talking points for the meeting, a feat the agency later reported as an “operational highlight” in a weekly internal brag sheet. It was emblematic of an agency that for decades has operated on the principle that any eavesdropping that can be done on a foreign target of any conceivable interest — now or in the future — should be done. After all, American intelligence officials reasoned, who’s going to find out? From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries. The scale of eavesdropping by the N.S.A., with 35,000 workers and $10.8 billion a year, sets it apart.

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




Spain colluded in NSA spying on its citizens, Spanish newspaper reports
2013-10-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-11-05 08:42:53
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/30/spain-colluded-nsa-spying-citize...

The widespread surveillance of Spanish citizens by the US National Security Agency, which caused outrage when it was reported this week, was the product of a collaboration with Spain's intelligence services, according to one Spanish newspaper. Spanish agents not only knew about the work of the NSA but also facilitated it, El Mundo reports. An NSA document entitled "Sharing computer network operations cryptologic information with foreign partners" reportedly shows how the US relies on the collaboration of many countries to give it access to intelligence information, including electronic metadata. According to the document seen by El Mundo, the US classifies cooperation with various countries on four different levels. In the first group – "Comprehensive Cooperation" – are the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The second group – "Focused Cooperation" – of which Spain is a member, includes 19 countries, all of them European, apart from Japan and South Korea. The third group – "Limited cooperation" – consists of countries such as France, Israel, India and Pakistan; while the fourth – "Exceptional Cooperation" – is made up of countries that the US considers to be hostile to its interests. The NSA documents [suggest] the Spanish intelligence services were working hand in hand with the NSA, as were other foreign agencies. But if there was any doubt as to who held the upper hand, the NSA documents make clear that any collaboration was always to serve the needs of protecting American interests.

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




NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts
2013-10-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-10-29 09:11:47
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/nsa-surveillance-world-leaders-c...

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such as the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems. The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA. The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel ... accused the US of tapping her mobile phone. The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so. The memo, dated October 2006 and which was issued to staff in the agency's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), was titled "Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers". In the wake of the Merkel row, the US is facing growing international criticism that any intelligence benefit from spying on friendly governments is far outweighed by the potential diplomatic damage.

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




Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia
2013-10-17, New York Times
Posted: 2013-10-29 09:08:16
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/world/snowden-says-he-took-no-secret-files-...

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, said in an extensive interview this month that he did not take any secret N.S.A. documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June, assuring that Russian intelligence officials could not get access to them. He also asserted that he was able to protect the documents from China’s spies because he was familiar with that nation’s intelligence abilities, saying that as an N.S.A. contractor he had targeted Chinese operations and had taught a course on Chinese cybercounterintelligence. “There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said. Mr. Snowden added that inside the spy agency “there’s a lot of dissent.” But he said that people were kept in line through “fear and a false image of patriotism,” which he described as “obedience to authority.” He said he believed that if he tried to question the N.S.A.’s surveillance operations as an insider, his efforts “would have been buried forever,” and he would “have been discredited and ruined.” Mr. Snowden said he finally decided to act when he discovered a copy of a classified 2009 inspector general’s report on the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program during the Bush administration. After reading about the program, which skirted the existing surveillance laws, he concluded that it had been illegal, he said. “If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all,” he said, “secret powers become tremendously dangerous.”

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




Edward Snowden is no traitor
2013-10-21, Washington Post
Posted: 2013-10-29 09:05:55
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-edward-snowden-is-no-tra...

What are we to make of Edward Snowden? I know what I once made of him. He was no real whistleblower, I wrote, but “ridiculously cinematic” and “narcissistic” as well. As time has proved, my judgments were just plain wrong. Whatever Snowden is, he is curiously modest and has bent over backward to ensure that the information he has divulged has done as little damage as possible. As a “traitor,” he lacks the requisite intent and menace. But traitor is what Snowden has been roundly called. Harry Reid: “I think Snowden is a traitor.” John Boehner: “He’s a traitor.” Rep. Peter King: “This guy is a traitor; he’s a defector.” And Dick Cheney not only denounced Snowden as a “traitor” but also suggested that he might have shared information with the Chinese. This innuendo, as with Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, is more proof of Cheney’s unerring determination to be cosmically wrong. The early denunciations of Snowden now seem both over the top and beside the point. If he is a traitor, then which side did he betray and to whom does he now owe allegiance? Snowden seems to have sold out to no one. In fact, a knowledgeable source says that Snowden has not even sold his life story and has rebuffed offers of cash for interviews. Maybe his most un-American act is passing up a chance at easy money. Someone ought to look into this. Snowden’s residency in Russia has been forced upon him — he had nowhere else to go. Snowden insists that neither the Russians nor, before them, the Chinese have gotten their grubby hands on his top-secret material.

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




The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ
2013-10-03, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2013-10-15 10:56:03
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/03/edward-snowden-files-john-lanche...

The problem and the risk [with surveillance by GCHQ] comes in the area of mass capture of data, or strategic surveillance. This is the kind of intelligence gathering that sucks in data from everyone, everywhere: from phones, internet use from email to website visits, social networking, instant messaging and video calls, and even areas such as video gaming; in short, everything digital. In the US, the Prism programme may have given the NSA access to the servers of companies such as Google and Facebook; in the UK, GCHQ has gained a similar degree of access via its Tempora programme, and the two of them together have a cable- and network-tapping capabilities collectively called Upstream, which have the ability to intercept anything that travels over the internet. This data is fed into a database called XKeyscore, which allows analysts to extract information "in real time", ie immediately. What this adds up to is a new thing in human history: with a couple of clicks of a mouse, an agent of the state can target your home phone, or your mobile, or your email, or your passport number, or any of your credit card numbers, or your address, or any of your log-ins to a web service. Using that "selector", the state can get access to all the content of your communications, via any of those channels; can gather information about anyone you communicate with, can get a full picture of all your internet use, can track your location online and offline. It can, in essence, know everything about you, including – thanks to the ability to look at your internet searches – what's on your mind.

Note: For an excellent 15-minute BBC Newsnight interview with Glenn Greenwald defending Edward Snowden's release of secret documents, click here. For more on government privacy invasions, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance
2013-10-14, New York Times
Posted: 2013-10-15 10:54:38
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/technology/privacy-fears-as-surveillance-gr...

Federal grants of $7 million, initially intended to help thwart terror attacks at the port in Oakland, Calif., are instead going to a police initiative that will collect and analyze reams of surveillance data. The new system ... is the latest example of how cities are compiling and processing large amounts of information, known as big data, for routine law enforcement. And the system underscores how technology has enabled the tracking of people in many aspects of life. Like the Oakland effort, other pushes to use new surveillance tools in law enforcement are supported with federal dollars. The New York Police Department, aided by federal financing, has a big data system that links 3,000 surveillance cameras with license plate readers, radiation sensors, criminal databases and terror suspect lists. Police in Massachusetts have used federal money to buy automated license plate scanners. And police in Texas have bought a drone with homeland security money. [Critics] of the Oakland initiative, formally known as the Domain Awareness Center, [say] the program, which will create a central repository of surveillance information, will also gather data about the everyday movements and habits of law-abiding residents. Oakland has a contract with the Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, to build its system. That company has earned the bulk of its $12 billion in annual revenue from military contracts.

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




As F.B.I. Pursued Snowden, an E-Mail Service Stood Firm
2013-10-03, New York Times
Posted: 2013-10-15 10:53:12
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/us/snowdens-e-mail-provider-discusses-press...

The owner of the e-mail service [Lavabit, Ladar Levison,] said he closed it down after the government, in pursuit of Edward J. Snowden, sought untrammeled access to the protected messages of all his customers. Mr. Levison was willing to allow investigators with a court order to tap Mr. Snowden’s e-mail account; he had complied with similar narrowly targeted requests involving other customers about two dozen times. But they wanted more, he said: the passwords, encryption keys and computer code that would essentially allow the government untrammeled access to the protected messages of all his customers. That, he said, was too much. On Aug. 8, Mr. Levison closed Lavabit rather than, in his view, betray his promise of secure e-mail to his customers. On [October 2], a federal judge unsealed documents in the case, allowing the tech entrepreneur to speak candidly for the first time about his experiences. He had been summoned to testify to a grand jury in Virginia; forbidden to discuss his case; held in contempt of court and fined $10,000 for handing over his private encryption keys on paper and not in digital form; and, finally, threatened with arrest for saying too much when he shuttered his business. While Mr. Levison’s struggles have been with the F.B.I., hovering in the background is the N.S.A., which has worked secretly for years to undermine or bypass encrypted services like Lavabit so that their electronic message scrambling cannot obstruct the agency’s spying. Mr. Levison’s case shows how law enforcement officials can use legal tools to pry open messages, no matter how well protected.

Note: For an excellent 15-minute BBC Newsnight interview with Glenn Greenwald defending Edward Snowden's release of secret documents, click here. For more on government privacy invasions, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.




Your TV might be watching you
2013-08-01, CNN
Posted: 2013-10-08 09:01:14
http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/01/technology/security/tv-hack/index.html

Today's high-end televisions are almost all equipped with "smart" PC-like features, including Internet connectivity, apps, microphones and cameras. But a recently discovered security hole in some Samsung Smart TVs shows that many of those bells and whistles aren't ready for prime time. The flaws in Samsung Smart TVs, which have now been patched, enabled hackers to remotely turn on the TVs' built-in cameras without leaving any trace of it on the screen. While you're watching TV, a hacker anywhere around the world could have been watching you. Hackers also could have easily rerouted an unsuspecting user to a malicious website to steal bank account information. Samsung quickly fixed the problem after security researchers at iSEC Partners informed the company about the bugs. Samsung sent a software update to all affected TVs. But the glitches speak to a larger problem of gadgets that connect to the Internet but have virtually no security to speak of. Security cameras, lights, heating control systems and even door locks and windows are now increasingly coming with features that allow users to control them remotely. Without proper security controls, there's little to stop hackers from invading users' privacy, stealing personal information or spying on people. In the case of Samsung Smart TVs, iSEC researchers found that they could tap into the TV's Web browser with ease, according to iSEC security analyst Josh Yavor. That gave hackers access to all the functions controlled by the browser, including the TV's built-in camera. "If there's a vulnerability in any application, there's a vulnerability in the entire TV," said Aaron Grattafiori, also an analyst at iSEC.

Note: For how deep this problem goes, read this article. For more on corporate and government privacy invasions, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.





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