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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 great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked
2017-05-07, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2017-05-15 16:48:37
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-r...

The story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time. SCL/Cambridge Analytica [is] effectively part of the ... defence establishment. This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. David Miller, a professor of sociology ... and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy.” David, [an] ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, [was] working at the firm when it introduced mass data-harvesting to its psychological warfare techniques. “It brought psychology, propaganda and technology together in this powerful new way,” David [said]. Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. The company ... bought consumer datasets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment,” said David. “And the personality data enabled Cambridge Analytica to craft individual messages.” Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. Brexit came down to ... just over 1% of registered voters. It’s not a stretch to believe that ... the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters.

Note: Another Guardian article recently exposed how billionaire Robert Mercer used new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control.


Banned In Germany: Kids' Doll Is Labeled An Espionage Device
2017-02-17, NPR
Posted: 2017-04-30 23:31:27
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/17/515775874/banned-in-germany...

A doll called My Friend Cayla listens a little too well, according to German regulators who say the toy is essentially a stealthy espionage device that shares what it hears and is also vulnerable to takeover by third parties. "Cayla ist verboten in Deutschland," says Jochen Homann, the president of Germany's Federal Network Agency (the Bundessnetzagentur), announcing a ban on the doll in Germany on Friday. His agency oversees electronic privacy as part of its telecommunications mandate. Cayla looks like an everyday doll and gives no notice that it collects and transmits everything it hears - in this case, to [Nuance], a voice-recognition company in the U.S. whose other customers include intelligence agencies. The My Friend Cayla doll remains for sale in the U.S., including via Amazon. Much of what the German agency says echoes the concerns of privacy and consumer advocates in the U.S., who filed a complaint against Cayla during the recent Christmas shopping season. They criticized the scope of what the Internet-connected toy captures, as well as the vulnerabilities it poses for users who link the doll with their smartphones. Consumer groups have also criticized the doll for its habit of praising commercial products, in what's often seen as a stealth marketing campaign that targets children. "For example, Cayla will happily talk about how much she loves different Disney movies," Norway's Consumer Council says. "Meanwhile, the app-provider has a commercial relationship with Disney."

Note: The use of artificial intelligence in a new Barbie doll generated controversy in 2015, while a New York Times article from that same year called "smart objects" a "train wreck in privacy and security". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Sharyl Attkisson sues administration over computer hacking
2015-01-05, Fox News
Posted: 2017-04-09 23:21:41
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/05/sharyl-attkisson-sues-administrati...

Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the Justice Department over the hacking of her computers, officially accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance while she was reporting on administration scandals. In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013. The intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account. The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have "pretty good evidence" that these efforts were "connected" to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a "Catch-22," forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the "John Does" named in the complaints. Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe. Attkisson resigned from CBS last March after complaining that she was increasingly unable to get her investigative stories on the air. She has published a best-selling book, "Stonewalled," about her battles against the network and the administration.

Note: Fox News was the only major media to cover this important case. Read a judge's supportive comments about this important case on Ms. Attkisson's website. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Facial recognition database used by FBI is out of control, House committee hears
2017-03-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2017-04-02 22:22:46
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/27/us-facial-recognition-data...

Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are stored in facial recognition databases that can be accessed by the FBI, without their knowledge or consent, in the hunt for suspected criminals. About 80% of photos in the FBI’s network are non-criminal entries, including pictures from driver’s licenses and passports. The algorithms used to identify matches are inaccurate about 15% of the time, and are more likely to misidentify black people than white people. These are just some of the damning facts presented at last week’s House oversight committee hearing, where politicians and privacy campaigners criticized the FBI and called for stricter regulation of facial recognition technology at a time when it is creeping into law enforcement and business. The FBI first launched its advanced biometric database ... in 2010, augmenting the old fingerprint database with further capabilities including facial recognition. The bureau did not inform the public ... nor did it publish a privacy impact assessment, required by law, for five years. The FBI made arrangements with 18 different states to gain access to their databases of driver’s license photos. Last year, the US government accountability office (GAO) analyzed the FBI’s use of facial recognition technology and found it to be lacking in accountability, accuracy and oversight. “It doesn’t know how often the system incorrectly identifies the wrong subject,” explained the GAO’s Diana Maurer. “Innocent people could bear the burden of being falsely accused.”

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


The Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard of
2017-03-20, Foreign Policy
Posted: 2017-03-26 21:26:02
http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/20/the-multibillion-dollar-u-s-spy-agency-yo...

In a heavily protected military base some 15 miles south of Washington, D.C., sits the massive headquarters of a spy agency few know exists. The [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or] NGA remains by far the most shadowy member of the Big Five spy agencies, which include the CIA and the National Security Agency. Despite its lack of name recognition, the NGA’s headquarters is the third-largest building in the Washington metropolitan area. The NGA is to pictures what the NSA is to voices. Its principal function is to analyze the billions of images and miles of video captured by drones ... and spy satellites. The agency has never been involved in domestic spy scandals. However, there’s reason to believe that this will change. In March 2016, the Pentagon released the results of an investigation initiated by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General to examine military spy drones in the United States. The report ... revealed that the Pentagon used unarmed surveillance drones over American soil. The investigation also quoted from an Air Force law review article pointing out the growing concern that technology designed to spy on enemies abroad may soon be turned around to spy on citizens at home. In 2016, unbeknownst to many city officials, police in Baltimore began conducting persistent aerial surveillance using a system developed for military use in Iraq. Few civilians have any idea how advanced these military eye-in-the-sky drones have become.

Note: This article was written by former ABC News producer James Bamford, whose 2001 article on Operation Northwoods revealed that the top Pentagon generals signed off on top-secret plans which stated, "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." And showing the level of major media complicity, only ABC News reported on this. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


C.I.A. Developed Tools to Spy on Mac Computers, WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows
2017-03-23, New York Times
Posted: 2017-03-26 21:21:34
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/technology/cia-spying-mac-computers-wikile...

The C.I.A. developed tools to spy on Mac computers by injecting software into the chips that control the computers’ fundamental operations, according to the latest cache of classified government documents published on Thursday by WikiLeaks. All of the surveillance tools that have been disclosed were designed to be installed on individual phones or computers. But the effects could be much wider. Cisco Systems, for example, warned customers this week that many of its popular routers, the backbone of computer networks, could be hacked using the C.I.A.’s techniques. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has offered to share the precise software code used by the C.I.A.’s cyberweapons with the affected companies. But major tech companies have been reluctant to directly engage with him for fear of violating American laws. The spy software described in the latest documents was designed to be injected into a Mac’s firmware, a type of software preloaded in the computer’s chips. It would then act as a “listening post,” broadcasting the user’s activities to the C.I.A. whenever the machine was connected to the internet. Tools that operate at the chip level can hide their existence and avoid being wiped out by routine software updates. Under an agreement struck during the Obama administration, intelligence agencies were supposed to share their knowledge of most security vulnerabilities with tech companies. The C.I.A. documents suggest that some key vulnerabilities were kept secret.

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


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.


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