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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.


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Snowden: FBI's claim it can't unlock the San Bernardino iPhone is 'bullshit'
2016-03-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-03-14 19:20:48
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/09/edward-snowden-fbi-san-bern...

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower whose NSA revelations sparked a debate on mass surveillance, has waded into the arguments over the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to help it unlock the iPhone 5C of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI says that only Apple can deactivate certain passcode protections on the iPhone, which will allow law enforcement to guess the passcode by using brute-force. Talking via video link from Moscow to the Common Cause Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference, Snowden said: “The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that’s bullshit.” Snowden then went on to tweet his support for an American Civil Liberties Union report saying that the FBI’s claims in the case are fraudulent. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also spoke out against the FBI on the Conan O’Brien show on Monday, saying: “I side with Apple on this one. [The FBI] picked the lamest case you ever could.” Wozniak added: “Verizon turned over all the phone records and SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone. It’s so lame and worthless to expect there’s something on it and to get Apple to expose it.” Apple’s clash with the FBI comes to a head in California this month when the two will meet in federal court to debate whether the smartphone manufacturer should be required to weaken security settings on the iPhone of the shooter.

Note: According to The New York Times, the FBI has been misleading the public about the San Bernadino attacks for months. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Watchdog: Canada's Electronic Spy Agency Broke Privacy Laws
2016-01-28, ABC/Associated Press
Posted: 2016-02-07 11:10:28
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/watchdog-canadas-electronic-spy...

Canada's electronic spy agency broke privacy laws by sharing information about Canadians with foreign partners, a federal watchdog said Thursday. Commissioner Jean-Pierre Plouffe said in his annual report that the Communications Security Establishment passed along information known as metadata to counterparts in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Metadata is information associated with a communication, such as a telephone number or email address, but not the message itself. The communications agency intercepts and analyzes foreign communications for intelligence information of interest to the federal government. The agency is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata churning through cyberspace. Plouffe, who keeps an eye on the highly secretive agency, said he found that it lacks clarity regarding the sharing of certain types of metadata. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the sharing won't resume until he is satisfied that the proper protections are in place. Plouffe's report noted that certain metadata was not being properly minimized, or rendered unidentifiable, prior to being shared. The CSE's failure to strip out certain Canadian identity information violated the National Defense Act and therefore the federal Privacy Act as well. Privacy advocates have stressed that metadata is far from innocuous since it can reveal a great deal about a person's online behavior and interactions.

Note: Many countries do not allow their intelligence agencies to spy on their own citizens without going through a legal process. The easy way around this that has been used for decades is to simply getting the information from a friendly country. So if the CIA wants information on you in the US, they can't spy directly, but they can ask the UK to do so and pass the information to them and thus get around the laws. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’
2016-01-10, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-01-17 16:09:12
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/the-new-way-police-are-sur...

A national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. [Meanwhile], a new generation of technology ... has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. The powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists. “This is something that’s been building since September 11,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.” But perhaps the most controversial and revealing technology is the threat-scoring software Beware. As officers respond to calls, Beware automatically runs the address. The searches return the names of residents and scans them ... to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red. Exactly how Beware calculates threat scores is something that its maker, Intrado, considers a trade secret, so ... only Intrado - not the police or the public - knows how Beware tallies its scores. The system might mistakenly increase someone’s threat level by misinterpreting innocuous activity on social media, like criticizing the police, and trigger a heavier response by officers.

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


What the TSA’s new body-scanner rules mean for you
2015-12-30, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-01-10 18:56:49
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/what-the-tsas-new-body-scanne...

The Transportation Security Administration’s new rules for screening passengers with its controversial full-body scanners - which were quietly changed just before the busy holiday travel season - represent a significant policy reversal that could affect your next flight. Getting checked by the TSA’s advanced-imaging technology used to be entirely optional, allowing those who refused a scan to be subjected to a pat-down. In fact, many observers thought the agency installed the 740 body scanners in 160 airports with an understanding that no one would be forced to use them, ever. But on a Friday in late December, the TSA revised its rules, saying an “opt out” is no longer an option for certain passengers. “The TSA is going back on its word,” says Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University and prominent TSA-watcher. “The scanners were sold to Congress and the public on the promise that they were optional, but for at least some people, that is no longer the case.” In previous court filings, the agency offered written assurance that the scanners were optional. Based on the agency’s statements, a federal appeals court affirmed the legality of using the full-body scanners as long as fliers were given a choice.

Note: Read more on the controversy surrounding TSA's costly but technically questionable scanners. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans
2014-07-18, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-01-10 18:46:32
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/meet-executive-order-12333-the-reagan...

In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact ... of National Security Agency surveillance practices. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.” But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line. Some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them. Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Based in part on classified facts that I am prohibited by law from publishing, I believe that Americans should be even more concerned about the collection and storage of their communications under Executive Order 12333 than under Section 215. Unlike Section 215, the executive order authorizes collection of the content of communications, not just metadata, even for U.S. persons. It does not require that the affected U.S. persons be suspected of wrongdoing and places no limits on the volume of communications by U.S. persons that may be collected and retained. None of the reforms that Obama announced earlier this year will affect such collection.

Note: The above was written by John Napier Tye, former section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. A 2014 Washington Post investigation sheds more light on the NSA's legally dubious domestic mass surveillance program. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated
2015-12-30, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-01-03 14:01:58
https://theintercept.com/2015/12/30/spying-on-congress-and-israel-nsa-cheerle...

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the NSA under President Obama targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top aides for surveillance. In the process, the agency ended up eavesdropping on ... U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. People who spent many years cheering for and defending ... programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them. Long-time GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and unyielding NSA defender Pete Hoekstra last night was truly indignant: "WSJ report that NSA spied on Congress and Israel communications very disturbing. Actually outrageous. Maybe unprecedented abuse of power ... NSA and Obama officials need to be investigated and prosecuted. NSA loses all credibility. Scary." This pattern - whereby political officials who are vehement supporters of the Surveillance State transform overnight into crusading privacy advocates once they learn that they themselves have been spied on - is one that has repeated itself over and over. So now, with yesterday’s WSJ report, we witness the tawdry spectacle of large numbers of people who for years were fine with, responsible for, and even giddy about NSA mass surveillance suddenly objecting. Overnight, privacy is of the highest value because now it’s their privacy, rather than just yours, that is invaded.

Note: Read the full Wall Street Journal article on how the US government is secretly spying on Israeli leaders and more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


The NSA: 'The Abyss From Which There Is No Return'
2013-08-19, Huffington Post
Posted: 2015-12-27 21:08:24
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/the-nsa_b_3779298.html

The news that the National Security Agency (NSA) is routinely operating outside of the law and overstepping its legal authority by carrying out surveillance on American citizens is not really much of a surprise. This is what happens when you give the government broad powers and allow government agencies to routinely sidestep the Constitution. Consider that the government's Utah Data Center (UDC), the central hub of the NSA's vast spying infrastructure, will be a clearinghouse and a depository for every imaginable kind of information - whether innocent or not, private or public - including communications, transactions and the like. In fact, anything and everything you've ever said or done, from the trivial to the damning - phone calls, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Google searches, emails, bookstore and grocery purchases, bank statements, commuter toll records, etc. - will be tracked, collected, cataloged and analyzed by the UDC's supercomputers and teams of government agents. By sifting through the detritus of your once-private life, the government will come to its own conclusions about who you are, where you fit in, and how best to deal with you should the need arise. Surveillance of all citizens ... is not friendly to freedom. Frankly, we are long past the point where we should be merely alarmed. These are no longer experiments on our freedoms. These are acts of aggression.

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.


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