Posts Tagged ‘NSA’

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Thanks, Obama

January 26, 2017

You know, I managed to avoid using this title for a post all through Obama’s term in office. But he finally roused me to use it.

In short, what gets collected in Utah doesn’t stay in Utah anymore.

Here’s Judge Andrew Napolitano writing at Reason about a recent order by former Attorney General Lynch. (My emphasis.)

President Obama’s Parting Shot at Personal Freedom
To make things more convenient for the government, the Obama administration makes it easier for agencies to spy on citizens.

On Jan. 3, outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch secretly signed an order directing the National Security Agency — America’s 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus — to make available raw spying data to all other federal intelligence agencies, which then can pass it on to their counterparts in foreign countries and in the 50 states upon request. She did so, she claimed, for administrative convenience. Yet in doing this, she violated basic constitutional principles that were erected centuries ago to prevent just what she did.

Here is the back story. […]

This is the New York Times article Mr. Napolitano links in his post. (I assume it was the basis for his post. My emphasis again.)

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people. […]

At the risk of saying this too many times, let me repeat that you should never expect privacy (or anonymity) when using electronic messaging – e-mail, text, voice, and (probably) internet chat as well.

That’s not just a projection based the news items above; it’s based on stories I’ve heard from people. Your past can come back to haunt you. You probably don’t want to happen when you’re up against an over-eager prosecutor.

Protect your privacy.

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It may be worse than Snowden said

October 5, 2016

Paul sends a link to this story from Reuters.

Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.

Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency’s request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified. […]

According to two of the former employees, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision to obey the directive roiled some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now holds the top security job at Facebook Inc. […]

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It’s no surprise at all

March 11, 2016

Last week I read Barr Eisler’s novel The God’s Eye View. It was a pretty good novel but I thought one of the best parts was Eisler’s closing notes where he talks about how there is, effectively, no longer much Congressional oversight over security agencies like the NSA.

The representatives and senators who oversee those agencies are often bound by secrecy agreements with those agencies to not discuss what they hear or learn even with other congressmen. In other words, the agencies demand secrecy in the name of national security even from those who should be controlling the agencies’ policies and procedures.

So when Paul sent a link to this column by Radley Balko, it really wasn’t much of a surprise. But, surprised or not, we should all be shocked at what’s happening.

Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism

A while back, we noted a report showing that 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 why this is important:

What does this rule change mean for you? In short, 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. FBI agents don’t need to have any “national security” related reason to plug your name, email address, phone number, or other “selector” into the NSA’s gargantuan data trove. They can simply poke around in your private information in the course of totally routine investigations. And if they find something that suggests, say, involvement in illegal drug activity, they can send that information to local or state police. That means information the NSA collects for purposes of so-called “national security” will be used by police to lock up ordinary Americans for routine crimes. And we don’t have to guess who’s going to suffer this unconstitutional indignity the most brutally. It’ll be Black, Brown, poor, immigrant, Muslim, and dissident Americans: the same people who are always targeted by law enforcement for extra “special” attention.

This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar. 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. If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn’t be alone. And 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 — see the Stingray debacle. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy. We’re now learning that the feds had these agreements with police agencies all over the country, affecting thousands of cases.

Somewhere I have a picture that I took in Amsterdam a long while back (late 80s or early 90s). It was a pic of a large sign on a canal bridge, reading: Abuse of power comes as no surprise.

So don’t be surprised. Be vigilant in defense of your rights instead.


Update
Here’s Edward Snowden talking about the secrecy surrounding surveillance programs during a recent interview. Give it a listen from the 16:30 mark until the 19:05 mark.

How can the people have any voice in a process with the deck stacked like that? I have to conclude that we no longer have a voice in those decisions. It’s the Omniscient State, citizen: love it or leave it.

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Privacy today

March 1, 2014

Reason.tv interiews Ladar Levison about his Lavabit service and why he shut it down.

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The Snowden revelations continue

March 1, 2014

Glenn Greenwald writes at his new site (The Intercept) about more things he’s discovered in the documents leaked by Edward Snowden. RTWT.

How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”


This seems like just the place for this cartoon. (Click for a larger view at its source.)
5-stages-nsa

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Good news!

January 17, 2014

One of Chip Bok’s Friday Funnies.

youre-not-paranoid

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Paranoia strikes deep

October 19, 2013

Via Reason, here’s the opening of an interesting article at the ACLU blog wondering whether Congressional representatives are being blackmailed by the NSA.

On the Prospect of Blackmail by the NSA

Sometimes when I hear public officials speaking out in defense of NSA spying, I can’t help thinking, even if just for a moment, “what if the NSA has something on that person and that’s why he or she is saying this?”

Of course it’s natural, when people disagree with you, to at least briefly think, “they couldn’t possibly really believe that, there must be some outside power forcing them to take that position.” Mostly I do not believe that anything like that is now going on.

But I cannot be 100% sure, and therein lies the problem. The breadth of the NSA’s newly revealed capabilities makes the emergence of such suspicions in our society inevitable. Especially given that we are far, far away from having the kinds of oversight mechanisms in place that would provide ironclad assurance that these vast powers won’t be abused. […]

There has already been prominent speculation about this threat. David Sirota explicitly mulled the subject in this (paywalled) piece, as have writers at Firedoglake and TechDirt. Whistleblower Russell Tice has also alleged that while at the agency he saw wiretap information for members of Congress and the judiciary firsthand. Such fears explain why it is considered an especially serious matter any time elected or judicial officials are eavesdropped upon. The New York Times reported in 2009 that some NSA officials had tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant. Members of Congress (and perhaps the judiciary) surely also noted a Washington Post report based on Snowden documents that the NSA had intercepted a “large number” of calls from the Washington DC area code due to a “programming error.”

For what it’s worth.

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Dark humor

June 25, 2013
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