Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald recently did an AMA on Citizenfour, their Oscar winning documentary about Snowden and the NSA scandal. Among the highlights is Snowden discussing the relationship between people and their governments and how enforcing the law too well actually can have severe drawbacks.
"Sometimes, society gets it wrong... When that happens, strong privacy protections—including collection controls that let people pick who gets their data, and when—allow the persecuted and unpopular to survive."
What happens when we let industry and government collect all the data they want.
What happens when we let industry and government collect all the data they want.
During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
To reduce the risk of future Edward Snowden style leaks, the NSA wants to reduce the number of people in the loop. Director Keith Alexander told Reuters that the NSA plans to eliminate fully 90 percent of its system administrators and replace them with machines.
Washington Post: NSA and FBI are mining data from nine major tech companies in formerly secret program. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple are being monitored, with Dropbox "coming soon". The program, called PRISM, is reportedly the most prolific contributor to the President's Daily Brief.
Glenn Greenwald has produced a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over to the NSA "telephony metadata" of all local and international calls either originating or terminating in the United States on an "ongoing, daily basis," and further barring Verizon from disclosing to the public the fulfillment of this request or the existence of the court order itself. The ACLU refers to the practice as "beyond Orwellian." Direct link to the court order available here. [more inside]
The ACLU reports that the IRS claims in an internal document that it has the authority to access citizens' online communications without a warrant. The IRS claimed in a 2009 document that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." It still retains that position even after the 2010 case of US v Warshak which determined that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications. [more inside]
In December 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's front-page account (paywall) of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program documented their illegal domestic intelligence operations against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States. The article eventually prompted investigations by the Rockefeller Commission and the Church and Pike committees. "There have been other reports on the CIA's doping of civilians, but they have mostly dished about activities in New York City. Accounts of what actually occurred in San Francisco have been sparse and sporadic. But newly declassified CIA records, recent interviews, and a personal diary of [George H. White,] an operative at Stanford Special Collections shed more light on the breadth of the San Francisco operation." SF Weekly: "Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA doped San Francisco citizens with LSD." MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter. (Via)
Is Congress gearing up to hold a new American Truth Commission? What new horrors would they find if they did? The last time we tried this we uncovered MK/ULTRA, plots to kill Castro & Project SHAMROCK. One of the most significant outcomes was a little thing called FISA. After 30 years it may finally be time to wash out our national dirty laundry again.
9/11 changed everything? And the NSA is only looking at overseas and terrorist-related phone and internet records?
to gather information about Americans' phone records --... the NSA had approached the company (Qwest) about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records. ...Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts. ... -- The Administration's crimes and illegal spying on all of us and Quest's punishment for not going along with their plans.
Bored on your summer vacation? Well, the US government has lots of fun stuff for kids to do on line. Learn fascinating facts about cows (and agricultural marketing!) from the Department of Agriculture. Take a ride to Money Central Station with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. If you live in a federally-funded housing project, HUD wants you to learn more about being a good citizen. Want something more action-packed? Help FBI Special Agent Bobby Bureau go undercover, or become one of America's Crypto-Kids at the NSA. Play thrilling puzzle games or visit the world's most secret museum at the CIA. Play more games or become a Disaster Action Kid at FEMA! And no list of government kids' pages would be complete without revisiting the children's art contest from the ATF, which I've linked to before...
Top Secret: We're Wiretapping You It could be a scene from Kafka or Brazil. Imagine a government agency, in a bureaucratic foul-up, accidentally gives you a copy of a document marked "top secret." And it contains a log of some of your private phone calls. You read it and ponder it and wonder what it all means. Then, two months later, the FBI shows up at your door, demands the document back and orders you to forget you ever saw it.
NSA,FISA, and Privacy It is of course the president who finally approves of actions that may or may not be deemed legal but before 9/11, this is what he had been advised to consider "The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its "Transition 2001" report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable cause," according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web. If this is the sort of reading you enjoy, then by all means dig about here: But then Windows allowed NSA to have a sure access to your machine . And by now we all know that Google will fight the government on making its search data base available in order to protect your privacy.(Reality: to protect Google stuff). And if you worry about search engines tracking you and making data available, then here is a workaround
National Security Agency What is it that NSA does? What are or were its legal parameters and its history? This is a quick "NSA 101" course that might be helpful as stories continue to emerge about the agency. Oddly, as large as this organization is, it has been very much in the background, and only recently when some whistleblowers spoke up, has this agency gained a good deal of public attention. Some of you may recall the fuss raised about some spy agency named Echelon and wonder how this group is or is not connected to NSA. And soon at least one whistle blower will testify before congress, though the White House seems to have convinced some 50% of Americans that the president can do whatever he wants in time of war, ignoring legal constraints upon intel branches. And that raises the question (for me): if NSA can skirt the courts to "fight terror," then what of the FBI, also once requied to have court approval for phone taps. Are they too now free to do as they want in this "fight against terror"?
Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States ... is based on classified legal opinions...
"The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny." What's the article about? The NSA, and you, if you've ever called internationally or sent email overseas: ...the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, ... (very long, NYT--and the NSA's mission is to spy only on communications abroad)
Interviewing with an Intelligence Agency (or, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Fort Meade) is a really fascinating read of one fellows experience while attempting to pass a security clearance for employment with the National Security Agency. Ironically enough I have to wonder if perhaps you need to be just a little bit crazy to do it. But of course crazy in a NSA/DOD friendly way, as opposed to standing on a table clucking like a chicken...
NSA has lost the techno war. It says. But do we believe them? Or is this merely intended to lull us into complacency?