Britain’s Home Secretary is pushing for new spying powers to access social media and email accounts. Theresa May argues that it’s a “matter of life and death,” and has dismissed claims the government wants to spy on citizens.
The British Home Office is pushing for changes to the law that would radically expand powers to monitor citizens. The communications data bill, which has been branded ‘the snooper’s charter’ by opponents, would allow authorities access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
In addition, services like Facetime and Skype would also be accessible to the UK authorities. Continue reading »
In 2007, while co-writing a magazine piece with Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur Michael S. Malone on best Information Age practices for politicians, I coined a phrase Malone instantly dubbed “the Cannon Codicil.”
Postulating that electronic messages, like diamonds, last for forever, Cannon’s codicil simply holds that “Nothing digital ever dies.”
Although inspired by the water torture Democrats were then inflicting on Karl Rove over his missing Republican National Committee emails, mostly I was being metaphysical. But now, with the Internal Revenue Service claiming it has lost tens of thousands of emails from Lois Lerner and six of her IRS subordinates, the question in Washington is whether such a thing is technologically possible. Continue reading »
Yesterday, the republican campaign to get to the bottom of IRS’ targeting of conservative groups was dealt an absolutely idiotic blow when the IRS, in all seriousness, announced that it had lost two years worth of emails to and from the chief subject of the investigation: former agency official Lois Lerner.
As House Ways and Means Commitee chairman Dave Camp said, “The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to congressional inquiries,” he said in a statement. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”
According to NRO, the agency informed Camp that a computer crash resulted in the loss of e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011 sent between Lerner and outside agencies such as the White House and the Department of Justice. “Those messages are particularly relevant given revelations earlier this week that the agency in 2010 transmitted a database to the FBI containing confidential taxpayer information, potentially in violation of federal law.” Continue reading »
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”
There was a massive response, and of the 40 or so active in the discussion, six started meeting at CERN’s Restaurant Number 1, pooling their deep knowledge of computing and physics to found ProtonMail, a gmail-like email system which uses end-to-end encryption, making it impossible for outside parties to monitor.
Encrypted emails have actually been around since the 1980s, but they are extremely difficult to use. When Edward Snowden asked a reporter to use an end-to-end encrypted email to share details of the NSA surveillance program the reporter couldn’t get the system to work, says Yen. Continue reading »
During a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning oversight, Rep. Zoe Lofgren decided to quiz Attorney General Eric Holder about the federal government’s surveillance efforts, starting off with a rather simple question. She notes that the bulk phone record collection program is considered to be legal by its supporters, based on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for the collection of “business records.” So, she wonders, is there any legal distinction between phone records and, say, internet searches or emails? In other words, does the DOJ believe that it would be perfectly legal for the US government to scoop up all your search records and emails without a warrant? Holder clearly does not want to answer the question, and first tries to answer a different question, concerning the bulk phone records program, and how the administration is supposedly committed to ending it. But eventually he’s forced to admit that there’s no legal distinction:
It’s quite simple really, and as the WaPo explains, the NSA “has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials. By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.”
In a nutshell – 181,280,466 new records in 1 month:
The fallout from the Snowden revelations continue. While India has already been attempting to fight economic reality with import duties on gold in an desperate move to reduce buying, they are now also trying to take further control of their technology infrastructure. Although this may appear to be a good thing on the surface, perhaps it is merely a move to further consolidate their own domestic snooping powers, which we already know they are trying to do.
In the latest news, it is being reported that the government will soon ask its employees to stop using Google’s Gmail due to the presence of the company’s servers within the U.S.
BANGALORE/NEW DELHI: The government will soon ask all its employees to stop using Google’s Gmail for official communication, a move intended to increase security ofconfidential government information after revelations of widespread cyberspying by the US.
A senior official in the ministry of communications and information technology said the government plans to send a formal notification to nearly 5 lakh employees barring them from email service providers such as Gmail that have their servers in the US, and instead asking them to stick to the official email service provided by India’s National Informatics Centre.
If you happen to send an email to one of the 400 million people who use Google’s Gmail service, you shouldn’t have any expectation of privacy, according to a court briefing obtained by the Consumer Watchdog website.
In a motion filed last month by Google to have a class action complaint dismissed, Google’s lawyers reference a 1979 ruling, holding that people who turn over information to third parties shouldn’t expect that information to remain private.
The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing “warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans”.
Secure and free web-based email service provider Lavabit shut down today. What makes Lavabit different from countless other email providers who have shuttered over the years is that according to BoingBoing, Lavabit is the email service supposedly used by Edward Snowden. Which would explain the nebulous tone in the farewell letter posted on the company’s front page by owner Ladar Levison. It also explains why Lavabit was shut down by the US government, although that was mostly inferred from the letter which due to legal limitations does not expound on the official reasons for the shut down – one can imagine. It certainly explains the following punchline in Levison’s letter: “This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.“We wholeheartedly agree.
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
“That’s the thing I don’t understand about the climate in Washington these days. People want to have debates on television and elsewhere, but then you want to throw the people that start the debates in jail.” - James Risen, New York Times Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist (he now faces jail time)
The above quote occurred during an excellent discussion between Glenn Greenwald, James Risen and Jeffrey Toobin on Piers Morgan’s show. While pretty much everyone on planet earth knows who Glenn Greenwald is at this point, most people do not know who James Risen is. This is a situation that must change. Mr. Risen is at the center of another very important case that threatens the future of freedom of the press in these United States.
In his book State of War, James Risen published information leaked to him by former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is currently being charged under the Espionage Act by President Transparency, Barrack Obama. While a lower court had previously ruled Mr. Risen should be afforded reporter privilege to not testify against Mr. Sterling, a federal appeals court last month saw it differently in a 2-1 decision.
Some of the world’s leading telecoms firms, including BT and Vodafone, are secretly collaborating with Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, and are passing on details of their customers’ phone calls, email messages and Facebook entries, documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show.
BT, Vodafone Cable, and the American firm Verizon Business – together with four other smaller providers – have given GCHQ secret unlimited access to their network of undersea cables. The cables carry much of the world’s phone calls and internet traffic.
The London Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald revealed in a July 31 exposéthat the NSA has indeed been collecting the full text of every American’s e-mails without a warrant under the “XKeyscore” program, flatly contradicting the claims of congressional opponents of the Amash amendment last week.
The Amash amendment would have denied the NSA the ability to snoop on Americans without a warrant or National Security letter under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The amendment by Michigan congressman Justin Amash failed by a mere seven-vote margin in the House of Representatives. In the wake of the vote, Amash has promised to sponsor legislation to ban the NSA from collecting telephone and Internet data on American citizens.
Using NSA PowerPoint presentations provided by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Greenwald explained: “One presentation claims the [XKeyscore] program covers ‘nearly everything a typical user does on the internet,’ including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as their metadata.” Greenwald added: “Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing ‘real-time’ interception of an individual’s internet activity.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has inadvertently exposed six million users’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses to unauthorized viewers over the last year, the company said late Friday.
Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical flaw in its huge archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the problem, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have.
WASHINGTON — Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees are using secret government email accounts to conduct official business, The Associated Press found, a practice that complicates agencies’ legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails under public records requests and congressional inquiries.White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday acknowledged the practice and said it made eminent sense for Cabinet secretaries and other high-profile officials to have what he called alternative email accounts that wouldn’t fill with unwanted messages. Carney said all their email accounts, public and otherwise, were subject to congressional oversight and requests by citizens under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
“There’s nothing secret,” Carney said.
The AP reviewed hundreds of pages of government emails released under the federal open records law and couldn’t independently find instances when material from any of the secret accounts it identified was turned over. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the few nonpublic government addresses that AP identified so far, including one for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Health and Human Services Department.
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ruled that Google Inc. must comply with the FBI’s warrantless demands for customer data, rejecting the company’s argument that the government’s practice of issuing so-called national security letters to telecommunication companies, Internet service providers, banks and others was unconstitutional and unnecessary.
FBI counter-terrorism agents began issuing the secret letters, which don’t require a judge’s approval, after Congress passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on the decision to seek the personal emails of a Fox News reporter by suggesting he was a “co-conspirator” in a criminal leak case, the Department of Justice confirmed in a statement on Friday.
The department “took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General,” the DOJ said in a statement about the search warrant seeking James Rosen’s emails.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has claimed that agents do not need warrants to read people’s emails, text messages and other private electronic communications, according to internal agency documents.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, released the information on Wednesday.
In a 2009 handbook, the IRS said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users “do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.” A 2010 presentation by the IRS Office of General Counsel reiterated the policy. Continue reading »
The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country’s private, civilian-run infrastructure.
As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks.
Under last month’s White House executive order on cybersecurity, the scans will be driven by classified information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies — including data from the National Security Agency (NSA) — on new or especially serious espionage threats and other hacking attempts. U.S. spy chiefs said on March 12 that cyber attacks have supplanted terrorism as the top threat to the country.
The Department of Homeland Security will gather the secret data and pass it to a small group of telecommunication companies and cyber security providers that have employees holding security clearances, government and industry officials said. Those companies will then offer to process email and other Internet transmissions for critical infrastructure customers that choose to participate in the program.
DHS as the middleman
By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency’s eavesdropping.
Personal information stolen from several email accounts belonging to people close to the Bush family reveals the nation’s 43rd president has developed an affinity for painting himself bathing, of all things.
Photos included in an information dump turned over to The Smoking Gun include President George H.W. Bush in the hospital, the elder Bush posing with President Bill Clinton, a family photo of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and even President George W. Bush posing with a cardboard cutout of himself wearing a mustache and beret.
A hacker going by the name “Guccifer” claimed the stolen messages include addresses, phone numbers and email addresses that go directly to both former presidents and their families, along with a security code for a gate outside the younger Bush’s home in Dallas.
The federal government will continue to access Americans’ emails without a warrant, after the U.S. Senate dropped a key amendment to legislation now headed to the White House for approval.
Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment attached to the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act (which deals with publishing users’ Netflix information on Facebook pages) that would have required federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant before monitoring email or other data stored remotely (i.e., the cloud).
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano joined Studio B to discuss Gen. David Petraeus’ resignation as CIA Director and pointedly asked, “What were FBI agents doing monitoring the secret emails of the director of the CIA? And, how is it the CIA didn’t know about it?”
According to Napolitano, in order for the FBI to be reading Petraeus’ emails, they would either need a search warrant from a federal judge or they’d have to write their own search warrant under the Patriot Act providing sufficient reason to believe the general was involved in terrorist activities. The only other way that they could have been monitoring his emails is by hacking into his computer, which would be a crime.
Napolitano argued, “General Petraeus just because he’s an adulterer doesn’t lose his constitutional rights. And he has the right to be protected from an unwarranted, unjustified investigation by the FBI or anyone.”
CNET learns the FBI is quietly pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers, and that the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those backdoors mandatory.
The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.
In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.
The criminal tendencies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were on full display today when it was revealed the agency installed spy software and illegally hacked into the private Gmail accounts of at least half a dozen of its own top scientists. Those scientists, it turns out, were the very same whistleblowers who warned Congress about the FDA’s approval of dangerous medical devices that threatened the lives of patients. In response to them taking action to protect the lives of the innocent — something the FDA is supposed to do but has long since abandoned — they were instead subjected to illegal hacking and having their employment contracts with the FDA terminated.
Those six scientists and doctors have now filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court which claims that they were subjected to FDA internal harassment and unjustified job termination. The lawsuit also describes how the FDA hacked into the private email accounts of these scientists, then intercepted their “whistleblower complaints” intended to be seen only by members of Congress.
The whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has begun releasing sensational information on the multi billion dollar global spying industry. The database contains hundreds of documents shining a light on the methods being used by secret services all over the world. Here’s the video of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaking to journalists and students at a press conference at City University London in central London on December 1, 2011. Along with a number of other guest speakers, Mr Assange spoke of the Wikileaks ongoing investigation of surveillance software companies and their alleged use by governments around the world.
We’re continuing to monitor Yahoo’s mail service and have now been able to send messages containing the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” and its website on some Yahoo accounts. On other accounts, however, Yahoo is still blocking the messages.
Yahoo’s customer care Twitter account acknowledges blocking the emails, but says it was an unintentional error:
“We apologize 4 blocking ‘occupywallst.org’ It was not intentional & caught by our spam filters. It is resolved, but may be a residual delay.”
Thinking about e-mailing your friends and neighbors about the protests against Wall Street happening right now? If you have a Yahoo e-mail account, think again. ThinkProgress has reviewed claims that Yahoo is censoring e-mails relating to the protest and found that after several attempts on multiple accounts, we too were prevented from sending messages about the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.
Over the weekend, thousands gathered for a “Tahrir Square”-style protest of Wall Street’s domination of American politics. The protesters, organized online and by organizations like Adbusters, have called their effort “Occupy Wall Street” and have set up the website: www.OccupyWallSt.org. However, several YouTube users posted videos of themselves trying to email a message inviting their friends to visit the Occupy Wall St campaign website, only to be blocked repeatedly by Yahoo. View a video of ThinkProgress making the attempt with the same blocked message experienced by others (click full screen for a better view of the text):