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.
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):