On Monday, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and the International League for Human Rights (ILMR), have filed a criminal complaint with the Federal Prosecutor General’s office. The complaint is directed against the German federal government, the presidents of the German secret services, namely Bundesnachrichtendienst, Militärischer Abschirmdienst, Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz, and others. We accuse US, British and German secret agents, their supervisors, the German Minister of the Interior as well as the German Chancelor of illegal and prohibited covert intelligence activities, of aiding and abetting of those activities, of violation of the right to privacy and obstruction of justice in office by bearing and cooperating with the electronic surveillance of German citizens by NSA and GCHQ.
After months of press releases about mass surveillance by secret services and offensive attacks on information technology systems, we now have certainty that German and other countries’ secret services have violated the German criminal law. With this criminal complaint, we hope to finally initiate investigations by the Federal Prosecutor General against the German government. The CCC has learned with certainty that the leaders of the secret services and the federal government have aided and abetted the commission of these crimes.
A slide from an internal NSA presentation indicating that the agency uses at least one Google cookie as a way to identify targets for exploitation. (Washington Post)
The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.
The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.
James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has acknowledged that the court found the NSA in breach of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but the Obama administration has fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit that seeks the opinion.
Generally, the NSA reveals nothing in public about its errors and infractions. The unclassified versions of the administration’s semiannual reports to Congress feature blacked-out pages under the headline “Statistical Data Relating to Compliance Incidents.”
For those of you not familiar with Wall Street lingo, people in the financial industry refer to an outsized move in the markets resulting from a human error as a “fat finger,” ie someone pressed the wrong key when placing an order. Unfortunately for us all, it appears the NSA has a surveillance fat finger. Who would’ve guessed it!
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.
“In accepting the award I don’t condone the NSA’s surveillance. Simply put, I don’t think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form.” - Dr. Joseph Bonneau
In case you weren’t aware, Dr. Joseph Bonneau, a google engineer, received an award for the Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper of 2012 from the National Security Agency’s first annual “Science of Security Competition” on July 19th. He experienced such mixed emotions upon its receipt that he felt the need to express them publicly in a blog post. We should all be thankful he had the courage to do so.
Do you intrinsically possess individual privacy rights, based upon natural law authority, or are your civil liberties arbitrarily defined by the current whims of government?
How you answer, this question speaks loudly about your understanding of the nature of your very being. Those who deem that natural law is a myth or a superstition are poised for voluntary surrender of their vital identity. The cataloging of individual essence is aberrant.
Your deoxyribonucleic acid is the core element of personal uniqueness and human dignity. If your DNA is subject to government collection and storage, the right of personal privacy is destroyed.
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.
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 »
Here’s a surprise ruling. For many years we’ve written about how troubling it is that Homeland Security agents are able to search the contents of electronic devices, such as computers and phones at the border, without any reason. The 4th Amendment only allows reasonable searches, usually with a warrant. But the general argument has long been that, when you’re at the border, you’re not in the country and the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply. This rule has been stretched at times, including the ability to take your computer and devices into the country and search it there, while still considering it a “border search,” for which the lower standards apply. Just about a month ago, we noted that Homeland Security saw no reason to change this policy.
MPs’ report outlines spooks’ take on the draft Communications Data Bill
It shows they are keen to implement nationwide surveillance regime
They want ISPs to install ‘black boxes’ that can inspect all internet traffic
Spies claim they are only interested in ‘communications data’
Campaigners warn it will give spies unprecedented surveillance powers
UK spy agencies want to install ‘black box’ surveillance devices across the country’s communications networks to monitor internet use, it emerged today.
A report by an influential committee of MPs tells how spooks are keen to implement a nationwide surveillance regime aimed at logging nearly everything Britons do and say online.
The spy network will rely on a technology known as Deep Packet Inspection to log data from communications ranging from online services like Facebook and Twitter, Skype calls with family members and visits to pornographic websites.
This simple piece of legislation proves that you can make a difference at the local level. We need a lot more of this type of thing all over these United States. As I have said many times, it’s not that I am against drones in all capacities; however, we must be vigilant about how these things are used and must have serious safeguards in place to protect civil liberties. Kudos to the Rutherford Institute for leading the charge here.
From US News:
Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.
An intelligence bill has put the frighteners on EU citizens as it allows the US access to their personal data stored in internet clouds like those used on Facebook and Google. The law is a ‘grave risk’ to the rights of EU citizens, says an EU report.
The amendments to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Monday.
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.”
A story about Facebook went around twitter last night that provoked quite a reaction in privacy advocates like me: Facebook, it seems, is experimenting with getting people to ‘snitch’ on any of their friends who don’t use their real names. Take a look at this:
Birthmarks, be damned: the FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country, New Scientist reports in an article this week. The FBI first outlined the project back in 2005, explaining to the Justice Department in an August 2006 document (.pdf) that their new system will eventually serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America .
“The NGI Program is a compilation of initiatives that will either improve or expand existing biometric identification services,” its administrator explained to the Department of Justice at the time, adding that the project, “will accommodate increased information processing and sharing demands in support of anti-terrorism.”
“The NGI Program Office mission is to reduce terrorist and criminal activities by improving and expanding biometric identification and criminal history information services through research, evaluation and implementation of advanced technology within the IAFIS environment.”
The agency insists, “As a result of the NGI initiatives, the FBI will be able to provide services to enhance interoperability between stakeholders at all levels of government, including local, state, federal, and international partners.” In doing as such, though, the government is now going ahead with linking a database of images and personally identifiable information of anyone in their records with departments around the world thanks to technology that makes fingerprint tracking seem like kids’ stuff.
The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, appears to have swung her support behind a controversial plan to capture the online data of all Australians, despite only six weeks ago saying ”the case had yet to be made” for the policy.
The data retention plan – which would force all Australian telcos and internet service providers to store the online data of all Australians for up to two years – is the most controversial element of a package of more than 40 proposed changes to national security legislation.
If passed, the proposals would be the most significant expansion of national security powers since the Howard-era reforms of the early 2000s.
In a speech to be delivered at the Security in Government conference in Canberra today, Ms Roxon will say that law enforcement agencies need the data retention policy in order to be able to effectively target criminals.
A pilot flies over Lancaster in a Cessna equipped with a surveillance system. The city appears to be the first to have a camera sending video continuously to the ground, to be used as an integral part of daily policing. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times / August 24, 2012)
Police continuously track activity on the city’s streets with aerial video. Officials say guarding privacy is a priority.
The residents of Lancaster probably didn’t notice it, but a small Cessna aircraft on Friday flew high above the desert city, capturing hours of video and ushering in a new era in law enforcement surveillance.
The plane, equipped with sophisticated video equipment, is set fly a loop above the city for up to 10 hours a day, beaming a live video feed of what’s going on below to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department dispatch center.
The camera will inevitably pick up scenes of mundane day-to-day life. But officials said they plan to use the video only to track reports of crimes in progress, traffic collisions and other emergency situations.
The federal government may spy on Americans’ communications without warrants and without fear of being sued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision reversing the first and only case that successfully challenged President George W. Bush’s once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program.
“This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization,” a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. (.pdf)
A lawsuit has been filed by a consumer-privacy organization demanding answers from the federal government about a program by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, an executive branch office under the control of the Obama White House, to collect database information about Americans from the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which for nearly 20 years has focused its attention on the civil liberties, privacy, First Amendment and constitutional issues related to electronic data, under Washington’s revised guidelines, “The ODNI plans to obtain and integrate databases containing detailed personal information from across the federal government.
“The data will be kept for up to five years without the legal safeguards typically in place for personal data held by government agencies,” the organization explained.
The complaint was filed under the Freedom of Information Act after the Obama administration didn’t respond to questions from the group about how it plans to collect personal data “from across the federal government” and how the privacy of Americans will be protected.
The Internet should be adapted to allow for oversight by the National Security Agency, the organization’s boss says.
The U.S. Internet’s infrastructure needs to be redesigned to allow the NSA to know instantly when overseas hackers might be attacking public or private infrastructure and computer networks, the agency’s leader, General Keith Alexander, said today.
Alexander spoke at the annual Def Con computer hacking conference in Las Vegas. It was a symbolic appearance that he said was motivated by a need to interest the hacker community in helping to make the Internet more secure.
Alexander, who is also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, described the Internet as “at great risk from exploitation, disruption, and destruction.”
In recent years, many Internet users have become familiar with the idea that websites can be knocked offline by denial of service attacks, such as those employed by online activist groups such as Anonymous. “My concern is that it’s going to flow into destructive attacks that could have consequences for our critical national infrastructure and the Internet itself,” said Alexander.
Court says sending texts using a seized iPhone doesn’t violate privacy rights.
In November 2009, police officers in the state of Washington seized an iPhone belonging to suspected drug dealer Daniel Lee. While the phone was in police custody, a man named Shawn Hinton sent a text message to the device, reading, “Hey whats up dogg can you call me i need to talk to you.” Suspecting that Hinton was looking to buy drugs from Lee, Detective Kevin Sawyer replied to the message, posing as Lee. With a series of text messages, he arranged to meet Hinton in the parking lot of a local grocery store—where Hinton was arrested and charged with attempted possession of heroin.
OSAKA – Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who recently clashed with city employees and human rights lawyers over his “tattoo inquisition,” has disturbed commentators again this week with his comments about human rights and personal privacy.
At a meeting attended by 22 newly appointed ward mayors in Osaka on Monday, Hashimoto reportedly told attendees, “I want you to consider your lifestyle and behavior differently now than before you became a public servant,” TV Asahi reported.
“I want each of you to see yourself as a person who now has no personal privacy and no fundamental human rights. I won’t investigate what you did before you became a public servant; the battle begins once you take on the position,” he told the successful applicants, TV Asahi reported.
The young computer scientist suspected that online advertisers might be following consumers around the web — even when they set their browsers to block the snippets of tracking code called cookies. If Mayer’s instinct was right, advertisers were eying people as they moved from one website to another even though their browsers were configured to prevent this sort of digital shadowing. Working long hours at his office, Mayer ran a series of clever tests in which he purchased ads that acted as sniffers for the sort of unauthorized cookies he was looking for. He hit the jackpot, unearthing one of the biggest privacy scandals of the past year: Google was secretly planting cookies on a vast number of iPhone browsers. Mayer thinks millions of iPhones were targeted by Google.
The feds are often the last to know about digital invasions of your privacy.
The EPA is now using the same drones the military uses to track and assassinate people overseas to spy on the livestock activities of farmers throughout the Section 7 area of the midwest United States which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.
Even without CISPA on the books, the federal government can still use antiquated legislation to leer into the personal communications of Americans. One judge, in fact, says that thousands are approved each year.
It’s been more than a quarter of a century since the US Congress authorized the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, but the incredibly outdated legislation is still used each and every day to let federal agents find out personal and private information by combing through emails, texts and any other form of online correspondence. Kade Crockford is a privacy rights coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union and is fighting to make sure that ECPA is laid to rest. Continue reading »
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have” - Thomas Jefferson
Something odd and not quite as planned happened as America grew from its “City on a Hill” origins, on its way to becoming the world’s superpower: government grew. A lot. In fact, the government, which by definition does not create any wealth but merely reallocates it based on the whims of a select few, has transformed from a virtually invisible bystander in the economy, to the largest single employer, and a spending behemoth whose annual cash needs alone are nearly $4 trillion a year, and where tax revenues no longer cover even half the outflows. One can debate why this happened until one is blue in the face: the allures of encroaching central planning, the law of large numbers, and the corollary of corruption, inefficiency and greed, cheap credit, the transition to a welfare nanny state as America’s population grew older, sicker and lazier, you name it. The reality is that the reasons for government’s growth do not matter as much as realizing where we are, and deciding what has to be done: will America’s central planners be afforded ever more power to decide the fates of not only America’s population, but that of the world, or will the people reclaim the ideals that the founders of this once great country had when they set off on an experiment, which is now failing with every passing year?
As the following video created by New America Now, using content by Brandon Smith whose work has been featured extensively on the pages of Zero Hedge, notes, “we tend to view government as an inevitability of life, but the fact is government is not a force of nature. It is an imperfect creation of man and it can be dismantled by man just as easily as it can be established.” Unfortunately, the realization that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute central planning leads to epic catastrophes without fail, seems a long way away: most seem content with their lot in life, with lies that their welfare money is safe, even as the future is plundered with greater fury and aggression every passing year, until one day the ability to transfer wealth (benefiting primarily the uber rich, to the detriment of the middle class which is pillaged on an hourly basis), from the future to the present is gone, manifesting in either a failed bond auction or hyperinflation. The timing or shape of the transition itself is irrelevant, what is certain is that America is now on collision course with certain collapse unless something changes. And one of the things that has to change for hope in the great American dream to be restored, is the role, composition and motivations of government, all of which have mutated to far beyond what anyone envisioned back in 1776. Because America is now saddled with a Government Out Of Control.
Watch the two clips below to understand just how and why we have gotten to where we are. Also watch it to, as rhetorically asked by the narrator, prompt us to question whether the government we now have is still useful to us and what kind of powers it should be allowed to wield.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
If there ever existed individuals and groups that threatened the status quo it’s now, and they can often be found congregating at alternative news web sites, forums and preparedness oriented online communities. Government officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have done everything in their power to marginalize their dangerous ideas and activities going so far as to even issue security bulletins to private businesses like banks, surplus stores, coffee shops and other retailers outlining what employees should look for and when to say something to law enforcement officials. Activities like putting a Ron Paul bumper sticker on your car, paying cash, buying gold, stocking up on food, promoting “anti-U.S.” and “radical theologies,” and demanding personal privacy are all now considered to be suspicious in the eyes of a government hell bent on destroying the Constitution.
While DHS has requisitioned the help of brick and mortar businesses in their efforts to identify persons-of-interest, they have realized that the best place to locate domestic threats to national security is the internet. As such, they have deployed a host of tools to not only monitor what is being posted online, but who is posting it, who their friends are, which sites they visit and what information they ‘like’ in particular.
A recent report from well known survival author James Rawles suggests that Preparedness oriented web sites are a prime target of government snooping and sniffing. A web site like Rawles’ Survival Blog, or even our very own SHTFplan, undoubtedly meets all of the criteria outlined in the multitude of security bulletins issued by DHS and FBI, thus it would only make sense that these types of communities would be primary destinations for government monitoring. In the case of Survival Blog, Rawles reports that a recent analysis of his logs by web forensic experts yielded some startling results:
It has come to my attention that from August of 2011 to November of 2011, the FBI secretly redirected the web traffic of more than 10% of SurvivalBlog’s US visitors through CJIS, their sprawling data center situated on 900 acres, 10 miles from Clarksburg, West Virginia. There, the Feebees surreptitiously collected the IP addresses of my site visitors. In all, 4,906 of 35,494 selected connections ended up going to or through the FBI servers. (Note that this happened several months beforewe moved our primary server to Sweden.) Furthermore, we discovered that the FBI attached a long-lived cookie that allowed them to track the sites that readers subsequently visited. I suspect that the FBI has done the same to hundreds of other web sites. I find this situation totally abhorrent, and contrary to the letter of 4th Amendment as well as the intent of our Founding Fathers.
I recognize that I am making this announcement at the risk of losing some readers.So be it. But I felt compelled to tell my readers immediately, because it was the honorable and forthright course of action.
The Food and Drug Administration secretly monitored the personal e-mail of a group of its own scientists and doctors after they warned Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that they believed posed unacceptable risks to patients, government documents show.
The surveillance — detailed in e-mails and memos unearthed by six of the scientists and doctors, who filed a lawsuit against the FDA in U.S. District Court in Washington last week — took place over two years as the plaintiffs accessed their personal Gmail accounts from government computers.
Information garnered this way eventually contributed to the harassment or dismissal of all six of the FDA employees, the suit alleges. All had worked in an office responsible for reviewing devices for cancer screening and other purposes.
Copies of the e-mails show that, starting in January 2009, the FDA intercepted communications with congressional staffers and draft versions of whistleblower complaints complete with editing notes in the margins. The agency also took electronic snapshots of the computer desktops of the FDA employees and reviewed documents they saved on the hard drives of their government computers.