Privacy advocates pressed Barack Obama to end the bulk collection of Americans’ communications data at a series of meetings at the White House on Thursday, seizing their final chance to convince him of the need for meaningful reform of sweeping surveillance practices.
A key US senator left one meeting at the White House with the impression that President Obama has yet to decide on specific reforms. “The debate is clearly fluid,” senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a longtime critic of bulk surveillance, told the Guardian after the meeting. “My sense is the president, and the administration, is wrestling with these issues,” Wyden said.
Other groups were meeting presidential aides on Thursday afternoon, including the representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) and the Open Technology Institute. Expectations were mounting that Obama will propose changing the National Security Agency’s controversial database of all domestic phone call records.
“The White House must end the NSA bulk record collection activities,” said Alan Butler, a lawyer with Epic, voicing the bottom line of the civil liberties coalition.
Wyden, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said he viewed the coming days and weeks, ahead of an announcement by Obama about the future scope of surveillance, to be decisive for the debate triggered by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“What I’d say to Americans is that the future of these programs is being determined now,” Wyden said. “For those like me, who believe that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive, this is the time to weigh in.”
The sale of two intelligence satellites to the UAE by France for nearly a billion dollars could go south after they were found to contain American technology designed to intercept data transmitted to the ground station.
… but they’re forging ahead anyway. In their expansion mode they will also face growing competition from local providers, especially in China. The Week in Cloud. (“NSA gate” makes global expansion a sticky wicket for U.S.
You may or may not recall when the Economic Development Administration took a kill it with fire approach to two malware infections. It boiled down to 2 malware infections + destruction of $170,500 in hardware (mice, keyboards, printers, cameras, PCs) = $2.7 million taxpayer dollars. While that seemed beyond extreme at the time, it may no longer seem extreme at all thanks to Jacob Applebaum revealing the NSA's Advanced Network Technology (ANT) division catalog of exploits. In fact, according to documents obtained by Der Spiegel, the NSA developed custom BIOS exploits that hang around even after the operating system has been reinstalled.
The NSA's internal catalog of exploits also detail persistent backdoors in hardware, firmware and of course software . . . so much for all the Homeland Security warnings about tainted hardware coming from China to spy on us. Der Spiegel reported that the NSA intercepts computer equipment as it is being shipped and plants its spyware. "If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops," where those NSA agents install undetectable malware or compromised hardware. The power-mad snoops at the NSA and Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacks are spying on everyone and can exploit nearly every major software, hardware and firmware that exists.
Jacob Applebaum delivered a keynote speech at the 30th Chaos Computer Club conference in Germany. His talk, To Protect and Infect [pdf], explained numerous NSA-ANT-developed spying weapons. Although Microsoft Windows was not alone on the list - it also included Linux, FreeBSD and even Sun Solaris - since this Microsoft Subnet, then we'll look at some of the ways TAO spies can hack us via Windows.
Let's start with how the TAO exploit Windows crash error reports to conduct surveillance. Der Spiegel wrote:
The security outfit RSA, these days a division of EMC, has denied deliberately incorporating a known backdoor into some of its popular encryption libraries through a secret contract with the NSA.
A few months ago, Edward Snowden’s leaks showed that the NSA — previously seen as a trusted partner of many in the security industry — had worked to undermine security standards (the analogy I always use here is that it tried to make sure all digital locks were broken, rather than just building a better lockpick). In particular, the agency had promoted the use of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG, which now seems to have secretly contained a backdoor for the NSA, but which got the thumbs-up from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Few security companies actually went with Dual_EC_DRBG because it was slow, but RSA did in 2004, making it the default random number generator in its widely-used BSAFE encryption libraries. After the Snowden revelations, NIST suddenly advised against the generator’s use, and RSA followed suit.
Late last week, Reuters reported that the NSA had secretly paid RSA $10 million to use Dual_EC_DRBG as the BSAFE default. On Sunday, RSA hit back with a blog post in which it denied taking cash for using a known backdoor:
• XKeyscore gives 'widest-reaching' collection of online data • NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches • Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history (XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on...
The NSA responded today to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' letter asking if the agency spies on members of the U.S. Congress and other elected officials. Its response says the NSA treats Congress the same as regular citizens.
We've been hearing regularly from the NSA's biggest defenders -- including former NSA boss Michael Hayden, current head of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers and President Obama -- that despite all of the revelations about the NSA, there hasn't been any evidence of abuses. We've discussed over and over and over again why that's clearly untrue. Over at the Guardian, Trevor Timm has done an excellent job laying out in detail how President Obama and others are simply lying when they say there's been no evidence of abuses by the NSA. He details example after example of abuses that have come to light. Here's just one which shows not just abuses, but a pattern of regular abuse: For years, as new data came into the NSA's database containing virtually every phone call record in the United States, analysts would search over 17,000 phone numbers in it every day. It turns out only about 1,800 of those numbers – 11% – met the legal requirement that the NSA have "reasonable articulable suspicion" that the number was involved in terrorism. What were the other 89% of the numbers being searched for? We're not exactly sure. But we do know that five years after the metadata program was brought under a legal framework, the Fisa court concluded it had been "so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively". Part of the issue, of course, is that the NSA's defenders, including the President, seem to be trying to redefine the word "abuse" just as they've tried to redefine lots of other common English words concerning their surveillance efforts. Click headline to read more--
(Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency is trying to develop a computer that could ultimately break most encryption programs, whether they are used to protect other nations' spying programs or consumers' bank accounts, The Washington Post...
The U.S. government again claimed state-secrets privileges in a move to block two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans' phone communications and email, according to court filings late Friday.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a filing in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, that even though aspects of the government's surveillance programs have been disclosed, further litigation of the lawsuits would jeopardize secrets of operational details necessary for state security.
The government also declassified and made public a variety of material and documents related to the cases and to surveillance programs initiated by former U.S. President George Bush, including earlier assertions of state-secrets privileges.
For the first time, the government officially disclosed that "President Bush authorized NSA to collect: (1) the contents of certain international communications, a program that was later referred to as the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), and (2) telephony and Internet non-content information (referred to as metadata) in bulk, subject to various conditions."
President Bush issued authorizations approximately every 30-60 days, according to the declassified material on the Tumblr page of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The programs initiated by President Bush operated for several years under executive power before coming under judicial and congressional oversight. The NSA's surveillance included warrantless monitoring of email and phone calls. The two lawsuits in the Northern District of California District Court challenge the legality of a Congress-approved, modified version of that warrantless surveillance.
Many formerly secret operational details of the NSA's surveillance have come to light in the wake of disclosures made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the media.
Nevertheless, continued litigation of the California court cases could compromise national security, Clapper said in the Friday court filing.
"In my judgment, disclosure of still-classified details regarding these intelligence-gathering activities, either directly or indirectly, would seriously compromise, if not destroy, important and vital ongoing intelligence operations," Clapper wrote.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is leading one of the District Court cases, slammed the government filings.
"The governments attempt to block true judicial review of its mass, untargeted collection of content and metadata by pretending that the basic facts about how the spying affects the American people are still secret is both outrageous and disappointing," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn in a statement.
In the Northern District of California case led by the EFF, Carolyn Jewel is the plaintiff suing on behalf of AT&T customers. In the companion case, plaintiff Virginia Shubert is suing on behalf of all Americans.
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