An NSA agent reacts to the new rules governing information acquired through domestic surveillance.
At the New York Times, a story by Charlie Savage on new guidelines signed into law Thursday by US Attorney General Eric H. Holder for the National Counterterrorism Center, created in 2004 to "improve intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse."
The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.
This can only be good for democracy and freedom!
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Mr. “underwear bomber,” is the straw man to thank. Intelligence officials said the new rules relaxing data restrictions have been under way for a year and a half, and emerged from reviews launched after the failure to "connect the dots" before the tightie whitie terrorist tried to bomb a plane in 2009.
One specific point of concern for privacy advocates is that the new rules make no mention of how commercial data (credit card records, airline ticket logs) can be used. Again, from Savage's NYT piece:
In 2009, Wired Magazine obtained a list of databases acquired by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of the agencies that shares information with the center. It included nearly 200 million records transferred from private data brokers like ChoicePoint, 55,000 entries on customers of Wyndham hotels, and numerous other travel and commercial records.
Here's that Wired News report from 2009.
(photo: Shutterstock/Yuri Arcurs)
In 2013, Lavabit — famous for being the privacy-oriented email service chosen by Edward Snowden to make contact with journalists while he was contracting for the NSA — shut down under mysterious, abrupt circumstances, leaving 410,000 users wondering what had just happened to their email addresses.
China is engaged in a bizarre dystopian experiment to use social network ratings to punish political dissidence, “antisocial behavior” and noncomformity, using data pulled from many sources, including purchases on China’s major ecommerce networks like Alibaba; but you don’t have to be the Chinese government to spy on people with an extraordinary degree of creepy […]
An apartment-dweller in Tver, Russia installed a video camera on his or her front door, looking out into the stairwell, then uploaded a compendium of amusing and/or interesting moments to YouTube. The neighbors seem generally hostile to surveillance, though some of them are in no condition to notice it. Google Translate suggests the following caption: […]
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]