US to Angela Merkel: no, you can't see your NSA file but we promise we aren't spying on you anymore


Photo: Reuters

The US is refusing to allow German chancellor Angela Merkel to see her NSA file, or obtain any answers to questions from Germany about US surveillance activities involving the European leader's communications. She is due to visit Washington and meet Barack Obama in three weeks. It will be her first visit to the American capital since documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed the NSA had been spying on her phone. theguardian.com.

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras enter the US for first time since Snowden leaks

A first since they began reporting on the material leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, landing in the United States. There have been concerns that the US might detain them if they entered the country.

(Disclosure: I'm on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation with all three)

Edward Snowden interviewed at TED

Here's Edward Snowden controlling a telepresence robot on the stage of TED, being interviewed by Chris Anderson. Watch the full video, recorded today at TED 2104.

NSA and GHCQ targeted WikiLeaks and supporters with surveillance, international pressure, LOLcats


A slide from the NSA document on psychology tactics to be used against Wikileaks and supporters suggests the extent to which LOLcats have entered the zeitgeist: they're even used by America's top spies. Also note that on this slide, the word "psychology" is misspelled.

The Intercept today published documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden which show that the NSA and Britain's GCHQ targeted WikiLeaks with an array of surveillance tactics and spied on supporters.

From the report by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher:

The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.

ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, responding to the report:

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London Heathrow customs agent interrogates Edward Snowden's attorney Jesselyn Radack

Jesselyn Radack, an attorney who represents NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was detained and interrogated while transiting customs at Heathrow airport in London. Kevin Gosztola reports:

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Navy cyberwar expert is Obama's choice for new NSA director

"In nominating Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers as the new director of the National Security Agency on Thursday, President Obama chose a recognized expert in the new art of designing cyberweapons, but someone with no public track record in addressing the kinds of privacy concerns that have put the agency under a harsh spotlight." Read the full New York Times article here.

Angry hackers target Angry Birds website after news of NSA spying hijinks


A screengrab of the defaced website.

"Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment Ltd. says the popular game's website was defaced by hackers Wednesday, two days after reports that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by U.S. and British spy agencies." NSA documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden indicated the NSA and Britain's GCHQ spy agency have the ability to get mobile users' data through various apps, including Google Maps and the Angry Birds games. [AP]

Related: Veracode audited exactly what personal data the Angry Birds app gathers about you.

Edward Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize


Edward Snowden. Photo: Barton Gellman for Washington Post.

Two politicians in Norway nominated NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for a Nobel Peace Prize. Brian Fung for the Washington Post:

In their nomination letter, Baard Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen, who hail from the Socialist Left party, said Snowden's revelations "contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order." Nominations — which are generally secret but sometimes announced by those submitting the paperwork — must be filed by Feb. 1. Snowden likely has dozens of competitors, so there's no guarantee he'll get anywhere. Still, it'd be ironic if Snowden and Obama each wound up winning the same honor just a handful of years apart.

US intel chief James Clapper: journalists reporting on leaked Snowden NSA docs “accomplices” to crime


U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In a Senate Judiciary Hearing on NSA surveillance today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insinuated dozens of journalists reporting on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were “accomplices” to a crime. His spokesman further suggested Clapper was referring to journalists after the hearing had concluded.

If this is the official stance of the US government, it is downright chilling.

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NSA and GHCQ are spying on your mobile apps, grabbing your data


NSA slide from May 2010 meeting, via New York Times.

From a New York Times report today, based on the contents of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden:

The N.S.A. and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters were working together on how to collect and store data from dozens of smartphone apps by 2007, according to the documents, provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. Since then, the agencies have traded recipes for grabbing location and planning data when a target uses Google Maps, and for vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.

"Spy Agencies Scour Phone Apps for Personal Data" [nytimes.com]

Snowden responds to US politicians' spy claims: 'Spies get treated better than that'

Speaking with the New Yorker via encrypted email, Edward Snowden denies allegations made by members of Congress that his leaks of NSA documents were to aid a foreign power.

“This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd,” said Snowden. “Spies get treated better than that” by the likes of Russia and China, which US politicians have implied Snowden is snooping for.

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Highlights of Daniel Ellsberg’s Reddit AMA on Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance


Daniel Ellsberg. Photo: Xeni Jardin.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower (and our co-founder) Daniel Ellsberg held an expansive, seven-hour long Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session yesterday to explain why NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will join our board of directors. He also discussed many other subjects—including NSA surveillance, President Obama’s flip-flop on whistleblowers, Nixon’s dirty tricks, and the dangers of excessive government secrecy.

Below are some of our favorite questions and answers. But make sure to read the last remarkable exchange, in which Mr. Ellsberg finds out—for the first time—that the Nixon administration had surveillance of him from before the Pentagon Papers were leaked.

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Reddit AMA: "I am Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg. Edward Snowden is my hero."

Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg is doing a Reddit AMA right now. The topic sparked from news that Edward Snowden is joining the board of Freedom of the Press Foundation (I'm also a member).

If Snowden returned to US for trial, could court admit any NSA leak evidence?


Image: Reuters

There seems to be a new talking point from government officials since a federal judge ruled NSA surveillance is likely unconstitutional last week: if Edward Snowden thinks he's a whistleblower, he should come back and stand trial.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on 60 Minutes Sunday, “We believe he should come back, he should be sent back, and he should have his day in court.” Former CIA deputy director Mike Morell made similar statements this weekend, as did Rep. Mike Rogers (while also making outright false claims about Snowden at the same time). Even NSA reform advocate Sen. Mark Udall said, "He ought to stand on his own two feet. He ought to make his case. Come home, make the case that somehow there was a higher purpose here.”

These statements belie a fundamental misunderstanding about how Espionage Act prosecutions work.

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In final 2013 press conference, Obama promises NSA spying changes, says Snowden "under indictment"


President Barack Obama holds his year-end news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In the last press conference of the year, President Obama today indicated he may order changes to the National Security Agency’s programs that gather and store the phone communications records of millions of Americans, and instead "require phone companies to hold the data." He promised a “pretty definitive statement” on NSA reforms in January, after he returns from an annual holiday vacation in Hawaii -- coincidentally, where it all started with Edward Snowden about a year ago.

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