Despite the fact that online anonymity tool Tor was developed with US government funds, the NSA really does not like Tor.
Top-secret documents leaked to the Guardian by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal details of repeated attempts by the US and UK governments to crack Tor, the "onion router" that was originally funded in by the US government, and used widely by dissidents and activists around the world. Tor's core network security remains intact, but the NSA has had some success attacking users' computers, according to the report.
Who uses Tor? According to one of the slides in the leaked presentations, "Terrorists!" The NSA is fond of the generous use of exclamation points in these things.
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Former NSA Director Michael Hayden.
Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports that during a Washington Post cybersecurity summit today, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden made a joke about putting Edward Snowden on a kill list.
Snowden, who leaked secret NSA documents to news reporters, has been nominated for the "Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought," considered to be Europe's most prominent human rights award.
According to Sasso Hayden quipped, "I must admit, in my darker moments over the past several months, I'd also thought of nominating Mr. Snowden, but it was for a different list."
"I can help you with that," added his fellow panel member Rep. Mike "CISPA" Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and longtime NSA ally.
[The Hill's Hillicon Valley]
How do I love thee? Let the National Security Agency count the ways. On at least twelve occasions in the past ten years, NSA employees illegally listened in on phone calls of girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, spouses, and engaged in other "intentional" authority abuses, according to a letter just released from the agency's inspector general. Michael Isikoff at NBC News reports that the NSA also has two open investigations into alleged misuse of its eavesdropping authorities and is reviewing a third one for possible investigation.
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Four senators working on efforts to limit US government spying programs have announced a comprehensive package of surveillance reforms
"The draft bill represented the first sign that key Republican and Democratic figures in the Senate are beginning to coalesce around a raft of proposals to roll back the powers of the National Security Agency in the wake of top-secret disclosures made by whistleblower Edward Snowden." [theguardian.com]
A bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are leading the efforts. Read more at Wyden's website. — Xeni
The team behind Stop Watching Us says:
"Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the StopWatching.us petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA. On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer."
You can donate to the organizational costs here.
Organizers are in a reddit AMA right now.
*Not* Edward Snowden (probably). Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Episode 16 of Breaking Bad. Photo by Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who is currently a fugitive in Russia, "walks freely in the streets in disguise while in hiding," AFP reports his lawyer as saying, "but his security is under such threat that a visit from his family could lead American agents right to his door." So, he "walks freely around the streets” in low cover.
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Trevor Timm of EFF.org and FPF working with John on this op-ed, a few weeks ago. Photo: XJ.
Activist and filmmaker John Cusack, in the Guardian, asks if US attorney general Eric Holder will guarantee the first amendment rights of American journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who have reported on information from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and fear detainment or harassment if they return to the United States:
[W]e learned a few days later that the United States had been given a "heads up" by their British counterparts that they were planning on detaining Miranda. The US government did not lift a finger to stop this blatant attack on journalism and press freedom – even as it has been moving heaven and earth to bring Edward Snowden back to the US. That should be a scandal in its own right.
Now, the US owes its citizens and the international community another "heads up": on whether the United States will do the same to journalists working on NSA stories who are entering the United States. Put simply, will Attorney General Eric Holder, the US State Department, and the FBI promise safe passage to journalists, their spouses and loved ones, and vow not to interfere with their reporting on these NSA stories?
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In Spiegel today, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark report
on how the National Security Agency monitors banks and credit card transactions, sometimes in apparent violation of national laws and global regulations. Documents from the NSA leaked to the reporters by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden show that the European SWIFT financial transaction network is being spied on in various ways. [SPIEGEL ONLINE] — Xeni
Even the NSA's boss and a lead judge in the secret intel courts admit Edward Snowden's leaks were in the public interest
. “The unauthorized disclosure in June 2013 of a Section 215 order, and government statements in response to that disclosure, have engendered considerable public interest and debate about Section 215,” wrote FISC Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV in an opinion today. And yesterday, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “I think it’s clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen." [Secrecy News] — Xeni
Over at Wired.com, David Kravets writes about an order
by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge demanding that the US government begin to declassify its opinions related to the Patriot Act. The order "means the government likely will have to make public opinions surrounding the court’s legal interpretations of Section 215 of the Patriot Act," a controversial provision that allows FISC "to authorize broad warrants for most any type of 'tangible' records, including those held by banks, doctors and phone companies."
This Terri Gross interview with Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman
on WHYY's "Fresh Air," which is syndicated by NPR, is really terrific. I caught it while driving home yesterday, and had a genuine "driveway moment" -- I sat in my car a good 15 minutes after I parked to hear the whole thing. Gellman speaks about the process of reporting on Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA's spying programs. What he says is as interesting as what he can't. — Xeni
The Internet company Yahoo! has released a Transparency Report today
, detailing the requests it receives for user information from government agencies. Yahoo said today it received 12,444 requests for data from the U.S. government so far this year, covering the accounts of a total 40,322 users. Some good analysis at WaPo
. — Xeni
Security guru Bruce Schneier
has posted a typically pragmatic and passionate overview of why you can, and should, follow practices that improve your odds
of being able to communicate privately in the face of the NSA's vast surveillance programs.
"I understand that most of this is impossible for the typical internet user," he admits, and even Schneier doesn't use "all these tools for most everything I am working on."
The NSA may have converted the internet into one big surveillance platform, he says, "But they are not magical. They're limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible."
"Trust the math. Encryption is your friend. Use it well, and do your best to ensure that nothing can compromise it. That's how you can remain secure even in the face of the NSA."
The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have pressured news organizations connected to the Edward Snowden stories to STFU. That doesn't seem to be accomplishing
what the intelligence community and its overseers hoped. — Xeni