"To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart." Quite an understatement, but so begins a recent blog post by Microsoft's General Counsel and Legal/Corporate Affairs EVP Brad Smith
. Why are the two tech arch-enemies joining forces? "The Government’s continued unwillingness to permit us to publish sufficient data relating to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders."
Read the rest
Al Jazeera's newsroom in Doha, Qatar.
The US National Security Agency spied on Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, according to documents "seen by SPIEGEL," the German news agency today reports. "The US intelligence agency hacked into protected communication, a feat that was considered a particular success."
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In the first half of 2013, agents of 74 different governments including our own
demanded the personal data related to about 38,000 Facebook users. About half of these demands came from authorities in the United States. Facebook "is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers," reports AP
, "Microsoft and Google have done the same.
"Science, alone, can lay claim to a wealth of empirical evidence on the psychological effects of surveillance," writes Chris Chambers in the Guardian today
. "Studying that evidence leads to a clear conclusion and a warning: indiscriminate intelligence-gathering presents a grave risk to our mental health, productivity, social cohesion, and ultimately our future."
Ars Technica interviews Ladar Levison
, founder of the recently-shuttered secure-er email service. They focus on the logistics and architecture of fed snooping. Levison: "I don't know if I'm off my rocker, but 10 years ago, I think it would have been unheard of for the government to demand source code or to make a change to your source code or to demand your SSL key. What I've learned recently makes me think that's not as crazy an assumption as I thought."
Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark have an (English-language) article in Der Spiegel today on Codename 'Apalachee,'
the secret program revealed in leaked National Security Agency documents tasked with surveilling Europe, the United Nations, and various foreign nations. The argument put forth by the Obama administration is the NSA's formidably vast spying capabilities are aimed at preventing terrorist attacks, but this latest revelation would seem to indicate otherwise
If the police arrest you, can they poke around on your cellphone and capture the data it holds without a warrant? "Courts have been split on the question. Last week the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to resolve the issue and rule
that the Fourth Amendment allows warrantless cellphone searches." [WaPo]
Glenn Greenwald, left, with David Miranda, who was held for nine hours at Heathrow under schedule 7 of Britain's terror laws. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, explains that he is now forced to work on stories about the US National Security Administration from New York City, because UK intelligence officials went into the Guardian's headquarters and destroyed hard drives
that had copies of some of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden
Read the rest
"The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. 'GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight,' a GCHQ strategy briefing said." -The Guardian
Democratic congressman Alan Grayson is leading a bipartisan group of representatives concerned about "constant misleading information" from the intelligence community. They're holding a hearing Wednesday
, at which critics of the National Security Agency's spying programs will speak. One of them is Glenn Greenwald, who will participate remotely from Brazil. I'm sure the NSA will want to listen in on that line.
At CNET, Declan McCullagh reports that the U.S. government has demanded
that large Internet companies provide them with users' stored passwords. The move represents "an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed," he writes. "If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user." [CNET News]
There's been much speculation that Edward Snowden
's revelations about the NSA spying program PRISM have damaged U.S. tech companies' credibility among international clients who were the operation's primary targets. But Andrea Peterson at the Washington Post writes that
"it’s starting to look like the snooping is hitting U.S.-based cloud providers where it really hurts: Their pocketbooks."
Computer World UK reports a recent Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) survey found 10 percent of 207 officials at non-U.S. companies canceled contracts with U.S. providers after the leaks, and 56 percent of non-U.S. respondents are now hesitant to work with U.S.-based cloud operators. This is bad news for U.S. tech companies because cloud computing and storage is a huge, expanding market. Research firm Gartner forecasts the public cloud services market will grow 18.5 percent in 2013 to a total of $131 billion worldwide.
Inside a small courthouse on the Army base in Fort Meade, Maryland, Army prosecutors are presenting closing arguments in their case against Pfc. Bradley Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of government documents to Wikileaks.
According to Maj. Ashden Fein today, the 25-year-old former intel analyst betrayed his country’s trust and handed government secrets to Julian Assange in search of fame and glory, knowing that in doing so, the material would be made visible to Al Qaeda and its then-leader Osama bin Laden.
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In Washington, the House voted against legislation [PDF] that would have stopped the National Security Agency from gathering vast amounts of phone records. Here's a breakdown of which reps were for and against, so our US readers can see how their elected representative voted. The result handed the Obama administration "a hard-fought victory in the first congressional showdown over the N.S.A.'s surveillance activities since Edward J. Snowden’s security breaches last month," write Jonathan Weisman and Charlie Savage in the New York Times:
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Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who was first to publish the documents that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked about the US government's surveillance programs, gave an interview to the Argentinean daily La Nacion.
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Photo: Sarah Harrison of Wikileaks, next to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Photo by Polona Frelih, of Delo.si, who attended the closed-door meeting held by Snowden with human rights NGOs at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
Ellen Barry, New York Times Moscow correspondent, in her wrap-up of a dramatic day in the Edward Snowden story:
In a high-profile spectacle that had the hallmarks of a Kremlin-approved event, Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, broke his silence after three weeks of seclusion on Friday, telling a handpicked group of Russian public figures that he hoped to receive political asylum in Russia.
No press were permitted inside the meeting; no photographers, no recordings, no audio, no video.
But this audio of the meeting has surfaced, and there's a 30-second video snippet, too.
Read the rest
Randy Barnett at the WSJ: "The NSA's Surveillance Is Unconstitutional
." When you've lost WSJ contributors on issues thought to be of concern only to privacy-freak-lefties, guys: you've lost the battle.
Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay will withdraw their ambassadors from European countries involved in last week's grounding of the Bolivian president’s plane. The incident was sparked by false rumors that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board.
We've taken a number of actions in order to compel public explanations and apologies from the European nations that assaulted our brother Evo Morales," explained Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, who revealed some of the agenda debated during the 45th summit of Mercosur countries in Uruguay's capital, Montevideo.
RT News has more
"By wielding a potent legal threat, the U.S. government is often able to force Internet companies to aid its surveillance demands. The threat? Comply or we'll implant our own eavesdropping devices on your network." Declan McCullagh at CNET News
writes about the real-time "electronic surveillance" orders the NSA can serve to 'net service providers for investigations related to terrorism or national security.
Charlie Savage at the NY Times
writes about Friday's announcement by US Attorney General Eric Holder of "new guidelines that would significantly narrow the circumstances under which journalists’ records could be obtained." Here's a PDF of the new guidelines
Some of the same Latin American nations whose presidents are shocked and outraged over newly-revealed details of America's electronic surveillance programs are conducting versions of the same within their own borders. And in some cases, the US helped them create their domestic spying infrastructure. Tim Johnson at McClatchy reports
At least four Latin countries have requested, and received, U.S. help in setting up eavesdropping programs of their own, ostensibly designed to fight organized crime. But the programs are easily diverted to political ends, and with weak rule of law in parts of the region, wiretapping scandals erupt every few months.
And read this earlier Boing Boing feature on one such program in Venezuela
Charlie Savage at the New York Times covers proceedings in the court-martial of PFC Bradley Manning
at Ft. Meade, on the day the defense rested its case. The final witness for the defense was Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, who authored this widely-cited paper on WikiLeaks
. Benkler testified that the organization served a legitimate journalistic role when Manning leaked it some 700,000 or more secret government files.
Read the rest
The Stasi versus the NSA
: "How much space would the filing cabinets of the Stasi and the NSA consume if the NSA would print their 5 zettabytes?" [in German, via @ioerror
"Thomas Paine, the voice of the American Revolution, trumpeted that a patriot saves his country from his government. What you have done and are doing has awakened congressional oversight of the intelligence community from deep slumber; and, has already provoked the introduction of remedial legislation in Congress to curtail spying abuses under section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. You have forced onto the national agenda the question of whether the American people prefer the right to be left alone from government snooping." Read the full letter published by Edward Snowden's dad, addressed to his son
Representatives of the government of Ecuador in London claim to have discovered a hidden microphone inside its London embassy
where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living. The bug is being analyzed by forensics experts, and Ecuador intends to diclose more information on who controlled or planted it as they are available. It "was found inside the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban, at the time of a visit to the embassy by Patino to meet with Assange on June 16."
"China’s surveillance system is extremely wild, there are no rules governing it that are worth speaking of,” says
a Beijing lawyer named Xie Yanyi, who filed a public information request with the police to reveal how China’s own surveillance operations work. The New York Times reports that
"he filed the request as a private citizen, said there were three programs in particular he wanted to know more about: Golden Shield, Great Wall and Green Dam."
About this nifty "Onion Pi" HOWTO just published at Adafruit, Phil Torrone says, "Limor and I cooked up this project for folks. We are donating a portion of any sales for the pack we sell that helps do this to the EFF and Tor."
Browse anonymously anywhere you go with the Onion Pi Tor proxy. This is fun weekend project that uses a Raspberry Pi, a USB WiFi adapter and Ethernet cable to create a small, low-power and portable privacy Pi. Using it is easy-as-pie. First, plug the Ethernet cable into any Internet provider in your home, work, hotel or conference/event. Next, power up the Pi with the micro USB cable to your laptop or to the wall adapter. The Pi will boot up and create a new secure wireless access point called Onion Pi. Connecting to that access point will automatically route any web browsing from your computer through the anonymizing Tor network.
John Cusack, actor, filmmaker, and board member of journalism advocacy group Freedom of the Press Foundation, on the ethics of civil disobedience in whistleblowing. Read the rest
Parody, obviously. 'shoop: XJ
Facebook and Microsoft have reached a agreements with the U.S. government "to release limited information about the number of surveillance requests they receive," which Reuters' Joe Menn and Gerry Shih report is a partial victory
for the companies struggling with "fallout from recent disclosures about the NSA's secret program. "
Facebook and Microsoft released some information about the scope of secret orders with which each company has complied.
Google said Friday it is "negotiating with the government and that the sticking point was whether it could only publish a combined figure for all requests," adding that this would be "a step back for users," because it "already breaks out criminal requests and National Security Letters, another type of intelligence inquiry."