From Mr. Snowden’s friends and his own voluminous Web postings emerges a portrait of a talented young man who did not finish high school but bragged online that employers “fight over me.”...“Great minds do not need a university to make them any more credible: they get what they need and quietly blaze their trails into history,” he wrote online at age 20.
Inside Microsoft, some called it "Hoovering" - not after the vacuum cleaner, but after J. Edgar Hoover, the first FBI director, who gathered dirt on countless Americans. This frenetic, manual process was the forerunner to Prism, the recently revealed highly classified National Security Agency program that seizes records from Internet companies.
Related: In Vanity Fair, Eichenwald writes "I can't stand it any more," and details what he claims are "falsehoods" in coverage of the surveillance scandal, to date.
Watch then-Senator Joe Biden from 2006 directly refute each point made by his now-boss, President Barack Obama, about the NSA surveillance program at a news conference last week.
After a leaked FISA court document revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is vacuuming up private data on millions of innocent Americans by collecting all the phone records of Verizon customers, President Obama responded by saying "let's have a debate" about the scope of US surveillance powers.
At EFF, we couldn't agree more. It turns out, President Obama's most formative debate partner over the invasiveness of NSA domestic surveillance could his Vice President Joe Biden.
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"Infiltration. Sabotage. Mayhem. For years four-star general Keith Alexander has been building a secret Army capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it's ready to unleash hell."
In this month's Wired Magazine, James Bamford profiles Keith Alexander, the man who runs cyberwar efforts for the United States, "an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe."
The claims in Edward Snowden's leaks are the tip of one big, secret iceberg.
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A survey by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center, conducted after the NSA news broke, found that 56% believe that broad-based government tracking of telephone records is acceptable as a way to investigate terrorism. More Democrats than Republicans found it acceptable, a reversal of findings in a similar poll taken when George W. Bush was president and conducted warrantless wiretapping.
I started thinking about what those records and metadata could reveal. Because my phone is used mainly for calls to and from patients and clients, can the NSA figure out who my patients are? And could they, with just a query or bit of analysis, figure out when my patients were going into crisis or periods of symptom worsening? I suspect that they can. And because I am nationally and internationally known as an expert on a particular disorder, could the government also deduce the diagnosis or diagnoses of my patients or their family members? Probably."Dissent" hopes someone will "come up with some point-and-click instructions for doctors and lawyers to use to protect our calls and e-mails better so that the identity of those calling or e-mailing us has better protection." Tor and burner phones for shrinks!
Read more: The Verizon order, the NSA, and what call records might reveal about psychiatric patients [PHIprivacy.net]
"Dear NSA, let me take care of your slides," writes Emiland, in a redesigned version of the Prism leak. "Do whatever with my data. But not with my eyes. Those slides are hideous."
Related: What's in the missing slides? Hacker and journalist Kevin Poulsen at Wired News explores what's missing from Snowden's PowerPoint deck. There are 41 slides, but the Guardian and the Washington Post would only publish 5 of them.
In 1999, I wrote an article for the bOING bOING Digital site about the CONET Project, a multi-CD collection of mysterious "numbers stations" heard on shortwave. For decades, intelligence organizations have reportedly broadcast one-way messages to their agents in the field via shortwave, and the transmissions happen to sound weirder than any Stockhausen score or minimalist electronica you've ever heard -- a child's voice, or the obviously synthesized intonation on what's known as the "Lincolnshire Poacher" station, named for the folk song accompanying the numbers. Wilco's album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is named for, and samples, a numbers station. The CONET Project has been available for several years for free download from various places online, including Archive.org. Now, the original compilers, Irdial-Discs MMX, have re-released The Conet Project in a special CD edition that includes the four original discs plus a fifth CD containing recordings of very strange "noise stations."
"Spy vs. Spy: The Soundtrack" (bOING bOING Digital)
Federal agents grabbed him over the weekend just as he was boarding a flight from Dulles airport (in DC) to Beijing. He is charged with making false statements to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying on his one-way flight, and has since been jailed.
One of the investigative tools in question is something called a “cell tower dump,” which allows law enforcement to get information on all the phones in a given area at a given time.
In two cases, Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley rejected federal requests to allow the warrantless use of “stingrays” and “cell tower dumps,” two different tools that are used for cellphone tracking. The judge said the government should apply for warrants in the cases, but the attorneys had instead applied for lesser court orders.
Among the judge’s biggest concerns: that the agents and U.S. attorneys making the requests didn’t provide details on how the tools worked or would be used — and even seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation focused on his Gmail account, and that the traffic they observed "led agents to believe the woman or someone close to her had sought access to his email." The woman in question has now been identified as West Point graduate Paula Broadwell, author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."
While Mr. Petraeus was still a general, he had email exchanges with the woman, but there wasn't a physical relationship, the person said. The affair began after Mr. Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and ended months ago, the person said.
CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled on Tuesday that the government did not adequately respond to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Seeborg, in San Francisco, ordered (PDF) a "further review of the materials previously withheld" in the lawsuit, which seeks details about what the FBI has dubbed "Going Dark" -- the bureau's ongoing effort to force companies including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google to alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.
One almost-entirely-redacted document that the FBI turned over.
Read more: at CNET News.
Above, "The Bravo 300," a tactical drone manufactured in New Orleans by Crescent Unmanned Systems. Weeks after New Orleans local investigative paper The Lens began digging into city officials’ plans to use a U.S. Homeland Security Department aerial drone to monitor crowds at the upcoming Super Bowl, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the city is no longer pursuing those plans.
Spokesman Ryan Berni offered no reason for dropping the eye-in-the-sky technology, telling a reporter to submit a public-records request. In a brief phone interview, he would say only that the decision to ditch the drone was made “over the past several days.” In a follow-up email, Berni said Homeland Security would be providing a manned helicopter, equipped with a camera, and that “the City learned by phone in the last few weeks” about the switch.
Read more: City cancels plans for Super Bowl drone despite enthusiasm and interest from NOPD, others (TheLensNola.org).
Tampa, Florida web developer Jon Gales mapped the city's new network of downtown surveillence cameras installed for the Republican convention, to empower fellow citizens to become aware of the encroaching surveillance society. City authorities have not responded to his queries about what will happen to the cameras once the convention ends.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. military and border-patrol officials are teaming up on a new initiative to bring dozens of surveillance blimps from Afghanistan war zones to the Mexican border.
Over the next few weeks, the military will oversee a test in south Texas to determine if a 72-foot-long, unmanned surveillance blimp—sometimes called "the floating eye" when used to spot insurgents in Afghanistan—can help find drug runners and people trying to cross illegally into the U.S.
The project is part of a broader attempt by U.S. officials to establish a high-tech surveillance network along the border and find alternative uses for expensive military hardware that will be coming back from Afghanistan, along with the troops.
In other words, hardware recycling. Read more: Battlefield Blimps to Patrol U.S.-Mexico Borders (WSJ).
Image: REUTERS. A US military blimp carrying surveillance imaging equipment flies over eastern Afghanistan, September 2011. Devices like this are being tested along the US-Mexico border.