Secret spy spy court demands government transparency on surveillance programs

Over at, 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." Read the rest

Hardware hacker learns his E-ZPass is being read all over NYC, not just at toll booths

Over at Forbes, Kashmir Hill has an item about an electronics tinkerer who goes by the nom de net Puking Monkey. Stranger than his handle, his discovery: the RFID-enabled EZ Pass (automatic toll paying system) affixed to his car was being read all over New York City, as he drove around. Not just at toll booths. For what purpose? And, is this a violation of reasonable privacy expectations, in the most heavily surveilled city in the US? Read the rest

Amid NSA spying scandal, Yahoo releases transparency report on gov data requests

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. Read the rest

When Google and Microsoft "Stand Together" against US spying, you know stuff just got real

"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

Docs leaked by Snowden show NSA spied on Al Jazeera

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." Read the rest

Facebook says 74 governments, including USA, demanded data on 38K users

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. Read the rest

Science says government spying makes you boring

"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." Read the rest

How, technically, might the US have snooped on Lavabit?

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." Read the rest

New Snowden NSA revelations in Der Spiegel: 'How America Spies on Europe and the UN'

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. Read the rest

Obama asks Supreme Court to allow warrantless cellphone searches

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] Read the rest

UK intel officials enter Guardian offices, destroy hard drives with Snowden docs

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.

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NSA bribed UK spooks GBP100M for spying privileges

"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 Read the rest

Critics of NSA spying, including Glenn Greenwald, to testify before Congress

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. Read the rest

Feds tell major internet companies to hand over users' account passwords

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] Read the rest

NSA spying may be harming American tech companies’ bottom line

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.
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Closing arguments in Bradley Manning court-martial paint Wikileaks source as glory-seeking traitor

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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US lawmakers vote against legislation to curb NSA's spying program

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: Read the rest

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