Tag Archives | domestic spying

FBI Behind Mysterious Surveillance Flights Over US Cities

AP via Yahoo News reports on the FBI’s latest domestic spying technique:

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.

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Federal Court Rules NSA Violated Patriot Act By Collecting Phone Records

It really hasn’t been a great year or two for the NSA, has it? The once secret American spy agency is getting slammed from all sides with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit piling on and overruling a lower court that decided to look the other way on the NSA’s massive collection of private phone conversations. From the Washington Post:

A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone records violates the Patriot Act, the first appeals court to weigh in on a controversial surveillance program that has divided Congress and ignited a national debate over the proper scope of the government’s spy powers.

NSA-facebook-cover

Credit: EFF (CC)

 

In a blistering 97-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a lower court and determined that the government had stretched the meaning of the statute to enable “sweeping surveillance” of Americans’ data in “staggering” volumes.

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Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program

The Wall Street Journal reveals yet another sneaky US Government domestic spying surveillance program:

The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.

The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.

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Documents Reveal NSA Targets “Leaky” Apps Such As Angry Birds To Spy On Smartphone Users

Are virally popular, addictive phone games nothing more than a fiendish plot to get us to install spyware on our devices?The latest from the Snowden document trove via the Guardian:

The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet.

The data ranges from phone model to personal details such as age, gender, current location (through geolocation), education level, sexual orientation – one app recorded even specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

One mobile ad platform, Millennial Media, appeared to offer particularly rich information. Millennial Media’s has partnered with Rovio on a special edition of Angry Birds; with Farmville maker Zynga; with Call of Duty developer Activision, and many other major franchises.

games

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No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data

This review by Theodoric Meyer and Peter Maass at ProPublica by is a must read for any American who wants to know which of their digital breadcrumbs are being picked up by the police and other government agencies:

The government isn’t allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. But there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI to the Internal Revenue Service, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day. Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a simple subpoena that doesn’t require showing probable cause of a crime. And recent revelations about classified National Security Agency surveillance programs show that the government is regularly sweeping up data on Americans’ telephone calls and has the capability to access emails, files, online chats and other data — all under secret oversight by a special federal court.

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CIA Grabbing Data On Money Transfers Using Patriot Act

CIAOne senses that this is only the tip of the iceberg, but nonetheless the CIA’s bulk collection of international money transfer details is making headlines today; this report from CNN:

The CIA is collecting bulk records on international money transfers, using the same Patriot Act legal authority that has become the center of controversy in U.S. surveillance programs, a source told CNN.

A person familiar with the program said the agency’s efforts are an outgrowth of terror finance-tracking programs that were established in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and revealed that al Qaeda funded the hijackers using methods such as smuggled cash, money transfers, and credit and debit cards.

The Treasury Department and the National Security Agency have other programs that similarly focus on financial transaction data. The CIA program provides some redundancies intended to catch transactions that may not draw attention in other programs.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times first reported the existence of the CIA program Thursday night, saying it has sparked concerns from lawmakers.

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AT&T Sells Call Data To CIA For $10 Million Per Year

towerThis of course raises the question, are you the telecom’s customer, or their product? The New York Times reports:

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate. AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers.

The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers.

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I’m Tired of the U.S. Government Spying On Me. So I’m Running for President of France

Ted Rall, President of France

Ted Rall, President of France

Ted Rall, cartoonist, columnist & author of After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back as Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan explains why he wants to be President of France, via Medium:

The NSA’s tap on Angela Merkel’s phone is one too many

“Yes,” said O’Brien, “we can turn it off. We have that privilege.” — Orwell, 1984

“Spying between friends, that’s just not done.” —Angela Merkel

The government has spied on me since 9/11. And I’m tired of it.

So I’m running for President of France. (Hang on, mes amis. I’ll explain in a minute.)

It’s not the lack of privacy. As a New Yorker, I’m used to that. I’m sick of the loud clicks on my phone and the ridiculous extra voices (“Do you think he can hear me?”). The inordinate volume of dropped calls. Emails that vanish from my inbox and reappear, sometimes in the wrong folder days later — or never.

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Stop Watching Us Rally Against Mass Surveillance

On October 26, 2013 there will be a Rally Against Mass Surveillance in Washington, DC, organized by Stop Watching Us:

stop watching us

About the rally

Right now the NSA is spying on everyone’s personal communications, and they’re operating without any meaningful oversight. 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 signing of the US Patriot Act, we’re taking 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.

Who we are

StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. We came together in June 2013 to demand the U.S.

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NSA Officers Have Stalked And Spied On Their “Love Interests”

love interestsVia the Wall Street Journal, presenting your creepy ex who works for the NSA:

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said. One official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.

NSA said in a statement Friday that there have been “very rare” instances of willful violations of any kind in the past decade, and none have violated key surveillance laws.

The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse. In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination.

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