Tag Archives | National Security Agency

Forget PRISM: FAIRVIEW is the NSA’s project to “own the Internet”

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AS the world watches the Edward Snowden soap opera for the great reveal, meanwhile Thomas Drake drops some science on the real issue.

via The Daily Dot

According to Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency senior executive who blew the whistle on the agency’s reckless spending and spying in 2006, a previously unknown NSA surveillance program known as FAIRVIEW aims to “own the Internet.”

Last month, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a series of PowerPoint slides to the Washington Post and the Guardian revealing that the agency was engaged in a large-scale Internet surveillance program, dubbed PRISM, that collects Americans’ chats, emails, photos, and videos. One of the slides, only later released by the two papers, made reference to a group of additional “upstream” collection programs, including two named FAIRVIEW and BLARNEY, but gave no further details about their function.

Drake, who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act for his whistleblowing, explained the upstream programs to the Daily Dot.

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Tomorrow’s Surveillance: Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time

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Will the recent revisiting acknowledgement of our dwindled privacy make encryption products more user friendly? Is the hacker witch-hunt a symptom of a powerful group hedging it’s bets? Tech Crunch breaks it down.

Everyone is worried about the wrong things. Since Edward Snowden exposed the incipient NSA panopticon, the civil libertarians are worried that their Internet conversations and phone metadata are being tracked; the national-security conservatives claim to be worried that terrorists will start hiding their tracks; but both sides should really be worried about different things entirely.

Online surveillance is the one kind that can actually be stopped. One interesting thing we learned from Snowden: “Encryption works.” Right now almost all Internet traffic is completely unencrypted, or badly encrypted, or only encrypted until it reaches the first set of servers, or your host encrypts all data with the same key. But these are all, in theory, solvable problems.

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MI5 Feared GCHQ Went ‘Too Far’ Over Phone and Internet Monitoring

via The Guardian GCHQ

Amid leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, senior intelligence source reveals worries were voiced in 2008

Senior figures inside British intelligence have been alarmed by GCHQ‘s (Government Communications Headquarters) secret decision to tap into transatlantic cables in order to engage in the bulk interception of phone calls and internet traffic.

According to one source who has been directly involved in GCHQ operations, concerns were expressed when the project was being discussed internally in 2008: “We felt we were starting to overstep the mark with some of it. People from MI5 were complaining that they were going too far from a civil liberties perspective … We all had reservations about it, because we all thought: ‘If this was used against us, we wouldn’t stand a chance’.”

The Guardian revealed on Friday that GCHQ has placed more than 200 probes on transatlantic cables and is processing 600m “telephone events” a day as well as up to 39m gigabytes of internet traffic.

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Canada’s CSEC Runs Massive Domestic Spying Program

Canada has a massive domestic spying program of its own:

via Global Research k9508533

On the basis of secret government directives, Canada’s national security apparatus is conducting mass surveillance of Canadians parallel to, if not directly patterned after, the domestic spying operations of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the NSA’s Canadian counterpart and longstanding partner, has been scrutinizing the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications since at least 2005.

Moreover, the NSA routinely provides Canada’s security agencies with intelligence on Canadians and CSEC reciprocates by providing U.S. intelligence officials with information about people living in the U.S. This arrangement allows both agencies to circumvent legal bans on warrantless surveillance of their own citizenry’s communications.

It was “common” for NSA “to pass on information about Canadians,” Wayne Easter, Canada’s Solicitor-General in 2002-3, told the Toronto Star this week. As Solicitor-General, Easter was responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

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Spying Far Worse in South Africa than the US

Via Mail & Guardian tumblr_m4jhzjBIcq1roy6jeo1_500

Americans are shocked and ­outraged at ­revelations that their government is vacuuming up information about their phone conversations and internet browsing habits, but compared to South Africans, they have little to worry about.

According to ­exposés by the Guardian and Washington Post over the past week, the US government’s intelligence apparatus has “direct access” – or a close equivalent – to the systems of major internet service providers.

The National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters, stand accused of using that access in ways well beyond what is contemplated by the laws under which they operate.

As more details about the Prism programme have emerged, the seriousness of those concerns has been much disputed. But that has done little to stem the wave of outrage and political condemnation that has seriously shaken confidence in the entire administration of Barack Obama.

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U.S. Government: Reports About PRISM Contain “Numerous Inaccuracies”

via Tech Crunch8-cell

After the flurry of reports about the NSA’s alleged PRISM surveillance program earlier today, the U.S.’s Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper just released an official statement. According to Clapper, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer tocollection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.”

Clapper argues that Section 702 is meant to ” facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States.” It is not meant to be used to “intentionally” target any U.S. citizens (though the statement leaves a door open for an admittance of “unintentional” spying).

Given the outright denials of all the tech firms accused of participating in this program, including Google, Facebook and Apple, it remains unclear if the accusation that these companies knew about the program is one of the “inaccuracies.”

Here is the full statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

DNI Statement on Activities Authorized Under Section 702 of FISA

The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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Secret CIA Prisons And Counterterrorism Sites In Somalia

CIASomaliaThere has been news recently of CIA operated secret prisons in Somalia, as well as sites with counterterrorism training for Somali intelligence agencies. Have these secret sites been funded by US tax payers? Via AlterNet:

Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

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Was A Furby Threat to National Security?

FurbyA blast from the past. CNN reported back in 1999…

Can the cute, popular toy Furby be a threat to national security? The government thinks so, and has banned it from National Security Agency premises in Maryland.

Furby is embedded with a computer chip that allows it to record words. Because of that ability, NSA officials were worried “that people would take them home and they’d start talking classified,” one Capitol Hill source told The Washington Post.

In a warning to employees, the NSA said, “Personally owned photographic, video and audio recording equipment are prohibited items. This includes toys, such as ‘Furbys,’ with built-in recorders that repeat the audio with synthesized sound to mimic the original signal.”

“We are prohibited from introducing these items into NSA spaces. Those who have should contact their Staff Security Office for guidance,” a memo said.

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Every Six Hours, The NSA Gathers As Much Data As The Library of Congress Has

NSADan Nosowitz writes on Popular Science:

The National Security Agency is, by nature, an extreme example of the e-hoarder. And as the governmental organization responsible for things like, say, gathering intelligence on such Persons of Interest as Osama bin Laden, that impulse makes sense–though once you hear the specifics, it still seems pretty incredible. In a story about the bin Laden mission, the NSA very casually dropped a number: Every six hours, the agency collects as much data as is stored in the entire Library of Congress.

That data includes transcripts of phone calls and in-house discussions, video and audio surveillance, and a massive amount of photography. “The volume of data they’re pulling in is huge,” said John V. Parachini, director of the Intelligence Policy Center at RAND. “One criticism we might make of our [intelligence] community is that we’re collection-obsessed — we pull in everything — and we don’t spend enough time or money to try and understand what do we have and how can we act upon it.”

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