Tag Archives | Privacy

Edward Snowden’s E-mail Provider Forced to Shut Down

BigBrotherObamThe secure E-mail provider Lavabit, whose users are said to include Edward Snowden, shut down on Wednesday for reasons that are verboten. An ominous message on the company’s homepage vows to fight for the Constitution:

My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.… Read the rest

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DEA Secretly Using NSA Eavesdropping Data For Drug Prosecutions

DEA

The phone, internet, and email data gathered by the NSA isn’t kept for terrorism investigations, but rather is secretly shared with law enforcement across the country for use in drug prosecutions and more. Prosecutors then pretend they acquired the information through other means. Reuters reveals:

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated.

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

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NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails

troll-the-nsaJustin Elliott writes at ProPublica:

The NSA is a “supercomputing powerhouse” with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.

But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees’ email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology.

“There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,” NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

The system is “a little antiquated and archaic,” she added.

I filed a request last week for emails between NSA employees and employees of the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period. The TV station had aired a friendly documentary on the NSA and I want to better understand the agency’s public-relations efforts.

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Vast Majority Of CCTV Cameras Are Privately Owned

cctv cameraBig Brother may be private and unregulated, Russia Today reports, regarding the United Kingdom:

There are 70 times more privately owned surveillance cameras in the UK than government ones, a new study has revealed. The research found that Britain has a total of 5.9 million cameras and called for better regulation of privately owned devices.

Some 70,000 cameras run by the British police and authorities make “perhaps only 1.2 to 1.7 per cent” of the overall number of CCTV cameras in the UK, the study reads. The research was conducted for the British Security Industry Association.

The study’s conclusions challenge the UK’s popular image as a “Big Brother” state, claiming that such notions are “misplaced.” Instead, its authors believe the lack of regulation governing privately run cameras is a bigger concern for Britain, and have called for establishing rules to enforce “better standards.”

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Nordstrom Tracks Shoppers In Stores Via Their Smartphones

NordstromOh, and it’s not just Nordstrom. Go shopping with a wifi-enabled phone at your peril, reports the New York Times:

Like dozens of other brick-and-mortar retailers, Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers — how many came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors — the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades. So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers’ movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their smartphones.

But when Nordstrom posted a sign telling customers it was tracking them, shoppers were unnerved.

“We did hear some complaints,” said Tara Darrow, a spokeswoman for the store. Nordstrom ended the experiment in May, she said, in part because of the comments.

Nordstrom’s experiment is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers’ behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it.

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Why the U.S. Government has such a hard-on for Edward Snowden

via chycho
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It’s not the act of revealing secrets that has gotten Edward Snowden in trouble, after all, members of the Bush Administration did exactly that in the Plame affair as did members of the Obama Administration by leaking the drone memo. Leaking classified documents doesn’t always lead to prosecution, on the contrary, sometimes it leads to advancement of personal agendas:

“Does the rule of law demand that leaks of highly classified information be prosecuted? If so, John Brennan and many other current and former national-security officials had better be given orange jumpsuits. They weren’t even leaking to alert Americans to behavior that they found immoral. Often times, the U.S. national security establishment leaks to exploit a political advantage.”

The reason that the United States government is so adamant about getting their hands on Snowden is because, as Chris Hedges pointed out in “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” while discussing popular uprisings when referencing Victor Sebestyen’s book “Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire” in which he was chronicling the events leading up to the collapse of East Germany, the dissolution of the Stasi, and the fall of the Berlin Wall:

“This was the turning point, when the people knew that the regime lacked the will or the strength to maintain power.”

The U.S.… Read the rest

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Is Jay-Z Working for the NSA?

magna cartaWe all know that the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) is monitoring social network and other communications activity, so New York Times music critic Jon Pareles takes issue with Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung to make his new album “Magna Carta … Holy Grail” available only if you share all sorts of personal information:

In “Jay’s Back ASAP,” a song on a 2010 mixtape called “Creative Control,” Jay-Z was indignant about phone surveillance and bribing witnesses: “They tap, them feds don’t play fair/They pay rats to say that they’re part of your operation,” he rapped. But to market his new album, “Magna Carta … Holy Grail,” he didn’t exactly stand on principle.

Samsung bought a million downloads of the album, for $5 each, to be given away on July 4 — five days before the album’s official release — through a mobile application, JAY Z Magna Carta, on certain Samsung models.

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U.S. Postal Service Scans and Logs All Mail

UspslogoAnother shocker in the annals of state security versus United States citizens’ right to privacy, from the New York Times:

Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: A handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.

“It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr.

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Using Anonymity Service Or Encrypted Email Makes NSA Likely To Store Your Data

encrypted emailAttempts to protect your privacy are red flags to the NSA, Ars Technica reports:

Using online anonymity services such as Tor or sending encrypted e-mail and instant messages are grounds for US-based communications to be retained by the National Security Agency even when they’re collected inadvertently, according to a secret government document published Thursday, titled Minimization Procedures Used by the National Security Agency in Connection with Acquisitions of Foreign Intelligence.

While the documents make clear that data collection and interception must cease immediately once it’s determined a target is within the US, they still provide analysts with a fair amount of leeway. For instance, a person whose physical location is unknown—which more often than not is the case when someone uses anonymity software from the Tor Project—”will not be treated as a United States person, unless such person can be positively identified as such.”

And in the event that an intercepted communication is later deemed to be from a US person, the requirement to promptly destroy the material may be suspended in a variety of circumstances.

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Former Facebook Security Chief Left To Join NSA in 2010

facebook security chiefOn the symbiotic relationship increasingly being revealed between government intelligence agencies and internet corporations, Facecrooks writes:

In another twist in what was already a complicated story about Facebook’s involvement in the National Security Agency’s PRISM wiretapping technology, the New York Times revealed that Max Kelly, Facebook’s former security chief, left the site in 2010 and joined the NSA.

“Mr. Kelly’s move to the spy agency, which has not previously been reported, underscores the increasingly deep connections between Silicon Valley and the agency and the degree to which they are now in the same business,” the Times wrote. “Both hunt for ways to collect, analyze and exploit large pools of data about millions of Americans.”

As Max Kelly’s move to the NSA in 2010 illustrates, the ties between government agencies and the country’s biggest tech companies is strong.

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