mfioretti: control* + nsa*

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  1. When NSA seizes, in bulk, data belonging to U.S. citizens or residents, data that inevitably includes information from innocent people that the government does not have probable cause to investigate, the agency has already committed an unconstitutional “unreasonable seizure,” even if analysts never query the data about innocent U.S. persons.

    The NSA has legal justifications for all their surveillance: Section 215 of the Patriot Act, now expired, was used to justify bulk collection of phone and email metadata. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is currently used to justify so-called “upstream” collection, tapping the physical infrastructure that the Internet uses to route traffic across the country and around the world in order to import into systems like XKEYSCORE. Executive Order 12333, approved by President Reagan, outlines vague rules, which are littered with exceptions and loopholes, that the executive branch made for itself to follow regarding spying on Americans, which includes USSID 18.

    But these laws and regulations ignore the uncomfortable truth that the Fourth Amendment requires surveillance of Americans to be targeted; it cannot be done in bulk. Americans are fighting to end bulk surveillance in dozens of lawsuits, including Jewel v. NSA, which relies on whistleblower-obtained evidence that NSA tapped the fiber optic cables that carry Internet traffic in AT&T’s Folsom Street building in San Francisco. It’s easy for the government to stall cases like this, or get them dismissed, by insisting that talking about it at all puts our national security at risk.

    And, of course, let’s not forget the 6.8 billion people on Earth who are not in the United States. Article 12 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights states:
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  2. Edward Snowden has spoken out on #DRIP, the surveillance bill that the UK's major parties have vowed to ram through without any debate.

    Snowden spoke on video, drawing parallels to the "Protect America" act that was rushed through Congress on the same "emergency" basis. He pointed out that the powers being sought by the Tories are the same ones that a top European court found to violate fundamental human rights, and questioned the supposed emergency that required the bill to be rushed through without debate: "There aren't U-boats in the harbor."

    Snowden was presented with a framed piece of one of the Guardian computers that GCHQ destroyed because they housed a copy of the leaks he brought with him out of the NSA.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-11-11)
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  3. Mentre i servizi segreti di mezzo mondo si attaccano alle dorsali e rubano terabyte di conversazioni, nei salotti del web italiano si dibatte dell’accrocco burocratico-informatico creato dal Garante per ottenere il consenso informato del singolo utente all’uso dei cookie di profilazione commerciale. Non male. Siamo sul pezzo.

    A due anni dalle rivelazioni di Snowden, è come se qui in Europa, prima regione al mondo ad aver codificato la protezione dei dati come diritto fondamentale, stessimo vivendo in un altro tempo, concentrati su una partita mercantile già persa contro Google, Facebook e lo strapotere commerciale dei provider americani: una partita in cui l’Europa si prodiga in azioni difensive che poco hanno a che vedere con la tutela della privacy dei cittadini e che si sostanziano in clamorosi autogol.

    Il dibattito sui cookie che occupa il web italiano è tanto più imbarazzante se paragonato al sostanziale silenzio su ciò che è accaduto la scorsa settimana in America con il Freedom Act. Imbarazzante ma assai significativo per constatare l’assoluta inadeguatezza della normativa europea a protezione dei dati personali.

    Dobbiamo prendere atto che il consenso dell’utente come base legale del trattamento è una vera stupidaggine, che non funziona neppure per l’innocua profilazione commerciale, figuriamoci a difenderci dalla sorveglianza di massa che è oggi il vero cruccio.
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  4. While the metadata program has become widely known because of the numerous court cases and litigation surrounding it, there are other NSA surveillance programs that may have far greater impact on Americans, but have attracted far less public attention.

    In my interview with Snowden, for example, he said one of his most shocking discoveries was the NSA’s policy of secretly and routinely passing to Israel’s Unit 8200 — that country’s NSA — and possibly other countries not just metadata but the actual contents of emails involving Americans. This even included the names of U.S. citizens, some of whom were likely Palestinian-Americans communicating with relatives in Israel and Palestine.

    An illustration of the dangers posed by such an operation comes from the sudden resignation last year of 43 veterans of Unit 8200, many of whom are still serving in the military reserves. The veterans accused the organization of using intercepted communication against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” This included information gathered from the emails about Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters to coerce people into becoming collaborators or to create divisions in their society.

    Another issue few Americans are aware of is the NSA’s secret email metadata collection program that took place for a decade or so until it ended several years ago. Every time an American sent or received an email, a record was secretly kept by the NSA, just as the agency continues to do with the telephone metadata program. Though the email program ended, all that private information is still stored at the NSA, with no end in sight.

    With NSA fatigue setting in, and the American public unaware of many of the agency’s long list of abuses, it is little wonder that only slightly more than half the public is concerned
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  5. Mass surveillance in France failed to prevent the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Edward Snowden told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant on Wednesday.

    "This is consistent with what we've seen in every country. The White House did two independent investigations into the effectiveness of the Patriot Act and mass surveillance and, despite monitoring the phone calls of everyone in the United States, it hadn't stopped a single attack," Snowden told the publication.

    He also noted that mass surveillance is part of the problem when it comes to providing security, comparing the attack to the Boston Marathon bombings, and telling the newspaper that "The problem with mass surveillance is that you are burying people under too much data."
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  6. The intimate secret meetings between senior Enron executives and high-level US government officials via the Pentagon Highlands Forum, from November 2000 to June 2001, played a central role in establishing and cementing the increasingly symbiotic link between Enron and Pentagon planning. The Forum’s role was, as O’Neill has always said, to function as an ideas lab to explore the mutual interests of industry and government.
    Enron and Pentagon war planning

    In February 2001, when Enron executives including Kenneth Lay began participating concertedly in the Cheney Energy Task Force, a classified National Security Council document instructed NSC staffers to work with the task force in “melding” previously separate issues: “operational policies towards rogue states” and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”

    According to Bush’s treasury secretary Paul O’Neill, as quoted by Ron Suskind in The Price of Loyalty (2004), cabinet officials discussed an invasion of Iraq in their first NSC meeting, and had even prepared a map for a post-war occupation marking the carve-up of Iraq’s oil fields. The message at that time from President Bush was that officials must “find a way to do this.”

    in June 2001, the same month that Enron’s executive vice president Steve Kean attended the Pentagon Highlands Forum, the company’s hopes for the Dabhol project were dashed when the Trans-Afghan pipeline failed to materialize, and as a consequence, construction on the Dabhol power plant was shut down. The failure of the $3 billion project contributed to Enron’s bankruptcy in December. That month, Enron officials met with Bush’s commerce secretary, Donald Evans, about the plant, and Cheney lobbied India’s main opposition party about the Dhabol project. Ken Lay had also reportedly contacted the Bush administration around this time to inform officials about the firm’s financial troubles.

    By August, desperate to pull off the deal, US officials threatened Taliban representatives with war if they refused to accept American terms: namely, to cease fighting and join in a federal alliance with the opposition Northern Alliance; and to give up demands for local consumption of the gas. On the 15th of that month, Enron lobbyist Pat Shortridge told then White House economic advisor Robert McNally that Enron was heading for a financial meltdown that could cripple the country’s energy markets.

    So the Pentagon had:

    1. contracted Rendon, a propaganda firm;

    2. given Rendon access to the intelligence community’s most classified information including data from NSA surveillance;

    3. tasked Rendon to facilitating the DoD’s development of information operations strategy by running the Highlands Forum process;

    4. and further, tasked Rendon with overseeing the concrete execution of this strategy developed through the Highlands Forum process, in actual information operations around the world in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.

    The Pentagon Highlands Forum’s intimate link, via Rendon, to the propaganda operations pursued under Bush and Obama in support of the ‘Long War,’ demonstrate the integral role of mass surveillance in both irregular warfare and ‘strategic communications.’

    Arquilla went on to advocate that western intelligence services should use the British case as a model for creating new “pseudo gang” terrorist groups, as a way of undermining “real” terror networks:

    “What worked in Kenya a half-century ago has a wonderful chance of undermining trust and recruitment among today’s terror networks. Forming new pseudo gangs should not be difficult.”

    Essentially, Arquilla’s argument was that as only networks can fight networks, the only way to defeat enemies conducting irregular warfare is to use techniques of irregular warfare against them.

    It is this sort of closed-door networking that has rendered the American vote pointless. Far from protecting the public interest or helping to combat terrorism, the comprehensive monitoring of electronic communications has been systematically abused to empower vested interests in the energy, defense, and IT industries.
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  7. Thuraisingham writes that she and “Dr. Rick Steinheiser of the CIA, began discussions with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on applying data-mining for counter-terrorism,” an idea that resulted directly from the MDDS program which partly funded Google. “These discussions eventually developed into the current EELD (Evidence Extraction and Link Detection) program at DARPA.”

    So the very same senior CIA official and CIA-NSA contractor involved in providing the seed-funding for Google were simultaneously contemplating the role of data-mining for counter-terrorism purposes, and were developing ideas for tools actually advanced by DARPA.

    From inception, in other words, Google was incubated, nurtured and financed by interests that were directly affiliated or closely aligned with the US military intelligence community: many of whom were embedded in the Pentagon Highlands Forum.

    In sum, many of Google’s most senior executives are affiliated with the Pentagon Highlands Forum, which throughout the period of Google’s growth over the last decade, has surfaced repeatedly as a connecting and convening force. The US intelligence community’s incubation of Google from inception occurred through a combination of direct sponsorship and informal networks of financial influence, themselves closely aligned with Pentagon interests.

    In December 2001, O’Neill confirmed that strategic discussions at the Highlands Forum were feeding directly into Andrew Marshall’s DoD-wide strategic review ordered by President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to upgrade the military, including the Quadrennial Defense Review — and that some of the earliest Forum meetings “resulted in the writing of a group of DoD policies, strategies, and doctrine for the services on information warfare.” That process of “writing” the Pentagon’s information warfare policies “was done in conjunction with people who understood the environment differently — not only US citizens, but also foreign citizens, and people who were developing corporate IT.”

    The Pentagon’s post-9/11 information warfare doctrines were, then, written not just by national security officials from the US and abroad: but also by powerful corporate entities in the defense and technology sectors.

    In sum, the investment firm responsible for creating the billion dollar fortunes of the tech sensations of the 21st century, from Google to Facebook, is intimately linked to the US military intelligence community; with Venables, Lee and Friedman either directly connected to the Pentagon Highlands Forum, or to senior members of the Forum.
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  8. as South American countries began exploring plans to counter NSA surveillance with a fibre optic network of their own that would reduce their reliance on the US, Google opened its coffers to fund a $60m undersea cable connecting Brazil to Florida.

    The aim was to ensure that Google’s own services run better for users in Brazil, but it is a potent reminder that extricating oneself from the grasp of America’s tech empire requires a multidimensional strategy attuned to the fact that Google today is not a mere search and email company – it also runs devices, operating systems, and even connectivity itself.

    Given that Russia and China are not known for their commitment to freedoms of expression and assembly, it is tempting to view their quest for information sovereignty as yet another stab at censorship and control. In fact, even when the far more benign government of Brazil toyed with the idea of forcing American companies to store user data locally – an idea it eventually abandoned – it was widely accused of draconian overreach.

    However, Russia, China and Brazil are simply responding to the extremely aggressive tactics adopted by none other than the US. In typical fashion, though, America is completely oblivious to its own actions, believing that there is such a thing as a neutral, cosmopolitan internet and that any efforts to move away from it would result in its “Balkanisation”. But for many countries, this is not Balkanisation at all, merely de-Americanisation.

    US companies have been playing an ambiguous role in this project. On the one hand, they build efficient and highly functional infrastructure that locks in other countries, creating long-term dependencies that are very messy and costly to undo. They are the true vehicles for whatever is left of America’s global modernisation agenda. On the other hand, the companies cannot be seen as mere proxies for the American empire. Especially after the Edward Snowden revelations clearly demonstrated the cosy alliances between America’s business and state interests, these companies need to constantly assert their independence – occasionally by taking their own government to court – even if, in reality, most of their interests perfectly align with those of Washington.

    This explains why Silicon Valley has been so vocal in demanding that the Obama administration do something about internet privacy and surveillance: if internet companies were seen as compromised parties here, their business would collapse. Just look at the misfortunes of Verizon in 2014: uncertain of the extent of data-sharing between Verizon and the NSA, the German government ditched its contract with the US company in favour of Deutsche Telekom.

    In short, the US government insists that it should have access to data regardless of where it is stored as long as it is handled by US companies. Just imagine the outcry if the Chinese government were to demand access to any data that passes through devices manufactured by Chinese companies – Xiaomi, say, or Lenovo – regardless of whether their users are in London or New York or Tokyo. Note the crucial difference: Russia and China want to be able to access data generated by their citizens on their own soil, whereas the US wants to access data generated by anybody anywhere as long as American companies handle it.

    In opposing the efforts of other countries to reclaim a modicum of technological sovereignty, Washington is likely to run into a problem it has already encountered while promoting its nebulous “internet freedom” agenda: its actions speak louder than its words. Rhetorically, it is very hard to oppose government-run digital surveillance and online spin in Russia, China or Iran, when the US government probably does more of it than all of these countries combined.
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  9. The common misconception among the hysteria is that this decision will put vital evidence outside the reach of law enforcement. But nothing in this encryption change will stop law enforcement from seeking a warrant for the contents of a phone, just as they seek warrants for the contents of a laptop or desktop computer. Whether or not a person can be required to unlock the device is a complicated question — intertwined with the right of due process and the right to avoid self-incrimination — that ought to be carefully considered by a court in the context of each individual situation.

    It's also important to note that the amount of information available to law enforcement about someone's electronic communications, movements, transactions, and relationships is staggering, even if they never analyze a suspect's mobile device. Law enforcement can still seek a phone company's call records, any text messages stored by the phone company, and a suspect's email accounts or any other information stored in the cloud — which for many people these days is a lot, as several Hollywood actresses recently learned. Some of those investigative tools have insufficient protections and go too far, and turning on encryption on mobile devices by default doesn't change that.

    Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped law enforcement from twisting the nature of the Apple and Google announcements in order to convince the public that default encryption on mobile devices will bring about a doomsday scenario of criminals using "technological fortresses" to hide from the law. And sadly, some people seem to be buying this propaganda. Last week, the Washington Post published an editorial calling for Apple and Google to use "their wizardry" to "invent a kind of secure golden key they would retain and use only when a court has approved a search warrant."

    While the Post's Editorial Board may think technologists can bend cryptography to their every whim, it isn't so. Cryptography is about math, and math is made up of fundamental laws that nobody, not even the geniuses at Apple and Google, can break. One of those laws is that any key, even a golden one, can be stolen by ne'er-do-wells. Simply put, there is no such thing as a key that only law enforcement can use — any key creates a new backdoor that becomes a target for criminals, industrial spies, or foreign adversaries.
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  10. the mathematical principles used to control groups of autonomous robots can be applied to social networks in order to control human behavior. If properly calibrated, the mathematical models developed by Dixon and his fellow researchers could be used to sway the opinion of social networks toward a desired set of behaviors—perhaps in concert with some of the social media “effects” cyber-weaponry developed by the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.
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