Under the US government shutdown, we have 800,000 'non-essential' government staff not being paid, but there's enough money to keep things spied on at the NSA. But, don't think about looking into the NSA spying if you're part of the NSA surveillance panel.
The funds to the NSA surveillance panel have been put on hold thanks to the government shutdown, which was one of president Obama's promises: to look into the NSA's spying system. The panel is now stopped until funds begin flowing again, which will require Congress to start deciding on something, and fast. Then we have the US debt ceiling to begin worrying about.
Do you think we'll get to the bottom of the NSA's PRISM system?
We know that Lavabit was forced to shut its doors after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden blew the lid on the NSA PRISM system, but now it looks like more of the story is finally leaking out, and it's quite bad.
According to court documents acquired by Wired, the FBI had served Lavabit with an order requiring it to hand over Snowden's encryption keys, helping the FBI install a device that would collect metadata from Snowden's e-mail connections. Lavabit refused, but did at one stage provide SSL keys to the FBI, printing them on 11 pages of 4pt type.
This eventuated in Lavabit being threatened with criminal contempt charges and fines. Lavabit's founder, Ladar Levison decided to close up shop after this, as you can imagine. This news helps us better understand why Lavabit decided to go dark, but what I don't understand is that Snowden revealed the NSA's PRISM system captured virtually everything, so why couldn't it use its own system to their advantage?
Most are impressed with
the NSA's Apple's TouchID fingerprint scanner, being the only real change on the iPhone 5S, but hacking collective Anonymous has come out with quite the claim: the US government is using the TouchID database to collect citizens' fingerprints.
Anonymous has released a video, above, with several documents supporting its claim. Anonymous claims to have uncovered evidence of a "corrupt alliance" between the US government and a bunch of its contractors. AuthenTec, the company who made Apple's TouchID technology, reportedly has strong ties to "the most powerful and corrupt Defense Department and Intelligence Community contractors and figures." This is an interesting quote from the piece:
In brief, the claims the group make concerning Touch ID seem to focus on Authentec director, Robert E Grady, who appears to have been a prominent figure within the George Bush administration and (Anonymous claim) was connected with The Carlyle Group, which Anonymous also claim is a majority shareholder in Booz Allen Hamilton, the NSA contractor with which whistleblower Edward Snowden worked.
The group also claims Authentec was keen on Apple acquiring the company, thinking that as it adopted the biometric technology other firm's would follow suit. This doesn't ring true, by the way, as Apple is incredibly unlikely to license its new technology. It is possible other firms may attempt to emulate the tech.
Caspar Bowden worked for Microsoft between 2002 and 2011 as its Chief Privacy Adviser, but now says he doesn't trust Microsoft's security after he read the stories about the NSA PRISM system after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden stepped up with the leaks.
The former privacy adviser to Microsoft said that the NSA PRISM system was undermining democracy by sharing citizens' private information with the UK's GCHQ and intelligence agencies in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He added: "The public now has to think about the fact that anybody in public life, or person in a position of influence in government, business or bureaucracy, now is thinking about what the NSA knows about them. So how can we trust that the decisions that they make are objective and that they aren't changing the decisions that they make to protect their career? That strikes at any system of representative government."
John McAfee, modern day eccentric millionaire and founder of McAfee Antivirus, announced over the weekend that he has devised a plan to block the illegal--and legal--spying from the NSA once and for all. McAfee outlined his plan on Saturday while speaking at an event in San Jose, California.
The big plan involves a device created by McAfee which he calls "D-Central." The gadget is essentially a wireless networking hub that allows smartphones, tablets, laptops, and any other Wi-Fi connected device to access what is basically a darkweb-like network that blocks mainstream intrusion from the government. The D-Central device would retail for $100 or less and McAfee says that he has been planning the device for several years now.
D-Central will provide not only a private (darkweb) connection, but will provide a public one as well and can be used to share files, chat, and research without ever unveiling your identity. McAfee said that the device has a range of about three blocks, and at the moment D-Central "is round in shape" and features "no screens". A working prototype is said to be just six months away and McAfee is actively searching for partners to help with development. Anyone looking for more information can hit up the source below to check out the official D-Central website.
It looks like some NSA agents would be hanging their heads in shame, if they weren't already over the PRISM scandal, after it has been outed that some of them used their powers to spy on love interests.
The Hill reports that the US spy agency admitted in a letter to Sensor Chuck Grassley (R - Iowa) that it's "identified 12 incidents since 2003 in which analysts intentionally misused their intelligence gathering powers" to spy on love interests. The NSA also admitted that it has opened two investigations into similar abuses of intelligence, and a third is being reviewed as another possible investigation.
This all reminds me of Men in Black, the movie, when K used the technology he had at his disposal to use a satellite to spy on his ex-wife. I can see it now, the NSA is using its vast technology - of which the US tax payer funded - to spy on love interests, the next-generation of Facebook stalking.
Dropbox has jumped onto the transparency bandwagon with fellow tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook. Today, Dropbox announced that it has filed an amicus brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The brief requests that the court give permission to all Internet companies to disclose all requests for information regarding their users when it comes to matters of national security. This would allow Dropbox to publish a list of every information request it has received regarding its users from governments both foreign and domestic.
Dropbox says that "the Court should not permit the government to invoke the mere label of 'national security' to justify the speech restraints it seeks." Currently tech companies can publish how many requests they received, but only on non-gag law enforcement requests, and can only disclose a vague number range when dealing with national security requests.
On September 11 of all days, a new leak from Edward Snowden has appeared online thanks to The Guardian, which reports that the NSA shares raw intelligence data with Israel without sifting through it first.
Snowden revealed the startling news, with an intelligence-sharing agreement detailed in a memorandum of understanding between the US spy agency and its Israel counterpart. This has unveiled that the NSA hands over intercepted communications that would contain American citizens' phone call records and e-mails (and most likely much, much more). The agreement between the spy agencies has no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
The deal was inked back in March 2009, with the agreement between the US and Israeli spy agencies "pertaining to the protection of US persons" repeatedly stressing the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy, as well as the need for Israeli intelligence staff to 'respect these rights.' The agreement saw the Israeli spy agency with "raw Sigint", which is signal intelligence.
Germany has really been pushing against the United States after the NSA revelations from whistleblower and NSA analyst Edward Snowden. The country has pissed the Americans off by sending a helicopter to look for listening posts at the US consulate in Frankfurt, Germany.
The helicopter flew over the consulate twice, hovering just 60m above the building itself, where German staff took high resolution photos of potential surveillance equipment on the roof. They didn't find any listening posts on its August 28 flight, but Spiegel magazine definitely had something to say: "The message to the American friends was meant to be: 'Stop. Germany strikes back!"
Personally, I don't know what the German's were thinking - it's the NSA, they wouldn't just have an iPhone on top of the US consulate listening in on conversations. They'd have terminals within the consulate hacked, or microphones underneath or behind items within the consulate itself.
Der Spiegel is at it again, reporting that it has NSA documents in its hands that state that the US spy agency accessed data from Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Android-based devices.
Der Spigel stated that most smartphone data can be accessed, including users' contact lists, text message logs and information on geographical locations. The NSA has set up working parties that makes sure each of the main mobile OS' had a "back door" that was accessible to spies. This has stirred memories in Germany, where the paper is based, of the Nazis and the communist era from decades ago.
The one company that has the most at stake would be BlackBerry, who has proudly sold devices on the fact that they the encryption in them is too strong for anyone to crack. Google and Apple, we both know have worked with the NSA previously, so this news should come as a shock to no one. This news also comes on the heels of our latest report where we talked about common encryption protocols were nothing for the NSA.
The leaked documents are from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who details in the documents that HTTPS and SSL encryption that is used by most e-mail and banking services are nothing to the NSA to break through. The article talks about a ten-year long NSA project that attacks encryption standards from all angles.
This method uses server farms for brute-force decryption, using malware to intercept messages before encryption could happen, as well as working from within the walls of the tech industry to make sure the adoption of new protocols take place that would make the NSA's job of spying on the world was easier.
German paper Der Spiegel is back, reporting over the weekend that it had looked at a document that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided them with, which stated that the NSA spied on Qatar-based Arab news broadcaster, Al Jazeera.
What makes this news special, is that this is the first time we've had confirmation that the NSA has spied on a media outlet. Spiegel held its cards close to its chest, not posting any of the documents they had, but noted that one of the documents was dated March 23, 2006, showing that "the NSA's Network Analysis Center managed to access and read communication by 'interesting targets' that was specially protected by the news organization. The information also shows that the NSA officials were not satisfied with Al Jazeera's language analysis."
Der Spiegel also reported that one of the documents in question said the NSA referred to this operation as a "notable success" because the targets of its operation had "high potential sources of intelligence." You can read all of our Edward Snowden related news here, but be prepared, there's a lot of it.
I really don't know what to think on this one, but during a blog entry by Microsoft General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs Brad Smith, the company said how negotiations with the government over mission "... to publish sufficient data relating to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders" have failed. Microsoft and Google will now continue with litigation to seek permission from the FISA court.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has caused quite the tech storm, with most tech companies now asking the government to give them permission to disclose the extent of their cooperation so that customers and foreign governments can make informed decisions about just how trustworthy their services are. We should hear more on this in the coming weeks.
Today, Facebook revealed that the US government accounts for the vast majority of the requests for information it receives about its subscribers. The social network said that it was legally required to comply with 79 percent of the 12,000 requests it received from the US government about 21,000 individuals who have profiles on the website.
The US government is not the only guilty party though, as the UK government submitted about 2000 requests on over 2300 Facebook users, which it was obligated to turn over 68 percent of the requests. On the lower-end of the spectrum, Australia requested info on 601 users, of which 64 percent were granted. Facebook chose to release this information in an effort to be transparent after accusations of being close partners with the NSA in the infamous PRISM scandal.
In a blog post, Facebook's general counsel, Colin Stretch, wrote: "As we have made clear in recent weeks, we have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests... We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users."
All of this NSA surveillance is really starting to piss people off, with a German political opposition leader wanting to see a complete stop of ongoing European Union and United States trade negotiations until the full breach the NSA has done to the world has been unearthed.
Peer Steinbrück, leader of the Social Democratic (SPD) party, told German public television broadcaster, ARD: "I would interrupt the negotiations until the Americans say if German government offices and European institutions are bugged or wiretapped." Steinbrück added: "We don't know if the Americans may be sitting under our desks with some technical devices."
Steinbrück's comments come after it was revealed that the NSA hacked encrypted communications at the United Nations, which we asked "where's the uproar?" because right now, there's none. All before the US steps into another war they can't afford, while spying on the world on the US citizens' tax dollars.