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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.