Monday, January 27, 2014

NSA Home Spooks: Drip, Drip, Drip Lots Still Unknown

NSA Looked at Us — We Are Looking Back 

Major Update (January 27, 2014): Actually, three articles make up this update.

First from Reuters (Jan 26, 2014): The U.S. National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its value to national security, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden told a German TV network. In text released ahead of a lengthy interview to be broadcast on Sunday, ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm, Siemens as one target. "If there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests - even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security - then they'll take that information nevertheless," Snowden said, according to ARD, which recorded the interview in Russia where he has claimed asylum.

The second comes from the NY Times (Jan 27, 2014): In their globe-spanning surveillance for terrorism suspects and other targets, the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have been trying to exploit a basic byproduct of modern telecommunications: With each new generation of mobile phone technology, ever greater amounts of personal data pour onto networks where spies can pick it up.

And late today from WASHINGTON (AP) (Jan 27, 2014): The government and leading Internet companies announced a compromise that will allow those companies to reveal more information about how often they are ordered to turn over customer information to the government in national security investigations.

Combined , these are sorely needed small steps forward to reform and rein in the NSA at home. Why??

As reported last week in the USA Today and MSNBC stories below, this domestic snooping by NSA has been determined to be illegal, ineffective, and a violation of our most-basic right to privacy

Original post and updates start from here.

Update (January 23, 2014): Key point from this article and report from MSNBC includes:

The National Security Agency’s telephone metadata program is illegal, a majority of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has concluded.

“The Section 215 bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value. As a result, the Board recommends that the government end the program.”

Updated (January 17, 2014):  From USA Today, in part:

"Significantly, he also called on the NSA going to forward to seek permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before querying the metadata. And effective immediately, Obama also narrowed the standard of phone records the NSA could pursue to two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization instead of the current standard of three."

"For privacy and civil liberty advocates who wanted to see the metadata program scrapped all together, however, the president's actions will be seen as falling short of real reform."

Update (January 13, 2014) here from MSNBC: Key points

1.  According to a study just released by the nonprofit New America Foundation, which analyzed 225 terrorism cases since 9/11, the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of communications records has had “no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”

2.  Furthermore, the report calls out government claims that the program has thwarted over 50 potential terrorist attacks as “overblown and even misleading.” In zero instances has the NSA’s database of telephone metadata expedited “the investigative process,” contrary to what some government officials have said.

3.  “The overall problem for U.S. counter-terrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don’t sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques. This was true for two of the 9/11 hijackers who were known to be in the United States before the attacks on New York and Washington..."

Original post starts here:  The story from here:  The NSA could significantly change how it gathers information thanks to a new set of recommendations issued by the White House’s intelligence task force. The panel, created by President Obama following the Snowden leaks that revealed widespread surveillance of private citizens has submitted a list of drastic reforms. 

None of these recommendations are final, and all or some, could be rejected by Mr. Obama. Below is a list of those proposals by highlight title — refer to the story link to fill in the details.

1. Shut down the secret collection of bulk phone records.
2. Create an independent entity to monitor government programs that infringe on civilian privacy and liberty.
3. Bolster protections for whistle blowers in the intelligence community.
4. Close loopholes that allow “backdoor” spying through United States-based tech companies.
5. Tighten requirements for security-clearances and no longer using for-profit contractors.
6. Make the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court more accountable to more people.

We are about to see how much our government stands with the people and their privacy rights; not just NSA's right to infringe on that privacy in the name of safety.

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