Friday, February 14, 2014

Hey, NSA: We Have Nothing to Hide, But Lots to Protect

NSA Looked at Us — Now, We Are Looking Back 
Possible New NSA Logo
Don't Monkey Around: Get the Facts 

Major Update (February 14, 2014): First of all: Happy Valentines Day to all lovers and their loved ones across the country.

Now this update comes from the ACLU  and it is a view I strongly hold and support, and I have said so many times in the past. The idea comes from a line I heard in a movie once (and the title I just now forgot): 

"We may not have anything to hide, but we damn sure have a lot to protect (sic)."

Introduction from the article: "Governments at the local, state, and federal level increasingly collect troves of sensitive information about where we go, what we read, who we know, what we buy, and more. Some people say they don't care about this silent and ever present surveillance. They have nothing to hide, they say. 

Now look at that with this in mind: But acquiescing to losing control over information about you is effectively rolling over and accepting the fact that untold numbers of people and institutions, not you, control your life. Information is power. When people behind closed doors possess information about your private life, usually unbeknownst to you, they have the ability to wield substantial power to control and manipulate you, often without your knowledge.

Here is the key point of this exercise: If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?

Well, here is a very, very incomplete list - take a look - not hiding, just not protecting (either, I would say):
  • Sexual text messages (aka sexts) you send to lovers, partners, and spouses;
  • Emails to lawyers containing information about ongoing litigation against any part of the government, or emails describing any impropriety like an affair or something as simple as playing hooky from work and calling in sick;
  • Phone calls and visits to abortion clinics, sexual health centers, gun stores, LGBT community centers, union shops, domestic violence organizations, suicide hot lines, and journalists;
  • Banking or credit card records showing that you purchased sex toys, gonorrhea medication, and four hundred dollars worth of stuff from a Furry website, or donated to non-profit organizations like the ACLU or Planned Parenthood;
  • Internet metadata revealing your porn viewing habits and search terms, for example "herpes symptoms", "what to do if you think your boyfriend is cheating on you", "how to cheat on your boyfriend and get away with it", or "I wish I had never had kids."
Got it now? As you can see, there's plenty of information floating around in the ether, held by private corporations and collected by government agencies (often without warrants!), that you want to remain private. You aren't breaking the law and you don't deserve to be violated, but this information is not under your control.

Continue at the link and speak out whenever you can on this ... privacy is a serious matter for all of us even those who pry and spy on us ... just ask them about their privacy. You may not like their answer, however.

First 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 Starts Here with Updates:

Updated (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."

Updated (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..."

This 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.

More on this below:

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