Carnivore,  Einstein,  Tempest,  and  Echelon

Carnivore and Echelon were apparently developed and implemented in the 1990s, long before 9/11/2001 and long before the current debate over wiretaps and domestic surveillance.

Much of the information on this page is obsolete by now, and the technology that was used has most likely been replaced by something more effective, with another name.  But it is interesting to know that the federal government has been working on the idea of monitoring every electronic communication — nationwide if not worldwide — for at least 20 years.

Fusion centers
Domestic surveillance
The U.S. spies on its allies
Edward Snowden
Snowden II
Other government threats to your privacy

On other nearby pages:
Snitch on your neighbor
The Department of Justice vs Apple Computer
The USA Patriot Act
Carnivore / Echelon Trigger Words
The local police have been given too much authority
Commercial and Industrial Threats to Privacy
License plate readers and toll tag readers


Einstein is a more recent development than either Carnivore or Echelon, but like the other two, Einstein has stayed out of the mainstream press.  Among other things, the system will monitor visits from Americans — and foreigners — visiting .gov Web sites.

I think I can tell already where Einstein is headed:  it will make it more difficult — if not hazardous — for someone to compile a list like this, just to explore and document the width and depth of the overgrown federal government.

Einstein sounds a lot like a program called Snort, which is available at no cost.  So whatever amount Uncle Sam spent on Einstein was probably a complete waste of money.

US government's $6bn super firewall doesn't even monitor web traffic.  The US government's firewall, named Einstein, is not as smart as its name would suggest. [...] Among the extraordinary pieces of information to emerge are the fact that the system — which has cost $5.7 b[illio]n to develop — does not monitor web traffic for malicious content, just email.  It can't uncover malware on a system and it doesn't monitor cloud services either.  The system also carries out only signature-based threat assessment and intrusion detection i.e. it's a dumb terminal waiting to be told what to find rather than looking for unusual activity.  And that means it is wide open to zero-day attacks.  If that wasn't enough, the department behind the system — the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — hasn't included anything to measure the system's own performance so it doesn't even know if it's doing a good job or not.  And it is failing to ask for or share information with other agencies, effectively making it blind.

Every day, we have to prove we have 'nothing to hide'.  For this writer, the political effect of 9/11 was immediate, personal and direct.  Six days before the towers came down, the European Parliament had passed 25 recommendations for securing domestic and international satellite communications from the Anglo-American surveillance system known as Echelon.  I had uncovered and first reported on the Echelon network in 1988.  It took a decade more for its significance to become widely known, mainly because of further investigation and revelations by New Zealand investigator Nicky Hager in his book Secret Power.  Although now widely mis-described in web chat as a generalised surveillance octopus, Echelon's purpose and hardware was quite specific.

FBI wants widespread monitoring of 'illegal' Internet activity.  The FBI on Wednesday [4/23/2008] called for new legislation that would allow federal police to monitor the Internet for "illegal activity."  The suggestion from FBI Director Robert Mueller, which came during a House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, appears to go beyond a current plan to monitor traffic on federal-government networks.  Mueller seemed to suggest that the bureau should have a broad "omnibus" authority to conduct monitoring and surveillance of private-sector networks as well.  The surveillance should include all Internet traffic, Mueller said, "whether it be .mil, .gov, .com — whichever network you're talking about."

Einstein  is the network monitoring tool used by the United States federal government's Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Einstein is used to automatically monitor and analyze Internet traffic when it moves in and out of federal computer networks, filtering packets at the perimeter. … Participating agencies have used Einstein in network gateways since 2004.  In conjunction with the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative launch in 2008, DHS mandated that all federal agencies must use Einstein.

Congress worries that .gov monitoring will spy on Americans.  A new Bush administration plan to capture and analyze traffic on all federal government networks in real time is generating privacy worries from congressional Democrats and Republicans alike.  At a hearing convened here Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, politicians directed pointed questions to Department of Homeland Security officials about their plans to expand an existing "intrusion detection" system known as Einstein.

Doubletalk alert:
Visiting a web site is not an intrusion.

Einstein keeps an eye on agency networks.  DHS officials named the program Einstein because they think their monitoring program is smart.  Since 2004, Einstein has monitored participating agencies' network gateways for traffic patterns that indicate the presence of computer worms or other unwanted traffic.  By collecting traffic information summaries at agency gateways, Einstein gives US-CERT analysts and participating agencies a big-picture view of bad activity on federal networks.

Einstein and U.S. cybersecurity.  At a hearing last week on Capitol Hill, officials faced close, skeptical questioning about the program, an intrusion detection system that will automatically monitor and analyze Internet traffic into and out of federal computer networks in real time — allowing officials at the Department of Homeland Security to scan for anomalies that might represent hackers or other intruders trying to gain access or steal data.

House legislators rip Bush's Cyber Initiative plan.  The initiative is a long-range plan to upgrade the security of the federal government's networks and comprises a number of separate proposals, most notably an overhaul and expansion of the government's intrusion detection system, known as Einstein.  Currently, Einstein is simply a passive traffic-monitoring system that records basic data such as the originating IP address of a packet, its size and where the packet came from and where it is headed.


Carnivore is an e-mail wiretap system being developed and used by the FBI to read messages being circulated amongst suspected criminals and terrorists... and everybody else.  There is a great deal of concern being expressed nationwide, and not just by privacy fanatics, because it is likely that such eavesdropping occurs before there is any other evidence that the affected individuals have done anything illegal.  It would be much less of an issue were it not for a little technicality called the Fourth Amendment.  The FBI is relying on the public (and the mainstream news media) to ignore charges such as the ACLU's statement that Carnivore represents "an unprecedented power grab that threatens the privacy of all Americans."

There is good news about Carnivore, however.  Recently I attended a meeting of local computer security experts (legitimate professionals, really, not the guys at the 2600 meeting) and the moderator of the program offered his opinion that "Carnivore is not very effective."

If you really think somebody is reading your email — or if you think Facebook and Twitter (or the FBI) are scanning every account — looking for trigger words or anything else, ˙ɯǝɥʇ ɹoɟ ʇlnɔᴉɟɟᴉp ʇᴉ ǝʞɐW
It won't do any good to write your email in tiny letters.
D0N7 JU57 L4Y 0U7 Y0UR M3554635 1N PL41N 73X7 F0R 3V3RY0N3 T0 533.
Gur crbcyr jub jnag gb gnxr njnl lbhe evtugf ner zbfgyl choyvp fpubby fghqragf jub ner pbzcyrgryl onssyrq ol phefvir jevgvat, nanybt pybpxf, naq ebgnel-qvny cubarf.  Gurl jbhyq arire svther guvf bhg.

Decryption of the following message is left to the reader as an exercise:

|.  .|  ||       |  ..|  .|       .|.  .  ...
.|  ||.  ..  |  ..|  .|.       .||.  .|  .|.  ..  .  ...
|.|.  ..|  ||       .||.  .|.  |||  |..|  ..  ||  |||
.|  .|.  |..  .  |  .|.|.|
You never even saw this message, did you?

If you really are paranoid, encrypt everything.

Don't be fooled:  DCS1000 is still a "Carnivore" at heart.  After a flurry of controversy over the FBI's Carnivore system for intercepting e-mail, the feds have moved promptly to address concerns — by renaming it "DCS1000".

DCS1000:  The Device Formerly Known as Carnivore:  Despite some reports indicating that the name is an acronym for "data collection system," an FBI spokesperson told Reuters that it "doesn't stand for anything."

Carnivore changes name, enters witness protection program:  Carnivore, the FBI's controversial Internet communications monitoring system, is undergoing a makeover.  First, the FBI is going to pull out its teeth, and re-christen Carnivore DCS1000, which, in our esteem, is just a little too close to HAL2000…

FBI axes Carnivore, eats investment.  The FBI has abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, dubbed Carnivore, and is now using commercial software to eavesdrop on computer network traffic during investigations of suspected criminals, terrorists and spies.  In addition, it's asking Internet service providers to conducting wiretaps on targeted customers, when necessary. … The FBI didn't disclose how much it had spent on Carnivore, but outside experts estimate expenditures at somewhere between $6 illion and $15 million.

Carnivore  was an Internet surveillance system developed for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) so that they could monitor the electronic transmissions of criminal suspects.  Critics, however, charged that Carnivore did not include appropriate safeguards to prevent misuse and might violate the constitutional rights of the individual.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reported in early 2005 that the FBI had replaced Carnivore with other, unspecified surveillance software from commercial sources.  Such software usually includes a packet sniffer.

FBI retires its Carnivore.  FBI surveillance experts have put their once-controversial Carnivore Internet surveillance tool out to pasture, preferring instead to use commercial products to eavesdrop on network traffic, according to documents released Friday [1/14/2005].

FBI Abandons Web Surveillance Technology.  The FBI has effectively abandoned its custom-built Internet surveillance technology, once known as Carnivore, designed to read e-mails and other online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies, according to bureau oversight reports submitted to Congress.

[That's a misleading headline.  The FBI hasn't abandoned their web surveillance technology, they have just changed to another make and model of software.]

 Read this:   Feds raid orchid-grower's home:  George Norris said he believes his troubles may stem from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's use of CARNIVORE, a government system that can tap into computer e-mails.  "They showed me page three of a five-page e-mail from several years ago where I was being offered smuggled plants," he said.  "They did not show me pages four and five, which were my answer to this fellow, telling him we would not buy any such plants that were undocumented.  This was so old that I don't even remember this e-mail.

 Editor's Note:   Please see the George Norris subsection on this page for more details on this case.

Inside DCSNet, the FBI's Nationwide Eavesdropping Network.  The $10 million DCS-3000 client, also known as Red Hook, handles pen-registers and trap-and-traces, a type of surveillance that collects signaling information — primarily the numbers dialed from a telephone — but no communications content.  DCS-6000, known as Digital Storm, captures and collects the content of phone calls and text messages for full wiretap orders.  A third, classified system, called DCS-5000, is used for wiretaps targeting spies or terrorists.

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method.  Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials.  That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords. … "What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event.  "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."

FBI's Carnivore-lies may have blown bin Laden inquiry.  Fundamental design flaws in the FBI's infamous Carnivore packet sniffer have led to the destruction of evidence related to a suspect possibly involved in Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network which had been obtained legally under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, the watchdog group EPIC has learned.

Carnivore  is a surveillance tool for data networks.  At the heart of the project is CarnivorePE, a software application that listens to all Internet traffic (email, web surfing, etc.) on a specific local network.  Next, CarnivorePE serves this data stream to interfaces called "clients."  These clients are designed to animate, diagnose, or interpret the network traffic in various ways.  Use CarnivorePE to run Carnivore clients from your own desktop, or use it to make your own clients.

Echelon:  The US government has long conducted extensive eavesdropping overseas, as part of the National Security Agency's foreign intelligence collection activities.  This foreign surveillance occurs outside the normal limitations of the Constitution.  With the globalization of communications, the overseas snooping activities of the US and its allies have attracted renewed attention and concern.

Congress Passes "Roving Wiretaps," Expands Surveillance Authority.  Oct 1998, in a closed-door manuever, controversial "roving wiretap" provisions were added to the Intelligence authorization bill and passed by the Congress.  Prevoiusly, wiretapping law allowed tapping of a particular person's phones.  The new provisions dramatically expanded current authority by allowing taps on any phone used by, or "proximate" to, the person being tapped — no matter whose phone it is.  Such a broad law invites abuse.  In 1996, the full House of Representatives had rejected these provisions after an open and vigorous debate.  But in 1998, behind closed doors, a conference committee added the provisions to the important Intelligence Authorization Conference Report.

Does Technology Threaten Our Privacy, Morality and Freedom of Religious Expression?  Two new powerful multi-billion dollar eavesdropping tools originally invented to spy on the Russians have now been turned on the American people.  [They're talking about Echelon and Tempest, although Carnivore is also discussed.]

Carnivore page at COTSE dot net,  which is apparently a privacy-enhanced email service.

Carnivore, Altivore, Echelon:  In terms of privacy concerns as well as raw technological power, Carnivore looks like a toy compared to Echelon.  Echelon is almost certainly the world's most sophisticated network monitoring system and, if rumors are to be believed, anyone who feels uncomfortable with the secrecy surrounding Carnivore should feel downright paranoid where Echelon is concerned.

Where Carnivore Lives:  The FBI has already employed Carnivore in a number of cases.  By law, the details of these investigations have generally not been released publicly.  The only ISP positively identified as cooperating with such an investigation, in fact, is Earthlink.

Independent Technical Review of the Carnivore System:  Carnivore is a software-based Internet Protocol (IP) packet sniffer that can select and record a defined subset of the traffic on the network to which it is attached.  Packets can be selected based on IP address, protocol, or, in the case of email, on the user names in the TO and FROM fields.  In limited cases, packets can be selected based on their content.  Packets can be recorded 'in their entirety (full mode) or recording can be limited to addressing information (pen mode), i.e., IP addresses and usermames.

Why Carnivore Is Bad For You:  The FBI can hardly be trusted to conduct their investigations with proper handling and precision, but even if they could, Carnivore/DCS1000 will end up hurting innocent people.  The amount of guesswork involved in a sweeping search like the type Carnivore/DCS1000 does insures that many "dead ends" and "bad leads" will be pursued.  What this means is that the FBI will inevitably end up investigating (including search, seizure, intimidation, prosecution, etc.) innocent people.

Confounding Carnivore:  How to Protect Your Online Privacy.  Ever since the FBI confirmed the existence of their Internet wiretapping device — a device which they named Carnivore — cyberprivacy activists have been up in arms.  Carnivore promised to be their worst nightmare:  a technology that could track and record every email sent, every Web page browsed, every chat room visited.

Carnivore, Altivore, Echelon:  Three big names in the world of network monitoring.  In terms of privacy concerns as well as raw technological power, Carnivore looks like a toy compared to Echelon.  Echelon is almost certainly the world's most sophisticated network monitoring system and, if rumors are to be believed, anyone who feels uncomfortable with the secrecy surrounding Carnivore should feel downright paranoid where Echelon is concerned.

Carnivore, Sniffers, and You:  The Carnivore network diagnostic tool (sniffer) may be peeking at your email.  This article offers the scoop on the FBI's latest crime-fighting tool.

Sniffer — A Definition:  Network sniffers monitor data without altering its content.  Sniffers are now commonly used by governments, corporations, by hackers, and by students.

FBI's Carnivore hunts in a pack.  Carnivore, the FBI's controversial e-mail snooping program, is part of covert surveillance triad known inside the bureau as the "DragonWare Suite," according to recently declassified documents.  The documents also outline how the DragonWare Suite is more than simply an e-mail snooping program:  It's capable of reconstructing the Web surfing trail of someone under investigation.

FBI Statement for the Record on the Carnivore Diagnostic Tool

The Backdoor, the Rogue Agent, and the Mishap:  the Hidden Dangers of Carnivore.  This paper is intended to provide convincing reasons, beyond the 4th Amendment argument, why Carnivore is a law enforcement tool that we all should reject.

The preceding article appears at a web site called Stop Carnivore Now.

Carnivore FAQ  (Sample:  It is important to note that Carnivore is a passive wiretap.  It does not interfere with communication.  Some news reports falsely claim that Carnivore interposes itself into the stream, first grabbing data, then passing it along.

The Legal Authorities of the National Security Agency:  U.S. Representative Bob Barr asserts, "While Americans remain solidly in support of a strong foreign intelligence gathering capability, they are not willing to do so at the expense of their domestic civil liberties."

Colleges Protest Call to Upgrade Online Systems.  The federal government, vastly extending the reach of an 11-year-old law, is requiring hundreds of universities, online communications companies and cities to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications.

Carnivore and Reno:  Janet Reno's answers to questions about Carnivore in her weekly press conferences at the Justice Department.

Clinton Favors Computer Snooping:  The Clinton administration wants to be able to send federal agents armed with search warrants into homes to copy encryption keys and implant secret back doors onto computers.

Congress, Privacy Rights Activists Blast Carnivore:  Fears that the FBI is going too far with its technological invasions of communications systems were hardly soothed when Dr. Donald M. Kerr, the director of the FBI's laboratory division revealed what the bureau plans for the future.

FBI Shows Off Carnivore:  FBI officials defended Carnivore by telling hand-picked media representatives that the system is necessary "because some smaller ISPs do not have the capability to provide the data that law enforcement needs quickly," the Washington Post reported.

Feds Deny Asking ISPs to Watch E-mails:  Last month, the European Union passed a resolution that would require all ISPs to store for up to seven years e-mail message headers, Web-surfing histories, chat logs, pager records, phone and fax connections, passwords, and more.  Already, Germany, France, Belgium, and Spain have drafted laws that comply with the directive.  Technology experts say the U.S. federal government may try to do the same thing using the vast law enforcement allowances provided under the USA Patriot Act.

Carnivore:  Interview with Rep. Bob Barr (R - Ga.):  When the FBI launched its latest crime-fighting project, known by the name Carnivore, a lot of people worried that this new system could be dangerous - not for crooks, but for innocent people.

Outside Review of Carnivore Planned:  The Justice Department is moving swiftly to get an independent evaluation of the FBI's Carnivore e-mail intercept system, even as the system is denounced by congressional Republicans and civil libertarians as a threat to privacy on the Internet.

 Excellent!   The Fourth Amendment and Carnivore:  The Carnivore system appears to exacerbate the over collection of personal information by collecting more information than it is legally entitled to collect under traditional pen register and trap and trace laws.

Now It's Carnivore 2.0 ... Even 3.0:  The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now describing its Carnivore software that peeks into e-mail accounts without individual computer users' being aware as just "the tip of the iceberg."

White House Wants Cyber-Snoop Rules:  The Clinton-Gore administration will propose legislation putting e-mail surveillance on legal footing akin to phone taps — but leaving the FBI's "Carnivore" spying intact.

FBI: Federal Bureau of Intrusion?  "Carnivore" sifts through all online communications, such as e-mail or website traffic looking for illegal activity.  The problem is that it collects all communications, legal and illegal, thus violating the privacy of citizens who are just innocently and legally conversing online with family or friends or who happen to be surfing the Net.

More DOJ Delays in Carnivore Investigation

Carnivore FOIA: A Justice Department Joke

EPIC Carnivore FOIA Documents

GOP Wants to Pull Carnivore's Teeth:  What has upset so many people who use the Internet to communicate is the new high-tech FBI device — called "Carnivore" because it finds the "meat" of e-mail messages.  It enables law enforcement officials to sort through every bit of everybody's e-mail messages to find those of questionable legality.

Testimony of Robert Corn-Revere, April 6, 2000:  "I believe it is vital for Congress now to examine the Fourth Amendment implications of electronic surveillance on the Internet and the World Wide Web.  As the United States Supreme Court explained in 1997, the Internet is a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication."

Some of the technical aspects of Carnivore:  Recent press reports have disclosed the existence of an FBI Internet wiretap device, known as "Carnivore".  This is troubling for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is unclear just what the software and hardware does or how it works.  In the U.S., there are serious legal restrictions on the use of wiretaps by police agencies.  The Supreme Court has consistently held that wiretaps qualify as searches under the Fourth Amendment.

Government Privacy Violators:  These days it's hard to find a politician without some plan to impose new privacy regulations on business.  The physicians should first try to heal themselves.  Our various levels of government have a long and undistinguished record of disrespecting our personal privacy.

Report Says Carnivore Is Tame; Critics Skeptical:  The FBI developed Carnivore in 1997 to monitor the activities of suspects who communicate using e-mail, much the way the agency uses wiretaps and pen registers to monitor telephone calls and capture caller information.  Privacy advocates have expressed concern the tool is too powerful, too invasive and a potential danger to civil liberties.

Carnivore - E-mail Invasion "I hope that you will research this subject more.  Contact your ISP and urge them to refuse to accept Carnivore on their system.  It is not a question of whether you have anything to hide.  Your right to privacy is at stake.  If this is allowed it can only snowball."

Help Kill the Carnivore!:  Carnivore is a hardware-software device that the FBI secretly developed at its lab in Quantico, Va. Almost immediately after the existence of this project was disclosed in a July 11 Wall Street Journal article, public outrage began to mount.

Ashcroft to Chew On Carnivore:  John Ashcroft, President Bush's pick for attorney general, says he'll take a long, hard look at Carnivore if he gets the job.  [January 2001]

FBI Drags its Heels on Carnivore Papers:  Get a court order to monitor a specific POP mailbox — but don't skim all the messages hoping to find something interesting.

Putting a Leash on Carnivore:  House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, says Internet surveillance can undermine "the minimum expectation that individuals have that their personal electronic communications will not be examined by law enforcement devices unless a specific court warrant has been issued.'

Why Carnivore/DCS1000 Is Bad For You:  Here are some reasons why Carnivore/DCS1000 is bad for America, and, more specifically, bad for you.  [For example,] it's Unconstitutional.

ACLU Slams Biased Review Team Thumbs-Up for Carnivore

EPIC Sues to See Carnivore Code:  The Electronic Privacy Information Center has accused the FBI of sandbagging its requests for documents pertaining to the FBI's Carnivore e-mail snooping system.

Congress Isn't Swallowing Carnivore:  Officials from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice faced a skeptical — and at times downright hostile — House Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the constitutional issues raised by the FBI's Carnivore electronic monitoring program.

A kinder, gentler Carnivore?  Any organization agreeing to review Carnivore is forbidden from publishing any independent comments about the program.

Armey of One Takes on Carnivore:  One year after hearings in which the Clinton Administration vigorously defended the FBI's email-tapping Carnivore surveillance system, Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, is asking the new attorney general to reopen the debate.

Carnivore Panel Called Insiders' Stacked Deck:  "This Department of Justice proposal has confirmed my fears," Armey said.  "This important issue deserves a truly independent review, not a whitewash."

FBI Gives a Little on Carnivore:  The FBI says it will conduct a privacy audit of a controversial surveillance system, but the agency won't release key information about how Carnivore works.

Privacy Eaten Away by Carnivore:  It seems that we, the American public should trust the FBI to look at only those email messages that directly have a bearing on a particular investigation and completely ignore all other email messages, no matter how inflammatory they may seem.

Will Crypto Feast on Carnivore?  Do you encrypt your email before you send it?  Probably not.  Most electronic mail traverses the Internet as unscrambled, easy-to-read packets of text.

ACLU: Law Needs Carnivore Fix:  An FBI spokesman said the notion that it would look at more emails than the agency is entitled to under the law is a misunderstanding of the system's purpose and operation.

U.S. to Track Crypto Trails:  Over 2,450,000 telephone conversations were legally intercepted in 1999, according to government statistics.

Carnivore Eats Your Privacy:  critics say the practice of intercepting the network traffic of all users, even for a brief period of time, could run afoul of federal privacy laws and even the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizure.

Carnivore Can Read Everything.  "We've been led to believe that the purpose of Carnivore is to filter and pinpoint the particular communications that the FBI is authorized to obtain.  If that's true, then why are they testing the system's ability to store and archive everything?"

Letter to Reps. Canady and Watt:  The ACLU urges the heads of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee to take action on Carnivore.

Invasion of Your Privacy Has Just Begun:  'Carnivore, the most recent example of FBI snooping software, is reported to be able to scoop up all of targeted individuals' Internet traffic, including e-mail.  Carnivore is only one project aimed at destroying America's privacy.  In fact, the FBI under the Clinton administration developed an entire series of hardware and software devices intended to monitor U.S. citizens.'

New documents disclose extent of FBI's Web surveillance: The FBI records show the agency used its controversial Carnivore system 13 times between October 1999 and August 2000 to monitor Internet communications, and a similar device, Etherpeek, another 11 times."

Numerous other Carnivore links

Feds Fail to Protect Privacy of E-mail:  The federal government has yet to implement a Supreme Court decision protecting your e-mail privacy.  That has prompted House Majority Leader Dick Armey to fire off a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging that the court be obeyed and that your privacy be protected.  Zeroing in on the FBI's 'Carnivore' program, the high court said devices that allow police technology to erode the privacy guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment is unconstitutional.

Urge Congress to Stop the FBI's Use of Privacy-Invading Software:  In traditional wiretaps, the government is required to minimize its interception of non-incriminating - or innocent - communications. But Carnivore does just the opposite by scanning through tens of millions of emails and other communications from innocent Internet users as well as the targeted suspect.

Mueller Noncommittal on Carnivore:  FBI Director Robert Mueller has refused to commit to an independent review of the agency's Carnivore surveillance system.

House leader wants investigation of 'Carnivore':  A powerful house lawmaker asked the FBI to re-examine the extent to which its e-mail sniffing tool, "Carnivore," infringes on privacy.

Feds Fail to Protect Privacy of E-mail:  The federal government has yet to implement a Supreme Court decision protecting your e-mail privacy.  That has prompted House Majority Leader Dick Armey to fire off a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging that the court be obeyed and that your privacy be protected.  Zeroing in on the FBI's "Carnivore' program, the high court said devices that allow police technology to erode the privacy guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment is unconstitutional.

Invasion of Your Privacy Has Just Begun Carnivore, the most recent example of FBI snooping software, is reported to be able to scoop up all of targeted individuals' Internet traffic, including e-mail.  Carnivore is only one project aimed at destroying America's privacy.  In fact, the FBI under the Clinton administration developed an entire series of hardware and software devices intended to monitor U.S. citizens.

The trouble with 'deep packet inspection'.  The data is already dismal when it comes to people peeking at your Internet travels.  Twenty percent of U.S. companies hire employees specifically to snoop at employee e-mail and 41 percent perform some kind of e-mail monitoring, according to a survey published earlier this year by Proofpoint.  Two-thirds of companies monitor Web surfing, and 12 percent even monitor outside blog activity.  Even if your company doesn't watch you as a matter of policy, employees might be sneaking a peek anyway.

Spooks told to get used to encrypted VoIP.  A British security firm has urged the government not to impose heavy-handed interception regulations on VoIP providers, ahead of the forthcoming consultation on communications data.  Cellcrypt, based in London, develops and sells a smartphone application that allows companies to make encrypted VoIP calls internationally.  The software can be pushed to handsets over the air, offering near-instant voice security for workers in the field.

Senate Panel to Probe Allegations NSA Illegally Wiretapped American Phone Calls, E-Mails.  Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein says she will investigate indications of new wiretap violations by the National Security Agency.  The Justice Department confirmed Wednesday [4/15/2009] that it had reined in the NSA's wiretapping activities in the United States after finding out the agency had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails.

N.S.A.'s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress.  The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.

This was written in 1999:
The Echelon attack.  Internet activists last week tried to overwhelm National Security Agency eavesdroppers by flooding the Echelon spy system with fabricated messages about terrorist plots and bombs.  The idea never posed a real threat to the NSA, but the electronic protest helped raise awareness of the fact that the government is snooping on every man, woman and child in the country through this system.


Electronic voting machines vs Tempest technology.  Tempest is a code word for electromagnetic snooping.  It's usual for military electronics to be "Tempest hardened" in order to shield them from high-tech spying, disruptive interference, and EMPs.  It isn't an exaggeration these days to consider an election to be a military target.  In any case, a non-Tempest-hardened voting machine is likely to leak emissions that give a suitably-equipped passer-by the details of each voter's preferences.

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page:  One-stop shopping for TEMPEST information.

Cell phones as TEMPEST analyzers.  Professor Yuval Elovici, head of Ben Gurion University's Cyber Security Lab, has demonstrated software that allows a cell phone to spy on the activities of a nearby computer even though there is no connection between the phone and the computer.

Soft Tempest:  Hidden Data Transmission Using Electromagnetic Emanations.  It is well known that eavesdroppers can reconstruct video screen content from radio frequency emanations.  The authors discuss techniques that enable the software on a computer to control the electromagnetic radiation it transmits.  This can be used for both attack and defense.

Tempest  was the name of a classified (secret) U.S. government project to study (probably for the purpose of both exploiting and guarding against) the susceptibility of some computer and telecommunications devices to emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR) in a manner that can be used to reconstruct intelligible data.  Tempest's name is believed to have been a code name used during development by the U. S. government in the late 1960s, but at a somewhat later stage, it became an acronym for Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected from Emanating Spurious Transmissions.

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page.  The general principle is that computer monitors and other devices give off electromagnetic radiation.  With the right antenna and receiver, these emanations can be intercepted from a remote location, and then be redisplayed (in the case of a monitor screen) or recorded and replayed (such as with a printer or keyboard).

Compromising emanations:  eavesdropping risks of computer displays.  (8 Megabyte PDF)

The Complete, Unofficial TEMPEST Information Page


This section is about Project Echelon, [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] which is a government eavesdropping system along the lines of Carnivore, but on a world-wide scale.

What is Echelon?  "Only in a 'police state' is the unrestricted interception of communications permitted by government authorities."

Skype Users Beware:  Big Brother May Be Listening.  [Scroll down]  Immediately after the bust, the European Commission opened an investigation.  Alain Brun, the head of data protection at the Commission, told reporters, "The suspect [i.e., Clinton staffer] worked at the U.S. National Security Agency, where he learned of an agreement between Skype and Echelon to enable a 'spy' mode on all Skype products."  What has yet to be explained is:  What did Hillary Clinton's staffer need this information for?  And where has this former Clinton staffer gone?

Inside Echelon:  During the 1980s, the NSA developed a "fast data finder" microprocessor that was optimally designed for this purpose.  It was later commercially marketed, with claims that it "the most comprehensive character-string comparison functions of any text retrieval system in the world".  A single unit could work with "trillions of bytes of textual archive and thousands of online users, or gigabytes of live data stream per day that are filtered against tens of thousands of complex interest profiles."

ECHELON:  America's Secret Global Surveillance Network.  In the greatest surveillance effort ever established, the US National Security Agency has created a global spy system, codename ECHELON, which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world.

Echelon  is an officially unacknowledged U.S.-led global spy network that operates an automated system for the interception and relay of electronic communications.  Monitored transmissions are said to include up to 3 billion communications daily, including all the telephone calls, e-mail messages, faxes, satellite transmissions, and Internet downloads of both public and private organizations and citizens worldwide.

Echelon  is a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses.  Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched.

Echelon:  Someone Is Listening.  Every phone call you make, every email or fax you send may be monitored — and probably is.  Surprise!  It's our own government.

ECHELON  is a term associated with a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for pre-programmed keywords or fax, telex and e-mail addresses.  Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched.

Echelon Exists, and You're Busted.  Don your tinfoil hats, folks, because the hush-hush NSA project ECHELON just had a little light shined on it.

A Most Unusual Collection Agency.  During the Cold War there were hundreds of secret remote listening posts spread around the globe.  From large stations in the moors of Scotland and mountains of Turkey that were complete with golf ball-like structures called "radomes" to singly operated stations in the barren wilderness of Saint Lawrence Island between Alaska and Siberia that had only a few antennae, these stations constituted the ground-based portion of the United States Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) System or "USSS."

Carnivore, Altivore, Echelon:  In terms of privacy concerns as well as raw technological power, Carnivore looks like a toy compared to Echelon.  Echelon is almost certainly the world's most sophisticated network monitoring system and, if rumors are to be believed, anyone who feels uncomfortable with the secrecy surrounding Carnivore should feel downright paranoid where Echelon is concerned.

Somebody's listening.  American, British and Allied intelligence agencies are soon to embark on a massive, billion-dollar expansion of their global electronic surveillance system.  According to information given recently in secret to the US Congress, the surveillance system will enable the agencies to monitor and analyse civilian communications into the 21st century.  Identified for the moment as Project P415, the system will be run by the US National Security Agency.

Echelon's Architect:  Echelon now has a big brother.  Meet Bruce McIndoe, lead architect for Echelon II, the 'most productive intelligence program' in history.

The Echelon attack.  Internet activists [in October 1999] tried to overwhelm National Security Agency eavesdroppers by flooding the Echelon spy system with fabricated messages about terrorist plots and bombs.  The idea never posed a real threat to the NSA, but the electronic protest helped raise awareness of the fact that the government is snooping on every man, woman and child in the country through this system.

Exposing The Global Surveillance System.  Designed and coordinated by NSA, the ECHELON system is used to intercept ordinary e-mail, fax, telex, and telephone communications carried over the world's telecommunications networks.  Unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON is designed primarily for non-military targets:  governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals in virtually every country.  It potentially affects every person communicating between (and sometimes within) countries anywhere in the world.

My parents were spies.  I grew up just outside RAF Chicksand (at the time an American base, despite the "RAF").  It's most distinctive feature was a giant double circle antenna we used to call "The Elephants Cage" which didn't appear on any maps.  It was common local knowledge amongst kids that it was part of a global spy network and if you ever said "bomb" on the phone it would start taping you.  Hence whenever using the phone we used to say "bomb" a lot.  Don't ask me where we got this from, but it looks like it's turned out to be at least partially true.

Echelon:  Someone is Listening:  A huge information resource on Echelon.

Somebody's listening:  This network of monitoring stations is able to tap all international and some domestic communications circuits, and sift out messages which sound interesting.

Echelon Watch:  The goal of EchelonWatch is not to disband legitimate intelligence operations but to insist that they be subject to proper oversight.

Echelon Research Resources: Huge collection of articles and links.

Echelon — Rights Violation in the Information Age:  Now that the cold war is over, covert agencies around the world are increasingly turning their SIGINT assets, most notably a vast global electronic spy system known as Echelon, against civilian targets.  It's enough to give any decent rights-respecting individual nightmares.

Echelon:  Big brother without a cause?  Critics accuse the United States' intelligence community and its English-speaking partners of waging what is in effect a new Cold War.  At stake are international contracts worth billions of dollars, and at the disposal of the spymasters is an intelligence gathering system of immense power.

Report Downplays Echelon Effect.  A global surveillance system known as Echelon does exist and has the ability to eavesdrop on telephone calls, faxes and e-mail messages, a European Parliament committee has concluded.

Q&A:  What you need to know about Echelon.  Civil rights groups who monitor Echelon say it can be used to intercept almost any electronic communication, be it a phone conversation, mobile phone call, e-mail message, fax transmission, net browsing history, or satellite transmission.  The wildest estimates of its capabilities report that it can sift through up to 90% of all internet traffic.

Echelon Panel Calls It a Day:  "I think it's very good that the report states clearly that Echelon exists, so the work we've done is not in vain."

Echelon excesses:  There is a strong belief in intelligence circles that Brian Regan may have been the first spy nabbed by "Echelon," the highly classified information gathering and dissemination network operated by the U.S. National Security Agency and its global partners.

They're Listening to Your Calls:  Echelon monitors phones, E-mail, and radio signals.

E-mail users warned over spy network:  Computer users across Europe should encrypt all their e-mails, to avoid being spied on by a UK-US eavesdropping network, say Euro-MPs.

US spy system under attack:  The Echelon system, originally set up during the Cold War, is known to be capable of intercepting private telephone conversations, faxes and e-mails worldwide.

Louder Call for Echelon Probe:  Fresh outrage in Japan over alleged U.S. satellite-based spying, coupled with European pressure on the same subject, could add urgency to calls for Congress to engage in a serious investigation of the so-called Echelon system.

England leads the way

DARPA to begin mysterious 'Project GANDALF'.  The Gandalf program is an advanced technology and development and demonstration program that is seeking solutions to … radio frequency (RF) geolocation and emitter identification using specific emitter identification (SEI) for specific signals of interest.  The ultimate goal of the Gandalf program is to enable a set of handheld devices to be utilized to perform RF geolocation and SEI on RF signals of interest to the Gandalf program.  The specific goals and performance objectives associated with RF geolocation and SEI for the Gandalf system are classified.

Big British Brother:  [The National Post's] editorial board traditionally has argued that, in the post-9/11 age, law-enforcement and security services should enjoy broad powers to investigate and apprehend terrorists.  But even we are appalled by a British proposal, revealed over the weekend, to monitor the telephone, cellphone, text message, e-mail and Web surfing activity of every citizen in the U. K. in the name of homeland security.

'Black box' will store all traffic on Net.  Fears were growing today over government plans to store details of all internet traffic in the UK using new "black box" technology.  Home Office officials have told senior telecommunications figures of proposals to use the Interception Modernisation Programme to retain raw data of every phonecall, email and internet visit, which would be transferred to a database controlled by the Government.  The information would be used to fight terrorism and serious crime.

Every phone call, email or website visit 'to be monitored'.  The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database.  The precise content of calls and other communications would not be accessible but even text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked.

Fusion Centers

13 Ways The American Police State Squanders Your Tax Dollars.  [#13]  $1.4 billion for fusion centers.  These fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance and intelligence efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless, or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on "flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras, and other gadgets."

Has the Dept. of Homeland Security become America's standing army?  Data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency, fusions centers — of which there are at least 78 scattered around the U.S. — constantly monitor our communications, collecting and cataloguing everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails.  This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected:  the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police.  Despite a budget estimated to be somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion, these fusion centers have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on "flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras and other gadgets."

NSA Utah data center
We know the whereabouts of the "lost" IRS emails.  Access to any of those records can be had with a simple directive from the President of the United States.  The facility where the records are stored, along with the private emails, text messages, google searches and 20 trillion domestic phone calls since 2001 is owned and operated by America's National Security Agency which, among other things, is responsible for the monitoring of American citizens and storing any and all digital interactions captured on private and public telecommunications lines.  The NSA's most advanced intelligence monitoring facility is located at Camp Williams and is called the "Utah Data Center."  If the emails ever existed, whether they were deliberately wiped or accidentally lost, the National Security Agency undoubtedly has a digital record of them.

More about Lois Lerner's very convenient computer crash.

Fusion Centers: Expensive and Dangerous to Our Liberty.  A domestic surveillance system established after the terrorist attacks of September 11 collects and shares intelligence on a mass scale about "the everyday activities of law-abiding Americans, even in the absence of reasonable suspicion," according to a new report. [...] "Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings," the report explains.  "Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime.  But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head."

New NSA data center reported plagued by meltdowns.  A huge new data-storage facility for U.S. spying is plagued by chronic electrical surges that have prevented the center's opening, documents and officials say.

NSA hunger demands 29 petabytes of data a day.  As the National Security Agency (NSA) spying furore rumbles on, the agency has claimed to be looking at only 0.00004 percent of the world's total internet traffic.  In a document on the website, the agency said that the internet carries 1,826 Petabytes of information per day, and that its activity "touches" 1.6 percent of that data — approximately 29 petabytes, or 29 million gigabytes, of data each day.  Of that number, the agency says 0.025 percent is selected for review.

Information Fusion Centers and Privacy.  Fusion Centers are intelligence databases that collect information on ordinary citizens.

America Under Barack Obama.  [Scroll down slowly]  McCarthy's regime was ended by Senators who realized that he had gone too far.  What we have now may be more insidious.  What we have now in America is a surveillance society.  We have no idea how much the government knows and how much the CIA even knows about average citizens.  The government is not supposed to be doing this in this country.  They listen in on our phone calls.  I am not exaggerating because I have studied this a long time.  You have to be careful about what you do, about what you say, and that is more dangerous than what was happening with McCarthy, but the technology the government now possesses is so much more insidious.

Information Sharing and Fusion Centers:  Many State and major urban areas have established information fusion centers to coordinate the gathering, analysis, and dissemination of law enforcement, homeland security, public-safety, and terrorism information.  As of September 1, 2007, over 66 of these centers are operating or are being established in States and localities across the country.

Federal Support For and Involvement In State and Local Fusion Centers.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.  The Subcommittee investigation also found that DHS officials' public claims about fusion centers were not always accurate.  For instance, DHS officials asserted that some fusion centers existed when they did not.

Explosive findings about DHS operations in congressional report.  An explosive 141-page investigative report was quietly released just after midnight by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is an indictment of the practices and procedures of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [...] Of the 386 unclassified reports reviewed during this investigation, only 94 were found to relate "in some way" to potential terrorist activity, or the activities of a known or suspected terrorist.  Of those 94 reports, the usefulness of those reports were deemed as "questionable."

DHS Fusion Centers Spend Much, Learn Little, Mislead a Lot.  A network of 77 "fusion" intelligence centers, set up around the country under the auspices of the federal Department of Homeland Security, has over the past decade uncovered little information that could be useful in defending the nation against terrorism.  It also created numerous reports on the legal, everyday of activities of ordinary Americans, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Federal Support for Fusion Centers Report.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.

Report: Napolitano misled Congress on terrorism 'fusion' centers.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano repeatedly misled lawmakers about one of her department's signature initiatives, the special centers where state and local police share information about terrorism with their federal counterparts, a key lawmaker who helped author a damning report on the project said in an interview Thursday [10/4/2012].  A bipartisan report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations states that Ms. Napolitano and her department failed to report to Congress serious problems with the so-called "fusion center" program.

Nothing is Private Under the False Flag of Terrorism.  In a possible preparation for the ability of the CIA to spy on American citizens with their household items, the NSA's Utah Data Center is located in the Utah desert in the foot hills of the Wasatch mountain range.  This is the centerpiece of the Global Information Grid; a military project that collects yottabytes of data.  They are listening to every conversation, reading every post, intercepting every text message under the false flag of terrorism.  The facility has the technological ability to record and analyze every communication in the world.  From emails to phone calls to text messages to chats; nothing is private anymore.

This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2021 by Andrew K. Dart


TrapWire Training Courses Reveal Possible Purpose for its Creation.  TrapWire is a massive and technologically advanced surveillance system that has the capacity to keep nearly the entire population of this country under the watchful eye of government 24 hours a day.  Using this network of cameras and other surveillance tools, the federal government is rapidly constructing an impenetrable, inescapable theater of surveillance, most of which is going unnoticed by Americans and unreported by the mainstream media.

Stratfor emails reveal secret, widespread TrapWire surveillance system.  Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence.  It's part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America's intelligence community.

Everything You Need to Know About TrapWire.  [Scroll down]  There is certainly something to worry about in the pervasive post-9/11 mentality that TrapWire represents:  The obsession with preventing terrorist attacks through constitutionally dubious profiling and surveillance.  But TrapWire on its own doesn't seem to be anywhere near the level of, say, the NSA's warantless wiretapping program.

Unravelling TrapWire.  [Scroll down]  One thing that makes TrapWire a particularly interesting company is that its president, chief of operations and director of business development are all former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. [...] Abraxas Corporation, the company that originally created TrapWire under its subsidiary Abraxas Applications, also has significant ties to the CIA.  The company was founded by Richard "Hollis" Helms in 2001, two years after he left the CIA where he had worked for nearly 30 years.

Trapwire: It's Not the Surveillance, It's the Sleaze.  Ever since WikiLeaks began releasing a series of documents about the surveillance system Trapwire, there's been a panicked outcry over this supposedly all-seeing, revolutionary spy network.  In fact, there are any number of companies that say they comb through video feeds or suspicious activity reports in largely the same way that Trapwire claims to do.  What's truly extraordinary about Trapwire was how it was marketed by the private intelligence firm Stratfor, whose internal e-mails WikiLeaks exposed.

Trapwire: Big Brother Now Monitors Your Every Move.  The latest Wikileaks data-dump reveals that the government now has the ability to grab video from far-flung surveillance cameras located in stores, casinos and other businesses around the country.  It uses sophisticated facial recognition software to identify people of interest captured by the ubiquitous cameras numbering in the millions.  The software, Trapwire, is a significant breakthrough for the surveillance state.

Wikileaks reveals "TrapWire," a government spy network that uses ordinary surveillance cameras.  According to documents leaked on Wikileaks, a company run by ex-CIA agents has created a piece of technology, called TrapWire, that siphons data from surveillance cameras in stores, casinos, and other businesses around the country.  TrapWire then analyzes this data for, well, people of interest.  Are we living in a total surveillance state without even realizing it?

Is it a bug or a feature?

Stories on this subject are all over the map.  The government denies knowing about it until just recently.  Others say the government has been using it as a tool and a weapon for years.  If even half of the material on this page is true, I'm inclined to believe the non-government sources.

Obama administration denies knowing about Heartbleed before this month.  The Obama administration is denying that the National Security Agency or any other part of the government knew about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, known as the Heartbleed bug, before it was discovered earlier this month.

The NSA denies it knew of the Heartbleed bug.  The NSA is disavowing its knowledge of the Heartbleed security vulnerability after a Bloomberg report suggested that the spy agency had exploited it for at least two years.  "NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report," NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines told The [Washington] Post.  "Reports that say otherwise are wrong."  The White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence echoed that statement Friday, saying neither the NSA nor any other part of the U.S. government knew about Heartbleed before April 2014.

Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say.  Stepping into a heated debate within the nation's intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.  But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for "a clear national security or law enforcement need," the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.

NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years.  The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.  The agency's reported decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government's top computer experts.

How the NSA shot itself in the foot by denying prior knowledge of Heartbleed vulnerability.  The National Security Agency has eyes and ears everywhere.  At least, so we thought.  In 2012, during a classified but widely-known operation at Fort Meade, MD, government crypotographers and developers downloaded the OpenSSL source code, as it does with dozens of other software published on the Web.  The operation's objective was to find weaknesses in the library and exploit those vulnerabilities as part of wider efforts by the intelligence agency to conduct mass-scale surveillance.  After the code was downloaded and compiled, the developers were soon able to pinpoint a programming flaw in the code, which would have allowed the agency to collect usernames and passwords far quicker, more efficiently, and at a lower cost than its bulk data collection programs, notably its fiber cable tapping operation named Upstream.

Domestic surveillance

It is amazing to me that the people who seem to be most outraged by "domestic spying" are the same people who want the government to keep getting bigger and more powerful every year.

It is naïve to expect complete privacy when talking on the phone.  The chances are pretty good that your phone conversations are just between you and the person you called, but there are no guarantees.  When you use a cordless phone or a cell phone, you are talking on a two-way radio, and your expectations should be appropriately lower.

But a list of the phone numbers you have called is a long way from a wiretap.  Long-distance phone carriers have been keeping lists like that for years.  And if it will help catch and convict dangerous criminals, why not let the three-letter agencies sift through the records?  And the answer is simple:  When the feds have put away all the mass-murderers and terrorists, they'll keep looking for smaller and smaller fish in the sea of phone records, especially with people like Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno at the highest levels of the government.  For example, if your brother-in-law is arrested for selling marijuana, and then the police discover that you have called his house about a hundred times (for various reasons), you could have a big problem.

Incidentally, if you are really concerned about "domestic spying", you should think twice about putting a toll road access tag on your car.

There was a flurry of new information about domestic surveillance in June, 2013, related to an information leak by a young man named Edward Snowden.  He now has his own subsection, located here.  In the section immediately below, there are still several excerpts that mention Mr. Snowden, but the focus is not specifically on him.

Related topics:
Commercial and Industrial Threats to Privacy
License plate readers and toll tag readers

The car bomb in Nashville, Tennessee, December 25, 2020

Overviews of domestic surveillance:

Every Tragedy Caused by Government Is Done with the Best of Intentions.  President Bush's "war on terror" in response to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor not only led to two of the longest wars in U.S. history without producing clear-cut long-term victories but also initiated a mass surveillance state that is now used against Americans by the FBI, NSA, and U.S. military to target constitutionally protected political beliefs.

Reassessing Orwell to Understand Our Times.  Orwell's Big Brother has become a reality in the NSA's tracking and recording all email, text and telephone communication in the United States.  But Big Brother has a new dimension with social media and consumer giants, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, knowing almost everything about people's preferences through their artificial intelligence peering into peoples' "telescreen" computers and smartphones.

Squeaky clean, huh?  Obama forgot about these 25 scandals.  [#16] NSA Spying on Americans:  In June 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the U.S. government was collecting an enormous amount of data on millions of Americans with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.  The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, had testified to Congress just the opposite, the year before.  When Snowden's revelations became public, Clapper said he had misspoken, not lied.  Obama claimed laws and safeguards prevent the NSA from collecting information without a warrant, but WND has reported many sources, including a Democrat congressman, said that is not true.

10 Ways Big Government Harms You.  [#1] Big government invades your privacy.  Unfortunately the NSA spying scandal is not a singular event nor is the fundamental issue going to be resolved by a simple changing of NSA policy by the President, the courts, or the congress.  The bigger government becomes the more its appetite increases to monitor what its citizens are doing, what they are saying and even what they are thinking.  From Sun Tzu to Julius Caesar, from FDR to Barack Obama, political leaders have been keeping track of their citizenry for centuries.  The problem heightens as the government gets larger because as big government tries to control more, it is increasingly susceptible to dissent and subversion.  A sense of paranoia develops that feeds upon itself.  Leaders inside the expanding state have reason to believe that somebody is fomenting rebellion against their rule.

The surveillance state is here, and to stay.  If great Washington scandals come in threes, as disasters are said to do, we're there.  First there was Watergate, regarded as the granddaddy of them all.  A third-rate burglary at the Watergate Hotel grew to a scandal big enough to cashier a president.  This was followed a decade later by Iran-Contra, an attempt by Reagan administration rogues to exploit trouble in one country to fix a problem in another, and now there's what may be the most far-reaching scandal of all.  The administration of Barack Obama, eager to advance the interests of Hillary Clinton, who was to be the front for his otherwise constitutionally forbidden third term, sought court approval to spy on a suspected colluder with Russians, and in doing so advanced the surveillance state that will now spy on everybody.

What Touches Classified is Classified.  In the three thousand years of the history of espionage and of criminal investigations, a primary element has been the practice of reading other peoples' mail.  Wiretapping, steaming open envelopes, forging letters to get an incriminating response — these are ploys of reality as well as fiction.  Google and AT&T are said to have helped the National Security Administration scan our emails for code words and other data.  Who we write to in itself can help reveal what we are up to.  Your mail is being monitored.

Government Plays a Dangerous Game with Mass Surveillance.  The Fourth Amendment was designed to guard against the harms government invasions of privacy wreak on a free people.  It protects our homes and our private conversations, including those online, because these are where we should feel most protected from government interference.  Absent a warrant or an emergency, it has no right to violate this reasonable expectation of privacy.  Unfortunately, that's not the America we live in today.

Here Are The Major Scandals That Took Place When Robert Mueller Was FBI Director.  [#3] NSA Warrantless Surveillance (2001-2013):  illegal collection of domestic phone records and internet communications that were sent or received by US citizens, in violation of Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless search and seizure, followed by potential perjury committed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who denied the practices under oath; the 2013 Snowden revelations proved that the 2004 story about Comey and Mueller stopping illegal surveillance practices meant absolutely nothing in reality[.]

Surveillance.  On any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.  With all branches of the government stridently working to maintain its acquired powers, and the private sector marching in lockstep, The Rutherford Institute is sounding the alarm in an effort to warn the American people about the ubiquitous surveillance state.  Whether you're walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.  This doesn't even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Getting Rid of Comey Is Only the Start.  Numerous times during its history, the FBI has taken a keen interest in veterans groups after they come back from overseas.  In some instances the bureau has gone as far as raiding the homes of veterans who espouse unpopular political beliefs.  If the brave men and women who risk their lives defending Americans' sacred liberties aren't safe from FBI overreach can the average citizen feel safe?  No, they cannot.  Partnering with local law enforcement agencies the FBI has created physical infrastructure to listen in on calls across the country, without a warrant, or probable cause.  Local communities from coast to coast are under constant surveillance, many without even realizing it.  Even if you manage to live in an area where the FBI is not partnering with local authorities to listen in on your phone calls, which is unlikely, you may still be targeted if you utilize social media.  A striking case which laid bare the FBI's understanding of its own power came when they publically demanded that Apple create a "backdoor" for its consumer products which would allow them to break into anyone's phone at any given time.  The audacity of a government agency demanding that a company make its products less safe rightfully enraged the public, but many soon forgot after the crisis was averted.

10 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True.  [#10] The US Government Illegally Spies On Its Own Citizens:  Even after it was revealed that the NSA has been illegally eavesdropping on us and collecting our cell phone metadata for over a decade, people still hedged on the meaning of it.  Yes, they are analyzing our transmissions, but it's under the auspices of national security.  "In a post 9/11 world" certain liberties must be sacrificed for the sake of security, right?  It turns out that is patently untrue.  Not only is there no evidence that the NSA has protected us from terrorism, there is growing evidence that it makes us more vulnerable.  Thanks to revelations about the NSA and their Prism project, we know that the scope of the NSA's eavesdropping is even beyond what we originally believed.

10 More Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Became Conspiracy Facts.  [#10] CIA monitors U.S. citizens via their smart devices:  Early in 2017, the organization Wikileaks began releasing their first post-2016 election cables with a series of explosive data dumps regarding the CIA's cyber hacking abilities and exploits.  It is called Vault 7.  Updated serially in "Year Zero," "Dark Matter," "Marble," "Grasshopper," "HIVE," "Weeping Angel," and "Scribbles," the documents show the unprecedented collection of cyber vulnerabilities, exploits, and hacking abilities consolidated within the agency that many believe constitute wide-ranging breaches of civil liberties.  Chief among these breaches is domestic surveillance and extrajudicial cyberhacking, which the Wikileaks documents confirm are taking place in an abundance of forms.

The Illusion of Freedom:  The Police State Is Alive and Well.  [Scroll down]  In fact, the American police state has continued to advance at the same costly, intrusive, privacy-sapping, Constitution-defying, relentless pace under President Trump as it did under President Obama. [...] The surveillance state hasn't stopped spying on Americans' communications, transactions or movements.  On any given day, whether you're walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether it's your local police, a fusion center, the National Security Agency or one of the government's many corporate partners, is still monitoring and tracking you.

The chickens have come home to roost.  In our misguided efforts to keep the country safe, we have neglected to keep it free.  We have enabled a deep state to become powerful enough to control a powerful president.  We have placed so much data and so much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable, opaque spies that they can use it as they see fit — even to the point of committing federal felonies.  Now some have boasted that they can manipulate and thus control the president of the United States by selectively revealing and concealing what they know about anyone, including the president himself.  This is a perilous state of affairs, brought about by the maniacal passion for surveillance spawned under George W. Bush and perfected under Barack Obama — all with utter indifference to the widespread constitutional violations and permanent destruction of personal liberties.

Obama Says He's Had A Scandal-Free Administration.  Here Are 11 of His Scandals.  [#5] The NSA conducted mass surveillance against American citizens without a warrant.  Thanks to leaking from former government contractor Edward Snowden, it was revealed that the National Security Agency had been conducting mass surveillance against American citizens — a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.  In 2015, the NSA eventually ended their bulk data collection of phone records.

September 11: Remembering Lives and Liberties Lost 15 Years Ago.  [The attacks on 9/11/2001] changed our country in ways that have significantly undermined our cherished liberties.  The indignity of imposing TSA security theater at airports is the least of it.  Security checkpoints are everywhere requiring citizens to show ID and undergo screenings by metal detectors in order to enter practically all public and many private buildings.  But even worse are the secret erosions of our rights as citizens not to be surveilled by our government.  We now know that the federal government is engaged in pervasive unconstitutional domestic spying on essentially all Americans.  The monetary costs of "Homeland Security" are estimated to run about $75 billion per year.  The "black budget" of the federal government's "intelligence community" exceeds $52 billion annually.  The percentage of it that is spent on spying on Americans is not clear, but is certainly billions, if not tens of billions.  Since the September 11 atrocities, 94 Americans have been killed in domestic attacks by violent jihadists, which are the kind of attacks against which our elaborate security apparatus purports to protect us.

This Is Not Your Government.  So, here we are: the government regularly and with specific intent violates the 4th Amendment.  What are you going to do about it?  They are listening to your phone calls, reading your emails, scanning your Facebook and other social media sites, all in the name of deterring terrorism, but they cannot even stop something like San Bernardino or Orlando.  We have traded liberty for security and every warning we have ever been given has been ignored and the consequences are being suffered.  It is common knowledge that the government is monitoring all of these aspects of our lives and it is met with a shrug.

There Will Be No Second American Revolution:  The Futility Of An Armed Revolt.  [Scroll down]  Even government agencies with largely administrative functions such as the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Smithsonian have been acquiring body armor, riot helmets and shields, cannon launchers and police firearms and ammunition.  In fact, there are now at least 120,000 armed federal agents carrying such weapons who possess the power to arrest.  Rounding out this profit-driven campaign to turn American citizens into enemy combatants (and America into a battlefield) is a technology sector that is colluding with the government to create a Big Brother that is all-knowing, all-seeing and inescapable.  It's not just the drones, fusion centers, license plate readers, stingray devices and the NSA that you have to worry about.  You're also being tracked by the black boxes in your cars, your cell phone, smart devices in your home, grocery loyalty cards, social media accounts, credit cards, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and e-book reader accounts.

The FBI Has Quietly Collected 434,000 Iris Scans Of US Citizens.  Working together with local police departments, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Pentagon, the FBI has discreetly amassed 434,000 iris scans.  The surveillance technology, used primarily by airports and private security companies, was pitched in 2013 as a way to help police departments catch criminals in a safer and more efficient manner.  At that point, the FBI already had 30,000 scans and was looking to coordinate with local and national agencies to develop a searchable database of scans taken by police departments across the nation.  The iris scan, which can be taken from a distance and requires no physical contact, was to be taken upon arrest and submitted whether charges were pressed or not.

U.S. Defense Contractor To Blanket Earth With New Surveillance Technology.  Google has received vast criticism for its Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Streetview systems that have essentially removed the inherent right to privacy and transferred it to the whim of corporate terms and conditions.  However, this would seem to pale in comparison to what is being announced from the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, working in tandem with commercial space imagery vendor, DigitalGlobe.  According to Lockheed, they are making final preparations for a next-generation global imaging satellite called DigitalGlobe WorldView-4.  If all remains according to plan, the new satellite will be launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base as early as September 15, 2016.

Engineered Chaos And Fear The New Norm In America As Many Assume The "Reality" Of Staged Events.  There was a time when there was actually a sense of normality all around us and there was a sense of justice and accountability at the government level even if it was mostly the perception of it. [...] There was even a time when you could comfortably plan on traveling pretty much anywhere in the world, especially here in the United States for business or pleasure without having to deal with the prospect of "terrorism" or another psyop mass shooting, terror truck drivers, snipers or lockdowns.  You also didn't have to worry about a violent police state, checkpoints, surveillance cameras, killer robots, government spying and 24/7 fear, death and destruction being put out by the mainstream media news.  There was a sense of order, in other words, that many of us still remember and we remember exactly what it felt like.  Obviously you can't miss something or yearn for the days you've never experienced.  This disconnect that the younger generation has to what some may refer to the good old days is important in the grand scheme of things because this chaos is all they know and it is a grand example of learned helplessness.  For the first time in modern American history we have a generation that doesn't know what order, calmness and peace looks like.

A Week in the Life of the American Police State.  The following incidents constitute a typical week in the life of the American police state.  [#1] Not content with merely spying on our emails and phone calls, the NSA wants to spy on thermostats, refrigerators, and pacemakers.  [#2] Reinforcing fears about how easily surveillance technology can be abused by government officials, local police in California are using money acquired through asset forfeiture to buy surveillance equipment that was then used to blackmail city council members.  [#3] Small-town police departments continue to militarize their forces, acquiring military equipment such as BearCat armored vehicles and SWAT teams at an alarming rate.  [#4] According to the Government Accountability Office, the majority of people in the government's criminal face-recognition database have never committed a crime. [...] [#7] The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that as long as the government shows "good faith," it can search your digital files as much as it wants.  [#8] The FBI and other government agencies have been hiding cameras in city utility poles in order to carry out warrantless, covert surveillance on Americans.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.  Roy Olmstead had been convicted for bootlegging on the basis of words he used in overheard telephone conversations.  Because he had used a phone at his place of work that the government had tapped without breaking and entering his workplace, the high court ruled — despite the fact that the government had not obtained a warrant — that he had no right to privacy.  [Justice Louis] Brandeis dissented.  Over time, the Brandeis dissent became the law.  The Fourth Amendment, which protects the privacy of all in our "persons, houses, papers, and effects," was interpreted to cover telephone conversations and eventually emails and text messages.  So today, if the government wants information contained in those communications, it needs to obtain a search warrant, which the Fourth Amendment states can only be given by a judge — and only upon a showing of probable cause of evidence of a crime contained in the communications it seeks.

The NSA doesn't even know how many Americans it's spying on.  The National Security Agency (NSA), which is behind some of the world's most sophisticated mass surveillance operations, can't say how many Americans it's spying on in these endeavors.  That's not because it's a secret, though that might be a reason too.  It's because the agency's operations are so vast that it can't even figure out the number.

Saint or Sinner, Government Eyes Are Watching Every Move You Make.  We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.  Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.  A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you're walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

It's Time to Put an End to the NSA's Bulk Collection of Americans' Metadata.  The authors of our Bill of Rights included the Fourth Amendment because they knew that one of the best protections against tyranny is to limit the government's power to search its citizens.  Specifically, the Framers wanted to ensure that the federal government could not issue broad general warrants that would empower the executive branch to indiscriminately rummage through the private lives of American citizens — in other words, to spy on them.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what the National Security Agency is doing today.

Advisor: Obama, NSA use internet to silence critics like Tea Party.  The Obama administration is expanding its online data search of Americans to find potential civil unrest — like the 2010 Tea Party movement — and squash it before they take root, a prominent financial advisor has warned clients.  David John Marotta compared the administration's efforts to those used by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover against his critics and 1960s activists.  Targeting activists isn't anything new.  J. Edgar Hoover made it his life's work.  What has changed is the vigor with which the government has assumed its own activism against certain groups, he said.

50 Things Barack Obama Has Done Wrong:  [#15]  The NSA has spied on Americans under Obama.  [#16]  Under Obama, the CIA spied on the Senate.

What the Future of Government Surveillance Looks Like.  [Scroll down]  These partnerships make no sense when the primary goal of intelligence is government vs. government espionage, but are obvious and appropriate when the primary goal is global surveillance of the population.  So while the German government expresses outrage at the NSA's surveillance of the country's leaders, its BND continues to partner with the NSA to surveil everyone else.  The endgame of this isn't pretty:  It's a global surveillance network where all countries collude to surveil everyone on the entire planet.

Agents performing warrantless searches are the hallmark of totalitarianism.  When Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the domestic spying that the government unleashed upon us post-9/11 and made us all aware of its use of the Patriot Act to do so, the authors of the Patriot Act expressed outrage and anger.  What was the government doing?  The government was secretly gathering data on all of us and using warrants that were not based on probable cause and that did not specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.  When members of Congress realized that they, too, were being spied upon, the outrage grew.  That outrage and anger metastasized into a new law enacted earlier this year, called the USA Freedom Act, which took effect this week.  That law, its supporters have argued, will tame the National Security Agency into constitutional compliance and keep its 60,000 agents and contractors out of our private affairs.  In fact, it is now worse.

The Truth About USA Freedom.  [Scroll down]  The proponents of the NSA's warrantless domestic spying program also vastly oversell its effectiveness.  The program was still in operation when terrorists struck Paris and had expired just four days before the San Bernardino attacks.  If this program was so essential, why did it not stop these attacks?  Furthermore, just as Obama can't identify a single mass shooting that his gun control proposals would have stopped, supporters of warrantless domestic spying can't point to a single attack the NSA's domestic program prevented.

Obama: yes we scan
CISA Is Now The Law: How Congress Quietly Passed The Second Patriot Act.  Why was the CISA included in the omnibus package, which just passed both the House and the Senate?  Because any "nay" votes [...] would also threaten the entire budget of the federal government.  In other words, it was a question of either Americans keeping their privacy or halting the funding of the US government, in effect bankrupting the nation.  And best of all, the rushed bill means there will be no debate.  The bottom line as OTI's Robyn Green said, "They've got this bill that's kicked around for years and had been too controversial to pass, so they've seen an opportunity to push it through without debate.  And they're taking that opportunity."  The punchline:  "They're kind of pulling a Patriot Act."  And when Obama signs the $1.1 trillion Spending Bill in a few hours, as he will, it will be official:  the second Patriot Act will be the law, and with it what little online privacy US citizens may enjoy, will be gone.

Related topic:  The Department of Justice vs Apple Computer, a case in which the government is attempting to compel a cell phone manufacturer to unlock the encryption in a dead terrorist's cell phone — and all other phones in that product line.

Domestic surveillance news and opinion This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2021 by Andrew K. Dart

US government ordering Google to provide users' search data: report.  The US federal government is secretly ordering Google and other search engines to track and provide data on anyone who searches certain terms through "keyword warrants," according to a new report.  In recent years, only two such warrants have been made public, but accidentally unsealed court documents obtained by Forbes show the government has been making these requests far more frequently.  The unsealed warrant stemmed from a 2019 federal investigation in Wisconsin, where investigators were searching for men they believed had taken part in trafficking and sexually abusing a minor.  In an effort to track them down, officials ordered Google to provide any information on users, including account names, IP addresses and CookieIDs, that searched the victim's name, two spellings of her mother's name and her address over 16 days throughout the year.

Accidental leak reveals US government has secretly hit Google with 'keyword warrants'.  The U.S. government is using 'keyword warrants' to uncover the identity of anyone who searches Google and other search engines for certain search terms that may be related to a crime, according to a new report.  The controversial practice, which is already drawing civil liberties concerns about sweeping government overreach, was revealed on Tuesday [10/5/2021] in 'accidentally unsealed' court documents obtained by Forbes.  Keyword warrants — which have been secretly employed for at least several years — are drawing backlash as many argue they violate an individual's constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

I've got some keywords for ya.

FBI Director:  Ban Encryption to Counter Domestic Extremism.  FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Sept. 21 that restrictions on encrypted chat services are needed to combat domestic terrorism — a claim that has been disputed by a wide array of tech companies, industry associations, and privacy groups, as well as other government agencies.  Wray made the remarks during the Senate Committee on Homeland Security's counterterrorism hearing.  "I can't overstate the impact of default encryption and the role it's playing, including on terrorism," Wray said in response to a question from Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) about what tools Congress can give law enforcement to counter domestic extremism.  "The information that will allow us to separate the wheat from the chaff, in terms of social media, is being able to — with lawful process — get access to those communications, where most of the meaningful discussions of the violence is occurring."

The Editor says...
[#1] If all the FBI wants to do is combat bona fide terrorists and anarchists, especially Islamic terrorists, I wish them all the best.  But recent history shows they're much more interested in right-wing rednecks than suicidal Muslims.  The FBI is mainly interested in protecting the government, not the citizens.  There's a big difference.  [#2] Just wait til you see the government's new definition of "encryption."  No, I haven't heard anything, but it's obvious that if the government bans encryption, that ban will be expanded (by changing the dictionary) to include everything from ROT13 to Base64 to the Morse Code.  U.S. citizens have the right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," and sometimes my "papers and effects" include email, and sometimes my email is cryptic, if not encrypted.  Keeping my personal communications from prying eyes is the difference between a first-class letter and a postcard.

Rand Paul urges end to FISA-authorized snooping on Americans.  Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced his opposition to using FISA warrants on American citizens, specifically political candidates, during an exchange Tuesday with FBI Director Christopher Wray.  At a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, Paul questioned Wray about the surveillance of American citizens via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  "The problem is the system can be abused," Paul said.  "We should obey the Constitution.  I don't think Americans nor political candidates should be investigated using a foreign intelligence surveillance court."  Wray responded to the senator's comments saying he believed FISA warrants were constitutional and that they have a "difference of opinion on how to characterize" its legality. [...] FISA was enacted into law in 1978 at the height of the Cold War.  Attempts to reform or abolish it would take an act of Congress.

Court rules cops violated Constitution by filming man for 3 months.  A police force can't set up a camera to peer over the top of a man's privacy fence, then record him for months, before finally filing criminal charges against him.  That's the ruling from the state supreme court in Colorado, where the decision freed suspect Rafael Tafoya from what was expected to be a significant prison sentence.  According to a report in Courthouse News, officers in Colorado Springs set up a special camera on top of a utility pole next to Tafoya's home after a "tip" from an anonymous source.  Without a search warrant, they watched him and his property, recording events there, for months.

The Freedom to Be Left Alone.  What must animate a "free society" is the understanding that you are not only free of the unwanted gaze from others, including the state, but that you and your fellow citizens must avoid looking into the private lives of others.  A free society minds its own business.  That would be the opposite of what we see in modern America.  This is a land of the perpetual and promiscuous busybody.  Gossip may be the national pastime, but it is the crude art of not minding your own business that defines the American.  Everywhere you go in America, you are hounded by busybodies poking into your affairs.  Everyone feels she has a right and duty to know everything about you and what you are doing.

Is Apple Gearing Up for China-Style Internet Control in the U.S.?  Recently, Apple announced that it will deploy a new algorithm, NeuralMatch, to monitor iMessages and images on its devices.  The ostensible purpose is to scan for photos containing nudity sent by or to children and also for photos of nude or seminude children. [...] But, well-intentioned as the motive may sound, this is a matter of grave concern for privacy.  Once such surveillance is begun, it opens the gates for other tech firms to follow suit, and worse, for warrantless scans for nefarious government purposes.  Coming as it does from Apple, this is a curious development in the U.S. For although Apple has bent over backward to please the Chinese government on its surveillance and censorship needs, it has vehemently resisted assisting the U.S. government.  It has refused to unlock cellphones for criminal investigations and prosecutions, citing concerns about protecting the data and privacy of its customers.  It has received — and objected to — at least 10 requests from federal courts for extracting data from locked iPhones.  But now, in a complete turnabout, if Apple thinks (or its algorithm decides) that certain images are illegal, it will cooperate with the authorities.

10 Govt Agencies Want To Expand Use Of Facial Recognition Technology.  Federal agencies have planned to expand the use of facial recognition technology in the next few years.  According to a Government Accountability Office report on Tuesday, 10 federal agencies would begin implementing artificial intelligence technology in more aspects of their work.  The report indicated many of the agencies already use facial recognition to give employees access to their the buildings or computers.  However, the agencies have wanted to expand such technology to track crime and investigate people of interest.

Synopsis from the Risks Digest.
The Chinese smart city that knows people's personal habits.  Chongqing (population ~16M in 2019) is wired with ~300K cameras that continuously surveils the population, applying facial recognition to ensure public order, and to suppress the free expression of ideas that might challenge the supremacy of political governance priorities.  [Video clip]

The Pentagon has a laser that can identify people from a distance — by their heartbeat.  Everyone's heart is different.  Like the iris or fingerprint, our unique cardiac signature can be used as a way to tell us apart.  Crucially, it can be done from a distance.  It's that last point that has intrigued US Special Forces.  Other long-range biometric techniques include gait analysis, which identifies someone by the way he or she walks. [...] An individual's cardiac signature is unique, though, and unlike faces or gait, it remains constant and cannot be altered or disguised.  A new device, developed for the Pentagon after US Special Forces requested it, can identify people without seeing their face:  instead it detects their unique cardiac signature with an infrared laser.  While it works at 200 meters (219 yards), longer distances could be possible with a better laser.  "I don't want to say you could do it from space," says Steward Remaly, of the Pentagon's Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office, "but longer ranges should be possible."

Apple's Plan to "Think Different" About Encryption Opens a Backdoor to Your Private Life.  Apple has announced impending changes to its operating systems that include new "protections for children" features in iCloud and iMessage.  If you've spent any time following the Crypto Wars, you know what this means:  Apple is planning to build a backdoor into its data storage system and its messaging system.  Child exploitation is a serious problem, and Apple isn't the first tech company to bend its privacy-protective stance in an attempt to combat it.  But that choice will come at a high price for overall user privacy.  Apple can explain at length how its technical implementation will preserve privacy and security in its proposed backdoor, but at the end of the day, even a thoroughly documented, carefully thought-out, and narrowly-scoped backdoor is still a backdoor.

The Editor says...
Apple's excuse — that they're only looking for child pornography — is a thin wrapper to make us think their intentions are honorable.  If the mechanism is in place to sift through your words and pictures, it will soon be used to find "deadbeat dads," tax evaders, gang members, and anybody who's wanted by the FBI.  At that point, if Apple still hears no objections, there can be no doubt that they will start using this wholesale surveillance technology for left-wing political purposes.

Chinese Regime Has Stolen Enough Data to Compile 'Dossier' on All Americans:  Former Official.  A former U.S. national security official warned that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is stealing data to compile a "dossier" on every American adult and may use coercive means to influence private citizens and political leaders.  During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this week, former Trump deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger said the CCP has stolen Americans' sensitive data via illicit methods, including cyber theft and hacking.  "Assembling dossiers on people has always been a feature of Leninist regimes, but Beijing's penetration of digital networks worldwide, including using 5G networks ... has really taken this to a new level," Pottinger said, referring to former Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin.

Senate Infrastructure Bill Seeks to Make Breathalyzers, Interior Cameras Mandatory.  The U.S. Senate is currently considering a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that's primarily targeting the ailing highway system, with tens of billions left over to spend on advancing the nation's EV charging infrastructure and incorporating more eco-friendly modes of public transportation.  But there's also some really kooky shit that you need to be made aware of before this passes into law.  Along with new regulations that would mandate the inclusion of collision detection systems and automatic emergency braking, where the car calls your bluff and applies the wheel-stoppers independently of your actions, provisions have been made that would also require some kind of in-car breathalyzer.  The stated aim is to reduce incidents of drunk driving.  However, the proposed system may also include driver-monitoring cameras, totally undermining any nobility the cause might otherwise have had.  Complaining about regulatory overreach is kind of my beat and the last few years have kept me truly busy.  But this is on a whole other level as the nanny state runs amok — and we're just getting started.

That Senate Infrastructure Bill Shreds Privacy in the Sanctuary of Your Own Car and Blows Up the Budget.  The U.S. Senate plans to take a vote on the infrastructure bill on Saturday, according to the best available reports for you late-to-the-party fact-checkers.  The bill as it's currently written is fiscally disastrous, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and removes what's left of any vestige of privacy in your own private vehicle. [...] That "mass surveillance" is part of a system to keep track of where and how much you drive, as if that's any of their beeswax.  But they'll use it against you eventually.  No doubt it would have Fourth Amendment implications. [...] The bill requires that breathalyzers — which detect too much alcohol but not weed or other substances — be installed in all vehicles. [...] But look at what has to happen for it to "work."  Cockpit cameras check to make sure your sober buddy isn't blowing into the contraption for you, and facial recognition software will "track face and eye movements in case you're planning to get drunk while driving."

Are The Tech Giants Afraid of Something?  Over the past three weeks, some of the most powerful tech companies in the world have taken a number of steps — unprecedented even by their standards — to monitor their users.  On July 26, a consortium of tech companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Reddit, Verizon, Airbnb, and Mailchimp announced it would shift the focus of their joint counter-terrorism program, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT).  Previously dedicated to tracking Islamic extremists, the coalition would now focus its attention on material shared online by "white supremacists" and "far-right militias."  The next day, PayPal, the leading online payments processor, announced a partnership with the far-left Anti-Defamation League to uncover and disrupt payment flows to those who are allegedly profiting from, according to Reuters, "antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-Hispanic and anti-Asian bigotry."  In addition to sharing its data with the far-left ADL, PayPal said it would share data with law enforcement.

Apple Will Scan iPhones for Illegal Child Abuse Images, Sparking Privacy Debate.  Apple announced Thursday is it planning to scan all iPhones in the United States for child abuse imagery, raising alarm among security experts who said the plan could allow the firm to surveil tens of millions of personal devices for unrelated reasons.  In a blog post, the company confirmed reports saying that new scanning technology is part of a suite of child protection programs that would "evolve and expand."  It will be rolled out as part of iOS 15, which is scheduled for release sometime in August.  Apple, which has often touted itself as a company that promises to safeguard users' right to privacy, appeared to try and preempt privacy concerns by saying that the software will enhance those protections by avoiding the need to carry out widespread image scanning on its cloud servers.  "This innovative new technology allows Apple to provide valuable and actionable information to [the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children] and law enforcement regarding the proliferation of known CSAM," said the company, referring to an acronym for child sexual abuse material.

'Privacy Company' Apple Plans To Monitor All US iPhones For Evidence Of Child Porn.  As the old saying goes:  If you aren't doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to fear from surveillance.  Smartphones already act like tracking devices broadcasting the whereabouts of their owners, but Apple is about to open the door to far more advanced forms of smartphone-based voluntary surveillance by launching a new program designed to detect and report iPhone users who are found to have child pornography — known by the academic-speak acronym CSAM — which stands for Child Sexual Abuse Materials.  According to a handful of academics who were offered a sneak preview of the company's plans — then promptly spilled the beans on Twitter, and in interviews with the press.

News Outlets That Criticized Trump for Targeting Reporters [are] Mostly Silent About 'Unmasking' of Tucker Carlson.  The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN strongly objected and protested when the Trump administration obtained reporters' phone records as part of an investigation into the leak of classified information.  Yet those same news organizations aren't willing to stand with popular Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson, who the National Security Agency "unmasked" during the early months of the Biden administration.  The New York Times is "very concerned about government surveillance of journalists," a spokeswoman said when asked this week about the Carlson revelations.  Just last month, the Times' executive editor, Dean Baquet, said the Trump administration's action "profoundly undermines press freedom." [...] After an internal investigation, the Biden administration's National Security Agency admitted that Carlson's identity was "unmasked" and leaked, as first reported July 23 by The Record, a news site focused on cybersecurity, and later by other news outlets.

Former Head NSA Lawyer:  Tucker Carlson's Allegations Merit Further Investigation.  The National Security Agency's reported internal review of Fox News host Tucker Carlson's spying allegations suggests that the matter should be investigated further, according to a former NSA general counsel.  Citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, The Record reported last week that the NSA's internal review found that government officials indeed "unmasked" Carlson's identity in classified documents — supporting some of the claims the Fox News host has made against the agency.  "The nation's top electronic spy agency found that Carlson was mentioned in communications between third parties and his name was subsequently revealed through 'unmasking,' a process in which relevant government officials can request the identities of American citizens in intelligence reports to be divulged provided there is an official reason, such as helping them make sense of the intelligence documents they are reviewing," The Record reported.

Grassley presses FBI to explain its monitoring of conservative women's group.  Sen. Charles E. Grassley is pressing the FBI to explain the reasoning for its newly revealed probe into the conservative group Concerned Women for America, The Washington Times has learned.  The FBI's review of the pro-life women's organization has prompted an outcry from the group's leadership and others concerned about law enforcement and intelligence community surveillance of Americans.  The FBI determined in July 2016 that there was nothing to investigate regarding Concerned Women for America after a "charity assessment" for potential "embezzlement of non-profit organizations/corporate fraud," according to a document that the FBI revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Cato Institute.

The NSA WAS monitoring Tucker Carlson.  National Security Agency (NSA) sources say they found no evidence to support Tucker Carlson's claims that he was being spied on by the agency, according to a report, but they admit his identity was 'unmasked' in communications between third parties.  The unmasking can be approved only by senior officials.  The report didn't identify the two parties allegedly having a conversation that mentioned Carlson; it also didn't identify who approved the alleged unmasking.  Two people familiar with the matter told cybersecurity news outlet The Record that a review confirmed the NSA did not target the Fox News host's communications, but that he had been swept up in the agency's monitoring of communications between other people.

NSA Reportedly Admits To Unmasking Tucker Carlson's Identity.  The National Security Agency (NSA) under the Biden administration allegedly unmasked Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson's identity, according to a Friday report by The Record.  According to the report, the NSA admitted that Carlson's name was unmasked after it was mentioned by a third party during intelligence gathering.  [Tweet]  "The NSA has just completed its internal review of the matter," Fox News host Brit Hume said.  "The NSA now admits that it unmasked Tucker's identity after an intelligence intercept.  By law, the identities of American citizens are concealed when they're caught up during foreign intelligence gathering.  They can only be unmasked in extraordinary circumstances."

Company tied to Obama Foundation spying on Americans' online activity — for the government?  We have seen over the past several months the Biden administration putting out continuous dog whistles about "white supremacy," going so far as to claim that "domestic white extremism" is the biggest threat to our country since... well since forever.  Newly discovered information however shows to what extent the administration and the Pentagon are going in trying to "root out" alleged extremism.  According to numerous sources including Fox News, the Pentagon is apparently working with a company, Moonshot CVE which has ties to — surprise, surprise — the Obama Foundation — is currently working on data which would provide military leaders which military bases and branches have the most troops searching for so-called "domestic extremist" content.  So what does Moonshot consider to be a "search for domestic extremist content?" How about if you put the following into your web browser:  "The truth about Black Lives Matter."  According to Moonshot, that along with a number of other seemingly innocent searches shows signs of either interest in or engagement with white supremacism, according to Defense One.

New Report Raises Even More Questions About NSA Spying on Tucker Carlson.  A cyber security media outlet called The Record is reporting that the NSA, after an investigation of themselves, say that they weren't targeting or spying on Tucker Carlson.  Oh, goodie, I'm always comforted when government agencies investigate themselves.  Especially given the sketchy statement that they put out when the issue exploded last month.  [Tweet]  Attorney Harmeet Dhillon went through some of the problems with the statement.  [Tweet]  What they are admitting, at least according to this report, was that his name came up in a discussion and his name was unmasked when some government official asked for it to be.  Fox was furious at the report. [...] But as Dhillon says this just raises more questions.  Why were they unmasking his name?  This doesn't pertain to his messages, so what about that?  And what justification would there be for leaking to the media.  Hint:  there isn't one, unless you are trying to harm him in media, which goes back to the point Tucker originally made — that this was done with purpose to hurt him.

Regime Spokesperson Very Defensive About Americans Knowing the White House is Reviewing Their Social Media.  The Biden regime is becoming increasingly unstable as they attempt to keep control over the American people.  During a terse exchange today, spokesperson Jen Psaki attempts to justify the White House surveillance of American speech saying the Facebook platform users should be "more concerned" with people dying from COVID than having their community speech monitored by the federal government.  When questioned about the U.S. Federal Government now openly admitting Big Brother is watching you, the regime defender responds: "They are more concerned about that, than people dying across the country because of a pandemic where misinformation is traveling on social media platforms?"  Continuing with, "That feels unlikely to me, if you have the data to back that up I'm happy to discuss it."  Fox News journalist Peter [Doocy] asked the regime to name the 12 people on Facebook the White House has identified as problematic for the interests of the state; however, the spokesperson refused to name them, obviously and transparently fearing a lawsuit.

House Republicans Demand Information From NSA About Allegations The Agency Illegally Spied On Tucker Carlson.  A group of House Republicans sent a Tuesday [7/13/2021] letter to the National Security Agency (NSA) demanding information about allegations the agency illegally spied on Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson.  The Daily Caller first obtained the letter, which was spearheaded by Republican Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Republican Florida Rep. Bill Posey.  In the letter, the lawmakers call on the NSA to provide them with information about allegations that the agency was spying on Carlson in regards to communication with U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries pertaining to a potential interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Axios reported.  The Axios report referenced two sources "familiar with Carlson's communications."  In late June, Carlson said that the NSA was spying on him, and reading confidential texts and emails in order to try and take his show off the air.

Bidenites dispatch DNC operatives to police private SMS texts for COVID 'misinformation'.  In what looks like a confluence from hell, the Democratic National Committee plans to police your SMS messages for "misinformation" about COVID vaccines.  It sounds like a bad joke, or a right-wing conspiracy theory.  But nope, it's right there in Politico:  ["]The White House has decided to hit back harder on misinformation and scare tactics after Republican lawmakers and conservative activists pledged to fight the administration's stated plans to go "door-to-door" to increase vaccination rates.  The pushback will include directly calling out social media platforms and conservative news shows that promote such tactics.["]

Biden Allies and DNC Instructing Cell Phone Carriers to Filter and Censor Text Message Content.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Fact checking your SMS text messages through your carrier, your cell phone or internet provider.  This is a rather remarkable escalation in totalitarian censorship instruction.  Not only will Big Tech social media networks (Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) censor, delete, and look into any content placed in their "private sector" domain, but the implication is now that AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile etc. etc. will deploy monitors and fact-checkers to control what you are allowed to say in text messages to your friends and family.  We have noted in past discussion that ISP providers have been enlisted to use their control nodules to steer and restrict internet travel; even placing landing warnings on websites that are arbitrarily deemed dangerous to approved government messaging.  However, taking the leap to control the content of all communication platforms is another level entirely.

Rand Paul seeks Tucker Carlson investigation.  Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is requesting an investigation into allegations by Tucker Carlson that the National Security Agency was spying on him, Axios has learned.  The senator sent a letter to Gen. Paul Nakasone of the National Security Agency, casting doubt on the NSA's public denial of spying on Carlson and defending the Fox News host as a journalist who should be protected by the First Amendment.  Paul, who sits on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, wrote that he is "open-minded" to believe the NSA may be telling the truth.

Rand Paul Demands Investigation Into Allegations US Intelligence Spied on Tucker Carlson.  The National Security Agency's head should investigate whether officials spied on Tucker Carlson, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said.  "I write to demand that you investigate the National Security Agency's (NSA) alleged spying and unmasking of Tucker Carlson, as well as any leaks of his private emails from the NSA to other reporters," Paul wrote in a recent letter to Gen. Paul Nakasone, the NSA head.  Carlson, the most popular cable news host in the country, alleged on his Fox News show last week that his identity was unmasked by the NSA after he tried arranging an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Carlson also alleged that the NSA leaked some of his emails to media outlets.  Unmasking refers to intelligence officials revealing the identity of a person.

CPAC: Richard Grenell Urges Federal Action Over Alleged 'Unmasking' of Tucker Carlson.  Former Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard Grenell on July 10 said federal action should be taken against the individual or individuals who allegedly "unmasked" the identity of Fox News host Tucker Carlson to the National Security Agency (NSA).  Speaking on Saturday [7/10/2021] at a Conservative Political Action Conference's (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, Grenell said two violations were potentially committed, based on the claims from Fox News host Carlson.  Carlson claimed Wednesday during his popular cable television show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight," that his identity was "unmasked" by the NSA, which conducts surveillance on foreign targets, after he attempted to schedule an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The NSA's spying on Tucker Carlson is the tip of the iceberg.  Well, everyone could see it coming.  It turns out that the National Security Agency (NSA) didn't just eavesdrop "incidentally" on the emails and text messages of Tucker Carlson, one of the few journalists in America willing to stand up to the Deep State.  Anyone with half a brain could see the lizard-like lawyering in the NSA's "non-denial denial."  As Bill Clinton famously put it, "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."  "Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency," the NSA statement read, dodging the question of whether it had obtained and read his emails and texts, "and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air."  Again, from what we know of lying government lawyers, the tenses are crucial:  the NSA never "had" any plans.

License to monitor:  National strategies, the Capitol Police, and Tucker Carlson.  On 15 June, the Biden administration published its new National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.  At the time, commentary outlets including Liberty Unyielding recognized the "Strategy" as a pretext for vilifying and ultimately criminalizing a huge segment of the American population.  In that earlier treatment, I focused on the process of vilification and how the media would factor into it; e.g., seeking to discredit factual reporting by raising "questions" about it (without proving anything against it), and then making the leap from that to calling the disfavored factual reporting "disinformation."  But another use for the "Strategy" is now emerging — notably a mere two to three weeks after the Strategy was published — and needs highlighting so people can see the link clearly.  The Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism will be used to justify a lot of things.  When the wording is inspected, the reader can readily discern what they are.  We're already seeing the evidence that such justifications will be used, and how.

The Biggest Question:  Who Illegally Unmasked Tucker Carlson?  [Scroll down]  This is of paramount concern because unless he was the direct target of surveillance, a possibility that the NSA has categorically denied, then someone very high up in the food chain would have had to request his unmasking and subsequent leaking of his communications to the press.  For background, Axios published an article yesterday referencing the electronic communications the NSA has between Carlson and U.S.-based liaisons with Putin's people.  It drew much attention, not only because it verified the most viable scenario for the existence of the leaked emails was the NSA spying on him or someone with whom he was corresponding.  The whole scenario gets trickier when we consider that any reports regarding the communications would require Carlson's identity to be masked.  Unmasking him, particularly in the timeframe in question, required someone very powerful at the White House.  The list of people who have that type of clout is very short.

Tucker Carlson Says NSA Is Leaking The Contents Of His Emails To Journalists.  Tucker Carlson claimed Wednesday [7/7/2021] that the National Security Agency (NSA) leaked the contents of his emails to journalists as part of an effort to target his show and take it off the air.  Appearing on Fox Business' Mornings With Maria with host Maria Bartiromo, the Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder said that he was contacted by a journalist who read back to him the contents of his emails that he says were leaked by the NSA.

The NSA Leaked Details of Their Tucker Carlson Surveillance to Allied Deep State Media.  This is a great example of how the Intelligence Branch of the U.S. government now operates.  Not only did the NSA conduct surveillance of Tucker Carlson's electronic communication, but the NSA also leaked Carlson's emails to allied intelligence media (Axios, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post) who operate as PR firms on behalf of the Intelligence Branch.  [Video clip]

Tucker Carlson got the General Mike Flynn treatment.  When Tucker Carlson first said that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on him, various leftist media outlets had a good laugh.  However, that laughter became a bit forced when the NSA issued a letter that merely denied "targeting" Tucker.  The obvious implication was that the NSA had gotten to him as an incidental person while targeting someone else.  The NSA also didn't bother to explain how it was that it unmasked Tucker.  There's no laughter now.  It's clear that the NSA did spy on Tucker, that it illegally unmasked him, and that it even more illegally leaked to one or more media outlets the information it gathered.  On Wednesday night [7/7/2021], Tucker explained that he was trying to do what many other outlets have successfully done, which was to get an interview with Vladimir Putin.

Tucker Carlson was trying to set up Putin interview amid claims of NSA spying, report says.  Tucker Carlson emailed Russian "intermediaries" in the United States about an interview with Vladimir Putin before he claimed the National Security Agency was spying on his communications, according to reports.  Quoting "sources familiar with the conversations", Axios said Carlson was in talks with the US-based Kremlin contacts to secure an interview with the Russian president when US government officials learned of the efforts.  The report comes after Carlson said on Fox News earlier on Wednesday that his emails were leaked to journalists in an "effort to discredit me".

The NSA Does Not Deny Reading Tucker Carlson's Emails.  [Scroll down]  The NSA's non-denial of Carlson's allegations therefore raises some serious questions.  Why did the NSA not flatly state it never accessed Carlson's communications?  Were Carlson's communications "unmasked" at the request of White House officials?  Susan Rice admitted she unmasked Trump campaign aides during the Obama administration and now serves in the Biden White House.  Has Rice resumed her previous efforts to weaponize NSA reporting against the political enemies of another Democratic president?  A more troubling question is whether this story, if true, indicates that NSA did not actually halt its "upstream collection" of emails, as it claimed in 2017.  So in response to the NSA statement, I admit that I may have been wrong and Carlson may be right.  The NSA only denied Carlson was an intelligence target.  It did not deny reading his emails or violating his privacy rights.

Are US Spy Services Monitoring the Opposition's Communications?  Fox News host Tucker Carlson has reported during the last week about a whistleblower who told him that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been monitoring his electronic communications with the intention of leaking them to get his show taken off the air.  While most of the prestige press has dismissed Carlson's claims, the whistleblower may have struck just the tip of the iceberg — it's possible that along with Carlson much of the leadership of the American opposition movement is also under surveillance.  The NSA denied that Carlson is "an intelligence target of the Agency."  It explained on its Twitter account that the "NSA has a foreign intelligence mission.  We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that may harm the United States.  With limited exceptions ... NSA may not target US citizens without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting."  As absurd as it sounds, it's not hard to imagine U.S. officials presenting phony evidence to a secret court to try to show that an American TV star is actually a foreign spy.  They did it when the former host of "Celebrity Apprentice" ran for president in 2016.

Tucker Carlson Pushing Back Against NSA Surveillance.  Tucker Carlson used his TV broadcast on Wednesday night [6/30/2021] to continue pushing-back against NSA operational data collection that appears to have caught him in their surveillance dragnet.  However, what Carlson (and many others) have yet to reconcile is the totality of control held by the newest branch of government, the Intelligence Branch.  CTH has been contacted by numerous interested stakeholders in the larger dynamic.  Tomorrow we hope to be able to give readers an explanation of exactly how each traditional branch of government; including the administrative agencies within them; have been taken over by a methodical expansion of the Intelligence Community.  Everything is now controlled by the Intelligence Branch, and the underlying mechanisms of government have abdicated, perhaps even abandoned, their oversight.

Microsoft Honcho Testifies That the DOJ Routinely Abuses Secrecy Orders to Seize Data From American Citizens.  A Microsoft executive on Wednesday [6/30/2021] testified that the Department of Justice routinely abuses "secrecy orders" in order to seize data on thousands of American citizens without letting them know.  Tom Burt, Microsoft's corporate vice president for customer security and trust, made the accusations during a House Judiciary Committee hearing examining leak probes and prosecutorial abuse.  The hearing followed recent revelations that the Justice Department secretly seized the records of several news organizations while investigating leaks under both the Trump and Biden administrations — a practice that became increasingly routine during the Obama administration.

The greatest conspiracies are open and notorious.  [Scroll down]  In my life, I've had enough of both the practice and the theory.  In my work for the United States National Security Agency, I was involved with establishing a Top-Secret system intended to access and track the communications of every human being on the planet.  And yet after I grew aware of the damage this system was causing — and after I helped to expose that true conspiracy to the press — I couldn't help but notice that the conspiracies that garnered almost as much attention were those that were demonstrably false:  I was, it was claimed, a hand-picked CIA operative sent to infiltrate and embarrass the NSA; my actions were part of an elaborate inter-agency feud.  No, said others: my true masters were the Russians, the Chinese, or worse — Facebook.

Tucker Carlson Says the NSA Is Spying on Him.  Sadly, It's Plausible.  Tucker Carlson now says a "whistleblower" in the NSA tipped him off that the agency was planning to leak emails and texts to get him off the air over a story he's working on.  Sounds rather fantastical.  We've seen no evidence or corroboration of the accusation.  My initial instinct should be to dismiss conspiratorial claims about domestic espionage.  As it happens, though, I've been alive for the past two decades.  And history tells us it is wholly conceivable that intelligence and law-enforcement agencies would spy on a television personality.  They spy all the time.  They do it illegally.  They do it for partisan reasons.  They do it to lawmakers.  They do it to journalists.

Of course they deny it!  Is there another option?
NSA denies leaking scheme to take Tucker Carlson off the air.  The National Security Agency insisted Tucker Carlson "has never been an intelligence target" after the Fox News host claimed the Biden administration spied on him.  The NSA has a "foreign intelligence mission," a spokesperson said Tuesday [6/29/2021] in response to Carlson's claims the night before that a government whistleblower told his team the agency was spying on their communications and "planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air."  "This allegation is untrue," the NSA spokesperson said.  "Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air."

NSA Responds to Tucker Carlson Claim of Surveillance, The Generic and Very Political Non-Denial Should Alarm Everyone.  Last night Fox news host Tucker Carlson reported on a whistleblower contact from within the intelligence community who informed him the NSA was conducting electronic surveillance of his private communication (email and text messages). Tonight the NSA responded via Twitter:  [Tweet]  Techno Fog noted something most of us would also note the NSA statement is an obtuse non-denial. [...] First, notice the time of the tweet message.  Exactly 8:00 pm to coincide with the beginning of Tucker Carlson's broadcast.  That's typical political operative snark, which wouldn't be too surprising if it were not the fact this is from the actual National Security Agency.  Many people in/around the intelligence apparatus have noted and confirmed to me that most of the modern human resources, within the working analytical part of the intelligence apparatus, are immature, solitary and emotionally stunted individuals.  Accepting things as they directly appear, this subtle snark is actual confirmation.

Whistleblower Told Tucker Carlson Biden Admin's IC is Illegally Monitoring His Electronic Communications.  In what may be an early example of the saying "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," Tucker Carlson reported on his show Monday night that he has received notice — AND EVIDENCE — that internal communications among the staff of his show are being monitored by the Intelligence Community of the Biden Administration.  This would be the first reported instance that I'm aware of regarding a Biden Administration official leaking information to a news media outlet calling attention to allegedly illegal/objectionable conduct taking place inside the Administration.

Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Reveals NSA Conducting Surveillance on His Electronic Communication, Texts and Emails.  As disturbing as this statement is, considering the prior admissions of warrantless wiretapping by the FBI using the NSA database, this does not come as a surprise.  Remember, for five consecutive years the U.S. intelligence community has admitted to the FISA court they continually conduct illegal searches of U.S. citizen data, using the NSA database, and they admit to illegally extracting information which is illegally shared with interests outside the intelligence community.  Tonight [6/28/2021] on Tucker Carlson the Fox News Host outlined how an NSA whistleblower contacted him and told him the NSA was conducting electronic surveillance of his communication.  To verify the authenticity of the claim the whistleblower told Carlson what the content of his private text messages and emails contained.  While alarming in part, again this should not be surprising.  [Video clip]

Tucker Carlson Announces Whistleblower Confirmed the NSA is Plotting to Leak Info and Get His Show Pulled Off Air.  Tucker Carlson has revealed that a whistleblower told his show that the National Security Agency is spying on him and plotting to leak information in an effort to have him pulled off the air.  Carlson announced the shocking news on Monday evening's episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight.  "The NSA is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off air," Carlson said, admitting that it is a shocking claim and normally he would be skeptical of it, as it is illegal for the NSA to spy on American citizens.  However, Carlson explained that the whistleblower even provided details about a story that the show was working on, which someone would only know from looking at his personal texts and emails.

NSA Agrees to Release Records on FBI's Improper Spying on 16,000 Americans.  The National Security Agency (NSA) has agreed to release records on the FBI's improper spying on thousands of Americans, the secretive agency disclosed in a recent letter.  The agreement may signal a rift between the NSA and the FBI, according to attorney Ty Clevenger.  Clevenger last year filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on behalf of The Transparency Project, a Texas nonprofit, seeking information on the FBI's improper searches of intelligence databases for information on 16,000 Americans.  The searches violated rules governing how to use the U.S. government's foreign intelligence information trove, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, an Obama nominee who currently presides over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, wrote in a 2019 memorandum and order that was declassified last year.

FBI built fake phone company in global wiretapping operation of historic proportions.  The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation built a fake telephone service provider for a secret worldwide operation that officials described on Monday as "a watershed moment" in law enforcement history.  The operation, known as TROJAN SHIELD, began in 2018 and involved over 9,000 law enforcement officers in 18 countries around the world.  When the existence of TROJAN SHIELD was announced in a series of official news conferences yesterday, officials said the operation had "given law enforcement a window into a level of criminality [that has never been] seen before on this scale".  The operation centered on the creation of an entirely fake telephone service provider, known as ANØM.  The fake firm advertised cell phones that were specially engineered to provide peer-to-peer encryption, thus supposedly making it impossible for government authorities to decipher intercepted messages or telephone calls between users.

USA Today fights FBI subpoena for readers' data from report on shooting that killed two agentsUSA Today is fighting an FBI demand for information related to readers who accessed a report on the newspaper's website earlier this year about a shooting in which two agents were killed during a search at a Florida apartment.  The FBI made the request via subpoena to USA Today's owner, Gannett, in April.  The agency sought information including the IP addresses and mobile identification information of people who accessed the Feb. 2 article about the agents during a 35-minute window.  After Gannett objected to disclosing the subpoenaed records, the FBI confirmed on May 25 it had received the response, and the company moved to quash the subpoena as unconstitutional, according to a May 28 court filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The New Domestic War on Terror Has Already Begun — Even Without the New Laws Biden Wants.  Pending Domestic War on Terror legislation favored by the White House — sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — would simply amend the old War on Terror laws, which permitted a wide range of powers to fight foreign terrorist organizations, so as to now allow the U.S. government to also use those powers against groups designated as domestic terror organizations.  Just as was true of the first War on Terror, this second one would thus vest the government with new, wide-ranging powers of surveillance, detention, prosecution and imprisonment, though this time for use against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.  Even while that legislation is pending, the U.S. government is already waging an aggressive new domestic war on terror that has largely flown under the radar.  Grave warnings from DHS are now just as common, vague and unreliable — but also fear-inducing — as they were in the days of Tom Ridge.  Domestic surveillance is also on the rise.

House Democrat, Republican leaders demand investigation of Postal Service spying.  The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday [5/25/2021] urged an inspector general to investigate the extent of the U.S. Postal Service's surveillance of Americans' social media accounts.  The Postal Service's law enforcement arm previously confirmed to lawmakers' staffs that the agency's Internet Covert Operations Program or iCOP had monitored social media for "inflammatory" posts and shared details about the accounts and posts with other federal law enforcement agencies, according to lawmakers.  "These activities raise serious questions about the scope of the program, the extent of sharing of information among law enforcement agencies, and whether [U.S. Postal Inspection Service] has the authority to conduct such an operation," the committee's top Democratic and Republican wrote in a letter to Postal Service Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb.

Your Car Is Spying On You, and a CBP Contract Shows the Risks.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection purchased technology that vacuums up reams of personal information stored inside cars, according to a federal contract reviewed by The Intercept, illustrating the serious risks in connecting your vehicle and your smartphone.  The contract, shared with The Intercept by Latinx advocacy organization Mijente, shows that CBP paid Swedish data extraction firm MSAB $456,073 for a bundle of hardware including five iVe "vehicle forensics kits" manufactured by Berla, an American company.  A related document indicates that CBP believed the kit would be "critical in CBP investigations as it can provide evidence [not only] regarding the vehicle's use, but also information obtained through mobile devices paired with the infotainment system."  The document went on to say that iVe was the only tool available for purchase that could tap into such systems.

Report: USPS 'Internet Covert Operations Program' Is 'Much Broader in Scope Than Previously Known'.  Last month, Yahoo News ripped the lid off of a government surveillance program run by a division of the USPS. The program monitors, scans, and collects information on social media postings considered "inflammatory" enough to pass along to other government agencies.  It includes posts promoting the coordination and planning of upcoming political demonstrations.  The program's existence came out after the news outlet obtained a copy of a March USPS bulletin that was "distributed through the Department of Homeland Security's fusion centers."  It warned of the possibility of violence at upcoming protests though they acknowledged they had no reliable intelligence to suggest any alleged threats were legitimate.

1 in 10 police departments can now access videos from millions of consumers' Ring security cameras.  Nearly one in 10 U.S. police departments have access to videos from millions of privately owned Amazon Ring devices.  Ring's Active Agency Map shows the home security camera company now has partnerships with more than 1,800 police departments in the U.S. out of nearly 18,000 total departments across the country.  The company's "Neighbors" app notifies Ring users when neighbors or local law enforcement agencies send out public safety alerts.

USPS Uses Facial Recognition and Other High-Tech Tools To Monitor Social Media.  Is every federal agency a surveillance unit now?  With a plethora of law enforcement and intelligence agencies deputized to monitor American communications, it seems insane to think that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) would also be enlisted for this task.  But indeed it has been, as Yahoo News revealed earlier this year.  Now, new details have emerged about the postal service's Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP), including the fact that the agency has been using facial recognition software from Clearview AI and has a specific program to monitor people posting about protests.  As part of the iCOP program, postal service employees have been monitoring Americans' social media posts and sharing things they deem suspicious with law enforcement agencies.  "Yet the program is much broader in scope than previously known and includes analysts who assume fake identities online, use sophisticated intelligence tools and employ facial recognition software," writes Yahoo News' Jana Winter.

Facial recognition, fake identities and digital surveillance tools:  Inside the post office's covert internet operations program.  The post office's law enforcement arm has faced intense congressional scrutiny in recent weeks over its Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP), which tracks social media posts of Americans and shares that information with other law enforcement agencies.  Yet the program is much broader in scope than previously known and includes analysts who assume fake identities online, use sophisticated intelligence tools and employ facial recognition software, according to interviews and documents reviewed by Yahoo News.  Among the tools used by the analysts is Clearview AI, a facial recognition software that scrapes images off public websites, a practice that has raised the ire of privacy advocates.  The U.S. Postal Inspection Service uses Clearview's facial recognition database of over 3 billion images from arrest photos collected from across social media "to help identify unknown targets in an investigation or locate additional social media accounts for known individuals," according to materials reviewed by Yahoo News.

Pentagon Surveilling Americans Without a Warrant, Senator Reveals.  The Pentagon is carrying out warrantless surveillance of Americans, according to a new letter written by Senator Ron Wyden and obtained by Motherboard.  Senator Wyden's office asked the Department of Defense (DoD), which includes various military and intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), for detailed information about its data purchasing practices after Motherboard revealed special forces were buying location data. [...] Netflow data creates a picture of traffic flow and volume across a network.  DNS records relate to when a user looks up a particular domain, and a system then converts that text into the specific IP address for a computer to understand; essentially a form of internet browsing history.  Wyden's new letter to Austin urging the DoD to release that answer and others says "Information should only be classified if its unauthorized disclosure would cause damage to national security.  The information provided by DoD in response to my questions does not meet that bar."

Washington Post says US secretly obtained reporters' records.  The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of three Washington Post reporters who covered the federal investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, the newspaper said Friday.  The disclosure sets up a new clash between the federal government and news organizations and advocates for press freedom, who regard the seizures of reporters' records as incursions into constitutionally protected newsgathering activity.

Lara Logan:  Surveillance of Americans 'much, much worse' than most realize, only benefits 'tyrannical elite'.  Fox Nation host Lara Logan warned on Wednesday that Big Tech surveillance of Americans is "much worse" than most people think, while adding that we are quickly becoming a "monitored class" of people much like what occurs in totalitarian regimes like China.  In an interview with Fox News host Pete Hegseth said Logan, who hosts "No Agenda" on the network's streaming service, is currently working on a documentary that will air in June detailing just how widespread the surveillance is, and why it's a problem for Americans who live under Constitution that supposedly protects their privacy.  "I can honestly tell you that with everything in me it is much, much worse than anybody realizes.  Most people have no idea how valuable our information is," Logan began.

Russiagate the Model.  On Monday, reports surfaced that the Joe Biden administration may use private firms to collect intelligence on its critics, recategorized by the White House as "domestic terrorists."  What makes them dangerous, according to Biden surrogates, is that they believe — like many of the participants in the Jan. 6 events who have been held for five months in Washington, D.C. jails without bail — the 2020 election was compromised.  Do Biden aides believe that using outside contractors to circumvent laws against spying on Americans will shore up the president's legitimacy?  No, the aim is to prevent the America First movement from mobilizing.  To kill it before it grows, according to reports, the private firms licensed by the government, will "gather large amounts of information that could help [U.S. intelligence] identify key narratives as they emerge."  The basic premise of this Biden initiative should sound familiar — it's Russiagate's first plot point.

House Republicans Demand Answers from FBI on FISA Abuse Revelations.  House Republicans have called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide a "detailed accounting" of every instance since 2019 that the agency has used warrantless surveillance authority to obtain information unrelated to national security, while accusing the FBI of "illegal spying activities."  Reps.  Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), in a joint letter to Wray, cited a 67-page opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which they said shows the FBI has been "seriously and systematically abusing its warrantless electronic surveillance authority" by overstepping the limitations under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  Section 702 allows the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to jointly authorize warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. citizens residing outside the United States, subject to certain constraints.  These include requiring investigators to adopt "targeting procedures" to make sure the information obtained under Section 702 warrantless surveillance is indeed limited to noncitizens and to prevent the "intentional acquisition" of communications within the United States.  Section 702 also requires a FISA court order for a review of query results in criminal investigations that aren't related to national security.

Rep. Jim Jordan Calls for Hearings into DHS Using Non-Profits to Spy on Republicans.  Fox News host Laura Ingraham warned Monday [5/3/2021] that the Department of Homeland Security is using private messaging apps to spy on Americans to look for domestic extremist chatter.  She cited a CNN report that said DHS is "limited in how it can monitor citizens online without justification and is banned from activities like assuming false identities to gain access to private messaging apps used by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers."  Therefore, according to CNN, DHS might partner with non-profit groups that "periodically use covert identities to access private social media groups like Telegram, and others used by domestic extremist groups," which "thrusts DHS into a potential legal gray area even as it plugs an intelligence gap that critics say contributed to the failure to predict the assault on the Capitol."

CNN: Biden Admin Considering Using Private Firms To Conduct Warrantless Surveillance Of U.S. Citizens.  President Joe Biden's administration is reportedly considering working with private firms to monitor "extremist chatter by Americans online" because the federal government is legally limited to what they can do without a warrant.  The report said the federal government is also banned from using false identities to gain access to private messaging apps and groups.  The government can scan public social media profiles.  "The plan being discussed inside DHS, according to multiple sources, would, in effect, allow the department to circumvent" laws that limit what the federal government can do in surveilling U.S. citizens without a warrant, CNN reported.  "A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge."

Biden Administration considering outsourcing domestic spying to private companies to get around laws that prohibit domestic spying.  [Scroll down]  See, the problem they are trying to address is that whole cumbersome civil liberties thing.  Constantly gumming up the works.  Apparently these private messaging apps are not used by extremist groups like Antifa.  Besides, Antifa is not extremist.  Also, it's not a group. [...] Using private agents you pay as opposed to public agents you also pay, gets around the bother of having to first get permission from a judge in the judicial branch of government the purpose of which is to provide a check on the unbridled power of the executive branch, and in doing so, provides unbridled power to the executive branch.

Biden team may partner with private firms to monitor extremist chatter online.  The Biden administration is considering using outside firms to track extremist chatter by Americans online, an effort that would expand the government's ability to gather intelligence but could draw criticism over surveillance of US citizens.  The Department of Homeland Security is limited in how it can monitor citizens online without justification and is banned from activities like assuming false identities to gain access to private messaging apps used by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers.

The Editor says...
Is BLM an extremist group?  Is Antifa an extremist group?  Is Planned Parenthood an extremist group?  Is the NAACP an extremist group?  Is "The Squad" an extremist group?  What about the Black Panthers?  What about the Nation of Islam?  What about Jeremiah Wright's church?

Spy Plane Identified Circling the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum Where the Election Audit Is Taking Place.  A spy plane was identified flying over the Maricopa County audit.  What information are they after?  Sunday morning [5/2/2021] we were alerted to the fact that a plane was circling around the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum last week.  We received only the picture above.  We followed up and found more information on this plane and additional information on other events where a plane circled the sky in a similar fashion.  One such incident was in San Bernadino after the shooting spree by Islamic terrorists Farook and Malik.  But we looked further into this flight above in Arizona and found the plane used was owned by the City of Phoenix.

Chinese smart TVs are snooping on their owners.  Hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers had a surprise discovery last week:  Their TV sets know a lot more about them than they'd ever thought, or ever agreed to.  It turns out Beijing-based Gozen Data, a leading Chinese TV viewership analytics firm, has been collecting personal data in real time using smart TVs — without users' consent.  The practice was first exposed when a user on V2EX, an online forum for tech enthusiasts, noticed their Skyworth-brand smart TV had become slow and analyzed the code of back-end programs to figure out why.  What they found was a program that scans the user's Wi-Fi every 10 minutes and uploads a wide range of information to Gozen Data's website.

Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program.  Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and a group of other House Republicans on Friday introduced legislation to end funding for an arm of the U.S. Postal Service that carries out online surveillance.  The legislation was rolled out in response to a March bulletin, reported by Yahoo News earlier this month, distributed by the Postal Service's Inspection Service's Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP).  The bulletin cited iCOP concerns about potential "significant" protests planned for March 20 based on "online inflammatory material" and posts on social media platforms Parler and Telegram.  "iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates if needed," the agency wrote in the bulletin.

USPS admits it IS spying on Americans:  Law enforcement arm is snooping on social media posts and 'working with other agencies'.  The U.S. Postal Service admitted during a Wednesday meeting to spying on citizens with its law enforcement arm, claiming it worked with other agencies to track Americans' social media posts.  Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale briefed lawmakers on the Oversight Committee regarding the program known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, but could not provide a date for when it was initiated.  'The Chief Postal Inspector was wildly unprepared for this briefing,' GOP Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina told following the meeting with Barksdale.  The inspector was called for a briefing after iCOP was first made public in a report last week.

Postal Service 'wildly unprepared' to answer allegations it spied on Americans:  Rep. Nancy Mace.  The U.S. Postal Service failed to answer lawmakers' questions in a Wednesday briefing about its alleged spying on Americans, according to Rep. Nancy Mace, South Carolina Republican.  Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale briefed lawmakers on Wednesday about its "Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP)" that allegedly monitored Americans' social media posts.  Mr. Barksdale could not give a date for when the program started and denied that it was even a program but said an 'executive' was overseeing it, according to Ms. Mace's office.  "The Chief Postal Inspector was wildly unprepared for this briefing," said Ms. Mace in a statement to The Washington Times.

Declassified FISA Opinion Shows More FBI Abuses.  A FISA Court opinion and order declassified today reveals continued FBI abuses of "raw FISA-acquired information."  After a DOJ National Security Division review, the FISA Court noted "the FBI's failure to properly apply its querying standard when searching Section 702-acquired information was more pervasive than was previously believed."  This opinion includes these findings:  April 2019 - July 2019:  An FBI technical information specialist was involved in "Compliance incidents" by conducting 124 queries of Section 702-acquired information on (1) Volunteers who had requested to participate in the FBI's "Citizens Academy"; (2) Persons who needed to enter the field office to perform repairs; and (3) Persons who reported they were victims of a crime.

FISA court doc shows FBI looked for domestic terrorists without warrants, report.  The FBI has without court orders looked through troves of National Security Agency foreign communications for information on American "racially motivated violent extremists," according to a news report based on a recently declassified report.  The agency conducted the reviews despite being warned several years ago by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves warrants for such investigations, that such inquiries were constitutionally alarming, according to the Daily Beast.  The FBI's warrant-free queries, known as backdoor searches, were related to criminal investigations including those on "domestic terrorism involving racially motivated violent extremists."

The Editor says...
Why limit the search to those who are racially motivated?  Aren't other motivations just as dangerous?  Terrorists motived by Islam, for example.  Antifa terrorists motivated by anti-capitalism.  Eco-terrorists motivated by militant environmentalism.  In general, violence and hate speech come from the left.

The Postal Service Is a Spy-Op Now.  Why is the U.S. Postal Service (USPIS) reading Americans' social media posts?  Now there's a question for someone to ask Biden administration Press Secretary Jen Psaki.  The news broke this week when someone leaked a "Situational Awareness Bulletin" to Yahoo News.  Dated March 16, 2021, this two-page "intelligence summary" reported that USPIS's Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) had monitored "multiple social media platforms" including Facebook, Parler, Twitter, and Telegram.  What caught their eye?  Postings and conversations related to possible March 20 protests at state capitals and in Washington, D.C., against Biden's election, 5G cellular, and tyranny.  The agency did not say it was investigating any of the individuals surveilled.  Rather, the USPIS document said iCOP had shared the "inflammatory" postings with the Department of Homeland Security's fusion centers, which merge intelligence across a variety of federal and state agencies.

If you really think somebody is reading your email, some handy tips about low-level encryption can be found here.

FBI turn to high-tech facial recognition, undercover operations to nab Capitol invaders.  The number of U.S. Capitol invaders charged with crimes has topped 400, Justice Department records show, and in a recent case the FBI disclosed new twists in identifying and ensnaring a suspect.  A Washington Times review of scores of law enforcement affidavits justifying an arrest show this pattern:  Agents examine thousands of videos and photos taken inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.  In old-school detective work, officers pick out a target and compare Capitol images to online posts from that day or previous days based on tips from the invaders' friends, co-workers and even family.  To seal the deal, FBI agents openly approach the suspect in a phone call or home visit.  The targets in many cases readily admit to their actions.  It is difficult to deny wronging when caught on camera.

The US Postal Service Surveillance Scandal is Targeting Trump Supporters, Not All Americans.  Journalist Lee Smith hits the sweet spot in his discussion of the U.S. Postal Service conducting surveillance on Americans.  As Smith notes the targeting is not to identify the political ideology of "all Americans", rather the objective is surveillance of people who likely did not vote for Joe Biden.  [Video clip]  Again it is important to repeat, this type of activity is one long continuum.  The IRS was previously used; federal contractors for the FBI have previously been used; allied Big Tech companies have been used; and now the United States Postal Service is running a covert surveillance program against Americans that sounds suspiciously like the prior DHS announcement.

Congress Presses Postal Service After Report Agents Are Monitoring American Social Media Accounts.  Members of Congress on Thursday [4/22/2021] asked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to provide information about an alleged group in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that has been monitoring Americans' social media accounts.  The United States Postal Inspection Service is the law enforcement arm of the Postal Service.  The inspection service has a group called the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) that has been monitoring activity on social media, including posts on Parler and Telegram, according to Yahoo News, which says it obtained a March government bulletin on the matter.  "If the reporting is accurate, iCOP raises serious questions about the federal government's ongoing surveillance of, and encroachment upon, Americans' private lives and discourse," House Oversight Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), along with 30 other Republican lawmakers, wrote to DeJoy.

We Discovered Where the Post Office Likely Got Their List of Conservatives to Spy On.  Today we found out that the US Postal Service is spying on Americans who just happen to be conservative.  We noted that the law enforcement arm of the US Postal Service, the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), is secretly monitoring and collecting Americans' social media posts, according to documents obtained by Yahoo News.  The spying program is known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, and involves goons trolling through social media sites to look for "inflammatory" posts — and then sharing the information with other government agencies.  Last we checked, "inflammatory" language was covered by the First Amendment.

The Postal Service is running a 'covert operations program' that monitors Americans' social media posts.  The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans' social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.  The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public.  The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as "inflammatory" postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.

Shedding light on fairness in AI with a new data set.  Facebook AI has built and open-sourced a new, unique data set called Casual Conversations, consisting of 45,186 videos of participants having nonscripted conversations.  It serves as a tool for AI researchers to surface useful signals that may help them evaluate the fairness of their computer vision and audio models across subgroups of age, gender, apparent skin tone, and ambient lighting.  To our knowledge, it's the first publicly available data set featuring paid individuals who explicitly provided their age and gender themselves — as opposed to information labeled by third parties or estimated using ML models.

Devin Nunes warns intel chiefs against targeting Americans, 'particularly Republicans'.  Republicans are putting the Biden intelligence chiefs on notice that their agencies are moving dangerously close to spying on Americans in the U.S.  They raised concerns on Thursday [4/15/2021] at a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing featuring President Biden's five top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.  The fears stem from both the past and the present.

Appeals Court Hearing:  Pelosi/Schiff Argue Congress Can Secretly Subpoena Phone Records of Citizens.  Judicial Watch today [4/12/2021] released a transcript of the March 24 oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging a lower court ruling upholding the secrecy of controversial secretly-issued congressional subpoenas for phone records by Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, relating to the impeachment of President Trump.  The appeals court hearing came after a lower court ruling in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, Judicial Watch v.  Adam Schiff and U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (No. 1:19-03790)), requesting subpoenas issued by the Committee on or about September 30, 2019.  The Judicial Watch lawsuit sought the controversial impeachment-related subpoenas for phone records, including those of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer.  Schiff and the Committee are being represented by the Office of General Counsel for the House of Representatives.  The phone records led to the publication of the private phone records of Giuliani, Congressman Devin Nunes, journalist John Solomon, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, attorney Victoria Toensing, and other American citizens.

I wish this article was completely off-topic, but I don't think it is.
Senators Offer to Let NSA Hunt Cyber Actors Inside the US.  A bipartisan group of senators offered to help expand the National Security Agency's authorities allowing the spy agency to hunt domestically for signals intelligence against foreign adversaries that U.S. officials have said are behind a string of recent attacks, like the recent SolarWinds hack.  Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday voiced their support for expanded authorities for the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command to conduct more intelligence gathering domestically, something that the Biden administration already is exploring, according to Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads both agencies.  Committee members heaped praise on Nakasone for his efforts to secure the 2020 elections from foreign interference.  The NSA and Cyber Command conducted some two dozen operations to protect U.S. infrastructure and target adversaries in the runup to November, Nakasone said.

Senators on Armed Services Committee Promote Expansion of NSA Domestic Data Gathering and Surveillance — NSA Response:  "The Fourth Amendment is a "Key Obstacle" You Need to Remove.  OK, before I blow a blood pressure cuff on this issue, please keep in mind the warnings provided on these pages about DHS now starting to assemble lists of dissident citizens under the guise of domestic extremists.  Also remind yourself the same DHS and FBI are now using private contractors embedded in Big Tech to scour public information on social media and provide feedback to help DHS assemble those lists.  Now, we take that foundation and build it one step further.  This well-written report about the recent Senate Armed Services Committee discussion with the National Security Agency (NSA) needs to be absorbed with the prior information as context.  These paragraphs are alarming in the extreme: [...]

Magic Kingdom Uses COVID-19 As An Excuse To Install Facial Recognition.  Sadly, Walt Disney World has joined the ranks of airports and corporations using COVID-19 as an excuse to install facial recognition.  According to the Disney Tourist Blog, Walt Disney World will [test] facial recognition at Magic Kingdom. [...] Walt Disney World has been treating families like suspected criminals at a TSA checkpoint so it's the next logical step for them.

Amazon is reportedly telling delivery drivers they must give 'biometric consent' so the company can track them as a condition of the job.  Amazon is telling its delivery drivers to sign a consent form that allows the company to track them based on biometric data as "a condition of delivering Amazon packages," Motherboard's Lauren Kaori Gurley reported on Tuesday [3/23/2021].  Thousands of drivers across the US must sign the "biometric consent" paperwork this week, and if they don't they'll lose their jobs, according to Motherboard.  The form, which was viewed by the outlet and published in the report, states that Amazon would be allowed to use "on-board safety camera technology which collects your photograph for the purposes of confirming your identity and connecting you to your driver account." The system would then "collect, store, and use Biometric Information from such photographs."  The technology specifically would track a driver's location and movement, like how many miles they drive, when they brake and turn, and how fast they are driving.

Greenwald: If Left Can Create Narrative The Country Is Always Under Threat, They Can Expand Mass Surveillance.  Glenn Greenwald warned the left is desperate to contain the "mythology" of what happened on the day of the Capitol Riot in order to preserve the Capitol Wall and have Congress create laws expanding surveillance.  [Video clip]

China using 'emotion recognition technology' for surveillance.  China has been ramping up surveillance known as "emotion recognition technology" in order to monitor human feelings — and help them with law enforcement, according to reports.  Emotion recognition technology tracks traits such as facial muscle movements, vocal tone and body movements in order to infer a person's feelings, the state-run Global Times reported.  "Emotion recognition is definitely the direction of humanity's future tech development," Ma Qingguo, who is head of the Academy of Neuroeconomics and Neuromanagement at Ningbo University, told the outlet.  Some Chinese experts boast that the new technology is up to 95 percent accurate at detecting people's emotions.

Drones With 'Most Advanced AI Ever' Coming Soon To Your Local Police Department.  Three years ago, Customs and Border Protection placed an order for self-flying aircraft that could launch on their own, rendezvous, locate and monitor multiple targets on the ground without any human intervention.  In its reasoning for the order, CBP said the level of monitoring required to secure America's long land borders from the sky was too cumbersome for people alone.  To research and build the drones, CBP handed $500,000 to Mitre Corp., a trusted nonprofit Skunk Works that was already furnishing border police with prototype rapid DNA testing and smartwatch hacking technology.  Mitre's unmanned aerial vehicles didn't take off.  They were "tested but not fielded operationally" as "the gap from simulation to reality turned out to be much larger than the research team originally envisioned," a CBP spokesperson says.  But the setback didn't end CBP's sci-fi dreams.  This year, America's border police will test automated drones from Skydio, the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup that on Monday [3/1/2021] announced it had raised an additional $170 million in venture funding at a valuation of $1 billion.

Instagram Will Now Monitor Your Private Messages To Watch For 'Hate Speech'.  Instagram announced in the past week that they will begin policing private direct messages in their latest crackdown on so-called "hate speech" on their platform, a report says.  In line with the recent racial abusive comments that are "targeted at footballers in the U.K." after losing a match, the social media platform Instagram announced Wednesday that they will be imposing stricter measures in order "to help prevent" the further spread of abuse and hate speech in direct messages, Daily Wire reported.

In San Diego, 'Smart' Streetlights Spark Surveillance Reform.  A homicide detective looked up from the scene of a fatal shooting in San Diego's Gaslamp District in August 2018 and saw something unusual:  The streetlight glowing overhead didn't look like a normal streetlight.  That's because it wasn't.  The LED light on the pole was also equipped with an optical sensor.  As it illuminated the city, it was capturing 24-hour video footage of the scenes beneath it.  "We had no idea what the quality of video would be, or what it would capture," said Jeffrey Jordon, who leads special projects and legislative affairs for the San Diego Police Department.  "The first time we saw it we were like, '[Indeed], that's really good video.'"  The San Diego Police Department knew that the city had been recently outfitted with a few thousand such "smart" streetlights, installed to monitor car and foot traffic, Jordon says.  But until that moment, he said the department had not yet thought to ask the city for the light's recordings.

The future of "smart" cities is in street lights.  Cities are rushing to replace their legacy street lights with "smart" LED fixtures that could one day be able to find you a parking space, monitor air quality, and announce an oncoming thunderstorm.  Despite a bumpy and controversial start to some smart street light programs, cities are saving tons of money on energy by banishing traditional bulbs — and may soon be able to turn a profit by monetizing data from smart LED sensors or leasing space on light poles.  There's been lots of hype about "smart cities," where connected technology helps governments serve us better — but also lots of money wasted on expensive projects that fizzled or caused public outcry over police use of camera surveillance.

Is the FBI Already Engaged in a Coverup in the Nashville Bombing?  [Scroll down]  There is nothing delusional or irrational at all in thinking 5G, 4G, or any G before or since, including the earliest iterations of cellular, is being used to spy on Americans.  It's a fact.  It is and has been.  Indeed, it has been known since the publication of James Bamford's book "The Puzzle Palace" that the National Security Agency and others have the capability to spy on virtually every citizen of this country — and that was close to 40 years ago (1983)!  And it's only gotten worse since.  I'm sorry to say it, but anyone who thinks he or she has any privacy is a fool.  Even the current president was spied upon.  Edward Snowden, as I indicated in my previous column, made it clear just how deeply implicated AT&T is in this activity.  In fact, that company may well be the government's principal private industry ally in clandestine work, helping to connect it with other cellular companies.  If I know that, why wouldn't Warner, an IT professional, know that? [...] I believe they are once again covering up here, creating a distraction from the actual motive, because the one thing they don't want to be investigated — well, one among many — is the alliance between private industry and our intelligence agencies, coupled with the realization we all live now in an Orwellian surveillance culture, not dissimilar to that in China.

Harris Poll:  Most Americans Concerned Govt Tracking Them Through Cellphone.  Fifty-five percent of American adults are concerned that the government is tracking them through location data generated from their cellphones, according to a new Harris Poll survey, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday [11/25/2020].  The survey also revealed that 77% of respondents said the government should get a warrant to purchase the kind of detailed location information that data brokers regularly buy and sell on the commercial market.  The government is currently buying such data for criminal law enforcement and border-security purposes, but without any court oversight, according to the Journal.

Mississippi Cops Can Now Use Your Ring Doorbell Camera To Live Stream Your Neighborhood.  The Jackson, Mississippi police department is piloting a 45 day program that allows them to live stream private security cameras, including Amazon Ring cameras, at the residences of its citizens.  It's no surprise that Amazon's Ring cameras were the only brand named for the pilot program, as EFF pointed out, since they have over 1,000 partnerships with local police departments.  The program allows Ring owners to patch their camera streams to a "Real Time Crime Center" - i.e. a dispatcher on desk duty whose new favorite way of passing the time is to watch you bring out your garbage twice a week in a bathrobe.

Michigan Governor:  Up To Six Months In Prison If Businesses Don't Surveil Customers For Contact Tracing.  The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is requiring restaurants, barbershops, tattoo parlors, recreational facilities, and entertainment establishments to record the names, contact information, and visit times of all customers to "aid with contact tracing." Any establishment that does not comply is threatened with a maximum $200 fine and a misdemeanor charge punishable with up to six months in prison.  The order, announced Friday [10/30/2020], comes as Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration began backtracking on the state's latest reopening plan and tightening COVID-19 restrictions, citing rising hospitalizations and deaths.  Other states including New York have implemented similar contact tracing rules, requiring restaurants to record diners' information in the case of an outbreak.  In addition to scaling back the number of people at gatherings at indoor venues from 500 to 50, the order also advised against shouting and screaming at events, claiming that cheering could spread the virus in the air 30 times more than speaking.

A 'Persistent Eye in the Sky' Coming to a City Near You?  "Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we're looking at, and we can see everything."  That same persistent eye in the sky may soon be deployed over U.S. cities.  At the time he made that comment about surveillance drones over Afghanistan, Maj. General James Poss was the Air Force's top intelligence officer.  He was preparing to leave the Pentagon, and move over to the Federal Aviation Administration.  His job was to begin executing the plan to allow those same surveillance drones to fly over American cities.  This plan was ordered by Congress in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.  It directed the Departments of Defense and Transportation to "develop a plan for providing expanded access to the national airspace for unmanned aircraft systems of the Department of Defense."

Portland Bans Facial Recognition Technology to Protect Peaceful Rioters.  Portland has some really, really strange things going on.  On Wednesday [9/9/2020], amid a record-setting season of chaos, arson, vandalism, and violence in the streets, the city decided to ban the use of facial-recognition technology by local law enforcement. [...] What's the technology good for?  Well, it "could help with tasks ranging from solving crime to checking student attendance at school."  But it "comes with fundamental privacy issues."  In addition to the cops, "private entities in places of public accommodation" are now barred from using it as well.  That means businesses that serve the public — restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Portland Bans Police Using Facial-Recognition Technology.  On Wednesday [9/9/2020], the city of Portland — which has been decimated by rioters the last three months — banned the use of facial-recognition technology by local police.  "Its decision to prevent both local government and businesses from employing the technology appears to be the most sweeping ban yet by an individual city," CNN reported, adding:  ["]The new rule prevents 'private entities in places of public accommodation' in Portland from using it, too, referring to businesses that serve the general public — a grocery store or a pizza place, for instance.  It does not prevent individuals from setting up facial-recognition technology at home, such as a Google Nest camera that can spot familiar faces, or gadgets that use facial-recognition software for authenticating users, like Apple's Face ID feature for unlocking an iPhone.["]

60 Percent of Police Drones Are Chinese Made.  Chinese manufacturers produced more than three in five drones used by local and state law enforcement, potentially exposing sensitive geographic and personal data to the Chinese government.  Chinese tech companies have sold or gifted drones to more than 970 law enforcement and first responder agencies across the country, presenting a massive national security risk, according to a new report by John Venable and Lora Ries, senior research fellows at the conservative Heritage Foundation.  The authors of the report warn that the Chinese government can compel these companies to cough up sensitive data collected in the United States.  The technology could help Beijing identify vulnerabilities in U.S. critical infrastructure and track down the location of American civic leaders.

New York Cops stationed at tunnels and bridges to scan license plates.  Travelers coming into New York City from 35 COVID-19 hotspot states were met at road entry points Wednesday under a program announced earlier in the day by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  At a press conference on Wednesday morning, de Blasio said those who do not self-isolate for 14 days once they arrive in the city from those locations could face a $10,000 fine.  He failed to explain how he would enforce the order.  Pictures taken by show police officers stationed at the Goethals Bridge toll plaza Wednesday evening.  The sheriff's department scanned plates and pulled people over, onlookers say.

California Police, Amazon Ring Partnerships Raise Concerns.  As nationwide protests force a deep examination of police tactics and funding, technology companies say they are re-evaluating their relationship with law enforcement as well.  Amazon has halted police use of its facial recognition technology for one year and the website Nextdoor has stopped forwarding tips to police.  Now, privacy groups and activists are scrutinizing the relationships between Amazon and local police departments that allow law enforcement to request access to video recordings from doorbell cameras installed in private homes.  Amazon's expanding network of law enforcement "partners" for its Neighbors app remains intact, an arrangement that critics say is designed to boost sales of its Ring cameras and capitalize on fears of property crime.  Social media and news channels are filled with stories of package thieves and other incidents captured on Ring cameras, which acts as a form of marketing for the products.

Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users.  As I reported on June 23, Apple has fixed a serious problem in iOS 14, due in the fall, where apps can secretly access the clipboard on users' devices.  Once the new OS is released, users will be warned whenever an app reads the last thing copied to the clipboard.  As I warned earlier this year, this is more than a theoretical risk for users, with countless apps already caught abusing their privacy in this way.  Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China's TikTok.  Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue.

Study Finds Some Governments Already Using Contact Tracing Apps For Mass Surveillance.  For months, privacy experts like Edward Snowden were warning about governments using virus contact tracing phone apps to conduct mass surveillance on citizen populations.  As most of us know, governments are already spying on domestic citizens, but if they have access to data from the contact tracing apps, it gives them yet another tool that helps to give them a clearer picture of everyone's day-to-day activities.

Liberals Still Think Obama Was the 'Best President Ever,' Here Are 14 Reasons Why That's Ridiculous.  [#8] He literally spied on millions of Americans.  Fans of the book 1984 got a real treat during the Obama years.  Potential terror suspects may not have been under the eye of the federal government, but everyday citizens were.  The NSA surveillance program experienced exponential growth on Obama's watch, altering surveillance methods away from terror suspects and toward mass surveillance.  According to the ACLU, there was a 64 percent growth in electronic spying by the United States government during Obama's first term.  The Obama administration argued in federal court in 2012 that the public has no "reasonable expectation of privacy" regarding their cell phone location data and that the government can obtain these records without a warrant.  Further blemishing Obama's record on civil liberties, his administration green-lighted a giant government database of information on millions of citizens who weren't even suspected of terrorism or any crime at all.

Obama Used National Security to Spy on Americans Opposed to Islamic Terrorists.  We know when Obamagate ended, but we don't know when the policy of spying on Americans began.  The tangled roots of the domestic surveillance of political opponents by the NSA predate the alarmism about Russia.  Tracing them back into the fetid swamp takes us not toward Moscow, but to Tehran.  The first public revelation that the White House was spying on high level members of the political opposition came in 2015.  Members of Congress had been eavesdropped on as part of an operation to sabotage Prime Minister Netanyahu's campaign against the Iran Deal.  The Israeli leader and his entire country had earlier been targeted by a massive spy campaign to stop Israel from taking out Iran's nukes.  But the new wave of surveillance was no longer just against a potential Israeli attack on Iran, but was part of a political campaign to win the domestic argument to aid Iran and legalize its nuclear program.

Recommendation: Do Not Install or Use Centralized Server Coronavirus (COVID-19) Contact Tracing Apps.  As I write this, various governments are rushing to implement — or have already implemented — a wide range of different smartphone apps purporting to be for public health COVID-19 "contact tracing" purposes.  The landscape of these is changing literally hour by hour, but I want to emphasize MOST STRONGLY that all of these apps are not created equal, and that I urge you not to install various of these unless you are required to by law — which can indeed be the case in countries such as China and Poland, just to name two examples.  Without getting into deep technical details here, there are basically two kinds of these contact tracing apps.  The first is apps that send your location or other contact-related data to centralized servers (whether the data being sent is claimed to be "anonymous" or not).  Regardless of promised data security and professed limitations on government access to and use of such data, I do not recommend voluntarily choosing to install and/or use these apps under any circumstances.

America is awash in cameras, a double-edged sword for protesters and police.  On Saturday night, as protests were still taking place in city streets across the country, the Dallas police department put out a call for help on Twitter.  It asked anyone who had video from the protests showing "illegal activity" to upload it to its anonymous tip app, iWatch Dallas.  What it got was a different kind of protest, in the form of a flood of videos and images of K-pop stars performing.  The department later tweeted that the app was down because of technical difficulties.  In the tense and escalating standoffs between law enforcement and protesters that have now spread to more than 100 cities in the wake of George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis police custody, photos and video footage are being collected and wielded by all sides.  And there is no shortage of cameras to pull from.

IBM Bails Out Of "Racist" Facial Recognition Software Development.  The field of companies racing to develop reliable facial recognition software just became a bit less crowded.  IBM CEO Arvind Krishna made the announcement this week that his company would no longer work on such projects while simultaneously sending a letter to Congress asking them to take action.  But what action is he looking for?  Congress isn't particularly well known for its coding skills.  No, Krishna isn't pulling his company out of the game because the technological challenges are too daunting.  He's bailing out because the software is racist, you see.  And he wants Congress to shun such applications as well.

The Rule of Doctors Threatens Trump's Reelection, American Well-Being.  Sports entrepreneur Mark Cuban, whose principal claim to fame is that he owns a basketball team, came up with the gimcrack idea of hiring and training millions of the newly unemployed to act as contract tracers, snooping around the sick to find out with whom they've come into contact.  Thus far, no one has suggested the East Asian solution (South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong), which involves cellphone monitoring via apps and quarantining visitors for 14 days with the mobile phone equivalent of an ankle bracelet, but you can bet that's coming.

8 Genius Ways to Trick Surveillance Systems.  Today's databases are jam-packed with, well, our data, from our license plate numbers to our fingerprints to photos of our actual faces.  But that doesn't sit right with some hackers, who take issue with all the ways we can be tracked and surveilled through technology.  So the world's best black hats have come up with a clever solution to defeat databases: feed them with faulty data to make the systems less effective and more expensive.  Here are some of their most resourceful methods for fooling surveillance systems, and how you can follow suit.

Your cell phone is being followed wherever you take it.
Apple data from Memorial Day weekend shows driving is back to pre-pandemic levels.  The number of Americans venturing out over the Memorial Day weekend has spiked to levels not seen since the coronavirus pandemic brought the United States to a grinding halt more than two months ago.  Cellphone data from Apple's COVID-19 mobility trends report shows that the number of people out driving across the US increased by more than 25 percent on Saturday [5/23/2020] alone.  The number of people out walking also increased on Saturday to levels not seen since mid-March when stay-at-home orders were put in place across most of the country.  In some states — like Missouri and Mississippi — the levels of driving at the weekend increased to levels not seen this year.

The Left Is What It Once Loathed.  Compare the current progressive view about civil liberties against the old liberal positions of the past.  Surveillance and spying on U.S. citizens?  Remember liberal Senator Frank Church of Idaho and his 1975 post-Watergate select Senate investigative committee?  It found the CIA, FBI, and NSA improperly over three decades had tapped into the phones of Americans, opened their mail, and worked with telecommunications companies to monitor the data of supposedly suspect politicians, actors, celebrities, and political activists.  "Collusion" with the communists and the Russians was often the pretense to surveil American citizens.  Consider Church either a bastion of civil liberties protection or a dangerous firebrand who weakened the CIA and FBI.  But the point is that the Left's position had once mostly been that the government's unelected deep-state intelligence officers simply had too much power to trust.

Dan Bongino Finds Out There's a Fourth Way the Government Can Spy on a Citizen.  [Scroll down]  The government is surveilling Kislyak.  They're receiving transcripts of his phone calls.  How do they know who he's speaking with?  FBI officials know Flynn would be vacationing in the Dominican Republic at the end of December.  It would be easy for Obama officials to identify a Kislyak call to the Dominican Republic.  How can Obama officials guarantee that Kislyak will call Flynn while he's there?  They might announce sanctions against Russians or they might expel 35 Russian diplomats and close two Russian compounds for interference in the 2016 presidential election.  Which is exactly what they did.  To be precise (and this distinction will become clear shortly), on December 28, Obama signed Executive Order #13757 which enacted sanctions on several Russians and Russian entities.  On the next day, December 29, 2016, Obama announced the closing of two Russian compounds and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.  Odd timing, is it not?  Why did they wait so long after Election Day?

Inside the Media's Desperate Cover-Up of 'Obamagate'.  Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN contributor, told his viewers that it is "routine" to unmask Americans who are communicating with foreigners under surveillance.  Yahoo News told its readers unmaskings are "routine."  New York Times reporter Charlie Savage tweeted the practice is so "routine" that under President Trump, the National Security Agency handled 10,000 unmasking requests last year and 17,000 requests in 2018 — an average of 37 per day over the two years." [...] What all of these Obamagate deniers are about is a determined effort to journalistically cover-up what arguably is the biggest scandal in American history — a silent coup attempt against a President of the United States by a collection of dirty cops and dirty bureaucrats.

Was Obama systematically spying on everyone who could threaten his legacy?  [Scroll down]  First, I am indebted to Mary Theroux, of the Independent Institute, who alerted me to the National Security Agency's collection and storage capacity.  Its Utah Data Center, completed in May 2019 at a cost of $1.5 billion, is located at Camp Williams, near Bluffdale, Utah.  The structure covers somewhere between 1 [and] 1.5 million square feet, with 100,000 square feet dedicated to the data center and the remainder for technical support and administration.  The Data Center's storage capacity is estimated to exceed exabytes, plural.  If you're wondering, a single exabyte is equal to one quintillion bytes (or 10 to the 18th power of bytes).  That's a lot of information.  Mary Theroux pointed out that there is no way that the U.S. can scan this information in real time.  That is, there's nothing in this massive database that will alert our intelligence agencies to a planned terrorist attack.  Instead, this database exists as a repository to hunt down information after the fact.  In that regard, it gives the government power that Lavrentiy Beria only dreamed about.  Lavrentiy Beria was the head of the secret police under Stalin.

Report:  John Brennan Used Private Contractors to Unmask Trump Officials.  [Scroll down]  "Unmasking" an American is a major breach of people's privacy — attaching a name to a call that shouldn't have been eavesdropped on in the first place, not without a warrant.  So you're supposed to have a very strong intelligence or law enforcement pretext for doing so.  Instead, the Obama administration just stared unmasking every call made by Trump personnel "inadvertently" spied on by Obama's minions.  They did this so that the information could be leaked.  In his last days in office, Obama also changed the rules about who was allowed to see "unmasked' names.  Previously, the secret must be closely held — again, to keep some privacy for Americans wrongly spied on.  But Obama changed the rules so that the names could be propagated far and wide in government, with hundreds, possibly thousands, of people having access to unmasked names which are supposed to be a closely-held secret.  He did this so that anyone who wanted to leak the names to the press could not be caught — if just one or two people know the names, it would be easy to determine the leakers, and prosecute them.

ACLU attempts to block Baltimore surveillance planes from flight.  There was a rather amazing bit of good news coming out of Florida this weekend.  As of yesterday, there have been no murders recorded in the city of Miami for seven straight weeks.  If that sounds like an underwhelming statistic to you, we should put it in context and note that this is the first time that's happened since 1957.  The ongoing pandemic is being credited by the police as the largest factor driving this happy news.  I brought up that story mostly to draw a contrast with another city where things aren't going nearly as well.  That would be Baltimore, Maryland.  To be sure, the murder rate in Charm City is down from the same period last year (finally).  After averaging more than one murder per day through the first six weeks of the year, even some of the gang bangers seem to be staying at home.  But there have still been 85 murders on the year, with four more recorded in the past week.

Documents Reveal Feds Are Excited To Create A Mass Surveillance Network.  A FOIA request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center revealed how excited the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) is about using CCTV cameras to create a national surveillance network.  An NSCAI presentation titled "Chinese Tech Landscape Overview" discusses China's facial recognition CCTV camera network in glowing terms.  "When we talk about data resources, really the largest data source is the government.'"  The presentation discusses how the Chinese government profits from encouraging companies to use facial recognition on visitors and employees. [...] In America things are not all that different.  In the United States, the Feds encourage private companies like Clearview AI, Amazon Ring and Flock Safety to use facial recognition and automatic license plate readers to identify everyone.

Adam Schiff's surveillance state.  Lawmakers are debating ways to prevent the Federal Bureau of Investigation from abusing its surveillance authority again.  While they're at it, they have an obligation to address their own privacy transgressor, Rep. Adam Schiff.  That's the gist of a pointed letter from Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr, which landed Thursday at the House Intelligence Committee.  Chairman Schiff spent months conducting secret impeachment hearings.  His ensuing report revealed that he'd also set up his own surveillance state.  Mr. Schiff issued secret subpoenas to phone carriers, to obtain and publish the call records of political rivals.  Targets included Rudy Giuliani and another attorney of the president, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee (Rep. Devin Nunes) and a journalist (John Solomon).

Why FISA Should Be Abolished!  It's time to put "foreign" back into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  The Russia Hoax exposed FISA to the world; all the lies and deceptions that were sold to the FISA court to spy on Trump campaign associate, Carter Page, is proof.  As a result, Americans have lost trust in the FISA court... because they have lost faith in the FBI & DOJ to present evidence honestly in surveillance warrant applications.  There are only two real solutions.  1) Abolish FISA or, 2) Enact Senator Rand Paul's proposal that it can no longer be used against Americans.  Republicans are reluctant to renew FISA because of the chronic and pervasive abuse.  Democrats, who supposedly care more than anyone about civil liberties, should also be against it.

State proposes spy cameras to charge 'presumed guilty' citizens.  [The Virginia] legislature is considering the deployment of automated cameras and radar to "bring speeding charges for which the accused is presumed guilty." The Rutherford Institute is denouncing House Bill 1442, which would authorize "photo speed monitoring devices."  "At a time when the Commonwealth of Virginia is struggling with critical issues on almost every front, it is a poor reflection on the General Assembly that one of its top legislative priorities — authorizing the installation and deployment of automated speed cameras throughout the state — involves a backdoor means of generating revenue for localities and police agencies at the expense of the citizenry's rights to privacy and due process," said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, the institute's president.  "To the detriment of all, House Bill 1442 will further extend the government's pervasive and oppressive surveillance of citizens."

Trump's Presidency Reveals 7 Undeniable Facts About The Swamp.  [#7] As a result of what became known as Edward Snowden's 2013 Global Surveillance Disclosures, American and British initiatives were exposed including PRISM and Tempora that revealed cooperation with governments around the world working in connection with multi-national corporations including Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google, British Telecommunications, and Verizon.  Moreover, backdoor data-gathering programs such as XKeyscore were unveiled along with other various ways by which government spooks could intercept phone calls, text messages, and private data from commonly used internet platforms like Yahoo.  Just as technological breakthroughs in computing and the proliferation of "smart" communication and entertainment devices gave rise to government spying, it was not a very large leap of understanding to see how easy it would be to blackmail and control not only citizens, but government administrators, politicians, officials, and even judges, around the world.

Rogue NYPD cops are using facial recognition app Clearview.  Rogue NYPD officers are using a sketchy facial recognition software on their personal phones that the department's own facial recognition unit doesn't want to touch because of concerns about security and potential for abuse, The [New York] Post has learned.  Clearview AI, which has scraped millions of photos from social media and other public sources for its facial recognition program — earning a cease-and-desist order from Twitter — has been pitching itself to law enforcement organizations across the country, including to the NYPD.  The department's facial recognition unit tried out the app in early 2019 as part of a complimentary 90-day trial but ultimately passed on it, citing a variety of concerns.  Those include app creator Hoan Ton-That's ties to, which was involved in a widespread phishing scam in 2009, according to police sources and reports.

New Jersey cops told to halt all use of controversial facial-recognition technology.  The state attorney general is ordering all New Jersey police to stop using a powerful new facial-recognition technology that's pulling millions of photos from social media.  The order was issued Friday [1/24/2020] to county prosecutors, concerning a New York-based company called Clearview AI.  "Like many people, I was troubled," state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said about the company's techniques, which were first reported by The New York Times.

The Role of Facial Recognition for Law Enforcement.  Faces have unique qualities that allow individuals to be recognized through computer algorithms that have developed to the point where software is being used by law enforcement to help identify perpetrators of crime.  As its use becomes widespread, the technology is raising concerns about privacy and security.  Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) are attempting to address these issues in their legislation, S. 2878, the Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act of 2019, which was introduced on November 14, 2019.  This bipartisan legislation would impose limits on use of facial recognition technology by federal law enforcement agencies and require a warrant before this technology could be used for surveillance activities.  Since 2013, Citizens Against Government Waste has supported modernizing laws that would require a warrant to access email content and data stored in the cloud, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986.  However, efforts to update ECPA have stalled with the current Congress.  The legislation introduced by Sens. Coons and Lee does not address access to email content and data accumulated and retained using new technologies beyond facial recognition algorithms and technology.

Mysterious drones are flying around the Midwest, Great Plains, and no one has answers.  Local and federal authorities are investigating confirmed reports of mysterious drone sightings in northeastern Colorado and Nebraska that appeared in the night sky this week.  Sheriff's offices in Lincoln, Washington and Sedgwick counties have been getting calls this week about the unknown winged devices after initial reports came out of Phillips and Yuma counties, sheriffs said.  The drones have 6-foot wingspans and fly between 7 and 10 p.m. in gridlike patterns 150 to 200 feet in the air in groups of six to 10, the Denver Post reported.

A Big And Bizarre Drone Mystery Is Unfolding In Rural Colorado.  [Scroll down]  Based strictly on the descriptions conveyed, it sounds like someone or some group is testing a broad-area surveillance capability with lower-end autonomous drones.  This could include something as simple as having a group fly a series of planned routes and return with the information gathered via autopilot.  By doing so, a group of small, relatively inexpensive drones can cover a large area quickly instead of single, far more expensive assets that could take more time and offer less redundancy.  Such a capability could be used for search and rescue, mapping, and general intelligence gathering.  This also doesn't require man-in-the-loop control that would necessitate line-of-sight connectivity.

Here are the FISA Court Documents Revealing How the Obama-Comey FBI abused surveillance powers.  In a little-publicized opinion issued on April 26, 2017, FISC Judge Rosemary Collyer scalded Obama-era intelligence agencies for rampant abuse of NSA databases.  These agencies, including the FBI, routinely accessed the communications (emails, texts, etc.) of American citizens.  Nearly 90 percent of all such queries were deemed violations of various laws, starting with the Fourth Amendment prohibiting illegal searches.  And no one, to my knowledge, has ever been held accountable.

The DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a national security leak waiting to happen.  A private DNA ancestry database that's been used by police to catch criminals is a security risk from which a nation-state could steal DNA data on a million Americans, according to security researchers.  Security flaws in the service, called GEDmatch, not only risk exposing people's genetic health information but could let an adversary such as China or Russia create a powerful biometric database able to identify nearly any American from a DNA sample.  GEDMatch, which crowdsources DNA profiles, was created by genealogy enthusiasts to let people search for relatives and is run entirely by volunteers.  It shows how a trend toward sharing DNA data online can create privacy risks affecting everyone, even people who don't choose to share their own information.

UNH poll infers 70% favor giving FBI all NH license photos.  A survey released by the University of New Hampshire claims to show that an overwhelming majority of residents support sharing driver's license photos with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for inclusion in a national facial recognition database.  New Hampshire officials do not share Department of Motor Vehicle photos with the FBI, but 21 states do support of the agency's efforts to build a massive database of over 400 million photos.

Gartner Predicts 11.2 Million 5G IoT Surveillance Cameras by 2022 and 49 Million Units for Connected Cars by 2023.  Don't like being watched?  Concerned about all the accidents and warnings associated with automated vehicles?  Worried that the Telecom Industry has provided NO scientific evidence that 5G is safe and many doctors and scientists say it isn't? [...] Opposition and litigation regarding forced 5G installation is increasing in the U.S. and worldwide.  It's going to take more than common sense to stop this insanity.

Christopher Wray Has Some Explaining to Do.  A constitution is a piece of paper.  The powerful must respect and submit to it or it has no power.  In America, our Constitution is supposed to protect Americans from government snooping.  While the framers might have feared overzealous constables with powdered wigs and silk stockings, the protection against unreasonable searches and spying is even more relevant today.  With our most private secrets stored online, Americans are more vulnerable than ever to spying by our own government.  Over the past few weeks, we found ourselves distracted by the Ukraine farce, courtesy of the CIA and its allies in the media and Congress.  You likely missed the release of a series of bombshell rulings that partially laid bare illegal spying on Americans by the FBI.

The government can now activate your phone camera to stream live video of whatever you are seeing.  A New Jersey police department recently implemented new technology that allows 911 operators in the area to stream live video from callers' smartphones with the touch of a button.  While callers will still have to give their consent to such monitoring, some media outlets have dubbed the technology a slippery slope towards automatic surveillance, whereby Big Brother will one day have immediate access to people's smartphones without their consent.  In the meantime, some police departments plan to utilize 911eye, as it's called, a product of Capita Secure Solutions and Services, for permission-based surveillance during emergencies, which will allow first responders to see exactly what callers are seeing before they arrive.

Rashida Tlaib, in contentious tour, tells Detroit police chief to hire only black analysts for facial recognition program.  Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib told Detroit's chief of police that he should hire only black people as analysts to run their facial recognition software because, she claimed, non-black people think they all look alike.  The suggestion came Monday as Chief James Craig gave Tlaib a tour of the Real Time Crime Center, where the department uses facial recognition technology to find suspects.  Craig was showing Tlaib how the software works, and how analysts use it to identify and locate individuals.  But the tour quickly turned contentious as the freshman Michigan congresswoman made repeated requests that were shot down by the chief.

No One Noticed When Clinton and Obama Abused Whistleblowers.  [Scroll down]  President Obama promised to be different.  In his official campaign documents, candidate Obama presented himself as a whistleblower's best friend, this in high relief to his predecessor who "stifled" the "courage and patriotism" of those who dared speak out.  As Thomas Drake can attest, Obama fell rather spectacularly short of his promises.  Drake, an Air Force veteran and NSA analyst, objected, as did others, to an NSA data collection program known as TrailBlazer.  Drake testified honestly when the accusations of waste, fraud, and mismanagement reached the Inspectors General office in the Department of Defense.  The Inspectors General report substantiated Drake's testimony, but that did not stop NSA management from persisting with TrailBlazer and punishing Drake with a purgatory of petty assignments.  In November 2007, Drake's life took a turn for the Kafkaesque when a dozen FBI agents raided his house for allegedly leaking info about the NSA's warrantless wiretap program.

Facial Recognition for a Free Travel Ticket in China?  Welcome To Orwell's 1984.  China wants to give its prisoners (populace) the ability to pay with their faces to ride subways; this will be combined with its social credit program — which already tracks the communist nation's citizens traveling — and if points are too low, it prevents travel. [...] In Shenzhen, China, home of OnePlus, Huawei and internet giant Tencent, the city has released a new government system for elderly Chinese.  This new program will allow residents of China over the age of 60 to register for free subway rides, using just their face as their ticket.  If you think this is just a one-off, you would be utterly wrong.  This form of facial recognition is already being experimented in other cities including Jinan, Shanghai and Nanjing according to the South China Morning Post.

Baltimore To Fight Crime By Airplane Surveillance Of Entire City.  The head of an aerial surveillance company is pitching Baltimore officials on flying not one but three camera-laden planes above the city simultaneously, covering most of the city and its violent crime, he said in emails obtained by The Baltimore Sun.  A pair of Texas donors have stepped forward to help fund three planes and extra police, 40 local analysts and oversight personnel if there is city buy-in, the records and interviews show.  The effort aims to "demonstrate the effectiveness" of such an all-seeing surveillance system in fighting crime in the city. [...] Each plane would be capable of recording up to 32 square miles at a time, and each would fly 45 to 50 hours a week, McNutt said.

Secret FBI Subpoenas For Personal Data Go Far Beyond Previously Known.  Secret subpoenas issued by the FBI for personal data go far deeper than previously known, according to new documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, according to the New York Times.

Orwellian Nightmare:  Six US Cities Make List Of Most Surveilled Places In The World.  A new report from Comparitech, a technology research firm, details how an Orwellian society, very similar to what was written in George Orwell's (non-fiction) novel 1984, is playing out across cities in the US. According to Comparitech, six US cities made the top 50 list of the most surveilled places in the world.  Why?  Because closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the US have increased from 33 million in 2012 to nearly 62 million in 2016 and could double or triple from there in the next five years.  Both government and private sources operate these cameras in cities.

Detroit Police Commission Board Approves Use Of Facial Recognition Technology Despite National Backlash.  The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners voted to approve the Detroit Police Department's use of controversial facial recognition technology on the public, Courthouse News reported.  According to the directive, police would be limited to using the system when officers have "reasonable suspicion" of home invasions and violent crimes involving incidents like shootings, sexual assaults and carjacking.  Further, the system doesn't have assess to check immigration status on individuals and was restricted from accessing live surveillance streaming video or any security camera device.  Outside agencies would be allowed access to the information if needed after proper paperwork is filed.

This Company Built a Private Surveillance Network.  We Tracked Someone With It.  In just a few taps and clicks, the tool showed where a car had been seen throughout the U.S. A private investigator source had access to a powerful system used by their industry, repossession agents, and insurance companies.  Armed with just a car's plate number, the tool — fed by a network of private cameras spread across the country — provides users a list of all the times that car has been spotted.  I gave the private investigator, who offered to demonstrate the capability, a plate of someone who consented to be tracked.

Don't Smile for the Camera.  Our federal government's 60,000-person strong domestic spying apparatus already captures every keystroke — even those which we think we have deleted — on every device used to transmit digital data on fiber optic cable in the United States.  That covers every mobile, desktop and mainframe device.  The government, of course, will not acknowledge this publicly.  Yet some of its officials have told as much to me privately.  They have also told me that they believe that they can get away with this so long as the data captured is not used in criminal prosecutions.  Why is that?  The last thing the feds and rogue police want is for government agents to be compelled to answer under oath how they acquired the evidence they are attempting to introduce.  Yet the admission of spying assumes that the right to privacy, which is guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, is protected from governmental invasion only for criminal prosecution purposes.

Rutherford Institute Launches Inquiry Into Government Use of Drivers' License Photos to Build Facial Recognition Database, Track Citizens.  Pushing back against the expansion of secret government surveillance programs at the expense of individual privacy, The Rutherford Institute is asking the State of Illinois to disclose information about its participation in the federal government's scheme to establish a massive facial recognition database by collecting the drivers' license photographs of millions of Americans.  In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made on behalf of Illinois resident Dmitry Feofanov, The Rutherford Institute is seeking details about the federal government's facial recognition program, which allows government agents to track citizens whenever they are in public.  The request comes after it was disclosed in July 2019 that the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have mined information kept by state DMVs to create a massive database of biometric photos and personal information without the consent of citizens.

California Bill Would Ban Facial Recognition Tech On Body Cams.  A proposed bill banning facial recognition features on police body cameras is waiting for California Governor Gavin Newsom's stamp of approval.  According to reports, the state's legislature voted in favor of the controversial law Thursday [9/12/2019].  Supporters of the bill say the devices would be helpful to crack down on crime, but critics warn the new age technology comes with flaws.  This comes as several studies have shown facial recognition technology to be inaccurate, especially when trying to identify minorities, women and in some cases even well known lawmakers.

Dem senator worries Amazon's Ring doorbell could cause increased racial profiling.  Sen. Edward Markey expressed worries Thursday [9/5/2019] that Amazon's video doorbell Ring and its partnership with law enforcement could lead to increased racial profiling, particularly with people of color.  Mr. Markey wrote a letter to Amazon's chief executive saying he was "alarmed to learn that Ring is pursuing facial recognition technology" and offering police departments access to Rekognition, their face-matching program.  The Massachusetts Democrat added the technology raises "serious privacy and civil liberties concern" that "could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of color" in areas where Ring has partnered with police officials.

The Editor says...
The creation of a Big Brother surveillance state is alarming enough.  There is no need to inject a racial component into this issue.

The Surveillance State Is Here and Now.  The Police State with full Surveillance State capability is not coming; it is already here.  And private citizens are purchasing and installing the apparatus used to build it.  Amazon-owned Ring, which sells video doorbells and other security cameras, announced last week that it has "partnered" with more than 400 police departments across the United States to create the Neighbors Active Law Enforcement Map using the video feeds from doorbells bought, paid for, and installed by private citizens. [...] On the darker side of the equation, your ever-connected spy-cam is also accessible by the Amazon employees and the police, if your local department has joined Ring's "partnership" program.  All of your comings and goings, all of your friends comings and goings, and all of the traffic in front of your home — and within the range of the camera — are part of the data now available to police without so much as applying for a search warrant.

Your Apple Watch May Be Used to Decide Whether You Can Own a Gun.  The Trump administration is reportedly considering a proposal that would see the federal government partnering with Google, Amazon, and Apple in order to use their smart home devices to capture data on users — and then use that information to determine whether users exhibit signs of mental illness and a potential for violent behavior.  The Washington Post published the report, citing sources within the administration.  Although it did not specify whether the president himself approves of the proposal, it was apparently brought to the White House by the Suzanne Wright Foundation.

Doorbell-camera firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance reach.  The doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners' camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls the nation's "new neighborhood watch."  The partnerships let police automatically request the video recorded by homeowners' cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company's millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said.  Officers don't receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email, thanking them for "making your neighborhood a safer place."

American And Chinese Cities Lead The World In Spying On People.  It is no longer speculation, American law enforcement has been lying to the public about the expansion of CCTV camera surveillance.  A recent report released by CompariTech confirmed what I have been warning people about for years:  American law enforcement has become a world leader in spying on its citizens. [...] CompariTech measured the amount of CCTV cameras per 1,000 people in a city and two U.S. cities made the Top 20.  "Atlanta has 7,800 cameras for 501,178 people or 15.56 cameras per 1,000 people and Chicago has 35,000 cameras for 2,679,044 people or 13.06 cameras per 1,000 people."  But that only scratches the surface of American police surveillance.

The opposite of journalism:  CNN is encouraging government officials to lie.  In March 2013, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Clapper, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Clapper responded with a flat denial.  "No, sir. ... Not wittingly.  There are cases where it could, inadvertently perhaps.  But not wittingly."  This was a blatant lie, told knowingly and willingly, in public and under oath.  Just months later, Edward Snowden's leaks proved it.  Clapper had been exposed, and he could have been prosecuted, if not for the chummy Washington culture in which the powerful protect one another.

Unmasking the unmaskers.  In early 2009, Department of Justice officials acknowledged that broad authority granted by the previous Bush Administration had resulted in government "overcollection" of domestic communications by the National Security Agency.  Under President Barack Obama, the FBI, CIA, and other agencies' searches of names or phone numbers of U.S. citizens in surveillance metadata exploded from 9,500 in 2013, to 30,355 in the election year of 2016.

Pentagon testing mass surveillance balloons across the US.  The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.  Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.  Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000 ft, the balloons are intended to "provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats", according to a filing made on behalf of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defence company.

LAPD Spied On Left-Wing Activists During Trump Protests.  The LAPD ordered a confidential informant to secretly record the group Refuse Fascism, the documents show.  Transcripts of the interaction were obtained in a criminal case against activists who were charged with trespassing after blocking traffic on a California freeway amid anti-Trump protests.  The operation was spearheaded by the LAPD's Major Crime Division in October 2017 ahead of potential mass demonstration to mark the first anniversary of Trump's election.  The informant was equipped by police with a hidden recording device and assigned the informant to attend Refuse Fascism meetings at a local church "in an attempt to elicit information regarding the closure" of the freeway and to express interest in being involved "in any such future activities", police wrote.

Israeli security company reportedly has tool that spies on Apple, Google and Facebook cloud data.  An Israeli cybersecurity company has developed spyware that can scrape data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft products, according to The Financial Times.  The report says NSO Group's proprietary smartphone malware, Pegasus, harvests not only data stored on a device, but also any information stored in the cloud, including a user's location data, archived messages and photos.  NSO Group, who previously installed malware in Facebook's WhatsApp, denied that it markets software capable of capturing data in the cloud.  It's unclear if it has developed the tools internally.

When Does the Deep State Morph into the Police State in Our Country?  The East German state police agency, the Stasi, was granted virtually unlimited power to monitor and spy on the lives of their citizens with the objective of maintaining absolute control over all aspects of the personal and professional lives of its people.  The Stasi was renowned for being highly proficient and effective in its ability to subjugate East Germany's citizens.  This movie is a warning to Americans about the dire consequences of increasing the powers of the state.

NSA collected phone data it was not authorized to obtain.  The NSA's much maligned phone data collection program was dealt another blow Wednesday [6/26/2019], after it emerged it had collected call and text records it wasn't authorized to obtain — the second time such an incident has occurred.  The error, which took place last October, happened several months after the agency said it had purged hundreds of millions of metadata records it had over-collected since 2015, following a similar incident.

State GOP Learns to Love Big Brother.  In Great Britain, officials are arresting people who refuse to submit to a random face scan.  Their facial-scan system has proved wildly inaccurate, often leading to aggressive police actions against people misidentified as suspects.  You can't walk around any British city without being monitored by police cameras somewhere — something that has turned once-free citizens into the kind of sheep who have to be careful about anything they say or do lest it trigger a police visit.  American cities are trying to follow this police-state model, emboldened by tech companies that will earn a fortune by opening up this taxpayer-funded marketplace.  California agencies want body cameras not only to record police encounters — something that protects the public from abusive officers and officers from unfounded abuse allegations — but to alert the authorities if the person's face matches that of a suspect on some growing database.  The problems are obvious.

Review: Google Chrome has become surveillance software.  It's time to switch.  You open your browser to look at the web.  Do you know who is looking back at you?  Over a recent week of web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google Chrome and found it brought along a few thousand friends.  Shopping, news and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to let ad and data companies ride shotgun while I clicked around the web.  This was made possible by the web's biggest snoop of all:  Google.  Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software.

They are Watching Us — All the Time.  During the Obama presidency, Americans discovered that his administration's intelligence agencies were spying on us.  In fact, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress about it, for which he was never charged — but then, he's a Democrat, the laws don't apply to them.  Eventually, he came clean, admitting that all Americans were being spied on, all the time, with spy agencies keeping a record of all phone conversations, texts, and emails made by every American.  This was merely a precaution in case they ever needed to prosecute any of those who disagreed with Barry.  Yet, I believe that the tech industry not only does the same thing (spying) but does it better.

The Omnipresent Surveillance State:  Orwell's 1984 Is No Longer Fiction1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state.  There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society.  Snitches and cameras are everywhere.  People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. [...] Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike — facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on — are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.

Report:  Obama seriously violated the 4th Amendment.  A new report reveals that the government routinely violated American 4th Amendment protections under the Obama administration while snooping through overseas intercepts.  Administration officials only revealed the illegal actions as the previous president headed out the door.  That's according to a report out from Circa, which confirms suspicions that American privacy suffered greatly under President Barack Obama.

Faces in the crowd.  The Lockport (N.Y.) City School District was poised to test a facial recognition security system for students and staff this week until a late-breaking memo from the New York Department of Education temporarily halted the program.  The district told parents the goal was to enhance student safety, but the proposal drew criticism from concerned local residents and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).  The system would have provided surveillance at schools and issued an alert when the cameras detected someone whose face appeared in a database of flagged individuals.  The NYCLU asked the New York Department of Education to intervene, stating that schools should be "safe spaces" where students are not "constantly surveilled."

The Case for Prosecuting Comey and Brennan.  Just imagine a snooping government making a word-searchable transcript of audio and digital recording of video passively transmitted from your phone.  What could a curious agent, with access to a feed from the two cameras in your phone, record while simultaneously viewing your private life in both directions?  Such data could give unlimited power to influence and blackmail elected officials, private citizens, judges, law enforcement, journalists, and so on.  When Americans see a public official or an influential journalist suddenly reverse a position or do something otherwise deemed illogical, speculation often runs to question whether "somebody has something on" that official.  We should worry about the potential abuse of a database containing essentially unlimited source material that easily could be used to gain power over our fellow Americans.

FISA Court exposes Obama's abuse of NSA to spy on Americans.  The Obama White House used the most sensitive intrusive surveillance systems of the NSA to spy on Americans.  A ruling by FISA Court Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer finds that 85% of NSA database requests under FISA section 702 authority at the DOJ were illegal or noncompliant.  Surveillance systems, including PRISM, spying on hundreds if not thousands of Americans.  Including Donald Trump and those around him.  Moreover, Collyer finds, that the Department of Justice showed an appalling "lack of institutional candor".

The "Secret Research Project" — an IRS List, an NSA Database, and Resulting "Files" on Americans.  In April 2017 Judge [Rosemary] Collyer wrote a highly critical FISA Court opinion following discoveries by Director Admiral Rogers of government contractors accessing the NSA database, and extracting illegal search results from the electronic records of every American.  The scale of abuse was incredible and the surveillance issues had been covered up for years.  Collyer cited the Obama administration as having "an institutional lack of candor" in their responses to her and the FISA court.  The judge focused her criticism after a review of the period 2012 through April 2016.

Waking up in a virtual jail with no recollection of how you got there.  China's growing surveillance state has made the news again.  The NYT described a "God's-eye" — perhaps better described as a State's-eye — view of Chinese society as seen from the millions of networked devices that are blanketing the country. [...] The combination of ubiquitous sensors and database fusion has allowed the Communist Party to create "virtual cages" for millions of people.  It's easy with Internet of Things technology to turn off an individual's credit card, phone, car, refrigerator, etc., should he stray into a proscribed zone.

Huawei's An Asset All Right — But It's Not Our Asset.  China's 1.4 billion people are encircled, monitored and censored in their digital communications by the "Great Firewall of China."  Anyone who dares dissent openly from the Party line risks prison.  China's rulers are now enlisting technology to enhance the usual pervasive domestic surveillance with an Orwellian system designed to control everyone in its sights by assigning scores, rewards and penalties for "social credit."

Police Facial Recognition Systems Have Registered Over 117 Million Americans.  Massive nationwide study in 2006 reveals that thirty-six percent of Americans are in a facial recognition database, and the number is growing rapidly.  Law enforcement is mostly unregulated and agencies are free to drift toward a police state reality.

Listen to Joe diGenova.  If diGenova's track record holds, a legal rain of ruin is about to befall the deep state operatives who tried to steal the 2016 election and, failing that, to unwind the result.  And if, in fact, the enormous surveillance powers of our intelligence agencies were usurped by the Obama administration to spy for years before the election on the opposing political party, then the implications go far beyond just one election and one presidential candidate.  If that happened, then there can be no doubt that, when candidate Obama promised to "fundamentally transform America," he really meant it.  If Obama's "fundamental transformation" involved not only the atrocious harassment and intimidation of the Tea Party patriots by his Internal Revenue Service, but also included surveillance state spying on the Republican Party generally, there must be no question about whether the deep state actors should be punished for their actions.

NSA Metadata Collection May Be a Thing of the Past.  The agency is now calling for an end to the PATRIOT Act's Section 215 data program.

Can We Give James Clapper The Roger Stone Treatment Yet?  On March 12, 2013, Gen. James R. Clapper, Jr., President Obama's director of the Office Of National Intelligence, testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Responding to a question from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyder on whether the U.S. government was collecting "any type of data at all" from American citizens, Clapper paused and said, "No, sir. ... Not wittingly."  Three months later, when Edward Snowden dumped millions of stolen government documents into the public domain, it became abundantly clear that Clapper lied.  The U.S. government was, in fact, vacuuming up details about virtually every electronic communication by every American citizen.  When asked directly about his answer to Wyden, Clapper said that his response was "the least untruthful" answer he could give.

The Feds 9,000 "Opportunity Zones" Will Allow Law Enforcement To Spy On 35 Million People.  Is there no end to Big Brother's desire to turn America into a mirror image of China?  An article in Go Erie, revealed how the Feds are classifying parts of cities as "Opportunity Zones" or as I call them "Opportunity Surveillance Zones" (OPS ).  The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are using Opportunity Zones to help law enforcement turn sections of cities into federally funded surveillance zones.  Mayor Joe Schember's administration is using federal grants to turn Erie, Pennsylvania into an OPS.

Report: ICE Agents Given Access to Private License Plate Database.  The more important lead story of this article is buried within the outcome story of ICE agents using a private license plate database to capture illegal aliens. [...] Use a private-sector database to track down people for missed property tax payments; or use the database to track lawful gun owners; or use the database to stop a traveler from entering an airport until they pay an unpaid parking fine, and hey, no biggie.  But start using that private database to arrest illegal aliens, and Whoa, now the ACLU says we've got a problem.

Facial recognition's 'dirty little secret': Millions of online photos scraped without consent.  Facial recognition can log you into your iPhone, track criminals through crowds and identify loyal customers in stores.  The technology — which is imperfect but improving rapidly — is based on algorithms that learn how to recognize human faces and the hundreds of ways in which each one is unique.  To do this well, the algorithms must be fed hundreds of thousands of images of a diverse array of faces.  Increasingly, those photos are coming from the internet, where they're swept up by the millions without the knowledge of the people who posted them, categorized by age, gender, skin tone and dozens of other metrics, and shared with researchers at universities and companies.

18 Real Attacks on the 'Rule of Law'.  [#1] Unmasking:  Obama Administration officials "unmasked" hundreds of Americans who were caught up in government surveillance of foreign nationals.  It's illegal for the government to spy on Americans without a warrant.  So when an American is heard speaking to a target of a legal foreign wiretap, the government is supposed to take action to shield the American from the effect of the surveillance.  Without those safeguards, it's just the government spying on an American citizen without a warrant.  Hundreds of Americans were outed (unmasked) by former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power and other Obama officials in the closing months of Obama's tenure, despite the fact that Power as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. had no reason to be perusing the private conversations of American citizens.

Singapore to test facial recognition on lampposts, stoking privacy fears.  In the not too distant future, surveillance cameras sitting atop over 100,000 lampposts in Singapore could help authorities pick out and recognize faces in crowds across the island-state.

'Inherently invasive': FBI counter-hacking operations raise red flags over privacy.  To catch a hacker, sometimes you have to be a hacker.  But when it's the FBI doing the hacking, civil liberties groups get worried.  The agency's revelation this week that it joined a computer botnet attack piggybacking on the malware's signal to track its activities has raised new questions about what is acceptable in cybersecurity.  The problem, the civil liberties advocates say, is that the FBI collected IP addresses and "ancillary" information from computers it traversed as it tried to map the Joanap malware.

How To Use Encrypted USB Memory Sticks.  To protect your data on your USB stick, you should encrypt your data.  There are two methods to encrypt data on a USB stick — hardware and software.  Hardware encryption is a special USB stick that includes additional chips in the USB stick to encrypt your data.  Software encryption uses a normal USB stick and does the encryption though software on the computer.

Border Patrol and the TSA [were] allowed to secretly spy on everyone's social media accounts.  The U.S. Border Patrol (CBP) and the TSA claim they need to secretly spy on everyone's social media accounts so they can understand a person's relationship with their friends, family and the government.  According to a DHS report published last month, nothing can stop the Border Patrol or the TSA from secretly spying on everyone's social media accounts.  "In order to conduct a complete investigation, it is necessary for DHS/CBP to collect and review large amounts of data in order to identify and understand relationships between individuals, entities, threats and events, and to monitor patterns of activity over extended periods of time that may be indicative of criminal, terrorist, or other threat."  Understanding a person's relationship with "entities" is just a euphemism for the government.  The Feds want to know if you are anti-government an activist or a protester.

Schools in China introduce 'smart uniforms' with GPS chips to track students' movements and stop napping.  Schools in China have created uniforms with tracking chips to monitor students' whereabouts and stop them playing truant.  The so-called "smart uniforms", which have been criticised on social media, record the time and date a student enters the school and a short video parents can see through a mobile app.  Eleven schools in the southwest province of Guizhou have introduced the uniforms, developed by local tech firm Guizhou Guanyu Technology.  Skiving off classes triggers an alarm to notify both teachers and parents of the student's absence and an automatic voice alarm is activated if a student leaves school without permission.

The Editor says...
That's a little extreme, although I've worked with some people who always seemed to be someplace other than their work station, and could have used a little of this automatic supervision.

Connected cars accelerate down data-collection highway.  Automakers are collecting valuable pieces of information thanks to the internet connections, cameras and sensors built into most vehicles in recent years.  The online access makes it possible for cars to be unlocked remotely if the keys are lost.  It's how safety features can be upgraded wirelessly and maintenance schedules adjusted based on performance.  But these digital peepholes are also offering a windshield-size view of people's lives.  That's creating the potential for intrusive marketing pitches and government surveillance.

Before and After:  What We Learned About the Hemisphere Program After Suing the DEA.  In late 2013, right as the world was already reeling from the Snowden revelations, the New York Times revealed that the AT&T gives federal and local drug enforcement investigators access to a phone records surveillance system that dwarfs the NSA's.  Through this program, code-named Hemisphere, police tap into trillions of of phone records going back decades.  It's been five long years of privacy scandals, and Hemisphere has faded somewhat from the headlines since it was first revealed.  That was long enough for officials to rebrand the program "Data Analytical Services," making it even less likely to draw scrutiny or stick in the memory.  Nevertheless Hemisphere remains a prime example of how private corporations and the government team up to help themselves to our digital lives, and the lengths they will go to to cover their tracks.

Hemisphere:  Law Enforcement's Secret Call Records Deal With AT&T.  For almost 10 years, federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country have engaged in a massive and secretive telephone surveillance program known as "Hemisphere."  Publicly disclosed for the first time in September 2013 by the New York Times, the Hemisphere program provides police access to a database containing call records going back decades, combined with a sophisticated analytical system.  The program involves a private-public partnership with AT&T.  "Hemisphere" came to light amidst the public uproar over revelations that the NSA had been collecting phone records on millions of innocent people.  However, Hemisphere wasn't a program revealed by Edward Snowden's leaks, but rather its exposure was pure serendipity:  a citizen activist in Seattle discovered the program when shocking presentations outlining the program were provided to him in response to regular old public records requests.

The Hemisphere Project (f/k/a Hudson Hawk): The Latest Spy Scandal Involving 4 Billion Recorded Phone Calls Per Day.  It is convenient that in a recent post covering the latest historic Verizon M&A deal we showed a spaghetti chart, created by the WSJ, of the US telecom space because it lays roughly how many current subscribers that other US telecom giant, AT&T, has.

Facebook's Deepest, Dirtiest Secret.  Facebook is a for-profit surveillance company disguised as a social media company.  Once you invite it into your life, it will suck as much data as it can from you.  If you're on Facebook — or if you use Facebook-owned WhatsApp or Instagram — you're sharing the most intimate details of your private life with advertisers and political campaign strategists.  If that doesn't alarm you, consider that Facebook is also an unofficial arm of the Deep State's surveillance apparatus.  Leaked documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed this back in 2013.  As the result of secret court orders, Facebook — along with Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo — routinely hands over users' account details to the U.S. government spooks.

Homeland Security Will Let Computers Predict Who Might Be a Terrorist on Your Plane — Just Don't Ask How It Works.  You're rarely allowed to know exactly what's keeping you safe.  When you fly, you're subject to secret rules, secret watchlists, hidden cameras, and other trappings of a plump, thriving surveillance culture.  The Department of Homeland Security is now complicating the picture further by paying a private Virginia firm to build a software algorithm with the power to flag you as someone who might try to blow up the plane.  The new DHS program will give foreign airports around the world free software that teaches itself who the bad guys are, continuing society's relentless swapping of human judgment for machine learning.

Chinese businesswoman accused of jaywalking after AI camera spots her face on an advert.  Chinese police have admitted to wrongly shaming a famous businesswoman after a facial recognition system designed to catch jaywalkers mistook an advert on the side of a bus for her actual face.  Dong Mingzhu, president of Chian's biggest air conditioning maker, had her image flashed up on a public display screen in the city of Ningbo, near Shanghai, with a caption saying she had illegally crossed the street on a red light.  But Ningbo's facial recognition cameras had actually only caught an advert featuring her face on the side of a passing bus — a fact quickly spotted by Chinese citizens, who shared pictures of the alert on Weibo, a social network similar to Twitter.

Surveillance cameras equipped with thermal imaging allow police to identify people by their gender, body size and color of their skin.  BriefCam's Video Synopsis version V allows police and retail stores to use surveillance cameras to identify individuals and cars in real-time.  "BriefCam is the industry's leading provider of Video Synopsis® solutions for rapid video review and search, real-time alerting and quantitative video insights.  By transforming raw video into actionable intelligence."  What is really disturbing about the video is no one knows where it is being used and by whom.  BriefCam's limited disclosures, claim it is being used by top law enforcement agencies and governments but that's it.

Sheriff's Dept.: The 1,079 Privileged Jailhouse Calls We Intercepted Was Actually 34,000 Calls.  A few months back, the Orange County Sheriff's Department admitted it had been listening in on privileged conversations.  Calls from inmates to lawyers were being swept up along with everything else by service provider Global Tel Link.  This violation of state law (among other things) jeopardized dozens of prosecutions.  In all, GTL's so-called "technical error" resulted in the interception of more than 1,000 privileged calls.  The Sheriff's Department claimed it told GTL to fix the problem, but didn't appear to have been terribly bothered by this evidentiary windfall... some of which made its way into the hands of prosecutors.  It made several disappointed noises about its provider when confronted in court, but its quasi-proactive "knock it off" — directed towards GTL — didn't explain its lack of proactivity when it came to informing criminal defendants and their legal reps their cases may have been compromised by attorney-client privilege violations.

Feds Also Using 'Reverse Warrants' To Gather Location/Identifying Info On Thousands Of Non-Suspects.  Because nearly everyone carries a tracking device on their person these days, it's become a whole lot easier for the government to find out where everybody's been.  It's TinEye but for people, and it appears to be a new go-to tool for law enforcement.  What used to be officers canvassing the area where a crime took place is now a warrant sent to Google to obtain location data and identifying info for all people and devices in the area.  These so-called "reverse warrants" first started coming to light earlier this year.  The Raleigh Police Department (NC) was serving warrants to Google in hopes of figuring out who to suspect of committing crimes, rather than having a suspect in mind and working forward from there.  The warrants were of the "general" variety, guaranteed to give the RPD location/identifying info of hundreds of non-suspects who just happened to be in the area.  There's some evidence Google has pushed back against these warrants, but it hasn't been enough to deter law enforcement from continuing to use Google as one-stop shopping to bulk location/identifying info.  This practice isn't limited to the local boys.

Obama-era CIA peeked at congressional staff emails.  The CIA during the Obama administration intercepted and analyzed the email of some congressional staffers, the agency publicly confirmed this week, releasing declassified notifications from 2014 that contained details of the snooping.  The emails dealt with CIA whistle-blowers, and the agency said they were snared during "routine counterintelligence (CI) monitoring of government computer systems."  The agency then prepared a report on the information in the emails — apparently sensitive conversations about protecting whistle-blowers looking to report malfeasance by the agency.

That sign telling you how fast you're driving may be spying on you.  The next time you drive past one of those road signs with a digital readout showing how fast you're going, don't simply assume it's there to remind you not to speed.  It may actually be capturing your license plate data.  According to recently released US federal contracting data, the Drug Enforcement Administration will be expanding the footprint of its nationwide surveillance network with the purchase of "multiple" trailer-mounted speed displays "to be retrofitted as mobile LPR [License Plate Reader] platforms."  The DEA is buying them from RU2 Systems Inc., a private Mesa, Arizona company.  How much it's spending on the signs has been redacted.  Two other, apparently related contracts, show that the DEA has hired a small machine shop in California, and another in Virginia, to conceal the readers within the signs.  An RU2 representative said the company providing the LPR devices themselves is a Canadian firm called Genetec.

That Radar Speed Road Sign Might Be Saving Your License Plate for Later.  Zooming down the highway past a radar speed sign can serve as a reminder you're going a little to hard on the gas pedal, but it can also get your license plate number siphoned into a massive data dragnet used by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).  A new report in Quartz details an extensive new government contract between the DEA and RU2 Systems, a manufacturer of Radar Speed Display Trailers, and other contractors based in California, Virginia and Canada.

Shanghai airport automates check-in with facial recognition.  It's now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai's Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Welcome to the Quiet Skies.  Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.  The previously undisclosed program, called "Quiet Skies," specifically targets travelers who "are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base," according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.

Facebook's creepy new speakers are freaking people out.  Facebook is rolling out its first-ever tech gadget — and it's every bit as creepy as you'd expect.  The social-networking giant on Monday unveiled a new line of voice-activated home speakers with screens that enable video chats with friends and family — but critics said they sound more like Big Brother spy devices.  In addition to collecting data on users' commands with Alexa-powered artificial intelligence software, the Portal and Portal+ speakers are equipped with cameras that can follow users around a room and enhance the sound of their voices when they talk.

What happened to the FBI's quest for web browsing data?  Senate leaders eagerly championed FBI Director James Comey's 2016 request for more power to seize Internet browsing histories without court oversight in national security investigations.  But after coming just two votes from victory, the FBI's "number one legislative priority" hasn't received much attention. [...] Experts were reluctant to speak on the record about why they believe the fight stalled.  One policy advocate who opposed expanding national security letter authority told the Washington Examiner that it is important to discern whether the FBI is relying on other authorities or methods to get this information without a court order.

We Are Living Nineteen Eighty-Four.  George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is no longer fiction.  We are living it right now.  Google techies planned to massage Internet searches to emphasize correct thinking.  A member of the so-called deep state, in an anonymous op-ed, brags that its "resistance" is undermining an elected president.  The FBI, CIA, DOJ, and NSC were all weaponized in 2016 to ensure that the proper president would be elected — the choice adjudicated by properly progressive ideology.  Wearing a wire is now redefined as simply flipping on an iPhone and recording your boss, boy- or girlfriend, or co-workers.

Turning the Tide on Police Surveillance.  The stories seem non-stop.  The NSA, FBI, and other federal agencies are spying on us in new ways and with new programs or authorities.  But surveillance that is most overlooked, but is equally as pervasive, is how state and local police spy on their own residents.  In Baltimore, the police department secretly deployed Stingrays to track the phone calls of residents in primarily black neighborhoods.  In New Orleans, the police entered into a six-year contract with data mining firm Palantir to conduct predictive policing.  When residents found out, their opposition was so fierce that within two weeks, the city canceled the agreement.  And in cities and towns all over the country, police departments are tracking people's movements with surreptitiously installed automatic license plate readers.

Public Transit Becomes Another Tool for Total Government Surveillance.  Richmond, Virginia's new bus-rapid-transit system, the Pulse, has been beset with controversy.  The original price tag of $49 million has risen to around $65 million.  Some community leaders and City Council members thought its footprint didn't go far enough.  The system was supposed to be up and running months ago, and businesses along the affected Broad Street corridor have complained about the way the drawn-out construction has kept customers away.  City marketers like to say Richmond is "easy to love," but loving the Pulse takes more effort.  Now there's another reason to harbor a resentment against it:  surveillance.

You May Be Secretly Watched by the TSA on Your Next Airplane Flight.  A government surveillance program that secretly monitors Americans on domestic flights, even if they are not suspected of any crime and have no ties to terrorism, is being questioned by civil liberties advocates and the general public.  The program — called "Quiet Skies" by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) — has been in existence since 2010, when Barack Obama was in the White House.  But it was disclosed to the general public this past weekend via reporting by The Boston Globe.

Flying the quiet skies.  Federal air marshals have begun following ordinary US citizens not suspected of a crime or on any terrorist watch list and collecting extensive information about their movements and behavior under a new domestic surveillance program that is drawing criticism from within the agency.  The previously undisclosed program, called "Quiet Skies," specifically targets travelers who "are not under investigation by any agency and are not in the Terrorist Screening Data Base," according to a Transportation Security Administration bulletin in March.  The internal bulletin describes the program's goal as thwarting threats to commercial aircraft "posed by unknown or partially known terrorists," and gives the agency broad discretion over which air travelers to focus on and how closely they are tracked.

The cameras that know if you're happy - or a threat.  Facial recognition tech has been around for decades, but it has been progressing in leaps and bounds in recent years due to advances in computing vision and artificial intelligence (AI), tech experts say.  It is now being used to identify people at borders, unlock smart phones, spot criminals, and authenticate banking transactions.  But some tech firms are claiming it can also assess our emotional state.  Since the 1970s, psychologists say they have been able to detect hidden emotions by studying the "micro expressions" on someone's face in photographs and video.  Algorithms and high definition cameras can handle this process just as accurately and faster, tech firms say.

Six Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President in History.  [#5] Obama's surveillance state:  According to the ACLU there was a 64 percent growth in electronic spying by the United States government during Obama's first term.  The Obama administration argued in federal court in 2012 that the public has no "reasonable expectation of privacy" regarding their cell phone location data and that the government can obtain these records without a warrant.  Further blemishing Obama's record on civil liberties, his administration green-lighted a giant government database of information on millions of citizens who weren't even suspected of terrorism or any crime at all.  In May 2017, we also found out that Obama's National Security Agency had been conducting illegal searches on Americans for years and was rebuked by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).  We didn't hear about it sooner because the Obama administration covered it up.

Amazon's Facial Recognition Wrongly Identifies 28 Lawmakers, A.C.L.U. Says.  Representative John Lewis of Georgia and Representative Bobby L. Rush of Illinois are both Democrats, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders.  But facial recognition technology made by Amazon, which is being used by some police departments and other organizations, incorrectly matched the lawmakers with people who had been charged with a crime, the American Civil Liberties Union reported on Thursday morning [7/26/2018].  The errors emerged as part of a larger test in which the civil liberties group used Amazon's facial software to compare the photos of all federal lawmakers against a database of 25,000 publicly available mug shots.  In the test, the Amazon technology incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress with people who had been arrested, amounting to a 5 percent error rate among legislators.

Amazon's face ID tool mismatched 28 members of Congress to mugshots:  ACLU.  A facial recognition tool that Inc (AMZN.O) sells to web developers wrongly identified 28 members of Congress as police suspects, in a test conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the organization said on Thursday [7/26/2018].

Facebook As The Ultimate Government Surveillance Tool?  Earlier this month it came out that among Facebook's myriad algorithmically induced advertising categories was an entry for users whom the platform's data mining systems believed might be interested in treason against their government.  The label had been applied to more than 65,000 Russian citizens, placing them at grave risk should their government discover the label.  Similarly, the platform's algorithms silently observe its two billion users' actions and words, estimating which users it believes may be homosexual and quietly placing a label on their account recording that estimate.  What happens when governments begin using these labels to surveil, harass, detain and even execute their citizens based on the labels produced by an American company's black box algorithms?  One of the challenges with the vast automated machine that is Facebook's advertising engine is that its sheer scale and scope means it could never possibly be completely subject to human oversight.  Instead, it hums along in silence, quietly watching the platform's two billion users as Big Brother, silently assigning labels to them indicating its estimates of everything from their routine commercial interests to the most sensitive and intimate elements of their personality, beliefs and medical conditions that could be used by their governments to manipulate, arrest or execute them.

NSA Deletes Hundreds of Millions of Records They Should Never Have Had.  [Scroll down]  So who's at fault?  The NSA refuses to say, but Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has made shielding Americans' data from the NSA his prime focus, blames the telecom companies.

NSA Began Deleting Phone Records In May, Cited Authorization Issues.  The National Security Agency is permanently erasing years of phone records due to alleged authorization errors.  In a statement Thursday [6/28/2018], the agency cited the Title V Surveillance Act as the reason they started erasing call details.  Officials added, irregular technical errors found in phone data were an additional reason the clean-up is taking place.

CEO of facial-recognition company calls police use "irresponsible".  Last month, controversy erupted around news that at least two police departments have deployed or tested Amazon's Rekognition platform.  Facial-recognition algorithms have been shown to be less accurate at identifying people of color, often because their images are underrepresented in the datasets that algorithms are trained on.

Sales Tax, Cell Phones, and the Court.  [Carpenter v. United States] concerns a warrantless collection of cell phone location data.  The defendant, Carpenter, had his cell phone records acquired by the government, which it used to prove that he led a series of robberies of (ironically) cell-phone stores.  Carpenter argues that this collection amounts to GPS tracking, and is therefore a search.  The government argues, however, that this cell phone location data was freely shared by Carpenter with a third party, his service provider.  The Court typically considers information shared with a third party (such as bank records) to lose any privacy protections.  The Justices, by a 5-4 margin, decided that principle doesn't extend to cell phone location records.  Justice Roberts, joining the Court's liberal Justices, delivered the Court's opinion.  Unusually, three of four dissenting Justices wrote a separate dissenting opinion.  Still, at points, those dissents agreed with each other.  The majority logic starts from the premise that someone has a particularly powerful privacy claim at stake when someone can track their movements.  Specifically, when it can be tracked constantly and easily.  From here, the Court reaches its conclusion by a single step.  Constant surveillance, even in the form of voluntary cell phone use, is always a search.  It does not matter how the government gets that information: even if the data is being collected by a private company during business transactions, the person being tracked always expects privacy from the government.

The Wiretap Rooms.  Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In each of these cities, The Intercept has identified an AT&T facility containing networking equipment that transports large quantities of internet traffic across the United States and the world.  A body of evidence — including classified NSA documents, public records, and interviews with several former AT&T employees — indicates that the buildings are central to an NSA spying initiative that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.  The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company's "extreme willingness to help."  It is a collaboration that dates back decades.  Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T's customers.

Supreme Court says warrant necessary for phone location data.  Carpenter v. United States is the first case about phone location data that the Supreme Court has ruled on.  That makes it a landmark decision regarding how law enforcement agencies can use technology as they build cases.  The court heard arguments in the case on Nov. 29.  The dispute dates back to a 2011 robbery in Detroit, after which police gathered months of phone location data from Timothy Carpenter's phone provider.  They pulled together 12,898 different locations from Carpenter, over 127 days.  The legal and privacy concern was that police gathered the four months' worth of Carpenter's digital footprints without a warrant.  A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that cellphone location data isn't protected by the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore didn't require a warrant.

Orlando International Airport to scan faces of US citizens.  Florida's busiest airport will be the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, officials said Thursday, a move that pleases airport executives but worries privacy advocates.

Police use spying doorbells to create digital neighborhood watch networks.  It seems like all I have been writing about lately, is how police are using cam-share programs to create city-wide surveillance networks.  When I first heard about 'Ring' a smart doorbell with a video camera, I didn't think much of it.  I mean how could the police state turn what appeared to be an innocuous smart device into another surveillance tool?  Enter Amazon, who recently purchased Ring for $1 billion dollars.  Fast forward a few months and Amazon announces that Ring is on a mission to work with law enforcement across the country.

New Technologies Nurturing Big Brother.  Centralized control over all financial activity has reached the point where there is talk of abandoning cash for all-0electronic transactions, the better to flesh out the state's dossiers on all of us.  Various security measures allow eavesdropping on our telephone conversations, monitoring our internet access, and taking photos of us in public places. [...] Money was created as a vehicle to grease the wheels of commerce, a way to transact business without having to trade two swords for a horse.  And money provided an accurate method of valuing disparate objects:  a pair of shoes is worth three chickens, but you no longer need the chickens to acquire the shoes. [...] Money's only purpose is to facilitate free trade.  But in a Big Brother state, free trade will wither and die, eliminating the need for money.

The NSA Continues to Abuse Americans by Intercepting Their Telephone Calls.  One of the few positive things in the ill-named USA FREEDOM Act, enacted in 2015 after the Snowden revelations on NSA domestic spying, is that it required the Director of National Intelligence to regularly report on its domestic surveillance activities.  On Friday [5/4/2018], the latest report was released on just how much our own government is spying on us.  The news is not good at all if you value freedom over tyranny.  According to the annual report, named the Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities, the US government intercepted and stored information from more than a half-billion of our telephone calls and text messages in 2017.  That is a 300 percent increase from 2016.  All of these intercepts were "legal" under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is ironic because FISA was enacted to curtail the Nixon-era abuse of surveillance on American citizens.

Liberals Upset That License Plate Readers Are Used To Find Illegal Aliens.  The battle of public safety and law enforcement versus privacy concerns isn't going away any time soon.  Much of the debate these days revolves around increasingly affordable and available technology allowing the use of publicly mounted (or drone-based) cameras which can record both automobile license plate numbers and even human faces.  Scanners and facial recognition software can interpret this data and assist law enforcement agencies in locating suspects more quickly and accurately.  But this has some people highly upset.

Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records: official report.  The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report released on Friday [5/4/2018] said.

NSA admits to collecting more than 534 million phone calls and text messages from Americans last year.  The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 534 million records of phone calls and text messages from American telecommunications providers last year, tripling the amount of data it collected in 2016, according to a report released Friday [5/4/2018].  Service providers like AT&T and Verizon are providing much of the data.  That includes records of phone calls received and made, but not the actual contents of what was said, according to the report from the office of the Director of National Intelligence.  The report does not explain why the increase in data collection was so large.

DHS expands police spying by adding surveillance cameras to bus stops.  Not content with surveillance cameras on buses, the police state has now begun adding them to bus stops.  Last month an article in WTVR 6 revealed that the Greater Richmond Transit Center (GRTC) is installing more than one hundred surveillance cameras at bus stops.  What should really concern everyone is the amount of cameras being installed at each bus stop.

How Federal Surveillance and "Parallel Construction" Undermine the Rule of Law.  When we talk about NSA spying, most people's eyes glaze over.  They just don't think it will have any impact on them.  After all, the surveillance agency only spies on foreigners and terrorists, right?  And if some Americans' data ends up in NSA databases in the process, well, that doesn't really matter.  It's the price we pay for security.  But in fact, federal surveillance and the investigative practices it fosters undermines and subverts the fundamental rule of law in the United States.  State and local law enforcement agencies use the reams of data the NSA collects to prosecute Americans.  Most of these cases have nothing to do with terrorism or national security.  In fact, the vast majority relate to the so-called "war on drugs."  In the process, these state and local cops shred due process, obliterate the Fourth Amendment and make a mockery out of the "rule of law."

Las Vegas Installs 37 DHS Surveillance Cameras on the Strip.  What happens in Vegas will be recorded by cameras provided by the Department of Homeland Security.  All along the storied Las Vegas Strip, 37 surveillance cameras watch and record every movement.  Such an expensive purchase might surprise citizens of Sin City given that the Metropolitan Police Department is in the middle of a hiring freeze and has laid off dozens of officers all over the city.

Obama Staffer: Facebook Knew Presidential Campaign Improperly Seized Data, Looked the Other Way.  Facebook is embroiled in a political controversy over the manner its social data was utilized by the Trump campaign, but a former Obama campaign staffer argues the social media company has been allowing this type of behavior since at least 2012.  The social media giant is being lambasted for failing to verify that data from an estimated 50 million users was deleted by the Steve Bannon-led firm, Cambridge Analytica.  However, a former Obama campaign staffer has come forward to claim that Facebook turned a blind eye to the same issue in 2012.

FBI Paid Best Buy Technicians to Inform Them about Illegal Content on Customer Devices.  The FBI recruited computer technicians at Best Buy to inform them about illegal content on personal devices customers brought in for repairs, new Bureau documents show.  The informants were discovered after Best Buy's Geek Squad technicians at a Kentucky repair shop found thousands of child-pornography images on California doctor Mark Rettenmaier's computer.  The documents from the ensuing court case showed that eight informants were cooperating with the FBI to turn over illegal content.

Best Buy Gave Obama FBI [a] Tour of [a] Geek Squad Facility [and the] FBI Paid Employees As Informants.  Well isn't this interesting?  The FBI was given it's [sic] own private tour of the Best Buy "Geek Squad" computer repair facilities during the Obama and Comey days.  This was done back in September of 2016, at the height of the election season.  We'll wait (and wait and wait) to see if Mr. Magoo Jeff Sessions or his boss Rod Rosenstein do anything about this.

Police are creating a national surveillance network using COMTEC, Project Green Light etc.  Detroit officials have been using the Macomb County Communications and Technology Center (COMTEC) to spy on everyone since 2013.  According to an article in the Macomb Daily News, law enforcement and DoT officials are using CCTV cameras to spy on everyone. [...] But this year things changed for the worse; law enforcement soon made it mandatory for businesses to pay the police to let them spy on everyone.

Super-secret spy court raises alarm over feds' snooping.  It's a mysterious court that hides behind a hulking vaulted door and impenetrable concrete walls — and it's where the federal government makes some of its most secretive decisions concerning Americans' basic liberties.  If you dare ask where the secret court is located, employees at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C. — where the court reportedly relocated in 2009 — won't tell you.  That's because the super-secret court is far beyond the reach of any journalist or curious American citizen.  Fortified with biometric hand scanners, wooden and metal doors and walls reinforced by concrete, it's the room where it all happens:  Eleven powerful court judges approve wiretaps, data collection and government requests to monitor suspected terrorists, spies and even American citizens.  And they're given sweeping power under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Amazing New Breakthrough to Reduce Mass Shootings.  As fun as it is to ridicule the FBI for devoting massive resources to chasing down Hillary Clinton's oppo research while blowing off repeated, specific warnings about school shooter Nikolas Cruz, we've put a lot on the agency's plate.  We're hauling in nearly 2 million manifestly unvetted Third World immigrants every year, leading to a slew of FBI "Watch Lists" with a million names apiece.  In 2015, Director James Comey said that there were ISIS investigations in all 50 states — even Idaho and Alaska!  And that's just one terrorist organization.  Maybe the FBI brass would still be a bunch of incompetent, PC nincompoops if we weren't dumping millions of psychotic and terrorist foreigners on the country.  But even the most efficient organization would have trouble keeping track of the Nikolas Cruzes when our immigration policies require approximately one-third of the country to be constantly watching another third of the country.

An emerging police state that spies on Americans?  The left yawns.  Ever since the McCarthy era, hasn't it been a cultural norm from the left to holler about the U.S. becoming a police state?  A police state that spies on innocent Americans? [... But then] We had the Internal Revenue Service spying on and repressing internal dissidents, which were not people who sought to harm us, as the left's heroes did, but who called themselves the 'Tea Party' and campaigned for lower government spending.  The IRS and its minions such as the notorious Lois Lerner, who looks every bit like the warden she was, spied away, admitted their political motivation, and got off scot-free, retiring to their multi-million-dollar beltway manions as their reward.  And from the principled left?  Silence.

Critically important:  FISA, the NSA, and the 4th Amendment.  [Scroll down]  Jump now to the National Security Agency.  It has no criminal investigative purpose.  Instead, it was formed in the 1950's with a mandate to capture signal intelligence for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.  Almost seventy years later, modern communication systems mean that the NSA sucks up a goodly portion of the world's electronic communications, including those of Americans within our borders.  We know that last bit because, in 2013, James Clapper, then-Director Of National Intelligence, appeared before Congress.  When asked, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?"  Clapper's response was swift and sure:  "No, sir. ... Not wittingly."  It later came out that in fact the NSA does, quite wittingly, sweep up electronic communications from hundreds of millions of Americans and that Clapper knowingly committed perjury with his answer.  But as is true for everyone else in the Obama administration who committed criminal offenses, Obama's DOJ and FBI declined to pursue criminal charges against him.

NSA Deletes "Honesty" and "Openness" From Core Values.  The National Security Agency maintains a page on its website that outlines its mission statement.  But earlier this month, the agency made a discreet change:  It removed "honesty" as its top priority.  Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four "core values" listed on, alongside "respect for the law," "integrity," and "transparency."  The agency vowed on the site to "be truthful with each other."  On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page — which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive — and replaced it with a new version.  Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted.  The agency's new top value is "commitment to service," which it says means "excellence in the pursuit of our critical mission."

Paul Craig Roberts Slams The NSA: "It's A Blackmail Agency".  The main function of the National Security Administration is to collect the dirt on members of the house and senate, the staffs, principal contributors, and federal judges.  The dirt is used to enforce silence about the crimes of the security agencies.  The blackmail mechanism was put into gear the minute the news reported that the House Intelligence Committee had assembled proof that the FBI, DOJ, and DNC created Russiagate as a conspiracy to unseat President Trump.  Members of Congress with nothing to hide demanded the evidence be released to the public.

NSA deleted surveillance data it pledged to preserve.  Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.  In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.  However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night [1/18/2018] and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of internet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered.  To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.

Senate renews surveillance law that collects email from an unknown number of Americans.  The Senate voted Thursday [1/18/2018] to renew for six years a surveillance program that collects the content of an unknown number of Americans' email, text messages, photos and other electronic communication without a warrant.  The Senate voted 65-34 to renew the controversial law, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  The action came after Senate leaders narrowly won a vote Tuesday night to allow the renewal bill to move forward.  The House approved the legislation last week, and President Trump is expected to sign the bill before the law expires at midnight Friday.

Lawmakers want James Clapper prosecuted for surveillance testimony before statute of limitations runs out.  Some lawmakers would like to see the Justice Department prosecute former spy chief James Clapper for inaccurate testimony to Congress about domestic surveillance before it's too late.  Privacy-conscious critics say looming five-year statutes of limitation for perjury and making false statements — establishing a March 12 deadline for charges — make an urgent case for action, and that nonprosecution would set a dangerous precedent that impedes oversight and executive-branch accountability.  Clapper, director of national intelligence from 2010 to 2017, testified during a March 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that the NSA was "not wittingly" collecting "any type of data at all" on millions of Americans.  Months later, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed secret court orders forced phone companies to turn over all U.S. call records on an "ongoing, daily basis."

House Committee to vote on voiding Fourth Amendment rights.  While the country was being treated to a mega-dose of tweets proclaiming Trump's "genius" over the weekend, so-called conservatives (i.e.  Trumplicans) in the House of Representatives were making plans to hold a vote on a bill that will void the Fourth Amendment rights of every American.  Scheduled for this week, the House Rules Committee will meet to consider a bill re-authorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which, according to Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) "allows the government to conduct warrantless searches on Americans and maintain massive troves of our data."

Not Smiling About DHS Facial Recognition Program.  Now that the US Department of "Homeland Security" is well on its way to achieving more power than even Hitler's Reich Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, ever dreamed of, they are positioning themselves for the ultimate Orwellian horror:  their ability to know where each and every one of us is, at any time, no matter where on earth we go.  DHS recently announced they are adding $1 billion to fund a facial recognition program that will scan the faces of Americans who board airplane flights exiting the country.  Too bad this is as illegal as it is ineffectual.

DHS Announces Program to Illegally Scan Our Faces.  Both Congress and the Department of Homeland Security have never justified the biometric scanners at airports that could cost Americans $1 billion in 2018.  As TSA agents continue to prove their incompetence in the "War on Terror," the Department of Homeland Security is now allocating $1 billion in taxpayer funding to create a facial recognition program that will illegally scan Americans' faces.  A study conducted by Georgetown Law's Center for Privacy and Technology looked at the biometric scanners that are creating an inventory of the faces of individuals leaving the country at airports across the United States.  While they are only at certain major airports right now, the full implementation of these scanners could cost Americans up to $1 billion.

Inventory of surveillance cameras installed on Seattle City Light utility poles.  [An email conversation between a privacy activist and an opaque municipal bureaucracy.]

CIA and NSA first sought to exploit commercial databases in mid-80s.  Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is the least famous, least exciting, and most prevalent form of intelligence, covering any sources that are theoretically open to anyone, such as newspaper articles, published books, or social media posts.  With the ubiquity of the internet, the use of such commercial databases is beyond routine for both the Intelligence Community and the government at large, but there was a time, however, where the mere interest was not only cutting edge, but problematic.

10 times the intel community violated the trust of US citizens, lawmakers and allies.  No matter where you stand politically, a growing body of facts raises the question:  Is there systemic corruption or misfeasance at work inside America's intelligence agencies?  By that, I don't mean people stealing money.  I mean officials who are stealing our privacy — using the tools of intelligence-gathering and law-enforcing, which are meant to protect Americans, to instead spy on them, to gather information that isn't the government's business (at least not without a court's approval).  And, in some instances, it appears, to punish or silence those with whom they disagree — personal and political foes, in and out of government — rather than to pursue and protect Americans from the country's real enemies.  Perhaps more alarming is the growing evidence that suggests some officials at all levels in intelligence and justice agencies are operating in a way that is clearly intended to serve their own political beliefs and interests — not the public's interests.

The State Government Agency That Spied on Citizens.  The 88-page report by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel details the notorious "John Doe" investigations that went after almost every conservative, nonprofit organization in Wisconsin (the state chapter of Club for Growth among them) for supposed violations of campaign finance laws.  Except that there were not any actual violations of the law, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  The court shut down the prosecutions in 2015, calling the legal theory under which the prosecutors were pursuing the case "unsupported in either reason or law."  The state's highest court used the word "amazing" in describing the "breadth" of documents seized by prosecutors through numerous, wide-ranging subpoenas and search warrants.  This included "virtually every document possessed by the [targets] relating to every aspect of their lives, both personal and professional, over a five-year span."  The report from Schimel, a Republican, has an unbelievable list of 218 subpoenas and search warrants issued in the investigation — and this is only a "partial" list.

Fusion GPS Dossier cabal was using spy tradecraft to evade leaving electronic footprints for NSA surveillance.  The National Security Agency (NSA) picks up and records almost all electronic communications, thereby effectively wiretapping telephone conversations, email, and practically everything else we send out electronically.  When a FISA court permits "unmasking" of American citizens, that universal wiretapping capability can be used to spy on their conversations.  It now appears that an elaborate plot was crafted to generate phony accusations of dirty ties to Russia that would be used to get a FISA Court warrant to "unmask" members of the Trump campaign, and thereby enable spying on that campaign.  We do not know how many members of that campaign were "unmasked" (i.e., spied on), but there are suggestions that the list ended up quite long.

NSA Whistleblowers:  NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication.  PBS interviewed NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Russell Tice this week.  Binney is the NSA's former director of global digital data, and a 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a "legend" within the agency.  Tice helped the NSA spy with satellites for 20 years.  Binney and Tice confirmed that the NSA is recording every word of every phone call made within the United States.

iPhone Apps Can Secretly Turn On Your Camera And Take Pictures At Any Time.  A new warning has been issued to iPhone users.  Apps downloaded to the smartphones can turn on the phone's camera and take pictures at any time, and it's doing it secretly.  Felix Krause, an Austrian developer who works for Google, built an app that was able to take pictures of its user every second and upload them, without the app or the phone ever notifying the user.

LAPD Drones Threaten Privacy.  Today, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) civilian police commission voted to approve proposed guidelines for a one-year unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) pilot program.  According to the LAPD's guidelines, UAVs will not be equipped with lethal or nonlethal weapons and will only be deployed in a narrow set of circumstances.  The guideline also requires officers to obtain a warrant before using a UAV "when required under the Fourth Amendment or other provision of the law."  This looks all well and good, except that the Fourth Amendment and California law provide little protection when it comes to aerial surveillance.  The Fourth Amendment protects "persons, houses, papers, and effects" from "unreasonable searches and seizures."  Many Americans could be forgiven for thinking that this constitutional provision would act as a shield against warrantless aerial surveillance.  Sadly, this is not the case.

Cities are getting paid to turn street lights into spying SmartNodes.  SmartNodes will soon replace street lights, because they are equipped with cameras, microphones, speakers etc., all-in-one light pole.  The city of Los Angeles, Calfornia is working with Phillips Lighting and ENE-HUB to turn 110,000 street lights into a one-of-a-kind citywide SmartNode surveillance network.

6 Dangerous Electronics & Apps Secretly Spying On You In Your Home.  [#2] Smart TVs:  While smart TVs allow you to connect to the Internet directly, they can also be used to collect your data.  For example, a new technology called TVision Insights allows companies to monitor TV watchers' viewing habits.  This means that they can literally watch you as you watch TV. They even record data on where your eyes are looking, when you're distracted, and what emotions you're conveying.  In early 2015, Samsung warned its customers:  "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."

To see your gestures, the TV will have to watch you continuously.  Do you really want that?
End of the TV remote could be nigh as scientists invent technology to change channel using gestures.  The television remote could become a thing of the past according to scientists who have developed a new technology that allows the device to be controlled through gestures instead.  Computer scientists at Lancaster University have come up with a system that makes it possible interact with screens simply by using body movements, or waving objects.  Requiring only a simple webcam, the "Matchpoint" works by displaying moving targets that orbit a small circular "widget" in the corner of the screen.

Revisiting Orwell to Understand Our Times.  Just two or three generations ago, most Americans understood that George Orwell's classics Animal Farm and 1984 were written to explain how freedom is lost to totalitarianism and the intolerance that accompanies it.  "Big Brother," a term still casually used to describe an all-knowing governing authority, comes right out of 1984.  In the society that Orwell describes, everyone was reminded that "Big Brother is watching you," by way of a constant surveillance through the pervasive use of "telescreens" by the ruling class. [...] Orwell's Big Brother has become a reality in the NSA's tracking and recording of all email, text, and telephone communication in the United States.  But Big Brother has a new dimension with social media and consumer giants, Google, Facebook, and Amazon knowing almost everything about people's preferences through their artificial intelligence peering into people's "telescreen" computers and smartphones.

Mystery Surrounds Metal Towers Popping Up In Tunnels & Bridges.  Mysterious metal towers are popping up at local tunnels, and soon they'll start appearing at bridges, too.  But even people on the MTA board in charge of the towers can't say why they're being used or what's in them, CBS2's Dave Carlin reports.  Jose Lugo said the tall metal towers quickly appeared up after the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel tolls booths came down.  "We don't really know what's the purpose of this," he told Carlin.  It's a $100 million MTA project shrouded in secrecy, with 18 of them for tunnels and bridges.  So what are they exactly?

The Editor says...
It doesn't matter if these devices are lights, riot control machines, automatic license plate readers, or surveillance cameras.  If the project costs $100 million and they won't tell anybody what it's for, it's not going to be good.

Sharyl Attkisson explains what we are up against.  Sharyl Attkisson is the bravest reporter of her generation, so much of a threat to people with access to the capabilities of our intel agencies that she was spied upon and worse.

It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me.  Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes.  The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.  You'll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans."  Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.  In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

Distrustful U.S. allies force spy agency to back down in encryption row.  In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.

NSA Blocks Release Of Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton Airplane Tape For 'National Security'.  The National Security Agency (NSA) blocked the release of a purported tape of Bill Clinton and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch's private airplane talk with a rare legal justification used to protect top national security secrets.  The NSA's block of the release of this information — citing one of President Obama's executive orders — undercuts Hillary Clinton's claim that her husband and Lynch had a "purely social" conversation about grandkids and golf on June 27, 2016, two weeks before Lynch dropped the Department of Justice investigation into Hillary Clinton's email scandal.  Citizen researcher Larry Kawa is pressing the government to release the contents of a taping system that is required to have been installed on Lynch's government airplane.  Kawa points to the Tempest system, a NATO-certified system by which the NSA tracks and records sound that emanates within government structures.

End Warrantless Deep State Spying:  Don't Renew 702.  As former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed to the world in 2013, the U.S. government routinely spies on its own citizens.  "I, sitting at my desk, could wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president," Snowden told the journalists crowded into his hotel room before the publication of his leaked documents.  The leaks exposed lies from government officials about the mass surveillance of American citizens, with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifying before Congress that the NSA didn't "wittingly" collect any data on millions of Americans.  Four years after the Snowden leaks, the government is still collecting Americans' private information.  Though the NSA claims it ended bulk collection of domestic phone calls, the agency is still operating several other far-reaching domestic spying programs.

Intel kill switch ME code indicates connection to NSA.  Security researchers studying the Intel Management Engine discovered an undocumented kill switch in the code, as well as references to a National Security Agency program.  Dmitry Sklyarov, Mark Ermolov and Maxim Goryachy, security researchers for Positive Technologies, based in Framingham, Mass., found the Intel kill switch that has the ability to disable the controversial Intel Management Engine (ME).  Experts have been wary of the Intel ME because it is an embedded subsystem on every chip that essentially functions as a separate CPU, with deep access to system processes, and it could be active even if the system were hibernating or shut off.

How California police are tracking your biometric data in the field.  EFF and MuckRock teamed up in August to reveal how state and local law enforcement agencies are using mobile biometric technology in the field by filing public records requests around the country.  With the help of members of the public who nominated jurisdictions for investigation, we have now obtained thousands of pages of documents from more than 30 agencies.  Because of the volume of records we've received so far — docs continue to flow in faster than EFF and MuckRock's teams can read through them — we're starting with California.  Nine of the agencies have responded to our requests with documents, while many more claimed they didn't have any records.  Of those that did respond, most employed a digital fingerprinting device.  Facial recognition has also been widely embraced among agencies in San Diego County, with Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies close behind.

Obama-Comey FBI Monitored Social Media On Election Day For Memes.  You'll be glad to know that your tax dollars were wasted on election day by both Obama and James Comey to monitor social media for "fake news" and memes.  This despite the fact everyone expected Hillary Clinton to easily win, with every poll saying as much.  Even Obama and Comey had to believe their own BS about Clinton easily winning in November.  So then why would Obama and Comey have to monitor social media for "fake news" and memes?  Even more ironic, it's the fake news kings at CNN that claim this "exclusive" story.

CIA Dumbo Project Created to Take Over Webcams, Microphones.  Details of the CIA's Dumbo project, a system that manipulates devices such as webcams and microphones on Microsoft Windows-operating systems, have been published by WikiLeaks.  The program also corrupts video recordings, according to the leaked documents.  The whistleblowing organization released the files as part of its Vault 7 series on the CIA's hacking capabilities.  According to Wikileaks, the technology is intended for use where the deployment of a special branch within the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence could be compromised.  Dumbo can identify, control and manipulate monitoring and detection systems on a target computer running the Microsoft Windows operating system, according to the documents.

Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying.  The National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama years by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies' ability to obey their own rules.

Busted: Vermont DMV Caught Using Illegal Facial Recognition Program.  The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont has obtained internal Department of Motor Vehicles records describing a DMV facial recognition program that is banned by Vermont state law and compromises the privacy and security of thousands of Vermonters.  In a letter delivered yesterday to DMV Commissioner Robert Ide, the ACLU demands an immediate end to the program, which was first implemented in 2012.  Vermont DMV records provided to the ACLU show the agency using facial recognition software (FRS) to search and share with other state and federal government agencies the photographs and personal information of Vermont ID holders.  That violates a 2004 state law barring the use of technologies that "involve the use of biometric identifiers."

NSA Reneges On Promise To Tell Congress How Many Innocent Americans It Spies On.  Technocrats are data hoarders and will never divulge how much data they have collected, legally or illegally.  The NSA and the entire intelligence network have gone rogue on the American public and have become a key element in the impending Technocracy waiting to be established.

Vault 7, Internet Security, and Your Life on Display.  When I talk with fellow engineers about the possibility that the feds are sucking up every bit of data they can get their packet sniffers on, we all agree it is happening, to an unknown extent.  How amazing to now get an actual peek behind the overpriced GSA-schedule gray curtain.  These disclosures are disturbing in multiple ways, for example, that our tax dollars are funding the federal government's hacking of free citizens' lives, all under the premise that they are only targeting criminals and spies.  Most commentators find this the greatest outrage.  The most disturbing fact to me, as a tech insider and developer, is that the Swiss cheese computing tools we use today are way more hole than cheese.  Vault 7 is evidence of this.  There are exploits in Vault 7 for nearly every modern computing platform, operating system, and communications method.  Everything connected to the Internet is broken.

NSA's use of 'traffic shaping' allows unrestrained spying on Americans.  A new analysis of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden details a highly classified technique that allows the National Security Agency to "deliberately divert" US internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.  According to the new analysis, the NSA has clandestine means of "diverting portions of the river of internet traffic that travels on global communications cables," which allows it to bypass protections put into place by Congress to prevent domestic surveillance on Americans.

Real Scandals The Trump-Obsessed Media Are Ignoring.  In late May, Circa News published a truly bombshell report about how the National Security Agency had been conducting illegal searches on American citizens for years, "routinely violat(ing) American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts."  In addition, the administration "failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall."  Classified documents obtained by Circa showed that "one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream internet data on Americans inside the NSA's so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011." [...] The three network news programs all ignored this report, and it got little attention by any of the other mainstream news outlets.

First Arrest Made From Cameras Linked to Public Facial Recognition Database.  U.K. police recently made their first arrest using facial recognition software following a series of trials at large-scale public events.  According to authorities, the man was arrested three days prior to the UAEA Champions League Final June 3rd while South Wales police were conducting their most recent experiment with the high-tech surveillance.  Cameras linked to facial recognition software were located around the stadium, local train station, and designated police vehicles to monitor people in and around the city center.

Did the FBI have evidence of a breach larger than Snowden?  A lawsuit says yes.  A former U.S. intelligence contractor tells Circa he walked away with more than 600 million classified documents on 47 hard drives from the National Security Agency and the CIA, a haul potentially larger than Edward Snowden's now infamous breach.  And now he is suing former FBI Director James Comey and other government figures, alleging the bureau has covered up evidence he provided them showing widespread spying on Americans that violated civil liberties. [...] "This domestic surveillance was all being done on computers supplied by the FBI," [Dennis] Montgomery told Circa in an interview.  "So these supercomputers, which are FBI computers, the CIA is using them to do domestic surveillance."

DEA Deploying Powerful Spyware Without Required Privacy Impact Assessments.  It's not just the FBI that can't seem to turn in its privacy-related paperwork on time.  The FBI has pushed forward with its biometric database rollout — despite the database being inaccurate, heavily-populated with non-criminals, and without the statutorily-required Privacy Impact Assessment that's supposed to accompany it.  As of 2014, it hadn't produced this PIA, one it had promised in 2012.  And one that applied to a system that had been in the works since 2008.  Unsurprisingly, another federal law enforcement agency hasn't felt too compelled to produce PIAs for privacy-impacting programs.

Court Criticizes Obama Admin for Illegal Spying on U.S. Citizens.  [Scroll down]  Writing the 99-page opinion for FISC, Judge Rosemary Collyer castigated the Obama administration for failing to follow the Section 702 procedures designed to ensure that the government does not violate Americans' civil rights as it is performing work that is vitally important to national security.  Collyer declared that the previous administration's cavalier violations of Section 702's requirements created "a very serious Fourth Amendment issue."  Collyer sharply criticized the National Security Agency's inspector general and the NSA's Office of Compliance for Operations for their "institutional 'lack of candor,'" signaling that in addition to ignoring legal constraints, the Obama administration was not being honest with the court about its violations of federal law.

James Rosen:  Comey's FBI Broke Its Own Rules & Procedures On Spying On Americans.  The sheer scale of the 4th Amendment violations is staggering, as was the sternness of the rebuke of the Obama administration by the FISA court, which ordinarily approves 99.9% of the government's request.

New Revelations Shed Light On Extent Of NSA Spying Under Obama.  Typically, when an American citizen is swept up in NSA surveillance, they are supposed to be "masked" to protect their identity, but there are large loopholes in place that allow the NSA to spy on Americans without a warrant or any probable cause whatsoever.  When the NSA conducts what is known as "upstream collection" of Internet communications, it is impossible to target a single email, instead sweeping up "packets" of data containing several messages.  The NSA is supposed to sift through the data packets and discard all but the targeted email(s).  That alone poses some privacy issues, as before they are discarded the NSA can momentarily see the contents of the communications, but, when coupled with the NSA's targeting practices, the problem expands to a serious violation of American constitutional rights.

Secret court rebukes NSA for 5-year illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens.  U.S. intelligence agencies conducted illegal surveillance on American citizens over a five-year period, a practice that earned them a sharp rebuke from a secret court that called the matter a "very serious" constitutional issue.  The criticism is in a lengthy secret ruling that lays bare some of the frictions between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and U.S. intelligence agencies obligated to obtain the court's approval for surveillance activities.  The ruling, dated April 26 and bearing the label "top secret," was obtained and published Thursday [5/25/2017] by the news site Circa.

Vermont DMV Caught Using Illegal Facial Recognition Program.  The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has been caught using facial recognition software — despite a state law preventing it.  Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont describe such a program, which uses software to compare the DMV's database of names and driver's license photos with information with state and federal law enforcement.  Vermont state law, however, specifically states that "The Department of Motor Vehicles shall not implement any procedures or processes... that involve the use of biometric identifiers."

FISA Court Finds "Serious Fourth Amendment Issue" In Obama's "Widespread" Illegal Searches Of American Citizens.  In describing the violations, the FISA court said the illegal searches conducted by the NSA under Obama were "widespread" and created a "very serious Fourth Amendment issue."  These new discoveries come from a recently unsealed FISA court document dated April 26, 2017 and center around a hearing dated October 26, 2017, just days before the 2016 election, in which the FISA court apparently learned for the first time of "widespread" and illegal spying on American citizens by the NSA under the Obama administration.

Gowdy: Surveillance Programs Won't Be Renewed Until 'Unmasking' Questions [are] Answered.  Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said this morning that key surveillance programs won't be reauthorized by Congress until questions about intelligence "unmasking" are answered.  At a House Intelligence Committee hearing yesterday in the Russia investigation, Gowdy asked former CIA Director John Brennan about the issue.

Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years.  The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

Massive increase in searches of NSA data on U.S. citizens during election year.  Under President Obama, U.S. officials vastly expanded their searches of sensitive data captured about Americans during NSA surveillance of foreign targets. [...] Recently, the website broke this major story.  A few years ago, the same story would have made big international headlines.  But today's news environment is highly-managed, and the reporting didn't get as widely circulated as one would expect.

Inspector General's Report Shows Section 702 Isn't The Only Thing Being Abused By The NSA.  There's more than Section 702 up for renewal at the end of this year.  Most of the attention has been focused on Section 702 because it's used most frequently for internet communications and data collections.  Not only does the NSA make use of this collection, but other agencies (FBI, CIA) are allowed unminimized access to NSA 702 data stores.  With this many agencies reliant on NSA communications interception, the sales pitches have been focusing on this particular authority.  But there are other surveillance authorities under Title VII:  Sections 704 and 705, which allow the NSA to target US persons located outside of the country.  The numbers put up by these sections aren't as impressive as Section 702's (~3,000 selectors for 151 million records), but 704/705 isn't supposed to result in incidental collection.  It's a US spy agency actively spying on US citizens.

Despite "Freedom Act," NSA Collected 151 Million Phone Records in 2016.  An April 27 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that during 2016 the National Security Agency (NSA) collected some 151 million phone records of Americans, despite passage of the USA Freedom Act of 2015.  While that law supposedly ended the program enabling the NSA to collect the phone records of Americans in bulk, it nonetheless allowed the NSA to continue accessing records from phone numbers of suspected terrorists via court orders.  The report revealed that the NSA still collected 151 millions [sic] phone records the next year under the new system, while obtaining court orders on only 42 individuals with suspected terrorist ties.

The Cloud Panopticon:  Google, Cloud Computing and the Surveillance-Industrial-Complex.  In June 2007, Privacy International, a U.K.-based privacy rights watchdog, cited Google as the worst privacy offender among 23 online companies, ranking the "Don't Be Evil" people below Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, eBay, LinkedIn, Facebook and AOL.  According to the report, no other company was "coming close to achieving [Google's] status as an endemic threat to privacy."  What most disturbed the authors was Google's "increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user's life and lifestyle choices."  The result:  "the most onerous privacy environment on the Internet."  Indeed, Google now controls an estimated 70 percent of the online search engine market, but its deep-drilling of user information — where we surf, whom we e-mail, what blogs we post, what pictures we share, what maps we look at, what news we read — extends far beyond the search feature to encompass the kind of "total information awareness" that privacy activists feared at the hands of the Bush Jr. administration's much-maligned Total Information Awareness program.

Online Privacy Guide for Journalists 2017.  [Scroll down]  Let's begin by listing what you can do when it comes to communicating with a source, and storing sensitive information obtained thereof: [...] Always encrypt everything:  Security experts use simple math to make their point:  As you raise the cost of decrypting your files (say, for intelligence agencies like the NSA), you automatically increase the degree of effort expended on following you.  If you're not Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, or Edward Snowden and if you weren't involved in active surveillance around Trump Tower apartments, they may give up the effort even if your encrypted communications were stored.  And should anyone decide to track you despite your efforts, it will be more of a headache if you use strong encryption like AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and tools like PGP or openVPN, which are the strongest widely available encryption methods (VPN's are used by the US government itself).  But if you want bullet-proof security, you will need more than the AES encryption method.

Former DNI James Clapper Denies Any Impropriety in 'Unmasking' U.S. Citizens During Surveillance.  Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper categorically denied any political or "voyeuristic" motive to the "unmasking" of Trump campaign associates when he addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Monday [5/8/2017].  "At no time did I ever submit a request for personal or political purposes or to voyeuristically look at raw intelligence, nor am I aware of any instances of such abuse by anyone else," Clapper told the Committee in his initial address.

James Clapper:  Intel Community 'Unmasked' 1,934 U.S. Persons in 2016.  Barack Obama's former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, testified Monday before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism that the intelligence community "unmasked" 1,934 U.S. persons in 2016.  Clapper said the term "unmasking" is often misunderstood and that it is important to know the context.

Obama's team 'asked for NSA secrets on more than 30,000 Americans in 2016 and circulated 6,000 intelligence reports without removing their names'.  Barack Obama's team used NSA technology to examine data gathered on tens of thousands of Americans abroad during the election, it has emerged.  Officials searched both metadata and the actual contents of communications for the names of more than 30,000 US citizens, according to data released by the he Office of the Director of National Intelligence this week.  And more than 3,000 of the resulting intelligence reports were then circulated among government departments without the names of the searched parties being redacted, sources with direct knowledge told Circa.

NSA Halts Controversial Data Collection Program.  In what is being called a "sudden and unexpected triumph" for privacy advocates, the U.S. National Security Agency on Friday announced that it will no longer collect without a warrant the digital communications of Americans who are mentioned by a foreign intelligence target.  During the Obama years, warrantless surveillance programs vastly expanded, giving the government more power than ever to monitor American citizens — including political opponents — by collecting emails, texts, phone records, chats, locations, purchases, and other private information en masse.  Under the new rule, only communication to and from those targets will be collected.

N.S.A Halts Collection of Americans' Emails About Foreign Targets.  The National Security Agency has halted one of the most disputed practices of its warrantless wiretapping program: collecting Americans' emails and texts to and from people overseas that mention foreigners targeted for surveillance, according to officials familiar with the matter.  National security officials have argued that such surveillance is lawful and helpful in identifying people who might have links to terrorism, espionage or otherwise are targeted for intelligence-gathering.  The fact that the sender of such a message would know an email address or phone number associated with a surveillance target is grounds for suspicion, these officials argued.

NSA blimp
NSA Blimp Spied in the United States.  Back in 2004, a division of the NSA called the National Tactical Integration Office fitted a 62-foot diameter airship called the Hover Hammer with an eavesdropping device, according to a classified document published Monday by The Intercept.  The agency launched the three-engine airship at an airfield near Solomons Island, Maryland.  And from there, the blimp was able to vacuum up "international shipping data emanating from the Long Island, New York area," the document says.  The spy equipment on the airship was called Digital Receiver Technology — a proprietary system manufactured by a Maryland-based company of the same name — which can intercept wireless communications, including cellphone calls.

Report: School-Issued Computers 'Spy' on Children Without Parental Consent.  A new report finds that, under the guise of "personalized learning," school-issued computer devices — now distributed to one-third of K-12 students in schools across the United States — are serving to collect and store an unprecedented amount of personal data on children without their parents' notice or consent.  A newly released investigation by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals student use of technology in school has grown at a profound rate, especially with free or low-fee devices issued by schools.  The education technology industry, according to the report, is now valued at over $8 billion.

The Editor says...
Please note that laptop computers, which are obsolete after only a few years, are often paid for with 30-year municipal bonds.  So you're paying for outdated computers long after they're in the landfill.

Workplace Surveillance Is the New Office "Perk".  Whether through "voluntary" corporate wellness programs, smart badges that record voices and GPS locations, or surveillance apps in their mobile phones and personal computers, Americans are offering up more and more personal data at work.  Most of them don't have much idea of where that data goes, or how it will be used — and there aren't that many limits on what employers can find out about their employees, or what they can do with the data.  The more people who opt in now, the harder it will be to opt out in the future.  And it's about to get much worse.

Reports in unmasking controversy were detailed, had info about 'everyday lives.  The intelligence reports at the center of the Susan Rice unmasking controversy were detailed, and almost resembled a private investigator's file, according to a Republican congressman familiar with the documents.  "This is information about their everyday lives," Rep. Peter King of New York, a member of the House Intelligence committee said.  "Sort of like in a divorce case where lawyers are hired, investigators are hired just to find out what the other person is doing from morning until night and then you try to piece it together later on."

How California police are tracking your biometric data in the field.  [Scroll down]  Nine of the agencies have responded to our requests with documents, while many more claimed they didn't have any records.  Of those that did respond, most employed a digital fingerprinting device.  Facial recognition has also been widely embraced among agencies in San Diego County, with Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies close behind.  In addition, In addition, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's biometrics system includes tattoo recognition, while the Orange County Sheriff's Department is also investigating iris recognition.

Comey warns there is no longer 'absolute privacy' in US.  FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday that Americans should no longer have the expectations of complete privacy. [...] "Even our memories aren't private," he said.  "Any of us can be compelled to say what we saw.  In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any of us to testify in court on those private communications.  There is no place in America outside of judicial reach."

New WikiLeaks reveal proof we are sliding down the slippery slope toward totalitarianism.  The U.S. government must get a grip on the massive opening that the CIA, through its misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, has created.  If Tuesday's WikiLeaks document dump is authentic, as it appears to be, then the agency left open electronic gateways that make all Americans vulnerable to spying, eavesdropping and technological manipulation that could bring genuine harm.  That the CIA has reached into the lives of all Americans through its wholesale gathering of the nation's "haystack" of information has already been reported.  It is bad enough that the government spies on its own people.  It is equally bad that the CIA, through its incompetence, has opened the cyberdoor to anyone with the technological skills and connections to spy on anyone else.

Spies among us — Congress has created a monster that is coming for us.  Those of us who believe that the Constitution means what it says have been arguing since the late 1970s that congressional efforts to strengthen national security by weakening personal liberty are unconstitutional, un-American and ineffective.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which Congress passed in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon's use of the CIA and the FBI to spy on his political opponents, has unleashed demons that now seem beyond the government's control and are more pervasive than anything Nixon could have dreamed of.

CIA Turned Samsung Smart TVs into Listening Devices, WikiLeaks Dump Reveals.  Hackers within the Central Intelligence Agency have developed malware which can turn Samsung Smart TVs into listening devices, leaked documents published by WikiLeaks Tuesday [3/7/2017] reveal.  The malware, coined "Weeping Angel" — released as part of WikiLeaks' "Vault 7" data dump — appears to have been created during a 2014 joint workshop with Britain's equivalent spy agency MI5.  The attack, which seems to require physical access to the TV and an infected USB drive, enables a "Fake-Off mode" that allows the microphone to be accessed remotely even after the TV has been seemingly turned off.  The malware also suppresses the TV's LED lights, removing any suspicion that the device is still active.

The Editor says...
One would hope that the CIA was using this eavesdropping technology against our enemies, and always in foreign countries.  Raise your hand if you think the U.S. government spies on American citizens using the same technology.

Exclusive — NSA Whistleblower:  Agency 'Absolutely' Tapping Trump's Calls.  Regarding [Michael] Flynn's case, [William] Binney stated of the NSA:  If they weren't behind it, they certainly had the data.  Now the difference here is that FBI and CIA have direct access inside the NSA databases.  So, they may be able to go directly in there and see that material there.  And NSA doesn't monitor that.  They don't even monitor their own people going into databases.  So, they don't monitor what CIA and FBI do.  And there's no oversight or attempted oversight by any of the committees or even the FISA court.  So, any way you look at it, ultimately the NSA is responsible because they are doing the collection on everybody inside the United States.  Phone calls.  Emails.  All of that stuff.
[Emphasis added.]

How CIA allegedly turns everyday devices into high-tech spy weapons.  CIA software can secretly turn everyday electronics like smartphones and high-tech TVs into listening devices to spy on unsuspecting users, WikiLeaks claimed in a massive document dump Tuesday [3/7/2017].  Some of the computer programs target the iOS software that runs Apple iPhones as well as Google's Android operating system, which does the same for phones built by Samsung, HTC and Sony, WikiLeaks said.  The "weaponized" software also reportedly provides techniques to defeat the encryption abilities of popular apps including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Wiebo, which claim to supply users with secure and private communications.

FBI needs to explain why Flynn was recorded, Intelligence Committee chairman says.  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.  "I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election.  "The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded."

Court:  Law enforcement can view private Twitter messages.  A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that law enforcement agencies can view private messages and tweets posted on Twitter.

Memo: New York Called For Face Recognition Cameras At Bridges, Tunnels.  The state of New York has privately asked surveillance companies to pitch a vast camera system that would scan and identify people who drive in and out of New York City, according to a December memo obtained by Vocativ.  The call for private companies to submit plans is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's major infrastructure package, which he introduced in October.  Though much of the related proposals would be indisputably welcome to most New Yorkers — renovating airports and improving public transportation — a little-noticed detail included installing cameras to "test emerging facial recognition software and equipment."  "This is a highly advanced system they're asking for," said Clare Garvie, an associate at Georgetown University's Center for Privacy and Technology, and who specializes in police use of face recognition technologies.  "This is going to be terabytes — if not petabytes — of data, and multiple cameras running 24 hours a day.  In order to be face recognition compliant they probably have to be pretty high definition."

FBI allegedly paid Geek Squad for evidence.  Last May, the defense in a child pornography trial alleged that the FBI used a member of electronics retailer Best Buy's tech support team, Geek Squad, to peer into the accused's computer on the hunt for evidence of child pornography.  Since then, the defense's lawyers revealed that the FBI had cultivated at least eight of the company's IT handyfolk over a four-year period to serve as confidential informants, who all received some payment for turning over data.  Obviously, this raises serious questions about whether sending devices into the repair shop forfeits a person's right to privacy or unreasonable search and seizure.  The eight Geek Squad members in question worked in the tech support branch's repair center in Brooks, Kentucky, servicing items sent in from all over the country.  Technically, users sign consent to search over to Best Buy when they hand their devices over to get fixed.  This includes fine print indicating that any evidence of child pornography would require the company to hand the device over to authorities.

Your boss is watching you:  Companies fit staff with tracking devices to they can follow their movements night and day.  Employers across Britain and North America are fitting their staff with wearable tracker devices to monitor their fitness, productivity and stress levels 24 hours a day.  At least four companies — including a major bank and part of the NHS — are using 'sociometric badges' to measure the conditions of their staff.  The credit card-sized devices created by Humanyze include a microphone that analyses the tone, speed and volume, but not the content, of a person's voice, scan for proximity to others and measure physical activity and sleep patterns.

Boston police pause plans for $1.4-million social media surveillance program.  The Boston Police Department on Friday [1/13/2017] announced it was putting a hold on its plans to purchase $1.4 million worth of social media surveillance software, signaling a win for civil liberties activists who said the program was poised to chill free speech and hindered other constitutionally-protected activity.  Local law enforcement had sought social media analytic technology capable of scouring the internet for potential threats, including the ability to monitor platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube in real time for any data of interest to investigators, according to an Oct. 2016 request for proposals.

Obama Just Quietly Gave 16 Gov't Agencies Access To The NSA Data on US Citizens.  In virtually its last gasp, the Obama administration has quietly given the National Security Agency wider powers to share intercepted surveillance data with 16 other government agencies, including the FBI, DEA and CIA, before applying privacy protections.

Anything You Say Around Your Smart Devices Can And Will Be Used Against You In Court.  Are your smart devices spying on you for the State?  In this video, Vin Armani discusses the danger of prosecutors being able to confiscate the entire voice history on your smart devices, like the popular Amazon Echo, to find wrongdoing.

Government requests for Facebook data up 27 percent.  Governments worldwide requested Facebook users' data nearly 60,000 times in the first half of 2016, a 27 percent increase over requests made in the second half of 2015, according to a Facebook bi-annual report published this week.  In addition to government requests for user data, the report details which content Facebook restricts for violating local laws.  The company says it studies each request carefully to determine whether or not it has merit, especially in emergency cases where imminent risk of serious injury or harm is involved.  It ultimately handed over data in 80 percent of cases.

UK mass surveillence is illegal, EU court says.  The UK government's "general and indiscriminate" retention of personal data is not permitted under EU law, the EU's Court of Justice has ruled.  UK Brexit secretary David Davis initially launched the case when he was a backbench MP in 2014, challenging a law that allowed spies to intercept and store data relating to phone calls and online messages.

Federal agencies can spy on phones with 400 cell-site simulators.  The Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department have spent collectively more than $95 million on secret cellphone tracking technology and own more than 400 cell-site simulators that can be used to zero in covertly on the locations of cellphones, according to a congressional report.  A report released Monday [12/19/2016] by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveals a tally of how many cell-site simulators federal agencies own and recommends that lawmakers adopt a national standard to govern use of the devices by local and federal law enforcement agencies.  With 194 cell-site simulators, the FBI has the most of any of the agencies identified as owning the devices, which often are referred to by brand names including Stingray or Hailstorm.

Surveillance "Reforms" Allow NSA Greater Access Than Ever to Phone Data.  Even as surveillance hawks such as FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and joint chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) continue to claim that terrorists and other criminals are using technology to "go dark," so America needs an increased ability to perform civilian surveillance, the reality is that the hawks have more access to more data than ever before.  And — as recent information confirms — many of the reasons for that increased surveillance ability are the supposed "reforms" that were sold to the American people as a way to curtail that surveillance.  Those in power — especially those who have built their careers in government by expanding the surveillance state — are not above using manipulation to increase their power by increasing that surveillance.  The recent surveillance "reforms" — particularly the misnamed USA FREEDOM Act — prove that point perhaps better than anything else could.

Private Eyes:  The Little-Known Company That Enables Worldwide Mass Surveillance.  Dozens of internal documents and emails from Endace, obtained by The Intercept and reported in cooperation with Television New Zealand, reveal the firm's key role helping governments across the world harvest vast amounts of information on people's private emails, online chats, social media conversations, and internet browsing histories.  The leaked files, which were provided by a source through SecureDrop, show that Endace listed a Moroccan security agency implicated in torture as one of its customers.  They also indicate that the company sold its surveillance gear to more than half a dozen other government agencies, including in the United States, Israel, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Spain, and India.

When AT&T Profits Off Government Snooping, Shouldn't We Be Blaming the Government?  It is easy to forget that Americans had actually been clued in to the likelihood of domestic telecommunication surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) long before Edward Snowden's leaks.  Snowden helped us understand the massive scope and many particulars about which we were unaware and really put the issue before the public in a way we hadn't seen before.  But have we all forgotten Room 641A? That was the room in San Francisco where telecommunications company AT&T set up a system for the NSA to access the company's internet traffic for surveillance.  It was exposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a former AT&T technician all the way back in 2006, years before Snowden's leaks.

AT&T Makes Money Mining, Selling Phone Use Data To Police Nationwide.  There's been chatter in the air for years about phone records and metadata, ever since civil rights advocates sued the NSA over its massive record-retention program back in 2013.  But new documents highlight that while federal surveillance might be sweeping, it's got nothing on the scope of the private sector — and that selling data to investigators can be a profitable side-business.  The Daily Beast published new documents today showing that not only does AT&T collect and retain a staggering amount of data on everything that happens in its network, but also that it has formed partnerships with law enforcement agencies all around the country to sell access to that database for as much as a million dollars per year.

Study: 1 in 2 American Adults Already In Facial Recognition Network.  Conducted over a year and relying in part on Freedom of Information and public record requests to 106 law enforcement agencies, the study, conducted by Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, found American police use of facial recognition technology is a scattered, hodgepodge network of laws and regulations.  "Looking at the sum total of what we found, there have been no laws that comprehensively regulate face recognition technology, and there's really no case law either," Clare Garvie, an associate at the CPT, told Vocativ.  "So we find ourselves having to rely on the agencies that are using that technology to rein it in.  But what we found is that not every system — by a long shot — has a use policy."

GCHQ broke the law for 17 years... spying on UK citizens.  For more than 17 years British security and intelligence agencies broke the law, illegally collecting vast amounts of data about UK citizens without proper oversight.  That's the judgement of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the only court that hears complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, after human rights campaigners at Privacy International launched a legal complaint in June 2015.

Police Use Surveillance Tool to Scan Social Media.  A Chicago company has marketed a tool using text, photos and videos gleaned from major social media companies to aid law enforcement surveillance of protesters, civil liberties activists say.  The company, called Geofeedia, used data from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as nine other social media networks, to let users search for social media content in a specific location, as opposed to searching by words or hashtags that would be less likely to reveal an exact location.  Geofeedia marketed its abilities to law enforcement agencies and has signed up more than 500 such clients, according to an email obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Local Police Using CIA-funded Software to Track All Citizens' Social Media Posts.  Stories from across the country have revealed that several local law enforcement agencies — in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Oakland among others — and corporations — the Mall of America and McDonald's — have purchased surveillance software from a company called Geofeedia.  The program will inform police of the physical location from which you made your last social media post.  It will provide the content of your posts, too.  Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are all included in the surveillance sweep, and all the updates posted to any one of these popular services will be uploaded to one single database available all day, every day, to police.  Geofeedia's pamphlet promoting the service touts their intelligence platform's ability to provide "targeted surveillance" and "perpetual monitoring" of social media posts.  Literature produced by Geofeedia also promotes its software's ability to track large crowds, including "protests," athletic events, and natural disasters.

Federal Agents Can Secretly Read Every E-mail of Every American.  Not only is the federal government able to read every e-mail ever sent by every American regardless of any reasonable belief that the target has committed any crime, they have these decisions upheld by secret courts where the owner of the e-mails has no right to question the accusers.  How did the federal government get this power?  They were given it by federal judges who allowed the government to define "premises" in a clever, crafty, and contemptuous way.

A Banana Republic, If We Choose to Keep It.  Here's what Americans have learned in the last two weeks alone. [...] Americans learned that Yahoo built a secret software system designed to search every customer email for the purpose of providing specific information demanded by U.S. intelligence officials.  Both Yahoo and the NSA refused to comment on the matter.  Reuters reported, "Experts said it was likely that the NSA or FBI had approached other Internet companies with the same demand."  No doubt.

Exclusive:  Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence — sources.  The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.  Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to a spy agency's request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.

Federal Agency Pushed Law Enforcement to Scan License Plates of Gun Show Attendees.  The emails date back to 2010 and were obtained by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).  According to WSJ, "[ICE] crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers — devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars — at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar."  ICE then "compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation."

NYPD Terrorism Expert:  We Act on Information and Behavior; We Do Not Spy on 'Constitutionally Protected Activities'.  John Miller, deputy commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism for the New York City Police Department, told Congress Wednesday [9/21/2016] that the NYPD operates on information, behavior and actions in its counterterrorism efforts and does not place spies in the Muslim community to watch people engaged in "constitutionally protected activities."  "We operate under the Andrew guidelines, and the Andrew guidelines specifically say that we operate on information, on behavior, on actions, but we do not place undercovers or spies or people into the community to watch people who are engaged in completely constitutionally protected activities — whether that's at a restaurant, a house of worship, or a meeting," Miller said.

Watched.  Police forces across the United States are stockpiling massive databases with personal information from millions of Americans who crossed paths with officers but were not charged with a crime.  A person can end up in one of these databases by doing nothing more than sitting on a public park bench or chatting with an officer on the street.  Once there, these records can linger forever and be used by police agencies to track movements, habits, acquaintances and associations — even a person's marital and job status, The Post and Courier found in an investigation of police practices around the nation.  What began as a method for linking suspicious behavior to crime has morphed into a practice that threatens to turn local police departments into miniature versions of the National Security Agency.  In the process, critics contend, police risk trampling constitutional rights, tarnishing innocent people and further eroding public trust.

FBI director:  Cover up your webcam.  The head of the FBI on Wednesday defended putting a piece of tape over his personal laptop's webcam, claiming the security step was a common sense one that most should take.  "There's some sensible things you should be doing, and that's one of them," Director James Comey said during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  "You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen," he added.  "They all have a little lid that closes down on them.  "You do that so that people who don't have authority don't look at you.  I think that's a good thing."

1970s spy satellite 'better than Google Earth'.  Sorry to break it to you, but Google Earth ain't all that.  In a pre-digital era more than 30 years before Google Earth, an ultrasecret US satellite program spied on other countries by taking much higher quality photos of the planet's surface.  The intelligence community called this program Big Bird and Keyhole-9, but its codename was Hexagon.  "These were much better pictures than Google Earth," Phil Pressel told CNN's "Declassified."

'Pre-Search' Is Coming to U.S. Policing.  News that the city of Baltimore has been under surreptitious, mass-scale camera surveillance will have ramifications across the criminal justice world.  When it comes to constitutional criminal procedure, privacy, and the Fourth Amendment, it's time to get ready for the concept of "pre-search." [...] Since January, police in Baltimore have been testing an aerial surveillance system developed for military use in Iraq.  The system records visible activity across an area as wide as thirty square miles for as much as ten hours at a time.  Police can use it to work backward from an event, watching the comings and goings of people and cars to develop leads about who was involved. [...] But the technology collects images of everyone and everything.  From people in their backyards to anyone going from home to work, to the psychologist's or marriage counselor's office, to meetings with lawyers or advocacy groups, and to public protests.

Homeland Security Plans to Monitor YOUR Social Media Account.  The process for visa-waiver applicants has been under fire from US citizens and politicians alike.  But one program in particular, monitoring the social media presence of foreign visitors, is being targeted by a wide coalition of civil liberties groups.  Twenty-eight organizations are banding together to keep the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) out of visa-waiver applicants' Twitter feeds and other social networking accounts.  Citing a combination of invasion of privacy, potential for racial profiling and general pointlessness, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology are hoping to get the DHS to nix the proposal.

How the NSA snooped on encrypted Internet traffic for a decade.  In a revelation that shows how the National Security Agency was able to systematically spy on many Cisco Systems customers for the better part of a decade, researchers have uncovered an attack that remotely extracts decryption keys from the company's now-decommissioned line of PIX firewalls.  The discovery is significant because the attack code, dubbed BenignCertain, worked on PIX versions Cisco released in 2002 and supported through 2009. Even after Cisco stopped providing PIX bug fixes in July 2009, the company continued offering limited service and support for the product for an additional four years.  Unless PIX customers took special precautions, virtually all of them were vulnerable to attacks that surreptitiously eavesdropped on their VPN traffic.

Powerful NSA hacking tools have been revealed online.  A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.  The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency's hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO). [...] Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file:  "From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate."

Federal Judge Rules Hidden Microphones In Public Do Not Violate Constitution.  On Friday July 22, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton issued a 17-page ruling which found the practice of placing recording devices on the steps of courthouses in Oakland and Martinez, California to be "unsettling," but not in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The four defendants in the federal criminal fraud case are accused of rigging real estate bids throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  In an attempt to eavesdrop on the conversations of the defendants, the Federal Bureau of Investigations placed microphones in a light fixture on the steps of the Almeda County Courthouse and just outside the Contra Costa County Courthouse, among other locations.  The information gathered from the conversations was then used as evidence in grand jury proceedings.

Home Computers Connected to the Internet Aren't Private, Court Rules.  A federal judge for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that the user of any computer that connects to the Internet should not have an expectation of privacy because computer security is ineffectual at stopping hackers.  The June 23 ruling came in one of the many cases resulting from the FBI's infiltration of PlayPen, a hidden service on the Tor network that acted as a hub for child exploitation, and the subsequent prosecution of hundreds of individuals.  To identify suspects, the FBI took control of PlayPen for two weeks and used, what it calls, a "network investigative technique," or NIT — a program that runs on a visitor's computer and identifies their Internet address.  Such mass hacking using a single warrant has riled privacy and digital-rights advocates, but Senior U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. upheld the use of the warrant and even stated that the warrant is unnecessary because of the type of crime being investigated and because users should have no "objectively reasonable expectation of privacy."

As Biometric Scanning Use Grows, So Does Security Risk.  Without you necessarily realizing it, your unique attributes — or "biometrics" — are being used to verify your identity.  Every time you unlock your smartphone, use a fingerprint scanner at the airport, or upload a photo with facial recognition to Facebook, your physical attributes are scanned and scrutinized against a template.  The use of biometrics has exploded in recent years, with companies ranging from 24-Hour Fitness to NYU Langone Medical Center using this convenient technology to identify their customers.

Federal appeals court considers constitutionality of NSA surveillance in terror case.  Civil rights attorneys say surveillance evidence used to convict a Somali-American man who plotted to bomb a 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony was gathered unconstitutionally through the U.S. government's warrantless foreign surveillance program.  They laid out their arguments Wednesday [7/6/2016] before a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown Portland — directly across the street from the plaza where almost six years prior Mohamed Mohamud tried detonating a fake bomb that was part of an undercover operation.

US Government Approved 100% Of Wiretap Applications In 2015.  A ten-year study of how state and federal law enforcement wiretaps suspects shows that the government is extremely efficient at the practice, and is only getting better.  The new report, conducted by the Federal Judiciary, looked at the prevalence of the FBI and state and local police petitioning for a warrant to surveil someone.  Methods range from tracking their computer activity to bugging a home telephone or a room, though it overwhelmingly — 96 percent of the time 2015 — meant tracking or listening to their cell phone calls.  It has become a common enough practice that in a ten-year span, a wiretap request has been denied only eight times, and never more than twice in a year.  According to the report, "No wiretap applications were reported as denied in 2015."

Federal Court:  The 4th Amendment doesn't apply to your home computer.  In a dangerously flawed decision unsealed today [6/24/2016], a federal district court in Virginia ruled that a criminal defendant has no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in his personal computer, located inside his home.  According to the court, the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual's computer.  This decision is the latest in, and perhaps the culmination of, a series of troubling decisions in prosecutions stemming from the FBI's investigation of Playpen — a Tor hidden services site hosting child pornography.  The FBI seized the server hosting the site in 2014, but continued to operate the site and serve malware to thousands of visitors that logged into the site.  The malware located certain identifying information (e.g., MAC address, operating system, the computer's "Host name"; etc) on the attacked computer and sent that information back to the FBI.  There are hundreds of prosecutions, pending across the country, stemming from this investigation.

NJ Transit keeps recordings of your conversations for a month, it says.  NJ Transit officials have broken their silence over what happens to surveillance recordings it makes of passenger conversations on light rail trains.  In April, the state American Civil Liberties Union and commuter groups demanded that NJ Transit disclose information about the surveillance after an NJ Advance Media article revealed that the conversations of passengers on light rail trains were being recorded.  "Audio and video remain in the surveillance device for approximately 30 days, with new video and audio overwriting (recording over) previous files," said Nancy Snyder, an NJ Transit spokeswoman.  "It is our practice and procedure."

Also posted under The police state on wheels.

[The Republican-controlled] Senate Falls One Vote Short of Giving FBI Access to Browser Histories Without a Court Order.  Privacy-minded senators on Wednesday [6/22/2016] blocked an amendment that would give the FBI power to take internet records, including browser histories and email metadata, without a court order.  But the victory may be fleeting.  Just one vote kept the measure from clearing a 60-vote procedural hurdle, and political arm-twisting may soon result in a second vote.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., switched his vote to "no" to allow reconsideration in the near future.  That made the final tally 58-38, with four senators not voting.

New rule lets feds hack your computer anywhere, anytime.  A proposal that Washington bureaucrats be given nearly unfettered permission to hack into private computers, which WND reported earlier was being described as the ultimate "Big Brother" move, is drawing strong opposition from privacy activists and members of Congress.  "We're in the midst right now of one of the biggest battles in the privacy world that we have faced," said U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, on a website mobilizing opposition.  "If we keep down this path, we're going to wake up in a few years in George Orwell's 1984.  This is why, as we fight for security, any intrusion on privacy needs to be narrowly tailored and aggressively overseen."

House reverses course, upholds NSA phone snooping as terrorist attacks shift debate.  The fight is over snooping programs targeting foreigners' communications under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but which also end up snaring Americans' emails and phone calls.  Intelligence agencies claim the right to go through that data when they are investigating terrorism and say it's critical to preventing plots or learning about the contours of attacks, such as the one in Orlando, as they happen.  Civil libertarians argue that the data shouldn't be collected in the first place and say if agents are going to peer into it, they should get a warrant before looking at Americans' data under Section 702.

Congress Must Shut the Backdoor on Section 702 Surveillance.  The fight over NSA surveillance is about to heat up again.  This week, the House will consider a measure that would require the NSA and other government agencies to follow due process and obtain a warrant to collect the communications of American citizens.  Through an amendment to H.R. 5293, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017, the House could defund warrantless government searches of the database of information collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The amendment, proposed by Reps.  Massie (R-Ky.), Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Poe (R-Texas), would prevent the NSA's backdoor spying on American citizens through the use of U.S. person identifiers.  The Massie-Lofgren-Poe amendment also prohibits government agencies from requesting that U.S. companies build security vulnerabilities into their hardware or software in order to make it easier for the government to access them.  This would protect encryption, which has been undermined by the NSA's breathtaking extension of surveillance.

Low Tech: 3 Ways to Beat the NSA.  [#1] Snail mail:  Mail can be sent from any dropbox anywhere, with any return address on it, with hidden messages enclosed, disguised as junk mail.  Yes, Stasi thugs can read your mail, but interpreting all the paper mail would take millions of employees while reading all the emails just takes a few mega-computers.  All the ultra-sophisticated electronic snooping in the world won't be able to physically open, read and check for encrypted messages in all 660 million pieces of mail delivered in the United States every day.

The Editor says...
I would add only this:  If you believe the government will someday sift through your email and paper mail, you should start sending encrypted email and cryptic paper mail to yourself (or having someone in another state send it to you) on a regular basis.  That way, there will be a steady stream of encrypted messages already underway when the time comes, and the government won't be able to tell when the important messages start.  It's called traffic analysis.  An opponent may not be able to decrypt your messages, but they can see when the traffic starts and stops.  For example, you could send yourself a steady stream of artificial junk mail with QR codes and bar codes all over it.  VXNlIHlvdXIgaW1hZ2luYXRpb24u

Crafty plan to give FBI warrantless access to browser histories axed.  A sly attempt to grant the FBI warrantless access to people's browser histories in the US has been shot down by politicians.  Unfortunately, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) Amendments Act of 2015, which would have brought in some privacy safeguards for Americans, was cut down in the crossfire.  The ECPA Amendments Act is very simple:  it amends the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which gives cops and agents warrantless access to any email that has been read or is more than 180 days old.  That 30-year-old act made sense back in the day of 20MB hard drives and when we stored own emails on our own computers:  if we deleted something to save space or to simply destroy it, it was gone.  But in today's cloudy world, where we have no real control over our information, it has proven a privacy nightmare.

Judge Nap Slams Congress Over Web Browsing Access That Promotes 'a Police State'.  The FBI may soon enjoy the authority to access the internet activity of any citizen without a warrant — a continuation of what Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano described as a decades-old "assault" on the Fourth Amendment.  Lawmakers are considering proposed legislation this week that would grant the FBI that uninhibited access.  Critics, including Google and Facebook, have argued such changes would be a violation of Americans' privacy.  But, in Napolitano's view, elected officials will argue under the "facade" that it is necessary for the population's safety.  [Video clip]

FBI wants access to Internet browser history without a warrant in terrorism and spy cases.  The Obama administration is seeking to amend surveillance law to give the FBI explicit authority to access a person's Internet browser history and other electronic data without a warrant in terrorism and spy cases.  The administration made a similar effort six years ago but dropped it after concerns were raised by privacy advocates and the tech industry.  FBI Director James B. Comey has characterized the legislation as a fix to "a typo" in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which he says has led some tech firms to refuse to provide data that Congress intended them to provide.

The Editor says...
If they get this passed, you can be sure that the warrantless access won't stop with terrorism cases.

Facial Recognition Software Spells The End Of Anonymity.  Nearly 250 million video surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the world, and chances are you've been seen by several of them today.  Most people barely notice their presence anymore — on the streets, inside stores, and even within our homes.  We accept the fact that we are constantly being recorded because we expect this to have virtually no impact on our lives.  But this balance may soon be upended by advancements in facial recognition technology.  Soon anybody with a high-resolution camera and the right software will be able to determine your identity.  That's because several technologies are converging to make this accessible.  Recognition algorithms have become far more accurate, the devices we carry can process huge amounts of data, and there's massive databases of faces now available on social media that are tied to our real names.  As facial recognition enters the mainstream, it will have serious implications for your privacy.

Seven Giant Scandals That Barack Obama Just Couldn't Keep Undercover!  [#3] NSA Spying:  So Big Brother spied.  On American citizens.  On the Press.  Even on Washingtons own Viper pit called Congress.  If it wasn't for the nerdy guy in glasses with a very dumb sounding cadence (Edward Snowden), the public may have never known about it... unfortunately the pale NSA employee had to flee and choose Russia of all places to call his new home.  Good guy turned bad?  You decide for yourself.

Senate bill would let FBI read your emails without a court order.  Better watch what you put in email.  The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday [5/24/2016] approved a bill that would make it easier for the government to read what you're writing online.  The 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act, if enacted into law, would let the FBI obtain email records without a court order.  All the agency would need is a National Security Letter, which lets the FBI get information from companies about their customers without alerting the person being investigated.  Currently, the FBI can access phone records that way, but not emails.  The bill is the latest move by the federal government to shore up its powers when it comes to surveilling citizens.  The government has been battling Apple and other tech companies for more access to data stored on devices.  Law enforcement argues it can't fight crimes unless it has access to information on mobile gadgets.  Technology companies and rights groups argue that features like strong encryption, which scrambles data so it can be read only by the intended recipient, are needed to keep people safe and protect privacy.

Bill would expand FBI's warrantless access to online records, senators warn.  Two US senators have warned that a new bill would vastly expand the FBI's warrantless access to Americans' online records.  Although the text of the 2017 intelligence authorization bill is not yet available to the public, two members of the Senate intelligence committee have said the bill could expand the remit of a nonjudicial subpoena called a National Security Letter (NSLs) to acquire Americans' email records, chat or messaging accounts, account login records, browser histories and social-media service usage.

DHS/Police are turning public CCTV cameras into surveillance cameras.  Thanks to Purdue University and Homeland Security, police can now access public CCTV cameras anywhere.  Purdue researchers have developed a prototype system called 'Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments' (VACCINE) which allows law enforcement to tap into thousands of CCTV cameras.  This means police can spy on you in parking garages, college campuses, national parks, highways etc., no place is safe from Big Brother.

Lawyer: FBI used Best Buy informant to illegally search computers.  An employee at Best Buy's nationwide computer repair center served as a paid FBI informant who for years tipped off agents to illicit material found on customers' hard drives, according to the lawyer for a Newport Beach doctor facing child pornography charges as a result of information from the employee.  Federal authorities deny they directed the man to actively look for illegal activity.  But the attorney alleges the FBI essentially used the employee to perform warrantless searches on electronics that passed through the massive maintenance facility outside Louisville, Ky., where technicians known as Geek Squad agents work on devices from across the country.

Senators move to block FBI from expanding hacking powers.  Two US senators this week introduced a bipartisan bill meant to protect Americans from government hacking.  The Stopping Mass Hacking (SMH) Act from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would prevent the implementation of a federal court procedure known as Rule 41.  Approved in May, Rule 41 makes it easier for the Justice Department to obtain warrants for remote electronic searches.  It also allows judges to issue a single warrant authorizing government hacking of numerous devices around the world.  "This is a dramatic expansion of the government's hacking and surveillance authority," Wyden said in a statement.  "Such a substantive change with an enormous impact on Americans' constitutional rights should be debated by Congress, not maneuvered through an obscure bureaucratic process."

The FBI has quietly been hacking Americans for 20 years.  Countless Snowden leaks have detailed the highly sophisticated tools used by the NSA to collect data in bulk from unsuspecting people, including American citizens.  But the NSA isn't the only agency conducting spying operations.  The FBI has been spying on US citizens as part of ongoing investigations for two decades, yet many details about its data collection practices are still secret, despite all of the leaks in recent years.

Secret Gov't microphones spying on citizens.  Big Brother is watching you.  It sounds increasingly like everyday life in the United States — and they don't need a warrant to do it.  That's according to reporter Jackie Ward from San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area station KPIX, who on Friday revealed she had uncovered a secret government surveillance program in the area that has citizens on edge.

Hidden Microphones Exposed As Part of Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area.  Hidden microphones that are part of a clandestine government surveillance program that has been operating around the Bay Area has been exposed.  Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing.  It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn't even need a warrant to do it.  Federal agents are planting microphones to secretly record conversations.

Philly cops try to illegally disguise powerful surveillance SUV as Google Street View car... and fail badly.  A Philadelphia police surveillance SUV crudely disguised as the Google Maps car has left local residents baffled after it was spotted Wednesday [5/11/2016] — and triggered an internal investigation.  The large silver SUV, which has chunky black cameras on its roof that can photograph thousands of license plates in a minute, looks nothing like the colorful cars that Google uses to create its 360-degree interactive Street View maps.  But that didn't stop someone — presumably within the police — sticking a pair of large, unconvincing Google Maps decals on its back windows in an apparent attempt to disguise the vehicle's true purpose.

House of Representatives approves bill requiring warrants for email searches.  The House of Representatives today unanimously voted to approve the Email Privacy Act, which requires law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before accessing stored electronic communications, such as emails.  The act updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which has been in place since 1986.  Although that law provides some protections, digital privacy activists have long criticized a part of it that ends warrant requirements for stored electronic communications after 180 days.  The Email Privacy Act does away with that provision, and unlike ECPA, the Privacy Act also makes it clear that a warrant is required even if an email is already opened — an occasional point of contention between privacy groups and the government.

The NSA won't tell Congress how many Americans it's spying on because our democracy is broken.  Congress is trying to learn more about the NSA's surveillance programs, and it's not going well.  In a letter delivered today [4/22/2016] to director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a group of 14 legislators (eight Democrats and six Republicans) asked for a ballpark figure on how many Americans are having their data collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  Section 702 is the legal justification for many of the NSA's most invasive programs, including PRISM.  But we still don't have an exact idea of how broad its reach is.  So Congress asked!  They passed FISA, after all, so it's only right that they should know how it's being used.  They don't need an exact number of Americans caught up in PRISM, just a ballpark.  Is it a thousand?  A hundred thousand?  318 million?  Take an educated guess.

The new way police are surveilling you:  Calculating your threat 'score'.  As a national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, a new generation of technology such as the Beware software being used in Fresno has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens.  Police officials say such tools can provide critical information that can help uncover terrorists or thwart mass shootings, ensure the safety of officers and the public, find suspects, and crack open cases.  They say that last year's attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., have only underscored the need for such measures.  But the powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists, who say they represent a troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error.

U.S. Government spy planes use 'augmented reality' software as they fly above major US cities and 'target Muslim areas'.  The software, which works through the spy plane's high resolution cameras, can be used by pilots to superimpose information — including the names of house owners and businesses — onto their screens.  FBI and Homeland Security can also track the mobile phones of the residents below as dozens of aircraft take to the skies each day.

Encryption gets its Gang of Eight.  A pair of House committees is forming a bipartisan working group of eight lawmakers to prepare for possible legislation addressing how the widespread use of encryption affects law enforcement investigations. [...] The working group will attempt to develop bipartisan consensus in the House on an issue that has scrambled traditional party lines, especially since Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to fight a court order that his company break into a cellphone owned by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Lawmakers Want Big Brother to Get a Warrant Before Looking in Your Inbox.  If the Email Privacy Act becomes law, the inboxes of millions of Americans will get a security update overnight.  The bill would prohibit the government from accessing private email accounts without a warrant. [...] At issue is the 1986 Electronic Communications Act.  Passed by Congress before most Americans went online, that law considers emails older than 180 days abandoned and makes them subject to search.

'Unprecedented' UN global data gathering to add huge amounts of information for governments to collect.  Six months after giving birth to a cluster of nebulous Sustainable Development Goals that aim to dramatically change the economic, social and environmental course of the planet, the United Nations is working on a drastic renovation of global data gathering to measure progress against its sweeping international agenda.  The result that emerged late last week from the U.N. Statistical Commission — an obscure body of national experts that calls itself the "apex entity of the international statistics system" — is a document as sprawling, undefined and ambitious as the sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, themselves — which lay out 17 goals and 169 sometimes overlapping targets to transform global society.

Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism.  A while back, we noted a report showing that the "sneak-and-peek" provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases.  Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.

With Viber's Latest Update, Congress is Losing the Encryption Battle.  WhatsApp, the popular online messaging service, recently changed the landscape of the encryption debate after announcing that their entire platform, between all devices, would offer end-to-end encryption.  This announcement was made on the tail end of Apple's dispute with the FBI, precisely about breaking into encrypted iPhones.  This past week, Viber, another popular messaging app, announced that their latest update would also include end-to-end encryption for all of its users.  While this may just seem like another example of encryption making its way onto popular apps, the case with Viber is particularly more salient in proving just how futile it is for Congress to try to restrict encryption.

BlackBerry's Global Encryption Key.  Last week, there was a big news story about the BlackBerry encryption key.  The news was that all BlackBerry devices share a global encryption key, and that the Canadian RCMP has a copy of it.

FBI director warns encryption makes information warrant-proof.  Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell questioned Tuesday whether the FBI should have the right to force tech companies to create special software to help the government get into encrypted smartphones and other devices. [...] FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that Congress must decide if it wants Apple and other tech companies to have the power to effectively bar law enforcement from obtaining evidence of crime and terrorism from encrypted smartphones and other electronic devices.  "The core question is this:  Once all of the requirements and safeguards of the laws and the Constitution have been met, are we comfortable with technical design decisions that result in barriers to obtaining evidence of a crime?" Comey asked the committee.

Obama to Trash Reagan's Restrictions on Domestic Spying.  At a secret meeting of the United States National Security Council on Feb 25, President Obama approved a draft 21-page memo relaxing a Cold War Reagan-era directive called Executive Order 12333 that restricted the number of government agencies that can access, without court order or Presidential approval, the contents of phone calls, emails and data the U.S. National Security Agency vacuums up from around the world.

US Congress locks and loads three anti-encryption bullets.  US Congress is preparing no fewer than three new bills over the ongoing encryption debate:  one banning end-to-end encryption, one setting up a commission to review the issue, and a third to make sure that it is Congress that gets to decide what happens next.  Leading member of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — who has been criticized for being too close to the NSA — has said she will introduce a new bill that will impose limits on encrypted devices.

If You Go Near the Super Bowl, You Will Be Surveilled Hard.  A hundred million people will watch the game on TV.  Over the next ten days, 1 million people are expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for the festivities.  And, according to the FBI, 60 federal, state, and local agencies are working together to coordinate surveillance and security at what is the biggest national security event of the year.  The Department of Homeland Security, the agency coordinating the Herculean effort, classifies every Super Bowl as a special event assignment rating (SEAR) 1 event, with the exception of the 2002 Super Bowl, which got the highest ranking because it followed the September 11 terror attacks — an assignment usually reserved for only the Presidential Inauguration.  A who's-who of agencies, ranging from the DEA and TSA to the US Secret Service to state and local law enforcement and even the Coast Guard has spent more than two years planning for the event.

The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat 'score'.  As a national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, a new generation of technology such as the Beware software being used in Fresno has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens.  Police officials say such tools can provide critical information that can help uncover terrorists or thwart mass shootings, ensure the safety of officers and the public, find suspects, and crack open cases. [...] But the powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists, who say they represent a troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error.

Obama Spies on His Enemies in Congress.  Remember when Obama, the guy with big plans to resettle America's neighborhoods, clashed with Bibi Netanyahu for refusing to abandon construction and resettlement plans in East Jerusalem?  The president was so incensed that Netanyahu hesitated to comply with his demands that he left the prime minister sitting in a room alone while he went upstairs to eat.  That's when, out of fear of being wiretapped, Netanyahu and his delegation chose not to use White House phones.  As usual, Bibi's discernment was on target because recently it was revealed that Obama, concerned about his nuke deal with Iran, directed the National Security Agency to spy on Israel, American Jewish groups, and friends of Israel in the U.S. Congress.

Obama's NSA Spying on Congress Not a Story at AP — Until GOP Responds.  The Wall Street Journal ran a blockbuster story Tuesday afternoon ("U.S. Spy Net on Israel Snares Congress") about how the Obama administration's National Security Agency's "targeting of Israeli leaders swept up the content of private conversations with U.S. lawmakers."  In other words, the NSA spied on Congress.  As talk-show host and commentator Erick Erickson drily observed:  "Congress began impeachment proceedings on Richard Nixon for spying on the opposing political party."  Whether or not Congress has the nerve to defend itself and the Constitution's separation of powers, what the Journal reported is objectively a major story.  Yet the Associated Press ignored it on Tuesday [12/29/2015], and most of Wednesday.

NSA spying on US and Israeli politicians stirs Congress from Christmas slumbers.  After two years of doing little about the mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden, the US Congress has sprung into action in less than two days — with investigations into the NSA spying on some the legislature's members.  On Tuesday [12/29/2015] the Wall Street Journal reported that conversations between members of Congress and senior Israeli politicians had been monitored by the NSA under the orders of the White House.  The surveillance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisors occurred during negotiations into a deal with Iran over its nuclear power program.

Hackers Catch Prison Phone Company Securus Recording Attorney Calls.  In an example of Aaron Swartz's SecureDrop technology working as intended, the Intercept received a trove of dumped Securus phone records recently.  Securus, for those who have never been jailed in the United States virtually anywhere, is a phone services leader in the justice industry.  That particular part of the prison industrial complex, communication, is worth about $1.2 billion annually.

NSA stopped from indiscriminately collecting millions of phone records, but it's not enough.  The National Security Agency (NSA) is no longer allowed to collect and trawl the millions of phone calls made in the US each day, following an order by President Barrack Obama last year.  The move sees the end of mass collection of call records, to be replaced with more targeted intelligence gathering.  So, the NSA can still collect data, but not on the indiscriminate scale it had been until today [11/29/2015].

F.B.I. Director Repeats Call That Ability to Read Encrypted Messages Is Crucial.  The F.B.I. director and the Manhattan district attorney on Wednesday [11/18/2015] sought to reopen the argument that law enforcement and intelligence officials need to have access to encrypted information on smartphones with court approval.  The question seemed settled last month after President Obama decided not to push legislation requiring American technology companies — notably Apple, Google and Facebook — to roll back smartphone encryption schemes that make it almost impossible to read a target's communications, even if investigators have a court order.  But the terrorist attacks in Paris may have changed the politics on both encryption and a range of surveillance issues, with critics renewing their charge that the Obama administration is not using all tools available to stop terrorism.

The Editor says...
The article immediately above appears in the New York Times, which naturally argues in favor of Big Government.  Encryption is an inconvenience to Big Brother, and a totalitarian government would naturally like to get your encryption keys and read your email, just in case you're a terrorist.  Or behind on your child support.  Or you have outstanding warrants.

Battle against NSA spying in Courtroom 18.  On Thursday [10/8/2015], the fight to preserve democracy and hold government accountable to the people was unfolding in Courtroom 18 of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, four blocks from the Congress.  I argued to the court our request for a preliminary injunction to immediately halt the government from spying on you and hundreds of millions of other U.S. citizens.  I am pleased to say that I believe we are going to win this for the American people. We expect a decision within a week to 10 days.

Of Course the Government Wants to Read Your Texts.  Imagine, if you will, a law that said all doors had to be left unlocked so that the police could get in whenever they needed to.  Or at the very least, a law mandating that the government have a master key.  That's essentially what some in the government want for your technology.  As companies like Apple and Google have embraced stronger encryption, they're making it harder for the government to do the kind of easy instant collection that companies were forced into as the government chased terrorists after 9/11.  And how could you oppose that government access?  After all, the government keeps us safe from criminals.  Do you really want to make it easier for criminals to evade the law?

NSA phone searches increased by 50 percent in 2013, report finds.  The number of phone numbers searched under the National Security Agency's phone-data surveillance program increased by 50 percent last year, according to a report that otherwise provides scant new information on the numbers of Americans and foreigners subject to U.S. surveillance.  The report, by the Director of National Intelligence, focused on the mechanics of a network of surveillance programs that sweep up millions of American phone records and gain indirect access to 75 percent of the nation's telecom infrastructure to facilitate those searches.  The report, the first such effort under new Obama administration guidelines pledging greater transparency, was as notable for what it left out as what it provided.

NSA phone searches increased by 50 percent in 2013, report finds.  The number of phone numbers searched under the National Security Agency's phone-data surveillance program increased by 50 percent last year, according to a report that otherwise provides scant new information on the numbers of Americans and foreigners subject to U.S. surveillance.  The report, by the Director of National Intelligence, focused on the mechanics of a network of surveillance programs that sweep up millions of American phone records and gain indirect access to 75 percent of the nation's telecom infrastructure to facilitate those searches.  The report, the first such effort under new Obama administration guidelines pledging greater transparency, was as notable for what it left out as what it provided.

Apple and Other Tech Companies Tangle With U.S. Over Data Access.  In an investigation involving guns and drugs, the Justice Department obtained a court order this summer demanding that Apple turn over, in real time, text messages between suspects using iPhones.  Apple's response:  Its iMessage system was encrypted and the company could not comply.  Government officials had warned for months that this type of standoff was inevitable as technology companies like Apple and Google embraced tougher encryption.  The case, coming after several others in which similar requests were rebuffed, prompted some senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to advocate taking Apple to court, several current and former law enforcement officials said.

Med Board lets DEA sneak peeks at patient records.  The Drug Enforcement Administration has been sifting through hundreds of supposedly private medical files, looking for Texas doctors and patients to prosecute without the use of warrants.  Instead, the agents are tricking doctors and nurses into thinking they're with the Texas Medical Board.  When that doesn't work, they're sending doctors subpoenas demanding medical records without court approval.  The DEA can't even count how many times it has resorted to the practice nationwide.  A spokesman estimated it was in the thousands.

Appeals court: NSA can resume bulk data collection.  A court of appeals on Friday [8/28/2015] overturned a lower court's ruling that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records was illegal.  The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the NSA may resume collecting data until the USA Freedom Act goes into effect in November, limiting government surveillance.

Hackers can access EVERY call and message you send.  Hackers are able to spy on smartphone users anywhere in the world.  The flaw is in a global telecom network called Signal System 7 that helps phone carriers across the world, including AT&T and Verizon, route calls and texts.  Experts say it is one of the biggest threat to privacy breaches the world has ever seen.

The Editor says...
If hackers can invade SS7 as a hobby, the engineers at the NSA can certainly do it for a living.

AT&T Helped N.S.A. Spy on an Array of Internet Traffic.  The National Security Agency's ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company:  the telecom giant AT&T.  While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as "highly collaborative," while another lauded the company's "extreme willingness to help."

Federal Agencies Fight for Warrantless Access to Emails.  Back in 1986 — in a bygone era before email, the modern Internet, Facebook, the widespread use of cellphones and sharing economy sites — the government passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  And believe it or not, this is still the law that protects the privacy of your electronic life in 2015.  A petition demanding reforms to ensure that emails cannot be accessed without a warrant achieved the necessary 100,000 signatures on the White House website to get a response.  You see, right now, the ECPA considers remotely stored digital files more than 180 days old to be abandoned and forces service providers to hand over those files whenever law enforcement demands — without the need for a warrant.  This means that all those old emails in your inbox aren't granted basic due process protections.

"Smart Cities" to Spy on You in Ways Orwell Never Imagined.  [Scroll down]  According to news reports, in London, data gathered from cameras is cross-referenced with government lists of people who have paid their driving fees, allowing violators to be identified and punished.  Authorities in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Stockholm, and other cities are also openly and purposely trying to become "smart."  In South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, fully "smart" cities are being designed and built from the ground up.  With facial-recognition software now extremely advanced, and billions of people around the world posting their data and pictures online through social-networking services, hand-held "smart" technology has already created potentially totalitarian tools far beyond anything George Orwell could have imagined in his worst nightmares.

NSA secretly tapped Google, Yahoo data centers worldwide, new report claims.  Massive cloud networks from companies like Google and Yahoo cache and serve up much of the data on the Internet — and the NSA has secretly tapped into the unencrypted links behind those company's enormous servers, according to a new report from the Washington Post.  By tapping into that link, the NSA can collect data at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, the Post reported — including not just foreign citizens and "metadata" but emails, videos and audio from American citizens.  Operation MUSCULAR, a joint program of the NSA and its British equivalent GCHQ, relies on an unnamed telecommunications provider outside of the U.S. to offer secret access to a cable or switch through with Google and Yahoo pass unencrypted traffic between their servers.

NSA phone searches increased by 50 percent in 2013, report finds.  The number of phone numbers searched under the National Security Agency's phone-data surveillance program increased by 50 percent last year, according to a report that otherwise provides scant new information on the numbers of Americans and foreigners subject to U.S. surveillance.  The report, by the Director of National Intelligence, focused on the mechanics of a network of surveillance programs that sweep up millions of American phone records and gain indirect access to 75 percent of the nation's telecom infrastructure to facilitate those searches.

Former National-Security Officials Now See the Peril of Weakening Encryption.  FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and NSA Director Mike Rogers continue to lament the ability of people to secure the privacy of their communications with end-to-end encryption that even governments cannot break.  But the push for laws mandating "backdoor access," or built-in security flaws for the state to exploit, has run into some unexpected opponents:  former national-security officials on the other side of the revolving door.

FOIA Documents Reveal Massive DEA Program to Record American's Whereabouts With License Plate Readers.  If license plate readers continue to proliferate without restriction and the DEA holds license plate reader data for extended periods of time, the agency will soon possess a detailed and invasive depiction of our lives (particularly if combined with other data about individuals collected by the government, such as the DEA's recently revealed bulk phone records program, or cell phone information gleaned from U.S. Marshals Service's cell site simulator-equipped aircraft).  Data-mining the information, an unproven law enforcement technique that the DEA has begun to use here, only exacerbates these concerns, potentially tagging people as criminals without due process.

NSA to Destroy Data Collected From Mass Phone Surveillance.  On November 29, 2015, the National Security Agency (NSA) will stop accessing "historical metadata" collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced in a press release on Monday [7/27/2015].  The practice of bulk telephone metadata collection, the once-secret practice uncovered by leaker Edward Snowden, briefly came to an end in June when provisions of the post-9/11 Patriot Act expired.  On June 29, however, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court gave the NSA the go-ahead to resume its controversial bulk collection of telephone metadata for six months — the amount of time allotted by Congress in the USA Freedom Act.  This block is meant to give the NSA time to switch to its narrower surveillance program.  After November, the agency must receive approval from the FISA Court before requesting records from phone companies on an as-needed basis.

Exclusive: U.S. tech industry appeals to Obama to keep hands off encryption.  As Washington weighs new cybersecurity steps amid a public backlash over mass surveillance, U.S. tech companies warned President Barack Obama not to weaken increasingly sophisticated encryption systems designed to protect consumers' privacy.  In a strongly worded letter to Obama on Monday [6/8/2015], two industry associations for major software and hardware companies said, "We are opposed to any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool."

Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court's decision on spying.  The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.  The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.

Head of U.S. Marshals Service Resigns Amid Investigation Of Domestic Surveillance Programs.  An underreported story today comes amid the resignation of Stacia Hylton, the head of the U.S. Marshals Service.  The timing of the resignation could not be more transparently tied to a growing investigation into domestic surveillance programs operated without oversight, and potentially unconstitutional.  For the past several years stories have been quietly surfacing about the USMS using stealth cell phone captures via drone and fixed unit operations known as "Stingray Devices".  Stingray technology secretly captures cell phone communication, data, voice and text from users without their knowledge.

NSA reportedly collaborated with Britain to steal cell phone codes.  Britain's electronic spying agency, along with the NSA, reportedly hacked into the computer networks of a Dutch company to steal codes, which allowed both governments to spy on mobile phones worldwide.  The documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden did not offer details on how the agencies used the eavesdropping capabilities.  However, it certainly shows how the NSA and Britain's spy organization will push the limit of their surveillance prowess.

Why We Can't Trust the NSA (And Why That's a Crisis).  No matter where you stand on the debate over renewing the USA Patriot Act, understand that the greatest threat to democracy is not the rise of ISIS, Iran, and "lone wolf" attacks.  While those are real and present dangers, the greater threat is this:  Americans no longer trusting the people and institutions protecting them.  A 50-year slide in the public's faith in government, which began with the dishonesty of the Vietnam War, continues with the duplicity of the post-9/11 "war on terrorism."  One example:  The National Security Agency began secretly collecting phone records of millions of Americans after the September 11, 2001, attacks and gained reauthorization, again in secret, by a special court under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Bill ending NSA phone data collection heads to Obama.  Congress on Tuesday [6/2/2015] rejected some of the sweeping intelligence-gathering powers it granted national security officials after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with the Senate voting to end the government's bulk collection of private telephone records and to reform other surveillance policies.  The bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, passed on a 67-to-32 vote, against the will of Senate Republican leaders who wished to preserve existing spy programs.

US officials warn [there is] no way to monitor ISIS' online encrypted messages.  With ISIS distributing its propaganda and recruiting messages to as many as 200,000 people on social media worldwide, U.S. officials warned Wednesday [6/3/2015] there is no way to monitor their online encrypted communications.  The officials, appearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, said while there are only several thousand hardcore ISIS propagandists, technology was complicating efforts to monitor them.  "There are 200-plus social media companies.  Some of these companies build their business model around end-to-end encryption," said Michael Steinbach, head of the FBI's counterterrorism division.  "There is no ability currently for us to see that" communication, he said.

The Editor says...
If true, the claims made by the government in the article immediately above prove that the widespread use of encryption would completely stymie government surveillance of email if we all used it.

NSA architect: Feds won't stop spying on citizens.  A former high-ranking official at the U.S. National Security Agency said Sunday night the NSA will continue to spy on American citizens irrespective of any action taken by Congress on the Patriot Act.  William Binney, known to many as the architect of the NSA who became a whistleblower against the agency during the administration of George W. Bush, made the comment on Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.

NSA bulk phone records collection to end despite USA Freedom Act failure.  Even as the Senate remains at an impasse over the future of US domestic surveillance powers, the National Security Agency will be legally unable to collect US phone records in bulk by the time Congress returns from its Memorial Day vacation.  The administration, as suggested in a memo it sent Congress on Wednesday, declined to ask a secret surveillance court for another 90-day extension of the order necessary to collect US phone metadata in bulk.  The filing deadline was Friday [5/22/2015], hours before the Senate failed to come to terms on a bill that would have formally repealed the NSA domestic surveillance program.

House Votes to End N.S.A.'s Bulk Phone Data Collection.  The House on Wednesday [5/13/2015] overwhelmingly approved legislation to end the federal government's bulk collection of phone records, exerting enormous pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who insists that existing dragnet sweeps continue in defiance of many of those in his Republican Party.  Under the bipartisan bill, which passed 338 to 88, the Patriot Act would be changed to prohibit bulk collection by the National Security Agency of metadata charting telephone calls made by Americans.  In addition, the legislation would bar permitting bulk collection of records using other tools like so-called national security letters, which are a kind of administrative subpoena.

Intel chief 'absolutely' forgot about NSA data sweep program, attorney says.  The National Security Agency's massive data collection program has prompted lawsuits, internal reviews and a fierce congressional debate over whether to scrap it.  But Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apparently forgot the program even existed during a key hearing two years ago.

NSA's phone spying program ruled illegal by appeals court.  A U.S. spying program that systematically collects millions of Americans' phone records is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday [5/7/2015], putting pressure on Congress to quickly decide whether to replace or end the controversial anti-terrorism surveillance.  Ruling on a program revealed by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans' calling records in bulk.

Top federal court rules against NSA's phone records program.  A federal court has decided that the National Security Agency's bulk, warrantless collection of millions of Americans' phone records is illegal.  The sweeping decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday [5/7/2015] represents a major court victory for opponents of the NSA and comes just as Congress begins a fight over whether to renew the underlying law used to justify the program.

White House report offers more on NSA spying on Americans' calls, with Patriot Act set to expire.  With debate gearing up over the coming expiration of the Patriot Act surveillance law, the Obama administration on Saturday [4/25/2015] unveiled a 6-year-old report examining the once-secret program to collect information on Americans' calls and emails.  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence publicly released the redacted report following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the New York Times.  The basics of the National Security Agency program had already been declassified, but the lengthy report includes some new details about the secrecy surrounding it.

Jeb Bush: NSA Snooping 'The Best Part of the Obama Administration'.  Plenty of Republicans (Rand Paul especially) have been railing against the NSA's bulk metadata collection for a while now, but not only does Jeb Bush support it, he thinks it's the best thing about the Obama administration.  Bush was defending NSA surveillance months ago as "hugely important program to use these technologies to keep us safe."  Today, he was on Michael Medved's radio show, and was asked directly what he considers the best part of the Obama administration.  Bush said, "I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs."

The Editor says...
The government's job is to keep us free.  Whether we are safe or not is left up to the states, or to us individually.

State Dept. contractor allegedly paid by Chinese agent to spy on Americans — yet no charges filed.  Newly unsealed court documents obtained by Fox News show a State Department contractor allegedly was paid thousands by an individual thought to be a Chinese agent in exchange for information on Americans — but despite an FBI probe, the Justice Department declined to prosecute.  A November 2014 FBI affidavit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, shows the bureau investigated the contractor for her admitted contact with individuals she believed to be Chinese intelligence officers.

McConnell introduces bill to extend NSA surveillance.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night [4/21/2015] to extend through 2020 a controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act.  The move comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is preparing legislation to scale back the government's spying powers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Marxists and Crony Capitalists Driving the Information Highway Bus.  By the time self-acclaimed whistleblower Edward Snowden blew the cover on the National Security Agency (NSA) forever more known as 'Spies are Us', it was already way too late for the privacy of online online private citizens.  Privacy, like commonsense and government altruism, doesn't live here anymore.  Before NSA, we were already big-time data-based with every nuance and details of our private lives spied upon and standby stored by Google, FaceBook and other unsavory social networks on the take.  Blowback from the Snowden-exposed NSA has über dominated the Big Brother spydom we've been talking about ever since.  Public outrage was guaranteed mostly because the NSA is a billion dollar government agency.

Wikipedia Is Suing the NSA.  Wikipedia filed a lawsuit on Tuesday [3/10/2015] challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of Internet communications, a sudden and striking challenge that comes nearly two years after Edward Snowden's disclosures first began.  The online encyclopedia's suit against the NSA and the Justice Department claims that the U.S. government's mass surveillance regime threatens freedom of speech under the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizures.

The law and unintended consequences.  Discovering such bugs in the mess of code that underpins the internet is not unusual.  But unlike most flaws, this one — dubbed FREAK (for "Factoring RSA Export Keys") — is not an accident.  Rather, it is a direct result of the American government's attempts to ensure, two decades ago, that it could spy on the scrambled communications of foreigners.  That is an idea which, following Edward Snowden's revelations about the long reach of Western spy agencies, is back in the news again.

The NSA spied on everyone — other than Hillary Clinton.  From the 'Believe it or Not Department' of the cunning Obama administration:  America's National Security Agency (NSA) retrieves and stockpiles millions of incoming and outgoing emails of government agencies and from the public at large — but not any coming in or going out from Hillary Clinton's private home email accounts! [...] During the Benghazi scandal, for which the Obama administration has yet to come clean, Clinton was the only one in the whole of America with guaranteed privacy from NSA.

NSA authorization to collect bulk phone data extended to June 1.  A U.S. secret court has extended until June 1 the controversial bulk collection of private phone records of Americans by the National Security Agency.  The government said it had asked for reauthorization of the program as reform legislation, called the USA Freedom Act, was stalled in Congress.  The bill would require telecommunications companies rather than the NSA to hold the bulk data, besides placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.  An added urgency for Congress to act comes from the upcoming expiry on June 1 of the relevant part of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the bulk data collections.

DHS Funds Installation of White Boxes That Can Track Population of Entire City.  Strange new off-white boxes popping up in downtown Seattle use wi-fi networks that can record the last 1,000 locations of a person using their cellphone's MAC address, but the Department of Homeland Security — which funded the network to the tune of $2.7 million dollars — has refused to address the nightmare privacy implications of a system that could lead to the permanent tracking of an entire city's population.

Hillary Clinton: people felt betrayed by NSA surveillance programmes.  Hillary Clinton has softened her criticism of Edward Snowden and said that people felt betrayed by the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programmes.  The former secretary of state dialled down her previous rhetoric about the whistleblower and hardened her tone towards the NSA while addressing a conference on women in Silicon Valley.  The presumptive Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 presidential race also endorsed the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) plan for net neutrality regulations, [...]

Hack gave U.S. and British spies access to billions of phones: Intercept.  U.S. and British spies hacked into the world's biggest maker of phone SIM cards, allowing them to potentially monitor the calls, texts and emails of billions of mobile users around the world, an investigative news website reported.

Lawmakers Move to Shield Americans' E-mails From Government Snooping.  Remember that e-mail you got from your significant other six months ago — the one you read, replied to, and deleted?  Probably not, but if it's still stored on a server somewhere, as it may well be, Uncle Sam thinks it's fair game for his agents' prying eyes — and they don't even need to get a warrant to sneak a peek.  Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, electronic communications left on remote servers — "in the cloud," in today's parlance — for more than 180 days are considered abandoned and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment's requirement that government agents obtain a warrant before searching and seizing them.

Is our Constitution just a worthless piece of paper?  Last week, we learned how deep the disrespect for the Constitution runs in the government and how tortured is the logic that underlies it.  In a little-noted speech at Washington and Lee Law School, Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and the NSA, told us.  In a remarkable public confession, he revealed that somehow he received from some source he did not name the authority to reinterpret the Fourth Amendment's protection of privacy so as to obliterate it.  He argued that the line between privacy and unbridled government surveillance is a flexible and movable one, and that he — as the head of the NSA — could move it.  This is an astounding audacity by a former high-ranking government official who swore numerous times to uphold the Constitution.

Homeland Security to be put in charge of info sharing.  President Obama will announce a new executive order on the sharing of cybersecurity threats and information at Friday's [2/13/2015] cybersecurity summit at Stanford University, the White House said.  Most importantly to Silicon Valley, the president's proposal is expected to cement the role of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the National Security Agency, as the government lead for information-sharing with the private sector.  "Hopefully the rules will prohibit the use of the information shared being used for surveillance," said Greg Nojime, a senior counsel with the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington D.C.

ACLU Report: Feds Using Mobile License Plate Readers To Scan Gun Show Vehicles For Database.  According to emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, federal authorities planned to monitor gun show parking lots with automatic license plate readers.  The insight comes from a damning report released by the ACLU this week on a secretive program by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to build a massive database of license plates['] images collected by automated license plate reader devices.

DEA and ATF cooperated to record gun show attendee license plates.  According to emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, federal authorities planned to monitor gun show parking lots with automatic license plate readers.  The insight comes from a damning report released by the ACLU this week on a secretive program by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to build a massive database of license plates images collected by automated license plate reader devices.  As part of this investigation, emails released through the Freedom of Information Act detailed a planned cooperation between the DEA's National License Plate Recognition initiative and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to scan and record the plates and vehicle images of gun show attendees.

FOIA Documents Reveal Massive DEA Program to Record American's Whereabouts With License Plate Readers.  The DEA is currently operating a National License Plate Recognition initiative that connects DEA license plate readers with those of other law enforcement agencies around the country.  A Washington Post headline proclaimed in February 2014 that the Department of Homeland Security had cancelled its "national license-plate tracking plan," but all that was ended was one Immigrations and Customs Enforcement solicitation for proposals.  In fact, a government-run national license plate tracking program already exists, housed within the DEA.  (That's in addition to the corporate license plate tracking database run by Vigilant Solutions, holding billions of records about our movements.)  Since its inception in 2008, the DEA has provided limited information to the public on the program's goals, capabilities and policies.  Information has trickled out over the years, in testimony here or there.  But far too little is still known about this program.

U.S. Spies on Millions of Drivers.  The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.  The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document.  But the database's use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter.

As You Drive, So You Are Watched.  Simply put, I am quite happy to live in a world in which, in the course of acting locally and in response to a discrete threat, the state is able to thwart the plans of those who would harm the innocent people.  At the same time, I do not want to live in a world in which the state films everybody in public as a matter of unprovoked routine.  As so often, the key here is necessity.  Can the security forces intrude upon my liberties in a genuine emergency?  Absolutely.  Should they be watching or recording the movements of private citizens absent a specific, time-limited, and easily explicable reason to do so?  No, they should not.

DEA Has Abandoned Plans to Track Cars at Gun Shows.  The head of the Drug Enforcement Agency announced yesterday [1/28/2015] that the agency had abandoned plans to use surveillance cameras to photograph license plates appearing in the vicinity of gun shows. [...] Why would the government even think it should "keep track" of law-abiding citizens participating in a purely legal social activity?  Cameras are everywhere now, on police cruisers, utility polls, traffic lights and mounted in front of private businesses.  Does the government have the right to catalog and monitor innocent comings and goings?

Also posted under License plate readers.

High tech government spying vs. your Constitutional right to privacy.  We already knew that the NSA, our 60,000 domestic spies, has captured and retained the contents of nearly all emails, text messages, telephone calls, bank statements, utility bills and credit card bills of all Americans since 2009.  We already knew that Obama has used CIA drones to kill Americans overseas and claims that he somehow can do so legally and secretly notwithstanding the express prohibitions in the Constitution. [...] Prior to 2001, the DEA intimidated, coerced and bribed telecom providers into making their telephone lines available to its agents.  Since 2001, it has no doubt taken advantage of the provisions of the so called Patriot Act that permit federal agents to write their own search warrants to custodians of records, in direct contravention of the Constitution, which requires warrants from judges.

WikiLeaks demands answers after Google hands staff emails to US government.  Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the US government, under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge.  WikiLeaks has written to Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, to protest that the search giant only revealed the warrants last month, having been served them in March 2012.  In the letter, WikiLeaks says it is "astonished and disturbed" that Google waited more than two and a half years to notify its subscribers, potentially depriving them of their ability to protect their rights to "privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches".

Justice Department Reportedly Spies on Millions of Cars to Build National Database.  The U.S. Department of Justice secretly spies on millions of cars by gathering and storing information about motorists in order to build a national database to track movements, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.  The database was originally used by the Drug Enforcement Administration to hunt vehicles involved in drug crimes by tracking license plates, but according to the WSJ, the program expanded to hunt for criminals sought for crimes that were non-drug related.

CIA finds no wrongdoing in agency's search of computers used by Senate investigators.  An internal CIA panel concluded in a report released Wednesday [1/14/2015] that agency employees should not be punished for their roles in secretly searching computers used by Senate investigators, a move that was denounced by lawmakers last year as an assault on congressional oversight and a potential breach of the Constitution.  Rejecting the findings of previous inquiries into the matter, the CIA review group found that the agency employees' actions were "reasonable in light of their responsibilities to manage an unprecedented computer system" set up for Senate aides involved in a multiyear probe of the CIA's treatment of terrorism suspects.

NSA has VPNs in Vulcan death grip — no, really, that's what they call it.  The National Security Agency's Office of Target Pursuit (OTP) maintains a team of engineers dedicated to cracking the encrypted traffic of virtual private networks (VPNs) and has developed tools that could potentially uncloak the traffic in the majority of VPNs used to secure traffic passing over the Internet today, according to documents published this week by the German news magazine Der Speigel.  A slide deck from a presentation by a member of OTP's VPN Exploitation Team, dated September 13, 2010, details the process the NSA used at that time to attack VPNs — including tools with names drawn from Star Trek and other bits of popular culture.

No Warrant Needed to Track Cellphones in Public Places, FBI Says.  It is well known that law enforcement agencies sometimes use "stingrays" — devices that mimic cellphone towers — to collect everything from cell users' locations to their call logs.  But the details of such use, including when and how stingray technology is employed, remain shrouded in secrecy.  Now, two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have reached out to Attorney General Eric Holder to question an FBI policy that makes major exceptions to requirements that search warrants be acquired before employing stingray technology.

FBI says search warrants not needed to use "stingrays" in public places.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the position that court warrants are not required when deploying cell-site simulators in public places. Nicknamed "stingrays," the devices are decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts.  The FBI made its position known during private briefings with staff members of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).  In response, the two lawmakers wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson, maintaining they were "concerned about whether the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have adequately considered the privacy interests" of Americans.

NSA phone searches increased by 50 percent in 2013, report finds.  The number of phone numbers searched under the National Security Agency's phone-data surveillance program increased by 50 percent last year, according to a report that otherwise provides scant new information on the numbers of Americans and foreigners subject to U.S. surveillance.  The report, by the Director of National Intelligence, focused on the mechanics of a network of surveillance programs that sweep up millions of American phone records and gain indirect access to 75 percent of the nation's telecom infrastructure to facilitate those searches.

Christmas Eve Document Dump Reveals NSA Wrongdoings.  While many Americans were sitting down for Christmas Eve meals and celebrations, the National Security Agency released redacted documents in which the agency admits to having "incorrectly acquired" surveillance data and violating the law over the past 12 years.  The documents, which detail many instances of wrongdoing from 2001 to 2013, were released following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union.

NSA spy program targets mobile networks worldwide.  The NSA has conducted a covert campaign to intercept internal communications of operators and trade groups in order to infiltrate mobile networks worldwide, according to the latest revelations from documents supplied by Edward Snowden.

Verizon's New, Encrypted Calling App Plays Nice With the NSA.  Verizon is the latest big company to enter the post-Snowden market for secure communication, and it's doing so with an encryption standard that comes with a way for law enforcement to access ostensibly secure phone conversations.  Verizon Voice Cypher, the product introduced on Thursday with the encryption company Cellcrypt, offers business and government customers end-to-end encryption for voice calls on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry devices equipped with a special app.  The encryption software provides secure communications for people speaking on devices with the app, regardless of their wireless carrier, and it can also connect to an organization's secure phone system.

Operation AURORAGOLD: How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide.  In March 2011, two weeks before the Western intervention in Libya, a secret message was delivered to the National Security Agency.  An intelligence unit within the U.S. military's Africa Command needed help to hack into Libya's cellphone networks and monitor text messages.  For the NSA, the task was easy.  The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers' internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks.

Why nanny statists hate the Fourth Amendment.  California Attorney General Kamala Harris weighed in on the wrong side in this year's unanimous Supreme Court decision that the Fourth Amendment prohibits warrantless searches of cell phones by police.  Nanny statist Ms. Harris more recently issued a regulation that allows her to unilaterally violate both the Fourth and First Amendments of some of her critics.  The nanny state is government with a big stick.  The "stick" is the threat of penalties such as fines, imprisonment, or for activities subject to license, the loss of the license.  With government doing so much harm these days, it is becoming clearer that nanny statists such as Kamala Harris are actually the biggest threat to the civil liberties of the greatest number of people of all races, creeds and conscience.

House Quietly Passes Monstrous, Privacy-Invading Intel Bill.  Privacy-crushing language was quietly incorporated into the intelligence authorization bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday [12/10/2014].  Critics say the legislation "blesses the warrantless collection, dissemination and five-year retention of everyday Americans' phone and Internet communications."  A surprised Rep Justin Amash (R-MI) rallied to block the Intelligence Authorization Act at the last minute, saying it would give congressional backing to an antiquated decree that gives the president broad surveillance authority.  Amash described the measure on his Facebook page as "one of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative" and warned the measure "grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American."

NSA spy program targets mobile networks worldwide.  The NSA has conducted a covert campaign to intercept internal communications of operators and trade groups in order to infiltrate mobile networks worldwide, according to the latest revelations from documents supplied by Edward Snowden.  The U.S. National Security Agency ran two hitherto undisclosed operations, the Wireless Portfolio Management Office and the Target Technology Trends Center, operating under the aegis of a program called Auroragold, according to an article Saturday [12/6/2014] in The Intercept, which also published related documents.

Stonewalled: A Conversation with Sharyl Attkisson.  What directly happened to [Sharyl Attkisson] regarding government surveillance could be a plot straight out of a Vince Flynn or John Grisham novel.  Unfortunately, the bad guys are not Islamic terrorists but those in government today.  Instead of using guns and bombs, they use intimidation and harassment.  Attkisson has been targeted by a government agency or official that infiltrated her computer and cell phone and placed classified information on it.  They are not listening to terrorists plotting to kill Americans, but are trying to find out what information this CBS reporter has that will be damaging to them.

This is what a police state looks like:
More Federal Agencies Are Using Undercover Operations.  The federal government has significantly expanded undercover operations in recent years, with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing, records and interviews show.  At the Supreme Court, small teams of undercover officers dress as students at large demonstrations outside the courthouse and join the protests to look for suspicious activity, according to officials familiar with the practice.  At the Internal Revenue Service, dozens of undercover agents chase suspected tax evaders worldwide, by posing as tax preparers, accountants drug dealers or yacht buyers and more, court records show.

IRS is monitoring comment threads on conservative blogs.  The Internal Revenue Service, which claims to be so understaffed that it can't bother to collect unpaid taxes, or search backup tapes for Lois Lerner's "missing" emails, apparently has plenty of time to read the comment threads on conservative blogs that have been critical of the agency (Hi there, IRS agents!).

Utah lawmaker concerned over NSA spying on American citizens proposes cutting off the water supply to agency facility.  A Utah lawmaker concerned about government spying on its citizens wants to cut the water supply to a National Security Agency data storage facility outside Salt Lake City.  Republican representative Marc Roberts told a legislative committee meeting that he was concerned about privacy and surveillance conducted by the centre, and a number of residents who spoke at the meeting agreed.

Senate kills NSA surveillance reform bill.  Senate lawmakers on Tuesday voted to block a bill that aimed to rein in federal surveillance of electronic communications, all but killing prospects for the legislation to become law this year.  The Senate voted 58-42 against moving forward on the USA Freedom Act, failing to garner the requisite votes despite an unusual coalition of Democrats and Republicans eager to end the government's bulk collection and retention of the public's phone records.

Senate fails to advance legislation on NSA reform.  The Senate failed Tuesday evening to advance legislation on bipartisan surveillance reform, dealing a significant setback to the Obama administration's plans to end the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' communications records.  Although advocates vowed to continue to press for curbs, prospects are uncertain, some officials said privately as a GOP-controlled Congress takes over in January and as public attitudes might begin to shift because of renewed fears of terrorism.

Operation Dirtbox.  The public reaction to Snowden and its political reflection were interesting for what they mean about America and what it portends.  Much of the public political conversation was immediately negative, with commentators, news readers, and professional politicians of both major parties attacking him as a traitor.  Democratic members of congress were no better than their Republican counterparts. Liberal luminaries such as Al Franken tried to pacify dissenters by saying that the NSA was only acting to protect us, and Hillary Clinton lectured the fugitive about 'coming back to face the music.'  President Obama was on television, uncharacteristically awkward in reassuring the country that the NSA "isn't listening to your phone calls," which he knew to be false.  Politicians are in some ways just like everyone else:  they are uncomfortable with anything which might inconvenience them or even cost them their jobs.

Operation Dirtbox.  On Friday [11/14/2014], the Denver Post and other papers ran the story that the Justice Department is directing a massive spy operation which can suck up close to every cell phone communication in America.  They've done this by installing fake communications towers on a fleet of Cessnas, beginning in 2007.  Devices known as 'dirtboxes,' from the initials DRT of the Boeing unit which produces them, mimic cell towers of large telecom firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.  Investigators can harvest data from tens of thousands of calls in a single flight.  The planes are said to cover most of the country.  According to the Post article by Devlin Barrett, "people with knowledge of the program wouldn't discuss the frequency or duration of such flights, but said they take place on a regular basis."

Dirtbox Devices: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.  Americans are outraged by news of "dirtbox devices."  Under this Justice Department program, planes are scanning the cell phones of ordinary Americans.  While this program is designed to capture fugitives and criminals, many Americans feel that these dirtbox devices are an invasion of privacy.  Here's what you need to know about the dirtbox device program.

'Dirtbox' planes masquerade as cell towers to collect smartphone data in sophisticated spying ops.  It's no secret anymore that governmental agencies in the U.S. and other countries have access to sophisticated tools that allow them to track and collect data from smartphones and other devices without users knowing anything is happening, and The Wall Street Journal has uncovered yet another such operation which uses a special "dirtbox" technology installed in special planes that can mimic cell phone towers and fool smartphones into believing they're connecting to a genuine carrier tower.

US government planes collecting phone data, report claims.  Devices that gather data from millions of mobile phones are being flown over the US by the government, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The "dirtbox" devices mimic mobile phone tower transmissions, and handsets transmit back their location and unique identity data, the report claims.  While they are used to track specific suspects, all mobile devices in the area will respond to the signal.  The US Justice Department refused to confirm or deny the report.

Americans' Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program.  The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

Maybe Big Data should play smaller role in our politics.  In the run-up to the midterms, the Democrats sent out letters to presumed Democratic voters in an effort to shame them into voting. [...] "We will be reviewing voting records ... to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014."  The letter ends with a creepy, if not outright threatening, warning:  "If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not."  Am I the only one [who] thinks it's bizarre that we spend so much time fretting over how much government agencies can know about us, but we don't seem to care a bit about how much the politicians who run those agencies know about us?

NSA surveillance limits: The focus turns to courts.  While Congress mulls how to curtail the NSA's collection of Americans' telephone records, impatient civil liberties groups are looking to legal challenges already underway in the courts to limit government surveillance powers.

Where Is the Investigation Into Financial Corruption at the NSA?  Earlier this year, when Keith Alexander resigned as head of the National Security Agency, he began trying to cash in on expertise he'd gained while in government, pitching himself as a security consultant who could protect Wall Street banks and other large corporations from cyber-attacks by hackers or foreign governments.  Early reports focused on the eye-popping price tag for his services:  He reportedly asked for $1 million a month, later decreasing his rate to $600,000. [...] What, exactly, was he selling?  The explanation Alexander offered in an interview with Foreign Policy only raised more questions.

How The NSA Has Turned Into A Giant Profit Center For Corrupt Insiders.  Last week, two very important stories came out; one from Reuters and the other from Buzzfeed.  They both zero in on how current NSA employees are using their expertise and connections to make big money in the private sector while still working at the NSA.

Google Chairman: 'We're Going to End Up Breaking the Internet'.  Google Chairman Eric Schmidt warned Wednesday that the Internet will soon undergo massive upheaval if governments refuse to alter the way they spy on other countries.  Speaking at an event in California hosted by Sen. Ron Wyden, Schmidt said the Internet will splinter into walled-off fragments unless digital surveillance practices of the National Security Agency and foreign intelligence agencies are reformed.

FBI Chief: Citizens Should Be 'Deeply Skeptical' of Government.  [James] Comey, 53, who became FBI chief in September 2013, cautioned that courts must grant law-enforcement agencies permission to telephones if the information is deemed to be critical to a criminal case or national security.  His comments come in light of numerous leaks since last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealing that agency's extensive telephone and Internet surveillance programs and cell phones introduced last month by Apple Inc. that were designed to avoid surveillance by law enforcement.

Child-porn conviction is tossed: Navy surveillance is blamed.  Navy criminal investigators repeatedly and routinely peeked into the computers of private citizens in Washington state and elsewhere, a violation of the law so "massive" and egregious that an appeals court says it has no choice but to throw out the evidence against an Algona man sentenced to 18 years in prison for distribution of child pornography.

NSA/GCHQ/CSEC Infecting Innocent Computers Worldwide.  HACIENDA is a GCHQ program to port-scan entire countries, looking for vulnerable computers to attack.  According to the GCHQ slide from 2009, they've completed port scans of 27 different countries and are prepared to do more.  The point of this is to create ORBs, or Operational Relay Boxes.  Basically, these are computers that sit between the attacker and the target, and are designed to obscure the true origins of an attack.

The NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite Companies.  Treasure Map is a vast NSA campaign to map the global internet.  The program doesn't just seek to chart data flows in large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables.  Rather, it seeks to identify and locate every single device that is connected to the internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet, and computer — "anywhere, all the time," according to NSA documents.

The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google.  The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a "Google-like" search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

Should Businesses Be Concerned about NSA Snooping?  After news hit the wires regarding the PRISM surveillance program, multiple companies spoke up, insisting that they refused to comply with NSA requests for customer data. [...] In a world that is run increasingly by data, how do everyday business owners face the idea that the government might request private consumer information?  Business leaders must come to terms with whether they'll comply and risk being exposed during whistleblowing operations, or refuse compliance protect consumer trust.

DEA paid Amtrak $854,460 for passenger lists it could have gotten for free.  The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free through a law enforcement network, The Associated Press has learned.

Yahoo Is Making It Harder for the NSA to Read Your Emails.  Yahoo announced Thursday [8/7/2014] it will encrypt its email service by early next year, joining Google and Microsoft in an effort to create an email system that prevents government officials and hackers from reading users' messages.  It's a major step for Yahoo in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, and it reflects the commitment of the major technology companies to securing users' data.

Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer.  Security experts call it a "drive-by download": a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor.  It's one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers' clutches within minutes.  Now the technique is being adopted by a different kind of a hacker — the kind with a badge.  For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement's knottiest Internet problems:  how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system.

CIA Director Brennan Should Resign.  CIA director John Brennan did the right thing Thursday in apologizing to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for CIA monitoring of computers being used by the committee's staff for an investigation of the Bush-era enhanced-interrogation program.  Nevertheless, heads must roll at the CIA over this scandal, including Brennan's.  While what the CIA did was not illegal, its actions were the result of reckless decisions by agency officials in response to misconduct by SSCI staff members.  The CIA should have handled this matter by raising it quietly with SSCI chairwoman Dianne Feinstein.  The agency didn't need another scandal at a time when all U.S. intelligence agencies were under fire in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks.

Public servants acting as public masters.  "Nothing could be further from the truth.  I mean, we wouldn't do that."  That was CIA Director John Brennan's answer in March when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., charged the CIA with breaking into computers used by Senate investigators looking into CIA misconduct.  It turns out that the CIA would do that — and, in fact, had done so.  Brennan's reassurances were false, and CIA spooks had been hacking into the committee investigators' computers looking for documents they thought the investigators shouldn't have, violating a promise not to.  So, first Brennan broke a promise.  Then, he either lied, or showed that he doesn't control his own agency, which in many ways would be worse.

Obama remains confident in CIA head John Brennan despite Senate spying.  President Obama remains confident in CIA Director John Brennan's leadership despite an independent investigation that concluded that the agency had overreached its authority by spying on Senate staffers.  White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the findings had not diminished Brennan's standing in the administration.  When asked whether it damaged his authority or credibility in any way, Earnest said:  "Absolutely not."

CIA confesses: Yeah, we hacked the Senate's computers.  In March, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) revealed that CIA Director John Brennan told her that the intelligence agency he leads had improperly accessed Senate computers and secretly removed classified documents while the agency's War on Terror interrogation tactics were under investigation.  Feinstein alleged that Brennan told her the CIA took that action because the agency believed the Senate might have accessed documents that they were not authorized to see.  In a statement, Brennan said the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman had leveled "spurious allegations about CIA actions that were wholly unsupported by the facts."  While he confessed that the agency had made mistakes, the CIA director insisted that there was no merit to the charge that the agency had spied on members of Congress.

Despite Brennan's Lying and Usurpation of Law, President Obama Gives Strong Vote of Confidence In CIA Director John Brennan.  President Obama issued a strong defense of CIA Director John Brennan on Friday in the face of revelations that his agency spied on congressional staffers' computers.  "I have full confidence in John Brennan," Obama said in a White House press conference.

Why Obama Should Roll Heads at the CIA.  Heads should roll at the CIA, but not for the obvious reasons.  Let's review the cacophony of issues raised by the brutal post-911 interrogation program, including the CIA's lies, cover-ups, and a Constitution-bending spying operation against Senate staffers.

The government wants to wiretap online communications — or in some cases hack them.  In 1994, the government passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which mandated that phone companies make their systems wiretap-ready.  Richard "Dickie" George, a former NSA technical director until he retired in September 2011, recalled how in the mid-1990s, "in the early days of CALEA," the NSA tested several commercial phone systems with intercept capabilities and "we found problems in every one."  Making the systems hack-proof, he said, "is really, really hard."

A Government Feared and Distrusted.  Deep in the desert of Utah is a government data center.  The center, comprised of long, low buildings spanning 1.5 million square feet, is filled with super-powered computers storing unbelievably massive amounts of information gathered secretly.  What information is being collected?  Information about you, Joe Average citizen.  Your phone calls and emails are being stored, all in the name of protecting our country from potential terrorists #8212; terrorists like you, even though your call or email is as banal as, "Honey I'll be home in 30 minutes."

Every iPad and iPhone on the planet has a secret back-door allowing unknown parties to take control.  I wonder who could be behind this?

Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans.  Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.  Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens' data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data.  But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are.  Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.  Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Most online accounts investigated by NSA belong to ordinary Internet users, report claims.  Conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency are far more likely to have taken place between ordinary Internet users than legally targeted terror suspects, according to a published report.  The Washington Post reported late Saturday [7/5/2014] that while some intercepted messages were a source of valuable intelligence, many more missives contained nothing more than intensely personal details of people's lives, including more than 5,000 private photos.  In most cases, the information was retained despite being marked as useless by NSA analysts.

Senator: FISA snares American communications.  The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which began operating just last year, said the intelligence the government collects under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is valuable in the fight against terrorism and, at its root, the government uses it properly to go after foreign nationals outside the U.S.  But at the edges, the program is scooping up data about Americans, the board said in a nearly 200-page report that recommended some changes to get a handle on how often the program strays across constitutional boundaries.

NSA Internet spying program an 'effective tool,' bipartisan privacy board says.  Under a provision of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act known as Section 702, the NSA uses court orders and taps on fiberoptic lines to target the data of foreigners living abroad when their emails, web chats, text messages and other communications traverse U.S. telecommunications systems.

The Editor says...
Nobody objects, as far as I know, to the feds listening to phone calls in other countries, or setting up wiretaps in the Middle East.  The problem here is that wiretaps in this country can easily be used against Americans.  And really, how many other countries make their telephone and internet connections through the United States?

Cellphone operator reveals scale of gov't snooping.  Government snooping into phone networks is extensive worldwide, one of the world's largest cellphone companies revealed Friday [6/6/2014], saying that several countries demand direct access to its networks without warrant or prior notice.  The detailed report from Vodafone, which covers the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe, Africa and Asia, provides the most comprehensive look to date at how governments monitor mobile phone communications.  It amounts to a call for a debate on the issue as businesses increasingly worry about being seen as worthy of trust.

British Spy Agencies Are Said to Assert Power to Intercept Web Traffic.  In a broad legal rationale for collecting information from Internet use by its citizens, the British government has reportedly asserted the right to intercept communications that go through services like Facebook, Google and Twitter that are based in the United States or other foreign nations, even if they are between people in Britain.

5 Obama Officials Who Lied, Then Lied About Lying.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.  Clapper testified before Congress in 2012 that the NSA was not collecting "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans."  Clapper later said he had misspoken, after information from Edward Snowden proved that he had been lying.

Judge Orders NSA To Stop Destroying Evidence — For The Third Time.  U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White's ruling came at the request of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is in the midst of a case challenging NSA's ability to surveil foreign citizen's U.S.-based email and social media accounts.  According to the EFF, the signals intelligence agency and the Department of Justice were knowingly destroying key evidence in the case by purposefully misinterpreting earlier preservation orders by multiple courts, multiple times.

Internet Giants Erect Barriers to Spy Agencies.  Just down the road from Google's main campus here, engineers for the company are accelerating what has become the newest arms race in modern technology:  They are making it far more difficult — and far more expensive — for the National Security Agency and the intelligence arms of other governments around the world to pierce their systems.  As fast as it can, Google is sealing up cracks in its systems that Edward J. Snowden revealed the N.S.A. had brilliantly exploited.

Cellphone operator reveals scale of gov't snooping.  Government snooping into phone networks is extensive worldwide, one of the world's largest cellphone companies revealed Friday [6/6/2014], saying that several countries demand direct access to its networks without warrant or prior notice.

How the NSA's Secret Elite Hacking Unit Works.  Snowden documents leaked to Der Spiegel in December 2013 describe a different type of NSA program from the sort that is usually publicized.  Rather than revealing software developed by the agency in order to access computers, these revelations describe a secret elite hacking unit, dubbed Tailored Access Operations, or TAO.

How the NSA Can Get Onto Your Computer.  Many of the NSA's programs revealed in the Snowden leaks describe the agency's ability to target specific pieces of software.  But as The New York Times and others reported earlier this year, there is a suite of programs, codenamed QUANTUM, which allows the NSA access to a much wider variety of computers.

Your Selfie Is A Mugshot For The NSA.  The selfie phenomenon is undoubtedly making the NSA's job easier by producing a mountain of tagged online data to feed its facial recognition algorithms.  A report in The New York Times, based on documents from 2011 obtained by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveals that the US security agency's reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly under the Obama administration — coinciding with a rise in popularity of taking and tagging self portraits on online social networks.  The newspaper reports that the agency has turned to new software to process the flood of images being included in digital communication including social media, email, messaging, videoconferencing and other types of online comms.

NSA is 'creating huge facial recognition database by taking millions of images off the internet'.  The NSA is building a comprehensive facial recognition database through the intercepting of millions of photographs posted online everyday, according to a report from the New York Times published Saturday [5/31/2014].  According to the report, which cites top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA intercepts 'millions of images per day', which translates into approximately 55,000 'facial recognition quality images.'  According to a 2011 document cited in the report, this is regarded by the agency as 'tremendous untapped potential'.

New federal database will track Americans' credit ratings, other financial information.  As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.  FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB.  A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.

"Original" NSA Whistleblower Says Home Raid Was Retribution.  "We were a clear demonstration that official channels didn't work," said William Binney, one of a trio of National Security Agency employees who tired to "blow the whistle" on the NSA's domestic surveillance activities more than a decade before Edward Snowden delivered classified documents from the agency's files to The Guardian.  Binney, now retired, resigned from the NSA in 2001.  A year later he and two of his former colleagues asked Congress and the Department of Defense for an investigation of the agency for wasting money and violating privacy rights with a massive data collection program called "Trailblazer," the successor to an earlier program dubbed "Stellar Wind."  Binney believes that's the reason why the FBI five years later staged an armed raid of his home.

Afghan anger at US monitoring 'nearly all' phone calls.  Afghanistan on Sunday expressed anger at the United States for allegedly monitoring almost all the country's telephone conversations after revelations by the Wikileaks website.  Wikileaks editor Julian Assange said on Friday that Afghanistan was one of at least two countries where the US National Security Agency "has been recording and storing nearly all the domestic (and international) phone calls".

Glenn Greenwald to publish list of U.S. citizens that NSA spied on.  Glenn Greenwald, one of the reporters who chronicled the document dump by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden via the U.K. press, now said he's set to publish his most dramatic piece yet:  The names of those in the United States targeted by the NSA.  "One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, 'Who have been the NSA's specific targets?'  Are they political critics and dissidents and activists?  Are they genuinely people we'd regard as terrorists?  What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted?  Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer," Mr. Greenwald told The Sunday Times of London.

Guilty until proven innocent in the age of ubiquitous electronic surveillance.  Upon taking office, President Obama issued a memorandum on the subject of transparency:  "My Administration," he said, "is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.  Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."  Apparently, though, in spite of this stated goal, the Obama administration has been doing quite the opposite.  Instead of sharing information openly with the American people, they've been collecting information, in secret, about the American people, building the largest domestic spying infrastructure known to man.

This is slightly off-topic — I hope.
Facebook App Soon to Record All Sounds Entering User Smartphones.  A recent "improvement" to the Facebook mobile app is being praised by tech bloggers, but it seems the bigger, more sinister side of the upgrade is being ignored.  In the "coming weeks," the social media behemoth will roll out a service that, according to an announcement on its blog, will give users: ["]the option to use your phone's microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV.["]

Bill ending NSA bulk data collection clears U.S. House.  The measure, which passed 303-121, would end the National Security Agency's practice of gathering in bulk information on calls made by millions of Americans and storing them for at least five years.  It would instead leave such records in the custody of telephone companies and they could search those databases at the NSA's request.

The NSA records EVERY cell phone call in the Bahamas.  The NSA is listening in on every cell phone call made within or to the Bahamas, according to revelations contained with the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.  As part of a program codenamed SOMALGET, the National Security Agency is recording millions of communications in the nation of 370,000 and they're even able to replay a given conversation for a month after it happens.

Cisco CEO asks Obama to curtail surveillance, according to reports.  Cisco chief executive John Chambers has sent a letter to President Obama calling for rules ensuring that both the needs of national security and his IT firm's product integrity are met, according to reports.  The Financial Times and Re/code are reporting that Chambers sent a letter dated May 15 to Obama, warning that confidence in an open Internet is being "eroded by revelations of governments' surveillance" and asking him to create new standards of conduct about how the government collects data.  Ars Technica reported last week that a document included in National Security Agency files released with Glenn Greenwald's new book "No Place to Hide" describes how the NSA intercepts servers and networking gear and covertly installs firmware on them before they are shipped out. There is a photo purporting to show NSA employees opening Cisco boxes.

Internet Subversion.  In addition to turning the Internet into a worldwide surveillance platform, the NSA has surreptitiously weakened the products, protocols, and standards we all use to protect ourselves.  By doing so, it has destroyed the trust that underlies the Internet.  We need that trust back.

NSA Metadata Snooping Challenged.  Metadata is transmission and billing information about whom you called, from what phone number, when, and for how long.  This can include your location, because billing records note which cell tower your mobile phone is connecting through.  George Orwell's book 1984 was meant as a warning.  But it is shocking how many people view 1984 as a "how to" manual or blueprint for expanding their power and influence over the country.  The book projects into the future how society has been heading towards a totalitarian society governed by pervasive government surveillance.

Attkisson to Beck: I was warned that I was 'probably being monitored'.  In an interview today [4/30/2014] with Glenn Beck, former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson again addressed the issue of her compromised computers, saying she was "outraged" that someone would attempt to hack them.  She also noted that she'd been warned that she was "probably being monitored" and that this particular tip came before the revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and the news that the Associated Press's phone records had been seized.

A Phone Company Fought the NSA — And the NSA Won.  An unnamed phone company recently resisted a National Security Agency demand for access to its subscribers' data, according to court documents declassified Friday [4/25/2014].  But on March 20, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rejected the company's motion and ordered it to continue turning the records over to the NSA.  The government redacted the name of the company and other information from the documents.  It was apparently the first time any phone company tried to fight the NSA's controversial mass-surveillance program.  A federal judge wrote last year that no phone company had resisted the program, which the NSA claims is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Shocking details of rampant racism, sexism prompt Rep. Sean Duffy to ask if it's time for CFPB's Richard Cordray to resign.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray's agency has been slammed in recent months for refusing to divulge to Congress details of its lavish spending on a new headquarters.  The CFPB has also been exposed by the Washington Examiner for running an NSA-like surveillance program that compromises the privacy of hundreds of millions of Americans' most intimate financial dealings.  Cordray's agency has even been taken to court by the Examiner in conjunction with the nonprofit group Judicial Watch for chronically refusing to make public even the most basic details of its spending of tax dollars.

Clapper: Yeah, we've checked out Americans' e-mail content, phone calls without warrants.  In a letter to NSA-skeptic Sen. Ron Wyden this week, DNI head James Clapper seems to confirm searches of the content of American citizens' communication the administration had previously suggested was off-limits.

U.S. confirms warrantless searches of Americans.  The Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans' communications as part of the National Security Agency's surveillance operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S., the administration's top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress disclosed Tuesday [4/1/2014].

Obama's NSA overhaul may require phone carriers to store more data.  President Barack Obama's plan for overhauling the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program could force carriers to collect and store customer data that they are not now legally obliged to keep, according to U.S. officials.

NSA still wants to collect records without probable cause.  Except for the definition and mechanism of proving treason, no area of the Constitution addressing the rights of all persons when the government is pursuing them is more specific than the Fourth Amendment.  The linchpin of that specificity is the requirement that the government demonstrate probable cause to a judge as a precondition to the judge issuing a search warrant.  The other specific requirement is identity:  The government must identify whose property it wishes to search or whose behavior it wishes to monitor, because the Fourth Amendment requires that all warrants specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. [...] The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has been issuing general warrants to the National Security Agency (NSA) since 1978, but it was not until last June that we learned that these general warrants have been executed upon the telephone calls, text messages, emails, bank records, utility bills and credit card bills of all persons in America since 2009.

The Surveillance State Is Well Protected and Winning.  The New York Times reported today [3/25/2014] that the White House will ask Congress to end the National Security Agency's open-ended collection of data about Americans' calling habits.  Under the proposal, the bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would.  The NSA could seize specific records only with a judge's permission.

Navy database tracks civilians' parking tickets, fender-benders, raising fears of domestic spying.  A parking ticket, traffic citation or involvement in a minor fender-bender are enough to get a person's name and other personal information logged into a massive, obscure federal database run by the U.S. military. [...] LinX is a national information-sharing hub for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  It is run by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, raising concerns among some military law experts that putting such detailed data about ordinary citizens in the hands of military officials crosses the line that generally prohibits the armed forces from conducting civilian law enforcement operations.

Gates Foundation Lobbies For Feds To Collect Data On College Graduates Lives.  A study released by the Gates Foundation is promoting a system that would track the careers of college graduates long after they receive their degrees, attacking the National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities for promoting laws that prevent up-close surveillance of students by the government.

Rand Paul gets standing ovation at Berkeley: 'Your right to privacy is under assault'.  Delivering a rare speech for a Republican at this bastion of liberalism, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday was given multiple standing ovations by the left-wing audience after railing against government surveillance and warning the students:  "Your right to privacy is under assault."  "I am here to tell you that if you own a cell phone, you're under surveillance," he told the crowd. Paul's address at the Berkeley Forum on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley focused on the National Security Agency's collection of telephone metadata and the debate over privacy.

NSA surveillance program reaches 'into the past' to retrieve, replay phone calls.  The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording "100 percent" of a foreign country's telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.  A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.  The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009.

NRA: Federal surveillance policies could lead to gun registry.  The National Rifle Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case in federal court in New York challenging the federal government's data surveillance techniques, arguing the data collection violates the First Amendment and could undermine federal privacy laws that prohibit the formation of a registry of firearms or gun owners.

Lies, Spies, Leaks and DiFi.  These days it's a commonplace to diagnose a clash between two parts of our government and conclude that both are wrong.  The case at bar this week is the uncharacteristically rancorous fight between the CIA and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal).

Privacy advocates call Feinstein's rant on CIA spying hypocritical.  Those who have long complained that neither Congress nor the intelligence community have done enough to safeguard the rights of private citizens find it ironic that, for months, the spy agency and the Intelligence Committee charged with its oversight have waged a behind-the-scenes battle accusing each other of improper snooping.  The Justice Department is weighing whether to investigate CIA claims that Intelligence Committee staffers accessed material they shouldn't have seen while reviewing millions of documents at a Virginia facility.  Those same advocates find the complaints of Feinstein, who has been one of the intelligence community's staunchest supporters, as especially disingenuous.

Sen. Feinstein's Awakening.  Here again is the problem of surveillance professionals operating within a highly technologized surveillance state:  If they can do it they will do it.  If they are able to take an action they will sooner or later take it, whether or not it's a good thing, even whether or not it is legal.  Defenders of the surveillance state as it is currently organized and constituted blithely argue that laws, rules, traditions and long-held assumptions will control or put a damper on the actions of those with the power to invade the privacy of groups or individuals.  They are very trusting people!  But they are wrong.

Issa Rips CIA Over Feinstein Spying Allegations: 'Treason'.  House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said he is incensed about allegations the CIA spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee, calling it "treason."  "I think Senator Feinstein is as outraged as anyone and I share her outrage.  I think the violation of the Constitutional separation of powers should be an offense of the highest level — virtually treason," Issa told Breitbart News on Tuesday [3/11/2014].  "Spying on the executive branch — spying on Congress or violating the separation of powers as to the Supreme Court or as to Congress is effectively treason.

New study shows NSA phone metadata can reveal everything about your life.  New research published by Stanford Univeristy Wednesday reveal phone and Internet metadata collected by the NSA can expose far more information about an individual than the agency admits, including, "medical conditions, financial and legal connections, and even whether they own a gun."  Two of the school's computer science graduate students were able to uncover the sensitive personal details of individuals from phone data details, like the numbers of callers and recipients, the location of callers, phone serial numbers and the length of conversations — all of which are data the signals intelligence agency collects in bulk both domestically and internationally.  Of the 33,688 unique numbers called by the study's 546 study volunteers, students were able to positively identify a specific individual in 18 percent of those calls.

'Heads Should Roll!': Lawmakers Irate Over Alleged CIA Spying.  Tempers are flaring in Washington as one branch of government appears irate with another.  Amidst allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been spying on Congressional staffers, a spat between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch appears to be brewing.  California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein is leading the charge as she ranted on Tuesday [3/11/2014] about the 2010 removal of documents from secure machines used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff.

CIA says it doesn't spy on the Senate.  The most serious fight between the Central Intelligence Agency and Congress to erupt during the Obama administration went very public on Tuesday as the Senate's top overseer of the CIA accused the agency of blocking an investigation into interrogation practices and possibly violating the Constitution.  In an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said CIA personnel illicitly snooped on Senate staffers by examining computers they used as part of a long-running review of the agency's treatment of terrorism suspects under President George W. Bush.

Feinstein publicly accuses CIA of spying on Senate computers.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, escalated a behind-the-scenes dispute with the CIA by publicly accusing the spy agency of secretly searching a Senate computer system, an act she said undermines congressional intelligence oversight and may have violated the law.

Senator: CIA improperly searched computer network.  The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday the CIA improperly searched a stand-alone computer network established for Congress in its investigation of allegations of CIA abuse in a Bush-era detention and interrogation program and the agency's own inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department for possible legal action.

Destructive Missions, Partially Accomplished.  First, there are the ongoing revelations about the government's accumulation of digital mountains of personal information on citizens' daily lives.  If there's a positive result from this, it would be that many Americans have become a bit more careful about their data trail.  But the good news ends there.  Our emails, Facebook posts, text messages and other communications are subject to easy scrutiny by government minders and anyone else to whom those apparatchiks might feel like conveying information.  The chilling effect on everyday speech, expression and interactions is a statist's dream come true.  Just wait until they integrate the Obamacare and Common Core data.

White House co-hosts MIT workshop as part of project on 'collecting, analyzing, and using' big data.  The Obama White House is co-hosting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) workshop on "big data" as part of an administration effort to analyze how to collect and use complex data for public policy.  It comes as little surprise that the White House is analyzing "big data" collection considering the effectiveness of the 2012 Obama campaign's personality-tracking voter targeting database created through its "Project Dreamcatcher."  The information from that database is now held by Obama's nonprofit advocacy group Organizing for Action.

Judge Rules NYPD Spying on Muslims Didn't Hurt While It Was Secret.  A federal judge in Newark has tossed a lawsuit brought by eight Muslims who claimed the NYPD's post-9/11 surveillance of their mosques, schools, and other community locations violated their civil rights.  Instead, U.S. District Judge William Martini ruled that there was no harm done until the Associated Press reported on the program (earning itself a Pulitzer Prize along the way).  "The Associated Press covertly obtained the materials and published them without authorization," he wrote.

DHS cancels national license plate tracking plan.  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday [2/19/2014] ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.  The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers.  Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

The Editor says...
The system is only there to catch illegal immigrants!  How could you possibly object to that?  Think ahead:  Suppose the system works perfectly and every illegal immigrant is captured and deported (Ha!).  Their surveillance system will still be in place, and the bureaucrats will need to think of something to do with it — probably hunting for "deadbeat dads," and people with outstanding warrants.

HHS Seeking Access to 'Full Twitter Historical Data'.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking a "social media analytic tool" that will give the government access to "full Twitter historical data," according to a solicitation released on Tuesday [2/18/2014].  The agency is seeking feedback for a "possible future acquisition to provide near real time social media analysis."  HHS said it wants to use the tool for "ongoing monitoring" of public health issues.  HHS provides a long list of requirements, including "access to real-time social media posts," and "access to full Twitter firehose."

DNI: Phone surveillance would not have been 'shocking' if the NSA had come clean with the public soon after 9/11.  The White House's director of national intelligence admitted on Monday [2/17/2014] that the National Security Agency and other federal government departments should have been transparent with the American people when it first began collecting a broad swath of phone records.  James Clapper mused openly about how the PRISM program, authorized by Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, was received by global media and the American public, conceding that the scandalous outcome would likely have been different if the government had been less secretive.

At Newark Airport, the Lights Are On, and They're Watching You.  Visitors to Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport may notice the bright, clean lighting that now blankets the cavernous interior, courtesy of 171 recently installed LED fixtures.  But they probably will not realize that the light fixtures are the backbone of a system that is watching them.  Using an array of sensors and eight video cameras around the terminal, the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff.

DHS Building National License Plate Reader Database.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to build a national license plate reader database, according to a recent job posting for government contractors.  The posting, first reported by Ars Technica, seeks a contractor to build a national license plate recognition database for DHS and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.  Automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology uses cameras to identify cars, alert police departments if they match a license plate on a "hot list," and track their movements.

The Editor says...
This sounds like a cover story planted in the malleable news media, to announce the formation of something that already exists.  I would be very surprised if such a system hasn't been in place for several years already.

Spy Chief: We Should've Told You We Track Your Calls.  Even the head of the U.S. intelligence community now believes that its collection and storage of millions of call records was kept too secret for too long.  The American public and most members of Congress were kept in the dark for years about a secret U.S. program to collect and store such records of American citizens on a massive scale.  The government's legal interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act that granted the authority for this dragnet collection was itself a state secret.

NSA spying undermines separation of powers.  [M]ost Americans figure, probably rightly, that the NSA isn't likely to be interested in their stuff.  (Anyone who hacks my e-mail is automatically punished, by having to read it.)  There is, however, a class of people who can't take that disinterest for granted:  members of Congress and the judiciary.  What they have to say is likely to be pretty interesting to anyone with a political ax to grind.  And the ability of the executive branch to snoop on the phone calls of people in the other branches isn't just a threat to privacy, but a threat to the separation of powers and the Constitution.

'Rand Paul v. Barack Obama' lawsuit hits federal court with 350,000 plaintiffs.  Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is making good on his promise to sue the Obama administration over what he calls 'precisely the kind of overreach we fought a revolution over.'  His targets are the National Security Agency, the FBI and other federal government offices that snoop on private communications at home and abroad.

Rand Paul Suing President Obama.  Rand Paul's political action committee just announced that the Kentucky senator is suing President Obama. [...] "I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the 4th Amendment," Paul said in a statement.  "The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants.  I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win."

Secret court approves phone surveillance changes.  National intelligence chief James R. Clapper said Thursday [2/6/2014] that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had approved two limits on how the government can use huge volumes of data it collects about Americans' phone use.  The new restrictions were among reforms promised last month by President Barack Obama to the controversial anti-terror surveillance program of the National Security Agency.

The Editor says...
How can any of us verify what the secret court really said?  And why is there a secret court in an ostensibly free country?

NSA Defender Explains How Even Though NSA Spies On Americans, It's OK To Say They Don't.  Benjamin Wittes of the Brooking Institution has become the go-to non-government NSA apologist.  One of his most recent articles is a true work of rhetorical artistry, in which he tries to explain why saying "the NSA doesn't spy on Americans" is acceptable shorthand for the fact that the NSA spies on pretty much every American.  It's a master class in political doubletalk.  First, it's the law's fault.  The law, you see, is too complicated for mere mortals not working for the NSA to understand, so that makes it okay to lie.

Federal consumer bureau data-mining hundreds of millions of consumer credit card accounts, mortgages.  Officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are conducting a massive, NSA-esque data-mining project collecting account information on an estimated 991 million American credit card accounts.  It was also learned at a Congressional hearing Tuesday [1/28/2014] that CFPB officials are working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a second data-mining effort, this one focused on the 53 million residential mortgages taken out by Americans since 1998.

Obama Team Stonewalls Democrat on Spying Questions.  Ron Wyden wanted direct answers on government spying programs during Wednesday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.  He didn't get many.  Director of Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Director James Comey largely avoided giving details on the agencies' spying activities, instead promising to provide more information as soon as possible.  In several cases, Wyden gave deadlines for them to answer his questions.  Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, is a vocal critic of the National Security Agency's program of gathering the phone data of millions of Americans.

US privacy watchdog advises NSA spying is 'illegal'.  The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board advised by a 3-2 majority that the programme should end.  In a major speech last week, President Barack Obama said he was ordering curbs on the use of such mass data.  But he said the US must continue collecting data to prevent attacks.

Independent review board says NSA phone data program is illegal and should end.  An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency's long-running program to collect billions of Americans' phone records is illegal and should end.  In a strongly worded report to be issued Thursday [1/23/2014], the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) said that the statute upon which the program was based, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, "does not provide an adequate basis to support this program."

White House Rejects Gov't Report that NSA Bulk Data Grab Is Illegal and Useless.  The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has released a scathing report listing off the various ways that the National Security Administration's meta data sweeps are illegal. [...] The board also rejected the notion that the NSA's data mining program is somehow "necessary" to fix the supposed intelligence gap that occurred from a failure to detect Al Qaeda in the U.S. prior to 9/11 — something that has been claimed many times to necessitate the program [...]

Four Questionable Claims Obama Has Made on NSA Surveillance.  [#1] There have been no abuses. [...] At press conferences in June, August and December, Obama made assurances that two types of bulk surveillance had not been misused.  In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has reprimanded the NSA for abuses both in warrantless surveillance targeting people abroad, and in bulk domestic phone records collection.  In 2011, the FISA Court found that for three years, the NSA had been collecting tens of thousands of domestic emails and other communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

What would Patrick Henry do with the NSA?  In his speech of Friday last, President Obama laid out some nifty new review processes to see to it that the NSA behaves — our "reviewers" will now have "reviewers."  And therein lies the problem: government cannot be the judge of the extent of its own powers, that is what has led to this moment.

A new 'crypto-war' breaks out, as citizens and criminals learn to hide from government.  [Scroll down]  Smari McCarthy — whose eclectic activities include working with Julian Assange in the early days of Wikileaks and keeping the internet going in remote parts of Afghanistan — is part of a small group of developers building a free, user-friendly email service that has PGP encryption built in by default.  I interviewed McCarthy recently for my forthcoming book.  He calculated that it currently costs 13 cents per day to spy on every internet user in the world.  His plan is to push that to $10,000 by getting more people to use PGP. "

Rand Paul Mocks Obama's NSA Speech: 'If You Like Your Privacy, You Can Keep it'.  Sen. Rand Paul responded today [1/17/2014] to Obama's NSA speech in which Obama announced plans to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program, which has been unconstitutionally spying on Americans, in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.  Senator Paul, in a statement reiterated that he will continue to fight for his Fourth Amendment Restoration Act as well as his lawsuit against the Obama NSA.

Data Spying in the States: Public Safety or Invasion of Privacy?  Last month, USA Today reported that at least 125 police agencies in 33 states have used a variety of spy-worthy tactics and technologies to obtain information about thousands of cell phones and their users.  The newspaper's investigation found that one in four law enforcement agencies use a tactic known as a "tower dump" to get the identity, activity and location information of any cell phone that connects with a particular cell tower in a specific timespan.  Additionally, 25 law enforcement agencies used federal grants to purchase a piece of equipment developed for military and intelligence gathering purposes known as a "Stingray," which mimics a cell tower, allows police to track the movements of a specific cell phone and captures data from a cell phone, such as the phone numbers dialed and text messages received.

NSA can't say if it collected data on lawmakers, officials.  The National Security Agency said it is lawfully unable to search its database to determine if it has swept up phone records from members of Congress or other elected officials.  NSA Director Keith Alexander said, however, nothing the agency does can be fairly described as "spying on Members of Congress" or U.S. politicians, according to a letter dated Jan. 10.

The Editor says...
If the NSA "is lawfully unable to search its database," then why does the database exist?

NSA collects millions of text messages daily in 'untargeted' global sweep.  The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents.

Obama Picks Soros Crony to Lead NSA Probe.  When President Obama needs help, he can always turn to one of the Soros inner circle.  In a speech on Jan. 17, Obama announced that his new Presidential Counsel John Podesta will lead a "comprehensive review of Big Data and privacy," following the NSA privacy scandal that has dogged his administration.  What he didn't mention was that Podesta is the founder of the liberal Center for American Progress.  CAP has gotten $7.3 million from liberal billionaire George Soros since 2000 and was one of the keystone liberal think tanks founded after the Democrats lost the 2004 election.

Apple, Cisco, Dell unhappy over alleged NSA back doors in their gear.  Germany's Der Spiegel reports that the NSA has compromised a wide range of hardware for years to enable its spying.

The Real Purpose of Oakland's Surveillance Center.  City leaders have argued that Oakland needs a massive surveillance system to combat violent crime, but internal documents reveal that city staffers are also focused on tracking political protesters.

Cruz: Why didn't NSA spying stop Boston and Ft. Hood terror attacks?  In Tuesday's "Hearing on the Report of the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies" Texas Senator Ted Cruz grilled Obama NSA witnesses as to the effectiveness of the massive spying operation, which failed to stop the tragic terrorist attacks at both Fort Hood and the bombings in Boston.  Richard A. Clarke, Michael J. Morell, Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, Cass R. Sunstein and Professor Peter Swire were asked by Cruz if government surveillance programs have focused too much on gathering information on law-abiding citizens and too little on the actual "bad guys."

Obama's NSA Speech: More mush from the proto-tyrant.  Obama is behaving like a tyrant, but doing it sneakily, with the connivance of a mainstream media that refuses to present to their audience the alarming stories of what is really going on.  The low information majority is blissfully unaware that the organs of state power are being mobilized to suppress Obama's political opponents.  In this context, the NSA domestic spying apparatus is and remains a grave threat.

N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers.  The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.  While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.

NSA has hacked into 100,000 computers around the world some of which are not connected to the internet.  The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world — but not in the United States — that allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines, The New York Times reported Tuesday [1/14/2014].  The Times cited NSA documents, computer experts and U.S. officials in its report about the use of secret technology using radio waves to gain access to computers that other countries have tried to protect from spying or cyberattacks.

The Editor says...
That sounds like the kind of leakage that Tempest was supposed to prevent.

The NSA Even Spies on Congress.  Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Administration (NSA), and asked plainly whether the NSA has been or is now spying on members of Congress or other public officials.  The senator's letter was no doubt prompted by the revelations of Edward Snowden to the effect that the federal government's lust for personal private data about all Americans and many foreigners knows no bounds, and its respect for the constitutionally protected and statutorily enforced right to privacy is nonexistent.

The Danger of NSA Spying on Members of Congress.  An executive-branch agency has been empowered to store revealing information about the communications of everyone in the legislature.

NSA statement does not deny 'spying' on members of Congress.  The National Security Agency on Saturday released a statement in answer to questions from a senator about whether it "has spied, or is ... currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials", in which it did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US Congress to whom it says it is accountable.

Rand Paul to Lead Class-Action Lawsuit Against Obama over NSA Spying.  Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is leading a class-action lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of Americans against President Barack Obama's National Security Agency (NSA) over its spying on the American people, Breitbart News has learned.

White House appeals ruling on constitutionality of NSA program.  The Justice Department asked a U.S. appeals court Friday [1/3/2014] to toss out a judge's ruling the National Security Agency surveillance is likely unconstitutional.

Secret spy court says NSA can keep collecting every American's phone records.  A secretive U.S. spy court has ruled again that the National Security Agency can keep collecting every American's telephone records every day, in the midst of conflicting decisions in two other federal courts about whether the surveillance program is constitutional.

This is how the NSA gets unrestricted access to your iPhone.  The National Security Agency has already demonstrated that it is willing to go to great lengths to swipe information from unsuspecting targets, from bulk-tapping phone records to more absurd stuff like monitoring potential threats in World of Warcraft.  The latest revelations, however, paint an increasingly troubling portrait of the NSA's surveillance capabilities, particularly if you're an iPhone owner.  Back in September, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA had gained access to BlackBerrys, Androids, and iPhones.  And now we have a better idea of how backdoor access is unlocked.

Apple denies knowledge of NSA's 'complete' access to iPhone.  Apple on Tuesday [12/31/2013] vehemently denied suggestions from a security analyst that the company may have helped the NSA to develop backdoor access to the iPhone.  The statement came from security research Jacob Appelbaum, who revealed the existence of a secret program code-named DROPOUTJEEP by which the National Security Agency (NSA) appears to have nearly total access to the Apple iPhone.

The NSA Intercepts Laptops Purchased Online to Install Malware.  According to a new report from Der Spiegel on the National Security Agency's top team of hackers, the agency intercept electronics purchased online before delivery to install malware and other spying tools.

NSA's elite hacking unit intercepted computers ordered online and installed Spyware.  NSA spies have intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's internal reporting system all in the name of stealing data from some of their toughest targets.  These latest revelations to emerge about the undercover work of the National Security Agency focus on the work carried out by an elite team of hackers known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).

NY judge rules NSA phone surveillance is legal.  A federal judge on Friday [12/27/2013] found that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is legal and a valuable part of the nation's arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism.

The Black Chamber.  Terrorism has made it necessary to the surveil persons communicating with, or commingled with US persons.  Hampering intelligence is not so nearly as important as ensuring pre-crime never becomes crime.  [Cass] Sunstein's recommendations have charted out a process that will cost billions yet do nothing to improve the situation for US persons, though they will be a tremendous boon to foreign agents.  The main structural problems that need to be fixed are the incentive structure among US intelligence agencies.  What really matters is the commingling to the intelligence function with the criminal system.  Intelligence should be permitted relatively unfettered access if the criminal justice system is not its de facto handmaiden.

Into Year 6, Obama admits he's clueless.  [Scroll down]  And that ever-lowering standard seems to apply to everything, including the U.S. government spying on Americans.  Asked about how he can justify a program that a federal judge said "had failed to cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA's bulk metadata actually stopped an imminent attack," he countered:  "There have not been actual instances where it's been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data."  Well, perfect.  No one has yet proven the clandestine program that no one knew about has trampled on Americans' constitutional rights.  Good enough!

The Air of Unreality in NSA Reform.  Grope through the Styrofoam pellets of rhetoric that surround the 46 recommendations in the report issued last week by the president's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, and you will discover that the authors "have not uncovered any official efforts to suppress dissent or any intent to intrude into people's private lives without legal justification."  The panel's investigation of the National Security Agency found — as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found before them — that the occasional unintentional violations of guidelines were stopped once they were detected.

Susan Rice Defends James Clapper And The Indefensible.  The diplomat who blamed four American deaths in Benghazi on a video claims the denials by the director of national intelligence of blanket surveillance of Americans were inadvertent false representations.

Obama can't point to a single time the NSA call records program prevented a terrorist attack.  National Security Agency defenders, including President Obama, continue to cite the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001 when defending the program that scoops up domestic call records in bulk.  But asked specifically, on Friday [12/20/2013], if he could identify a time when that program stopped a similar attack, President Obama couldn't.  That's because the program hasn't prevented a second 9/11.

Susan Rice: NSA Officials Didn't Lie, They 'Inadvertently Made False Representations'.  National Security Advisor Susan Rice appeared on Sunday night's 60 Minutes with Lesley Stahl, and one of the issues she addressed was the continued fallout from the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.  Rice argued that NSA officials didn't lie about intel dragnets, they just "inadvertently made false representations."  This statement comes as House Republicans are demanding a criminal probe for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for his flat-out denial in March, three months before the Snowden leaks began, that the NSA collects data on hundreds of millions of Americans (a denial that Clapper later categorized as the "least untruthful" answer he could have provided).

When '60 Minutes' Checks Its Journalistic Skepticism at the Door.  [V]iewers expect the show to bring its A game, and deserve it, when it takes on a huge issue like the N.S.A., to serve as a stand-in for the American people and ask the uncomfortable questions.

White House Tries to Prevent Judge From Ruling on Surveillance Efforts.  The Obama administration moved late Friday [12/20/2013] to prevent a federal judge in California from ruling on the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance programs authorized during the Bush administration, telling a court that recent disclosures about National Security Agency spying were not enough to undermine its claim that litigating the case would jeopardize state secrets.

Feds declassify Bush-era surveillance docs.  Federal intelligence officials are declassifying eight documents about the origins of controversial surveillance systems created under former President George W. Bush.  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced on Saturday [12/21/2013] that it had declassified the court documents dating from 2007 to this year, which the federal government had used to justify keeping the surveillance program secret.

Mr. Obama's Disappointing Response.  By the time President Obama gave his news conference on Friday, there was really only one course to take on surveillance policy from an ethical, moral, constitutional and even political point of view.  And that was to embrace the recommendations of his handpicked panel on government spying — and bills pending in Congress — to end the obvious excesses.  He could have started by suspending the constitutionally questionable (and evidently pointless) collection of data on every phone call and email that Americans make.  He did not do any of that.

No greater act of loyalty to the Constitution.  Some government officials have taken cover in the 1979 Supreme Court decision Smith v. Maryland, which held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in non-content information held by a third party.  Yet others contend that current technology can use phone data to reveal everything about a person's life — from religious activities to personal health information.  This being so, is it possible that the Supreme Court could overturn precedent?

How much did NSA pay to put backdoors in RSA crypto? Try $10m — report.  The mystery of why RSA would use a flawed, NSA-championed algorithm as the default random number generator for several of its encryption products appears to be solved, and the answer is utterly banal, if true:  the NSA paid it to.  Reuters reports that RSA received $10m from the NSA in exchange for making the agency-backed Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual EC DRBG) its preferred random number algorithm, according to newly disclosed documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Officials' defenses of NSA phone program may be unraveling.  From the moment the government's massive database of citizens' call records was exposed this year, U.S. officials have clung to two main lines of defense:  The secret surveillance program was constitutional and critical to keeping the nation safe.  But six months into the controversy triggered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the viability of those claims is no longer clear.  In a three-day span, those rationales were upended by a federal judge who declared that the program was probably unconstitutional and the release of a report by a White House panel utterly unconvinced that stockpiling such data had played any meaningful role in preventing terrorist attacks.

Obama's own review of the NSA is a victory for libertarians — and maybe terrorists.  Try as it might, the White House just cannot put the Edward Snowden story to rest:  the leaks keep on dribbling out and this week the US District Court in Washington ruled that the bulk collection of phone records is "Orwellian" and likely to be unconstitutional.  That (slightly histrionic) opinion will certainly be subject to appeal and review — ultimately by the Supreme Court — but whatever the eventual result, it means that the White House no longer has any hope of parking this story, as it might have hoped when it first broke.

Judge smacks Obama secrecy in unique FOIA case.  In a Freedom of Information Act victory, a federal judge has slapped the Obama administration for its secretive ways and ordered officials to turn over a bland-sounding foreign policy document.  Chastising what she called "the government's unwarranted expansion of the presidential communications privilege at the expense of the public's interest in disclosure," U.S. District Judge Ellen Seal Huvelle ruled the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development is not exempt from FOIA.

NSA shouldn't keep phone database, review board recommends.  A panel appointed by President Obama to review the government's surveillance activities has recommended significant new limits on the nation's intelligence apparatus that include ending the National Security Agency's collection of virtually all Americans' phone records.  It urged that phone companies or a private third party maintain the data instead, with access granted only by a court order.

NSA Lawsuit Attorney: Ignore White House Panel.  The five-member panel released a 303-page report Dec. 18 containing 46 recommended changes to intelligence practices.  "It's a ruse," Klayman tells U.S. News.  "This is an age-old government practice:  When caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they come up with a 'solution.'"  The practice is somewhat similar to advocating a law outlawing murder after killing someone, he says.

White House task force recommends curbs to NSA surveillance.  America's spy chiefs should hand control of the country's sweeping telephone data record collection to private telecommunications companies, according to a task force set up by President Barack Obama to review the controversial surveillance programme.  The panel of five experts also recommended that future eavesdropping of foreign leaders should only be approved by a president, not intelligence officials, if "rigorous" tests were passed.

Merkel compared NSA to Stasi in heated encounter with Obama.  In an angry exchange with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel has compared the snooping practices of the US with those of the Stasi, the ubiquitous and all-powerful secret police of the communist dictatorship in East Germany, where she grew up.  The German chancellor also told the US president that America's National Security Agency cannot be trusted because of the volume of material it had allowed to leak to the whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to the New York Times.

A Powerful Rebuke of Mass Surveillance.  For the first time since the revelation of the National Security Agency's vast dragnet of all Americans' telephone records, a federal court has ruled that such surveillance is "significantly likely" to be unconstitutional.  In a scathing 68-page opinion peppered with exclamations of incredulity, United States District Judge Richard Leon, of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, found that the seven-year-old phone-data collection program — which was established under the Patriot Act and has been repeatedly reauthorized by a secret intelligence court — "almost certainly" violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches.

Why Did 60 Minutes Let the Head of the NSA Fool Its Audience?  [Scroll down]  This is a classic technically-accurate-but-wildly-misleading NSA answer.  As best as I can understand the thought process behind Alexander's evasions, it's something like this:  No, the NSA isn't "tunneling" or "going into a facility."  It is copying data flows as they pass between facilities.  No, the NSA isn't "targeting Google" or Yahoo "as an entity."  Its "targets" — per the highly particular NSA meaning of that word — are users who communicate via Google and Yahoo.

Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional.  A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional.  U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.  He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

Court Finds Administration Trampled Fourth Amendment.  A federal court condemns the government's "collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen."  This time it's the Fourth Amendment the president is violating.

Larry Klayman crows on NSA win: 'We hit the mother lode'.  [Larry] Klayman, the conservative legal activist well-known in Washington political circles a decade ago for his no-holds-barred court battles against the Clinton administration, was thrust back into the spotlight Monday after he obtained the first major ruling from a federal judge that the National Security Agency's surveillance program was constitutionally flawed.

Rand Paul Plots NSA Class-Action Lawsuit Options.  After months of consideration, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is moving closer to filing a lawsuit in federal court against National Security Agency surveillance programs.  A senior Paul staffer says U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's Monday [12/16/2013] decision that NSA opponents have standing to sue over the bulk collection of phone records makes Paul "much more likely" to file his own lawsuit.

U.S. Judge Slams Surveillance of Phones.  A federal judge ruled that the National Security Agency's collection of phone records "almost certainly" violates the U.S. Constitution, setting up a larger legal battle over long-secret counterterrorism programs.  U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's sharply worded opinion Monday labeled as "almost Orwellian" the NSA's bulk phone-surveillance program, one of several shots the judge took at the spying and its legal justifications.

The Judge and the NSA.  Federal Judge Richard Leon has become a sudden political celebrity after his remarkable opinion holding that antiterror surveillance is unconstitutional and, even more remarkably, enjoining the entire program.  If only his legal reasoning were as compelling as his new repute.

NSA Ruling Marks Larry Klayman's Biggest Legal Success.  Deciding on a lawsuit brought by Mr. Klayman, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA program "almost certainly" violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches, setting the stage for a higher-court fight over the issue and giving new momentum to efforts in Congress to rein in such surveillance.

Second Federal Judge 'Skeptical' About Legal Case for NSA Phone-Record Collection.  Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union appeared in U.S. District Court Friday [12/13/2013] to argue for a preliminary injunction that would halt the National Security Agency's collection of all Americans' phone records.  Judge William Pauley did not set a time frame for when he might announce his decision — but as he reviews the case, NSA opponents may have cause for optimism.  ACLU legal fellow Brett Max Kaufman, one of the attorneys in court for the hearing, said Pauley seemed skeptical of the government's reliance on the Supreme Court's 1979 Smith v. Maryland decision.

Disarming Surveillance.  [Scroll down]  One of the worst proposals would effectively cripple the NSA's ability to collect, store and analyze telephony records, or the time, duration and originating and terminating numbers for phone calls.  This program was authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act and collects a vast amount of information, even if the database is only searched narrowly on the basis of specific facts as approved by judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC.  The minimization procedures are strict enough that the NSA only used the 215 program to make 300 queries in 2012.

The Editor says...
As I've said many times, I don't care if the federal government reads emails to and from Islamic terrorists anywhere in the world.  The objection that we sensible people have to the NSA's technique is that they scoop up all the metadata in the country in order to sift through it looking for "terrorists" — a term with a flexible definition:  Today that term refers to Islamic towel-heads with pressure cookers and dynamite, and tomorrow it could include well-armed patriots who just want to overthrow a tyrant and get out from under tyranny.

'NSA uses Google cookies to track targets,' reveals latest Snowden leak.  The National Security Agency has been accused of using Google cookies to pinpoint targets the government wants to hack.  In a NSA presentation slide released by Edward Snowden and seen by the Washington Post, the agency appeared to be using internet tracking techniques usually used by advertisers.

By cracking cellphone code, NSA has capacity for decoding private conversations.  The cellphone encryption technology used most widely across the world can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows, giving the agency the means to decode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves every day.  While the military and law enforcement agencies long have been able to hack into individual cellphones, the NSA's capability appears to be far more sweeping because of the agency's global signals collection operation.

The Editor says...
They aren't "the public airwaves" any more.  The FCC sells RF bandwidth to cell phone companies.

Spooks off the Leash.  Apparently having decided to embark upon a course of self-parody, the National Reconnaissance Office [...] sent out a press release sharing the logo for its new spy-satellite program, NROL-39.  The image is that of an evil-looking giant octopus with its tentacles encircling the entire planet over the motto:  Nothing Is beyond Our Reach.

Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA.  Local police are increasingly able to scoop up large amounts of cellphone data using new technologies, including cell tower dumps and secret mobile devices known as Stingrays.

Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping.  Eight U.S. technology firms called for an end to online mass snooping by U.S. intelligence agencies Monday [12/9/2013] as new revelations emerged that the National Security Agency has even monitored Americans playing online computer games like "World of Warcraft."  Citing concerns about civil liberties, top executives from AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said in an open letter to President Obama and Congress that the bulk collection of online communications by intelligence agencies should cease.

What has a shadowy US government spy agency just shot into space?  Despite ongoing anger about how the U.S. government is snooping on people around the world, one agency is still keen to boast about its spying — with a creepy cartoon octopus and an alarming logo.  A top-secret rocket carrying spy satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office launched from the central California coast late on Thursday [12/5/2013], and it had a large badge emblazoned on the side[.]  The new logo features a huge and sinister octopus, with just one angry eye visible, as it wraps its tentacles round the globe.  Written underneath is:  'Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach.'

Patriot Act author: Obama's intel czar should be prosecuted.  Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.  "Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.

NSA 'tracks mobile phones around the world'.  America's National Security Agency is tracking mobile phones around the world, according to the latest leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.  Almost five billion records a day are being gathered which allow intelligence officials to track individuals and map their relationships in ways previously unimaginable, the classified documents suggest.  The records and interviews with US officials, seen by the Washington Post, are said to show that the information feeds into a vast database which stores information on hundreds of millions of devices, providing agents with a mass surveillance tool.

Administration to review facial recognition technology.  The Obama administration on Tuesday said it plans to review the privacy implications of facial recognition technology.  Lawmakers and privacy advocates have expressed fears that tech companies and government agencies are using facial recognition technologies to track people, often without their knowledge.  The Commerce Department said it recognizes those concerns and will work with tech groups, privacy advocates and online advertising trade associations to identify them.

NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show.  The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.  The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.

'Thousands of NSA Analysts Can Listen to Domestic Phone Calls,' Read Emails, Texts, IMs.  The NSA claims "it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls."  The Fourth Amendment begs to differ.

With Tens of Millions of Phone Records Grabbed — It's the Government, Stupid.  The National Security Administration (NSA) has been forcing Verizon to turn over phone record data on millions of Americans.  Will the federal government use this unbelievably massive data grab against the American people they are supposed to serve — but instead increasingly lord over?

Latest Big Government Data Grab: Justice Sues to Get It Without Warrant.  Do You Want the Government Buying Your Data From Corporations?  Our government collects a lot of information about us.  Tax records, legal records, license records, records of government services received — it's all in databases that are increasingly linked and correlated.  Still, there's a lot of personal information the government can't collect.  Either they're prohibited by law from asking without probable cause and a judicial order, or they simply have no cost-effective way to collect it.  But the government has figured out how to get around the laws, and collect personal data that has been historically denied to them:  ask corporate America for it.

Google's Faux Outrage over NSA Spying.  Google Inc. clearly does not have the coercive sovereign power that the NSA has.  However, the evidence shows that it has a similar spying habits, legal positions, and attitudes; and that it also has had a decade-long record of cooperation with U.S. intelligence services.

N.S.A. May Have Hit Internet Companies at a Weak Spot.  The recent revelation that the National Security Agency was able to eavesdrop on the communications of Google and Yahoo users without breaking into either company's data centers sounded like something pulled from a Robert Ludlum spy thriller.  How on earth, the companies asked, did the N.S.A. get their data without their knowing about it?  The most likely answer is a modern spin on a century-old eavesdropping tradition.

Official releasing what appears to be original court file authorizing NSA to conduct sweeps.  The director of national intelligence on Monday night released what appeared to be the original court document authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct sweeping collections of Americans' communications records for counterterrorism purposes. [...] The documents also describe the NSA's failure to abide by court-imposed rules to protect Americans' privacy, and show that the agency was more interested in collecting cell site location data than it had previously acknowledged.

Americans' personal data shared with CIA, IRS, others in security probe.  U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.  Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests.  The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people — along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions — to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data.  The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials.  The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials.

The Hemisphere Project.  [Scroll down]  Smaller government agencies got into the spy game as well.  The New York Times reported recently that for at least six years, law enforcement officials had been working on a counter-narcotics program called the Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T, which gives the government routine access to an enormous database containing the records of decades of Americans' phone calls — the scale and longevity of which is unequalled, even by the NSA's collection.  The program apparently began in 2007 and has been carried out in great secrecy.  While the NSA stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States for five years, AT&T supplies law enforcement with phone data from as far back as 1987.  Approximately four billion call records are added to the database every day.  And unlike the NSA data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.

Obama's 1984.  [Edward] Snowden was charged by federal prosecutors for violating the Espionage Act of 1917, while Obama went on national television to claim that "we don't have a domestic spying program" and "there is no spying on Americans."  However, the many thousands of documents that Snowden leaked revealed a complex web of spy programs which intercepted Internet and telephone conversations from over a billion users in dozens of countries.  The intrusive secret data-mining didn't end there.  A top-secret communications surveillance program called PRISM enabled the U.S. intelligence community to access the servers of nine Internet behemoths such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype and Facebook for a wide range of digital data.  That NSA service grew exponentially under Obama at the same time he was trumpeting the end of Bush's War on Terror.

How the Government Spied on Me.  More recent revelations of National Security Agency spying suggest that the government's invasion of citizens' privacy is increasingly common.  Millions of innocent Americans should be very concerned about Washington's massive surveillance apparatus, which seems to know no bounds.

Government 'Mining' Social Media for Information on Health Behavior.  The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is "mining" Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as "change-agents" for health behaviors.  The NLM, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will have software installed on government computers that will store data from social media as part of a $30,000 project announced last week.

Rep. Joe Wilson Vindicated.  [A]s we look back on 5 years of Barack Obama, we see that Obama and his Administration do lie.  And they lie a lot. [...] The President and the National Director of Intelligence reassured the American people time and time again that the phone calls and emails of Americans were not being monitored and recorded as part of our intelligence programs.  We know that to be false and, further, we now know that our electronic spying is international in scope and technologically sophisticated.

Thousands march on Capitol Hill to protest NSA monitoring .  Protesters marched Saturday in Washington, D.C., to protest government surveillance programs revealed this year by Edward Snowden on the 12th anniversary of the law that made them legal.  Carrying signs reading:  'Stop Mass Spying,' 'Thank you, Edward Snowden' and 'Unplug Big Brother,' people gathered at the foot of the Capitol to demonstrate against the online surveillance by the National Security Agency.

NSA spied on 124.8 billion phone calls in just one month: watchdog.  The National Security Agency monitored nearly 125 billion phone calls in just one month, according to a number of new reports.  And while the majority of calls reportedly originated in the Middle East, an estimated 3 billion of the calls originated in the U.S.

Stop Watching You? Why?  Congress should indeed provide transparency, accountability and reform of the NSA's mass domestic surveillance that collects and stores the phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.  There is no reason for the NSA to be conducting surveillance on such a massive basis; it is a symptom of the pervasive refusal to face the reality and magnitude of the jihad threat.  Because the NSA cannot admit that there is a particular threat coming from people who would be likely to frequent mosques and Islamic centers, it has to conduct surveillance on virtually everyone.

State Department Will Not Answer If The NSA Spied On Obama.  Following yesterday's [10/23/2013] allegation that the NSA had been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, State Department Deputy Press Secretary Marie Harf was asked if the NSA had tapped President Obama's phone.  Harf seemed to find the question rather amusing, but was unable to give the reporter a definitive yes or no answer on the matter.

Reining in the snoops.  The Obama administration is doing all it can, short of dispatching a squad of park rangers to barricade the justices' parking spaces, to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing the National Security Agency's domestic spying enterprise.  The administration's lawyers insist that lower courts can deal with the spy program, since the issue is too new to bother the high court with it.  This is an argument too clever by half, since the administration further argues that lower courts have no jurisdiction in the first place.  At issue is the government collusion with telephone companies in gathering the "metadata" for every telephone call placed in the United States.

Your life, under constant surveillance.  Historically, surveillance was difficult and expensive.  Over the decades, as technology advanced, surveillance became easier and easier.  Today, we find ourselves in a world of ubiquitous surveillance, where everything is collected, saved, searched, correlated and analyzed. [...] The result of all this is we're now living in a world where both corporations and governments have us all under pretty much constant surveillance.

Why the NSA's Defense of Mass Data Collection Makes No Sense.  The U.S. intelligence community claims it's not spying on citizens until someone actually looks at the data it collects.  That argument is deeply flawed.

Turns out, the NSA is also collecting all your Contacts, IM lists and group-chat pals.  Last June when Edward Snowden had just begun releasing his IED's, Intelligence Exposing Devices, Americans were shocked to learn that Obama's National Security Agency was collecting the telephone numbers of pretty much every single call made by any American.  Of course, being Americans and federal employees with top secret clearances, it would never occur to anyone to abuse that authority, except for the guys who tracked their exes and new loves.  But that's an exception, you understand.  Then we learn that the NSA is also collecting pretty much every single email sent by pretty much any American.  All in the interests of triangulating terrorists and any domestic connections, you understand.

I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Spy on You.  The big portals showing the masses what the government is really up to all came last April, and until Obama's gone from the White House, civilian life will never be the same.  It was last April when a judge in Texas denied a request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for what he described as a warrant to remotely "hack a computer suspected of criminal use", raising questions about the legal requirement for the government to use computer hacking techniques in investigations.  (Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2013).  "By "surreptitiously installing software" — a technique typically associated with computer hackers — investigators are able to infiltrate computers and gather extensive information, according to a document in the case.

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally.  The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and "buddy lists" from instant messaging services as they move across global data links.

NSA Collects Online Address Books and Buddy Lists.  Senior intelligence officers and leaked documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA is amassing millions of contacts via online address books and instant-messaging buddy lists.  The program, under NSA's Special Source Operations branch, collects more than 250 million contacts in its database per year.  A single day's data found that the agency accumulated 444,743 email address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from miscellaneous providers, the Washington Post reports.

Growing Backlash to Government Surveillance.  From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.

Obamacare Marketplace: Personal Data Can Be Used For 'Law Enforcement and Audit Activities'.  Maryland's Health Connection, the state's Obamacare marketplace, has been plagued by delays in the first days of open enrollment.  If users are able to endure long page-loading delays, they are presented with the website's privacy policy, a ubiquitous fine-print feature on websites that often go unread.  Nevertheless, users are asked to check off a box that they agree to the terms.

Congress now is expected to revise NSA, FISA court operations.  Twenty-two standalone bills have surfaced on Capitol Hill since Snowden's leaks in June, ranging from minor changes to massive policy overhauls for the NSA and its metadata collection programs.  The sheer number signals a collective agreement from lawmakers that some kind of legislative response is needed to curb growing public concern over the nation's intelligence practices.

NSA director admits to misleading public on terror plots.  In so many words, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted Wednesday [10/2/2013] that the Obama administration had issued misleading information about terror plots and their foiling to bolster support for the government's vast surveillance apparatus.  During Wednesday's [10/2/2013] hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange: [...]

Secret NSA documents show campaign against Tor encrypted network.  On Nov. 1, 2007, the National Security Agency hosted a talk by Roger Dingledine, principal designer of one of the world's leading Internet privacy tools. [...] According to a top-secret NSA summary of the meeting, Dingledine told the assembled NSA staff that his service, called Tor, offered anonymity to people who needed it badly — to keep business secrets, protect their identities from oppressive political regimes or conduct research without revealing themselves.  In the minds of NSA officials, Tor was offering protection to terrorists and other intelligence targets.

NSA using Firefox flaw to snoop on Tor users.  An NSA presentation released by Edward Snowden contains mixed news for Tor users.  The anonymizing service itself appears to have foxed US and UK government snoops, but instead they are using a zero-day flaw in the Firefox browser bundled with Tor to track users.  "These documents give Tor a huge pat on the back," security guru Bruce Schneier told The Register.  "If I was a Tor developer, I'd be really smiling after reading this stuff."

NSA and GCHQ target Tor network that protects anonymity of web users.  Top-secret NSA documents, disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal that the agency's current successes against Tor rely on identifying users and then attacking vulnerable software on their computers.  One technique developed by the agency targeted the Firefox web browser used with Tor, giving the agency full control over targets' computers, including access to files, all keystrokes and all online activity.

NSA director admits agency trawls Twitter and Facebook.  The director of the National Security Agency admitted today [10/2/2013] that the agency collects data from social networks and other private databases to hunt terror suspects but is not using the information to build dossiers, or personal files, on Americans.  NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that not all social network searches are authorized by a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, but the agency's actions are proper and audited internally.

The NSA has been creating maps of American citizens' social networks.  The NSA has been graphing American's social networks and plotting them as they do organized crime since at least 2010, according to the latest published Edward Snowden leak.  The highly secretive intelligence agency has been mapping out American citizens' social connections — identifying associates, determining locations, and logging who they talk to — by taking advantage of loosened rules previously meant to restrict surveillance actions.

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens.  Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked if NSA ever collected or planned to collect cellphone data.
Official sidesteps questions on NSA and cellphones.  The head of the National Security Agency sidestepped questions Thursday [9/26/2013] from a senator about whether the NSA has ever used Americans cellphone signals to collect information on their whereabouts that would allow tracking of the movements of individual callers.

Declassified documents show NSA listened in on MLK, Muhammad Ali and Art Buchwald.  Amid raging anti-Vietnam War protests that bedeviled two presidential administrations, snoops at the National Security Agency tapped the overseas communications of war critics including Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), and even Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald, according to newly declassified NSA documents released Wednesday [9/25/2013].

The Many Ways the Government Is Spying On Us.  For example, the government is photographing the outside information on every piece of snail mail.  The government is spying on you through your phone ... and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.  As one example, the NSA has inserted its code into Android's operating system ... bugging three-quarters of the world's smartphones.  Google — or the NSA — can remotely turn on your phone's camera and recorder at any time.

Why NSA Surveillance Will Never Foil Mass Murders.  In July, NSA director Keith Alexander claimed that the wholesale surveillance of American electronic communications had "disrupted" 54 terrorist plots.  Later, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alexander's deputy, John Inglis, admitted that in reality only one such "plot" was thwarted thanks to the bulk collection of phone records.  Given their pathological habit of lying — even under oath — it is impossible to know how many, if any, planned attacks on the United States have been avoided.

NSA disguised itself as Google to spy, say reports.  If a recently leaked document is any indication, the US National Security Agency — or its UK counterpart — appears to have put on a Google suit to gather intelligence.

Independent Review of NSA Surveillance Not Exactly 'Independent'.  A panel of so-called independent experts appointed by President Obama to review the federal government's surveillance programs "has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts," according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Man In Charge Of The NSA Modeled His Office After The Bridge Of The Starship Enterprise.  These are the voyages of the NSA, as it enters every computer and pries whatever data can be stolen and recorded in perpetuity.  Its ongoing mission:  to explore the internet and all TCP/IP packets, to seek out new emails, phone records, backdoors, webcams and bank accounts, to boldly go where no man with or without a search warrant has gone before.

Close ties between White House, NSA spying review.  [W]ith just weeks remaining before its first deadline to report back to the White House, the review panel has effectively been operating as an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA and all other U.S. spy efforts.

NSA Spying Is Lawless and Destructive.  Not to worry, the government's apologists offered, this is only telephone macro-metadata, meaning information about who spoke to whom, when they talked and for how long, and where they were when they talked, but not what they actually said to each other.  When Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, stated under oath at a House hearing that his spies lack the authority to capture content, he avoided addressing whether they have the ability to do so, because he knows they do.

Four Washington Scandals That Still Matter Despite the Distractions.  [E]ver since the first Edward Snowden disclosures back in May, Obama has been on the defensive on the issue of domestic surveillance.  Often, the president's statements have turned out to be untrue or deceptive when new revelations come out.  And four months after the first ones, they continue, with effects both domestically and abroad.  In July, the House voted on an effort to defund the NSA's illegal domestic activities, the Amash Amendment.  It failed by a remarkably small margin of seven votes.

Justice Dept. watchdog never probed judges' NSA concerns.  The Justice Department's internal ethics watchdog says it never investigated repeated complaints by federal judges that the government had misled them about the NSA's secret surveillance of Americans' phone calls and Internet communications.  Two judges on the court that oversees the spying programs separately rebuked federal officials in top-secret court orders for misrepresenting how the NSA was harvesting and analyzing communication records.

Phone companies remain silent over legality of NSA data collection.  America's top telecommunications companies are refusing to say whether they accept that the bulk collection of their customers' phone records by the National Security Agency is lawful.  The phone companies are continuing to guard their silence over the controversial gathering of metadata by the NSA, despite the increasingly open approach by those at the center of the bulk surveillance programme.  On Tuesday [9/17/2013] the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court declassified its legal reasoning for approving the NSA telephone metadata program periodically over the past six years.

IRS spied on tea party after granting tax-exempt status.  Republicans investigating the IRS targeting scandal said Wednesday [9/18/2013] that the agency continued to conduct secret surveillance on tea party groups even after approving them for tax-exempt status.  Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said he shut down the monitoring program after he found out about it, and said he has halted all audits of tax-exempt organizations based on political activity as he tries to get a handle on the embattled agency.

The Editor says...
Foot-dragging and extra scrutiny for one group, while giving another group speedy service and sure approval, is one thing.  Spying on people is an entirely different matter.  It's bad enough that the IRS is being used as a weapon for political purposes, but now it appears it is just another domestic surveillance agency — motivated by left-wing politics, and lacking the usual "national security" candy coating.

Is there a con man in the Oval Office?  The media headlines should be about the NSA scandal aimed at violating the civil rights and invading the privacy of every American citizen.  But with Syria hogging the media spotlight, we have all forgotten that Obama listens to every phone call, watches every email.  Big Brother rules our lives.  Obama has turned out to be worse than Bush when it comes to civil liberties, but with Syria in the headlines, we don't hear a word about the NSA scandal anymore.

NSA Needs To Give Its Rank-and-File New Talking Points Defending Surveillance.  It would appear that the NSA's latest PR trick is to get out beyond the top brass — James Clapper, Keith Alexander, Michael Hayden and Robert Litt haven't exactly been doing the NSA any favors on the PR front lately — and get some commentary from "the rank and file."  ZDNet apparently agreed to publish a piece from NSA mathemetician/cryptanalyst Roger Barkan in which he defends the NSA using a bunch of already debunked talking points.

Senators Wyden & Udall Ask...
If The NSA Is So Confused About Its Own Capabilities, Why Do We Trust Them With All That Data?  As you may remember, one of the points made by the NSA in its defense was that its surveillance systems were so complex that no one person actually understood them all.  That leads to a rather obvious question... If the NSA can't even keep track of how its systems work, how can we trust them to know that the system isn't being abused (or that it's accurately doing what the NSA claims)[?]

FISA Court Pretends Every Member Of Congress Was Told Details Of Bulk Surveillance, Even Though They Weren't.  Part of the FISC's explanation is that Congress explicitly approved this type of activity.  The FISC notes that Congress reauthorized this program in 2011, even knowing specifically that it was used to justify bulk metadata collection on all phone calls.  The FISC points out that while national security programs may have details kept secret from Congress, that wasn't the case here.

The NSA Is Also Grabbing Millions Of Credit Card Records.  In addition to everything else it's collecting, the NSA also has millions of international credit card transactions stashed away in its databases, according to documents viewed by Spiegel.

NSA Spies on International Payments.  The United States' NSA intelligence agency is interested in international payments processed by companies including Visa, SPIEGEL has learned.  It has even set up its own financial database to track money flows through a "tailored access operations" division.

MN State Rep Joins 17 Others In Suing State For Illegally Accessing Drivers License Data.  You know you've gone too far in abusing access to the public's data when you've got a local politician doing something more than yelling about it on the campaign trail.  Earlier this year, a report by state auditors discovered that more than half of Minnesota's 11,000 law enforcement agents had misused the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database.

Freedom of the Press is now an Entitlement?  Diane Feinstein and a few other well meaning Senators are in the process of defining who qualifies for 1st Amendment rights, or privileges as she put it, as the Senate Judiciary Committee attempts to iron out a "shield law for reporters or journalists" from having to divulge their sources.  This rush for an immediate fix regarding the press has nothing to do with a recent scandal in which the NSA ran rough shod over individual rights or private records and which the Justice Department claimed to have no knowledge; no there's no connection, move along.

E-ZPasses Get Read All Over New York — Not Just At Toll Booths.  After spotting a police car with two huge boxes on its trunk — that turned out to be license-plate-reading cameras — a man in New Jersey became obsessed with the loss of privacy for vehicles on American roads.  The man, who goes by the Internet handle "Puking Monkey," did an analysis of the many ways his car could be tracked and stumbled upon something rather interesting:  his E-ZPass, which he obtained for the purpose of paying tolls, was being used to track his car in unexpected places, far away from any toll booths.

How NSA's cyber sabotage puts us all at risk.  [J]ust last week, the New York Times, Guardian and ProPublica revealed that the National Security Agency has leveraged its "cooperative relationships with specific industry partners" to insert vulnerabilities into Internet security products.

You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans' Movements.  A little noticed surveillance technology, designed to track the movements of every passing driver, is fast proliferating on America's streets.  Automatic license plate readers, mounted on police cars or on objects like road signs and bridges, use small, high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute.  The information captured by the readers — including the license plate number, and the date, time, and location of every scan — is being collected and sometimes pooled into regional sharing systems.

NSA Leak Leaves Crypto-Math Intact but Highlights Known Workarounds.  When a New York Times report appeared Thursday [9/5/2013] saying the National Security Agency had "circumvented or cracked much of the encryption" protecting online transactions, computer security professionals braced for news of breakthroughs undermining the fundamentals of their field.  However, cryptography experts tell MIT Technology Review that a close reading of last week's report suggests the NSA has not broken the underlying mathematical operations that are used to cloak online banking or e-mail.

Texas law gets tough on public, private drone use.  More than 40 state legislatures have debated the increasing presence of unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace, with most of the proposals focused on protecting people from overly intrusive surveillance by law enforcement.

More about cops and drones.

NSA surveillance program almost shut down by judge in 2009.  A federal judge who oversaw a secret U.S. spy court almost shut down the government's domestic surveillance program designed to fight terrorism after he "lost confidence" in officials' ability to operate it, documents released Tuesday show.  U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton issued a blistering opinion in March 2009 after discovering government officials had been accessing domestic phone records for nearly three years without "reasonable, articulate suspicion" that they were connected to terrorism.

Declassified court documents highlight NSA violations.  The National Security Agency for almost three years searched a massive database of Americans' phone call records attempting to identify potential terrorists in violation of court-approved privacy rules, and the problem went unfixed because no one at the agency had a full technical understanding of how its system worked, according to new documents and senior government officials.  Moreover, it was Justice Department officials who discovered the problem and reported it to the court that oversees surveillance programs, the documents show, undermining assertions by the NSA that self-reporting is part of its culture.

Five Revelations From New NSA Documents.  Ever since Edward Snowden hit the front pages in early June with his leaks to the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper and other media outlets, it's been known that the National Security Agency had a huge surveillance program collecting data about nearly every American's phone calls.  And officials have conceded that the operation of that program wasn't always perfect.  Documents released Tuesday [9/10/2013] fill in some of the blanks.

The NSA Machine: Too Big for Anyone to Understand.  The National Security Agency set it in motion in 2006 and the vast network of supercomputers, switches and wiretaps began gathering Americans' phone and Internet records by the millions, looking for signs of terrorism.  But every day, NSA analysts snooped on more American phone records than they were allowed to.

Johns Hopkins University Falls Victim to the NSA Chilling Effect.  What does a DIY t-shirt with a dumb joke on it have in common with a thoughtful article written by a noted researcher at Johns Hopkins University?  Both were pulled offline out of fear that they crossed the government's hazy lines demarcating acceptable behavior.  The researcher's name is Matthew Green. [...] The news outlet asked Green to speculate on how and if the NSA might be able to decrypt network data.  The ensuing reports, Green writes, indicate that "the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true."

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering.  If you haven't read the ProPublica/NYT or Guardian stories, you probably should.  The TL;DR is that the NSA has been doing some very bad things.  At a combined cost of $250 million per year, they include:
  1.  Tampering with national standards (NIST is specifically mentioned) to promote weak, or otherwise vulnerable cryptography.
  2.  Influencing standards committees to weaken protocols.
  3.  Working with hardware and software vendors to weaken encryption and random number generators.
  4.  Attacking the encryption used by 'the next generation of 4G phones'.
  5.  Obtaining cleartext access to 'a major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system' (Skype?)
  6.  Identifying and cracking vulnerable keys.
  7.  Establishing a Human Intelligence division to infiltrate the global telecommunications industry.
  8.  And worst of all (to me):  somehow decrypting SSL connections.

The NSA Is Breaking Most Encryption on the Internet.  The new Snowden revelations are explosive.  Basically, the NSA is able to decrypt most of the Internet.  They're doing it primarily by cheating, not by mathematics. [...] Remember this:  The math is good, but math has no agency.  Code has agency, and the code has been subverted.

iSpy: How the NSA Accesses Smartphone Data.  The US intelligence agency NSA has been taking advantage of the smartphone boom.  It has developed the ability to hack into iPhones, android devices and even the BlackBerry, previously believed to be particularly secure.

Internet experts want security revamp after NSA revelations.  Internet security experts are calling for a campaign to rewrite Web security in the wake of disclosures that the U.S. National Security Agency has developed the capability to break encryption protecting millions of sites.

Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011.  The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency's use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans' communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.

Surveillance and Arrogance.  President Obama has said that he welcomes a debate over the proper place of surveillance in a digital society.  Perhaps such a debate would be fruitful and informative, and both sides would contribute toward some kind of mutually acceptable compromise.  The president has also claimed, essentially, that the government should be able to decide unilaterally what information is available to facilitate that debate.  When someone like Edward Snowden makes information available independently, the administration has argued, we are all less safe.  Those two arguments seem contradictory, since for a debate to be meaningful, everyone needs to be able to adduce evidence.

Patriot Act author says NSA's bulk data collection is "unbounded in its scope".  In one of the most prominent legal challenges to government intelligence gathering since the Edward Snowden disclosures, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against four top Obama Administration officials.  The case, known as ACLU v. Clapper, asks a federal judge to declare the entire metadata sharing program unlawful, halt it, and purge all related records.

US won't let Microsoft, Google reveal more data on FISA orders.  Microsoft and Google have not been able to convince the Department of Justice (DOJ) to let the tech companies reveal how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders they must comply with.

Is the collection of metadata really as harmless as Big Brother claims?
In ACLU lawsuit, scientist demolishes NSA's "It's just metadata" excuse.  Unlike the actual contents of calls and e-mails, the metadata about those calls often can't be hidden.  And it can be incredibly revealing — sometimes moreso than the actual content.  Knowing who you're calling reveals information that isn't supposed to be public.  Inspectors general at nearly every federal agency, including the NSA, "have hotlines through which misconduct, waste, and fraud can be reported."  Hotlines exist for people who suffer from addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling; for victims of rape and domestic violence; and for people considering suicide.  Text messages can measure donations to churches, to Planned Parenthood, or to a particular political candidate.  [Professor Edward] Felten points out what should be obvious to those arguing "it's just metadata" — the mostimportant piece of information in these situations is the recipient of the call.

Google argues for right to continue scanning Gmail.  Google's attorneys say their long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people's Gmail accounts to help sell ads is legal, and have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to stop the practice.

NSA and GCHQ unlock privacy and security on the internet.  The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic — "the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet".  Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with "brute force", and — the most closely guarded secret of all — collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.  Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities — known as backdoors or trapdoors — into commercial encryption software.

N.S.A. Foils Much Internet Encryption.  The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.  Many users assume — or have been assured by Internet companies — that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way.  The agency treats its recent successes in deciphering protected information as among its most closely guarded secrets, [...]

The Editor says...
You might as well concede and stipulate that the NSA can crack your encrypted email messages, unless you are using an encryption scheme of your own design — and even then, in almost every case, because your computer is no match for theirs.  In order to exchange encrypted email with someone else, you must use a well-known off-the-shelf method of encryption like PGP.  (Otherwise you would have to distribute your proprietary home-brewed encryption system to all your correspondents.)  Eventually, the government will crack your password, if they think it's worth the trouble to discover the contents of your messages, so the encryption only delays the inevitable.  If that delay amounts to several years, it might be long enough to justify the use of encryption.

The only thing that would keep the government from reading everybody's email would be the universal encryption of all email messages, no matter how routine, and an option in every email program (application) to send out encrypted dummy messages (containing strings of random numbers and letters), to some dead-end destination, every day.  Even that wouldn't last long, because encryption would then be outlawed, and the most stubborn and persistent users of encrypted email would get a visit from the local SWAT team, a show trial, and a prison sentence.

NRA Signs On to ACLU Lawsuit, Claims NSA Starting 'National Gun Registry'.  The National Rifle Association (NRA) joined the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) Wednesday, claiming the federal agency's "database of phone numbers amounts to 'a national gun registry.'"  According to The Hill, the NSA "acknowledged that it collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls."  The NRA and ACLU see tyranny in this.

Fears of gun registry prompt NRA to back lawsuit against surveillance.  The National Rifle Association said on Wednesday [9/4/2013] it supports a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups to strike down the U.S. government's broad telephone surveillance program, citing potential violations of gun owners' privacy rights.

Obama defends NSA's surveillance.  President Obama on Wednesday defended the National Security Agency's surveillance at home, responding to a question from a reporter in Sweden, where the public has voiced concerns about the program.  "I can give assurances to the publics in Europe and around the world that we're not going around snooping at people's e-mails or listening to their phone calls," he said at a press conference in Stockholm.

The Editor says...
That would be easier to believe if Mr. Obama had a reputation as an honest man, which he does not.  And once again, there is no way to verify such a statement because it involves a secret(ive) government agency. You and I would never get inside the NSA building (maybe not even the parking lot), and probing for evidence to support Mr. Obama's rash pronouncement would lead to nothing but trouble.

Judge undoes key ruling on expanded surveillance.  A federal judge in a Chicago terrorism case has undone a key ruling where she found the government need not divulge whether its investigation relied on expanded phone and Internet surveillance programs — opening the sensitive issue back up to debate.

Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.'s.  For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans' phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency's hotly disputed collection of phone call logs. [...] Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  Hacked off at the South Carolina Department of Revenue?  You should be.  The DOR's stunning incompetence allowed our financial records — and Social Security numbers — to be stolen in the murky cyber realm last year.  Creeped out by the National Security Agency?  You should be.  The NSA's "counter-terror" pretense grabs huge volumes of personal email and phone records.  What's worse?  The clueless DOR's failure to protect tax data or the overzealous NSA's mission to invade privacy?

Clapper to Publish Numbers of Secret Spying Orders.  The nation's top intelligence official said Thursday [8/29/2013] that he'll now release figures every year on how many new top secret court orders and national security letters are issued and how many people are targeted because of them.

The Editor says...
Who is going to verify General Clapper's figures?

The Staggering Power of NSA Systems Administrators.  If NBC's reporting is accurate, Alexander's assurance that "we can audit the actions of our people 100 percent, and we do that," is a lie.  To be more precise:  We've long known that the NSA doesn't audit all its employees 100 percent, since what Edward Snowden took is still unknown.  NBC suggests that the NSA isn't even capable of fully auditing systems administrators.

Maybe I Do Have Something to Hide.  Were the representatives of the American colonies at the First Continental Congress wrong to meet in secret to discuss a response to the Intolerable Acts?  Should they have allowed representatives of the British government to attend the meetings, take notes, and collect the names and correspondence of all those in attendance?  After all, "One who hasn't done anything wrong has nothing to hide."

NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies.  The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

NSA Pays for Data.  Google Among Those Reimbursed for Data Info The National Security Agency has paid millions of dollars to reimburse technology firms for complying with requests for user data, according to documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shared with the Guardian newspaper.

NSA employees spied on their lovers using eavesdropping programme.  The employees even had a code name for the practice — "Love-int" — meaning the gathering of intelligence on their partners.  Dianne Feinstein, a senator who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, said the NSA told her committee about a set of "isolated cases" that have occurred about once a year for the last 10 years.  The spying was not within the US, and was carried out when one of the lovers was abroad.  One employee was disciplined for using the NSA's resources to track a former spouse, the Associated Press said.

NSA analysts knowingly broke surveillance rules.  The National Security Agency acknowledged Friday that some of its analysts knowingly violated the agency's rules, after the incidents were included in an inspector general report.  "Over the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA's authorities have been found, but none under FISA or the Patriot Act," the NSA said in a statement.

NSA Staffers Have Spied on Lovers.  National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency's enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.  The practice isn't frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it's common enough to garner its own spycraft label:  LOVEINT.

NSA Analysts Knowingly Broke Rules.  The National Security Agency acknowledged Friday that some of its analysts knowingly violated the agency's rules, after the incidents were included in an inspector general report.  "Over the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA's authorities have been found, but none under FISA or the Patriot Act," the NSA said in a statement.

Is America Inching Toward a Police State?  [In his new book, John W. Whitehead] talks about the often criticized "fusion centers" — data collection agencies created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 that fall under DHS supervision.  These centers, with help from the NSA, monitor everything from web searches to text messages, emails, and phone calls.  This data is then passed on to government agencies like the CIA and the FBI.  As of 2009, the government has admitted to having at least 72 fusion centers.  Shortly following the creation of fusion centers, their focus shifted from this exclusive interest in the dissemination of terrorism-related intelligence to one of "all hazards" to the public — a broad term used to describe virtually anything that may be deemed a threat to the public.

NSA Critics, Right All Along.  Barton Gellman's explosive story in last Thursday's Washington Post revealed an unnerving audit of the National Security Agency that showed, among other things, that the federal government "broke privacy rules thousands of times per year" in conducting extensive and "unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order."  Thus was put convincingly to bed the now-obselete notion that the NSA's claim on the privacy of the righteous was merely declaratory.

NSA collected thousands of US communications.  One of the documents that intelligence officials released Wednesday came because a court ordered the National Security Agency to do so.

Secret Court Rebuked N.S.A. on Surveillance.  A federal judge sharply rebuked the National Security Agency in 2011 for repeatedly misleading the court that oversees its surveillance on domestic soil, including a program that is collecting tens of thousands of domestic e-mails and other Internet communications of Americans each year, according to a secret ruling made public on Wednesday [8/21/2013].

FISA Court: An NSA email program that went on for years found unconstitutional.  I will ask the question again; if there is oversight, who has been disciplined for this outrageous breach of American liberties?  Who's been fired?  Who's been suspended?  Did anyone even get a sternly worded letter placed in their permanent file?  The simple reason the NSA pulls this [nonsense] is that they can get away with it.

EPA critic to NSA: Hey, want to share?  A conservative gadfly who has made a crusade of uncovering embarrassing emails at the Environmental Protection Agency wants to tap a new potential evidence trove: the National Security Agency's electronic snooping program.  Attorney Chris Horner has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking the NSA to turn over any information it might have gleaned from former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's personal Verizon email account.

What You Need to Know on New Details of NSA Spying.  Although the system is focused on collecting foreign communications, it includes content of Americans' emails and other electronic communications, as well as "metadata," which involves information such as the "to" or "from" lines of emails, or the IP addresses people are using.  At key points along the U.S. Internet infrastructure, the NSA has worked with telecommunications providers to install equipment that copies, scans and filters large amounts of the traffic that passes through.

NSA collected 56,000 emails that had nothing to do with terror.  The nation's top intelligence official is declassifying three secret U.S. court opinions that reveal yet more details about how the National Security Agency has spied on Americans, it was announced on Wednesday [8/21/2013].  The shocking documents show how the NSA inadvertently scooped up as many as 56,000 emails annually over three years, even though they were written by people with no connection to terrorism.

Obama Asks SCOTUS for Warrantless Cellphone Searches.  Last week, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to rule that the Fourth Amendment allows for warrant-less cell phone searches.  The administration filed a petition asking the SCOTUS to hear a 2007 case in which information was retrieved from a cell phone that was used to obtain evidence against the defendant.

Scandals costing us American exceptionalism.  Meanwhile, new revelations of NSA lawbreaking have come out.  As the Washington Post reported, the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times per year.  It appears that despite assurances that there was no domestic spying program, the NSA was, in fact, hoovering up vast numbers of phone calls, emails, etc. in order to spy on Americans.  (New White House talking point:  Hey, it's not a domestic spying program, it's just a program that does a lot of domestic spying!)

Report: NSA Can Review 75 percent of US Domestic Web Traffic.  More details on "filtering" capabilities and processes.  Note well the bits about content interception and data storage.

New Details Show Broader NSA Surveillance Reach.  The National Security Agency — which possesses only limited legal authority to spy on U.S. citizens — has built a surveillance network that covers more Americans' Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed, current and former officials say. [...] In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say.

Time for Answers from the NSA.  The Washington Post opened a can of worms last Friday when it reported that, in 2012, an internal NSA audit found that the agency had violated privacy rules 2,776 times within just one year.  The audit counted only violations at NSA's Washington facilities — nearly 20 other NSA facilities were not included.

Next Up: Privacy Moms.  As for the National Security Agency, I suspect it is probably gathering huge amounts of data and doing very little useful work with it.  See Mark Steyn's "Idiot Big Brother."  But we've learned from the IRS scandals that bureaucrats sitting around with nothing to do can easily be conscripted into harassing and spying on the administration's opponents, particularly if the opponents are Republicans.  So let's junk the NSA.  Next time we need an NSA we'll get the Big Data boys from Silicon Valley to mash up something overnight, just like they did for the Obama campaign.

The NSA leaks ended the power of Obama officials to ration access.  No self-respecting journalist believes what they say.
The White House credibility deficit.  In his address about Egypt's military coup — or whatever bowdlerizing euphemism is permitted this week in Washington — Obama condemned the notion that "security trumps individual freedom."  Really?  After his press conference announcing an oversight commission for the NSA, it emerged that the NSA's truth-challenged director of national intelligence, James Clapper, would apparently oversee the oversight.  The White House had to explain the joke, and then said Clapper would merely facilitate. [...] That is the punchline of the Snowden affair:  when we can't trust what government tells us, we come to trust those whom government doesn't trust.  Thus, we no longer necessarily care what the official line is and who delivers it.

What We Lose if We Give Up Privacy.  They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails.  They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours.  This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.  Is it excessive?  It certainly appears to be.  Does that matter?  Yes.  Among other reasons:  The end of the expectation that citizens' communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country.

Dems Warn NSA Violations Just 'Tip of a Larger Iceberg'.  A pair of civil-liberties Democrats whom the White House tried to appease in a closed-door meeting warned today that fresh reports of thousands of privacy violations by the National Security Agency are just the "tip of a larger iceberg."  On Thursday [8/15/2013], the Washington Post published its report of a May 2012 audit leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden that found 2,776 violations over the previous year of executive orders and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provisions governing spying on Americans or foreign targets in the U.S.  These included both computer and operator errors.

Lavabit Founder Says He Had 'Obligation' to Shut Service.  Ladar Levison was not yet 20 years old when Congress passed the Patriot Act after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.  It gave him a start-up idea:  an e-mail service for what he thought of as "a tech-savvy crowd" that cared about privacy.  "I've always sort of believed it's important for Americans to have private conversations with other Americans," Mr. Levison said in a telephone interview Monday, "and not fear that their conversations were being monitored by the government."  His start-up thrived for nearly 10 years until Thursday [8/15/2013], when he abruptly shut it down, leaving little more than an ominous note on the site.

What if the president lied to us?  With the latest major revelation about National Security Agency surveillance, there's a huge taboo question that needs to be put out on the table:  Has President Obama been deliberately lying about the NSA, or have his statements just been repeatedly "wrong"?

NSA abuses contradict Obama and congressional claims of oversight.  Since the public learned in June about sweeping National Security Agency programs, government officials from President Obama on down have insisted the nation's surveillance programs are subject to layers of oversight. [...] However, the latest revelation that the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times, as documented in an internal report — an internal report withheld from at least one leader in Congress responsible for oversight — proves the president and several others in Washington were wrong.

Just before Snowden Leaks, Obama fired most of his intel advisers.  Remember last week's press conference, where President Obama insisted that he had already kicked off the process of a major review of the way we do intelligence and surveillance in this country — and about how he was going to set up an "outside" review group to look all this over?  The same review group that will be set up by and report to James Clapper (but, the White House assures us, not run by him)?  Right, so a few people pointed out that President Obama already has an independent group that's supposed to do that thing: called the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB).

NSA oversight overstated, overrated.  On Thursday [8/15/2013], the Washington Post's revelation of thousands upon thousands of National Security Agency violations of both the law and supposed privacy protections included this fascinating detail:  A "large number" of Americans had their telephone calls accidentally intercepted by the NSA when a top-secret order to eavesdrop on multiple phone lines for reasons of national security confused the international code for Egypt (20) with the area code for Washington (202).

Sen. Feinstein Threatens Press Freedom.  The NSA's indiscriminate collection of telephone metadata is of dubious utility and faces dubious oversight from the hamstrung Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  Yet [Senator Dianne] Feinstein, a senior member of the judiciary committee as well, insists the agency does nothing illegal.  They have nothing to hide, so please stop asking what they are hiding.  Now, after taking shots at the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, she has set her sights on the First.

New NSA Revelations Stir Congressional Concern.  New revelations from leaker Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008 are stirring renewed calls on Capitol Hill for serious changes to NSA spy programs, undermining White House hopes that President Barack Obama had quieted the controversy with his assurances of oversight.

What is really going on at the NSA?  The [Washington] Post reported, "The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents." [...] [B]ut the hysteria is disproportionate to what we know.  That is the NSA's fault because it has tried to get by with generalities and platitudes.  However, an internal audit is a sign that there were efforts to reduce or eliminate the error rate.

Court: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited.  The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government's vast spying programs said that its ability to do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.  The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government's surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect Americans' privacy.

WH Tried to Interfere with WaPo's NSA StoryThe Washington Post's article detailing the fourth amendment abuses by the NSA got some push back from the administration who attempted to "edit" the article before publication.  The internal audit referenced in the article was obtained by the WaPo from Edward Snowden.  The details of the audit indicated repeated and growing privacy violations by the NSA, violations which included obtaining thousands of American citizen's communications records and using methods of information collection that were later deemed unconstitutional by a court.

Senate to hold hearings on NSA privacy violations.  The Senate's most senior lawmaker said Friday that the intelligence community is still not being truthful about its snooping activities and how they may be picking up communications from Americans, and vowed to hold hearings when Congress returns from its summer vacation.  "The American people rely on the intelligence community to provide forthright and complete information so that Congress and the courts can properly conduct oversight," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said.  "I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA."

Lawbreaking at the NSA: Bring On a New Church Committee.  Under cover of secrecy, government agents will commit abuses with impunity for years on end, and only intrusive Congressional snooping can stop them.  Why is another Church Committee needed now?  For more than a decade, the NSA has repeatedly engaged in activity that violated the law and the Constitutional rights of many thousands or perhaps millions of Americans.

With Tens of Millions of Phone Records Grabbed — It's the Government, Stupid.  We're all James Rosens, now.  The National Security Administration (NSA) has been forcing Verizon to turn over phone record data on millions of Americans.  Will the federal government use this unbelievably massive data grab against the American people they are supposed to serve — but instead increasingly lord over?

Latest Big Government Data Grab: Justice Sues to Get It Without Warrant.  [A] Secret lawsuit in Manhattan filed last month asks judge to force Google to cough up user data without a search warrant.  A different court has already ruled that the process is unconstitutional.  When the Obama Administration wants information on We the Peasants, they keep kicking down doors until they get it.

Obama faces Dem backlash over latest NSA revelations.  The Obama administration faced a backlash from congressional Democrats on Friday [8/16/2013] following revelations that the National Security Agency broke privacy rules and overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008.

Yes, the NSA Violated Surveillance Privacy Rules — at Least 2,776 Times.  We may now also know a little more detail about the one incident where the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court discovered the NSA violating the rules.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued to get this information, which is scheduled to be released next week.

The NSA is Commandeering the Internet.  It turns out that the NSA's domestic and world-wide surveillance apparatus is even more extensive than we thought.  Bluntly:  The government has commandeered the Internet.  Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users.  Some, as we've learned, fight and lose.  Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way.  I have one message to the executives of those companies:  fight.

Report: NSA spying broke privacy rules many times.  The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reported Thursday [8/15/2013].

NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds.  Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order.  They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Insider's View Of The Administration's Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks.  [General] Hayden's remark goes to the heart of what I continue to find most offensive about the Administration's handling of the NSA surveillance programs, which is their repeated insinuation that anyone who raises concerns about national security programs doesn't care about national security.

How the president uses language as a cover for the abuse of power.  On Aug. 9, with his approval rating at a near all-time low of 41 percent, facing sharp scrutiny over the National Security Agency's dragnet data-collection plan, Obama held a press conference where he insisted:  "I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people."  At the same time, Obama's Justice Department released a white paper defending the proposition that the PATRIOT Act allowed the covert collection of all Americans' phone records for a period of seven years because, under the language of Section 215, they're "relevant to an authorized investigation" of international terrorism.

The Debate Obama Never Wanted.  Edward Snowden has put words in President Obama's mouth.  Words like transparency, reform, openness, and debate.  This is not necessarily cause for celebration or condemnation.  It is, however, a fact.  That the White House refuses to acknowledge this is testament to the policy-altering effect of Snowden's leaks of classified documents about the National Security Agency's wide-ranging Internet and phone surveillance programs.

Obama privately derides controversy over NSA surveillance.  President Barack Obama privately derided the controversy over the blockbuster June 6 revelation of the National Security Agency's far-reaching capabilities as "noise rather than something that's real and meaningful," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  Duncan revealed Obama's dismissive attitude to the dramatic claims by a former defense contractor, Edward Snowden, in a Washington Post report on a White House program to increase Internet use in schools.

The Lies Aren't What Makes Obama's NSA Stance So Awful.  President Obama's repeated comments that "there is no spying on Americans" and that "we don't have a domestic spying program," as he told Jay Leno, were contradicted by two revelations at the end of last week.  On Thursday, the New York Times reported that the NSA is "searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country," looking not only for Americans who communicate with foreigners under surveillance but also for those who mention information about them.

Former Ron Wyden aide challenges Obama's surveillance claims.  A former senior aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore,. in a searingly critical essay has called out the Obama administration and the president himself for saying Friday that he welcomed a public debate on the government's surveillance programs and the privacy concerns they provoke.

Senate intelligence panel could seek to declassify documents; it just doesn't.  Outspoken members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have said frequently that they wanted to warn the public about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of telephone records but the program's highly classified nature prevented them from making public reference to the programs.  That, however, is not the full story.  Buried in the pages of Senate Resolution 400, which established the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, is a provision that allows them to try.  Across those nearly 40 years, it's never been used.

Double talk from the spymasters.  Since Mr. Snowden's June 6 revelations about massive NSA spying, we have learned that all Americans who communicate via telephone or the Internet (and who doesn't?) have had all of their communications swept up by the federal government for two-plus years.  The government initially claimed that the NSA has gathered only telephone numbers and billing data.  Now we know that the NSA has captured and stored the content of trillions of telephone conversations, texts and emails, and can access that content at the press of a few computer keys.

What NSA reforms?  President Obama's message about the government's massive electronic surveillance programs came through loud and clear:  Get over it.  The president used more soothing words in his pre-vacation news conference Friday, but that was the gist.  With perhaps the application of a fig leaf here and a sheen of legalistic mumbo jumbo there, the snooping will continue.

Classic Obama charade: Appoint a crony to investigate himself.  James Clapper, Obama's Director of National Intelligence, will digest his groups' findings on what national intelligence has been doing under James Clapper and James Clapper will report them to his boss Obama, who's already said publicly there are no abuses.  We're going way out on a mid-summer limb today to predict that Clapper will absolve Clapper and his community of any abuses and Obama will agree.  Completely.  Probably sometime during the holiday season when, like now, fewer people are paying attention.

The NSA-DEA police state tango.  In the latest post-Snowden bombshell about the extent and consequences of government spying, we learned from Reuters reporters this week that a secret branch of the DEA called the Special Operations Division — so secret that nearly everything about it is classified, including the size of its budget and the location of its office — has been using the immense pools of data collected by the NSA, CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies to go after American citizens for ordinary drug crimes.  Law enforcement agencies, meanwhile, have been coached to conceal the existence of the program and the source of the information by creating what's called a "parallel construction," a fake or misleading trail of evidence.  So no one in the court system — not the defendant or the defense attorney, not even the prosecutor or the judge — can ever trace the case back to its true origins.

Double talk from the spymasters.  The government initially claimed that the NSA has gathered only telephone numbers and billing data.  Now we know that the NSA has captured and stored the content of trillions of telephone conversations, texts and emails, and can access that content at the press of a few computer keys.  All of this happened in the dark, with the permission of President Obama, with the knowledge and consent of fewer than 20 members of Congress who were forbidden from doing anything about it by the laws they themselves had written, and based on secret legal arguments accepted by a secret court that keeps its records secret even from the judges who sit on the court.

NSA snooping far more intense than previously thought.  As each revelation about NSA snooping is published, you have to wonder where the bottom is on this scandal.  In truth, we're nowhere near it yet.  The New York Times is reporting that the NSA is vacuuming up huge amounts of data collected from Americans who send emails overseas and Americans overseas who send emails back home.  No warrant, of course, and that 2008 FISA "reform" statute, where the NSA says they get the authority, is looking worse all the time.

Obama doesn't understand distrust of government surveillance, but vows to address it.  Before taking another week off on Martha's Vineyard, President Obama held a news conference, announcing preemptive moves to restore public trust shattered by the recent stream of revelations about broad government surveillance of civil society and its myriad communications.  Obama again assured the country there were ample checks in place to prevent official abuse, but said the sensational manner in which these classified secrets have leaked out piece by piece has unnecessarily raised fears and caused many to ask questions.

Barack Obama pledges greater surveillance transparency.  President Barack Obama has promised "appropriate reforms" to guarantee greater oversight of controversial US surveillance programmes.  At a White House news conference, he proposed "safeguards against abuse", including amending legislation on the collection of telephone data.  Mr Obama also urged appointing a lawyer to challenge the government at the nation's secretive surveillance court.  He has been defending the programmes since they were leaked in June.

Documents shed light on U.S. surveillance programs.  The Obama administration released two documents on Friday describing the scope of National Security Agency data collection programs, a bid to quiet criticism they violate privacy rights.  An NSA memorandum describes the beginnings of the agency's collection of so-called telephone metadata of nearly every American under a provision of the Patriot Act, and the agency's monitoring of foreign Internet traffic.

The Mother of All Scandals.  No one knows much about the NSA mess.  But already there are some disturbing developments.  How can Director of National Intelligence James Clapper outright lie under oath without consequences after he assured the Congress that the agency did not monitor the communications of American citizens?  After the president's press conference last week, an embarrassing paradox arose:  the president promised all sorts of new NSA reforms.  But why now, and for what reason the sudden worry?

Obama's Bill Clinton Moment: 'We Don't Have a Domestic Spying Program'.  Like Clinton's famous sidestep [...] this is clever.  It's not false if you use the words in a certain way and only in that way:  If spying is narrowly construed to mean, say, warrantless wiretaps on Americans, then it's apparently true that there's no domestic spying program.  But it's also not really true, and it suggests a sort of smirking contempt on the president's part for his interlocutors, and citizens.

Put On a Smiley Face.  Nidal Hasan — the Fort Hood mass murderer now on trial — began his court martial defense with the statement that the evidence will show he is guilty.  What the evidence will also show, by omission, is how our government institutions ignored the sort of evidence the NSA is supposedly looking for in its global search of telephone data, emails, and other electronic communication.

Breaking Through Limits on Spying.  It was bad enough in 2008 when Congress allowed the agency to spy without a warrant on e-mails and text messages between Americans and foreign targets of an investigation.  That already strained the Fourth Amendment's protections against illegal searches, but lawmakers decided it was justified as part of a terror investigation.  It turns out, as Charlie Savage revealed in The [New York] Times on Thursday [8/8/2013], that the N.S.A. went far beyond those boundaries.  Instead, it copies virtually all overseas messages that Americans send or receive, then scans them to see if they contain any references to people or subjects the agency thinks might have a link to terrorists.

Local cops operate in collusion with Big Brother:
NSA tips off law enforcement, asks them to keep the practice secret.  Just days after the NYT wrote about the NSA denying other federal intelligence agencies access to their surveillance tools comes the disclosure that a US Drug Enforcement Administration unit called Special Operations Division (SOD) has been channeling information collected by the NSA to law enforcement agencies in order to help them start investigations of suspected criminals.  The SOD, whose existence is little known to the greater public, is a sort of middleman that receives information regarding traditional criminal activities and suspected perpetrators gathered by the NSA via wiretaps, informants, intelligence intercepts, and decides how much of it to share with which field offices and agents.

NEW Spying Scandal — Is This One the Last Straw?  The NSA is spying on you and sharing this information with the DEA.  The DEA is then sharing this information with local law enforcement.  If you get arrested because of this, abandon all hope because [#1] Law enforcement is hiding where the evidence came from[, and #2] This means you cannot effectively challenge the evidence in court.  But it gets worse... The DEA unit responsible for this program — the ominous sounding Special Operations Division — is a secret organization.  It cannot be investigated by defense attorneys or called into court.  Even the location of the Special Operations Division is classified.

This was also filed under Abuse of power by ordinary cops.

Government Police Raise Issues on Liberty.  Earlier this year, agents from the Department of Homeland Security, presenting themselves as national "police," were deployed across the country to "monitor" Tea Party activists who were peacefully protesting the Obama administration regarding the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.  From California to Florida, armed DHS functionaries, according to protesters in attendance, were turned out to intimidate and spy on them.  These DHS agents arrived in large Homeland Security vehicles that were emblazoned with large letters reading "police" and were dressed in "police" uniforms.  Exactly who are these DHS "police?"  They are part of the Federal Protection Service (FPS), a division of the National Protection and Programs Directorate of the DHS.

ObamaCare Poses a Massive Privacy Risk.  As far back as December 2012, Obama administration officials were insisting that the data hub at the center of the ObamaCare exchanges was nearly finished.  Yet all the while, they were pushing back deadlines or missing them altogether, to the point where, unless ObamaCare's launch is delayed, millions of people's privacy will be at risk.  Obama officials may, in fact, have flat-out lied to lawmakers about the data hub's progress.

N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.  The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.  The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged.  It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.

NYT: No spying on Americans? Au contraire.  On Tuesday, Barack Obama insisted that the US government isn't spying on Americans by surveilling the contents of their communications.  Less than two days later, the New York Times makes hash of that claim.  The NSA, reports Charlie Savage, sifts through the content of "vast amounts" of electronic communications between Americans and people abroad in their search for links to terrorism, and not just the metadata.

Obama: 'We Don't Have a Domestic Spying Program'.  President Obama tells comedian Jay Leno that "We don't have a domestic spying program."  He made the comment during a taping of Leno's TV show.  Obama also says the U.S. is not overreacting by closing some U.S. embassies for a week.  The president tells Leno, "The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately."

Made-up Threat Rehabilitates the Big Brother.  The U.S. State Department issued a global alert about the terrorist threat allegedly posed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen.  The USA announced the closure of its missions in the Middle East and Africa, and their example was followed by France, Britain, and Germany. However, this was only an attempt to justify the activities of the National Security Agency.

Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans.  A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Report: NSA info withheld from members of Congress.  The House Intel Committee is stonewalling Congress's efforts to access information about the National Security Agency's bulk data collection program affecting millions of Americans, the Guardian reports.  Both Virginia Republican Representative Morgan Griffith and Democratic Florida Representative Alan Grayson have tried to obtain information about the NSA's phone and Internet surveillance programs first disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

DEA Surveillance: Turning Citizens Into Criminals.  The government says spying on U.S. citizens is acceptable since it's merely a means of fighting foreign terrorists.  But what if the government used espionage in investigations of common criminals?  It seems that's really happening.  According to a Reuters exclusive, "A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans."

Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles.  The National Security Agency's dominant role as the nation's spy warehouse has spurred frequent tensions and turf fights with other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations, officials say.  Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency's vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.

Recovering lost freedom.  The government's ability to track 316 million Americans without a warrant rests on a flimsy premise upheld Tuesday [7/30/2013] by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The judges, intentionally or not, move us into the shadow of the total surveillance society.  Throughout history, totalitarian regimes dreamed of tracking at will the exact whereabouts of enemies of the state.  This power is now reality; police officers and bureaucrats can tap into the GPS-style location technology built into every cellphone, with no warrant required.

We're living '1984' today.  It appears that the police now have a device that can read license plates and check if a car is unregistered, uninsured or stolen.  We already know that the National Security Agency can dip into your Facebook page and Google searches.  And it seems that almost every store we go into these days wants your home phone number and ZIP code as part of any transaction.

Laws Are Not Enough.  [Scroll down]  Is there more to the story?  Does the NSA apply other barriers to abuse?  The agency hints that it does.  Responding to the report on XKeyscore, the NSA assures us that "there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse."  That's nice, but hints won't do.  None of the topics we're asking about — storage, access, justification, audits — poses any threat to national security.  Tell us exactly how you're protecting us.  We'll be the ones who decide what's enough.

FBI Taps Hacker Tactics to Spy on Suspects.  Law-enforcement officials in the U.S. are expanding the use of tools routinely used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects, bringing the criminal wiretap into the cyber age.  Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links — techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.

Google Pressure Cookers and Backpacks, Get a Visit from the Feds.  Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers.  Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks.  Wednesday morning [7/31/2013], six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists.  Which prompts the question:  How'd the government know what they were Googling?

With 3 'Hops', NSA Gets Millions of Phone Records.  Exactly how many phone records of Americans does the National Security Agency collect in its massive surveillance program?

Big Transparency for the NSA.  'Big data" is one name for the insight that collecting all the information in a massive database will uncover facts that collecting only some of the information cannot.  This is not news to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency.  Gen. Alexander is a zealous advocate of getting it all whenever practically and legally possible.  He sees increased agility in uncovering terrorist connections by acquiring vast databases of telephone records, including those of American citizens.

NSA training guide shows how analysts like Snowden read American email exchanges and chatroom history without a warrant.  With only thin justifications, NSA agents have been spying on Americans online without a warrant — reading emails, chats and browsing histories.  Today, The Guardian broke down the process by which NSA analysts tap internet activity by publishing a training guide used to introduce new analysts to X-Keyscore.  Described as the 'widest-ranging' database, X-Keyscore allows analysts to wiretap basically anyone.

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'.  A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.

Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Upheld.  In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant.  The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers.

U.S. Outlines N.S.A.'s Culling of Data for All Domestic Calls.  Senators of both parties on Wednesday sharply challenged the National Security Agency's collection of records of all domestic phone calls, even as the latest leaked N.S.A. document provided new details on the way the agency monitors Web browsing around the world.

Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance.  Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, have begun work on legislation in the House Judiciary Committee to significantly rein in N.S.A. telephone surveillance.

The NSA's two new spying facilities storing your data is seven times the size of the Pentagon.  The NSA is now building a facility that will make it more than seven times the size of the Pentagon, making the secretive compounds the biggest in the country.  In addition to building a $1.9 billion data center in Utah, crews also started construction on a computing center that is expected to cost $792 million near Baltimore.

Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords.  The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.  If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user.

Blinded by the war on terrorism.  "This is a great time to be a white-collar criminal."  An assistant U.S. attorney I know startled me with this remark in 2002.  The bulk of her FBI investigators, she explained, had been pulled off to work on terrorism, which left traditional crime investigations sorely understaffed.  Little has changed since then.  For more than a decade, the U.S. government has been focused on one type of threat above all others:  terrorism.  This obsession has not only been used to justify an erosion of Americans' privacy, it has opened them to other dangers and, paradoxically, made it easier for terrorists to achieve success.

White House attacks plans to curb NSA data collection.  With a key vote coming up, President Barack Obama's spokesman said curbs on the NSA would "hastily dismantle" a vital counter-terrorism tool.  NSA chief Gen Keith Alexander spent Tuesday lobbying Congressmen to vote against the proposed measure.  Critics say NSA phone data collection is an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Your Place in the Database.  Regarding the American surveillance state, it seems that the truth comes out a little at a time.  We learned about the FBI's Carnivore in the 1990s, which the copied internet data of people whom the agency deemed "reasonably suspicious." [...] We found out about NSA domestic wiretapping from a brave AT&T whistleblower in 2006. [...] For me, the most stomach-churning signpost on our nation's road to tyranny has been the completion of the Utah Data Center.  The center holds data on the scale of yottabytes.  One yottabyte could account for 30 million gigabytes per U.S. man, woman, and child.  It's a staggering capacity.

The Dangerous ObamaCare Data Hub.  Under the guise of expanding Americans' access to healthcare, "the federal government is planning to quietly enact what could be the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic," Stephen T. Parente and Paul Howard asserted in a USA Today column.  That consolidation is called the Federal Data Services Hub, and it is being assembled as part of ObamaCare's insurance exchange implementation.

Obamacare data hub a 'honey pot' for ID thieves, warn critics.  The data hub President Obama's health care team is creating to exchange personal health and financial information on Obamacare users will be a ripe target for computer hackers and identity thieves, charge critics who claim it hasn't been tested for security flaws.  "It's the greatest collection of private identification information ever assembled on Americans that will be put into one place," said Rep. Patrick Meehan, who chairs a House cybersecurity subcommittee.  "It is every bit of sensitive information one would need to know to completely take over the identification of a person," said the Pennsylvania lawmaker.

Secret U.S. Court Extends NSA Authority to Collect Phone Metadata.  A chief U.S. intelligence official affirmed Friday [7/19/2013] that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been granted authority to continue collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers.  The verdict from the court, authorized by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), renewed the controversial data-collection campaign that has posed serious threats to Americans' right to privacy and, in turn, the U.S. Constitution.  In an action propelled by a disclosure in June of the NSA's collection of Verizon metadata, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a statement asserting that the program has been renewed.

Should 3rd Amendment prevent government spying?  If the government places a surveillance device in your home, is that sufficiently like quartering troops there to trigger Third Amendment scrutiny?  What if it installs spyware on your computer or your cable modem?  What if it requires "smart meters" that allow moment-to-moment monitoring of your thermostat settings or toilet flushes?

Obamacare's Branch of the NSA.  President Obama has had a poor record of job creation, but at least one small economic sector is doing well: community organizing.  The Department of Health and Human Services is about to hire an army of "patient navigators" to inform Americans about the subsidized insurance promised by Obamacare and assist them in enrolling.  These organizers will be guided by the new Federal Data Hub, which will give them access to reams of personal information compiled by federal agencies ranging from the IRS to the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.

Cops usually need warrant to get cellphone locations, NJ Supreme Court rules in Middletown case.  The state Supreme Court has ruled that police need a warrant to get cellphone location data in most cases.  With Thursday's [7/18/2013] ruling, the court overturned an appellate decision, which said that a defendant in a Middletown burglary case did not have an expectation that the location information would be private.

A Government of Voyeurs.  The news this week that governments across America have tracked and scanned tens of millions of license plates into databases shocks only in that it doesn't shock.  During the summer that we discovered PRISM, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, and that the attorney general believes reporter James Rosen a "flight risk," one comes to expect as much.  Call it, in the words of the president who launched many of the surveillance state's most intrusive programs, "the soft bigotry of low expectations."  His successor who pledged to undo that overreach has instead doubled down on it.

Court Sides With Yahoo in Data Collection Case.  Yahoo has won a court fight that could help the public learn more about the government's efforts to obtain data from Internet users.

A Parody of Liberal Faith in Bureaucrats.  Rest easy, America. Before, federal bureaucrats weren't focusing on the marital status of their coworkers.  Now they've been instructed to monitor all of them constantly.

Lies and the Lying Spiers Who Tell Them.  Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have consistently contradicted the bureaucratic line, forcing revisions that reliably conflict with subsequent revelations.  And these are lies, as surely as the sky is blue.  No amount of tortured rhetoric or blatant falsehood can change the fact that, on a daily basis, the NSA archives the location of every domestic person who uses a phone, or that it reads innumerable citizens' private Internet communications without intervening judicial review.  The documents that reveal this were published weeks ago, but intelligence leaders are essentially betting the public will not fully grasp them.

The NSA slide you haven't seen.  The overall heading of the slide is "FAA 702 Operations" — a reference to a 2008 law that enabled collection on U.S. soil of communications of foreigners thought to be overseas without an individual warrant from a court, including when the foreigners are communicating with someone in the United States.  The law says the collection may be for a foreign intelligence purpose, which includes terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation or cyber-security.  The slide also shows a crude map of the undersea cable network that carries data from either side of North America and onto the rest of the world.  As a story in Sunday's Post made clear, these undersea cables are essential to worldwide data flows — and to the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government and its allies.

The price of surveillance: Gov't pays to snoop.  How much are your private conversations worth to the government?

Security-Enhanced Android: NSA Edition.  Tech giants listed as part of the National Security Agency's Prism spying program have gone to some lengths to convince the world they aren't in bed with the U.S. government.  Google has filed a request with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court asking permission to disclose more information about the government's data requests.  So there's a certain irony that NSA programmers are now refining code that Google has approved for the company's mobile operating system, Android.

DNI Clapper Won't Resign Over Misleading Congress on NSA Surveillance.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has no plans to resign following disclosures to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he misled Congress on widespread National Security Agency electronic surveillance of Americans.

They're up in arms of the NSA database, but what about ObamaCare and health records?  Self-proclaimed civil libertarians are up in arms over the National Security Agency's massive database containing information about whom we call and what we do on the Web.  Defenders of the program say, "So what?"  Unless you're a terrorist, no one in the government will ever bother to access that information.  That's not good enough, say civil libertarians.

Is FISA Out of Line?  The American surveillance apparatus has come under more scrutiny than ever before in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.  On Saturday [7/6/2013], the New York Times expanded on this theme with a new piece arguing that the FISA courts, which review the constitutionality of the government's data collection programs, have effectively become a "parallel Supreme Court" with little oversight from the public or the rest of the legal system.

How to Change One-Party Bifurcation into a Two-Party System.  Most of us don't like being spied on — and any "spy" who reveals universal, systematic spying by a government on its citizenry is a hero to us.  Upon reflection, we don't really buy the "but government only wants to keep us safe" argument.  The chances that highly dangerous terrorists have already slipped across our southern border in large numbers are immensely greater than the chances that vital intel will be lost if NSA doesn't monitor our email.  Our security officers were warned by Russian intelligence about the Tsarnaevs and did absolutely nothing preemptive.

NSA recruitment drive goes horribly wrong.  On Tuesday, the National Security Agency called at the University of Wisconsin on a recruitment drive.  Attending the session was Madiha R Tahir, a journalist studying a language course at the university.  She asked the squirming recruiters a few uncomfortable questions about the activities of NSA:  which countries the agency considers to be "adversaries", and if being a good liar is a qualification for getting a job at the NSA.

Privacy group to petition Supreme Court to kill NSA spy program.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center said Thursday [7/4/2013] it will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish the law that lets the National Security Agency collect data on Americans' telephone calls.  The Domestic Surveillance Project, an arm of the EPIC, will file the petition on Monday, Raw Story reported.  Domestic Surveillance Project Director Amie Stepanovich said, "EPIC truly believes that this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court exceeded its authority, is not acting in accordance with the law and needs to be overturned — and cannot be allowed to continue conducting this surveillance," Raw Story reported.

Data Mining and Elections.  The Obama administration has been collecting enormous amounts of communications and other data on Americans.  The justification which is offered (and which is being accepted on both sides of the aisle) is the need to monitor this information to protect us in the age of modern terrorism.  The most credible complaint we hear is that they're gathering data on their political opposition.  The IRS scandal gives weight to this thought.  But an overlooked motive will play a pivotal role in 2014:  this data-mining effort, in significant part, is a vehicle for getting votes.

Trust Your Government, Lose Your Liberties.  It sounded like a well-crafted conspiracy theory.  "The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data ... The mass collection of relatively unsorted data, combined with system flaws that sources say erroneously flag people as suspect."  The excerpt above is from a Baltimore Sun article published on May 18, 2006.  Accusations that our government engaged in unconstitutional searches and seizures were dismissed by many, especially on the right, as an attack on the administration of George W. Bush by anti-war, lefty crackpots.

An opposing viewpoint:
The NSA Program in Real-World Perspective.  The Supreme Court has long held constitutional the disclosure by phone companies to law enforcement of to-and-from numbers on phone calls.  In 1979, the Court upheld police installation of a pen register that recorded all phone numbers called from a suspected robber's home — without search warrant.  The reasoning:  the Fourth Amendment does not protect a person's right to keep private information that person has voluntarily conveyed to a third party.  When a person makes a call, it is known the number being called, as well as the caller's number, is necessarily conveyed to the phone company and its employees.

The Editor retorts...
Every time you use a cell phone, your approximate location is known to the cell phone provider.  With a little effort, your exact location can be determined by comparing signals from multiple cell phone receiver sites.  But that doesn't mean you've given the provider permission to reveal your current location (or the number you called) to anyone who asks for it.  Similarly, the telephone company that administers a land-line (POTS) telephone can listen in on it at any time, but — for almost a century — the customers have had a reasonable expectation that the telephone company would not do so en masse, nor would they disclose the contents of private conversations for a fee.

France 'runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods'.  An investigation by the French daily [Le Monde] found that the DGSE, France's external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity.  The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of "who is talking to whom", the paper said.  Le Monde said data from emails, text messages, phone records, accessing of Facebook and Twitter, and internet activity going through sites such as Google, Microsoft or Yahoo! was stocked for years on vast servers on three different floors in the basement of the DGSE headquarters.

Government tracking all snail-mail, no warrant required.  The United States Postal Service photographs every piece of mail it processes under a program that started after the anthrax attacks of 2001, according to a report Wednesday in the New York Times.  That's 160 billion purchases, letters, bills, gifts — everything you've ever mailed or had mailed to you in the past decade or more is on record somewhere with the government under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, The Times reports.

European firms 'could quit US internet providers over NSA scandal'.  European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American internet providers because of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, the European commission has warned.  Neelie Kroes, the commission vice-president who speaks on digital affairs, predicted that providers of cloud services, which allow users to store and access data on remote servers, could suffer significant loss of business if clients fear the security of their material is under threat.

Gov't Collects Logs Of Every Piece Of Mail Sent in The United States, NYT Reports.  If the government collecting tons of metadata on phone and online communications has made you consider sticking with the Postal Service, then you may want to read this first.  The New York Times reports today [7/3/2013] on how government law enforcement agencies are collecting logs on every single piece of mail sent within the United States.  USPS computers take photos of the outside of every piece of mail (they need a warrant to actually read the contents) and send them to the agencies that request the information.

U.S. government tracks your snail mail, too.  The United States Postal Service photographs and records the information on the outside of every piece of mail sent in America — 160 billion every year — the New York Times reported Wednesday [7/3/2013].  Under the auspices of a program called Mail Isolation Control and Tracking, the USPS stores the details of physical correspondences in a way that some have characterized as analogous to the National Security Agency's collection of telephone "metadata."  Unlike the details of the much-publicized NSA program, however, many aspects of the USPS system, called "mail covers," remain unclear.

France operates spy network like PRISM, report says.  According to Le Monde, data on "all emails, SMSs, telephone calls, Facebook and Twitter posts" are collected and stored in a massive three-floor underground bunker at the DGSE's headquarters in Paris.

The 'Privacy vs. Security' Canard.  One of the standard claims of those who would defend "well-intentioned" police-state practices such as the NSA's universal secret monitoring of telephone and e-mail data is that the enhancement of "security" provided by these programs warrants the sacrifice of "some privacy."  That argument is being worked to a frazzle of late, as the Obama administration and others seek to justify the ever-growing litany of revelations about the levels of surveillance to which the U.S. federal government is subjecting everyone.  This framing of the issue as "privacy vs. security" is a canard which loads the dice in tyranny's favor.

U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement.  Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September:  a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.  "Show all mail to supv" — supervisor — "for copying prior to going out on the street," read the card.  It included Mr. Pickering's name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored.  The word "confidential" was highlighted in green.

Spying Scandal: Obama Owes Us an Explanation.  Americans tend to be more open-minded than Germans about Big Data — at least for now.  The kind of mass data collection being conducted around the world by the NSA could eventually backfire for President Obama at home, however.

DNI chief Clapper apologizes for 'erroneous' answer on NSA surveillance.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has apologized for telling Congress the National Security Agency doesn't gather data on millions of Americans.  The apology comes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden gave top-secret information to newspapers that last month published stories about the federal government collecting the data from phone calls and such Internet communications as emails.  Clapper apologized in a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that was posted Tuesday [7/2/2013] on the website of Clapper's office.

Does the US think that only Americans have a right to privacy?  The whole American political class — not just the Obama administration — is tying itself into self-contradictory knots over the Snowden affair.  And it is a great misfortune that this has now become "the Snowden affair":  i.e., about the man himself, rather than the shocking information that he has disclosed.  But this is where we are, so let's look closely at what seems set to be the latest Ugly American chapter of US diplomatic relations with the world.

Clapper under pressure despite apology for 'erroneous' statements to Congress.  The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has attempted to head off criticism that he lied to Congress over the extent of government surveillance on American citizens, with a letter to senators in which he apologised for giving "erroneous" information.  Two weeks after telling NBC news that he gave the "least untruthful answer possible" at a hearing in March, Clapper wrote to the Senate intelligence committee to correct his response to a question about whether the National Security Agency "collected data on millions of Americans".

Germans Loved Obama. Now We Don't Trust Him.  [Scroll down]  Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone.  In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi.  Homes were tapped.  Millions were monitored.  Although these two dictatorships, Nazi and Communist, are gone and we now live in a unified and stable democracy, we have not forgotten what happens when secret police or intelligence agencies disregard privacy.

How the NSA is still harvesting your online data.  A review of top-secret NSA documents suggests that the surveillance agency still collects and sifts through large quantities of Americans' online data — despite the Obama administration's insistence that the program that began under Bush ended in 2011.  Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, told the Guardian that "the internet metadata collection program authorized by the Fisa court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted."

Senators Ask if NSA Collected Gun Data.  Senators are questioning whether the National Security Agency collected bulk data on more than just Americans' phone records, such as firearm and book purchases.  A bipartisan group of 26 senators, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to detail the scope and limits of the National Security Agency's surveillance activities in a letter released Friday [6/28/2013].  "We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law," the senators wrote in the letter.  The NSA's surveillance program has come under intense scrutiny following a leak revealing the agency harvested the phone metadata of millions of American citizens.

Verizon Was Ordered To Turn Over Millions of Americans' Phone Records To NSA.  Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian has an incredible scoop:  a court order from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court instructing Verizon to turn over metadata from all calls originating in the U.S. over a three-month period (ending July 19, 2013) to the National Security Agency (NSA) on a daily basis.

Declassified gov't report details decades of NSA computer spying.  The clandestine National Security Agency is partly responsible for the modern PC era, a newly declassified document reveals, thanks to decades of custom computers built for one thing:  espionage.  Declassified by the NSA on May 29 and posted online on Monday, the 344-page report "It Wasn't All Magic: The Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis, 1930s-1960s," details the unknown high-tech history of computers so secretive even their code names were kept confidential.  Until now.  It's a never-before seen history of code-breaking, spying and its role in the birth of the computer.

NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama.  The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian.  The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata "every 90 days".  A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011.  The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind.

An everyman's guide for going invisible on the internet.  Let's get this out of the way first:  It's impossible to go 100 percent invisible online if you use the internet in any capacity.  We still don't completely understand the scope and power of the NSA's surveillance capabilities, and it's highly unlikely that any single individual, no matter how resilient their encryption protocols, could withstand a rigorous investigation by the U.S. government.  Still, there are ways ordinary users can better protect their privacy online.

Feds collecting personal, confidential data on consumer's credit cards, bank transactions.  The Obama administration, already under fire for the IRS scandal and National Security Agency snooping of the computers and cellphones of Americans, is also spending millions to have private contractors conduct a dragnet for confidential and personal credit and bank transactions without a warrant.  Newly obtained documents from the Obama-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reveal that the administration has OK'd a project to accumulate the personal financial data of some 5 million and share it with other agencies to build a "nationally representative panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects."  The documents obtained by public watchdog group Judicial Watch and provided to Secrets also indicate that those picked in the dragnet will be chosen randomly, meaning every American is subject to the raid on their information.

The personal side of taking on the NSA: emerging smears.  When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears.  You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked.  As a superb Guardian editorial noted today:  "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared.  The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."

The IRS, the NSA, and Obama's Dirty Tricks.  [Scroll down]  The NSA — the National Security Agency — admitted that it has been involved in spying on Americans.  Their huge Utah data center is a storage house of personal information on almost all Americans.  This information can be used to attack political opponents, and Barack Obama has not been reluctant to attack opponents for their personal behavior, even when the information is illegally/improperly obtained.

Is it Really about Surveillance or is it About the Government?  You need to keep in mind that the government is collecting or has access to about everything you do.  A short list is DNA, retinal scans, facial recognition, finger prints, phone calls, emails, internet cookies and the like.  Do you trust your government with all this information?  When you log on to the internet browser or the server there is always a footprint as to where you have been.

How much damage has Prism done to US tech giants?  The fallout from the Prism leak continues.  As people digest what the leaks mean, ripples are going out into the business community.  Firms were moving towards free, American, reliable cloud-based services; now things are screeching to a halt, as they think "do we want the NSA having access to this?"  It's more than just idle fear.

ACLU to Obama: 'We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear'.  Under President Obama, the United States is "a nation governed by fear," the American Civil Liberties Union says in an open letter that echoes the criticisms Obama has made of George W. Bush's national security policies.

Email snooping corralled in Texas; other states may follow.  Texas has become the first state in the nation to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant to read people's email, and privacy advocates are hoping the move will help quicken the passage of a similar proposal in Congress.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the privacy bill last week.

For secretive surveillance court, rare scrutiny in wake of NSA leaks.  Wedged into a secure, windowless basement room deep below the Capitol Visitors Center, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates appeared before dozens of senators earlier this month for a highly unusual, top-secret briefing.  The lawmakers pressed Bates, according to people familiar with the session, to discuss the inner workings of the United States' clandestine terrorism surveillance tribunal, which Bates oversaw from 2006 until earlier this year.

Obama Moved For Broad Domestic Surveillance Early.  President Obama, who campaigned against George W. Bush's surveillance policies, bolstered the National Security Agency's domestic spying powers astoundingly early in his presidency.  Was it really to protect us?

How Skype developed a secret program called 'Project Chess'.  The web-based calling service Skype allegedly developed a secret program called 'Project Chess' to make it easier for the government to spy on its users.  The program, set up about five years ago, studied the legal and technical issues in making Skype's calls available to law enforcement officials, according to the New York Times.  Skype has also reportedly been involved in the Prism program since February 2011.

Mysterious privacy board touted by Obama has deep government ties.  The body charged by President Obama with protecting the civil liberties and privacy of the American people exists in shadows almost as dark as the intelligence agencies it is designed to oversee.  The Privacy & Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) was due to meet Obama at the White House on Friday afternoon [6/21/2013] at 3pm in the situation room to discuss growing concerns over US surveillance of phone and internet records — or, at least, that's what unnamed "senior administration officials" said would happen.

Obama meets with privacy watchdog panel — in private.  President Obama's Friday meeting with a newly reformed privacy watchdog panel will take place behind the closed doors of the White House Situation Room, according to administration officials.  It's the president's first sit-down with the recently constituted and little-known Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created nearly a decade ago but dormant for the entirety of the Obama presidency.

Napolitano: NSA Testimony on Surveillance Programs 'Bogus'.  Former state court Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Tuesday [6/18/2013] that officials from the National Security Agency "answered questions professionally" in their testimony before Congress — "but I still think it's bogus."  "There was none of this as we got from Attorney General [Eric] Holder and FBI Director [Robert] Mueller," Napolitano told Neil Cavuto on Fox News.

Bombshell: Fmr. Intelligence Agent Accuses NSA, Obama Of Lying, Alleges Broader Spying Programs.  On Friday [6/21/2013], MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin interviewed former U.S. Air Force intelligence Agent Russell Tice about the revelations surrounding the National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans' digital and electronic communications.  Tice accused a variety of administration officials, including President Barack Obama, of disseminating outright falsehoods in their efforts to explain those programs.  He added that those programs are far broader than any government official has said up to this point.

Meet the 16 People Responsible for Protecting Your Privacy.  There are two groups specifically appointed with the task of ensuring that the government doesn't exceed its mandate in its push to fight terror activity and other crime.  The first is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court comprised of judges with heavy background in prosecution.  The second is a civilian panel which the president is meeting with for the first time today [6/21/2013].  Feel better?

Bush-Era NSA Whistleblower Makes Most Explosive Allegations Yet About True Extent of Gov't Surveillance.  Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst and Bush-era NSA whistleblower, claimed Wednesday [6/19/2013] that the intelligence community has ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.  He also made another stunning allegation.  He says the NSA had ordered wiretaps on phones connected to then-Senate candidate Barack Obama back in 2004.

Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant.  Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant.  The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009.

Lawyers eye NSA data as treasure trove for evidence in murder, divorce cases.  The National Security Agency has spent years demanding that companies turn over their data.  Now, the spy agency finds the shoe is on the other foot.  A defendant in a Florida murder trial says telephone records collected by the NSA as part of its surveillance programs hold evidence that would help prove his innocence, and his lawyer has demanded that prosecutors produce those records.

FBI under pressure to explain drone use, as Obama names new director.  As President Obama nominates a new FBI director, the bureau is coming under rising pressure from lawmakers to explain the limits of its recently disclosed drone fleet.  Civil liberties-minded senators on both sides of the aisle have fired off sharply worded letters and statements in recent days criticizing the FBI for deploying surveillance drones without clear guidance on how to protect privacy rights.

The Truth Behind the Spying.  [Scroll down]  There may be those who still think that the government spy program, PRISM, is actually about seeking out terrorists but I'm not that naïve nor is it even about seeking out criminal activity.  Why does the government want our telephone data?  Criminals and terrorists communicate via untraceable prepaid cell phones.  They do not sign up for cell service,; ordinary law abiding citizens do.  The miscreants are under the radar always.

Rand Paul: DNI Clapper 'Just Decided to Lie'.  Appearing on The Mike Church Show on Sirius XM Patriot 125, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had lost all credibility on the National Security Agency's snooping on American citizens.

No Cones of Silence in the Surveillance State.  Originally designed to spy on foreigners and track the foreign correspondence of suspected terrorists, today the National Security Agency digitally frisks U.S. citizens, capturing and storing their communications data for as long as five years.  Under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the NSA now claims the authority to systematically — and without warrants or court orders — sweep "metadata" into its dragnet, sourced from private telecom and server companies that enjoy immunity from civil liability or criminal prosecution.

We're all potential suspects and should be treated as such, apparently.  Earlier today [6/19/2013], a Washington Examiner editorial warned that "if phone records are useful now in stopping terrorist attacks, how long before politicians and bureaucrats decide archiving the entire phone call would be even more useful?  How long before the limitations and safeguards now in place are set aside?"  Within a few hours, King provided an illustration of precisely what the [Washington] Examiner editors fear.  Responding to a question by Fox News' Bill Hemmer about why the government needs everyone's phone numbers and not just suspects', King said, "Because if you don't have all of them, the system is incomplete."

Have there been any prosecutions if the NSA detected and stopped 50 terrorist plots?  You know the answer.
Will the Real Traitor Please Stand Up?  [Scroll down]  Gen. [Keith B.] Alexander swore to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Gen. Alexander shredded the Constitution and then deceived the U.S. Congress and the public about it on June 18.  On June 18, the NSA Director told us that "these programs" stopped specific threats of terrorism.  Approximately 50 acts of terrorism were prevented.  Whoa, there, cowboy!  Yellow penalty flag on the field!  We're not talking about "these programs" — but about one program in particular.

Living in Fear: Welcome to Fascist America.  I don't want to admit it, but it's true.  Every phone call I make, every email I send, every text I message, every article I write including this one, I imagine being bugged or recorded. [...] Just today I was going to follow up on some information about the wretched prevarications surrounding Benghazi and hesitated.  Should I email the source?  Telephone?  Send a letter?  Snail mail would take too long.  What about buying one of those throwaway phones at Radio Shack?  But then I would be compromising the recipients of my calls.  I would be implicating them.

The NSA state of secrecy must end.  The "war on terrorism" has gone on for 12 years, and while President Obama says it must end sometime, there is no end in sight.  Secret bureaucracies armed with secret powers and emboldened by the claim of defending the nation have proliferated and expanded.  The surprise of legislators at the scope of NSA surveillance shows that checks and balances have broken down.

Liberty, Security, Privacy, Big Brother, and the Concept of the Common Good.  The once mocked conspiracy theory of the all-knowing Big Brother state has shown itself to be far more of an ugly reality than a silly fantasy.  He who has called the War on Terror basically over has now been forced to admit that his administration has vastly expanded the concept of the security state in the name of 'public safety.'  The 'trust us' stance of government is no longer a working defense for such actions as this administration, and the federal agencies under its control, have shown that they simply cannot be trusted.

Government Secrets and the Need for Whistleblowers.  We don't know a lot about how the government spies on us, but we know some things.  We know the FBI has issued tens of thousands of ultra-secret National Security Letters to collect all sorts of data on people — we believe on millions of people — and has been abusing them to spy on cloud-computer users.  We know it can collect a wide array of personal data from the Internet without a warrant.  We also know that the FBI has been intercepting cell-phone data, all but voice content, for the past 20 years without a warrant, and can use the microphone on some powered-off cell phones as a room bug — presumably only with a warrant.

Big Brother is Listening: Granting DHS Domestic Spying Capabilities Will Open Citizens to Arrest.  [F]ar from apologizing for the betrayals of the public's trust, the Obama Administration has thrown another log onto the fire of public outrage.  According to a Reuters report, the Obama Administration is considering granting the Department of Homeland Security the same kind of powers the NSA has used to monitor the phone usage of millions of Americans who have done nothing more to arouse suspicion than use a cell phone.

Why you should worry about the NSA.  My concerns are twofold.  First, the law under which President George W. Bush and now President Obama have acted was not intended to give the government records of all telephone calls.  If that had been the intent, the law would have said that.  It didn't.  Rather, the law envisioned the administration coming to a special court on a case-by-case basis to explain why it needed to have specific records.  I am troubled by the precedent of stretching a law on domestic surveillance almost to the breaking point.  On issues so fundamental to our civil liberties, elected leaders should not be so needlessly secretive.

Witch Hunting, 2013: NSA, IRS, Justice.  The NSA gathers data on hundreds of millions of US citizens, without a warrant, through the corporate bend-over by Verizon (and who knows which other companies?), and then says that "surveillance has led to the thwarting of terrorist plots in the US and 20 other countries" as some kind of justification.  The NSA hasn't made any kind of case for the efficacy of these dragnets in the supposed thwart-ings.  There is no cause and effect; only a logically-unsupportable post hoc argument is offered.

Growing Distrust Of Obama Makes It Tough To Judge NSA Scandal.  The belated recognition of this administration's contempt for the truth, for the American people and for the Constitution of the United States, has been long overdue.  But what if the NSA program has in fact thwarted terrorists and saved many American lives in ways that cannot be revealed publicly?

The Editor says...
If that were indeed the case, there would be a long trail of arrests and trials resulting from the government's successful investigations — unless the secrecy of the wholesale data collection was more valuable than the prosecution of several dozen known (low-level?) terrorists.  This brings up another question:  If the FBI uncovered a plot to commit a violent act of terrorism and intercepted (arrested) the people involved, something would happen to those would-be terrorists.  The captured criminals would now be accumulating in "indefinite detention" somewhere.  (And it would have to be some place where they couldn't get together and deduce the common reason for their capture, i.e., cell phone tracking.)  Is that happening, or is the claim of dozens of preempted terrorist attacks simply untrue?

Government compromises our trust.  It looked bad last week, but it looks much, much worse now.  The federal government has been spying and lying.  The only comfort is that, apparently, it's been largely incompetent at both:  Nobody believes the lies, and the spying wasn't even able to catch the Tsarnaev brothers.

Exposure of NSA surveillance draws attention to Mueller remark about real time email tracking.  With the growing scrutiny of government databases and the extent of domestic surveillance, new questions are being raised about a program FBI Director Robert Mueller once said could pull in emails from U.S. citizens on domestic soil "as they come in."  Mueller's comments came during a routine Senate Judiciary Oversight Committee hearing in March 2011.  He said "technological improvements" to an existing database meant the agency would not miss important investigative leads found in email traffic.

Surveillance programs divide Democrats.  Revelations about the Obama administration's expansive domestic surveillance programs have opened a chasm between Democratic elected officials and their progressive base — one that could be tricky for the party's future presidential hopefuls to bridge.

"Officials" never lie.
Officials: NSA Doesn't Collect Cellphone-Location Records.  The National Security Agency sweeps up data on millions of cellphones and Internet communications under secret court orders.  But as it mounts a rigorous defense of its surveillance, the agency has disclosed new details that portray its efforts as tightly controlled and limited in scope, while successful in thwarting potential plots.  On Sunday [6/16/2013], officials said that though the NSA is authorized to collect "geolocational" information that can pinpoint the location of callers, it chooses not to.

The Editor says...
I find it difficult to believe that the NSA walks right up to an imaginary line, but never crosses it.  Of course they deny pinpointing specific cell phones' locations, but denial is what the NSA does best.  Until recently they probably denied the existence of the agency itself.

President Obama: NSA Spying Programs 'Transparent'.  President Obama said that two National Security Agency programs recently revealed through leaked secret documents were "transparent" and, in an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose on Sunday [6/16/2013], he dismissed concerns that the programs were vulnerable to abuse by government officials.

The False Excuse of National Security.  Does the Obama Administration actually want to fight terrorism all that much?  Or are they primarily interested in gathering vast amounts of information about American citizens?  Do their actions tell us where their attention is focused?  The proof, they say, is in the notorious pudding.  The government is being highly successful in invading the privacy of Americans and increasing control and surveillance.  The government is not doing so well fighting terrorism.  The actual behavior of the government points to development of a 'Big Brother" surveillance state and exposes national security as a phony excuse.

A Warped Prism.  [Scroll down]  There's also the problem of self-imposed filters, which we know exist in the NSA as they do in the TSA, Homeland Defense, Justice, and every other branch of government.  Namely, that we're not supposed to look at Muslims, Arabs, or Middle Easterners in search of terrorists.  It's a trap — don't fall for it.  Instead, closely watch evangelicals, Catholics, Tea Party members, and the like — and don't forget the nuns.  This explains how the Tsarnaevs and Nidal Hassan, independent quanta of evil, slipped through the ultimate information system totally undetected.  So the PRISM program is ultimately worth little, the billions spent on it as wasted as if the Manhattan Project had been intent of building a bomb using phlogiston.

NSA snooping: Facebook reveals details of data requests.  Facebook received 9,000-10,000 requests for user data from US government entities in the second half of 2012.  The social-networking site said the requests, relating to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, covered issues from local crime to national security.  Microsoft meanwhile said it received 6,000 and 7,000 requests for data from between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts.  Leaks by a former computer technician suggest the US electronic surveillance programme is far larger than was known.

Massive San Antonio NSA Data Center Raises Eyebrows.  Even as reports break about the size and scope of the National Security Agency's vast data storage center in Utah, new details are emerging about a second massive NSA center in San Antonio, Texas. [...] Originally, the NSA was much more transparent about the project, actually holding a job fair to promote their expansion in San Antonio.  But from 2007 on, the news about the site has been nonexistent.

Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks.  Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants.  New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA's Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations?

U.S. surveillance targets Internet, phone metadata.  On March 12, 2004, acting attorney general James B. Comey and the Justice Department's top leadership reached the brink of resignation over electronic surveillance orders that they believed to be illegal.  President George W. Bush backed down, halting secret foreign-intelligence-gathering operations that had crossed into domestic terrain.  That morning marked the beginning of the end of Stellarwind, the cover name for a set of four surveillance programs that brought Americans and American territory within the domain of the National Security Agency for the first time in decades.  It was also a prelude to new legal structures that allowed Bush and then President Obama to reproduce each of those programs and expand their reach.

Obama is Abrading the Social Fabric.  [Scroll down]  In any event, with the FBI having ignored specific warnings from the Russians about the Boston bombers and the administration announcing it will provide military support for the Syrian rebels just as they in turn announce their affiliation with Al Qaeda, the need for this elaborate record-gathering becomes ever less clear.  From the outside it seems as if in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt we are doing everything in our power to strengthen our enemies.  What's the point then creating this expensive apparatus to permit listening to their communications as if we still regarded them as enemies?

NSA can 'listen to U.S. phone calls' without a warrant, according to congressman.  The National Security Agency can listen to domestic phone calls without a warrant, according to a disclosure by Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, made during a briefing to members of Congress last Thursday [6/13/2013].  Listening to phone calls without a warrant is illegal — but according to Mr Nadler, the NSA does not obtain a warrant to listen to calls.

Nadler Backtracks: NSA Does Need Court Order.  It turns out that the surveillance of Americans may be even more dangerous and unsupervised than had been heretofore acknowledged — but the powers that be aren't willing to admit it.  The National Security Agency (NSA) admitted in a secret briefing that its analysts can decide to listen to Americans' phone calls without legal authorization.  Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, revealed that during the briefing to members of Congress, the NSA allowed that phone calls could be monitored "simply based on an analyst deciding that."  This means low-ranking analysts may be listening to Americans willy-nilly.

NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants.  The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant said.  Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

The 'scandalanche' & the data-mining.  The data-mining program first started at least seven years ago, under the authorization of the Patriot Act — after a similar Pentagon-based data-collection program was killed in 2003.  Fact is, the NSA — once so secret that its very existence went officially unacknowledged — has been quietly monitoring Americans for years.  Indeed, domestic monitoring without a warrant was explicity OK'd in the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, so long as the ostensible purpose was to track plots originating outside the country.

How did mainstream media get the NSA PRISM story so hopelessly wrong?  If you don't understand the technical workings of these surveillance programs, you can't understand whether they're working as intended, you can't identify where the government has overstepped its bounds, and you can't intelligently debate the proper response.  The fact that the government has maintained rigid secrecy compounds the problem. [...] The basic facts in that story aren't news.  We've known since at least 2006 that the U.S. security establishment is collecting details of phone calls and mining that data to identify calling patterns consistent with terrorist activity.

Senators skip classified briefing on NSA snooping to catch flights home.  A recent briefing by senior intelligence officials on surveillance programs failed to attract even half of the Senate, showing the lack of enthusiasm in Congress for learning about classified security programs.  Many senators elected to leave Washington early Thursday afternoon [6/13/2013] instead of attending a briefing with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), and other officials.

Surveillance and Its Discontents.  The ObamaCare mandate-tax that commands Americans to buy a private product is far more offensive to the Constitution than NSA reading the emails of terrorists overseas.  The regulatory agencies claim — and use — the power to seize property and control individual conduct.  The very administration of the entitlement state depends on tracking (Social Security numbers), data-processing (Medicare benefits) and individual scrutiny (tax audits).  The IRS knows far more about American citizens than the NSA does, and while there is much speculation about the potential for surveillance abuse, we now have real evidence of corruption at the IRS.  So which is the greater scandal?

Sens. Wyden & Udall: We Have Seen No Evidence NSA Surveillance Has Prevented 'Dozens Of Terrorist Events'.  During yesterday's [6/12/2013] Congressional hearings on the NSA, agency head General Keith Alexander claimed that the NSA's massive surveillance program has successfully prevented "dozens of terrorist events," but did not go into specifics.  Today Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall called on Alexander to clarify those remarks, saying in a joint statement that neither of them have seen any evidence to support what he said.

Metadata helps find terrorists — and Obama voters.  Great cries of shock and disillusionment are echoing across many precincts of President Obama's political base, particularly among academics, civil libertarians, nonprofit activists and media celebrities.  The howls of distress stem from the chief executive's stunning reversal on the scope and constitutionality of domestic surveillance programs at the National Security Agency and elsewhere in the federal government.  Although he vociferously opposed these programs while campaigning for president in 2008 and before, Obama began singing quite a different tune once he began working in the Oval Office.

The Way They Are.  [Scroll down]  The Obama administration has already engaged in systematic and widespread hiring of left-wing political activists into career government positions at the Department of Justice and presumably elsewhere.  Taking this into account, it is merely logical to assume that over the past four years many of the administration's activist worms have found their way into the woodwork at NSA and its contractors.  Given recent revelations, it is also common sense to suspect that at least some federal and private sector people with "PRISM access" clearance are individuals willing and able to use and abuse their power for political purposes.

Americans who cherish freedom must push back against government surveillance.  On Thursday, I held a news conference announcing my intent to pursue legal action against the federal government for infringing on Americans' Fourth Amendment rights.  The National Security Agency's collection of Verizon's client data probably only scratches the surface.  A court order that allows the government to obtain a billion records a day and does not name an individual target is clearly beyond the scope of the Fourth Amendment, which states clearly that warrants must be specific to the person and the place.

Fearless Fosdick at work.  The Obama administration and its well-meaning defenders, including several Republican members of Congress, argue that just because the government can discover intimate details about everyone's life, beliefs, politics, sexual orientation, health, diseases and sexual infidelities doesn't mean it would, with the click of a computer mouse, ever identify and mark this person for personal attention.  (We trust the IRS, don't we?)  If the snoopery were as innocent as these defenders claim, the government wouldn't have gone to so much trouble — in "the least most untruthful manner" — to hide what it was doing.

U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms.  Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.  These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency.

Privacy Isn't All We're Losing.  The U.S. surveillance state as outlined and explained by Edward Snowden is not worth the price.  Its size, scope and intrusiveness, its ability to target and monitor American citizens, its essential unaccountability — all these things are extreme.  The purpose of the surveillance is enhanced security, a necessary goal to say the least.  The price is a now formal and agreed-upon acceptance of the end of the last vestiges of Americans' sense of individual distance and privacy from the government.

How Yahoo Fought PRISM — And Lost.  Yahoo, one of the companies named as part of the NSA's PRISM data collection program, didn't go quietly, according to a New York Times scoop posted late Thursday [6/13/2013].  The company was behind a 2008 court challenge to fight a court order requiring the company to give them data without a warrant, which they lost.  That, according to the Times, ushered the company into PRISM.

Tea Party on NSA Snooping: We Told You Not to Trust Big Government!  Everyone knows the IRS is a bunch of jerks.  But the NSA combing through people's phone calls and emails?  That's a whole different level of sinister.

Lawmakers tire of playing '20 questions'in surveillance briefings.  Some members of the Congress say that getting straight answers from intelligence agencies about top-secret surveillance is like playing the game "20 Questions," where answers come only if a questioner knows exactly what to ask.

Spying on Americans: the Legal Status of Emails.  This topic has several main issues.  At the top of the list is President Obama's outrageous statement that Americans may need to give up some freedom for security from terrorism.  The president has no right to decide what degree of freedom Americans can have.  The freedom Americans have is defined not by any one elected official but by the Constitution.  The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution has very precise language that directly applies to the NSA's seizure of personal information.

The Founders warned us.  [Scroll down]  I was reminded of this exchange the other day when an author and one of the strongest backers of the Patriot Act, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., reacted angrily to the news that the Obama administration has been secretly monitoring, compiling and analyzing phone records from literally millions of Verizon customers and other cellphone and email user — all in the name of national security.  Even early champions such as Mr. Sensenbrenner never contemplated the broad seizure of data now being justified under laws they passed in the name of national security.

Blame Wyden, not Clapper, for 'lie' to Congress on NSA surveillance.  Outrage is brewing on the Left and Right over charges that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress about NSA data collection.  But the outrage is misdirected.  What is outrageous is not that Clapper tried to protect classified information in an open session, but that Senator Ron Wyden asked him the question in open session the first place.  Wyden, an opponent of the NSA program, asked Clapper in front of television cameras:  "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"  Wyden knew the answer.  He knew the answer was classified.  He knew that Clapper could not answer it in open session.  Yet he asked it anyway.

Lindsey Graham Says He Would Suggest Censoring The Mail, If He 'Thought It Necessary'.  Yahoo's Chris Moody reports that outspoken security hawk Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would propose censoring American postal mail if he thought it a "necessary" method to protecting the United States from future terror attacks.  The senator compared the hypothetical situation to World War II, in which all Americans had a "mentality" that their way of life was "at risk," and thus surveillance was necessary.

The Editor says...
Brilliant idea, Senator.  The Postal Service can barely deliver the mail, with machines reading the zip codes to sort it all out.  Senator Graham's idea would bring mail delivery to a standstill — with the exception of unsolicited junk mail.

Intelligence chief Clapper: I gave 'least untruthful' answer on U.S. spying.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is really struggling to explain why he told Congress in March (see video above) that the National Security Agency does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans.  His latest take:  It's an unfair question, he said, like "When are you going to stop beating your wife?"  And it seems to depend on the meaning of "collect."  "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying 'no,'" Clapper told NBC News on Sunday [6/9/2013].

Obama administration under pressure as US senators demand end to secrecy.  A bill, to be introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, would force the US government to disclose the opinions of a secretive surveillance court that determines the scope of the eavesdropping on Americans' phone records and internet communications.  Separately, a leading member of the Senate intelligence committee came close to saying that James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, misled him on the scope of government surveillance during a March hearing.

Sharpton: You Can't Blame Obama for Secret Surveillance.  Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday that President Barack Obama is not to blame for the National Security Agency's secret surveillance program — former President George W. Bush is, because laws allowing it were enacted under his administration.  These are laws put into effect under President Bush.  There are plenty of Democrats who are upset about this too.  I do not agree with the Patriot Act, but you can't blame President Obama for it," Sharpton said on MSNBC's "PoliticsNation."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper jokes about reading people's emails at black-tie dinner.  Foot-in-mouth-prone Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke at a black-tie dinner honoring former CIA and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden on Friday night and — just days after admitting that he'd provided false testimony to Congress in regards to the Prism program — started cracking jokes about reading people's emails.

Yahoo, Google, Facebook and more face fight to salvage reputations over NSA leaks.  Google. Apple. Facebook. Microsoft:  they are the brands that want the world to trust them with personal information, emails, photos, documents — yet they are now facing a battle to maintain that trust after disclosures that the US government was given access to their customers' data online via the Prism programme operated by the NSA.  The companies involved — Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple — vigorously deny giving the Obama administration backdoor access to users' internet information, but the potential damage to their brand reputation has left the companies floundering for a way to respond.

Google wants to tell you more about the info spy agencies are seeking.  Google is asking the Obama administration for permission to disclose more information about requests it gets from national intelligence agencies for its users' emails and other online communications.  The technology giant made the request in a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday [6/11/2013].  Google is trying to counteract damaging media reports that the company allows the National Security Agency access to users' online communications.

Liberty vs security.  The row over government surveillance that is convulsing America has inevitably prompted questions about Britain's own online snooping.  That is only natural:  GCHQ is by far the largest (and most secretive) of our intelligence organisations, and its links with the National Security Agency are practically umbilical — central not just to the Special Relationship, but to keeping us safe from terrorists and foreign hackers.

NSA Debate Pits Far Left, Right Against the Middle.  Revelations of massive government collections of Americans' phone and email records have reinvigorated an odd-couple political alliance of the far left and right.

Obama tracking whatever you say and do. You're Americans?  [Scroll down]  Under the court order, "the information is classed as 'metadata,' or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access" ("NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily," Greenwald, The Guardian, June 5).  Furthermore, the Verizon court order is covered by "the so-called 'business records' provision of the Patriot Act ... That is the provision which (Sen. Ron) Wyden and (Sen. Mark) Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration's extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance."

Let's Rescue Metadata From the Spy Agencies.  Once the civil libertarians have had their say, let's hope the really interesting questions start being asked.  What is surveillance of telecommunications metadata really costing us?  Remember, this is not the same as listening to phone calls and reading emails, but collecting the outward characteristics of various electronic transactions and seeing how they relate to other transactions.  Does it yield actionable warnings?  Is it really a cost-effective contribution to security?  And the most interesting question of all:  If meta-surveillance is worth doing, who says the national-security types who have taken ownership of the technology are the best ones to extract the social gains from it?

What we know about the NSA's secret data data warehouse in Utah.  The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails.

The Fuse Has Been Lit: Seven Critical Points on Uncle Sam's Spying ProgramFirst, if the PRISM program and all the rest of the government's surveillance programs were so good and necessary, then why didn't the feds catch the Tsarnaev brothers, who earlier this year blew up the Boston Marathon?  Or Major Hassan, the 2009 Fort Hood mass-murderer?  Or the "underwear bomber," also from 2009, who nearly succeeded in blowing up the passenger jet flying into Detroit?  Second, if and when everything is revealed about PRISM and all the rest, it's likely that we will learn of important and inculpating connections between the National Security Agency (NSA), on the one hand, and many civilian agencies, on the other.

How can Google (or anyone) prove something is not happening in the super-secret NSA, or prove that the NSA can't do something extraordinary?
Exclusive: Google to DOJ: Let us prove to users that NSA isn't snooping on them.  There is a "serious misperception" about the National Security Agency's PRISM program, Google chief legal officer David Drummond said in an exclusive interview with Fox News.  On Tuesday [6/11/2013] the company pushed back against the layers of secrecy surrounding the agency's alleged blanket snooping on American citizens.  "We were as shocked about those revelations as anyone," Drummond told Fox News, in an interview with Fox News' Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge.

Obama-knows-best goes bust.  "Trust me" is President Barack Obama's preferred mode of action in times of crisis — and his go-to comment to nervous staffers has always been some version of "Relax, I got this."  But that message is an increasingly hard sell for Obama in his second term, following revelations that the man who once railed against the Bush administration over civil liberties abuses has himself surreptitiously quarterbacked the greatest expansion of electronic surveillance in U.S. history.

CNN's Jake Tapper Dismisses GOP Rep. Peter King's 'Slippery Slope' Demand NSA Journalists Be Prosecuted.  On Tuesday [6/11/2013], Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told CNN host Anderson Cooper that he believed the journalists who broke the story relating to the National Security Agency's communications monitoring programs should be prosecuted.  CNN host Jake Tapper addressed this claim on the network's morning show Starting Point where he dismissed King's claim saying that it was simply not a feasible course for the government to pursue.

Ted Cruz: Obama targeting enemies, can't be trusted.  Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday decried the spread of unaccountable federal agencies like the IRS and National Security Agency caught prying into American lives, charging that President Obama's promise that his administration isn't snooping on citizens can't be trusted.  What's more, Cruz said that by spreading a broad net to include average Americans in its search for terrorists via the NSA, the administration missed catching actual U.S. enemies such as the Boston Marathon bombers and the Fort Hood, Texas killer.

Philadelphia Couple Join Class-Action Lawsuit Against NSA's Verizon Spying.  A Philadelphia couple has joined the first class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration over the National Security Agency's collection of millions of customer phone records from Verizon.  The plaintiffs are calling the domestic spy operation a breach of privacy.  Filed in federal court in Washington, DC on Sunday, the lawsuit names a host of heavy hitters including President Obama, the NSA, and the Department of Justice.

NSA revelations only 'the tip of the iceberg,' says Dem lawmaker.  The federal surveillance programs revealed in media reports are just "the tip of the iceberg," a House Democrat said Wednesday [6/12/2013].  Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said lawmakers learned "significantly more" about the spy programs at the National Security Agency (NSA) during a briefing on Tuesday with counterterrorism officials.  "What we learned in there," Sanchez said, "is significantly more than what is out in the media today."

White House: If lawmakers didn't know about NSA program, that's their fault.  Congressional ignorance about the National Security Agency's phone record collection exists because lawmakers skipped briefings on the program, according to President Obama's spokesman, who maintained that the program had sufficient congressional oversight.  "I think it's been amply demonstrated that with regards to both sections of the Patriot Act and the programs that exist under those authorities that members of Congress were briefed or had the opportunity to be briefed on them," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters during the gaggle today [6/12/2013].

Sensenbrenner: Obama Administration's NSA Assurances 'a Bunch of Bunk'.  Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the PATRIOT Act on the House floor in 2001, has declared that lawmakers' and the executive branch's excuses about recent revelations of NSA activity are "a bunch of bunk."  In an interview on Laura Ingraham's radio show Wednesday morning, [6/12/2013] the Republican congressman from Wisconsin reiterated his concerns that the administration and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court have gone far beyond what the PATRIOT Act intended.  Specifically, he said that Section 215 of the act "was originally drafted to prevent data mining" on the scale that's occurred.

Did someone mention the Patriot Act?

NSA Built Back Door In All Windows Software by 1999.  In researching the stunning pervasiveness of spying by the government (it's much more wide spread than you've heard even now), we ran across the fact that the FBI wants software programmers to install a backdoor in all software.  Digging a little further, we found a 1999 article by leading European computer publication Heise which noted that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software.

The domino effect begins:
Atty. In Fla. Robbery Case Seeks NSA Phone Records.  The lawyer for a man on trial in a South Florida armored car robbery is seeking cellphone records possibly produced by a recently revealed National Security Agency surveillance program, according to federal court documents.

Fox's Brit Hume Dismisses NSA Uproar As 'Misplaced Hysteria'.  Appearing on Tuesday afternoon [6/11/2013], Fox senior political analyst Brit Hume dismissed the uproar over the National Security Agency's snooping revelations as "misplaced hysteria," adding that he sees no "abuse" whatsoever in what has been revealed.  If anything, he said, NSA leaker Edward Snowden is the one who committed an abuse.  "Of the abuses that [Snowden] claims exist in this program," Hume continued, "his explanation has been vague to the point of non-existent."  He then told host Chris Stirewalt he doesn't see anything wrong with what has been revealed about the NSA's surveillance programs.

I suppose we will have to take his word for it because apparently it's all secret.
NSA chief: Surveillance programs thwarted 'dozens of terrorist plots'.  The director of the National Security Agency portrayed the collection of millions of U.S. telephone records each day as a limited program designed to thwart terrorist plots, but made it clear that the NSA needed only a "reasonable suspicion" of a terrorist link to search the vast databank, not a separate court order.

Obama's 2007 Promise: 'No More Illegal Wiretapping of American Citizens'.  His administration would not "spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime, " then-Senator Obama promised in a Woodrow Wilson International Center, Council on Foreign Relations speech on August 1, 2007:  "I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.["]  [Video clip]

It's The U.S. Constitution, Stupid!  The Obama administration has thrown out all the rules, insisting that when you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it's OK to seize the haystack, keep it permanently on record and to look for whatever needle they want at any time they want.  They say they're looking for terrorists but can't find or stop those they have in plain sight.  Such sweeping surveillance did not catch the "underwear" bomber who, thanks to sheer luck and alert passengers, failed to bring down an airliner over Detroit.  It did not catch the Tsarnaev brothers as they freely traveled to the terrorist haven they called home before bombing the Boston Marathon.  It did not stop Maj. Nidal Hasan before he slaughtered U.S. soldiers and civilians at Ft. Hood.  It has not found those responsible for the attack in Benghazi.

Washington's dark secrets.  The secret court that apparently authorized this program operates nothing like the judicial branch contemplated by the Constitution as a check on abuses of governmental power and a neutral evaluator of whether governmental conduct complies with the Constitution.  Its decisions are made in secret and not generally subject to appellate review.  And there is no role built into the system for someone to counter the government's arguments.

ACLU Sues U.S. Over Phone Data Collection.  The National Security Agency's broad collection of U.S. phone customer data received its first significant legal challenge since the disclosure of the program last week.  The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, alleging that the National Security Agency was violating the ACLU's constitutional rights.  The ACLU said it is a customer of Verizon Communications Inc.'s Verizon Business Network Services and it said metadata from the ACLU's phone calls are being collected.

A.C.L.U. Sues to Bar 'Dragnet' Collection of Phone Records.  The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday [6/11/2013] filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its "dragnet" collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed by a former National Security Agency contractor last week — is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged.

The Editor says...
The Muslim terrorists know the government monitors phone calls and correlates the numbers.  That's why they buy a thousand cell phones at a time and use them only once.

Is the American surveillance state out of control?  This week's Telegram is a highly charged debate about America and security.  Tim Stanley says the information released by Edward Snowden shows an Obama administration exercising "weird and creepy" control over its citizens.  Dan Hodges says the libertarian Left and Right are in an "unholy alliance", trying to scare voters about legitimate security measures.

US allies "stunned" at scope of NSA surveillance.  Who can blame them?  As the scope of the NSA surveillance programs became a little clearer since their exposure last week, the ostensible targets abroad turned out to be a little unhappy with Uncle Big Brother, too.

Hoyer: No comparison between Obama, Bush secret surveillance.  Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday defended the Obama administration's domestic spying programs, arguing that, unlike the secret surveillance under President George W. Bush, the current programs appear legal.

Progressives, Democrats must stand with New York Times against Obama on NSA phone records collection.  The events of the past month — from the Associated Press subpoena to the James Rosen search warrant to the revelation that our government has been indiscriminately collecting phone records data — have forced liberals to make a choice between complacency and outrage, between keeping silent because one of our own is in the White House and calling him out on betraying the principles for which we have fought for so long.

Two times the government used its anti-terrorism powers to target Americans not engaged in terrorism.  The revelations detailing the extent of the National Security Agency's espionage capabilities raises the specter that their powers could be misused to target Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism.  In fact, allegations of such misconduct already exist.  Here are two examples where anti-terrorism powers granted to law enforcement were allegedly used to target American citizens not engaged in terrorism.

Even law-abiding people should oppose surveillance.  [W]hy should law-abiding citizens mind federal surveillance?  The answer begins with this distressing reality:  None of us scrupulously obeys the law.  Technically speaking, we're all criminals.  Federal and state criminal statutes have multiplied like rabbits over the decades, and so now everyone breaks the law, probably every day. [...] Citizens that the federal government wants to indict, the federal government can indict if it monitors them closely enough.  That's why it's so disturbing to learn that the federal government doesn't need to obtain a warrant on us in order to get our emails and phone records.

The Totalitarianism at the Heart of the Obama Scandals.  [Scroll down]  Then of course the National Security Agency was caught recently collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers.  But the intrusive secret data-mining didn't end there.  Through a top-secret communications surveillance program called PRISM, instituted during the War on Terror years of the Bush administration, the U.S. intelligence community can access the servers of nine Internet behemoths such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype and Facebook for a wide range of digital data.  That NSA service has grown exponentially under Obama, which is curious since he declared the War on Terror to be over.

Was President Obama the leaker?  [Scroll down]  But the Obama administration didn't release the details on these programs.  In fact, they've pursued an energetic war on the kinds of leaks that have led to details on these programs.  So for Obama to say he "welcomes" this debate is a bit rich.  He did everything in his power to keep it from happening.  He may still try and throw the people who did create this debate in jail.  Unless, of course, he actually was the leaker.

The Patriot Act is merely a fig leaf to cover what tyrants would do anyway.
Document: Sen. Obama Opposed 'Government Fishing Expeditions' Under Patriot Act.  A "Dear Colleague" letter signed by then-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in 2005 urged an end to "government fishing expeditions" under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to gather records on American citizens indiscriminately.  The letter was also signed by eight other Senators, including John Kerry (D-MA) and Chuck Hagel (R-ND), who currently serve in President Obama's Cabinet as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, respectively.

Big Brother Really Is Watching Us.  When Americans expressed outrage last week over the seizure and surveillance of Verizon's client data by the National Security Agency, President Obama responded:  "In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother ... but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance."  How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon?  Hundreds of millions.  We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies.  These are the "details," and few Americans consider this approach "balanced," though many rightly consider it Orwellian.

Verizon's Top Secret Deal With Pentagon Was Made Public in Regular, Annual Filing With SEC.  The Verizon explanation is not in the vague and cryptic memo the company issued last week after the Guardian exposed its program.  It came, instead, in the company's annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, included in Verizon's annual report to shareholders.

What If China Hacks the NSA's Massive Data Trove?  In the wrong hands, it could enable blackmail on a massive scale, widespread manipulation of U.S. politics, industrial espionage against American businesses, and other mischief I can't even imagine.  The plan is apparently to store the data indefinitely, just in case the government needs it for future investigations.  Don't worry, national security officials tell us, we won't ever look at most of it.  Do you trust the government to keep it secure, forever, if others try to look?

Rasmussen: Only 30% of Americans Trust the Government over Surveillance.  According to a new Rasmussen poll, only 30% of Americans trust the government to use the Constitution as a guide for surveillance issues, while 52% of respondents do not.  When asked whether they believed Barack Obama when he said the government was not listening to their phone calls, 68% of those polled said that it was at least somewhat likely that Obama was not telling the truth.

All the Infrastructure a Tyrant Would Need, Courtesy of Bush and Obama.  To an increasing degree, we're counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils.  Bush and Obama have built infrastructure any devil would lust after.  Behold the items on an aspiring tyrant's checklist that they've provided their successors [...]

Where's the evidence that data mining saves lives?  We know that complete strangers are looking at our Facebook pages.  Should we be surprised that the government is too?  Probably not.  But you might be surprised to find out that all this information the NSA and other agencies are collecting is not very useful for stopping terrorists, which is why it's being collected in the first place.  To date, there have been practically no examples of a terrorist plot being pre-emptively thwarted by data mining these huge electronic caches.

White House Plays Down Data Program.  The Obama administration tried Saturday [6/8/2013] to marshal new evidence in defense of its collection of private Internet and telephone data, arguing that a secret program called Prism is simply an "internal government computer system" designed to sort through court-supervised collection of data, and that Congress has been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.

The horses have escaped the barn, and now Big Brother now tries to deny there were any horses.
U.S. Official Releases Details of Prism Program.  A top U.S. intelligence official on Saturday declassified some details about the purpose and operations of an effort that obtains information from U.S. Internet companies as part of foreign-surveillance efforts.  James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence, issued a statement and fact sheet to correct what he characterized as "significant misimpressions" in articles by the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers, which asserted that the government had direct access to computer systems of nine technology companies.  The papers based their reports on a presentation from the National Security Agency that used a previously undisclosed term Prism.

Total surveillance society: The government claims the right to read everything.  We knew this administration didn't like the Second Amendment.  We knew it has reservations about the First Amendment, and now we learn that it has dispensed with the Fourth Amendment.  The only amendment the administration really likes is the Fifth.  The more we learn about the government's extraordinary ability to read emails, listen to telephone calls and track individual movements, the more frightened everyone should be.  New code names, such as Prism, the National Security Agency program that directly mines all information from Gmail, Facebook and other services, have replaced Echelon and Carnivore as scare words.

It's A Small Step From Obama's Surveillance To Orwell.  President Obama says his domestic surveillance practices are "modest encroachments on privacy."  Sure.  And, as in Orwell's "1984," "Freedom Is Slavery" and "Ignorance Is Strength."  Barack Obama is now not only following George Orwell's model in his newly uncovered domestic spying practices; he's copying one of the most shocking aspects of the dystopian society Orwell conjured:  telling people the exact opposite of the truth with a straight face.  He boasted an executive branch with "the toughest transparency rules of any administration in history."

What the feds can learn from your digital crumbs.  If you've signed into Google and searched, saved a file in your Dropbox folder, made a phone call using Skype, or just woken up in the morning and checked your email, you're leaving a trail of digital crumbs. [...] Raytheon's Rapid Information Overlay Technology (or RIOT) software was built to make some of this searching easier.  Its government customers use it to compile case files of location data scraped from checkins on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other public social outlets.

The Totalitarian Left is Back.  Nothing in the Patriot Act authorizes the government-wide abuse of power by the IRS, EPA, FBI, DOJ, and other agencies with the coercive powers against Americans and foreigners.  The fault is not in the Patriot Act, but in Obama's Chicago-style one-party machine style of governance.  And rather than defending our freedoms, the leftist media colluded with abuse of power until after the election of 2012.  The New York Times is the biggest gear in the Obama Machine and they know it.

Admitting the NSA is out of control is just the first step.  Members of Congress are expressing their concern and outrage over the latest revelations of widespread data gathering by the NSA.  It is astonishing that they have only just discovered this problem; it has a history going back 50 years, and they voted for much of the legislation which enabled this kind of widespread violation of citizen rights.

The NSA Squirrel!  The NSA snooping revelations create a huge fuss that distracts the press and prevents the public (especially conservatives) from learning the grueseome details of the 1000 page Schumer-Rubio immigration disaster now on the Senate floor — yet doesn't hurt Obama's approval ratings like the IRS scandal does.

The NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data.  The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.  The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message.

Obama Ordered List of Foreign Targets for Cyberwar AttackThe Guardian has uncovered a Presidential Policy Directive in which Obama ordered national security and intelligence officials to compile a list of overseas targets for U.S. cyber attacks.  The directive — number 20 — was issued in October 2012 but never published.

It's about to get very ugly.  [Scroll down]  "If anyone thinks that what's going on right now with all of this surveillance of American citizens is to fight some sort of foreign enemy, they're delusional.  If people think that this 'scandal' can't get any worse, it will, hour by hour, day by day. [..."]

Justice Department Fights Release of Secret Court Opinion Finding Unconstitutional Surveillance.  In the midst of revelations that the government has conducted extensive top-secret surveillance operations to collect domestic phone records and internet communications, the Justice Department was due to file a court motion Friday [6/7/2013] in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.

Tech Companies Concede to Surveillance Program.  When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world's largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled.  In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.  Twitter declined to make it easier for the government.  But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.

PRISM Biggest Contributor to Obama Intel Briefings.  The National Security Agency's top-secret slide presentation detailing the PRISM system that collects the contents of emails, video and web chat, and photos states that PRISM is the biggest contributor of information to President Barack Obama's daily intelligence briefing, known officially as the President's Daily Brief (PDB).  In the last year, PRISM data was cited in Obama's PDB 1,477 times.

Prism: first they came for the online extremists.  Why worry when the government isn't ever going to be bothered about what you personally do?  But what you do online, who you choose to email, what you choose to watch, what you read, listen to and comment on, doesn't matter until the day it suddenly does.  You can raise your eyebrows at wholesale surveillance efforts until it's you that ends up wrongly flagged on a watch list or monitored closely because of your political beliefs or those of people you are acquainted with.

Lawmakers rebut Obama's data defense.  President Barack Obama's chief defense of his administration's wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday:  Congress authorized them, with "every member" well aware of the details.  Not so, say many members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike.

Dem. Senator disputes Obama's claim that Congress was briefed.  Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday disputed a claim President Obama made at a press conference only moments earlier, when the president said that every member of Congress had been briefed on the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic phone surveillance program.  Merkley said only select members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had been briefed on the program, and that he was only aware of it because he obtained "special permission" to review the pertinent documents after hearing about it second-hand.

Mystery deepens: Are tech behemoths participating in PRISM voluntarily?  Go look at this post at TechCrunch rounding up reaction from Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.  All of them deny giving the feds "direct access" to their servers; some of them claim never to have even heard of PRISM until WaPo's story yesterday.  "But wait," you say, "what if they're being slippery in their statements and they actually gave the feds indirect access to their servers?"  That's possible.  Other people have noticed that loophole too.

Massive secret surveillance betrays Americans.  By any measure, the government's secret seizure of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records over the past seven years is outrageous.  But it shouldn't be the least bit surprising.  When a panicked Congress, driven by a panicked electorate, hands the government nearly unlimited power to collect people's records — then makes sure the intrusion will be kept secret — overreach is guaranteed.

President Obama Doesn't Welcome Debate, He Actively Thwarts It.  President Obama kept the data collection in question a highly classified state secret.  If it were up to the White House, we wouldn't know of the program's existence, ever.  As a consequence, there would have been no debate about its appropriateness.  If Obama values debate, he doesn't value it as much as keeping secrets that inevitably make debate impossible.

How to Keep the NSA at Bay: The Tricks From Privacy Experts.  You think because you live in the suburbs and you work at an insurance company that Big Brother will never come for you? [...] What if they transpose a digit or two and mix you up with a suspected terrorist and break down your door in the middle of the night and shoot your dog?

US officials long denied massive data trawling.  For years, top officials of the Bush and Obama administrations dismissed fears about secret government data-mining by reassuring Congress that there were no secret nets trawling for Americans' phone and Internet records.

Now It's Credit Cards and Correspondence; What Next?  The initial revelations about NSA's collection of metadata on telephone calls has triggered an avalanche of stories about previously unknown, or only suspected, surveillance projects.  First the Washington Post reported (maybe inaccurately) on the PRISM project; then the Wall Street Journal reported that the NSA also collects "purchase information from credit-card providers;" today it came out that the post office photographs the front and back of every piece of mail, and preserves the images for criminal/terrorist investigations.  Who knew?

Feds: Postal Service photographs every piece of mail it processes.
Ricin Suspect Was Tracked Via Mail Scanners.  [Scroll down]  According to FBI Agent James Spiropoulos, investigators accessed a Postal Service computer system that incorporates a Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) program which photographs and captures an image of every mail piece that is processed."  Agents were able to obtain front and back images of about 20 mail pieces that had been processed "immediately before the mail piece addressed to Mayor Bloomberg."

NSA taps in to internet giants' systems to mine user data, secret files reveal.  The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.  The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program.  The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

Mark Levin On NSA Tracking: "We Have The Elements Of A Police State Here".  On Thursday's broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," conservative talk show host Mark Levin reacted to recent revelations that the National Security Agency had been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers.  He said that the NSA news in addition to other openings for intrusion by the federal government are the makings of a "police state."

New Phone Record Seizures Raise Fundamental Issues.  First we learn the federal government is harassing anti-big-government organizations and spying on journalists.  Now we find it collecting all phone records of over 100 million Americans.  Is this "limited government"?

Why the gov't source leaked PRISM.  "They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type," the officer said.

Sources: NSA sucks in data from 50 companies.  In a statement, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that programs collect communications "pursuant to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," and "cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S person, or anyone within the United States."  He called the leaks "reprehensible" and said the program "is among the most important" sources of "valuable" intelligence information the government takes in.

Apple, Google Deny Giving NSA 'Back Door' Access To Systems, Claim 'Never Heard Of PRISM'.  In light of revelations about the top secret PRISM program used by the FBI and NSA to mine data from users of nine of the largest American Internet companies, two of those companies are now denying any cooperation with the government on such a program.  Spokespeople for both Apple and Google have released statements that indicate if the government is obtaining data from their systems it is doing it without the companies' involvement.

'Fascism!': The Five's Beckel Explodes At Obama Administration Over 'Deplorable' NSA Phone Records Grab.  "I think it is one of the most outrageous examples of the stepping on the Constitution I've heard," Beckel began.  "They have no right to the phone records...  It is illegal, it is unconstitutional and it is deplorable.  I didn't like it when they did it during the Bush administration and I don't like when they're doing it now."  "They have taken this PATRIOT Act, which I think was the most dangerous act passed, and they have taken it and abused it," Beck added.

US Declassifies Phone Program Details After Uproar.  President Barack Obama declared Friday [6/7/2013] that America is "going to have to make some choices" balancing privacy and security, launching a vigorous defense of formerly secret programs that sweep up an estimated 3 billion phone calls a day and amass Internet data from U.S. providers in an attempt to thwart terror attacks.

'No Such Agency' spies on the communications of the world.  The National Security Agency, nicknamed "No Such Agency" because of its ultra-secrecy, is the government's eavesdropper-in-chief.  Charged primarily with electronic spying around the globe, the NSA collects billions of pieces of intelligence from foreign phone calls, e-mail and other communications.  But in the past two days, the focus has shifted to its role in compiling massive amounts of the same information on millions of ordinary Americans.

U.S. Collects Vast Data Trove.  The National Security Agency's monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency's activities.

Phone Record Gathering Story Blown Out of Proportion.  Now, we begin to see the wages of having an administration that abuses its awesome powers, then, as night follows day, stonewalls and misleads Congress and the public.  Crucial national security measures, which operate on the forgiving assumption that government officials will conduct themselves honorably, are put at risk.  The Washington Post publishes a wildly exaggerated report this morning about the government's collection of telephone records for national security purposes.  Mind you, I said collection of telephone records, not wiretapping of telephone conversations, a critical distinction.

Thank You for Data-Mining.  Well, another day, another Washington furor.  This one is over a National Security Agency phone data monitoring program, but unlike the other White House scandals there seems to be little here that is scandalous.  The existence of the program was exposed years ago and such surveillance is a core part of the war on terror, if we can still use that term.

How Outraged Should You Be About the NSA Grabbing Your Phone Logs?  Washington is reeling after a court order was uncovered last night showing Verizon has secretly been handing over reams of customer phone records to the National Security Agency on a daily basis.  The records don't contain the content of phone calls — so, just to be clear, this isn't wiretapping — but they do contain information such as phone numbers, the location and duration of calls, and subscriber and handset ID numbers, all of which fall under the category of "telephony metadata."

The Editor says...
I beg to differ:  To wiretap someone's phone is "to make a connection to a telegraph or telephone wire in order to obtain information secretly."*  If I put a device across my neighbor's phone wires and recorded the numbers they called, without recording the voices on the line, I can assure you the District Attorney would still call it a wiretap.

Dems: Obama admin spying 'un-American, 'alarming'.  Bay State Democrats are slamming the Obama administration's actions as "un-American" for secretly collecting phone records from millions of average citizens, demanding the federal government stop its sweeping spy programs.  "This is absolutely un-American as far as I'm concerned, and I'm a strong supporter of the president," said U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Somerville.

The Editor says...
Well, Mr. Capuano, you voted for the guy, I didn't.  If it is "un-American" and Obama's doing it, and you are "a strong supporter of the president," then you are a strong supporter of that which is un-American.  Unless you'd like to lead the charge for impeachment, you should spare us your outrage.

Scope of phone records seizure causes alarm; data collection goes beyond Verizon.  The Obama administration on Thursday defended its secret seizure of the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens as part of counterterrorism efforts, while privacy advocates blasted the move as illegal and a debate erupted in Congress over the intended scope of a key surveillance law.  In a new development, the National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies in real time, obtaining audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails and other information, various news outlets reported.  The program is code-named PRISM.

Obama administration pushes back on NSA document leaks.  On top of a Guardian newspaper report that revealed how authorities were collecting phone records from millions, a Washington Post report detailed another program that scours major Internet companies including Google and Facebook for data.  A former senior NSA official confirmed to Fox News that the program was started in 2007 by the FBI and NSA and allows them to tap into top U.S. Internet companies to pull audio, video and other data.

Fear the cyber enemy within or without?  What is more troubling — governments that apparently disregard the privacy of our phone calls and online activity in the interests of national security, or governments that seem to put a higher priority on hi-tech inward investment than on protecting national security?  In the past 24 hours, we have had alleged examples of both.

Time to Dial Up Some Healthy Skepticism.  It's important to emphasize that the NSA isn't listening to the content of these calls.  Indeed, it couldn't if it wanted to, given the sheer volume of conversations.  It'd be like one person trying to eavesdrop on every single conversation in a packed football stadium.

The Editor says...
How is anyone outside the government able to state with any certainty that "the NSA isn't listening to the content of these calls"?  A week ago, nobody knew they were keeping track of the phone numbers being called, so if the NSA is recording as many calls as they can, it's obviously still secret, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Report: U.S. Agents Tapping Servers of Leading Internet Companies.  The U.S. government is reportedly mining data from at least nine leading Internet companies through a secret program code-named PRISM that is aimed at sifting through foreign communications traffic to track potential terrorists.  On the heels of a report earlier this week revealing the U.S. is collecting phone records from Verizon (VZ), the news is likely to raise the heat in a renewed debate about the government's surveillance authority.

If Mr. Obama had a closer relationship with the truth, I might give him the benefit of the doubt.
Obama: Surveillance programs involve 'modest encroachments' on privacy, help fight terror.  President Obama defended the government's internet surveillance as a "modest encroachment" on the privacy of Americans, but he maintained that the programs initiated by George W. Bush help keep Americans safe, adding that he increased oversight of the surveillance.

We should be shocked at the American tapping scandal, and shocked that Obama doesn't seem to care.  You know all those bearded survivalist types holed up in places like Idaho with their paranoid anti-government conspiracy theories?  Suddenly they're looking rather less paranoid.  The rest of us, by contrast, are rushing to adjust our world view.  The revelation that the U.S. Government systematically taps online communications challenges the way we think about freedom, the way we think about privacy, the way we think about the Internet and, not least, the way we think about America.

Dem. Senator Contradicts Obama: 'I Had No Idea' About PRISM.  Appearing on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that he was never briefed on the National Security Agency's sweeping PRISM program which databases electronic communications data.  Merkley said that he had no idea about the program and he suspects that a small number of members of the congressional intelligence committees were the only individuals informed of the program.

Your Computer is Bugging Your House.  The computer you are sitting at right now probably has a microphone.  It probably also has a camera looking at you this moment.  Is it sending sound and pictures from inside your house to the PRISM program at NSA?  Who knows?  But one thing is for sure — the technology is sitting there, on your desk.  Welcome to Winston's world.

Obama sponsored bill that would have made Verizon order illegal.  President Obama co-sponsored legislation when he was a member of the Senate that would have banned the mass collection of phone records that his administration is now engaged in.  The SAFE Act, introduced by former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would have amended the Patriot Act to require that the government have "specific and articulable facts" to show that a person is an "agent of a foreign power" before seizing their phone records.

Libertarians to Obama: Can You Hear Me Now?  [Scroll down]  First reported [in The Guardian] and then subsequently confirmed by a lack of denial and background confirmations, the Obama administration has been mining the data of America's largest wireless provider, Verizon, which boasts some 115 million mobile subscribers.  The feds also seem to have been combing through phone records of the company's 14 million landlines, mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region.  But the massive cell network is the real data trove for federal agents.

Obama: Phone, Internet data collection not 'Big Brother'.  President Obama, speaking publicly for the first time about his administration's mass collection of phone and Internet data, said Friday that the programs have made a difference in tracking terrorists and are not tantamount to "Big Brother."

The Editor says...
Everybody wants the government to track terrorists, and either lock them up or deport them.  But the rubbery language being used to defend the PRISM program talks about tracking "potential terrorists," which could be anyone who disagrees with the government and its heavy-handed tactics.  The same terrorist-tracking computer systems are probably being used (or soon will be) to find people who cheat on their taxes, grow marijuana in their basements, or don't pay child support.  That's the way law enforcement people are when they get bored:  No offense is too petty to overlook.

Obama: If you can't trust government, we're going to have some problems.  President Obama this afternoon addressed recent reports of the National Security Agency secretly obtaining phone records and private data for surveillance.  During his speech he indicated that Americans needed to trust the system of government set up to thwart abuse.  "If people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress, and don't trust federal judges, to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."

Is this where your personal information will be stored?  The personal data and private online conversations that the National Security Administration is accused of mining could be stashed in a one million square-foot, $1.9 billion facility in the Utah Valley.  Concerns over what the government will store at the Utah Data Center have been reinvigorated by the revelation that U.S. intelligence agencies have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other information to track people's movements and contacts.

Obama defends NSA's secret 'data-mining' and tries to dismiss it as 'a modest encroachment'.  President Obama delivered a passionate defense on Friday [6/7/2013] of national security programs that secretly acquire information about Americans' phone calls, saying criticism of them is all 'hype.'  'My assessment and my team's assessment was that [the programs] help us prevent terrorist attacks and that the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration [of calls] without a name attached... It was worth us doing.'  Obama made the remarks at a press conference in response to revelations about two separate programs used to spy on American citizens and foreign nationals.

Why PRISM is Different and Scarier Than Other NSA Spying.  The metadata collected by the National Security Agency from Verizon and other phone companies is an aggregation of phone numbers and lengths of calls, and does not harvest the content of the calls.  PRISM, first disclosed Thursday night by The Washington Post and The Guardian, is different.  According to the intelligence official who leaked the information to The Post:  "They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type."

New York Times Editorial Board: 'The Administration Has Now Lost All Credibility'.  Reacting to the news that the administration's National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of every American customer of at least one telephone service provider, the New York Times minced no words in a scathing editorial criticizing the practice and the lack of forthrightness from the White House.  "The administration has now lost all credibility," the Times editorial read.  "Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it."

New York Times quietly changes published editorial to make it less [critical] of Obama.  The New York Times edited its damning editorial condemning the Obama administration for collecting phone call data from Americans to make it less stinging shortly after the editorial was published online Thursday afternoon.  The editorial originally declared that the Obama "administration has lost all credibility" as a result of the recently revealed news that the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been secretly collecting call data from American users of Verizon under the authority of the Patriot Act.

If You Think Obama's Defense of NSA Monitoring Is 'Laughable,' You're Not Alone.  Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley told Megyn Kelly he is "astonished" at President Obama's dismissive attitude toward criticism of NSA monitoring.

NSA Whistleblower: 'Metadata' of Phone Call Can Be More Revealing Than Listening In.  Megyn Kelly got some revealing insights today from two NSA whistleblowers. [Video clip]

Obama's agenda scorched in firestorm.  [Scroll down]  In recent weeks, it has fueled outrage over the targeting by the Internal Revenue Service of conservative Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status, and over the use of secret subpoenas and search warrants against the Associated Press and Fox News in Justice Department investigations of news leaks.  Now the headlines are focused on governmental monitoring that touches not just reporters but, apparently, just about anyone who makes a phone call.  Thursday began with explosions over a story in The Guardian in London of a broad secret U.S. warrant for phone records from Verizon.

Mark Levin: 'We have the elements of a police state'.  On Thursday's [6/6/2013] broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," conservative talk show host Mark Levin reacted to recent revelations that the National Security Agency had been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers.  He said that the NSA news in addition to other openings for intrusion by the federal government are the makings of a "police state."  "I tell you what I make of this — we have the elements of a police state here, and I'm not overstating it," Levin said.

NSA collecting daily phone logs of millions of Verizon customers.  It's beginning to look like the Obama administration is not at all interested in targeting domestic surveillance in any way that might attempt to mitigate its violations of privacy or increase its odds of actually finding people doing something illegal.  Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice cast a wide net in his search of AP phone logs, was the picture of intrusiveness in the James Rosen case, and now NSA is targeting millions of Americans for daily data collection?

Report: NSA is Collecting Phone Records of Verizon Customers.  The U.S. National Security Agency is reportedly collecting millions of Verizon (VZ) phone records after the government obtained a top-secret court order requiring the carrier hand over call data on all phone calls in its systems.  The White House on Thursday didn't back away from the report in the U.K.'s <>i>Guardian, with a senior Obama administration official defending the practice in general terms.

GCHQ 'has been accessing intelligence through internet firms'.  The Guardian newspaper claimed that it had obtained documents that show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.  Intelligence reports from GCHQ are normally shared with Britain's security services MI5 and MI6.

NSA's Verizon Spying Order Specifically Targeted Americans, Not Foreigners.  The National Security Agency has long justified its spying powers by arguing that its charter allows surveillance on those outside of the United States, while avoiding intrusions into the private communications of American citizens.  But the latest revelation of the extent of the NSA's surveillance shows that it has focused specifically on Americans, to the degree that its data collection has in at least one major spying incident explicitly excluded those outside the United States.

President Obama's Dragnet.  [Scroll down]  The administration has now lost all credibility.  Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.  That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.  Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night [6/5/2013], we now know the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon's business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system.

Did someone mention the Patriot Act again?

Verizon providing all call records to U.S. under court order.  The National Security Agency appears to be collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon, one of the nation's largest phone companies, under a top-secret court order issued in April.  The order appears to require a Verizon subsidiary to provide the NSA with daily information on all telephone calls by its customers within the United States and from foreign locations into the United States.

Verizon scandal: Barack Obama's national security state is now beyond democratic control.  Of course, it isn't the first time that a US administration has spied on its own people.  The origins of this particular order lie first in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and then in Section 215 of the Patriot Act, backed by George W Bush and passed by Congress after 9/11.  Normally, domestic surveillance only targets suspicious individuals, not the entire population, but in 2006 it was discovered that a similarly wide database of cellular records was being collected from customers of Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth.  There was plenty of outrage and plenty of lawsuits, but the National Security Agency never confirmed that the programme had been shut down.

Al Gore calls Obama administration's collection of phone records 'obscenely outrageous'.  Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday night leveled some rare and harsh criticism at the Obama administration, attacking its reported collection of phone records for millions of Americans.  The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald reported Wednesday evening that the National Security Agency has used a secret court order issued in April to collect the records of all phone calls made on the Verizon network.

Thank You, Unknown Patriot, for Exposing the Spying on Verizon Customers.  The federal government forced Verizon to turn over information on the phone calls of millions of innocent Americans and forbade them from telling anybody about it, The Guardian reports.  Kudos to Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Spencer Ackerman for the impressive scoop, and for posting the evidence here.  Who helped the journalists obtain that "top-secret" court order?  Hopefully, that's going to stay secret for a long time.  As Charlie Savage and Edward Wyatt note in the New York Times, "The order was marked TOP SECRET//SI//NOFORN, referring to communications-related intelligence information that may not be released to noncitizens. [...] In other words, it was likely leaked by someone who took a personal risk exposing it.

Senators: NSA phone sweeping has been going on since 2007.  The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday said senators were informed of the administration's sweeping surveillance practices, which they said have been going on since 2007.  "Everyone's been aware of it for years, every member of the Senate," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Obama administration defends phone record collection.  The Obama administration on Thursday defended its collection of the telephone records of millions of Americans as part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, re-igniting a fierce debate over privacy even as it called the program critical to warding off an attack.

NSA out of control: We the people at fault.  Today, the front page of every major national news website is featuring reactions to Glenn Greenwald's explosive report on the FISA court order that "requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries."  That means that the government is collecting information on every call made on Verizon's service, regardless of probable cause or any suspicion that the parties have committed a crime.  The Fourth Amendment was written specifically to prohibit this activity by the government.  But they're doing it, unapologetically.

GOP Sen. Graham says he's 'glad' NSA is collecting phone records.  Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he is "glad" that the National Security Agency is collecting millions of telephone records — including his own — from one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies in an attempt to combat terrorism.  Mr. Graham said that he is a Verizon customer and has no problem with the company turning over records to the government if it helps it do its job.  The South Carolina Republican said that people who have done nothing wrong have nothing to worry about because the NSA is mining the phone records for people with suspected ties to terrorism.

Sen. Rand Paul slams government phone spying.  Sen. Rand Paul said that it is "an astounding assault on the Constitution" for the National Security Agency to secretly collect telephone records from millions of Verizon customers.  The Kentucky Republican and likely 2016 presidential candidate suggested that the NSA's data collection of Verizon customers, detailed in a report Thursday [6/6/2013] in The Guardian, a British newspaper, violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

From Verizon's 'Can you hear me now' to NSA's "Yes, every eavesdropped word".  When "Big Brother is Watching You" was the cold war mantra of the day, there were no cellphones, no iPads, no satellite communications of any kind in the hands of the unwashed masses.  Today Big Brother is not watching you, he's stalking and harassing you — right in the place you call home.  There's nowhere to hide; nowhere to run to and no one to turn to in a world where a government that has learned how to slip being held accountable has all the tools on its side.

How Extensive is the NSA Domestic Surveillance of U.S. Media? Is it legal?  Just like the Posse Comitatus laws prohibit the use domestically of the military and militarized weapons inside the United States or against U.S. citizens, reserving those authorities and tools to policing agencies, the NSA's tools are restricted domestically from use against U.S. citizens and businesses.  A fact which is apparently lost on the Obama administration, as we already see in Jewel vs. NSA, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation is meticulously documenting.

NSA reportedly collecting phone records of millions, though officials had denied holding 'data' on Americans.  Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked at a March hearing whether the National Security Agency collects any data on millions of Americans.  "No sir ... not wittingly," Clapper responded, acknowledging there are cases "where inadvertently, perhaps" the data could be collected.  NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander also told Fox News last year that the agency does not "hold data on U.S. citizens."

The Editor says...
Now that we know the government collects phone records, how is it possible to believe the assurances that the government doesn't listen to the phone calls of ordinary Americans?  More broadly, how many other "internet conspiracy theories" are actually true?

Author of Patriot Act says NSA phone records collection 'never the intent' of law.  The author of the Patriot Act said Thursday [6/6/2013] that a secret program under which the Obama administration was collecting phone records from millions of Americans is "excessive" and beyond the scope of the law.  Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who wrote the 2001 law, was among a host of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who raised alarm over the practice.

The Editor says...
If you can't foresee unintended consequences, you shouldn't write laws.

Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily.  The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.  The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Americans Daily.  Well here's another scandal ready for the Obama administration.  It was revealed today that the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon.  This top secret order was issued in April.

Privacy of World Citizens Wiped Out by USA.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony invite, sent to a select group of Utah politicians and dignitaries for the massive Utah Data Centre in Bluffdale, Utah, was as mysterious as the facility itself.  Canada Free Press (CFP) could find no pictures, no accounts of the event anywhere on the Internet today even though an earlier media release said reporters would be there.  The bigger-than-the-CIA National Security Agency (NSA) had previously stated that the facility would start operations in September, 2013.

Obama Scandal Brush Fires Spread.  [Quoting Cal Thomas: "]Remember it was conservative President Bush who wrote an executive order authorizing the National Security Agency to intercept the communications of Americans by e-mail and phone without a warrant.  That's worse than the AP phone record intrusion."

The Stasi IRS?  It's often been said the Internal Revenue Service is the most feared bureaucracy in the United States.  Little wonder. [...] Deep in the subterranean bowels of the IRS, there are electronic folders full of deeply personal, private information about nearly every American and every tax exempt organization.  We now know this treasure trove of information is exponentially expanding and has been put to the use for the aims of a corrupt administration interested in crippling political opposition such as the Tea Party movement.  The harassment of the Richmond Tea Party group, which applied for tax exempt status, exemplifies the badgering many conservative groups have received over the last few years.

Your Phone Records May Have Been Seized, Too — But You'll Never Know.  Members of the press and defenders of civil liberties are rightfully outraged over the Justice Department's seizure of phone records from Associated Press reporters.  But for those familiar with the strange new world of digital surveillance, the secret acquisition of phone logs and emails is only an unusually public example of something that is disturbingly widespread, highly secret[Scroll down]  and completely legal.

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?  The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy.  But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.

DOJ Won't Require Warrants for Email, Chat Seizures.  In blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the Department of Justice has apparently declared that they do not require warrants for grabbing Americans' emails and Facebook chats.  The ACLU has gotten hold of the documents from the FBI and DOJ that show that a subpoena, which comes from a prosecutor, is all that is necessary to seize emails and chats.

ALL Digital Communications In The United States Are Being "Captured" By Government Surveillance Systems.  You may be reading this article in the privacy of your own home, but somewhere in a National Security Agency control center your every move is being tracked.  What time you logged on this morning, the web site you visited, how long you stayed and even what you said in the comments section — all of it — has been cataloged and possibly even flagged for suspicious activity.

Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform.  The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.  Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named "photo tool," a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver's license or other state-issued photo ID.

Automated License Plate Readers Threaten Our Privacy.  Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated cameras, called "automated license plate readers" or ALPR, to scan and record the license plates of millions of cars across the country. [...] Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when that data is put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing.

CIA, Other Spy Agencies Could Be Snooping on You and Your Bank Accounts.  The Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and other United States government spy agencies could receive full access to huge amounts of financial data on Americans and others who do banking in the United States, according to a report from the Reuters news agency.  Reuters reports its personnel have read a March 4 Treasury Department document that describes a developing plan by the Obama administration to allow government spy agencies to obtain, track and analyze the financial records of anyone with a bank account in the United States.  The CIA and other spy agencies have never been allowed to operate inside the nation's borders except in rare case-by-case instances.

Ruling Protects Bank, Phone, Other Records from FBI 'Security Letters'.  A federal judge in San Francisco has declared "national security letters" from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to banks, phone companies, and other businesses to be unconstitutional.  The March 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared the letters do not "serve the compelling need of national security."  The FBI has been issuing thousands of letters annually on its own authority and with no judicial review to obtain confidential customer information.  The letters also order the companies not to disclose the demands for information to targeted customers or others.  The FBI began issuing the letters after the USA Patriot Act became law in 2011.

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?  The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy.  But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.

Big Government Mind-Readers.  A massive new NSA data center in Utah is under construction, which will be awfully handy for Big Government or anyone else who seeks the power that comes with control over information and the gateways to the networks it uses — all in one convenient, central location.  So far, many questions about NSA's "spy center" have gone unanswered as "classified" and "secret."

FBI Pursuing Real-Time Gmail Spying Powers as "Top Priority" for 2013.  Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time.  But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a "top priority" this year.

Silly extremist: the government has no designs on your firearms.  See?  No black helicopters here.  Just the innocent sharing of data between states and the federal government.  For the children!

National Databases: Collecting Student-Specific Data is unnecessary and Orwellian.  Home School Legal Defense Association has long opposed the creation of a national database of student-specific data.  We believe that such national databases threaten the privacy of students, could be abused by government officials or business interests that may gain access to the data, threaten the safety of young people if their data is breached, and are not necessary in order to educate young people.

ATF Seeks 'Massive' Database of Personal Info: 'Assets, Relatives, Associates and More'.  A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a "massive" online database capable of pulling up individuals' personal information, connections and associates.

Police Militarization, Abuses of Power, and the Road to Impeachment.  Ironically, while SWAT teams probably got their biggest boost initially from conservatives, many fear law enforcement is becoming a tool to enforce leftist ideology.  University criminal justice programs turn out graduates indoctrinated in liberal theology, which carries into modern law enforcement bureaucratic culture.  Today this trend is reflected in reports coming out of the Department of Homeland Security, the military, and various law enforcement "fusion" centers, that identify gun-owners, patriots, ex-military, Christians, pro-life activists, and tea party members as "potential domestic terrorists."

Why Data Mining Won't Stop Terror.  In the post-9/11 world, there's much focus on connecting the dots.  Many believe data mining is the crystal ball that will enable us to uncover future terrorist plots.  But even in the most wildly optimistic projections, data mining isn't tenable for that purpose.  We're not trading privacy for security; we're giving up privacy and getting no security in return.

US plan calls for more scanning of private Web traffic, email.  The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure.  As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks.

Obama's Tyranny: Petty or Something More Sinister?  We have a Department of Homeland Security that has become one of the largest bureaucracies in the history of our government in the space of 11 years.  There is very little accountability and DHS has extraordinary powers to infringe the constitutional rights of our citizenry.  Drones, computer monitoring, and wiretaps are all allowed under the Obama Administration's overwhelming control of the mechanisms of state.  Just the other day, DHS announced plans to scan even more private e mail traffic.  There is a simple word for all of this; tyranny.

How Many Millions of Cellphones Are Police Watching?  In response to a congressional inquiry, mobile phone companies on Monday finally disclosed just how many times they've handed over users' cellphone data to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.  By the New York Times' count, cellphone companies responded to 1.3 million demands for subscribers' information last year from law enforcement.  Many of the records, such as location data, don't require search warrants or much court oversight.  Both police and cell service providers had long resisted releasing details on the scope of cellphone surveillance.

Judge strikes down federal surveillance law.  A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional national security provisions that permit federal investigators to access customer information from some companies without court approval.  The provisions 'suffer from significant constitutional infirmities,' and violate the First Amendment and separation of powers, Judge Susan Illston of the District Court for the Northern District of California wrote in an order on Thursday [3/14/2013].

Judge rules secret FBI national security letters unconstitutional.  A federal judge has struck down a set of laws allowing the FBI to issue so-called national security letters to banks, phone companies and other businesses demanding customer information.  U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the laws violate the First Amendment and the separation of powers principles and ordered the government to stop issuing the secretive letters or enforcing their gag orders, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them.  Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday [3/15/2013].  U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration's surveillance practices.  She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases.  However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Homeland Security Releases Binder Detailing Internet Monitoring.  The binder includes an extensive list of key words and search terms carefully watched by analysts in multiple agencies including the Directorate for National Protection and Programs, Directorate for Science and Technology, Office of Health Affairs, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others.

Congress Has Enough Time to Keep Spying on You, Forever.  You will be utterly unsurprised to learn that the same United States Senate that hasn't passed a (legally required) budget resolution since 2009, that legislates via perpetual self-made crises and lards nearly all laws with brazenly fictitious sunset provisions and distant spending cuts, has managed to fit into its busy schedule of anti-gun press conferences and drunk-driving arrests an "unusual special session" to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 before the law turns into a pumpkin on Jan. 1.

Why Are People More Scared of Facebook Violating Their Privacy than Washington?  The traditional media response to the [FISA] reauthorization battle has been remarkably nonexistent.

Senate Approves Warrantless Phone Tapping for Next Five Years.  In 2007, the Senate voted to grant blanket immunity to companies like AT&T, which conspired with the NSA to monitor American digital conversations without government oversight after 9/11.  Today's vote continues that immunity, and provides further carte blanche for the American intelligence-gathering apparatus.  Phone calls, texts, and emails are all fair game — and a judge doesn't have to give the OK, so long as it's in the name of counterterrorism.  Which is a very easy guise.

Remember When the Left Used to Freak Out About News Like This?  The One campaigned in 2008 under a platform of getting rid of Bush's policies in this area (and almost every other area for that matter), but in fact warrantless wiretaps have skyrocketed under Obama.

Why We Should All Care About Today's Senate Vote on the Warrantless Domestic Spying Bill.  The FISA Amendments Act continues to be controversial; key portions of it were challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.  In brief, the law allows the government to get secret FISA court orders — orders that do not require probable cause like regular warrants — for any emails or phone calls going to and from overseas.  The communications only have to deal with "foreign intelligence information," a broad term that can mean virtually anything.

Congress Approves the FISA Warrantless Spying Bill for Five More Years.  Today, after just one day of rushed debate, the Senate shamefully voted on a five-year extension to the FISA Amendments Act, an unconsitutional law that openly allows for warrantless surveillance of Americans' overseas communications.  Incredibly, the Senate rejected all the proposed amendments that would have brought a modicum of transparency and oversight to the government's activities, despite previous refusals by the Executive branch to even estimate how many Americans are surveilled by this program or reveal critical secret court rulings interpreting it.

Prez wants to spy on US.  Can you imagine what would have happened if the Bush administration had implemented "no-probable-cause" searches like these?  Actually they tried to.  The Republican Congress stopped it.  So Obama's doing it the "executive order" way:  He's launched widespread spying on we the people, directly from the White House, without going through our elected representatives.  And where are the liberals?  Where are Michael "War Crimes" Moore and Keith "Bush Is A Fascist" Olbermann?

New Anti-Crime Cameras Being Installed Downtown.  Officials said 38 anti-crime cameras will soon be installed in downtown Los Angeles.  In the coming weeks, this new equipment will replace cameras which have been broken or failing for years.

Federal Judge OKs Installation of Surveillance Cameras Without a Warrant.  On October 29, a federal district court judge ruled that police can enter onto privately owned property and install secret surveillance cameras without a warrant.  The judge did set forth a few guidelines that must be followed before such activity would be permissible, but the fact that such a scenario is accepted as constitutional by a federal judge is a serious setback for privacy and for the Fourth Amendment.

DHS Fusion Centers Spend Much, Learn Little, Mislead a Lot.  A network of 77 "fusion" intelligence centers, set up around the country under the auspices of the federal Department of Homeland Security, has over the past decade uncovered little information that could be useful in defending the nation against terrorism.  It also created numerous reports on the legal, everyday of activities of ordinary Americans, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.

Federal Support For and Involvement In State and Local Fusion Centers.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.  The Subcommittee investigation also found that DHS officials' public claims about fusion centers were not always accurate.  For instance, DHS officials asserted that some fusion centers existed when they did not.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Federal Support for Fusion Centers Report.  The Subcommittee investigation found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality — oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.

Explosive findings about DHS operations in congressional report.  An explosive 141-page investigative report was quietly released just after midnight by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is an indictment of the practices and procedures of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. [...] Of the 386 unclassified reports reviewed during this investigation, only 94 were found to relate "in some way" to potential terrorist activity, or the activities of a known or suspected terrorist.  Of those 94 reports, the usefulness of those reports were deemed as "questionable."

In Cell Phone Privacy Case, Government's Arguing a Theory of the Fourth Amendment 'That No One's Ever Heard Of'.  A federal appeals court in New Orleans is set to hear a case on whether the government can take possession of an individual's cell phone records from their carrier without a search warrant.  A federal court has already denied the government's bid to obtain the records without a warrant.  Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on Fox Business Network this morning [10/1/2012], saying the government's argument represents a new theory of the Fourth Amendment "that no one's ever heard of in 230 years."

Justice Department's Warrantless Spying Increased 600 Percent in a Decade.  The Justice Department use of warrantless internet and telephone surveillance methods known as pen register and trap-and-trace has exploded in the last decade, according to government documents the American Civil Liberties obtained via a Freedom of Information Act claim.

ACLU: Obama Has Quadrupled Warrantless Wiretaps.  The ACLU released a report this week that shows that under Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American's electronic communications is "sharply on the rise."

Welcome to the National Counterterrorism Center! We Already Know All About You!  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants to warn you about "the biggest new spying program you've probably never heard of" at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

Govt May Now Collect, Catalog, and Store All Private Information.  Imagine that the U.S. government had the power to scour the reams of public records and collect and collate every bit of personal information about every citizen of this country.  Now imagine that any of the various intelligence and security agencies within the government could combine that data with any other information about a person that has been posted to a social media website or compiled by one of the many data aggregating companies that keep tabs on all of us.  Finally, imagine that all this data could be passed among these agencies and that the ability of anyone inside or outside the government to challenge this surveillance was all but eliminated.

Feds Sue Telecom for Fighting Warrantless Search.  The Justice Department is suing a telecommunications company for challenging a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for customer information — despite the fact that the law authorizing the request explicitly permits such challenges. [...] Clearly the Justice Department is unaccustomed to having to defend its attempts to obtain customer data on its own say-so; and it isn't taking this fight lying down.

Covert FBI Power to Obtain Phone Data Faces Rare Test.  Early last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a secret letter to a phone company demanding that it turn over customer records for an investigation.  The phone company then did something almost unheard of:  It fought the letter in court.  The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a serious accusation.  It filed a civil complaint claiming that the company, by not handing over its files, was interfering "with the United States' sovereign interests" in national security.  The legal clash represents a rare and significant test of an investigative tool strengthened by the USA Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

National Reconnaissance Office accused of illegally collecting personal data.  One of the nation's most secretive intelligence agencies is pressuring its polygraphers to obtain intimate details of the private lives of thousands of job applicants and employees, pushing the ethical and legal boundaries of a program that's designed instead to catch spies and terrorists.  The National Reconnaissance Office is so intent on extracting confessions of personal or illicit behavior that officials have admonished polygraphers who refused to go after them and rewarded those who did, sometimes with cash bonuses, a McClatchy investigation found.

Is US government reading email without a warrant? It doesn't want to talk about it.  In March, the American Civil Liberties Union caused a nationwide stir when the advocacy group released the results of its year-long investigation into law enforcement use of cellphone tracking data.  After issuing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU learned that many local police departments around the country routinely pay mobile phone network operators a small fee to get detailed records of historic cell phone location information.  The data tell cops not just where a suspect might have been at a given moment, but also create the possibility of retracing someone's whereabouts for months.

NSA chief defends agency against domestic spying charges.  The head of the National Security Agency on Monday denied reports that NSA's new data center in Utah would collect and store data about Americans, including their e-mails and web-browsing habits.  The $2 billion data center in Bluffdale, Utah, will house massive supercomputers capable of storing and analyzing vast quantities of data when it comes online next year, but U.S. Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander reiterated NSA's insistence it does not unlawfully conduct surveillance of Americans.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether NSA Domestic Wiretapping Is Beyond the Law.  On Monday [6/4/2012], the Supreme Court of the United States granted a petition to hear a lawsuit calling for an end to another case challenging the constitutionality of the government's warrantless wiretapping program.  This Orwellian (and unconstitutional) surveillance scheme was established in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and was explicitly authorized by an act of Congress passed in 2008.

Senators Demand DOJ Release Secret Spy Court Rulings.  Two Democratic senators urged the Obama administration Thursday [3/15/2012] to declassify secret court rulings that give the government far wider domestic spying powers under the Patriot Act than intended.  The 10-year-old measure, hastily adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks, grants the government broad surveillance powers with little oversight that can be used domestically.

DHS Conducts 'Drive-by' Surveillance.  What's Next?  [Scroll down]  The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, has made public a series of government contracts that reveal that the Department of Homeland Security has been paying millions of dollars to develop and implement several radical programs that allow for an even broader, even spookier form of covert surveillance, namely "drive-by" surveillance from innocuous looking vans.  In its own words this allows the Department of Homeland Security to conduct "covert inspection of moving subjects," which includes people, places, and things.  According to a former Homeland Security officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity, DHS has been conducting this "drive-by" surveillance of American citizens since at least 2007, using a technologically advanced vehicle called a Z Backscatter Van, or ZBV for short.

As application approvals drop, work on secret wiretaps grows, U.S. government sources say.  Even as the Justice Department reports a two-year decline in the number of wiretap applications approved by a secret U.S. intelligence court, the workload of Justice Department lawyers assigned to request and oversee such sensitive surveillance activities appears to be growing.

Fall back, Big Brother.  Americans can be excused for a slight paranoid feeling that someone is following them.  Omnipresent surveillance cameras, especially in Chicago, record our daily movements.  If we use our cell phones, we announce where we are.  Our online communications can be monitored or resurrected from the distant past.  Congress is thinking about installing data-gathering "black boxes" in every car.  And now two U.S. senators — Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — have introduced a bill to require people to produce identification before buying pre-paid cell phones.

Don't squeeze the telecoms.  Certain Democratic senators are doing their Pavlov's dog routine again, responding to the bell of the trial lawyers who finance their campaigns.  In this instance, they are reopening a fight to make telecommunications companies liable for trillions of dollars for complying with a presidential directive to assist in a "warrantless surveillance" program against suspected terrorists.

Abolish the DHS.  Many of the contracts that DHS considers a success have funded a growing federal assault on privacy.  The fishing village of Dillingham, AK (pop. 2,400), is too small for a streetlight, but thanks to a homeland security grant, it now has 80 surveillance cameras.  The town of Ridgely, MD (pop. 1,400), got a grant for cameras as well.  "It was difficult to be able to find something to use the money for," said Ridgely's police chief, but "if you don't ask, you aren't going to get a thing."

Illegal wire-tapping suit now in Obama's court.  President-elect Barack Obama dismayed civil liberties groups last summer when he voted to authorize President Bush's clandestine wiretapping program after publicly denouncing it.  Now, thanks to a ruling by a San Francisco federal judge, Obama must take a stand on whether the Bush administration violated Americans' rights when it intercepted their phone calls and e-mails without seeking a court's permission.

With CCTV everywhere no wonder we're all scared stiff.  The proliferation of surveillance equipment such as CCTV cameras (of which we have more than the rest of Europe put together) only makes people more worried of the very things the cameras are designed to tackle:  crime and terrorism.  It is ironic that something which is supposed to put our minds at rest has exactly the opposite effect.

How £500m of CCTV cameras does 'next to nothing' to cut crime.  The millions of CCTV cameras on Britain's streets have done virtually nothing to cut crime, Home Office research has revealed.  Cameras in town centres, housing estates and on public transport 'did not have a significant effect', a report concluded.

A Look Inside the Surveillance Society.  Is England a police state? It's hard not to think so given that the nation's public spaces brim with 4.2 million surveillance cameras.  Indeed, the United Kingdom seems an extreme case.  They use 20 percent of the world's closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras but monitor only one percent of its population.

Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes.  As an ex-Brit, I'm well aware of the authorities' love of surveillance and snooping, but even I, a pessimistic cynic, am amazed by the governments latest plan:  to install Orwell's telescreens in 20,000 homes.  £400 million ($668 million) will be spend on installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of private citizens.  Why?  To make sure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating their vegetables.

US court:  Monitoring Muslims was constitutional.  A federal appeals court says it was constitutional for the United States to require visitors from two dozen Arab and Muslim countries and North Korea to register with immigration authorities.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued its ruling Wednesday [9/24/2008] in cases brought by several men who claimed their constitutional rights were violated.

Domestic spying far outpaces terrorism prosecutions.  The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.  But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court — one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing — has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously.

Surveillance Showdown:  Would any sane country purposefully limit its ability to spy on enemy communications in time of war?  That is the question Congress must answer as it takes up reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  Privacy activists, civil libertarians and congressional Democrats argue that both foreign and domestic eavesdropping must be subject to judicial scrutiny and oversight, even if this means drastically reducing the amount of foreign intelligence information available to the government, without ever acknowledging the costs involved.  It is time the American people had an open and honest debate on the relative importance of privacy and security.

A diffeerent kind of domestic surveillance...
Camera convicted him but raised battle over privacy.  Farmers beware:  Big Brother may be watching.  Eastern Shore soybean farmer Steve VanKesteren learned that the hard way when he was charged with taking two red-tailed hawks, a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Act.  The evidence against him was a video recording showing him dispatching the birds with an ax.  Game wardens had put a hidden camera in a tree, pointed at VanKesteren's soybean fields, after receiving a complaint about protected birds getting caught in predator traps.

Bush Asks Congress to Extend NSA Program.  President Bush today [9/19/2007] called on Congress to make permanent a law that gives the government broad authority to eavesdrop without warrants on phone calls, e-mail and other communication between people in the United States and suspected terrorists abroad.  The president wants Congress to extend the law, set to expire in February, that allows spy agencies to intercept the communications of suspected terrorists that pass through U.S. switching facilities.

Phone Companies Refuse to Provide Data on Spy Program.  Three of the largest U.S. telephone companies declined to answer lawmakers' questions about Bush administration efforts to spy on Americans' phone calls and e-mails, saying the government forbade them from doing so.

NSA Style Eavesdropping Thwarts 9/11 Anniversary Terror Attack.  It appears that the very methods of phone call monitoring the Democrats have made their life's mission to impede have once again saved the day. … Unfortunately, there's no reason to believe that Democrat leaders the likes of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy will be any less likely to rebuke the use of "secret" (is there any other effective kind?) wiretaps now than before.  Even at the cost of American lives.

Listening In:  When the German government announced arrests this week in a terrorist plot against American and German targets inside Germany, one telling detail got little notice:  Two of the suspects were identified, in part, based on telephone conversations intercepted by American intelligence.

House approves foreign wiretap bill.  The House handed President Bush a victory Saturday, voting to expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States.

Victory for Bush Administration in Spying Case.  A federal appeals court ordered the dismissal Friday [7/6/2007] of a lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.  The 2-1 ruling by the 6th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated a 2006 order by a federal judge in Detroit, who found that the post-Sept. 11 warrantless surveillance aimed at uncovering terrorist activity violated constitutional rights to privacy and free speech and the separation of powers.

The Editor is quick to point out...
The word "privacy" is not in the Constitution.

Wiretap Tales.  Democrats and former Deputy Attorney General James Comey put on quite a Senate show Tuesday [5/15/2007] over the National Security Agency's wiretapping program.  With New York's Chuck Schumer directing, the players staged a full length docudrama to create the impression that the Bush Administration broke the law in reauthorizing the program to eavesdrop on al Qaeda. … News stories have suggested a pattern of White House misdeeds to accomplish an ultimately illegal end.  The transcript tells a different story.

Wiretap Debacle:  The U.S. homeland hasn't been struck by terrorists since September 11, and one reason may be more aggressive intelligence policies.  So Americans should be alarmed that one of the best intelligence tools — warrantless wiretapping of al Qaeda suspects — has recently become far less effective and is in danger of being neutered by Congressional Democrats.

The Editor says...
I disagree insofar as the notion that no terrorist attacks have taken place in America since 9/11/2001 is easily disproven.

Networks Distort Terrorist Surveillance Into 'Domestic Spying'.  The announcement Wednesday from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) would now approve of surveillance actions under the "Terrorist Surveillance Program," prompted a return to the bad network habit of describing as "domestic spying" and "domestic eavesdropping" the effort to monitor communication between people inside the United States and suspected terrorists abroad.

Let's Have a FISA Fight.  Here's something I never thought I'd say:  Three cheers for Chris Dodd!  With his bid for the Democrats' presidential nomination canceled for lack of interest, Connecticut's senior senator is back to doing what he does best:  making the United States vulnerable to foreign threats.  The editors of the Wall Street Journal report that Dodd is blocking a deal to overhaul the dangerously obsolete Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FBI turns to broad new wiretap method.  Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials.  That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords. … "What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event.  "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."

Did someone mention Carnivore?  What kind of words and phrases could the FBI be hoping to find?

Did the Clinton Administration Engage in "Domestic Spying" Against Princess Diana?  The first thing to remember in trying to evaluate reports that U.S. intelligence services wiretapped Princess Diana is that British press accounts can be notoriously unreliable. … But if the reports out now are accurate, the Diana case could raise questions for veterans of the Clinton administration similar to those facing the Bush administration today.

Gonzales attacks ruling against domestic spying.  Attorney General Alberto Gonzales contended Saturday that some critics of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program were defining freedom in a way that presents a "grave threat" to U.S. security.  Gonzales was the second administration official in two days to attack a federal judge's ruling last August that the program was unconstitutional.  Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday [11/17/2006] called the decision "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."

Court says eavesdropping program can continue.  The government can continue to use its warrantless domestic wiretap program pending the Justice Department's appeal of a federal judge's ruling outlawing the program, an Appeals Court in Cincinnati ruled on Wednesday [10/04/2006].  The ruling overturned District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's decision last week to deny a lengthy stay in the case, which is expected to end up with the Supreme Court.

A Perverse and Dangerous Ruling.  By striking down the Terrorists Surveillance Program (TSP) Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has hopefully opened the eyes of the American public to the Leftist political insurgency that is undermining the United States' ability to defend itself against future terrorist attacks.

Senate Panel Rejects Democrat's Attempt to Rein In Wiretapping Program.  Senate Republicans blocked Democratic attempts to rein in President Bush's domestic wiretapping program Wednesday [9/13/2006], endorsing a White House-supported bill that would give the controversial surveillance legal status.

A terror plot is exposed by the policies many American liberals oppose.  British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."  Let's emphasize that again:  The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications.  Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.

More FISA Fear-Mongering:  The New York Times strikes again.  In Times parlance, such monitoring of international enemy contacts, routinely carried out by every wartime president in history, somehow becomes "domestic spying" when George W. Bush employs it against an enemy that has managed to attack the United States — and, according to the intelligence community's latest assessment, is working feverishly to do it again.

White House invokes secrets privilege in eavesdropping cases.  The Bush administration has asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets.

The ACLU v. National Security.  The fundamental defect of the case of ACLU v. NSA is that it is wholly contrived.  Faked from beginning to end.  The claim of standing is for conduct that simply does not exist.

To connect the dots, you have to see the dots.  The jihadists are not "primitives".  They're part of a sophisticated network:  They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people — and kill them.  They're as globalized as McDonald's — but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork.

Information Please.  It's not 1942.  It's 2006, and these three phone giants are about to be excoriated for cooperating with the war on terror.  Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter has demanded that ATT, Verizon, and BellSouth testify under oath about their assistance to the National Security Agency's counterterrorism programs; 50 House Democrats are demanding a criminal investigation by special counsel.

Terrorist Surveillance and the Constitution:  While the totality of the executive powers and actions is meant to be checked and balanced by the other two branches, the notion that every single executive activity, particularly in the national security area, has to be checked either by Congress or by the judiciary, is absurd.

Dialing and the Democrats:  No sooner had the man who ran the National Security Agency for years been nominated to head the CIA than USA Today rushed out details of our efforts to use technical means to find terrorists using the phones.  And no sooner had USA Today disclosed details of an apparent attempt by the National Security Agency to defend Americans from terrorists than the Democratic Party and its leading politicians and interest groups went on the attack.  Not against the terrorists but against President Bush.

TV Jumps on Stale NSA Database Story.  Like the TV coverage, USA Today's story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans' privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA's eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.

The Editor says...
Just for reference, here is the USA Today article:

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls.  The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said. The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the NSA program is secret.

A Smelly NSA "Scoop" at USA Today.  It appears the basic flaw in the story, as suggested by the entire Verizon statement, is the assumption that phone companies passed along records of local calls to the NSA when the company says such records may not even exist in most cases.

The database double standard.  Here is the most insincere question a liberal TV news star can ask:  How can President Bush turn around his poll numbers? … The media's crocodile tears are not even laughable, just nauseating.  Pushing down the president's approval rating seems to be their daily task.

Media Crank Call:  Ever since USA Today broke a story on May 11 about the National Security Agency's secret review of millions of phone records, the media and civil libertarians alike have gotten their knickers in a twist.  But here's the problem: the story isn't news, it isn't accurate, and it isn't (or shouldn't be) troubling.

Update — USA Today backpedals.
USA Today:  Call Database Not So Broad.  USA Today acknowledged in a "note to our readers" Friday [6/30/2006] that it could not establish that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the National Security Agency to provide it with customer calling records, as it previously reported.

On the other hand...
Is the NSA's phone call database legal because the President says so?  As USA Today pointed out when it revealed the existence of this program, phone numbers can readily be linked to names and addresses using publicly available information.  The claim that there's really nothing personal or private about the phone call records — which tell the NSA who calls whom, when, and for how long — is therefore a tenuous basis for defending the legality of data collection that ordinarily requires a court order or the customer's consent.

Secret Mistakes.  It's no secret:  Critics of the Bush administration's prosecution of the war on terror have grown increasingly livid with each leaked report of alleged civil liberties abuses.  Less known, but no less true, is that the latest round of criticism has relied on discredited data.

Data-mining is the President's Duty.  The latest outbreak of controversy over Bush administration efforts to protect our nation from terrorist attack starkly demonstrates that the left and civil liberties extremists are determined to alter the system the Framers bequeathed us in fundamental and dangerous ways.

Connecting dots:  NSA needs phone records.  Despite the nonsense that the politically motivated mainstream media and the left have been spouting on the NSA program, this critical counterterrorism effort isn't intrusive, illegal — or unnecessary.

Loose lips sink ships.  Intentional, or even unintentional, leaks dry up productive intelligence-gathering techniques; Americans are placed at risk. … Have we as a nation forgotten the basics of the art of war?  Are we so misguided as to believe that the ACLU will protect us better than the NSA in this era of terrorism?

The Truth About Secrets:  Virtually every aspect of the war on terror has been met with a lawsuit.  Recently the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the ACLU sued the federal government over the NSA's surveillance of international phone calls involving persons inside the United States.  They seek court orders ceasing and disclosing the surveillance.

Hysteria at the ACLU.  You would never know from all this heavy breathing that the data supplied to the NSA consisted of phone numbers only, stripped of any identifying names or addresses.  Or that the calls themselves weren't actually monitored — no one was wiretapping any conversations.  Or that the Supreme Court has ruled that the government doesn't need a warrant to collect phone records, since information voluntarily disclosed to a third party (such as the phone company) isn't protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Did someone mention the ACLU?

Point of no return:  There is a large and gleeful audience in the Arab world for these gross brutalities, just as there was glee and cheering among the Palestinians when the televised destruction of the World Trade center was broadcast in the Middle East.  Yet what are we preoccupied with or outraged about?  Whether the American government should intercept the phone calls of these cutthroats to people in the United States.

Telephoning the Enemy:  By its own court filings, the Council on American-Islamic Relations conclusively established its multiple communications with persons suspected of connections with terrorists.

FISA judges say Bush is within the law.  A panel of former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges yesterday [3/28/2006] told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush did not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

House panel blocks probe of NSA cost.  The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday [3/30/2006] rejected a proposal to withhold money from the National Security Agency if the White House did not reveal information about the cost of the agency's warrantless surveillance program.

Point of no return.  The way the question is posed by many in the media and in politics, you would think our intelligence agencies were listening in on you talking on the phone to your aunt Mabel.  Be serious!  There are more than a quarter of a billion people in the United States.  Intelligence agencies have neither the manpower, the time, the money, nor the interest to listen in on you and your aunt Mabel.

Censure Feingold.  Unlike Sen. Russell Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat seeking to censure President Bush for ordering the interception of communications in and out of the U.S. involving persons with suspected links to al Qaeda, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt had no qualms about warrantless eavesdropping to protect the U.S. against attack.  Neither did Harry Truman.  There is a difference, however, between the eavesdropping Roosevelt and Truman authorized and the eavesdropping Bush is doing.  Roosevelt and Truman did it in peacetime without congressional authorization.  Bush is doing it during a war that Sen. Feingold voted on Sept. 14, 2001 to authorize.

Feingold Calls Warrantless Wiretaps an Impeachable Offense.  "I think it is right in the strike zone of what the Founding Fathers talked about when they talked about high crimes and misdemeanors," said Feingold, who introduced a resolution on Monday [3/13/2006] to censure the president for his authorizing the National Security Agency's electronic terrorist surveillance program.

[Where was Mr. Feingold's great concern about high crimes and misdemeanors seven or eight years ago?]

Do the Democrats know we're at war?  Many that oppose President Bush are claiming that he has authorized illegal wiretapping and should be impeached.  These actions have been wrongly termed "domestic spying" or "domestic surveillance."  From my view, these terms are purposefully wrong.  The use of the wrong terms is directly tied to the media and unhinged Democrats.

You're under surveillance.  In the midst of all the hypocritical and self-righteous talk about the fact that the National Security Agency actually listens to calls from known or suspected terrorists talking to someone in the United States or vice versa, is the fact that every single American is under surveillance these days.  It begins with the Social Security number that is issued to newborn infants!

If al Qaeda phones, tell them we can't take the call.  The issues at the center of this dispute are in fact intellectually interesting, having to do with separation of powers, legal rules versus legal discretion, and competing interpretations of the Fourth Amendment and Article II of the Constitution.  But let us here consider something that tends to fall outside legal considerations — effective management.

Springtime for Nixon.  Liberals in the 1970s began suggesting that virtually all American spying is unconstitutional.  Soviet and Chinese spies were to be expected, but we shouldn't "be like them."  A similar double standard exists today in much of the big media and among certain liberal politicians of both parties.  The enemy does what it wants without restraint.  We put shackles on ourselves and are shocked when those without any attack us.  Then we ask, "What went wrong?"

Security choices:  Democrats ought to be concerned by polls that show most Americans want the government to intercept al Qaeda communications, even — perhaps especially — those involving persons living here, as were all of the 9/11 attackers before they flew airplanes into our buildings.

Leaks Damage U.S. Intelligence Efforts.  In the most recent case addressing this issue, the 1980 Truong case, the Court upheld the Executive Branch's warrant-less electronic surveillance in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.  The Court explicitly recognized a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement based on the President's constitutional authority and responsibility to protect national security.  Incidentally, the President under whose authority that warrant-less search, or eavesdropping, was conducted was Jimmy Carter.

Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?  The President, for his part, has not only stood firm, insisting on both the legality and the absolute necessity of his actions, but has condemned the disclosure of the NSA surveillance program as a "shameful act."  In doing so, he has implicitly raised a question that the Times and the President's foes have conspicuously sought to ignore — namely, what is, and what should be, the relationship of news-gathering media to government secrets in the life-and-death area of national security.  Under the protections provided by the First Amendment of the Constitution, do journalists have the right to publish whatever they can ferret out?

Jimmy Carter allowed surveillance in 1977.  In 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.  The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.  In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons."

The opposite of intelligence:  If anyone can show me that the National Security Agency, under order from President Bush or top aides, eavesdropped on Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy or some prominent partisan critic, I'll change my tune and see what this administration is doing as a threat to civil liberties.

Amnesiac America:  Not that the president and commander-in-chief needed congressional permission to defend the country, thanks to the foresight of those who wrote the Constitution.  But in a joint resolution passed three days after the September 11th attacks, Congress made the point explicitly, recognizing that "the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States."

'Domestic' abuse:  I hereby expressly consent to the NSA eavesdropping on any telephonic, Internet or other electronic forms of communications I may have — whether I initiate or am on the receiving end of the communication — with any person or persons the government has reasonable basis to conclude is a member of al Qaeda, affiliated with al Qaeda or a member of an organization affiliated with al Qaeda.

NYT Still Struggles to Understand NSA Program; Ignores History.  What is so hard to grasp here?  Terrorism is a clandestine business.  Should we be calling the terrorists we're monitoring to let them know they are being monitored?  Have there been any wrongful deaths, convictions or violations in connection with the NSA program?  No.  Do the American people support it?  Yes.

Civil liberties v. al Qaida nukes:  Despite their best efforts to turn President George Bush's authorization of the NSA program into a criminal case, it turns out that no laws were broken, and most Americans actually want their government to track communications between domestic Islamist groups and al Qaida principals around the world — not to mention capturing or killing the latter.

The President is honoring his oath.  Are critics of President Bush's electronic-surveillance practices concerned with the Constitution?  Or are they just using any excuse they can find to accuse him of abusing his power?  If they are concerned with constitutional issues, why didn't they object to President Clinton's advocacy of warrantless searches — even for physical searches as opposed to electronic surveillance — for national security reasons?

Stuck in the '70s.  The press and partisan attacks on NSA surveillance of suspected terrorists' calls to the United States has not convinced most Americans that their rights are in peril.

Bush hits foes who say spying broke the law.  President Bush yesterday [1/23/2006] took direct aim at Democratic critics on Capitol Hill who charge that a secret spy program he ordered in 2002 is illegal, saying, "If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?"

Live and let spy.  If we must engage in a national debate on half-measures: After 9-11, any president who was not spying on people calling phone numbers associated with terrorists should be impeached for being an inept commander in chief.

And so what if you are?  Here's what happened.  After 9/11, authorities found a bunch of e-mail addresses and phone numbers in the phones and computers of confirmed terrorists.  They tracked down those leads.  Most of the people the NSA started eavesdropping on — about 7,000 — lived overseas, and their phone calls were to other foreigners living abroad.

Spying on Americans Seems to be OK if Democrats Do It.  The New York Times, which is currently scourging the Bush Administration over concerns it's "abusing" surveillance powers, blythely ignored evidence of greater "abuse" of such powers by the Clinton Administration.

Under Clinton, the NY Times called surveillance "a necessity".  The controversy following revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored suspected terrorist related communications since 9/11 reflects a severe case of selective amnesia by the New York Times and other media opponents of President Bush.  They certainly didn't show the same outrage when a much more invasive and indiscriminate domestic surveillance program came to light during the Clinton administration in the 1990's.

Nut-shelling Privacy Issues.  Some good friends on the Right and many nutcases on the Left are raising issues about our privacy in the wake of reports that the feds are listening in on cell phones and reviewing emails in the war on terrorism. … We don't have to join forces with the ACLU to stand up for individual liberty.  Clearly they don't care about the concept of "rights" unless it serves their decidedly hard-left agenda.

Are you scared of Alito?  In the matter at hand, there isn't a substantial public outcry, measured as squeals or yells from citizens imposed upon.  This is so because not enough citizens are subject to surveillance to bring on anything like a national alarm.  To begin with, those who are subject to special surveillance are overwhelmingly non-citizens.  A second reason for the general tranquility is that there is not much of a record of abuse.

Gonzales to back wiretapping in Senate testimony.  Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will testify next month before a Senate committee on the legal justifications behind a domestic eavesdropping program approved by President Bush.

The Editor says...
While the word "wiretap" is used by the dumbed-down news media for the benefit of the poorly educated masses, the interception of telephone calls by the feds is done without making connections to actual wires.  This issue is about eavesdropping on international phone calls, and almost all international calls are carried by microwave and satellite links which are easy to listen in on.

Why We Don't Trust Democrats With National Security.  The Democratic Party has decided to express indignation at the idea that an American citizen who happens to be a member of al Qaeda is not allowed to have a private conversation with Osama bin Laden.  If they run on that in 2008, it could be the first time in history a Republican president takes even the District of Columbia.

'Warrantless' searches are not unprecedented.  Previous administrations, as well as the court that oversees national security cases, agreed with President Bush's position that a president legally may authorize searches without warrants in pursuit of foreign intelligence.

It's not that hard to grasp, folks:  'Spying' saves lives.  The argument for allowing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans is simple:  It works.

Spies like us.  Try as I might, I can't muster outrage over what appears to be a reasonable action in the wake of 9/11.  As a rule, I'm as averse as anyone to having people "spying" on me.  I'm also as devoted to protecting civil liberties as any other American.  But the privilege of debating our constitutional rights requires first that we be alive.  If federal agents want to listen in on suspected terrorists as they plot their next mass murder, please allow me to turn up the volume.

Liberal judge:  Federal District Judge James Robertson, who resigned from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court in protest over secret wiretaps ordered by President Bush, is regarded in Washington legal circles as one of President Bill Clinton's most liberal and partisan judicial appointments.

The Left's privacy hypocrites.  The hindsight hypocrisy of the civil-liberties absolutists never ceases to amaze.  And their selective outrage over privacy violations never ceases to aggravate. … The left believes the government should do whatever it takes to fight terrorists — but only when the terrorists look like Timothy McVeigh.  If you're on the MCI Friends and Family plan of Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, you're home free.

The anti-anti-terrorists:  The current hysteria over the president's authorization of some domestic intercepts by the National Security Agency reminds me of similar reaction by liberals to the Cold War.  Instead of recognizing communism as a clear and present danger to freedom and liberty here and abroad, many liberals decided the real threat to those values came from anti-communism itself.

None Dare Call it Hypothetical.  In Washington, D.C., a local talk-radio host poses a provocative question:  What if international terrorists were plotting a Super 9/11 that would kill not just 3,000 Americans — mere child's play for these nuts — but might wipe 30,000, 300,000, or even "a city of 3,000,000 off the face of the planet"?  Would the president then be justified in a few technically illegal wiretaps to detect them in time?  The question practically answers itself.

Secret court modified wiretap requests.  Government records show that the administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.  A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

Let Bush, NSA do their jobs.  Like it or not — and you can bet the Defeatist Party does not — Bush was right on when he insisted in a recent press conference that he most certainly does have the constitutional authority to order such warrantless surveillance, an opinion he has based correctly and, in no small part, on the permission slip Congress signed when lawmakers authorized him to conduct the war on terror.

On the other hand...
One branch of government is so much more efficient than three.  [President] Bush has shown an alarming tendency to cut the legislative and judicial branches out of decisions about how to prosecute a war on terrorism that will continue long after he leaves office.  This combination of unilateralism with a perpetual state of emergency is a recipe for tyranny.

Wiretaps fail to make a dent in terror war; al Qaeda used messengers.  The Bush administration's surveillance policy has failed to make a dent in the war against al Qaeda.  U.S. law enforcement sources said that more than four years of surveillance by the National Security Agency has failed to capture any high-level al Qaeda operative in the United States.  They said al Qaeda insurgents have long stopped using the phones and even computers to relay messages.  Instead, they employ couriers.

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother.  Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the [NSA] and came away stunned.  "That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything:  telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter.  There would be no place to hide."  He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

Clinton Lawyer Claims Bush Doesn't Have Same Powers He Asserted Clinton Had.  There's a new lexicon that's developed, "domestic spying," which is contemptible.  It's not what this is all about.  The press has done an intentionally miserable job at explaining this program and the law and the history surrounding the program.

MRC Study:  Evening News Shows Claim NSA Spies on "Americans," Not "Terrorists".  Over at, we've just posted a new study of how ABC, CBS and NBC have covered the NSA surveillance story. It's just as awful as you expected — most network stories were framed around the idea that the program is probably illegal and a shocking violation of Americans' civil liberties.

Sometimes in Polling, It's All in the Question.  What does the public think about the Bush administration's wiretapping program?  It depends on how you ask the question.  A half dozen polls on the issue have turned up different conclusions, and a key distinction appears to be the way pollsters identify the people who might have their emails and phone calls monitored as part of an effort to fight terrorism.  Recent poll questions have referred to "suspected terrorists," "people in the United States" and "American citizens."

US sues New Jersey over phone company subpoenas.  The U.S. government has sued the New Jersey Attorney General's office on grounds of security concerns to prevent it from asking telephone companies if they gave customer call records to the National Security Agency.

Justice Department's Warrantless Spying Increased 600 Percent in a Decade.  The Justice Department use of warrantless internet and telephone surveillance methods known as pen register and trap-and-trace has exploded in the last decade, according to government documents the American Civil Liberties obtained via a Freedom of Information Act claim.

ACLU: Obama Has Quadrupled Warrantless Wiretaps.  The ACLU released a report this week that shows that under Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of American's electronic communications is "sharply on the rise."

Say good-bye to privacy thanks to Stellar Wind.  The American republic, or any society so desiring emancipation to have its citizens live free and unfettered lives, must allow liberated and confidential communication.  Liberty and human dignity demand nothing less.  All of this is about to change.

New Details on NSA's 'Spy Center' and Secrets From Domestic Eavesdropping Operation 'Stellar Wind'.  [Scroll down]  Wired also includes a former NSA official going on the record for the first time on the secret, domestic spying program Stellar Wind and its role in data communication collection, which when the Bluffdale facility is complete will be stored there.  Former senior NSA "crypto-matematician" William Binney, who helped develop NSA's spying capabilities before leaving in 2001, explains how the NSA deliberately violated the Constitution, which was the reason why he left, in setting up warrentless wiretapping to the extent that they did.  Wired reports that much of NSA's wiretapping practices now were made legal under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

NSA keeping details about data center quiet.  The agency building 1 million square feet of enclosed space, including 100,000 square feet of space just for computers that will gather and digest intelligence information, continues to do what it does best — keep secrets — when asked about the project.  The NSA sent a short statement to the Deseret News on Friday [3/16/2012], but only after Wired Magazine compiled a voluminous story published the same day.

NSA's Spy Program "Stellar Wind" Exposed.  The National Security Agency, awash with funds provided by Congress, is nearly finished constructing its Utah Data Center as the collection point for data provided from around the country and around the world.  Its purpose:  "to intercept, decipher, analyze and store vast swaths of the world's communications ... [including] all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches."

NSA Building is the Largest Spy Center Ever.  NSA spy centerIn the little town of Bluffdale, Utah, between the Wasatch Range and the Oquirrh Mountains, the National Security Agency (NSA) is building what will be the nation's largest spy center, reports Wired, a print magazine and online publication reporting on technological developments and their effects, including electronic privacy.