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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:18 AM
Thanks Vlad, I'm glad you found it interesting.
I think the guy who deserves all of the credit is Mr. Snowden, who risked his life to warn the world about what is happening in our "government". He certainly deserves a presidential pardon. (If we had a president.)
Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:58 PM
NSA Corrupts America's Politicians
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered a full-throated defense of the government's collection of data on billions of American phone calls, saying Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s practices have safeguarded the nation without trampling on civil liberties.
“What keeps me up at night, candidly, is another attack against the United States. And I see enough of the threat stream to know that is possible,” Feinstein said at a Pacific Council on International Policy dinner in Century City.
She pointed to a warning Wednesday about potential bombs hidden in the shoes of passengers on flights bound for the United States.
“But the way we prevent another attack – and this is tricky – is intelligence," she said. "You have to know what’s going to happen, because it’s too late otherwise.”
The NSA's global wiretap program was reportedly in operation long before 9/11/2001, so what did they do with their secret information that the World Trade Center was about to be destroyed?
When NSA knew what was going to happen, they did nothing to stop it.
And you can be sure that the NSA knew...if for no other reason than because the FBI knew...and NSA wiretapped the FBI along with every telephone in America and the world.
Feinstein's justification of NSA "wiretapping the world" is a complete fraud on the public.
NSA wants another billion dollars for new toys?
Just toss a few remarks into the news media about new shoe bombers.
(After your own "Al Qaida" teams had read their scripts and posted their messages.)
News Flash...This Litigation Will Never End Unless The Wiretapping Stops
WASHINGTON—The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency's controversial collection of Americans' phone records—an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the surveillance program, according to officials.
A number of government lawyers involved in lawsuits over the NSA phone-records program believe federal-court rules on preserving evidence related to lawsuits require the agency to stop routinely destroying older phone records, according to people familiar with the discussions. As a result, the government would expand the database beyond its original intent, at least while the lawsuits are active.
No final decision has been made to preserve the data, officials said, and one official said that even if a decision is made to retain the information, it would be held only for the purpose of litigation and not be subject to searches. The government currently collects phone records on millions of Americans in a vast database that it can mine for links to terror suspects. The database includes records of who called whom, when they called and for how long.
Posted 24 February 2014 - 12:52 AM
Obama's Encore...Here we go again...
Berlin (AFP) - US intelligence has stepped up eavesdropping on hundreds of key figures in Germany, including a government minister, after Chancellor Angela Merkel was dropped as a direct target, a German report said Sunday.
Bild am Sonntag newspaper said that 320 political and business leaders in Germany were being monitored by the US National Security Agency (NSA), including Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
"We have the order not to allow any loss of information whatsoever after the communication of the chancellor no longer being able to be directly monitored," Bild quoted an unnamed high-ranking US intelligence employee in Germany as saying.
US-German ties soured amid revelations leaked by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden that US intelligence agencies had allegedly eavesdropped on Merkel and collected vast amounts of online data and telephone records from average citizens.
Last month, US President Barack Obama said the US intelligence service would continue to spy on foreign governments but assured Merkel that he would not let intrusive surveillance harm their relationship.
Bild also quoted US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden as saying that the administration had made clear the US gathers the same kind of intelligence as all advanced nations.
US intelligence gathering is not aimed at helping US companies gain a competitive advantage, she was also quoted as saying.
(With a snarky smirk and a suppressed laugh.)
The report sat awkwardly alongside an interview with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, published in Spiegel magazine on Sunday, in which he expressed his belief that the United States had learned its lesson about spying on allied countries.
Steinmeier told the magazine that he was sure US surveillance of political leaders in friendly nations was at an end.
"Washington has hopefully understood that the type of contact with its partners can also have a political price," Spiegel quoted Steinmeier as saying in response to a question about US surveillance of Germans.
"I am sure that surveillance of the political leadership of friendly states is finished." (He said with a giggle.)
Steinmeier appeared to back away from a "no spying" agreement that Germany has been pushing for in the wake of the scandal, saying he was doubtful that it will "bring us much further".
Germany is especially sensitive to mass state spying on citizens due to memories of methods employed by the Stasi secret police in the former communist East. (Stasi - the NSA model for global surveillance.)
Edited by Zharkov, 24 February 2014 - 12:53 AM.
Posted 24 February 2014 - 01:05 AM
What the increase in spying on Germany tells us is that Germany is now an enemy and represents a threat to the US shadow government. Germany is one of the US shadow government enemies, along with American citizens, Christians, military veterans, as well as Libya, Iraq, Syria, etc.
Global mass surveillance implies that everyone, everywhere, are enemies of the elite and must be watched for signs of any beginning of organized resistance. The US denial that they do not spy for industrial advantage has already been proven to be a lie in news articles describing those operations.
When the 1% of the world's population sees the remaining 99% as enemies, there is clearly a mental problem and it isn't the 99% that has one.
Posted 25 February 2014 - 03:54 PM
Leaked GCHQ (Agents of NSA) document admits spy agency conducts Internet “false flag operations”
February 25, 2014
The alternative media has documented for 5 years that the government uses disinformation and disruption (and here) on the web to discredit activists and manipulate public opinion, just like it smears traditional television and print reporters who question the government too acutely.
We’ve long reported that the government censors and manipulates social media. More proof here.
New Edward Snowden documents confirm that Britain’s spy agency is doing so.
As Glenn Greenwald writes today:
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.
These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself. Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics:
(1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.
To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.
The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who havenothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes….
It is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption.
There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.
The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”
Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups. [Background on Sunstein here and here.]
Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government.
Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, butshape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell”, devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”….
Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”...
Posted 26 February 2014 - 05:03 PM
NEW UNDERSEA CABLE TO PREVENT NSA SPYING?
WASHINGTON – “Brazil, Europe plan undersea cable to skirt U.S. spying,” trumpeted one of the world’s top headlines yesterday, but it turns out the strategy to thwart possible U.S. surveillance may be an exercise in futility.
Brazil and the European Union announced their agreement to install a fiber optic cable under the Atlantic Ocean from one continent to the other to prevent U.S. surveillance of Internet traffic between them – after revelations the U.S. National Security Agency spied on their communications.
But the $185 million cable project will not necessarily keep spying eyes and ears from the data transmitted across it, since the NSA already can spy, if it chooses, on undersea fiber optics.
While the National Security Agency is better known in recent months for acquiring information from mobile phones given its vast global network of microwave listening stations and satellites, it also has the technical ability to tap into the proposed fiber-optic submarine cable – and without the intrusion being detected.
“We have to respect privacy, human rights and the sovereignty of nations,” said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, noting that Brazil and the EU are concerned about the “neutrality” of the Internet. “We don’t want business to be spied upon. The Internet is one of the best things man has ever invented. So we agreed for the need to guarantee the neutrality of the network, a democratic area where we can protect freedom of expression.”
Rousseff was particularly outraged upon learning the NSA had been spying on her communications and was gaining access to all Internet communications, including texting on phones.
A similar reaction followed revelation that the NSA had been scooping up all data of Internet activities from Europeans, including listening in on the personal mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The EU threatened to suspend agreements with the U.S. on data transfers unless there were guarantees on the protection of data from EU citizens.
While President Obama eventually ordered a ban on spying on leaders of close allies, the trust was broken.
As a result, Brazil and the EU decided to undertake this joint venture between Brazil’s Telebras and Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables to lay the communications link.
And while it will draw Brazil closer to the EU in terms of trade, it will definitely not be immune from being tapped.
Fiber-optic technology allows thousands of phone calls, faxes, emails and encrypted data to be translated into beams of light and send through a single strand of glass as thin as a human hair.
Undersea cables contain eight such strands, or fibers. To gain access to the data, NSA needs to gain access to those light beams, which becomes challenging in an ocean environment.
But NSA actually developed this capability in the 1990s when a specially outfitted submarine – the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter – successfully sliced into a fiber-optic cable unnoticed.
The Carter is a modified Seawolf-class submarine built by General Dynamic Electric Boat in Connecticut. At the Navy’s request, GE added an extension to the hull that provided another 100 feet to its 350-foot length. Sources say the modification cost almost $2 billion.
The hull extension, say sources, was a floodable chamber to allow divers and machines to remove objects from the seafloor or carry monitoring devices to be attached to the undersea cables, to be removed later for analysis.
It was this type of submarine undersea tapping that former NSA employee Ronald Pelton, in the 1980s, talked about with the then-Soviet Union. He revealed Operation Ivy Bells, an NSA and Navy program to surreptitiously wiretap undersea cables to monitor Soviet military communications and track Soviet submarines.
Pelton later was caught, tried and convicted of espionage. At age 73, he remains in federal prison.
Disclosure of NSA eavesdropping on microwave communications, sources say, could force the agency to go back to tapping into fiber-optic cables.
There would be serious legal issues, since a significant portion of any undersea communications could involve U.S. citizens.
And NSA wouldn’t be getting only metadata, which agency officials swear is all they obtain, although informed sources have told WND that the NSA can access the actual phone conversations based on that metadata.
In undersea cable tapping, the NSA would get access to all of the communications and could secretly siphon off data without detection.
The undersea fiber-optic cable is sheathed in a thick steel hulk and buried in a trench. Beyond a thousand feet, however, the cable usually is left uncovered on the ocean floor.
This may mean the intercepts by the Carter occurred in waters beyond a thousand feet.
Experts say undersea fiber-optic cables are handling increased information. One cable can carry up to 100 million phone calls at a time, and the number of such undersea cables is increasing.
For that reason, sources say the NSA will have to virtually double its computing power at tremendous cost to handle the anticipated volume of calls traveling on fiber-optic cables.
Even on land, they add, it is relatively easy to tap a fiber-optic line without being detected through the use of a low-cost clip-on coupler.
While commercially available taps can produce an insertion loss of an attenuation measurement of 3 dB at a cost of less than $1,000, taps used by the military and intelligence organization are said to have an insertion loss of less than 0.5 dB, making any interruption virtually undetected.
A U.S. government contractor, Glimmerglass, boasts of technology to tap information undetected and has been doing so since 2010. It also claims it can monitor traffic of services such as Gmail and Facebook. This technology also is in use by G.C.H.Q., NSA’s counterpart in the United Kingdom.
It reportedly acquires information through “intercept probes” installed at various landing stations. These probes are said to be small devices capable of capturing the light sent down a fiber-optic cable. That light bounces around a prism, where it is copied, then allowed to continue on its way.
“We believe our 3D MEMS technology – as used by government and various agencies – is involved in the collection of intelligence from undersea fibers,” the company said. “We are deployed in several countries that are using it for lawful interception. They’ve passed laws, publicly known, that they will monitor all international traffic for interdiction of any kind of terrorist activity.”
Posted 26 February 2014 - 05:11 PM
It should be obvious that there are only a few ways remaining to defeat NSA wiretapping -
1. Develop another form of communication such as carrier pigeon;
2. Develop an entirely new means of encryption;
3. Use almost infinite layers of encryption so that the time required for intercept decryption would make third party decryption impractical.
Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:58 PM
Western spy agencies build ‘cyber magicians’ to manipulate online discourse
Secret units within the ‘Five Eyes” global spying network engage in covert online operations that aim to invade, deceive, and control online communities and individuals through the spread of false information and use of ingenious social-science tactics.
Such teams of highly trained professionals have several main objectives, such as “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet” and “to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported based on intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The new information comes via a document from the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), entitled ‘The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations,’ which is top secret and only for dissemination within the Five Eyes intelligence partnership that includes Britain, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The document outlines what tactics are used to achieve JTRIG’s main objectives. Among those tactics that seek to “discredit a target” include “false flag operations” (posting material online that is falsely attributed to a target), fake victim blog posts (writing as a victim of a target to disseminate false information), and posting “negative information” wherever pertinent online.
Other discrediting tactics used against individuals include setting a “honey-trap” (using sex to lure targets into compromising situations), changing a target’s photo on a social media site, and emailing or texting “colleagues, neighbours, friends etc.”
To “discredit a company,” GCHQ may “leak confidential information to companies/the press via blog…post negative information on appropriate forums [or] stop deals/ruin business relationships.”
JTRIG’s ultimate purpose, as defined by GCHQ in the document, is to use “online techniques to make something happen in the real world or cyber world.” These online covert actions follow the “4 D’s:” deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive.
As Greenwald pointed out, the tactics employed by JTRIG are not used for spying on other nations, militaries, or intelligence services, but for “traditional law enforcement” against those merely suspected of crimes. These targets can include members of Anonymous, “hacktivists,” or really any person or entity GCHQ deems worthy of antagonizing.
“[I]t is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption,” Greenwald wrote.
In addition, the targets do not need to have ties to terror activity or pose any national security threat. More likely, targets seem to fall closer to political activists that may have, for instance, used “denial of service” tactics, popular with Anonymous and hacktivists, which usually do only a limited amount of damage to a target.
“These surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats,” Greenwald wrote.
In addition to the personal attacks on targets, JTRIG also involves the use of psychological and social-science tactics to steer online activism and discourse. The document details GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” which focuses on “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption” that are used to dissect how targets can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience,” and “compliance.”
Using tested manipulation tactics, JTRIG attempts to influence discourse and ultimately sow discord through deception.
When reached for comment by The Intercept, GCHQ avoided answering pointed questions on JTRIG while insisting its methods were legal.
“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position,” GCHQ stated.
Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:25 PM
Gov't handbook for Internet trolls uncovered
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, through whom document-leaker Edward Snowden previously rattled the entire National Security Agency, is now confirming Western intelligence networks strategize to place “trolls” on the Internet to undermine, discredit and destroy critics.
In an article posted on website Greenwald help create called the Intercept, Greenwald reports secret documents from the GCHQ – the United Kingdom’s version of the NSA – reveal “how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction.”
He cites documents from the “previously secret” Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group in the U.K., which describe injecting “all sorts of false material onto the Internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets” and to use “social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”
“To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: ‘false flag operations’ (posting material to the Internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting ‘negative information’ on various forums.”
The document lists a “Disruption Operational Playbook” and subheadings titled “Infiltration Operation, Ruse Operation, Set Piece Operation, False Flag Operation, False Rescue Operation, Disruption Operation, Sting Operation.”
Regarding how to “discredit a target,” the instructions include, “Set up a honey-trap, change their photos on social networking sites, write a blog purporting to be one of their victims, email/text their colleagues, neighbors, friends etc.”
Sam Rolley at the Personal Liberty blog wrote that his organization for years has been “warning readers that the well-connected and ruling elite, displeased by this newfound proletariat freedom, have been prolific in attempts to undermine and marginalize information provided by any media outlet unwilling to obey the same unspoken rules that govern the content choices of major media outlets.”
“Now, thanks to the efforts of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, readers no longer have to take the word of ‘paranoid’ bloggers who relate tales of paid government trolls lurking in comment sections and other concentrated top-down efforts to muddy the information provided by alternative media,” Rolley said.
He warned that the “most disturbing confirmation provided in the newly publicized intelligence documents is that spy agencies in Western nations with free speech guarantees have been given carte blanche authority from political leadership to target private individuals and organizations deemed uncooperative with the will of the state with ruthless online reputation-destruction efforts.”
Greenwald said the discussion of many of the techniques “occurs in the context of using them in lieu of ‘traditional law enforcement’ against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, ‘hacktivism,’ meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.”
Rolley said it takes “no stretch of the imagination – even for those who have resisted considering the possibility of malevolent intent on government’s part – to assume that the mission of organizations like the NSA and GCHQ is ultimately more about quelling citizen dissent than stopping citizen bloodshed at the hands of terrorists.”
“The mere existence of documents like those published this week,” Rolley said, “provides that the nefarious and long-suspected Internet activities of Western propagandists are not just plausible – they have very likely occurred in the comment sections and social media posts of articles like the one you are reading now.”
WND columnist Eric Rush highlighted the outrageous idea of government agents trying to destroy the reputations of critics.
“It is worth noting that in 2008, Cass Sunstein, an Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs … wrote a paper proposing that the U.S. government engage teams of covert agents and independent, ideologically kindred surrogates to employ precisely the aforementioned methods to achieve their objectives,” Rush said.
Greenwald said the “point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats.”
Greenwald said the British organization, GCHQ, in response to his questions, said only that it does not comment on intelligence matters.
“Furthermore,” the agency said, “all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners, and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.”
“Whatever else is true,” Greenwald wrote, “no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse?”
WND previously has reported on leftist trolls operating online, including those with thousands of postings that would be unlikely to come from someone submitting comments during free time.
The report at the time said the trolls were performing a “disinformation” function typical of counter-intelligence efforts by intelligence agencies to confuse political enemies and refute or deflect opposing political views that are less susceptible to refutation by more traditional methods of debate and argumentation.
Typically, trolls operating on WND forums were defending Obama by posting specious and diversionary arguments with the goal of changing the subject and obscuring topics that could damage Obama, such as his birth records, life narrative, political history and policy preferences, including his current positions as president.
One was found to have posted nearly 4,800 comments over a two-year period. Another operated under different user names used various email addresses and nine different IP addresses to post 15,200 comments over 787 days on WND.com and FoxNews.com, as well as several smaller news websites, some of which had a local focus or interest.
The report confirmed many of the trolls banned from participating in WND forums appeared to have been operating on a professional level.
Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:29 PM
"Our laws permit even the vilest criticisms of governments, political leaders, and religious figures as legitimate exercises in free speech"
Legal brief - Garcia vs. Google Inc et al., 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-57302.
Edited by Zharkov, 27 February 2014 - 04:32 PM.
Posted 27 February 2014 - 09:10 PM
Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal.
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.
In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy".
GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans' images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.
The documents also chronicle GCHQ's sustained struggle to keep the large store of sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff, though there is little discussion about the privacy implications of storing this material in the first place.
NSA ragout 4
Optic Nerve, the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show, began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012, according to an internal GCHQ wiki page accessed that year.
The system, eerily reminiscent of the telescreens evoked in George Orwell's 1984, was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, to monitor GCHQ's existing targets, and to discover new targets of interest. Such searches could be used to try to find terror suspects or criminals making use of multiple, anonymous user IDs.
Rather than collecting webcam chats in their entirety, the program saved one image every five minutes from the users' feeds, partly to comply with human rights legislation, and also to avoid overloading GCHQ's servers. The documents describe these users as "unselected" – intelligence agency parlance for bulk rather than targeted collection.
One document even likened the program's "bulk access to Yahoo webcam images/events" to a massive digital police mugbook of previously arrested individuals.
"Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for 'mugshots' or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face," it reads. "The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright."
The agency did make efforts to limit analysts' ability to see webcam images, restricting bulk searches to metadata only.
However, analysts were shown the faces of people with similar usernames to surveillance targets, potentially dragging in large numbers of innocent people. One document tells agency staff they were allowed to display "webcam images associated with similar Yahoo identifiers to your known target".
Optic Nerve was based on collecting information from GCHQ's huge network of internet cable taps, which was then processed and fed into systems provided by the NSA. Webcam information was fed into NSA's XKeyscore search tool, and NSA research was used to build the tool which identified Yahoo's webcam traffic.
Bulk surveillance on Yahoo users was begun, the documents said, because "Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets".
NSA ragout 3
Programs like Optic Nerve, which collect information in bulk from largely anonymous user IDs, are unable to filter out information from UK or US citizens. Unlike the NSA, GCHQ is not required by UK law to "minimize", or remove, domestic citizens' information from its databases. However, additional legal authorisations are required before analysts can search for the data of individuals likely to be in the British Isles at the time of the search.
There are no such legal safeguards for searches on people believed to be in the US or the other allied "Five Eyes" nations – Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
GCHQ insists all of its activities are necessary, proportionate, and in accordance with UK law.
The documents also show that GCHQ trialled automatic searches based on facial recognition technology, for people resembling existing GCHQ targets: "[I]f you search for similar IDs to your target, you will be able to request automatic comparison of the face in the similar IDs to those in your target's ID".
The undated document, from GCHQ's internal wiki information site, noted this capability was "now closed … but shortly to return!"
The privacy risks of mass collection from video sources have long been known to the NSA and GCHQ, as a research document from the mid-2000s noted: "One of the greatest hindrances to exploiting video data is the fact that the vast majority of videos received have no intelligence value whatsoever, such as pornography, commercials, movie clips and family home movies."
Sexually explicit webcam material proved to be a particular problem for GCHQ, as one document delicately put it: "Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person. Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography."
The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity". Discussing efforts to make the interface "safer to use", it noted that current "naïve" pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people's faces as pornography.
NSA ragout 1
GCHQ did not make any specific attempts to prevent the collection or storage of explicit images, the documents suggest, but did eventually compromise by excluding images in which software had not detected any faces from search results – a bid to prevent many of the lewd shots being seen by analysts.
The system was not perfect at stopping those images reaching the eyes of GCHQ staff, though. An internal guide cautioned prospective Optic Nerve users that "there is no perfect ability to censor material which may be offensive. Users who may feel uncomfortable about such material are advised not to open them".
It further notes that "under GCHQ's offensive material policy, the dissemination of offensive material is a disciplinary offence".
NSA ragout 2
Once collected, the metadata associated with the videos can be as valuable to the intelligence agencies as the images themselves.
It is not fully clear from the documents how much access the NSA has to the Yahoo webcam trove itself, though all of the policy documents were available to NSA analysts through their routine information-sharing. A previously revealed NSA metadata repository, codenamed Marina, has what the documents describe as a protocol class for webcam information.
In its statement to the Guardian, Yahoo strongly condemned the Optic Nerve program, and said it had no awareness of or involvement with the GCHQ collection.
"We were not aware of, nor would we condone, this reported activity," said a spokeswoman. "This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy that is completely unacceptable, and we strongly call on the world's governments to reform surveillance law consistent with the principles we outlined in December.
"We are committed to preserving our users' trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services."
Yahoo has been one of the most outspoken technology companies objecting to the NSA's bulk surveillance. It filed a transparency lawsuit with the secret US surveillance court to disclose a 2007 case in which it was compelled to provide customer data to the surveillance agency, and it railed against the NSA's reported interception of information in transit between its data centers.
The documents do not refer to any specific court orders permitting collection of Yahoo's webcam imagery, but GCHQ mass collection is governed by the UK's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and requires certification by the foreign secretary, currently William Hague.
The Optic Nerve documentation shows legalities were being considered as new capabilities were being developed. Discussing adding automated facial matching, for example, analysts agreed to test a system before firming up its legal status for everyday use.
"It was agreed that the legalities of such a capability would be considered once it had been developed, but that the general principle applied would be that if the accuracy of the algorithm was such that it was useful to the analyst (ie, the number of spurious results was low, then it was likely to be proportionate)," the 2008 document reads.
The document continues: "This is allowed for research purposes but at the point where the results are shown to analysts for operational use, the proportionality and legality questions must be more carefully considered."
Optic Nerve was just one of a series of GCHQ efforts at biometric detection, whether for target recognition or general security.
While the documents do not detail efforts as widescale as those against Yahoo users, one presentation discusses with interest the potential and capabilities of the Xbox 360's Kinect camera, saying it generated "fairly normal webcam traffic" and was being evaluated as part of a wider program.
Documents previously revealed in the Guardian showed the NSA were exploring the video capabilities of game consoles for surveillance purposes.
Microsoft, the maker of Xbox, faced a privacy backlash last year when details emerged that the camera bundled with its new console, the Xbox One, would be always-on by default.
Beyond webcams and consoles, GCHQ and the NSA looked at building more detailed and accurate facial recognition tools, such as iris recognition cameras – "think Tom Cruise in Minority Report", one presentation noted.
The same presentation talks about the strange means the agencies used to try and test such systems, including whether they could be tricked. One way of testing this was to use contact lenses on detailed mannequins.
To this end, GCHQ has a dummy nicknamed "the Head", one document noted.
In a statement, a GCHQ spokesman said: "It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.
"Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
"All our operational processes rigorously support this position."
The NSA declined to respond to specific queries about its access to the Optic Nerve system, the presence of US citizens' data in such systems, or whether the NSA has similar bulk-collection programs.
However, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the agency did not ask foreign partners such as GCHQ to collect intelligence the agency could not legally collect itself.
"As we've said before, the National Security Agency does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the US government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself," she said.
"The NSA works with a number of partners in meeting its foreign intelligence mission goals, and those operations comply with US law and with the applicable laws under which those partners operate.
"A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights. Those procedures govern the acquisition, use, and retention of information about US persons."
Posted 08 March 2014 - 04:30 AM
“Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the ‘Underwear Bomber,’ was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device,” Snowden testified. “While even Mutallab's own father warned the U.S. government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn't get Mutallab a dedicated U.S. investigator. All we gave him was a U.S. visa.”
He continued: “Nor did the U.S. government's comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn't do more than a cursory investigation – although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching – and failed to discover the plot [in which] 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.”
Snowden’s testimony also focused on alleged collaboration from European countries. He said Dutch, German, Swedish and other officials “received instruction from the NSA, sometimes under the guise of the U.S. Department of Defense and other bodies, on how to degrade the legal protections of their countries' communications” to allow bulk data-gathering.
Posted 08 March 2014 - 02:43 PM
What this Homeland Security revelation means is that not only are they listening at the NSA, they are violating Federal Law by disclosing the contents of communications. Nobody, not even government employees are allowed to disclose private communications without a search warrant. There is no magical exception for "official use" until a search warrant has been signed by a judge and that judge agrees that there is probable cause for the warrant.
Posted 08 March 2014 - 04:06 PM
NSA Working Directly with Canada’s Spy Agency, the “Five Eyes”
Not only NSA officials, but also the NSA’s counterparts in other countries like Australia and Britain, are scanning the phones, computers and cameras of millions. Coming into the fold of worldwide surveillance is Canada.
The Canadian spy agency ‘Communications Security Establishment Canada’ (CSEC) has been working hand-in-hand with the NSA. CBC News broke the story, but decided to release limited information on the matter. However, what has been released is enough to make even the smallest privacy rights advocates cringe.
In all, the NSA and CSEC managed to set up “spying posts”, which allowed the agencies to oversee, without consent, 20 high-priority foreign countries. American intelligence officials decided to make the move with Canada’s CSEC due to the “unique geographic access” where US presence is restricted. The two surveillance communities have shared nationwide, worldwide and transnational targets, and only plan to increase their activity.
Interestingly, the CSEC/NSA documents are, so far, the most recent. Dated in April 2013 and stamped “Top Secret”, the released documents show a quickly growing relationship. Focusing on more recent conditions in which the NSA/CSEC operate, the information describes Canada’s compliance to the NSA’s request of “covert sites” used for joint spying missions.
One of the released documents reads, “CSEC offers resources for advanced collection, processing and analysis, and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA,” executing most of its surveillance activities out of the Ottawa branch. According to CBC, Ottawa’s branch is equipped with high-level computing equipment to intercept phone calls, to Internet communications, around the globe.
Known as the “Five Eyes”, the documents show US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand agencies as a partnership of countries, while holding Canada’s relationship as a unique one. Monday's leak explains how CSEC and NSA officials shared information, but in addition, office space. “Co-operative efforts include the exchange of liaison officers and intégrée,” or in other words, working in and out of NSA/CSEC offices.
Other perks the CSEC receives from the NSA’s community is computer equipment and encryption software. NSA-donated hardware and software is all used for “collection, processing and analytic efforts.” Exchanged for the tools, the CSEC provides the NSA’s community with “cryptographic products, cryptanalysis, technology and software”: a beneficial relationship for the spy industry, sure, but for privacy advocates? Not so much.
Before creating an anti-NSA offense on Facebook or Twitter about newly released information, the CBC reported that with CSEC’s annual budget sitting at $450 million, it’s only about to get worse for taxpayers. The agency is in the midst of opening a brand new, shiny headquarters in Ottawa worth $1.2 billion – double the annual budget itself. Fortunately for Canadians, they still have about $38 billion to catch up with the NSA’s pace.
Of course, just two weeks ago, information was released citing the Canadian government’s consent to allow NSA surveillance at the G8 and G20 summits in 2010.
In a time of true, Orwellian prediction, expecting anything as being possible by government surveillance agencies is probably the most reasonable path to take, and if it wasn’t for whistleblower Snowden, the age of information would cease to exist.
Crushing Dissent - NSA Lobbies To Prohibit Media Discussion of the US Police State
NSA Chief: Federal legislation to end media leaks only weeks away
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2014–National Security Agency (NSA) chief executive General Keith Alexander addressed a cyber-security panel Tuesday where he proclaimed that “media leaks legislation” he introduced to prevent journalists from reporting on government surveillance programs like those leaked by Edward Snowden could reach the floor within a couple weeks.
“We’ve got to handle media leaks first,” Alexander said in report by the Guardian. “I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks.”
Alexander stood in support of the United Kingdom’s actions last summer when the British government detained Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda on terrorism charges for carrying leaked data obtained by Snowden. He stated similar measures should be implemented in the USA.
“I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks. I am an optimist. I think if we make the right steps on the media leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier,” Alexander said.
Alexander has been pushing his idea for quite some time. “We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” he told an official Defense Department blog in October.
Alexander, who is set to retire within the next few weeks, seems to have found his solution.
Posted 11 March 2014 - 02:18 AM
Yes, it was. Not any more. Now NSA's dirty work is public knowledge. And it should have been public knowledge from the beginning, so that the American public could enforce their rights of privacy against the rogue, illicit Obama regime.
America is unique in the world for one big reason - we are governed by our consent because we hold sovereign power and only part of that power was delegated to the federal government and the state governments, as a privilege to govern, not a right.
In America, the privilege to govern is a revokable privilege. It can be revoked at the ballot box peacefully, or if that fails, under the authority of our Declaration of Independence and the 2nd and 10th Amendments, the privilege to govern can be revoked by armed overthrow of the government. This concept is obviously spreading around the world. People are tired of dictators killing them, imprisoning them, stealing their money, lying to them, and treating them like prisoners.
The founders of America abolished the concept of royalty and the "right to govern", hated democracy where 51% of the voters could enslave the remaining 49%, and so they established a constitutional republic where everyone was protected from domination by a majority of elitists. As these rights have now been ignored by the NSA, Clinton, Bush, and Obama regimes, we now have 42 state legislatures calling for a Constitutional Convention to constrain the federal government from doing the things listed in all of the foregoing articles posted here.
Edited by Zharkov, 01 August 2016 - 03:54 PM.
Posted 13 March 2014 - 03:44 AM
"People should wonder if the crimes that the NSA is committing against American citizens today are, in fact, somehow connected to the crimes of 9/11. Not in the sense of preventing terrorism, but in a way that suggests the ongoing implementation of a long-term plan to control the world’s most strategic resources and also the American people.” http://americanterrorist.com/
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