As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2013 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.
In early 2013, EFF joined with organizations around the world to try to develop a fairly straightforward set of principles for applying human rights law to modern tools of communications surveillance around the world. The basic ideas seemed obvious:
Note that human rights law doesn’t allow mass, untargeted spying on ordinary, innocent people;
Secret laws are wrong;
Computers collecting and analyzing Internet traffic is just as much “surveillance” as a person peeping through a window;
Metadata collection and aggregation can be just as privacy invasive as content review;
No-one should be denied privacy rights just because they live in another country from those who are spying on them;
States can’t dodge their obligations to guard the privacy of their own citizens by swapping snooped data with other nations or private companies;
States shouldn’t undermine the security of us all by undermining encryption or creating back doors.
In defending the NSA’s surveillance policies, many have cited the agency’s claim that it merely collects phone numbers dialed, lengths of calls, and other metadata. Yet researchers now say the NSA can identify individuals in that vast collection of data. Scholars at Stanford University in California set out to determine how, if at all, the NSA’s metadata collection impacts the individual Americans whose information is swept up. The indiscriminate collection of phone records is one of the NSA’s primary surveillance programs, and one of the first revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. US President Obama sat down with Charlie Rose of PBS in June to defend the government’s position. “Program number one is called the 2015 program. What that does is it gets data from the service providers – like a Verizon – in bulk,” Obama said. “And basically you have call pairs. You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number. There are no names, there’s no content in that database. All it is, is the number pairs, when those calls took place, how long they took place. So that database is sitting there.”
The National Security Agency arranged a clandestine US$10 million contract with computer security power RSA that allowed the spy agency to embed encryption software it could use to infiltrate the company’s widely used products, Reuters reported.
Revelations provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and first reported in September showed that the NSA created and perpetuated a corruptible formula that was ultimately a “back door” into encryption products.
Reuters later reported RSA became the lead distributor of the formula, installing it into a software tool known as BSAFE that is widely used to boost security in personal computers and other products.
Unknown then was the $10 million deal that set the NSA’s formula as the default method for the security measure – in which random numbers are generated on a key for access to a product – in BSAFE, according to Reuters’ sources. Though the sum of money for the deal seems low, it represented over a third of revenue the relevant division at RSA had made the previous year, according to security filings.
Unconcerned citizens walking away from Snowden’s NSA spying revelations.
Edward Snowden did not make the top 10 for Google’s trends of 2013 — But Paul Walker’s death and the new Playsation 4 did….What a joke! It just goes to show how dumbed down society is. For years those regarded as ‘crazy conspiracy people’ have not only been saying, but providing evidence of the NSA’s spying grid — It was mocked and laughed at, then came Edward Snowden and people still don’t care — Many in the mainstream view Snowden as a traitor — James Wooley former CIA director has said Snowden should be hanged. Similar sentiments have been repeated by John Bolton over at the neocon hub FOXNEWS. These statist worshipers believe Snowden should be hung, but they give a free pass to an illicit government caught breaking the law? The NSA was spying on it’s own citizens not as a method for tracking possible terrorists, but to set up a 1984 styled police state grid — Any claims made that the NSA was spying in the name of protecting American’s from ‘terrorists’ is pure propaganda and total bullshit, as the United States funds the very same terrorists it claims to be protecting Americans from.
This is a global list of top 10 searches, but the Boston Bombing makes the list, Paul Walker Makes the list, meaningless cell phones and gadgets make the list — Edward Snowden doesn’t make the list.
No wonder the NSA is spying on everyone — It is spying on a society of idiots who just don’t care. What the hell is wrong with people — Why is it that most people don’t care?
Google Trends – Trending Top Trending, 2013, Global
“Almost Orwellian” – that’s the description a federal judge gave earlier this week to the massive spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on virtually all 380 million cellphones in the United States.
In the first meaningful and jurisdictionally grounded judicial review of the NSA cellphone spying program, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee sitting in Washington, D.C., ruled that the scheme of asking a secret judge on a secret court for a general warrant to spy on all American cellphone users without providing evidence of probable cause of criminal behavior against any of them is unconstitutional because it directly violates the Fourth Amendment.
Readers of this page are familiar with the purpose of that Amendment and the requirements it imposes on the government. The Framers intended it to prevent the new government in America from doing to Americans what the British government had done to the colonists under the king.
The British government had used general warrants – which are not based on individualized probable cause and do not name the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized – to authorize British soldiers to search the colonists wherever they pleased for whatever they wished to seize. The reason for the Fourth Amendment requirement of individualized probable cause and specificity in the warrant is to prevent the very type of general warrant that the NSA has claimed is lawful. The reason for preventing general warrants is that they have become an instrument of tyranny.
Then the babbling CNN host claims “no one but me knows whether I am right or left…”
What a load of crap. These pro-propagandist types think if they say they are not hyper-partisan it somehow makes it true….because they said so — Even though their actions and everything they have supported openly proves the contrary.
Yes you are a progressive, Don Lemon, and yes, other people other then you are able to know it. The arrogance from these people!
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
Acting on a lawsuit brought by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting so-called metadata pertaining to the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients. However, the judge stayed the order to allow for an appeal.
But we want to focus on another angle: the unspoken assumption by the NSA that we need mass surveillance because “lone wolf” terrorists don’t leave as many red flags as governments, so the NSA has to spy on everyone to find the needle in the haystack.
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.
A report by The Stranger, a weekly Seattle newspaper, exposes how the boxes, which are attached to utility poles and include vertical antennae, can track cellphones even if they are not connected to the system’s wi-fi network.
Aruba – the company that provided the boxes to the Seattle Police Department – brags in its technical literature about how the boxes can keep track of “rogue” or “unassociated” devices, in other words your cellphone even if you have refused to let the system access your device’s wi-fi component.
The user’s guide for one of Aruba’s recent software products states: “The wireless network has a wealth of information about unassociated and associated devices.” That software includes “a location engine that calculates associated and unassociated device location every 30 seconds by default… The last 1,000 historical locations are stored for each MAC address.”
When reporters Matt Fikse-Verkerk and Brendan Kiley asked the Seattle Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security to explain what the boxes were for, the DHS refused to comment and Seattle Police detective Monty Moss would only state that the department “is not comfortable answering policy questions when we do not yet have a policy.”
To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency’s impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.
That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing onlinegames, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.
The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.