All posts tagged “surveillance”

NSA’s internet surveillance faces constitutional challenge in court

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) this week will challenge the National Security Agency (NSA) in a federal court, where the advocacy group will argue that the agency’s web data collection program is unconstitutional. The hearing will be held on Friday morning in an Oakland court, marking what the EFF calls the first challenge to the NSA’s upstream data collection program in a public court.

In its motion, the EFF argues that the NSA’s program violates the Fourth Amendment by indiscriminately searching and copying web traffic collected from internet cables and nodes. The motion, Jewel v. NSA, was filed in 2008 after a former AT&T employee revealed that the NSA was routing copied internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco….

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Surveillance drives South Koreans to encrypted messaging apps

Two weeks ago, Kakao Talk users in South Korea users got an unpleasant surprise. After months of enduring public criticism, President Park Geun-Hye announced a crackdown on any messages deemed as insulting to her or generally rumor-mongering — including private messages sent through Kakao Talk, a Korean messaging app akin to WhatsApp or iMessage. Prosecutors began actively monitoring the service for violations, promising punishment for anyone spreading inappropriate content.

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The judges who approve phone surveillance are buying Verizon stock

As the world learns more about the NSA’s global surveillance programs, the FISA court has come under new scrutiny as well. The court provides the legal authorization for much of the NSA’s spying apparatus, including programs collecting phone records in bulk from phone companies like AT&T and Verizon. But a new report from Vice suggests the court may not be as neutral as it claims. The report singles out three judges who own significant quantities of Verizon stock, including a judge who signed off on the request to renew the metadata program.

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How Ai Weiwei, bit by bit, overcomes the Chinese surveillance state

Ai Weiwei is one of most highly-regarded, controversial artists of his time. In the West, he is viewed as China’s preeminent artist and cultural critic; his written and visual work has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times over, and he currently enjoys a new exhibit, Ai Weiwei: According to What?at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. (You should go if you get the chance.) However, his reach in China is considerably more limited — since domestic media cannot even utter his name, most people there simply don’t know who he is. And because the government holds his passport, Ai can’t leave the country, all while the authorities constantly keep tabs on him. However, as Aeon Magazine reports, Ai’s art is perfectly suited for the…

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NSA reportedly targeted as many as 122 world leaders for surveillance

New leaked NSA documents published in Der Spiegel and The Intercept appear to reveal more details about how that agency targeted a list of world leaders that is larger than previously thought. The documents, leaked to the publications by Edward Snowden, contain a list of 11 world leaders that have been targeted by a system known as Nymrod — however the document implies the actual number targeted was 122. Nymrod is reportedly a system designed to automatically extract citations (“cites”) out of a multiplicity of sources, including voice and computer communications. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is listed by name, as are more obvious targets like Syrian president Bashar Asad and former Ukranian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko….

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UN human rights report criticizes US on surveillance, drone use, and torture

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has issued a report critical of the United States’ stance and history on a wide range of issues, including surveillance, drone use, and torture. The report, one in an infrequently issued series by the committee, expressed concern over the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone records as well as the programs PRISM and UPSTREAM, which collect internet communications directly from companies and through the fiber-optic cables used to carry internet traffic, respectively. It also criticized the United States’ use of a secret court to handle surveillance matters, “thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision,” it writes.

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NSA officials go on tour to heal agency image amid surveillance scandal

The National Security Agency has endured six months of criticism from media outlets since Edward Snowden released documents disclosing the agency’s massive global surveillance apparatus. With its back against the wall, NSA head Keith Alexander and Snowden task force head Richard Ledgett are speaking directly to the press as a means of getting ahead of the story, with the hope of painting themselves — and Snowden himself — in a new light.

In an interview with Reuters, Ledgett expressed that Snowden’s leaks had proven “cataclysmic” for the NSA, though he offered no apologies for how the agency conducts his eavesdropping. However, with regard to a review panel recommending limits on its powers and installing civilian leadership, he…

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NSA reportedly ‘piggybacking’ on Google advertising cookies to hone in on surveillance targets

In yet another disclosure from Edward Snowden’s pile of leaked NSA documentsThe Washington Post has revealed that the US surveillance agency may be using Google’s advertising cookies to track and “pinpoint” targets for government hacking and location-tracking. According to Snowden’s leaked presentation slides, both the NSA and the British equivalent, the GCHQ, are using a Google-specific ad cookie (know as “PREF”) as a way of honing in on specific surveillance targets. While Google’s cookie doesn’t contain personal information like a name or email address, it does contain numeric codes that uniquely identify a user’s browser. That identifier reportedly helps the NSA and the GCHQ single out a specific machine and send out its software…

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Senators pen New York Times op-ed calling for an immediate end to NSA surveillance

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), all members of the US Select Committee on Intelligence, have come out time after time as outspoken voices in the ongoing NSA surveillance scandal. Only last week, the trio expressed their disappointment with the agency’s tracking program, and backed an EFF-led lawsuit that aims to put an end to the surveillance. Now, in a New York Times op-ed, the group again called for an end to all indiscriminate collection of the American public’s data, stating that the trust lost by the spying program can be rebuilt.

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US government tries to rebuild lost trust after NSA surveillance leaks

After leaked documents began to reveal the scope of surveillance by the NSA, FBI, and other agencies, the Obama administration has strongly defended its policies. But it’s also trying to rebuild the public trust, even as it insists that no privacy problem existed in the first place. That means declassifying documents, promising reviews, and — obviously — starting a Tumblr.

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