Edward Snowden,National Security Agency surveillance 2015-2016

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by The Wrong Guy, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. snippy Member

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  2. A.O.T.F Member

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  3. BrainStorm Member

  4. The Wrong Guy Member

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  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

    By Dan Froomkin, The Intercept, May 5, 2015

    Most people realize that emails and other digital communications they once considered private can now become part of their permanent record.

    But even as they increasingly use apps that understand what they say, most people don’t realize that the words they speak are not so private anymore, either.

    Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.

    The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.

    Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community’s “holy grail,” the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.

    The documents include vivid examples of the use of speech recognition in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Latin America. But they leave unclear exactly how widely the spy agency uses this ability, particularly in programs that pick up considerable amounts of conversations that include people who live in or are citizens of the United States.

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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    NSA phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal

    By Dan Roberts in Washington and Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

    The US court of appeals has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency.

    A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling that the controversial surveillance practice first revealed to the US public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 could not be subject to judicial review.

    But the judges also waded into the charged and ongoing debate over the reauthorization of a key Patriot Act provision currently before US legislators. That provision, which the appeals court ruled the NSA program surpassed, will expire on June 1 amid gridlock in Washington on what to do about it.

    The judges opted not to end the domestic bulk collection while Congress decides its fate, calling judicial inaction “a lesser intrusion” on privacy than at the time the case was initially argued.

    “In light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape,” the judges ruled.

    But they also sent a tacit warning to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who is pushing to re-authorize the provision, known as Section 215, without modification: “There will be time then to address appellants’ constitutional issues.”

    “We hold that the text of section 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,” concluded their judgement.

    “Such a monumental shift in our approach to combating terrorism requires a clearer signal from Congress than a recycling of oft‐used language long held in similar contexts to mean something far narrower,” the judges added.

    “We conclude that to allow the government to collect phone records only because they may become relevant to a possible authorized investigation in the future fails even the permissive ‘relevance’ test.

    “We agree with appellants that the government’s argument is ‘irreconcilable with the statute’s plain text’.”

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    Court rules NSA program illegal

    By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

    A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency's controversial collection of Americans' phone records, first revealed by Edward Snowden, is not legal under the Patriot Act.

    The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in the case, which was brought by the ACLU, that the telephone metadata collection program "exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized." The Court did not rule on a larger Constitutional issue and sent the case back down to a lower court for further proceedings.

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    Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald · 53 minutes ago
    The decision is here:
    It's a clear and categorical decree that NSA program has no legal authority.
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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

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  8. Disambiguation Global Moderator

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  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    Appeals Court Strikes Down NSA Phone Spying Program in ACLU, NYCLU Lawsuit

    New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) - American Civil Liberties Union of New York State

    May 7, 2015 — In a landmark decision, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled today that the NSA’s phone-records surveillance program is unlawful.

    The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the statute the government is relying on to justify the bulk collection of phone records – Section 215 of the Patriot Act – does not permit the gathering of Americans’ sensitive information on such a massive scale. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union in June 2013, immediately after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of the program.

    “The current reform proposals from Congress look anemic in light of the serious issues raised by the Second Circuit,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Congress needs to up its reform game if it’s going to address the court’s concerns.”

    The government had argued in the case, ACLU v. Clapper, that the court should not consider the lawfulness of the program at all, arguing that the ACLU lacked “standing” to challenge the surveillance and that Congress had “precluded” judicial review except by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret, rarely publishes its decisions, and generally hears argument only from the government. Today’s decision rejects those arguments.

    The ruling aligns with the lower court decision in a similar lawsuit in Washington, Klayman v. Obama, in which U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found the NSA program to be likely unconstitutional. The government’s appeal of that case was argued on November 4. Another challenge to the phone-records program was argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 4.

    “This decision is a resounding victory for the rule of law,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Alex Abdo, who argued the case before the three-judge panel in September. “For years, the government secretly spied on millions of innocent Americans based on a shockingly broad interpretation of its authority. The court rightly rejected the government’s theory that it may stockpile information on all of us in case that information proves useful in the future. Mass surveillance does not make us any safer, and it is fundamentally incompatible with the privacy necessary in a free society.”

    The ACLU is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services, which, as revealed in The Guardian, received a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court compelling the company to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” phone call details such as whom calls are placed to and from, and when those calls are made. The lawsuit argued that the government’s blanket seizure of the ACLU’s phone records compromises the organization’s ability to carry out its work and to engage in legitimate communications with clients, journalists, advocacy partners, whistleblowers, and others.

    “This ruling focuses on the phone-records program, but it has far broader significance, because the same defective legal theory that underlies this program underlies many of the government’s other mass-surveillance programs,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director and lead counsel in the case. “The ruling warrants a reconsideration of all of those programs, and it underscores once again the need for truly systemic reform.”

    The court wrote in its opinion, “If the government is correct, it could use Section 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including e‐mail and social media information) relating to all Americans. Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans.”

    Attorneys on the case are Jaffer and Abdo along with Brett Max Kaufman and Patrick Toomey of the ACLU, and Arthur Eisenberg and Christopher Dunn of the NYCLU.

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  10. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    How many ways can they say no? Will the government listen!
  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    How To Keep NSA Computers From Turning Your Phone Conversations Into Searchable Text

    By Dan Froomkin, The Intercept

    As soon as my article about how NSA computers can now turn phone conversations into searchable text came out on Tuesday, people started asking me: What should I do if I don’t want them doing that to mine?

    The solution, as it is to so many other outrageously invasive U.S. government tactics exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is, of course, Congressional legislation.

    I kid, I kid.

    No, the real solution is end-to-end encryption, preferably of the unbreakable kind.

    And as luck would have it, you can have exactly that on your mobile phone, for the price of zero dollars and zero cents.

    The Intercept’s Micah Lee wrote about this in March, in an article titled: “You Should Really Consider Installing Signal, an Encrypted Messaging App for iPhone.”

    (Signal is for iPhone and iPads, and encrypts both voice and texts; RedPhone is the Android version of the voice product; TextSecure is the Android version of the text product.)

    As Lee explains, the open source software group known as Open Whisper Systems, which makes all three, is gaining a reputation for combining trustworthy encryption with ease of use and mobile convenience.

    Nobody – not your mobile provider, your ISP or the phone manufacturer — can promise you that your phone conversations won’t be intercepted in transit. That leaves end-to-end encryption – using a trustworthy app whose makers themselves literally cannot break the encryption — your best play.

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  12. Secret Manuals Show the Spyware Sold to Despots and Cops Worldwide

    When Apple and Google unveiled new encryption schemes last month, law enforcement officials complained that they wouldn’t be able to unlock evidence on criminals’ digital devices. What they didn’t say is that there are already methods to bypass encryption, thanks to off-the-shelf digital implants readily available to the smallest national agencies and the largest city police forces — easy-to-use software that takes over and monitors digital devices in real time, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

    We’re publishing in full, for the first time, manuals explaining the prominent commercial implant software “Remote Control System,” manufactured by the Italian company Hacking Team. Despite FBI director James Comey’s dire warnings about the impact of widespread data scrambling — “criminals and terrorists would like nothing more,” he declared — Hacking Team explicitly promises on its website that its software can “defeat encryption.”

    The manuals describe Hacking Team’s software for government technicians and analysts, showing how it can activate cameras, exfiltrate emails, record Skype calls, log typing, and collect passwords on targeted devices. They also catalog a range of pre-bottled techniques for infecting those devices using wifi networks, USB sticks, streaming video, and email attachments to deliver viral installers. With a few clicks of a mouse, even a lightly trained technician can build a software agent that can infect and monitor a device, then upload captured data at unobtrusive times using a stealthy network of proxy servers, all without leaving a trace. That, at least, is what Hacking Team’s manuals claim as the company tries to distinguish its offerings in the global marketplace for government hacking software.

    moar .....
  13. A.O.T.F Member

    Why NSA surveillance is worse than you’ve ever imagined

    Last summer, after months of encrypted emails, I spent three days in Moscow hanging out with Edward Snowden for a Wired cover story. Over pepperoni pizza, he told me that what finally drove him to leave his country and become a whistleblower was his conviction that the National Security Agency was conducting illegal surveillance on every American. Thursday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with him.

    In a long-awaited opinion, the three-judge panel ruled that the NSA program that secretly intercepts the telephone metadata of every American — who calls whom and when — was illegal. As a plaintiff with Christopher Hitchens and several others in the original ACLU lawsuit against the NSA, dismissed by another appeals court on a technicality, I had a great deal of personal satisfaction.

    It’s now up to Congress to vote on whether or not to modify the law and continue the program, or let it die once and for all. Lawmakers must vote on this matter by June 1, when they need to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

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    We all know what the reality is. The reality is, that the GCHQ and the NSA, and the "secret governments" that they represent, are the real TERRORISTS. And therefore must be destroyed.

    I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic!
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  14. A.O.T.F Member

    Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA Contractors


    The debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.

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  15. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Associated Press @AP · 38 minutes ago
    BREAKING: House passes bill to end NSA collection of US phone records, setting stage for Senate fight.

    House passes bill to end bulk collection of US phone records | The Associated Press

    The House voted by a wide margin Wednesday to end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records and replace it with a system to search the data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis.

    The 338-to-88 vote set the stage for a Senate showdown just weeks before the Patriot Act provisions authorizing the program are due to expire.

    If the House bill becomes law, it will represent one of the most significant changes stemming from the unauthorized disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. But many Senate Republicans don't like the measure, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a separate version that would keep the program as is. Yet, he also faces opposition from within his party and has said he is open to compromise.

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  16. A.O.T.F Member

    You're an obvious government troll. The amount of PM's i get from total strangers (Government Trolls) poking and prodding, trying to extract information from me is amazing. Trying to profile me is a waste of time. You are all so very predictable and fucking transparent, and I LMFAO at you all. So, I will tell a mighty tale to all of you, tales Shakespeare would be proud of.

    You have nothing whatsoever to do with Anonymous. My brothers and Sisters, whom are way cooler, and a hell of a lot smarter than you. Your sickness is your negativity. And I really do not have the time to deal with your mental health issues. . You are an obviously very sick person.

    Please get some professional help.
  17. A.O.T.F Member

    UK government quietly rewrites hacking laws to give GCHQ immunity


    The UK government has quietly passed new legislation that exempts GCHQ, police, and other intelligence officers from prosecution for hacking into computers and mobile phones.

    While major or controversial legislative changes usually go through normal parliamentary process (i.e. democratic debate) before being passed into law, in this case an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act was snuck in under the radar as secondary legislation. According to Privacy International, "It appears no regulators, commissioners responsible for overseeing the intelligence agencies, the Information Commissioner's Office, industry, NGOs or the public were notified or consulted about the proposed legislative changes... There was no public debate."

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    This is nothing more than a declaration of WAR! Against innocent civilians.
  18. A.O.T.F Member

    GCHQ’s Rainbow Lights: Exploiting Social Issues for Militarism and Imperialism.


    Over the weekend, the British surveillance agency GCHQ — the most extremist and invasive in the West — bathed its futuristic headquarters with rainbow-colored lights “as a symbol of the intelligence agency’s commitment to diversity” and to express solidarity with “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.” GCHQ’s public affairs office proudly distributed the above photograph to media outlets. Referring to Alan Turing, the closeted-and-oppressed gay World War II British code-breaker just memorialized by an Oscar-nominated feature film, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office celebrated GCHQ’s inspirational lights:

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  19. A.O.T.F Member


    Are We All Terrorists Now?

    Simply being a member of this website will now give The Bourgeoisie ..IE.. David Cameron and Teresa May, a mandate to classify us all as terrorists and extremists. How does that make you all feel?

    ( ͠° ͟ʖ ͡°)

    IMHO: If Cameron and May think that they can get away with this "Insanity;" They're both going to have to deal with a huge backlash from a populous that has had enough of their sickening fucking deceptions, their violations of peoples human rights, and above all, the litany of treasonous acts, orchestrated by a mentally unhinged and out of control British prime minister.

  20. A.O.T.F Member


    Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police

    Islamist terrorists also mentioned in briefing, as anarchists complain of being criminalized for their beliefs

    What should you do if you discover an anarchist living next door? Dust off your old Sex Pistols albums and hang out a black and red flag to make them feel at home? Invite them round to debate the merits of Peter Kropotkin's anarchist communism versus the individualist anarchism of Emile Armand? No – the answer, according to an official counter-terrorism notice circulated in London last week, is that you must report them to police immediately.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I'm LMFAO :p Cameron +the police = Insanity.

    Everything Edward Snowden has said is the truth. Because we can now see it becoming reality.
  21. The Wrong Guy Member

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  22. The Wrong Guy Member

    Rand Paul aims to derail NSA 'invasion into your privacy' as key deadline looms | The Guardian

    Rand Paul attempted to derail efforts to reauthorize bulk collection of American phone records in a dramatic showdown on Wednesday by taking over the floor of the Senate hours before a weekend deadline to renew the justification of the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance.

    The Kentucky senator and Republican presidential candidate had pledged to filibuster any efforts to extend the lifespan of a key 2001 surveillance authority that the NSA has used since 2006 to collect Americans’ phone data in bulk. The Guardian exposed the dragnet in June 2013 thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    A key provision of the Patriot Act, known as Section 215, is set to expire on 1 June, and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last week to ban mass collection of Americans’ phone records by passing the USA Freedom Act – legislation that Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, staunchly opposes.

    Although McConnell plans to bring the House-passed bill to the floor for a vote this week, he has doubted its passage in the Senate and is instead pushing for a two-month extension of the Patriot Act in its current form as an interim solution.

    While it remained unlikely that Paul’s delaying tactics would succeed in blocking the Patriot Act, they raised pressure on McConnell given the limited time on the clock. Under a compressed schedule by a House that is slated to adjourn on Thursday until after Section 215 expires, McConnell has to not only bring surveillance legislation to the floor, but also a highway funding bill and trade promotion authority before Congress goes on recess until the beginning of June.

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  23. A.O.T.F Member


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  24. The Wrong Guy Member

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  25. A.O.T.F Member

    NSA Planned to Hijack Google App Store to Hack Smartphones


    The National Security Agency and its closest allies planned to hijack data links to Google and Samsung app stores to infect smartphones with spyware, a top-secret document reveals.
    The surveillance project was launched by a joint electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team, which includes spies from each of the countries in the “Five Eyes” alliance — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.

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    I'm with Biella on this one. We will not use the fucking things. For they have ALL been compromised.

    Message I sent to people I know.

    Don't any of you dare fucking bring those pieces of shit cellphones here.
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  26. Quentinanon Member

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  27. Quentinanon Member

    I take a slightly less severe view:
    1. Only use phones where you can remove the battery. That excludes all iPhones.
    2. Only use phones that you have rooted. You must have administrative access to all executables and files on your device.
    3. Find out what every executable does. Get rid of the crapware, bloatware, apps not necessary for the desired functions of the device, and stuff you will never use. Any app you have doubts about, disable, that is, make unexecutable, until you decide to keep or uninstall.
    4. Install an iptables based firewall and use it to block unnecessary external access of and to apps.
    5. Use encryption and a vpn when you want privacy.
    6. Only allow apps to run when those are required or you want to run.
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  28. The Wrong Guy Member

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  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    Apple and Google Just Attended a Confidential Spy Summit in a Remote English Mansion | The Intercept

    At an 18th-century mansion in England’s countryside last week, current and former spy chiefs from seven countries faced off with representatives from tech giants Apple and Google to discuss government surveillance in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

    The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.

    Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.

    According to an event program obtained by The Intercept, questions on the agenda included: “Are we being misled by the term ‘mass surveillance’?”, “Is spying on allies/friends/potential adversaries inevitable if there is a perceived national security interest?”, “Who should authorize intrusive intelligence operations such as interception?”, “What should be the nature of the security relationship between intelligence agencies and private sector providers, especially when they may in any case be cooperating against cyber threats in general?”, and “How much should the press disclose about intelligence activity?”


    In the aftermath of Snowden revelations showing extensive Internet surveillance perpetrated by British and American spies and their allies, Google and other companies have reportedly become more resistant to government data requests. Google engineers were outraged by some of the disclosures and openly sent a “fuck you” to the surveillance agencies while hardening Google’s security. Meanwhile, Apple has expanded the range of data that’s encrypted by default on iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers, and CEO Tim Cook has vowed never to give the government access to Apple servers, stating “we all have a right to privacy.” But the Ditchley event is a sign that, behind the scenes at least, a dialogue is beginning to open up between the tech giants and the spy agencies post-Snowden, and relations may be thawing.
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  30. A.O.T.F Member

    I absolutely agree with everything you have pointed out here, Quentinanon.

    But when you are dealing with family and people who do not want to go to such extremes in protecting themselves, no matter how much one does emphasize the risks associated with using these devices, so, I came to the inevitable decision of banning said devices from, and, being used on the premises.
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  31. Quentinanon Member

    Point taken. Most people have crappy locks on their front doors and don't want to take the time and pay a little more for adequate security on anything.
  32. The Wrong Guy Member

    USA Freedom Act fails as senators reject bill to scrap NSA bulk collection | The Guardian

    Bill fails for the second time after vote in the small hours of Saturday morning, but Rand Paul thwarts Republican leaders’ attempts to extend Patriot Act

    NSA bulk phone records collection to end despite USA Freedom Act fail | The Guardian

    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, hours before the Senate failed to come to terms on a bill that would have formally repealed the NSA domestic surveillance program.

    “We did not file an application for reauthorization,” an administration official confirmed to the Guardian on Saturday.

    The administration decision ensures that beginning at 5pm ET on 1 June, for the first time since October 2001 the NSA will no longer collect en masse Americans’ phone records.

    It represents a quiet, unceremonious end to the most domestically acrimonious NSA program revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, in a June 2013 exposé in the Guardian – effectively preempting a bid by GOP leader Mitch McConnell to retain it. But McConnell and other Senate Republicans intend to continue their fight to preserve both that program and other broad surveillance powers under the Patriot Act.

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  33. Rockyj Member

  34. :rolleyes:


  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    On Patriot Act patrol, Rep. Justin Amash watches over empty House |

    With the clock winding down on some controversial Patriot Act provisions, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is making sure it's not reset behind his back.

    The Cascade Township Republican took to the House floor Tuesday to recite the Pledge of Allegiance — among empty seats — during a short formality session. Congress is on recess this week, but some worry leadership could push through a short-term renewal of parts of the Patriot Act used by the National Security Agency to run its domestic surveillance programs.

    Its phone data collection program was deemed "unlawful" by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and now Congress must consider changes.

    The Hill reports aides to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other leaders have said they won't sneak through any sort of extension while most lawmakers are out of town, but Amash and other privacy-minded colleagues don't give those assurances any weight.

    "We're just keeping an eye on the House," Amash told reporters Tuesday. "Promises have been made in the past and we've seen promises broken."

    He quoted former President Ronald Reagan on Twitter: "Trust, but verify."

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    Justin Amash @justinamash · 13 minutes ago
    Thanks to my friends @RepThomasMassie @RepMarkMeadows and @jaredpolis, who also have stood watch during House recess to block the #PatriotAct.
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  36. The Wrong Guy Member

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  37. Hugh Bris Member

    Interesting form of protest:
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  38. A.O.T.F Member

    If we want strong encryption, we'll have to fight for it

    As digital rights lawyer and special counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Marcia Hofmann correctly noted in her keynote at Hack in the Box Amsterdam 2015 on Thursday, this issue is like a pendulum: sometimes, like in the wake of the 1990s crypto wars, it swings towards strong encryption, but it could now swing in the other direction.


    One could argue that it swung in the other direction without us knowing: while we believed ourselves relatively safe, the documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that governments actively worked at subverting encryption efforts.

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    Hmmmmm ..

  39. A.O.T.F Member

    This Is A Must Read

    How Private Contractors Have Created a Shadow NSA

    A new cybersecurity elite moves between government and private practice, taking state secrets with them.


    About a year ago, I wangled a media invitation to a “leadership dinner” in northern 
Virginia sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. INSA is a powerful but 
little-known coalition established in 2005 by companies working for the National Security Agency. In recent years, it has become the premier organization for the men and women who run the massive cyberintelligence-industrial complex that encircles Washington, DC.

    The keynote speaker was Matthew Olsen, who was then the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He used his talk to bolster the morale of his colleagues, which had recently been stung by the public backlash against the NSA’s massive surveillance programs, the extent of which was still com-ing to light in the steady release of Edward Snowden’s huge trove of documents. “NSA is a national treasure,” Olsen declared. “Our national security depends on NSA’s continued capacity to collect this kind of information.” There was loud, sustained applause.

    One of those clapping was a former Navy SEAL named Melchior Baltazar, the CEO of an up-and-coming company called SDL Government. Its niche, an eager young flack explained, is providing software that military agencies can use to translate hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Facebook postings into English and then search them rapidly for potential clues to terrorist plots or cybercrime.

    It sounded like the ideal tool for the NSA. Just a few months earlier, Snowden had leaked documents revealing a secret program called PRISM, which gave the NSA direct access to the servers of tech firms, including Facebook and Google. He had also revealed that the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, had special units focused on cracking encryption codes for social media globally.

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