Tag Archives: Domestic surveillance

The FBI’s New FOIA Policy Is a Big Step Backward

By Fiona Morgan. Published 2-26-2017 by Free Press

Dust off your fax machine. The FBI is planning to take a big step backward for government transparency.

As of March 1, the Bureau will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests via email. Anyone seeking public records from the FBI will have to use a new online portal — or send requests via fax or snail mail.

Online FOIA portals may seem like a good idea in theory, but government agencies make them difficult to use — with way too many burdensome requirements.

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Caving to Post-Orlando Fear, House Betrays Civil Liberties

Massie-Lofgren amendment fails 198-222 in turnaround for House

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-17-2016

The amendment would also have prohibited the government from mandating backdoors into encrypted communications. (Photo: Antonio Netto/flickr/cc)

The amendment would also have prohibited the government from mandating backdoors into encrypted communications. (Photo: Antonio Netto/flickr/cc)

Late Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives blocked an amendment that would have prohibited warrantless surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications and banned the government from forcing technology companies to install backdoors to encrypted devices.

The amendment to the House’s annual military spending bill, introduced by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), failed by a vote of 198-222. The roll call is here. Continue reading

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New Docs Reveal NSA Never Ended Bulk Email Collection, Just Hid It Better

Agency shut down email surveillance in 2011, only to relaunch it under different intelligence laws

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-20-2015

The National Security Agency headquarters at night. (Photo: CreativeTime Reports/flickr/cc)

The National Security Agency headquarters at night. (Photo: CreativeTime Reports/flickr/cc)

The National Security Agency (NSA) secretly replaced its program monitoring Americans’ emails and moved it overseas before the operation was exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013, according to new reporting.

NSA officials responded to Snowden’s leaks by stating that the email records program had shut down in 2011—and in a way, it had. But newly released documents show the agency had simply created a “functional equivalent” that analyzed Americans’ emails without collecting bulk data from U.S. telecommunications companies, the New York Times reported on Friday. Continue reading

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Exposed: Big Brother’s ‘Unique and Productive’ Relationship with AT&T

“The NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program,” a New York Timesand ProPublica investigation has revealed.

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-16-15.

The NSA documents cite AT&T's "extreme willingness to help." (Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

The NSA documents cite AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help.” (Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents show that the U.S. government’s relationship with telecom giant AT&T has been considered “unique and especially productive,” according to a joint investigation by the New York Times and ProPublica published Saturday.

The news organizations, whose team of journalists included Laura Poitras and James Risen, report that AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities. The revelations are based on a trove of documents provided to the Times and ProPublica by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

AT&T has given the NSA access, “through several methods covered under different legal rules,” to billions of emails, metadata records, and cellphone call records as they have flowed across its domestic networks, according to the reporting.

“The NSA’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents,” the investigation revealed. “The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.”

The direct link to AT&T isn’t explicit in the documents, as the corporate partnerships are referred to by code names. However, an analysis of “Fairview” program documents by the Times and ProPublica “reveals a constellation of evidence that points to AT&T as that program’s partner,” the article states. Several former intelligence officials confirmed that finding.

Privacy rights groups reacted to the news with outrage, if not surprise.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the reports “confirm what EFF’s Jewel v. NSA lawsuit has claimed since 2008—that the NSA and AT&T have collaborated to build a domestic surveillance infrastructure, resulting in unconstitutional seizure and search of of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of Americans’ Internet communications.”

Furthermore, said EFF executive director Cindy Cohn, the documents “convincingly demolish the government’s core response” to the Jewel lawsuit—that EFF cannot prove that AT&T’s facilities were used in the mass surveillance.

”It’s long past time that the NSA and AT&T came clean with the American people,” Cohn declared. “It’s also time that the public U.S. courts decide whether these modern general searches are consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.”

In its response to what it described as a “blockbuster” story, the progressive phone company CREDO Mobile declared: “It’s beyond disturbing though sadly not surprising what’s being reported about a secret government relationship with AT&T that NSA documents describe as ‘highly collaborative’ and a ‘partnership, not a contractual relationship’.”

“CREDO Mobile supports full repeal of the illegal surveillance state as the only way to protect Americans from illegal government spying,” CREDO vice president Becky Bond continued, “and we challenge AT&T to demonstrate concern for its customers’ constitutional rights by joining us in public support of repealing both the Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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