Tag Archives: NSA Spying

Three Years After Snowden, Bipartisan Coalition Demands Congress End Warrantless Spying

“The Snowden leaks caused a sea change in the policy landscape related to surveillance,” writes watchdog, from the recent passage of the USA Freedom Act to the coming showdown in Congress over Section 702.

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-6-2016

"There can be no renewal of Section 702 unless warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private lives is stopped," declared bipartisan coalition End702. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

“There can be no renewal of Section 702 unless warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private lives is stopped,” declared bipartisan coalition End702. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

Three years ago on Monday, the world was shattered by news that the United States was conducting sweeping, warrantless surveillance of people, heads of state, and organizations across the globe.

To mark the anniversary of those revelations, brought forth by a then-unknown contractor working for the National Security Administration (NSA), a coalition of public interest groups have launched a new campaign fighting for the expiration of the law that the government claims authorizes its mass spying. Continue reading

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ACLU Sounds Alarm as Obama Administration Plans Quiet NSA Expansion

“Before we allow them to spread that information further in the government, we need to have a serious conversation about how to protect Americans’ information.”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-26-2016

The new draft rules would loosen restrictions on what the intelligence community can access, without applying privacy protections, the New York Times reports. (Photo: Digitale Gesellschaft/flickr/cc)

The new draft rules would loosen restrictions on what the intelligence community can access, without applying privacy protections, the New York Times reports. (Photo: Digitale Gesellschaft/flickr/cc)

Civil liberties advocates slammed reports on Friday that the Obama administration is poised to authorize the National Security Agency (NSA) to share more of its private intercepted communications with other U.S. intelligence agencies without expanding privacy protections.

“Before we allow them to spread that information further in the government, we need to have a serious conversation about how to protect Americans’ information,” Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told the New York Times.

The change would loosen restrictions on access to the communications that are collected in mass data sweeps, including emails and phone calls, the Times reported, citing “officials familiar with the deliberations.”

As Times reporter Charlie Savage explains, the new rules would give intelligence agencies access not just to phone calls and emails, but also to “bulk collection of satellite transmissions, communications between foreigners as they cross network switches in the United States, and messages acquired overseas or provided by allies.”

“That also means more officials will be looking at private messages—not only foreigners’ phone calls and emails that have not yet had irrelevant personal information screened out, but also communications to, from, or about Americans that the N.S.A.’s foreign intelligence programs swept in incidentally,” he writes.

The draft rules have yet to be released to the public. Brian P. Hale, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the government’s intelligence community, told the Times, “Once these procedures are final and approved, they will be made public to the extent consistent with national security.”

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Sorry, Public, You’re Entirely Blocked From Hearing on Surveillance Program

Groups demand House committee lift ‘excessive secrecy’ for hearing on surveillance law

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-28-2016

(Photo: EFF Photos/flickr/cc)

(Photo: EFF Photos/flickr/cc)

Are our elected officials “once again cutting out the public from an important debate over mass surveillance?” as Mark Jaycox and Dave Maass of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) write?

It appears to be the case, as EFF and two dozen other civil liberties organizations say, because the House Judiciary Committee’s upcoming hearing on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is to be held in a classified format. 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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French Asylum for Snowden and Assange Would Send ‘Clear Message’ to US

In response to new revelations that U.S. had spied on French leaders, officials say offering asylum would not be surprising

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published June 26, 2015.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden could receive asylum from France. (Photo: Lord Jim/flickr/cc)

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira would “absolutely not be surprised” if whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received asylum in France.

“It would be a symbolic gesture,” Taubira told French news channel BFMTV on Thursday, adding that it would not be her decision to offer asylum, but that of the French Prime Minister and President.

Taubira’s statement came in response to a question about recent revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the past three French presidents, which she called an “unspeakable practice.”

Snowden currently lives in political asylum in Russia, awaiting an offer of permanent refuge from several other countries, including France. He faces espionage charges in the U.S. Continue reading

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Will Norway allow Snowden safe passage to receive prize?

The Norwegians must not let their relationship with the US stand in the way of this chance to defend the fundamental principles of democracy.

Edward Snowden. Photo by Laura Poitras / Praxis Films [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Edward Snowden. Photo by Laura Poitras / Praxis Films [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Written by THOMAS HYLLAND ERIKSEN. Published 6-8-2015 in OpenDemocracy.

A few months ago, it was as if everybody wanted to be Charlie (Hebdo). This gesture was laudable enough (if not always credible), but who wants to be Edward Snowden? After two years, the world’s most important whistleblower is still in Moscow. His chances of returning to a normal life remain slim, in spite of the recent ruling in the US Court of Appeals that the NSA’s storage of telephone metadata is indeed illegal.

Western politicians confronted with the Snowden affair typically respond in a vague and equivocal way. If pressed, they might say that their country does not condone mass surveillance, perhaps adding that it is not in their mandate to engage directly with Snowden’s situation. However, they are wrong on both counts. Just as they criticise rights violations in other countries, they can and should support Snowden, especially now that a high legal authority in the US has indirectly confirmed that he was right to blow the whistle. Moreover, objectionable forms of surveillance do take place, if not on the same scale as in the US, in European countries as well. Continue reading

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‘Historic Tactical Win Against Surveillance’ as USA Freedom Act Fails in Senate

“The failure of these bills to pass shows just how dramatically the politics of surveillance changed once the extent of the government’s surveillance programs became known to the public.”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published May 23, 2015

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo public domain via Wikimedia Commons

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo public domain via Wikimedia Commons

In a move that is being hailed by civil liberties advocates as a victory for privacy rights, the U.S. Senate on Friday rejected the USA Freedom Act, a bill that sought to rein in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying powers but that would have reauthorized some of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

By a vote of 57-42, the Senate did not pass the bill that would have required 60 votes to move forward, which means that the NSA must start winding down its domestic mass surveillance program this week. The Senate also rejected a two-month extension of the existing program by 54-45, also short of the necessary 60 votes. Continue reading

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As Patriot Act Expiration Looms, Critics Hope for Sunset on Mass Surveillance

‘Together we will end the Patriot Act, and the sun can rise on a new day filled with freedom and privacy for all.’

Written by Nadia Prupis and Deirdre Fulton, staff writers for CommonDreams. Published 5-22-15.

With a deadline for the USA Patriot Act fast approaching, Congress has little time to decide how to proceed—but the call to 'sunset' the law is growing. (Photo: Dan Cook/flickr/cc/with overlay)

With a deadline for the USA Patriot Act fast approaching, Congress has little time to decide how to proceed—but the call to ‘sunset’ the law is growing. (Photo: Dan Cook/flickr/cc/with overlay)

With the fate of the USA Patriot Act still hanging in the balance late afternoon Friday—and lawmakers eager to leave Washington, D.C., for Memorial Day barbecues and campaign stops in their home states—the chance to see the sun go down on the controversial spying bill is still on the table.

The debate over the Patriot Act is centered around one of its key provisions, Section 215, which is set to expire on June 1 absent congressional action. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) previously relied on Section 215 to justify its mass phone data collection operation, but its expiration would force an end to that program. Continue reading

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