surveilliance

It’s an honor to address you tonight. I apologize for being unable to attend in person, but I’ve been having a bit of passport trouble. Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras also regrettably could not accept their invitations. As it turns out, revealing matters of “legitimate concern” nowadays puts you on the list for more than “Global Thinker” awards.

2013 has been an important year for civil society. As we look back on the events of the past year and their implications for the state of surveillance within the United States and around the world, I suspect we will remember this year less for the changes in policies that are sure to come, than for changing our minds. In a single year, people from Indonesia to Indianapolis have come to realize that dragnet surveillance is not a mark of progress, but a problem to be solved.

We’ve learned that we’ve allowed technological capabilities to dictate policies and practices, rather than ensuring that our laws and values guide our technological capabilities. And take notice: this awareness, and these sentiments, are held most strongly among the young—those with lifetimes of votes ahead of them.

Even those who may not be persuaded that our surveillance technologies have dangerously outpaced democratic controls should agree that in democracies, surveillance of the public must be debated by the public. No official may decide the limit of our rights in secret.

Today we stand at the crossroads of policy, where parliaments and presidents on every continent are grappling with how to bring meaningful oversight to the darkest corners of our national security bureaucracies. The stakes are high. James Madison warned that our freedoms are most likely to be abridged by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power. I bet my life on the idea that together, in the light of day, we can find a better balance.

I’m grateful to Foreign Policy Magazine and the many others helping to expose those encroachments and to end that silence.

Thank you.

—  Edward Snowden, in a statement to Foreign Policy Magazine regarding their selection of him as a Global Thinker. 
youtube

The Blabber beer contest, 2012 

 

It is what essentially can be called a scavenger hunt with the final purpose of managing to ‘hack’ the master’s domain ‘The facebook page’.

The players are taking part to a beer contest happening around the game area.

Students are able to take part of the event by scanning a QR code in one of our poster. The link will send them to our Facebook page so the game will start.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stlnsPR0mVw

Snowden is not a “traitor”, and nor does he deserve to be prosecuted as a “spy”. These laws have no public interest defence, and until they do any European country that surrenders him to end his life in an American supermax prison would be in breach of the free speech guarantee of the European convention of human rights, which is meant to protect those who release information of importance to democratic debate.
—  Geoffrey Robertson, Australian human rights lawyer for Julian Assange on Edward Snowden.
MUST READ: Thanks to Snowden, there may be limitations on what the NSA does with surveilliance,

via McClatchy

Congress is growing increasingly wary of controversial National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs, a concern likely to erupt during legislative debate _ and perhaps prod legislative action _ as early as next week.

Skepticism has been slowly building since last month’s disclosures that the super-secret NSA conducted programs that collected Americans’ telephone data. Dozens of lawmakers are introducing measures to make those programs less secret, and there’s talk of denying funding and refusing to continue authority for the snooping.

The anxiety is a sharp contrast to June’s wait-and-see attitude after Edward Snowden, a government contract worker, leaked highly classified data to the media. The Guardian newspaper of Britain reported one program involved cellphone records. The Guardian, along with The Washington Post, also said another program allowed the government access to the online activity of users at nine Internet companies.

Obama administration officials quickly provided briefings about the programs, and they continue to have strong defenders at the Capitol. “People at the NSA in particular have heard a constant public drumbeat about a laundry list of nefarious things they are alleged to be doing to spy on Americans _ all of them wrong,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said last month. “The misperceptions have been great, yet they keep their heads down and keep working every day to keep us safe.”

Most in Congress remain reluctant to tinker with any program that could compromise security, but lawmakers are growing frustrated. “I think the administration and the NSA has had six weeks to answer questions and haven’t done a good job at it. They’ve been given their chances, but they have not taken those chances,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash.

The House of Representatives could debate one of the first major bids for change soon. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., is trying to add a provision to the defense spending bill, due for House consideration next week, that would end the NSA’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone records. It’s unclear whether House leaders will allow the measure to be considered.

Other legislation could also start moving. Larsen is pushing a measure to require tech companies to publicly disclose the type and volume of data they have to turn over to the federal government. Several tech firms and civil liberties groups are seeking permission to do so


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/19/197165/mood-shifting-congress-may-move.html#storylink=cpy

MUST READ & GO Greenwald! : Glenn Greenwald to testify before Congress

via huffington post

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story on top-secret NSA surveillance programs earlier this summer, will testify before a congressional committee.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who is leading the Wednesday congressional hearing that has invited critics of the NSA programs to testify, told The Guardian, “I think that most people simply don’t understand that, despite the news coverage, which my view has been extremely unfocused. There has been far too much discussion of the leaker, and not enough discussion of the leak.”

Greenwald tweeted on Friday that he would join the hearing remotely.

Earlier this week, the House narrowly defeated a bill that would have curbed the NSA’s ability to monitor millions of phone records in the U.S.

"I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada.

"In fact, it’s prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle."

— 

John Forster, Chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, on the spying of Canadian citizens, however in the documents provided by Edward Snowden, that the CSEC used WiFi at Canadian airports to track Canadian citizens when traveling in an CBC report. Read it here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/csec-used-airport-wi-fi-to-track-canadian-travellers-edward-snowden-documents-1.2517881

MUST READ & Gmail users as Assange said we're screwed:Google: don't expect privacy when sending to Gmail

by Dominic Rushe via theguardian

People sending email to any of Google’s 425 million Gmail users have no “reasonable expectation” that their communications are confidential, the internet giant has said in a court filing.

Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a “stunning admission.” It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals.

"Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. “People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy, don’t use Gmail.”

Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts in order to target ads to Gmail users.

That suit, filed in May, claims Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages”. It quotes Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

The suit claims: “Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the ‘creepy line’ to read private email messages containing information you don’t want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail.”

In its motion to dismiss the case, Google said the plaintiffs were making “an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices” that have been part of Gmail’s service since its introduction. Google said “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”

According to Google: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery.”

Citing another privacy case, Google’s lawyers said “too little is asserted in the complaint about the particular relationship between the parties, and the particular circumstances of the [communications at issue], to lead to the plausible conclusion that an objectively reasonable expectation of confidentiality would have attended such a communication.”

A Google spokesperson said on Wednesday evening: “We take our users’ privacy and security very seriously; recent reports claiming otherwise are simply untrue.

"We have built industry-leading security and privacy features into Gmail — and no matter who sends an email to a Gmail user, those protections apply."

Simpson, a long-term Google critic, said: “Google’s brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office. I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don’t expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it.

"Similarly, when I send an email, I expect it to be delivered to the intended recipient with a Gmail account based on the email address; why would I expect its content will be intercepted by Google and read?"

• This story was corrected on 14 August to make clear that Google’s court filing was referring to users of other email providers who email Gmail users – and not to the Gmail users themselves.

MUST READ:House Defeats Effort to Rein In N.S.A. Data Gathering

via NYTimes

WASHINGTON — A deeply divided House defeated legislation Wednesday that would have blocked the National Security Agencyfrom collecting vast amounts of phone records, handing the Obama administration a hard-fought victory in the first Congressional showdown over the N.S.A.’s surveillance activities since Edward J. Snowden’s security breaches last month.

The 205-to-217 vote was far closer than expected and came after a brief but impassioned debate over citizens’ right to privacy and the steps the government must take to protect national security. It was a rare instance in which a classified intelligence program was openly discussed on the House floor, and disagreements over the  program led to some unusual coalitions.

Conservative Republicans leery of what they see as Obama administration abuses of power teamed up with liberal Democrats long opposed to intrusive intelligence programs. The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership to try to block it.

House members pressing to rein in the N.S.A. vowed afterward that the outrage unleashed by Mr. Snowden’s disclosures would eventually put a brake on the agency’s activities. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and a longtime critic of post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism efforts, said lawmakers would keep coming back with legislation to curtail the dragnets for “metadata,” whether through phone records or Internet surveillance.

At the very least, the section of the Patriot Act in question will be allowed to expire in 2015, he said. “It’s going to end — now or later,” Mr. Nadler said. “The only question is when and on what terms.”

Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, promised lawmakers that he would draft legislation this fall to add more privacy protections to government surveillance programs even as he begged the House to oppose blanket restrictions.

The amendment to the annual Defense Department spending bill, written by Representatives Justin Amash, a libertarian Republican from Western Michigan, and John Conyers Jr., a veteran liberal Democrat from Detroit, turned Democrat against Democrat and Republican against Republican.

It would have limited N.S.A. phone surveillance to specific targets of law enforcement investigations, not broad dragnets. It was only one of a series of proposals — including restricting funds for Syrian rebels and adding Congressional oversight to foreign aid to Egypt — intended to check President Obama’s foreign and intelligence policies.

But in the phone surveillance program, the House’s right and left wings appeared to find a unifying cause. Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho, called it “the wing nut coalition” and Mr. Amash “the chief wing nut.”

Mr. Amash framed his push as a defense of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure, and he found a surprising ally, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin and one of the principal authors of the Patriot Act. Mr. Sensenbrenner said his handiwork was never meant to create a program that allows the government to demand the phone records of every American.

“The time has come to stop it,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said.

Opposing them were not only Mr. Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, but also the leaders of the nation’s defense and intelligence establishment.

On Tuesday, the director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, spent hours providing classified briefings to lawmakers about the program, and the White House took the unusual step of issuing a statement urging lawmakers not to approve the measure. On Wednesday, James L. Jones, the retired Marine Corps general who was Mr. Obama’s national security adviser from 2009-10, added his name to an open letter in support of preserving the N.S.A. programs that more than half a dozen top national-security officials from the Bush administration had signed.

“Denying the N.S.A. such access to data will leave the nation at risk,” said the letter, which was circulated to undecided members.

Mr. Rogers took a personal swipe at Mr. Amash, a darling of social media, when he said the House was not in the business of racking up “likes” on Facebook. He said the calling log program was an important tool for protecting against terrorist attacks.

“This is not a game,” he fumed. “This is real. It will have real consequences.”

But many rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats appeared impervious to such overtures. Representative Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado and a supporter of the amendment, said that if the Obama administration felt strongly about defending the program, Mr. Obama would have spoken out personally. Instead, the White House released a statement under the name of the press secretary, Jay Carney.

“The press secretary says hundreds of things every day,” Mr. Polis said.

The divisions in Congress seemed to reflect the ambivalence in the nation. In a CBS News poll released Wednesday, 67 percent of Americans said the government’s collection of phone records was a violation of privacy. At the same time, 52 percent called it a necessary tool to help find terrorists.

But the final tally in the House suggested the tide was shifting on the issue. In the weeks after the Snowden leaks, the united voices of Congressional leaders and administration officials in support of the N.S.A. programs seemed to squelch the outrage Mr. Snowden had hoped for. Anger seemed to be trained more on Mr. Snowden than on the programs he revealed.

As the news media and the government chronicled Mr. Snowden’s flight from law enforcement, a web of privacy activists, libertarian conservatives and liberal civil liberties proponents rallied support behind Congressional action. House members said they received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails before Wednesday’s vote, all in favor of curtailing the N.S.A.’s authority.

Ultimately, 94 House Republicans defied their leadership; 111 Democrats — a majority of the Democratic caucus — defied their president.

“This is only the beginning,” Mr. Conyers vowed after the vote. The fight will shift to the Senate, where two longtime Democratic critics of N.S.A. surveillance, Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon, immediately took up the cause.

“National security is of paramount importance, yet the N.S.A.’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records violates innocent Americans’ privacy rights and should not continue as its exists today,” Mr. Udall said after the vote. “The U.S. House of Representatives’ bipartisan vote today proposal should be a wake-up call for the White House.”