Since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the US National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, the word Prism has taken on a sinister meaning. The NSA’s PRISM program collected the internet communications of its citizens via nine major internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo. Now, John Graham-Cumming, a British coder and tech writer, has discovered a curious quirk within HTTP/2 connections: the opening protocol contains the word PRISM.
This is how HTTP/2 connection protocols begins, when unravelled from a 24-octet sequence:
PRI * HTTP/2.0\r\n\r\nSM\r\n\r\n
Otherwise written as:
PRI * HTTP2.0
The verb PRI was, until 8th July, 2013, FOO. What happened during the Summer of 2013 to motivate such a change? Edward Snowden’s NSA leak. Coincidence?
While conspiracy theorists could have a field day with the revelation, it seems to be little more than a sly Easter egg included by the cheeky programmers.
Danish developer Poul-Henning Kamp wrote at the time about his concerns for HTTP/2 in the wake of the PRISM revelations. “I think PRISM is ample evidence that [adding more encryption to HTTP/2 to fight back against the NSA] will have the 100% certain result is that all encryption will be circumvented, with bogus CA certs all the way up to PRISM and designed-in backdoors, and the net result is less or even no privacy for anybody everywhere,” Kamp wrote to his colleagues in the HTTP Working Group.
The inclusion of the word PRISM in the HTTP/2 protocol is like a knowing middle finger to the NSA, and a reminder to us that not every internet entity is colluding with intelligence agencies.
Over the past few years, people have been told more and more about countries which have been part of or are actively spying on one another. The biggest revelation coming when it was revealed by Edward Snowden the extent at which the American government was spying not only on foreign entities but also on their own citizens. If the latest reports are correct it would seem France has joined the list of countries spying on foreign entities.
In a report from the L’Observateur, it claims that the french agency DGSE tapped several undersea fiber cables in an attempt to gain access to the information transmitted via them. This action was conducted and completed with cooperation from both the telecom supplier Alcatel-lucent and the operator Orange.
The received information was then shared with GCHQ, the British security agency responsible for digital and online security. If these reports are confirmed it could be a little trouble with GCHQ, given that they also received information from the American’s PRISM program. The PRISM program is reported to have recorded the conversations and communications of several high-ranking French officials including the President himself but also tried to access and gather all information relating to French companies which were valued over $200 million. PRISM then shared the information with the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
It seems that everyone is shocked when they find out that someone spied on them, but then it all changes when it turns out they were spying on that country at the same time. I’ve lost track of who’s spying on who and sharing that information with what country.
Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.
Governments have been requesting people’s details for a while now, from their internet providers to web-based forums, companies have been asked to reveal a myriad of information about their users with a variety of reasons. Amazon has recently revealed how many data demands they received from the government.
Revealing it in a blog post on Friday, Amazon’s chief Information security Officer, Stephen Schmit, posted regarding not only the information requests but sought to clarify their participation, or lack of, in the government’s PRISM program.
The blog states that:
Amazon has never participated in the PRISM program and have challenged government requests for information which they believed were “overboard”
They do not disclose information about amazon customers unless; there is a clear indication that something done via amazon was illegal or they are legally required to for a valid and legally binding order
They accept that government and law enforcement agencies are required to investigate criminal and terrorist activities
They oppose any legislation or mandate that would lead to the restriction or weakening of security or encryption for both their own or their customers use.
After many years of being silent they have announced formally that they did not take part in PRISM and were protecting people’s details, even going so far as to inform people before they had to hand over their details (unless doing so was deemed illegal).
A number of US companies are set to lose an estimated $35 billion collectively due to revelations regarding NSA surveillance, as uncovered by Edward Snowden two years ago, according to a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Companies that colluded with the NSA, revealing confidential user data to the US intelligence services, are expected to be shunned, especially by international users, with severe repercussions for their business.
“Foreign customers are shunning U.S. companies,” the report says, with some foreign governments also working to block American tech businesses from their countries.
Though the ITIF is a think tank founded by members of Congress, it is a non-partisan organisation that aims to look at the tech world impartially. The ITIF estimates that the fallout from the NSA’s PRISM program being leaked by Snowden will cost US firms between $21.5 and $35 billion – but “will likely far exceed $35 billion,” according to the report – with cloud computing companies, such as Dropbox, the worst affected.
The report, however, includes the following five suggestions for US companies to reverse the trend and win back customer confidence:
Increase transparency surrounding U.S. surveillance activities, both at home and abroad.
Strengthen information security by opposing any government efforts to introduce backdoors in software or weaken encryption.
Strengthen U.S. mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs).
Work to establish international legal standards for government access to data.
Complete trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that ban digital protectionism and pressure nations that seek to erect protectionist barriers to abandon those efforts.
The reports concludes, “When historians write about this period in U.S. history, it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations,” the report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, write. “And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national-security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”
SteelSeries are one of the hottest gaming brands around, so I’m very happy today to have their flagship gaming headset, the Siberia Elite Prism, in the eTeknix office. The Siberia series has long proven to be a big hit with the gaming community, especially their excellent V2 and more recently, the V3 versions of the headset, as they offer great performance for a very reasonable price; something that has made them a smash hit with the eSports community.
The Elite Prism more than doubles the price of the V3 headset, but promises a lot more features and functionality for desktop users, such as multi-format support, USB and 3.5mm connectivity, Dolby surround processing and a whole lot more, so I have pretty high expectations of what this headset should be capable of.
As you can see from the specifications below, it’s certainly packing a lot of features and should be a great headset, so let’s get right to it and take a closer look at what the Elite Prism has to offer.
The packaging for this headset is really nice, it has all the hallmarks of a premium product and a really nice image of the headset on the front.
Around the back, there’s a few extra details about the SteelSeries Engine, which will allow for surround and EQ processing, as well as customisation of the headsets built-in LED lighting.
In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get you started and more. There’s a quick start guide, a 4-pole cable for mobile devices, dual 3-pole for aux devices, such as your PC, an extension cable and a USB sound card with proprietary connection for the headset, as well as a pair of 3.5mm jacks for headphones and microphone, giving you a huge array of connection options to support many different gaming systems and devices.
All of the cables are of a very high quality, with flat, tangle-free, rubber coated cables.
The headset comes hard-wired with another high-quality cable and a proprietary connector, which can be connected to any of the multiple connection cables that are included in the box.
As if the Elite Prism didn’t have enough connectivity options included in the box, the right ear-cup also has a headphone jack. You can use this to connect another set of headphones, so you can share your audio with a friend; not the most practical feature in the world, but a cool addition none the less.
The headset just oozes premium quality and the mixture of soft finish metals and rubber coated white surfaces looks absolutely stunning.
The metal headband support is very well finished and mounts to the rear-center of the ear cups, while the left to right cable runs through the inner suspension-style headband.
The inner ring of each ear cup is actually a control wheel – turn this one and you can control the master volume level; great for making quick adjustments while enjoying your favorite media. There’s another on the left ear-cup that can be used to mute or unmute the microphone.
Much like the other Siberia series headsets, the microphone has a flexible and retractable boom that pulls out of the bottom of the ear cup. This is a really nice solution compared to a detachable boom as you can still hide it out of sight, but you’re not going to misplace it like you can a detachable one.
The headband is nice and strong, offering good support over your head. Instead of an extending slider on the side, the outer headband is fixed, while the inner section uses a suspension mounting.
On one side, you’ve got a lovely white finish, with an embossed SteelSeries logo on the top.
The inner section is treated to some luxurious padding that will help provide a comfortable fit for those long gaming sessions.
As you put the headset on your head, the inner band automatically stretches out, providing you with the optimum fit.
The ear cups are an over-the-ear design and are treated to a thick padding for improved comfort levels.
It looks super thick, but the padding is actually only half as deep as it looks. The black leather is just extended over the back of the ear cup to further add to the esthetics; it works too, the headset looks stunning!
Citizenfour, the Academy Award-winning documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has been made available for online streaming, free of charge. The film is being hosted by Thought Maybe, a website that aims to tackle “issues surrounding modern society, industrial civilisation, globalised dominant culture.”
The documentary was directed by Laura Poitras, a filmmaker placed on a US government watchlist after her 2006 film My Country, My Country, for which she became involved with possible Sunni insurgent Riyadh al-Adhadh. The name Citizenfour was the pseudonym used by Snowden when he first contacted Poitras with sensitive information regarding Prism, the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass internet surveillance program.
PayPal has ceased supporting customer payments for MEGA as of Friday. A post on MEGA’s blog suggests that PayPal has refused to handle the cloud storage service’s transactions due to its presence in a NetNames report accusing it of being an illegitimate business, and subsequent pressure by Visa and Mastercard.
The blog reads:
MEGA is aware of a report published by NetNames (partially funded from the MPAA supported Digital Citizens Alliance) that incorrectly claims MEGA’s business to not be a legitimate cloud storage service. MEGA is aware that Senator Leahy (Vermont, Chair Senate Judiciary Committee) then pressured Visa and MasterCard to cease providing payment services to the companies named in that report.
Visa and MasterCard then pressured PayPal to cease providing payment services to MEGA.
Though PayPal later acknowledged that it considers MEGA to be a legitimate operation, it decided to maintain its embargo, citing the “unknowability of what is on the platform,” effectively penalising MEGA for using effective end-to-end encryption.
While PayPal continues to withhold its service, MEGA says it will not punish its customers over it:
Until new payment systems are implemented, MEGA will temporarily not enforce its storage limits or suspend any accounts for non-payment and has extended existing subscriptions by 2 months free of charge.
MEGA has 15 million customers across 200 countries using its cloud storage service. It was launched by web entrepreneur Kim Dotcom as a secure alternative to the likes of Dropbox, after the service gave the NSA access to user data through the PRISM initiative.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), Britain’s most secretive court, has ruled that British intelligence operations regarding internet mass surveillance were unlawful. GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and security agency, has been found in breach of human rights laws. The unlawful information that GCHQ was in possession of came from the NSA, via its Prism information intercept programme.
The IPT posted an order to its website on Friday, reading, “The regime governing the soliciting, receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private communications of individuals located in the UK, which have been obtained by US authorities … contravened Articles 8 or 10” of the European convention on human rights (ECHR). Article 8 is the right to private and family life, while article 10 protects freedom of expression.
The initial challenge against GCHQ and the NSA came from a coalition of civil liberty groups, including Liberty and Privacy International.
“For far too long, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have acted like they are above the law,” said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International. “Today’s decision confirms to the public what many have said all along – over the past decade, GCHQ and the NSA have been engaged in an illegal mass surveillance sharing programme that has affected millions of people around the world.”
“We must not allow agencies to continue justifying mass surveillance programmes using secret interpretations of secret laws. The world owes Edward Snowden a great debt for blowing the whistle, and today’s decision is a vindication of his actions.”
“But more work needs to be done. The only reason why the NSA-GCHQ sharing relationship is still legal today is because of a last-minute clean-up effort by the government to release previously secret ‘arrangements’. That is plainly not enough to fix what remains a massive loophole in the law, and we hope that the European court decides to rule in favour of privacy rather than unchecked state power.”
“We now know that, by keeping the public in the dark about their secret dealings with the NSA, GCHQ acted unlawfully and violated our rights,” added James Welsh, legal director for Liberty. “That their activities are now deemed lawful is thanks only to the degree of disclosure Liberty and the other claimants were able to force from our secrecy-obsessed government.”
“But the intelligence services retain a largely unfettered power to rifle through millions of people’s private communications – and the tribunal believes the limited safeguards revealed during last year’s legal proceedings are an adequate protection of our privacy. We disagree, and will be taking our fight to the European court of human rights.”
A spokesperson for GCHQ responded to the ruling, saying, “We are pleased that the court has once again ruled that the UK’s bulk interception regime is fully lawful. It follows the court’s clear rejection of accusations of ‘mass surveillance’ in their December judgement.”
Silk Road Reloaded, the latest version of the infamous darknet black market, has eschewed the Tor network for the little-known but more secure I2P network
Silk Road, its clones, and its successors alike have opted for Tor as their network of choice, but concerns over the level of anonymity the network provides, magnified by Edward Snowden’s revelations concerning the NSA’s PRISM spying program, have persuaded this latest iteration of Silk Road to move to I2P.
Silk Road Reloaded, unlike its originator, accepts cryptocurrencies Litecoin, Darkcoin, Anoncoin, and Dogecoin, as well as the traditional Bitcoin. Transactions made in currencies other than Bitcoin will be converted to Bitcoin through the site’s proprietary wallet.
The new service is said to be rather barren at present, but is expected to attract more activity over the coming months.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that cyber warfare could hurt the USA more than any other country in the world. In an interview with PBS, recorded back in June as part of the NOVA Next program but recently released as an unedited transcript and highlights video, Snowden claims that the US relies on computers more than any other nation, and that fact should worry the White House.
In an excerpt from the interview, Snowden said:
“Defending ourselves from internet-based attacks, internet-originated attacks, is much, much more important than our ability to launch attacks against similar targets in foreign countries, because when it comes to the internet, when it comes to our technical economy, we have more to lose than any other nation on Earth.”
But, according to Snowden, the NSA is actually making America’s cyber security weaker by uncovering and exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the same systems that the organisation uses itself.
“Every time we walk on to the field of battle and the field of battle is the internet, it doesn’t matter if we shoot our opponents a hundred times and hit every time. As long as they’ve hit us once, we’ve lost, because we’re so much more reliant on those systems.
Because of that, we need to be focusing more on creating a more secure, more reliable, more robust, and more trusted internet, not one that’s weaker, not one that relies on this systemic model of exploiting every vulnerability, every threat out there.”
Leaked documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA), provided by Edward Snowden and published on Sunday by German newspaper Der Spiegel, show that the NSA has full access to traffic over Skype. That includes voice calls, video calls, instant messaging, and file sharing from specific persons of interest, and was granted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant as part of the PRISM program.
A document from 2012, unambiguously titled “User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection”, details how to use the NSA’s NUCLEON system to task the capture of voice communications, and how PINWHALE is used to collect data from text chat and shared files.
Voice traffic capture began in February 2011 – the same year Microsoft bought Skype – for both “Skype in” and “Skype out” calls pertaining to specific users. In July of the same year the NSA gained access to peer-to-peer Skype communications, with Microsoft, under warrant, providing the keys it needed to decrypt the data.
Since Edward Snowden leaked details of ethically-questionable spying techniques used by three UK intelligence agencies last year, civil rights groups such as Anmesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union declared the techniques incompatible with the UK Human Rights Act. However, after an investigation into whether these techniques breached human rights, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal has declared that they “are satisfied that this is not the case.”
“We have ruled that the current regime, both in relation to Prism and Upstream (another NSA program) when conducted in accordance with the requirements which we have considered, is lawful and human rights-compliant,” said the IPT.
Rachel Logan, legal adviser for Amnesty UK, scoffed, claiming, “The government has managed to bluff their way out of this, retreating into closed hearings and constantly playing the ‘national security’ card.” She said that Amnesty would be challenging the decision in the European Court of Human Rights.
The SteelSeries Siberia has long been one of the most popular headset ranges on the market, offering a several high performance headsets for both the consumer and competitive gaming markets. Now SteelSeries are back with the latest range of products in the Siberia family.
“For us, Siberia is the definition of what gaming audio looks, feels and sounds like. When it was first introduced, Siberia delivered a sense of style that was unique to what was typically expected from gaming audio. It produced exactly what was, and is necessary – ‘forget-that-you’re-wearing-it’ comfort and great sound,” said Tino Soelberg, SteelSeries CTO. “The new Siberia family takes this foundation and extends it into a full product range that delivers an incredibly awesome audio experience for the gamer in everyone”
First up we have the Siberia V3, which features improved audio, new construction, new noise-reducing memory foam ear cushions and a single connection with included splitter; making the headset compatible with mobile devices as well as desktops.
The Siberia V3 Prism is the same as above, but also features a few extra features such as 16.8 million LED colour customisation via the SteelSeries Engine software.
Unlimited profile settings that can be saved and accessed from anywhere via SteelSeries CloudSync
Microphone Noise Suppression and Microphone Auto Compression technologies optimize voice communication automatically
Digital audio quality with custom EQ
ColorShift illumination effects and modes that can be set by the user, or triggered by game sounds and events
The Siberia Elite Prism features a slimmer microphone, an upgraded sound card, Dolby and Dolby Pro Logic IIx technology for vitual 7.1 surround, customisable illumination and audio, as well as the improved ear padding of the V3 and an upgraded modular cable system for use on PC, Mac, PS4 and mobile devices.
Finally we have the new RAW Prism, an economical, lightweight model for those on a tighter budget; while maintaining a good range of features such as audio profiles, illumination effects, built-in microphone, Mic Auto Optimization technology for clear audio and USB connectivity for use on PC, Mac and PS4.
The V3 will be available for $99.99, the V3 Prism for $139.99, the Elite Prism for $199.99 and finally the RAW Prism for $59.99.
Thank you SteelSeries for providing us with this information.
It appears that a huge report from The Washington Post has uncovered a large number of communications and documents collected by the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.
The report is stated to have revealed that 9 out of 10 users from the collected documents are not the people targeted by the agency. However, personal emails, instant messages, photos and personal documents from these people are said to still remain in the NSA database, even though they have been marked as irrelevant to the agency.
It is said that a large number of ‘victims’ are US citizens or residents, having The Washington Post analyse the files, also known as FISA documents, collected by the NSA between 2009 and 2012 under programs such as PRISM or Upstream.
The collected documents are said to have been delivered by Edward Snowden, having it be previously debated with NSA officials that Snowden in fact did not have access to such private communications. The agency did however ‘minimize’ collected information, having email addresses for example obscured, as the law states.
The Post is said to have found over 65,000 ‘minimised’ documents, but the most interesting part is around 900 of them were not obscured. This meant that sensitive information made it through censorship. More shocking is the way security analysts handled communications from foreign individuals. The Post stated that e-mails simply written in a foreign language were reason enough to believe that a person was not an American, having them opened to a degree warrantless surveillance under US law. In addition to the latter, everyone in the friends’ list of a so-called ‘foreigner’ was also deemed to be a non-American individual.
While the privacy concerns mentioned above are very real, information gathered did however lead to some suspected terrorists. The information however is kept private so as not to interfere with current investigations. Nevertheless, the real question which everybody should be asking themselves is whether or not all the surveillance attempts and non-relevant information gathered, on top of law infringing actions, is really worth it.
Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
EVGA have just launched their fast as lightening Tegra NOTE 7 into Europe, with immediate availability in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with more European countries to follow soon. This is great news for performance junkies as it packs some seriously impressive hardware that sets it a fair bit ahead of the competition in this size category.
“The EVGA Tegra NOTE 7 tablet is the perfect travelling companion – combining a lightning-fast mobile processor with a brilliant 7-inch (17.8 cm) HD display in a sleek, comfortable design. Play the latest games at full speed. Capture stunning photos. Watch HD video for up to ten hours. And listen to your favourite music with booming, room-filling NVIDIA PureAudio. It’s mobile freedom at the speed of life.” Said EVGA in a recent press release.
As you can see from the rather extensive feature set below, there isn’t much that the new tablet can’t do and when it comes to working or gaming you’ll be enjoying the benefits of the new Nvidia Tegra 4 processors. The new processor features a quad-core design for the high end stuff, while also having a 5th core that can be used to conserve power when you don’t need the tablet to run at full power. The onboard GPU features 72 cores that will be able to make easy work of even the most demanding mobile applications.
Input is taken care of by the a high quality touch scree and the addition of the only chisel tip stylus on the market, which is said to be 3x more responsive that other stylus solutions. This allows for natural writing on the screen and will no doubt prove handy for those using the device for work as well as gaming tasks.
Patented stylus system allows for highly sensitive variable stroke width
3x more responsive than other available stylus solutions
Only Chisel-tip stylus on the market
Intuitive note taking, annotation, capturing, and sharing
Edit PDFs: write, save, share
Full lasso selection for easy editing
Grab images in any app, and easily share
Stylus support, plus finger and palm recognition
The tablet also features the new Nvidia Chimera technology, this enables always-on HDR and give s the NOTE 7 the title of being the only HDR camera in a tablet. Something that should look pretty epic thanks to the 1280×800 IPS display which is backed up by Nvidia Prism 2 display processing, which modulates the display backlight and per-pixel colour values to extend battery life up to 40%
Nvidia Chimera computational photography for Always-On HDR:
World’s first HDR camera in a tablet: Capture exactly what your eye sees
Tap-to-Track: Choose any object to track so it’s in focus when you’re ready to take the shot
Slow-motion: Gear down the action for drama and effect
Nvidia PureAudio for the deepest, richest tablet audio:
Front facing stereo speakers with a bass reflex port for true stereo sound
Extended frequency response 380-12 kHz – compared to typical 800-5 kHz range
Premium Tegra 4 audio processing for louder, cleaner, richer sound
The fastest, loudest, most fun tablet you can find – at an affordable price
Compose and create on the fly using the incredibly intuitive Nvidia DirectStylus and bundled apps
Astounding front-facing Nvidia PureAudio stereo sound with unique bass reflex port
5 MegaPixel Always-On HDR camera
World’s first Always-On HDR tablet, capturing scenes exactly as your eye sees them
World’s first Tap-to-Track tablet, allowing automatic tracking, focus, and exposure of the object
Anonymous are continuing their campaign against the New Zealand government. The new campaign #OpKiwiFreedom is fighting against the recently passed GCSB bill which essentially authorises the government to spy on its citizens, more so than it had done previously. As part of this campaign Anonymous have targeted the New Zealand’s GCSB with DDoS attacks and have successfully managed to take site down on numerous occassions leading to what the GCSB called temporary service interruptions, according to the New Zealand Herald.
The message from the campaign is pretty clear and isn’t that different to what civil activists are lobbying for in the USA right now. That is; they want the mass surveillance to stop, they want transparency and they want the New Zealand government to be accountable to the people and to be controlled by the people – not the other way round. The New Zealand government has refused to comment if it is involved with the NSA’s PRISM and Xkeyscore programs. Despite their denial there has been sufficient evidence from the Snowden leaks to implicate the New Zealand government at the heart of the Xkeyscore program.
The Anonymous campaign was finished with the traditional message;
Operation Kiwi Freedom initiated.
WE ARE ANONYMOUS. WE ARE LEGION. WE DO NOT FORGIVE. WE DO NOT FORGET. NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT. YOU SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED US.
Image courtesy of New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau
Microsoft has just teamed up with the corporation Capita to offer them the Office 365 service according to the Channel. The deal will see Microsoft host all employee emails and some 20,000 staff will be migrated over to Microsoft’s cloud service. Apparently Microsoft’s service is more cost-effective and Microsoft has pledged to host entirely within the EU and that it will obey all data protection obligations within the EU.
Despite Microsoft pledging to host in the EU, so data is subject to European laws, Capita has still decided to host and secure its most sensitive data itself because it is naturally still dubious about Microsoft’s cooperation with the NSA and the PRISM program that saw the NSA using American companies in foreign nations to harvest data.
Microsoft’s Office 365 service was developed so that they could take Google on more strongly in the business and enterprise sector in response to losing a lot of accounts to Google. Despite early start-up problems the service now shows 99.7% up-time and even though it cannot compete with Google on price it is still doing reasonably well.
You can read more details on Microsoft’s Office 365 capita deal here, they also have a lot more information about Microsoft 365 and their competition with Google’s services if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
The recent leaks from the Guardian that revealed an NSA program called “XKeyscore” have sparked a critical response from the NSA. The leaks suggested that the NSA has indexed data about every user on the internet which includes associated phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses, search history, log ins, session information and other user activity data. The service is reportedly updated in real time and NSA agents can access information on any person straight away simply by filling a basic form that does not need to be approved by a supervisor, scanned in by the system or supported by a (U.S or other) legal warrant – providing the person was a non-U.S citizen.
The NSA responded saying that:
“NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests”
Furthermore they stated that:
“Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true. Access to the XKEYSCORE, as well as all of NSA’s analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks…Not every analyst can perform every function and no analyst can operate freely. Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law”
To read more details on the XKeyscore leak see the original report here. To read the NSA’s response to the leak, see here.
It is clear from the NSA responses that the NSA have no intentions of denying such reports of an “XKeyscore” program but the extent to which the Guardian report is factually accurate is being called into question by them.
The NSA “boss” General Keithe Alexander agreed to make a speech at the Black Hat 2013 conference, about computer security, a few months ago. He agreed to do this well before any leaks about the NSA’s surveillance programs were made public. A few months later and the NSA is in hot water and its name has been dragged through the mud and back countless times. As you can imagine as soon as he got on stage he started having a hard time.
General Keith Alexander was booed on and off stage by a section of the crowd of 5000 according to RT. He addressed the following issue in his speech – “How do we protect our civil liberties and privacy? This is one of the biggest issues we face today”. He begun talking about the FISA amendment and the Patriot Act and how they support NSA intelligence collection before proceeding to talk about how new methods of data collection had allow them to arrest men involved in bomb plots.
Half way through the presentation someone yelled out “freedom!” to whicjh the NSA boss replied saying that is exactly what the NSA stands for. In response the person from the crowd, security consultant Jon McCoy, responded saying he did not trust the NSA and that they had been proven to lie to congress. General Keither Alexander reiterated an early sentiment that he had not lied to congress. To top it all off towards the end of the speech, while discussing the constitution, a member of the crowd shouted out that the NSA leader would benefit from actually reading it.
A senior American official has told CNN that the U.S government intends to declassify some documents about NSA spying programs to the American public. Apparently the declassification will occur in the next few days and will include white papers providing a comprehensive overview and information on NSA surveillance programs. Furthermore details on the way the FISA court operate will also be disclosed, such as details on requests for surveillance warrants.
Strong lobbying from leading technology companies has made such a declassification program possible although it is still unknown what kind of information will be made available. Given the tough time U.S authorities have had in recent weeks, due to aggressive anti-surveillance media coverage, it seems likely they will select documents for declassification that puts NSA surveillance programs in a good light. U.S authorities have criticised an over-zealous media for making surveillance programs seem drastically worse than what they actually are.
Stay tuned over the next few days as we will endeavour to bring you details on what these declassified documents reveal.
Would you hand your keys to just anyone, I sure wouldn’t. That isn’t stopping the United States Federal Government from asking encryption developers to hand over their keys, encryption keys that is.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have been attacking the digital world for quite some time, when or where will it stop, no one really knows. So long as FISC or FISA stays in play it gives these two agencies and probably many others access to harass and disrupt digital and internet based companies.
Any website you visit that requires a username and password has some form of data encryption, sites such as your email, or even your bank. Microsoft, as well as Google both declined to let us know if they have been contacted about their encryption keys, it seems as if they did state that they have not given up their keys.
Cnet.com reported that “Apple, Yahoo, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Opera Software’s Fastmail.fm, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast declined to respond to queries about whether they would divulge encryption keys to government agencies.”
So it seems to me that the United States Government wants to have full access to anything and everything that people do on the internet, from emailing, voice over internet phone calls, text messaging, to search histories, as well as gaining any and all meta date from these companies. On top of that, they want it handed to them on a golden platter that allows them to sift through everything that they gather without needing to work for it.
Personally, I think the Government is stepping over that line, and asking for to much, each and every day that I see a new article about the FBI, NSA or PRISM that makes me want to step further away from technology.
Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information.
According to an RT report the Obama administration has chosen to apply to the FISA court to renew the order that allows them to continue carrying out mass surveillance. The previous court order had been due to expire on July 19th but the Obama administration asked for a renewal and has apparently being doing so every 90 days since 2006.
Surprisingly you would of thought with all the public outrage that the current U.S government might of considered suspending the NSA surveillance programs for a while or even ending them altogether. However, this latest event suggests otherwise and is likely to add more anger to an already angry public.
There is one shred of good news from the story and that is that:
“The Administration is undertaking a careful and thorough review of whether and to what extent additional information or documents pertaining to this program may be declassified, consistent with the protection of national security”
According to IT News several members of the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, from both republican and democratic political orientations, have stated that the NSA’s surveillance and bulk collection of data does in fact violate the Patriot Act and its restrictions.
The Patriot Act has been the main legislation used to justify the NSA’s PRISM program and mass surveillance yet the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee says this should not be the case because the Patriot Act is restricted to antiterrorism investigations only.
“We never, at any point in this debate, have approved the type unchecked, sweeping surveillance of United States citizens employed by our government,” said Representative John Conyers.
Furthermore, they have called for a stop to surveillance programs if the government does not provide a clear legal explanation of how things work. Even the original author of the Patriot Act Jim Sensenbrenner stated that the U.S government has overstepped the limits of such legislation. There have been calls by many within the USA to bring the Patriot Act’s end date forward to stop its widespread exploitation for surveillance purposes.
According to RT Vladimir Putin has reiterated that U.S-Russian relations are more important than the Edward Snowden case. Despite contrary media reports, Putin says he has no intention of sacrificing relations over one man. Putin reiterated that Moscow would not tolerate any anti-US activity and although he did not warn of any implications of such activities it is theoretically possible that Russia could deport or extradite Snowden to the USA if he doesn’t comply with Russian conditions of stay. When asked how he is controlling Snowden’s activity Putin said:
“I won’t give you any details. We have warned Snowden that any activity of his that could damage US-Russian relations is unacceptable for us.”
Edward Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia and it could take up to three months for it to be processed. Furthermore, Edward Snowden could be transferred to refugee centre while his request is processed. Snowden has indicated his willingness to remain quiet in terms of releasing new leaks while he is in Russia. Edward Snowden has been stuck at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23rd. The U.S government has issued several statements asking Russia to cooperate and send Snowden back to the USA but Russia has so far stated it has no extradition treaty with the USA and will not extradite Snowden back to the USA as a result.
RT reports that the Obama administration is now being flooded with federal lawsuits against the recently revealed NSA PRISM program. The most high profile of those is the lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation who are suing the Obama administration and the U.S government for dragnet surveillance programs they authorised being run by the NSA. Lawsuits are being filed at a high rate of regularity and every day more and more people and organisations are coming forward to charge the Obama administration with constitutional violations and demand a stop to the surveillance programs.
The big case this week came from a whole host of organisations clubbing together accusing the NSA’s PRISM of being “an illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet electronic surveillance, specifically the bulk acquisition, collection, storage, retention and searching of telephone communications information”. Involved in the case are the following organisations: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles; Bill of Rights Defense Committee; Calguns Foundation; California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees; Council on Islamic Relations; Franklin Armory; Free Press; Free Software Foundation; Greenpeace; Human Rights Watch; Media Alliance; National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws; Open Technology Institute; People for the American Way, Public Knowledge; Students for Sensible Drug Policy; TechFreedom; and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
Recently an American court in North California found that the government can no longer use the “state secrets privilege” to prevent legal lawsuits and actions against it over issues of surveillance. This has opened a legal pathway to take the government to court over a variety of surveillance issues. With a floodgate opening on the U.S government administration it is only a matter of time before legal action forces a change in policy.
According to a report by the Daily Dot, Yahoo has won a motion from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to declassify and publicly reveal information about Yahoo’s efforts to avoid becoming part of PRISM. The details surround a 2008 case in which Yahoo objected to being part of a government spying project with the U.S Justice Department.
Yahoo’s name has appeared in the famous PRISM leaked documents as one of the PRISM cooperators. Several weeks ago evidence suggested a company had fought PRISM in the FISA court but Yahoo was not allowed to disclose publicly it was them, until now.
Yahoo’s 2008 court case stated that collection of information violated the fourth amendment rights of no unreasonable searches or seizures without a warrant. Yahoo claimed that it never joined a program “in which we volunteer to share user data with the U.S. government”. That said Yahoo were forced to do so by the FISA court in 2008 and this latest revelation is likely to do good things for their image.
Other companies expressed discontent such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and so on yet none of them actually took a legal fight to the NSA’s PRISM program like Yahoo did. Kudos to them.
Snowden’s situation in Russia is becoming ever more uncertain and even Vladimir Putin isn’t quite sure according to RT.com. Vladimir Putin stated that:
“He [Edward Snowden] is familiar with the conditions of granting political asylum, and judging by the latest statements, is shifting his position. The situation is not clear now”
Putin also responded to strong anti-Russian rhetoric coming out of the USA stating that the the USA’s actions are the reason behind why Snowden is now trapped in Russia.
“He arrived on our territory without an invitation, he was not flying to us – he was flying in transit to other countries. As soon as he got in the air it became known and our American partners, in fact, blocked his further flight”
Putin already stated that Snowden could have asylum if he stopped “hurting the USA” yet it remains to be seen whether Snowden has agreed to such terms which would essentially prevent him from revealing any more details from the leaked material he acquired. One U.S official has already called on the Obama administration to use “any and all pressure” necessary to bring Snowden back for trial including economic sanctions on Russia. While it seems unlikely the USA would go that far, there is no doubt that Russia wouldn’t respond favourable to such threats.