Items tagged with FISA

Even when the government conducts secret activities, those ventures have to be funded, and a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives last night took a swipe at the NSA’s domestic spying practices by cutting some of its funding. According to Ars Technica, Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) authored an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that “none of the funds made available by this Act may be used by an officer or employee of the United States to query a collection of foreign intelligence information acquired under section... Read more...
When you push the tech giants, they push back, and that’s exactly what’s currently happening with Google, Microsoft, and Apple in the case of customer data requests by the government. While the companies are forced to comply with the requests, they’ve decided to notify users whose data has been subpoenaed. According to the Washington Post, the three aforementioned companies will make it routine to notify users of data requests unless there’s a specific gag order or other legal restriction. For example, items requested by the FISA shadow court as well as National security... Read more...
The numbers from Pinterest’s data request transparency report are either impressive or laughable, depending on your point of view. Although the tech industry is rising up in force in reaction against the NSA’s spying tactics and forceful and shadowy means of “requesting” data from major Internet companies with FISA, it appears that Pinterest users have little to worry about. The total number of user accounts that agencies requested data from? Thirteen. Thirteen user accounts, and those requests consisted of seven warrants and five subpoenas. All of the requests came from... Read more...
The CIA is paying AT&T some $10 million a year for access to certain customer call data that includes international-to-international calls as well as some domestic-to-international calls, according to a New York Times report citing information from “government officials”. The CIA’s involvement is part of an overseas counterterrorism effort, and AT&T’s participation is voluntary. The way it works is that the CIA gives AT&T the phone numbers of foreign terrorism suspects, and then AT&T checks the numbers against its vast database (which includes calls handled... Read more...
Like many other tech companies, Apple is publishing a data request transparency report so its users will have a better sense of the number of inquiries law enforcement makes about the company’s users and their data, and like those other companies, Apple is somewhat hamstrung, bound by law to keep details about many of the requests confidential. “At the time of this report, the U.S. government does not allow Apple to disclose, except in broad ranges, the number of national security orders, the number of accounts affected by the orders, or whether content, such as emails, was disclosed,”... Read more...
If there’s anything positive to take away from this summer’s NSA spying scandal, it might be the increased transparency of major tech companies, as Microsoft has its latest Law Enforcement Requests report for the first 6 months of 2013. Of course, a downside is that these companies still aren’t allowed to report requests from the FISA shadow court, so we have no way of knowing what agencies like the NSA are culling from Microsoft’s vast user base. But for what it’s worth, here are the numbers, sans FISA data: Microsoft received 37,196 requests in the first half of... Read more...
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between someone being stupid and being evil. According to Justin Elliott of ProPublica, writing in the Huffington Post, the NSA responded to his freedom of information request with a stonewall. Elliott said he was asking for emails between NSA employees and the National Geographic Channel within a certain time period so he could research how the NSA handles public relations. He said that NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told him: "There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,”... Read more...
It appears that the Swiss have turned a reputation for having the most secure banks in the world into a possible refuge for corporations trying to keep data from the spying eyes of the NSA. The NSA’s PRISM program used the shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and a secret court to request data on U.S. citizens from major providers of Internet services such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. If you missed it, we’ve had quite a bit to say about the subject. Now, according to Ibtimes, it seems that U.S. companies are losing faith in domestic cloud storage providers, from... Read more...
Now that the NSA has apparently assented to allow companies from which it culled personal user data to post some numbers about how many requests were made, more companies are disclosing that information. Facebook and Microsoft posted some numbers this weekend, and now Yahoo! has some as well. According to a post written by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! General Counsel Ron Bell, law enforcement agencies made between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for data from Yahoo!, (including FISA requests) between December 1st, 2012 and May 31st, 2013. Yahoo! HQ Yahoo! says that “The most common of these... Read more...
In the wake of the Washington Post leaks, there's been a great deal of discussion over how, exactly, companies like Google share data with the government. The original report implied that the NSA has direct datacenter access and either grabs the information directly  from Google or was copying and analyzing traffic as it flowed through the tubes. Google has gone on the offensive in recent days to simultaneously clarify its own cooperation with the NSA and to push for greater transparency where access requests are concerned. It should be noted, in fairness to Google, that this greater transparency... Read more...
Yesterday, we talked about PRISM, the NSA's tool for spying on all foreign Internet traffic routed through the United States. Today, we've got news a fresh leak and another troubling aspect of the NSA's spying capabilities. The newly revealed program, dubbed Boundless Informant, is an analysis tool that creates heat maps of where NSA information comes from and who provides it. PRISM, in other words, provides the raw data -- Boundless Informant analyzes that data and breaks it down by source, volume, and capability. According to Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian, Boundless Informant collected roughly... Read more...