Items tagged with Snowden

Today, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on data privacy, holding 9-0 that neither police officers nor federal law enforcement have a unilateral right to search cell phones without first procuring a warrant. Prior to today, the government had previously argued that the police could search a cell phone under previous court rulings that extended such rights in limited cases, including incidents where the officers on the scene had reason to believe evidence could be destroyed or that the evidence was on the individual (or within arms' reach). What the Court recognized today is that a cell... Read more...
Ever since 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, the federal government has pursued an aggressive set of data collection policies and surveillance practices. Edward Snowden's leaks last year may have raised public awareness of many of these events, but simply being aware of practices doesn't do a thing to stop them. Recent court decisions, however, could be a sign that the wall of secrecy the NSA has constructed to veil its actions is cracking -- with profound long-term implications. First, earlier this week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in United States v. Davis that cell phone users... Read more...
Last week, the ACLU was scheduled to meet with local police in Sarasota Florida to discuss the use of cell phone interception towers, dubbed stingrays, that are an increasingly common feature of federal and local investigations. A stingray is a fake cell phone tower that law enforcement can configure to temporarily replace the real towers a device would normally connect to. In an astonishing turn of events, the US Marshals Service has acted to prevent the meeting from taking place -- seizing all of the relevant records and claiming that they're the property of the Marshals (and by extension, the... Read more...
One of the most troubling facts that came out of Edward Snowden's disclosures last year was the degree to which the government has relied on National Security Letters to compel companies to reveal information about their clients without producing a warrant. Many NSLs were accompanied by non-disclosure orders that forbade the receiving company from revealing to the accused that their information had been demanded. Microsoft had previously gone to court over such tactics and today, the details of the company's strategic victory became public for the first time. Last year, the FBI demanded information... Read more...
Earlier this week, Apple released an updated set of legal guidelines spelling out exactly what it can and cannot access on your iDevice, what material it will turn over to the police, and under which circumstances it will surrender it. What's particularly interesting is the split response we've seen from different corners of the Internet. Everything Apple does tends to generate attention, but this particular set of announcements is getting a great deal of press -- and two very different narratives have emerged over what it means. Some readers and authors have reacted rather poorly to news that... Read more...
A new comprehensive writeup at The Intercept claims to reveal additional details of the NSA's plans to infiltrate and conquer the Internet -- as well as its desire to bring virtually all data, everywhere, within its reach. A year ago, this kind of claim would've sounded like hyperbolic conspiracy theory, but no longer. Whether the NSA could ever effectively analyze that information is very much an open question, but the organization has launched a huge number of programs to pursue these ends. Own The Web What The Intercept report details is the NSA's plan for infiltrating target networks, right... Read more...
The United States Government has filed a lawsuit against Sprint Communications requesting triple damages to the tune of $63M. Sprint's crime? Overcharging the NSA, FBI, and various other government agencies for the cost of spying on millions of Americans and turning their data over to the government. This is another "unintended consequence" of the Snowden revelations last year, though likely not one anyone anticipated. In the past, the government would've had no choice but to conduct this kind of action behind the tightest of closed doors, lest secrets leak that would reveal to the American people... Read more...
If you’ve ever wondered how exactly NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was able to access as much as he did, it’s apparently because he had help. According to an L.A. Times report, at least three other NSA workers helped him--wittingly or not. An NSA memo says that one of the three was an active-duty military member, while another was a civilian contractor like Snowden. No details were revealed about those two, including whether or not they worked with Snowden at his NSA location in Hawaii, but it does say that they have both been barred from accessing NSA systems since then. Edward Snowden... Read more...
Facebook is facing a lawsuit from two users who allege that the company's "private" messaging is anything of the sort. We've seen a number of these cases over the years, going all the way back to Google's ad-crawling for Gmail, and it's generally known that if you use a service, company's are going to attempt to monetize your input. In Facebook's case, that includes all the things you post, the things you don't post, and apparently, even your private messages. Over the past few years, Facebook has been caught handing over user information to advertisers (including names and user IDs, despite promises... Read more...
A fresh set of allegations and disclosures by der Spiegel claim that the NSA operates a Tailored Access Operations program designed to dig into spy targets conventionally perceived as "ungettable" for the purpose of extending the institutions global reach. The program has targeted individuals, companies, government institutions, and infrastructure, with tentacles that allegedly reach into nearly every facet of modern life. One facet of the program that's gotten quite a bit of attention is the NSA's ability to intercept packages shipped to targets, insert malware and other monitoring programs, and... Read more...
According to a new report, the NSA once paid the RSA Security $10M to implement a flawed security standard as the default protocol in its products. This new information builds on allegations from September that claimed the RSA had deployed a flawed, broken cryptographic standard. The new allegations, like much of what we've learned about the modern National Security Agency, comes from the files one-time Booz Allen contractor Edward Snowden began releasing this spring. If true, the blowback could destroy the RSA's credibility in the cryptographic world. The practical fallout from this news is likely... Read more...
A new report from the Dutch news site NRC Handelsblad (NRC for short) is claiming that the NSA has used its own malware to infect and compromise some 50,000 additional networks. The revelation apparently comes courtesy of the treasure trove of documents Snowden released, though the NSA has refused to confirm or deny its capabilities. According to the report, the techniques used to disseminate the malware across thousands of networks are similar to an already-leaked story concerning Belgian ISP Belgacom. The GCHQ and NSA are accused of loading malware into Belgacom's servers allowing them to spy... Read more...
Microsoft's onetime Chief Privacy Advisor, Caspar Bowden, has come out with a vote of no-confidence in the company's long-term privacy measures and ability or interest to secure user data in the wake of the NSA's PRISM program. From 2002 - 2011, Bowden was in charge of privacy at Microsoft, and oversaw the company's efforts in that area in more than 40 countries, but claims to have been unaware of the PRISM program's existence while he worked at the company. In the two years since leaving Microsoft, Bowden has ceased carrying a cell phone and become a staunch open source user, claiming that he... Read more...
Over the past few months, as the Snowden leaks have exposed increasing levels of detail about the scope and nature of the NSA's "oversight" of the Internet, there's been a great deal of discussion on how users can protect themselves. The latest leaks from the Guardian, New York Times, and Pro Publica shed light on just how futile such efforts may be. According to the latest disclosures, the NSA has cracked key encryption algorithms that formerly protected large swathes of Internet traffic, and it did so back in 2010. Previously, many such efforts were thought to be effectively impossible due to... Read more...
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