Items tagged with spying

The NSA’s practice of collecting the phone records of Americans is illegal, a Federal appeals court ruled today. The new decision in the case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) effectively kills the NSA’s position that its data collection practice was authorized by section 215 of the Patriot Act. Overturning an earlier opinion, the Federal appeals court wrote that “the bulk telephone metadata program is not authorized by section 215 (of the Patriot Act).” The decision doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the government’s data collection program, however. In its opinion, the Federal... Read more...
It was revealed several months ago that the U.S. Marshal Service secretly uses spy planes equipped with devices that mimic cell towers to scan for and harvest cellphone information on a mass scale. Now it's being reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a key role in helping the Justice Department develop the technology that's capable of scanning data from thousands of cellphones at a time.Let's back up a moment. As originally reported by a number of news outlets, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was clueless of the spy program that the Department of Justice (DoJ) won't... Read more...
Symantec made the unsettling announcement today that it has discovered sophisticated malware that has been operating successfully on and off since 2008. Named Regin, the malware launches in a series of stages and is designed to avoid detection at each stage. Symantec hasn’t identified the organization that created Regin, but says that its sophistication, its targets, and the amount of time that would be needed to create it suggest that a nation state is responsible. Image Credit: SymantecRegin’s first stage is a Trojan. Once launched, the malware goes through several stages, each of which is encrypted.... Read more...
We already know that Uncle Sam is keeping tabs on us, or at least those of us who might trigger a red flag for one reason or another. The question is, to what degree? We might never know the full answer to that, though we can parse together bits and pieces to get an idea. For example, Google's latest transparency report reveals that government requests for user data have risen 150 percent over the past five years. This is the tenth time Google has updated its transparency report, and in the latest version, Google shares the number of government demands for user information in criminal investigations... Read more...
The Edward Snowden revelations have faded a bit from public view in light of other, more recent political activities, but a new report regarding the NSA and Yahoo has people talking about it once more. Reportedly, the United States government threatened to fine Yahoo a quarter of a million dollars <i>per day</i> in 2008 "if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications." Yahoo's stance was that doing so would violate the U.S. constitution, but that didn't stop the feds from pressuring with such staggering fines to comply with its PRISM program. Unsealed documents... Read more...
Big trouble in China? We're not sure, though reports are surfacing that Chinese government officials have been making unannounced visits to Microsoft's offices in China. Microsoft is keeping mum on the visits, and so is China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce, which Chinese media reports had made visits to Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. According to Reuters, China has been keeping a close eye on Microsoft and its technologies every since former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on a massive and ongoing... Read more...
So it’s not just us then. While we seethe over NSA spying allegations here in the U.S., ISPs across the pond who believe they were spied upon by the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks are taking action. According to BBC News, seven Internet providers, in conjunction with Privacy International, have filed a lawsuit against GCHQ. "These widespread attacks on providers and collectives undermine the trust we all place on the internet and greatly endangers the world's most powerful tool for democracy and free expression," Eric King, deputy director... Read more...
In a lot of ways, the public is resigned to the fact that almost nothing is truly "private." We're given identification numbers from birth, nearly everything about us is volunteered online, and even our mobile devices have GPS modules in them. In a lot of ways, those things are worth the hassle, and worth giving up some level of privacy. But secret, unlawful data collection could turn into a larger deal in the future, at least according to Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith. Per Smith, we could be looking at a "bleak" future if the privacy of citizens isn't elevated in importance. To quote:... Read more...
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...
As Seth covered earlier today, Bloomberg has accused the NSA of benefiting from the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug. The NSA denies this in fairly strong terms. I'd like to draw attention to a different facet of the topic -- first, by discussing the semantics of the NSA's denial and then the wider impact of how that denial is perceived and what it means for the tech community as a whole. The NSA's Denial is Surprisingly Straightforward For the past year, the NSA's responses to the Snowden leaks have followed the same strategy: Either the organization claims that its activities are legal or it denies engaging... Read more...
Google has had enough of government surveillance. The search giant has been encrypting web searches in China to more effectively circumvent the government’s sensors, and that encrypting is rolling out globally, too. Within months, all Google searches made over a modern browser will be encrypted. Make no mistake, this encryption is a not-so-subtle one-finger salute to the NSA, too. We’ve said before that when the scope of the NSA’s spying program came to light and its demands for customer data from Internet agencies became heavy-handed and shadowy, the agency poked the bear. Although... 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 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...
Much has been made of the NSA’s domestic spying program and how the agency has culled data from major Internet companies, and rightly so, but Apple CEO Tim Cook says that his company is having none of it. In an interview with ABC News, Cook was emphatic. “Much of what has been said isn’t true,” Cook told David Muir. “There is no back door. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that — and that just will not happen. We feel that, strongly about it.” It’s great that Apple is firm about its... Read more...
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