Items tagged with spying

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...
As the Guardian broke the news that that the NSA was harvesting nearly 200 million text messages per day (per its investigation in collaboration with the UK’s Channel 4 News into NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaked materials), President Obama said in a speech at the Justice Department that the U.S. government should not be in control of culled phone data. He also called on U.S. intelligence agencies to cease its foreign spying on friendly leaders and advocated for more privacy controls for citizens of those foreign nations whose phone data the U.S. collects. Generally, he wants... Read more...
Following news that tech giants Google, Facebook, and Yahoo were taking measures to shore up their encryption and other ways to thwart spying from the likes of the NSA, Microsoft is taking the same bull by the horns. The company announced that it will be expanding the encryption of its services, “reinforcing legal protections” of user data, and making its software code more transparent to customers. This encryption will cover myriad services including Outlook.com, Office 365, SkyDrive, and Windows Azure, and like the aforementioned tech companies, part of that will be 2048-bit digital... 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...
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...
Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has never been one to hold back from uttering his true feelings, which is led to him making news with a recent comment regarding the ongoing NSA fallout. As the agency comes under continued fire for seemingly unchecked spying across all sorts of digital properties, Google has also been eyed as a potential culprit for being an enabler. Schmidt said: "It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true. The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue... Read more...
The issues of security and privacy should always be on our minds, but ever since the revelation of NSA spying played out this past summer, those issues have been forced to the forefront - impossible to avoid. In reality, that's a great thing... we should be concerned about our privacy and definitely about our security. No one likes being spied on, after all. Most people would never be comfortable with this reality, especially if it's the government behind it. Not long after Google announced its Glass project - wearable glasses that are in effect a computer - concerns began to grow about their effect... Read more...
One of the contentious issues that's swirled around the NSA since whistleblower Edward Snowden began leaking information on the organization's capabilities is exactly what it can -- or can't -- do. Snowden has stated that as a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton, "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email." The NSA has strongly denied these claims,  arguing that it had neither the technological capability to engage in such monitoring nor the authority to do so. The... Read more...
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