May 17, 2014
May 17, 2014
If you blinked this week, you might have missed the news: two Senatorsaccused the Justice Department of lying about NSA warrantless surveillance to the US supreme court last year, and those falsehoods all but ensured that mass spying on Americans would continue. But hardly anyone seems to care – least of all those who lied and who should have already come forward with the truth.
Here’s what happened: just before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU argued before the supreme court that the Fisa Amendments Act – one of the two main laws used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance – was unconstitutional.
In a sharply divided opinion, the supreme court ruled, 5-4, that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn’t have “standing” – in other words, that the ACLU couldn’t prove with near-certainty that their clients, which included journalists and human rights advocates, were targets of surveillance, so they couldn’t challenge the law. As the New York Times noted this week, the court relied on two claims by the Justice Department to support their ruling: 1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans’ communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court.
It turns out that neither of those statements were true – but it took Snowden’s historic whistleblowing to prove it.
May 16, 2014
May 16, 2014
The National Security Agency and the FBI teamed up in October 2010 to develop techniques for turning Facebook into a surveillance tool.
Documents released alongside security journalist Glenn Greenwald’s new book, “No Place To Hide,” reveal the NSA and FBI partnership, in which the two agencies developed techniques for exploiting Facebook chats, capturing private photos, collecting IP addresses, and gathering private profile data.
According to the slides below, the agencies’ goal for such collection was to capture “a very rich source of information on targets,” including “personal details, ‘pattern of life,’ connections to associates, [and] media.”
NSA documents make painfully clear how the agencies collected information “by exploiting inherent weaknesses in Facebook’s security model” through its use of the popular Akamai content delivery network. The NSA describes its methods as “assumed authentication,” and “security through obscurity.”
The slide below shows how the NSA and U.K. spy agency GCHQ also worked together to “obtain profile and album images.”
Two months ago, following a series of Facebook-related NSA spying leaks, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg stated in a blog post that he’s “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government.”
According to a report by The Intercept, the above slides do not reveal the NSA’s Facebook surveillance program in full. The report states that the NSA also “disguises itself as a fake Facebook server” to perform “man-in-the-middle” and “man-on-the-side” attacks and spread malware .
As we wrote at the time, the “NSA’s Facebook targeting is reportedly a response to the declining success of other malware injection techniques. Previous techniques included the use of “spam emails that trick targets into clicking a malicious link.”
Following the report, released in March, Zuckerberg said, “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”
Zuckerberg claimed he disapproved of the NSA’s actions and said that he’s spoken to president Barack Obama by phone to “express [his] frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future.”
VentureBeat has reached out to both Akamai and Facebook for comment on the matter.
May 14, 2014
May 14, 2014
The following leaked slide from Edward Snowden was released today by Glenn Greenwald in his new book, No Place to Hide:
Balancing the SIGINT exchange equally between US and Israeli needs has been a constant challenge in the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party CT relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.
That is a stunning statement. It implies that the signals intelligence exchange between the American and Israeli governments has been driven almost entirely by the NSA giving information to the Israelis, instead of Israel giving information to the U.S. … even though we were the ones attacked on 9/11.
Remember, the raw data in American citizens collected by the NSA is shared with Israel. As the Guardian reported in September:
The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.***According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.***A much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government“. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.
This not only raises major privacy concerns for American citizens, but it might mean that Israel is spying on the American Congress and other high-level politicians.
We have nothing against Israel, but – as American citizens – we want our intelligence agencies to put the American people and American security first.