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Posts Tagged ‘PRISM’:

The NSA Database Is Nothing Compared To This

Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan for The New York Times:

For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.

Some of these records are 26 years old, predating by far even the dubious statues which supposedly justify this sort of intrusion. First it's terrorists. Then it's drug dealers. What next? Political dissidents? Political or social or racial minorities?

We're getting snared in a giant fascistic trap, and most of the population is clapping and shouting “Woo!”

Ladar Levison May Be Arrested For Shutting Lavabit Down

NBC News:

The owner of an encrypted email service used by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he has been threatened with criminal charges for refusing to comply with a secret surveillance order to turn over information about his customers.

"I could be arrested for this action," Ladar Levison told NBC News about his decision to shut down his company, Lavabit LLC, in protest over a secret court order he had received from a federal court that is overseeing the investigation into Snowden.

Let’s take a minute to applaud the size of this guy’s balls. He’s willing to go to jail in order to protect his customers’ data. Henry David Thoreau would be proud.

Pigs and Trolls

Bruce Sterling has a brief laugh at the absurd ineffectualness displayed by the government in all of this Snowden business:

The pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now. Their credibility is below zero.

[…] Even US Senators are decorative objects for the NSA. An American Senator knows as much about PRISM and XKeyScore as a troll-doll on the dashboard knows about internal combustion.

Nobody elected the NSA.

The NSA Can Reportedly Track the Location of Cell Phones Even When They’re Turned Off

Here’s some more insanity; Ryan Gallagher of Slate reveals stunning new details about the NSA’s ability to track us:

On Monday, the Washington Post published a story focusing on how massively the NSA has grown since the 9/11 attacks. Buried within it, there was a small but striking detail: By September 2004, the NSA had developed a technique that was dubbed “The Find” by special operations officers. The technique, the Post reports, was used in Iraq and “enabled the agency to find cellphones even when they were turned off.” This helped identify “thousands of new targets, including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgency in Iraq,” according to members of the special operations unit interviewed by the Post.

The article goes on to speculate that perhaps these phones are being infected with malware, or maybe that the government injects tracking code into updates to a phone’s operating system. This whole thing just keeps getting creepier—who’d have thought that something like this could even be technically possible?

Jimmy Carter Supports Snowden, Decries Spying

The Huffington Post :

Former President Jimmy Carter announced support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden this week, saying that his uncovering of the agency’s massive surveillance programs had proven "beneficial."

I’m surprised that any present or former American federal official would admit in public that the intelligence community has pushed too far into fascistic territory, but I suppose Carter would have to be the only guy who’d have enough of a soul left.

Here’s my favorite bit:

No American outlets covered Carter’s speech, given at an Atlantic Bridge meeting, which has reportedly led to some skepticism over Der Spiegel’s quotes.

Oh, really. Let’s not cover it, and then impugn those who do. Sounds a bit like what a totalitarian state’s propaganda wing might do, doesn’t it?

Microsoft Lies Baldly In Response to New Snowden Allegations

Pierluigi Paganini, via Security Affairs :

Edward Snowden has issued new top secret documents demonstrating the intense collaboration between Microsoft and US government, in particular the whistleblower revealed the support received by the NSA that obtained by the company the access to encrypted messages into its products. Microsoft designed specifically backdoor into Outlook.com, Skype, and SkyDrive to allow government agency to spy on online communications.

They’ve flatly denied every single allegation asserted in these new documents. I suppose we can trust them with our data now. And certainly none of the other big tech companies will be caught in a lie, immediately.

Russian Intelligence Reverts To Typewriters Due To NSA Surveillance

Miriam Elder writes in The Guardian:

In the wake of the US surveillance scandal revealed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Russia is planning to adopt a foolproof means of avoiding global electronic snooping: by reverting to paper.

The Federal Guard Service (FSO), a powerful body tasked with protecting Russia’s highest-ranking officials, has recently put in an order for 20 Triumph Adler typewriters, the Izvestiya newspaper reported.

Great, so we’re all going to revert to our 1972 selves now because the U.S. government desperately needs to know what sandwich my aunt photographed last night. We live in a shitty, shitty world.

One Roadblock Removed in Lawsuit Against NSA

Joshua Kopstein, The Verge :

…a federal judge ruled Monday that the Obama administration can not use its “state secrets” privilege to block a lawsuit originally brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2008.

That’s big news: until now, the administration has repeatedly invoked the privilege to block almost every legal challenge the NSA has faced over its surveillance activities, even after a secret court ruled that the programs had violated the Constitution “on at least one occasion.” But the ultimate goal — an official Constitutional ruling that would ostensibly bring an end to NSA’s warrantless data collection programs — is still a ways off, if it happens at all.

Let’s go ahead and assume that this whole case will be swallowed by a giant U.S.A.-shaped black hole eventually—as Kopstein notes, the government can always shut the case down with an invocation of “sovereign immunity.” For now, though, it’s nice to think that some judge might actually have to try to square PRISM with the Fourth Amendment.

By the way, here’s the full court document, for those interested.

“Restore The Fourth” Protests Abound Today

Gloria Goodale, for The Christian Science Monitor:

For most Americans, the Fourth of July means barbecue and fireworks. But this year, a coalition of activists rallying to the cry of “Restore the Fourth” is hoping to use the day, both online and offline, to highlight what it calls serious violations of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

I’m glad to see that there are, in fact, some Americans for whom beer and pork are lower priorities than taking a stand. However–and call me cynical if you like–I wonder if this particular genie is ever going to get anywhere near the bottle ever again.

PRISM Can’t Actually Be An Anti-Terror Program

Bloomberg‘s Leonid Bershidsky makes a great point:

The debate over the U.S. government’s monitoring of digital communications suggests that Americans are willing to allow it as long as it is genuinely targeted at terrorists. What they fail to realize is that the surveillance systems are best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens.

Think about it for a second: is a Facebook chat or a Gmail conversation the method you’d choose through which to plan an act of terrorism? It doesn’t make any sense.