Given that surprising new allegations of National Security Agency spying seem to pop up every day, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has now decided that it might be a good idea to rein in America’s intelligence gathering behemoth. The Hill reports that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) have collaborated on new legislation that would end the NSA’s bulk phone metadata collection program, would beef up barriers against targeting Americans for surveillance and would require the government to delete any data inadvertently scooped up from Americans who aren’t related to investigations during data mining operations. More →
It’s doubtful that Microsoft will recruit its former privacy advisor Caspar Bowden to help it come up with witty one-liners for its next round of “Scroogled” ads. The Guardian reports that Bowden this week claimed he had no knowledge of Microsoft’s involvement with the National Security Agency’s PRISM data collection program while he worked as the company’s top privacy advisor from 2002 through 2011. What’s more, he said that major tech companies’ cooperation with the NSA should lead their customers to seriously rethink how much information they’re willing to share on the web. More →
John McAfee is one of the strangest characters in the tech world, and for a while everyone thought he might be a murderer, so it only comes as a moderate shock that his most recent plans involve thwarting the NSA. Future Tense Central is the homepage for the D-Central device, which McAfee claims will create a private network for a small group of users that cannot be traced by any outside sources. D-Central has supposedly been in the planning phases for several years, but a countdown on Future Tense Central is currently leading up to next March, when a prototype of the device might see the light of day. If McAfee’s plans do come to fruition, D-Central will sell for less than $100 and NSA analysts will no longer be able snoop on our files or, even worse, attempt to date us.
When Sting wrote “Every Breath You Take,” he probably never imagined that someone in the future could literally act out the song word for word. But then again, Sting also never knew what analysts at the National Security Agency would be capable of doing. The Hill reports that the NSA has admitted in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley (R — Iowa) that it’s “identified 12 incidents since 2003 in which analysts intentionally misused their intelligence gathering powers” to spy on love interests. What’s more, the NSA said that it has two open investigations into similar intelligence abuses and that it’s reviewing a third possible incident for investigation.
The fallout from the National Security Agency surveillance scandal hasn’t just hurt trust between American tech companies and foreign governments — it’s also damaged the relationship between American tech companies and their own customers. Per Reuters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this week that revelations about the NSA’s vast data collection practices have made users less likely to trust Facebook and said that the government’s handling of the scandal has been woefully inept. More →
It seems that Google’s call for more transparency on the National Security Agency’s data collection program isn’t personal but just business. The Guardian reports that Google chairman Eric Schmidt this week said that he wouldn’t “pass judgement” against the NSA’s program since such surveillance is “the nature of our society.” However, Schmidt still said that he wanted the government to let his company reveal more about what it discloses to the NSA since revelations about the agency’s PRISM program have created an atmosphere of mistrust among overseas companies and governments. More →
In case you thought your smartphone might be a last bastion of safety for your private information, it appears that the NSA has complete and total access to data on devices from each of the leading manufacturers. Spiegel reports “that the NSA can tap into such information on Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Google’s Android mobile operating system.” That information includes contact lists, SMS messages, notes and any location data stored on the phone. More →
It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s always nice to see two tech giants set aside their differences for a greater cause. This time, Microsoft and Google have come together to file a lawsuit against the federal government to let them speak more freely about the data they collect from their users relating to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The government announced this week that it would finally begin publishing requests for consumer data once a year, but in a blog post published on Friday Microsoft and Google said that “the public deserves and the Constitution guarantees more than this first step.” More →
Now we know the price American telecom companies put on their users’ privacy. The Washington Post has revealed that the National Security Agency is paying telecom companies hundreds of millions of dollars every year for access to their networks, which it uses for “filtering vast traffic flows for foreign targets in a process that also sweeps in large volumes of American telephone calls, e-mails and instant messages.” The telecom companies get paid through the NSA’s Corporate Partner Access Project that ensures access to “high volume circuit and packet-switched networks” in exchange for cash. More →
Well hello, NSA, and thank you for taking the time to read this post. The Internet is still infatuated with NSA spying news, and rightfully so — according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the NSA has programs and technology in place that are capable of spying on as much as 75% of all Internet traffic in the United States. Various programs such as PRISM give the NSA an incredibly wide reach here in the U.S., but the agency actually monitors far less traffic than it is capable of seeing, the report says. The news shouldn’t really surprise anyone at this point, and here are a few ways to protect yourself against spying if you’re concerned.
The National Security Agency’s snooping practices may be costing American companies a lot of money. German publication Zeit Online has obtained leaked documents that purportedly show that IT experts within the German government believe that Windows 8 contains back doors that the NSA could use to remotely control any computers that have it installed. More →
With secure email services such as Lavabit closing their doors, the fate of encrypted email may lie with the world’s most infamous German-born New Zealand resident. ZDNet reports that Kim Dotcom and his Mega team are working on a new email service that will “run on its entirely non-U.S.-based server network” and will thus will be immune from pressure from the American government to comply with orders from the National Security Agency. However, Mega CEO Vikram Kumar tells ZDNet that the challenges of creating an intuitive email service with end-to-end encryption are more difficult than many might think. More →
Let’s hope you weren’t betting on the courts to rein in the government’s expansive surveillance powers. IDG News reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has decided that the government doesn’t need to get a search warrant before tracking citizens’ location data on mobile phones. Specifically, the court ruled that the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment “protects only reasonable expectations of privacy,” which it says don’t include cell phone location data because “a cell phone user makes a choice to get a phone, to select a particular service provider, and to make a call, and because… he voluntarily conveys his cell site data each time he makes a call.” The government’s warrantless tracking of cell phone metadata is just one aspect of the National Security Agency’s controversial spying program, which also allegedly includes extensive warrantless collection of Americans’ digital communications.