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"I don't think in the last two or three hundred years we've faced such a concatenation
of  problems all at the same time.... If we are to solve the issues that are ahead of us,

we are going to need to think in completely different ways."

 Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002 -2006

BBC Radio 4, 'Start The Week', 30 April 2007
SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY NEWS
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Introduction
'Surveillance & The Corrosion Of Democracy'

"Fears that the United States, Britain and other English-speaking countries are using a cold-war eavesdropping network to gain a commercial edge roused passions across Europe today, even after Washington and London roundly denied the notion. The subject kept the European Parliament in Brussels entranced for hours and drew banner headlines across the continent. One political cartoon showed Britain in bed with the United States, despite Britain's membership in the European Union. The hubbub grew from a report prepared for the European Parliament that found that communications intercepted by a network called Echelon twice helped American companies gain an advantage over Europeans. "
An Electronic Spy Scare Is Alarming Europe
New York Times, 24 February 2000

"Everywhere in the world, every day, people's phone calls, emails and faxes are monitored by Echelon, a secret government surveillance network. No, it's not fiction straight out of George Orwell's 1984. It's reality, says former spy Mike Frost in an interview broadcast on 60 Minutes on Sunday, Feb. 27. 'It's not the world of fiction. That's the way it works. I've been there,' Frost tells CBS News 60 Minutes Correspondent Steve Kroft. 'I was trained by you guys,' says the former Canadian intelligence agent, referring to the United States' National Security Agency.  The NSA runs Echelon with Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand as a series of listening posts around the world that eavesdrop on terrorists, drug lords and hostile foreign governments.  But to find out what the bad guys are up to, all electronic communications, including those of the good guys, must be captured and analyzed for key words by super computers. That is a fact that makes Frost uncomfortable, even though he believes the world needs intelligence gathering capabilities like Echelon. 'My concern is no accountability and nothing, no safety net in place for the innocent people who fall through the cracks,' he tells Kroft... Democracies usually have laws against spying on citizens. But Frost says Echelon members could ask another member to spy for them in an end run around those laws.  For example, Frost tells Kroft that his Canadian intelligence boss spied on British government officials for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. '(Thatcher) had two ministers that she said, quote, 'they weren't on side,' unquote...So my boss...went to McDonald House in London and did intercept traffic from these two ministers,' claims Frost.  'The British Parliament now have total deniability. They didn't do anything. We did it for them.'   America politicians may also have been eavesdropped on, says Margaret Newsham, a woman who worked at Menwith Hill in England, the NSA's largest spy station. She says she was shocked to hear the voice of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R.-S.C.) on a surveillance headset about 20 years ago. 'To my knowledge, all (the intercepted voices)...would be...Russian, Chinese... foreign,' she tells Kroft. The exposing of such possible abuses of Echelon will surely add to the growing firestorm in Europe over the system. On Feb. 23, the European Parliament issued a report accusing the U.S. of using Echelon for commercial spying on two separate occasions, to help American companies win lucrative contracts over European competitors. The U.S. State Department denies such spying took place and will not even acknowledge the existence of the top secret Echelon project. Rep. Porter Goss (R.-Fla), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which has oversight of the NSA, does acknowledge that the U.S. has the capability to pick up any phone call, and that even his own conversations could have been monitored."
Ex-Snoop Confirms Echelon Network
CBS News (60 Minutes), 24 February 2000

More About Echelon
  • Watch CBS documentary on Echelon.
  • The ACLU has an extensive site about Echelon. Click here for Echelonwatch.
  • The New York Times covered the hubbub at the European Parliament. Click here for the Feb. 24 2000 story.
  • The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has more about Echelon. Click here to see its report.


"There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement - where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion - and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power."
Snowden’s open letter to Brazil: Read the text
Washington Post, 17 December 2015

"The head of MI6 has said the information revolution represents both an "existential threat and a golden opportunity". In rare public comments Alex Younger, who took over as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in 2014, said it had fundamentally changed the operating environment for the intelligence community.... Intelligence officials also warned the "internet of things" would bring new threats. Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the US National Security Agency, said people should "just say no" to having household appliances hooked up to the internet."
MI6 chief says information revolution is 'existential threat and golden opportunity'
Telegraph, 20 September 2016

"The majority of the UK cabinet were never told the security services had been secretly harvesting data from the phone calls, texts and emails of a huge number of British citizens since 2005, Nick Clegg has disclosed. Clegg says he was informed of the practice by a senior Whitehall official soon after becoming David Cameron’s deputy in 2010, but that“only a tiny handful” of cabinet ministers were also told – likely to include the home secretary, the foreign secretary and chancellor. He said he was astonished to learn of the capability and asked for its necessity to be reviewed. The former deputy prime minister’s revelation in the Guardian again raises concerns about the extent to which the security services felt they were entitled to use broadly drawn legislative powers to carry out intrusive surveillance and keep this information from democratically elected politicians. The government finally admitted on Wednesday that the mass surveillance of British citizens began in 2001 after 9/11 and was stepped up in 2005, using powers under national security directions largely hidden in the 1984 Telecommunications Act. It is not known if government law officers sanctioned the use of the act in this way, but it appears the intelligence and security committee responsible for parliamentary oversight was not informed, adding to the impression of a so-called deep state operating outside the scrutiny of parliament."
Only 'tiny handful' of ministers knew of mass surveillance, Clegg reveals
Guardian, 5 November 2015

"British spooks intercepted emails from US and UK media organisations and rated ‘investigative journalists’ alongside terrorists and hackers as potential security threats, secret documents reveal. Internal advice circulated by intelligence chiefs at the Government spy centre GCHQ claims ‘journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to security’. Intelligence documents leaked by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden also show that British security officers scooped up 70,000 emails in just 10 minutes during one interception exercise in 2008. "
British spooks tapped emails from UK and US media
Mail, 19 January 2015

"Given that spies can routinely break through just about any security software, virtually all Internet users are at risk of a data attack.... Intelligence agencies have adopted 'plausible deniability' as their guiding principle for Internet operations. To ensure their ability to do so, they seek to make it impossible to trace the author of the attack. It's a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions."
The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle
Der Speigel, 17 January 2015

"Even if you power off your cell phone, the U.S. government can turn it back on. That's what ex-spy Edward Snowden revealed in last week's interview with NBC's Brian Williams. "
How the NSA can 'turn on' your phone remotely
CNN, 6 June 2014

"The head of the FBI says he understands why people worry about the scope of the government's powers, and in fact, he agrees with them. 'I believe people should be suspicious of government power. I am,' Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. 'I think this country was founded by people who were worried about government power so they divided it among three branches,' he added. ...Comey assumed his top post shortly after the Snowden revelations came to light last summer. "
FBI chief: ‘Be suspicious’ of government power
The Hill, 21 May 2014

"When it comes to communication [former US President Jimmy] Carter is evidently a man of his generation, shunning electronic devices for snail mail. He told [satirist Stephen] Colbert that he had recently written a letter to Pope Francis.... and steers clear of e-mail for fear of being monitored by the National Security Agency. The suggestion caused something of a stir in America and prompted a swift denial from the intelligence agency's director. Carter is yet to be convinced, noting that regulations controlling the Government's scope to spy on private communications had been significantly relaxed since he passed them. 'They are not monitoring me now but they record every message that you transmit in America - and probably in Great Britain as well - and later if they want to monitor that message they can do so,' he says."
Did the other presidents call?
London Times, Times2 Section, 9 April 2014, Print Edition, P6

".... in reality NSA has been collecting word for word 'content' of the American citizens. So that is something the NSA is lying about. And they've lied about the abuses in the past. NSA has targeted congress, they've targeted the Supreme Court. They've targeted top level generals and admirals. They've targeted the press and the media. And a whole bunch of other folks: lawyers and law firms. This was between 2002 and 2005 which I was witness to when I held that sort of information in my hand. NSA is not talking about that either.... The meat of the issue is the network to do this is still intact. So the capability exists. Even if you believe this President is the most benevolent in the world, what about the next President, and the one after that and the one after that, and the potential for abuse with future Presidents? When this system, this monster that we've set up, still exists, anyone down the line can use that monster to basically turn our country into a totalitarian police state. I mean 'all the way' police state. So in my opinion we have to kill this baby in the cradle right now. That means unplug all these nodes around the country and say we will not go after domestic communications, except when we have a warrant ... [against an] individual because we have 'probable cause' they've committed a crime.... Like Ben Franklin [one of the 'founding fathers' of the United States] said, if you're going to give up your freedom and liberty for security you deserve neither .... When I made my oath [of office] it was to make sure I protected the constitution of the United States 'against enemies both foreign and domestic'.... The agency I worked for [the NSA] is now an domestic enemy of our constitution. And it's just a horrific thing that's happened. It has to stop."
Russ Tice, former NSA official and whistleblower
(Interview following speech by President Barack Obama's on NSA 'reform')
NSA whistleblower: Obama reforms won't cage 'this monster'
Reuters, 17 January 2014

"A US official has acknowledged that the NSA likely scoops up data on congressional telephone communications but stopped short of saying whether such action extended to calls made by President Barack Obama. The tense exchange occurred on Tuesday during a hearing on the status of the administration's reforms of the bulk data collection programme exposed last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. "
NSA 'probably' collects US Congress telephone call data, official admits
Agence France Presse, 6 February 2014

"MacAskill asked Snowden, almost as an afterthought, whether there was a UK role in this mass data collection. It didn't seem likely to him. MacAskill knew that GCHQ had a longstanding intelligence-sharing relationship with the US, but he was taken aback by Snowden's vehement response. 'GCHQ is worse than the NSA,' Snowden said. 'It's even more intrusive.'.'"
How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower
Guardian, 1 February 2014

"The power to secretly create government propaganda is among the many hacking tools revealed in the latest batch of Edward Snowden documents. British spies can manipulate online polls -- or trick the world into thinking a video or web page is going viral.  A collection of hacking tools -- some of which are specifically suited to spreading disinformation -- were exposed in a leaked 2012 document provided by Snowden to The Intercept. "
Secret propaganda: British spies can manipulate polls
CNN, 15 July 2014

"GCHQ, Britain’s electronic spying agency, intercepted and stored images of 1.8m Yahoo users taken from their personal webcams even though most of them were not suspected of wrongdoing, documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show. A secret programme called 'Optic Nerve', run in conjunction with the US National Security Agency, recorded millions of webcam images from ordinary internet users as many as one in 10 of them sexually explicit 'in bulk', the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday. 'Optic Nerve' tapped into Yahoo users’ accounts and took still images from their computer webcams every five minutes. Yahoo reacted angrily to the revelations, denying all knowledge. A spokesperson for the company said the covert surveillance programme represented 'a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy'. "
Leaks show GCHQ captured ordinary internet users’ webcam images
Financial Times, 27 February 2014

'The Death Pangs Of Democracy'

"Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is so concerned about the NSA spying scandal that he thinks it has essentially resulted in a suspension of American democracy. 'America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy,' he said at an event in Atlanta on Tuesday sponsored by the Atlantik Bruecke, a private nonprofit association working to further the German-U.S. relationship. The association's name is German for 'Atlantic bridge.' Carter’s remarks didn't appear in the American mainstream press but were reported from Atlanta by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, whose Washington correspondent Gregor Peter Schmitz said on Twitter he was present at the event. The story doesn't appear in the English-language section of the Spiegel website and is only available in German."
NSA Controversy: Jimmy Carter Says U.S. 'Has No Functioning Democracy'
International Business Times, 18 July 2013

"Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, has launched a blistering attack on US espionage at the UN general assembly.....She was imprisoned and tortured for her role in a guerilla movement opposed to Brazil's military dictatorship in the 1970s. 'In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy. In the absence of the respect for sovereignty, there is no basis for the relationship among nations.'"
Brazilian president: US surveillance a 'breach of international law'
Guardian, 24 September 2013

In The Pre-Digital Age

"MI5 used hidden electronic surveillance equipment to secretly monitor 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet and at least five Prime Ministers... The extraordinary disclosure comes despite a succession of parliamentary statements that no such bugging ever took place. And it follows a behind-the-scenes row in which senior Whitehall civil servants – backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown – attempted to suppress the revelation..... top-secret files held by the Security Service show it installed electronic listening devices in three highly sensitive areas of No10 – the Cabinet Room, the Waiting Room and the Prime Minister’s study. It means that for nearly 15 years, all Cabinet meetings, the offices of senior officials and all visitors to the Prime Minister – including foreign leaders – were being bugged. The disclosure is highly shocking in its own right but it will also bring genuine concerns as to why the Cabinet Office still wants to suppress it. Comments from MI5 chief Jonathan Evans suggest that the attempted block was not done on grounds of national security but for wider public interest reasons.This must raise the possibility that the bugging was carried out for political purposes and officials do not want to admit it went on in the past because similar operations are continuing today.... the eavesdropping devices that were first installed in Downing Street in July 1963 at the request of the then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. It is unclear why Macmillan made the extraordinary request...  In all, the equipment monitored the most sensitive areas of Downing Street for around 15 years. It was finally removed on the orders of James Callaghan in about 1977, the year after he took office. The files do not make it clear whether Prime Ministers Heath and Wilson knew there were surveillance devices in No10.... After Wilson stepped down, he co-operated with a book suggesting there had been a plot by Right-wing intelligence officers to undermine him. The claim was later supported by former senior MI5 officer Peter Wright in his banned Spycatcher memoir. It also prompted Callaghan, Wilson’s successor, to launch an investigation into the allegations. The MI5 files indicate that it was Callaghan who finally ordered the surveillance devices to be removed from Downing Street. Despite this, Callaghan made a statement to the House of Commons denying that No10 had ever been bugged."
How MI5 bugged 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet and at least five Prime Ministers for 15 YEARS
Mail On Sunday, 18 April 2010

"When Harold Macmillan called in MI5 in 1963 and asked it to bug his office, he thought the whole world was coming apart.... Macmillan felt he could not trust anybody – but turned for counsel to Dick White, director-general of foreign intelligence service MI6. It is possible that White suggested installing the listening devices in No10 as some kind of insurance policy..... The level of official paranoia at the time cannot be underestimated. But it is the revelation that the bugs were still in place in Downing Street during Harold Wilson’s two administrations, between 1964 and 1970 and 1974 to 1976, which is the most startling. Wilson believed that elements of the Establishment and members of MI5 and MI6 were plotting against him.... Now, despite countless official denials, it appears that Wilson – whose claims that he was under surveillance are often dismissed as the ramblings of an ill and paranoid man – was right."
Stephen Dorril, author of 'MI6 – Fifty Years of Special Operations'
So was Wilson right to be ‘paranoid’ about being spied on?
Mail On Sunday, 18 April 2010

"Paul Scott, the late syndicated columnist, was so paranoid about the CIA wiretapping his Prince George’s County home in the 1960s that he’d make important calls from his neighbor’s house. His teenage son Jim Scott figured his dad was either a shrewd reporter or totally nuts. Not until nearly 45 years later did the son learn that his father’s worries were justified. The insight came in 2007 when the CIA declassified a trove of documents popularly called 'the family jewels.' The papers detailed the agency’s unlawful activities from long ago, including wiretapping the Scott home in District Heights. The operation even had a code name: 'Project Mockingbird.' Jim was floored: The CIA really did eavesdrop on Dad. Now Jim, 64, a retired Navy public relations officer who lives in Anne Arundel County, is waging an operation of his own against the agency. For the past five years, he has sought to declassify and make public any documents Langley might still have on his father and why he was wiretapped..... Between March 12, 1963, and June 15, 1963, phone bugs were installed at the Allen and Scott homes and their Capitol Hill office. But this was no rogue operation: CIA Director John McCone approved the operation 'under pressure,' the documents said, from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. And Kennedy planned it with Robert McNamara, the defense secretary and Vietnam War architect. The wiretap identified many of the reporting team’s sources: a dozen senators; six congressmen; 11 congressional staffers; 16 'government employees,' including a staff member at the White House and some at the vice president’s office; and 'other well-placed individuals,' the documents said. "
Long-ago wiretap inspires a battle with the CIA for more information
Washington Post, 3 March 2013

So What's It Like Now?

"The House of Commons office of Damian Green, the Tories' immigration spokesman, is routinely swept for electronic bugging devices, along with other offices belonging to senior Conservatives, amid fears of covert monitoring, The Independent on Sunday has discovered. Anger surrounding the shadow immigration minister's arrest last week escalated dramatically last night over suspicions of a major bugging scandal inside the Palace of Westminster. The IoS understands that even before his surprise arrest on Thursday Mr Green was aware that his Commons office, phone calls and emails could be under surveillance because of the sensitive nature of his job. The fresh revelations rocked the Commons just days before the high point of the parliamentary calendar, the Queen's Speech, which takes place on Wednesday. Tory leader David Cameron last night said the Prime Minister must denounce the arrest of Mr Green or risk charges of hypocrisy because he 'made his career' from Whitehall leaks. Writing in the News of the World, Mr Cameron added: 'If this approach had been in place in the 1990s, then Gordon Brown would have spent most of his time under arrest.' Several offices within the Commons and Portcullis House belonging to senior Tory MPs and officials are checked regularly by security experts for listening devices and other surveillance equipment. The IoS has learnt that there are 'major concerns' at the highest levels of the Tory party over suspected monitoring by the authorities. Any such monitoring may not be illegal but would be hugely controversial. Last night, a Conservative MP wrote to Gordon Brown demanding an urgent review of the Wilson doctrine, the convention that protects MPs from phonetapping but does not cover other surveillance techniques. It is not known whether a covert device has ever been found during searches. But if the suspicions are proved right, it would have major implications for the protection of parliamentary privilege. Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP for Lancaster & Wyre, said the Wilson doctrine, which dates back to 1966, needed to be changed to cover all forms of surveillance, not just intercepting of calls. He said: 'It is disturbing that the authorities may have exploited the difference between surveillance and intercept in order to pursue Members of Parliament over the past 10 years.'"
Bugging scandal inside the Commons
Independent On Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Arrival Of 'Turnkey Totalitarianism'

"People think, well, yeah, I use Facebook, and maybe the FBI if they made a request, could come and get it, and everyone is much more aware of that because of [former CIA Director] Petraeus. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that all the time nearly everything people do on the internet is permanently recorded, every web search. Do you know what you were thinking one year, two days, three months ago? No, you don’t know, but Google knows, it remembers.... You know, the Stasi had a 10 per cent penetration of East German society, with up to 1 in 10 people being informants at some time in their life. Now in countries that have the highest internet penetration, like Iceland, more than 80 per cent of people are on Facebook, informing about their friends. That information doesn’t [simply] go nowhere. It’s not kept in Iceland, it’s sent back into the US where it IS accessed by US intelligence and where it is given out to any friends or cronies of US intelligence – hundreds of national security letters every day publicly declared and being issued by the US government.... We have this position where as we know knowledge is power, and there’s a mass transfer as a result of literally billions of interceptions per day going from everyone, the average person, into the data vaults of state spying agencies for the big countries, and their cronies – the corporations that help build them that infrastructure. Those groups are already powerful, that’s why they are able to build this infrastructure to intercept on everyone. So they are growing more powerful, concentrating the power in the hands of smaller and smaller groups of people at once, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s extremely dangerous once there is any sort of corruption occurring in the power. Because absolute power corrupts, and when it becomes corrupt, it can affect a lot of people very quickly. Bill Binney, National Security Agency whistleblower, who was the research head of the National Security Agency’s Signals Intelligence Division, describes this as a ‘turnkey totalitarianism’, that all the infrastructure has been built for absolute totalitarianism. It’s just the matter of turning the key..... in general I think the prognosis is very grim. .... What's necessary is that the critical accountability components of society that stop it from going down the tubes entirely, that those people are protected. Those include corruption investigators, journalists, activists, and political parties. These have got to be protected. If they are not protected, then it's all lost.... if we are not able to protect a significant number of people from mass state spying, then the basic democratic and civilian institutions that we are used to – not in the West, I am no glorifier of the West, but in all societies – are going to crumble away. They will crumble away, and they will do so all at once. And that's an extremely dangerous phenomenon. "
Julian Assange
Assange to RT: Entire nations intercepted online, key turned to totalitarian rule
RT, 30 November 2012

"James Bamford has a way of digging up the facts that lend credence to America’s worst privacy fears about its own government. Now the author and investigative reporter who wrote the definitive portraits of the National Security Agency in his books The Puzzle Palace, Body of Secrets and The Shadow Factory has drawn a picture of ubiquitous surveillance that seems mind-boggling even by NSA standards. In his just-published cover story for Wired, Bamford lays out the NSA’s plans for a vast new facility in Bluffdale, Utah that aims to become a storage and analysis hub for the record-breakingly massive collections of Internet traffic data that the NSA hopes to gather in coming years not from just foreign networks, but domestic ones as well. The story adds confirmation to what the New York Times revealed in 2005: that the NSA has engaged in widespread wiretapping of Americans with the consent of firms like AT&T and Verizon. But more interestingly–and more troubling in the eyes of many who value their privacy–it details the Agency’s plans to crack AES encryption, the cryptographic standard certified by the NSA itself in 2009 for military and government use and until now considered uncrackable in any amount of time relevant to mortals. ..... The NSA project now aims to break the 'exaflop barrier' by building a supercomputer a hundred times faster than the fastest existing today, the Japanese 'K Computer.' That code-breaking system is projected to use 200 megawatts of power, about as much as would power 200,000 homes."
NSA's New Data Center And Supercomputer Aim To Crack World's Strongest Encryption
Forbes, 16 March 2012


Each Year It Gets Worse


2018

"Microsoft's president Brad Smith said facial recognition technology needs to be regulated so the world doesn't turn into a Nineteen Eighty-Four scenario with everyone's actions tracked and scrutinised. He told attendees at WebSummit in Lisbon, Portugal that the way in which facial recognition technology is developing and being used by more businesses could be detrimental to the average person's privacy.. "For the first time, the world is on the threshold of technology that would give a government the ability to follow anyone anywhere, and everyone everywhere. It could know exactly where you are going, where you have been and where you were yesterday as well," Smith said. "And this has profound potential ramifications for even just the fundamental civil liberties on which democratic societies rely. Before we wake up and find that the year 2024 looks like the book '1984', let’s figure out what kind of world we want to create, and what are the safeguards and what are the limitations of both companies and governments for the use of this technology."
Microsoft's president says we need to regulate facial recognition to avoid a 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' scenario
IT Pro, 9 November 2018

2017

"Mobile phone data could be used in place of census questions in the future, a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests. The information would allow the ONS to track where people live and work. The ONS tested the idea as part of a government-backed project looking at other data sources for the census. The report said it used commuter flow data from Vodafone users, collected over four weeks in March and April 2016, in three London boroughs.... Commuter flows starting or ending in the south London boroughs of Southwark, Croydon and Lambeth were analysed and compared to data from the last census in 2011. An individual's home location was based on where the phone was located during the night or when switched on in the morning, while a work location was set to where a phone was found between standard working hours, Monday to Friday."
Census 'could use mobile phone data instead of questions'
BBC, 7 November 2017

2016

"Most of the world’s international phone calls, internet traffic, emails, and other communications are sent over a network of undersea cables that connect countries like giant arteries. At spy outposts across the world, the NSA and its partners tap into these cables to monitor the data flowing through them. But Menwith Hill is focused on a different kind of surveillance: eavesdropping on communications as they are being transmitted through the air. According to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Menwith Hill has two main spying capabilities. The first is called FORNSAT, which uses powerful antennae contained within the golf ball-like domes to eavesdrop on communications as they are being beamed between foreign satellites. The second is called OVERHEAD, which uses U.S. government satellites orbiting above targeted countries to locate and monitor wireless communications on the ground below — such as cellphone calls and even WiFi traffic.... As of 2009, Menwith Hill’s foreign satellite surveillance mission, code-named MOONPENNY, was monitoring 163 different satellite data links. The intercepted communications were funneled into a variety of different repositories storing phone calls, text messages, emails, internet browsing histories, and other data. It is not clear precisely how many communications Menwith Hill is capable of tapping into at any one time, but the NSA’s documents indicate the number is extremely large. In a single 12-hour period in May 2011, for instance, its surveillance systems logged more than 335 million metadata records, which reveal information such as the sender and recipient of an email, or the phone numbers someone called and at what time. To keep information about Menwith Hill’s surveillance role secret, the U.S. and U.K. governments have actively misled the public for years through a “cover story” portraying the base as a facility used to provide “rapid radio relay and conduct communications research.” A classified U.S. document, dated from 2005, cautioned spy agency employees against revealing the truth. “It is important to know the established cover story for MHS [Menwith Hill Station] and to protect the fact that MHS is an intelligence collection facility,” the document stated. “Any reference to satellites being operated or any connection to intelligence gathering is strictly prohibited.”... roughly 600 of the personnel at the facility are from U.K. agencies, including employees of the NSA’s British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ....  a new “collection posture” was introduced at the base, the aim being to “collect it all, process it all, exploit it all.” In other words, it would vacuum up as many communications within its reach as technologically possible.... Fabian Hamilton, a member of Parliament based in the nearby city of Leeds.......told The Intercept that he found the secrecy shrouding Menwith Hill to be “offensive.” The revelations about the role it has played in U.S. killing and capture operations, he said, showed there needed to be a full review of its operations. “Any nation-state that uses military means to attack any target, whether it is a terrorist, whether it is legitimate or not, has to be accountable to its electorate for what it does,” Hamilton said. “That’s the basis of our Parliament, it’s the basis of our whole democratic system. How can we say that Menwith can carry out operations of which there is absolutely no accountability to the public? I don’t buy this idea that you say the word ‘security’ and nobody can know anything. We need to know what is being done in our name.”"
Inside Menwith Hill
The Intercept, 6 September 2016

"A secretive police unit tasked with spying on alleged extremists intent on committing serious crimes has been monitoring leading members of the Green party, the Guardian has learned. Newly released documents show that the intelligence unit has been tracking the political activities of the MP Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry, the party’s candidate for London mayor. Some of the monitoring took place as recently as last year and seemed to contradict a pledge from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, that the unit would only target serious criminals rather than peaceful protesters. Extracts from the files show that the police have chronicled how the Green politicians had been speaking out about issues such as government cuts, the far right, police violence, and the visit of the pope. The police’s actions have been described as “chilling” and come weeks after it was accused of abusing its powers by pursuing prominent people over sex abuse claims. The disclosures bring to four the number of elected Green party politicians whose political movements are known to have been recorded in the files of the unit. The files give no indication that they were involved in serious criminal activity. The file on Lucas, which stretches over eight years, records how she gave a speech at an anti-austerity demonstration last June in London. Lucas accused the government of conducting an “ideological war on welfare” at the rally, attended by thousands. Another entry records how she attended a demonstration in February 2014 against disability cuts in Brighton where she has been an MP since 2010. Police noted she “spoke with some of the assembled” journalists. ..... Peter Francis, a whistleblower who worked undercover for the Met, has alleged that the police kept secret files in the 1990s on 10 Labour MPs, including the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after they had been elected to parliament."
Police anti-extremism unit monitoring senior Green party figures
Guardian, 28 April 2016

"The UK's security services, including GCHQ, MI5 and MI6, have been unlawfully collecting and using mass datasets of personal information for more than 10 years. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled in a judgement published online that the bodies had been collecting data without safeguards or supervision. The setups of 'Bulk Communications Data' (BCD) and 'Bulk Personal Datasets' by the agencies did not comply with the right to privacy (Article 8) in the European Convention on Human Rights..... Both types of datasets have been used as part of criminal investigations, but have been criticised by privacy advocates for being overly intrusive.  The tribunal added that the massive datasets (BPD) "include considerable volumes of data about biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel"........ The court's ruling comes as the government's Investigatory Powers Bill (IP Bill) is in the final stages of becoming law – it is currently passed through the House of Commons and is being debated by the House of Lords. The Bill has been heavily criticised by numerous committees and officials. Powers included in the IP Bill include bulk collection of data, the ability to remotely hack mobile phones and computers, and the storing of website history. The law is the first time these powers have been specifically written into law."
MI6, MI5 and GCHQ 'unlawfully collected private data for 10 years'
Wired, 17 October 2016

2015

"The British government quietly changed anti-hacking laws to exempt GCHQ and other law enforcement agencies from criminal prosecution, it has been claimed. Details of the change were revealed at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which is hearing a challenge to the legality of computer hacking by UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The Government amended the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) two months ago."
UK government rewrites surveillance law to get away with hacking and allow cyber attacks, campaigners claim
Independent, 15 May 2015

2014

"Britain's signals intelligence division is stealing screenshots from hundreds of thousands of innocent Yahoo users' webcam videos, according to the Guardian newspaper, which also reported that the years-long operation has swept up a huge haul of intimate photographs. The newspaper said GCHQ has been scooping up the sensitive images by intercepting video chats such as the kind offered by Yahoo Messenger, an effort codenamed OPTIC NERVE. ........The Guardian said that OPTIC NERVE was intended at least in part to identify targets using automatic facial recognition software as they stared into their computer's webcams. But the stockpiling of sexually explicit images of ordinary people had uncomfortable echoes of George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four,' where the authorities — operating under the aegis of 'Big Brother' — fit homes with cameras to monitor the intimate details of people's personal lives. 'At least Big Brother had the decency to install his own cameras,' British media lawyer David Banksy said in a message posted to Twitter after the revelations broke. 'We've had to buy them ourselves.' The collection of nude photographs also raises questions about potential for blackmail. America's National Security Agency has already acknowledged that some analysts have been caught trawling databases for inappropriate material on partners or love interests. Other leaked documents have revealed how U.S. and British intelligence discussed leaking embarrassing material online to blacken the reputations of their targets. GCHQ refused to answer a series of questions about OTPIC NERVE, instead returning the same boilerplate answer it has given to reporters for months."
Report: UK spies collect massive store of nude photos after intercepting Yahoo webcam service
Associated Press, 27 February 2014

2013

“There are a lot more stories to come, a lot more documents that will be covered. It’s important that we understand what it is we’re publishing, so what we say about them is accurate.... It is literally true, without hyperbole, that the goal of the NSA and its partners in the English-speaking world is to eliminate privacy globally. They want to make sure there is no communication that evades their net.”
Glen Grenwald, the journalist who broke the Snowden NSA revelations
‘A Lot’ More NSA Documents to Come
Wired, 27 December 2013

"Edward Snowden is to deliver this year’s Channel 4 Alternative Christmas Message, the broadcaster has confirmed. The whistleblower, who revealed the mass surveillance programmes organised by the US and other governments, will broadcast his message at 4.15pm on Christmas Day. In his first TV interview since [fleeing] to Russia in May, Snowden lays out his vision for why privacy matters and why he believes mass indiscriminate surveillance by governments of their people is wrong....  During his address, Snowden says: 'Great Britain’s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book – microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go. Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalysed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.'...The Alternative Christmas Message will broadcast on Channel 4 at 4.15pm on Christmas Day. It will be available to view on 4oD later today."
Edward Snowden will deliver Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message
Independent, 24 December 2013

"James Goodale has a message for journalists: Wake up. In his new book, Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 2013), Goodale, chief counsel to The New York Times when its editors published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, argues that President Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was. The Obama administration has prosecuted more alleged leakers of national security information under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined, a course critics say is overly aggressive. Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote in a March op-ed that the administration 'has a particular, chilling intolerance' for those who leak. If the Obama administration indicts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, Goodale argues, the president will have succeeded where Nixon failed by using the act to 'end-run' the First Amendment.'"
James Goodale: It’s a bad time for press freedoms
Columbia Journalism Review, 19 March 2013

"Europeans, take note: The U.S. government has granted itself authority to secretly snoop on you. That’s according to a new report produced for the European Parliament, which has warned that a U.S. spy law renewed late last year authorizes 'purely political surveillance on foreigners' data' if it is stored using U.S. cloud services like those provided by Google, Microsoft and Facebook.... According to [Caspar] Bowden, the 2008 FISA amendment created a power of 'mass surveillance' specifically targeted at the data of non-U.S. persons located outside America, which applies to cloud computing. This means that U.S. companies with a presence in the EU can be compelled under a secret surveillance order, issued by a secret court, to hand over data on Europeans. Because non-American citizens outside the United States have been deemed by the court not to fall under the search and seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment, it opens the door to an unprecedented kind of snooping. 'It's like putting a mind control drug in the water supply, which only affects non-Americans,' says Bowden... Most countries’ spy agencies routinely monitor real-time communications like emails and phone calls of groups under suspicion on national security grounds. However, what makes FISA different is that it explicitly authorizes the targeting of real-time communications and dormant cloud data linked to 'foreign-based political organizations'—not just suspected terrorists or foreign government agents. Bowden says FISA is effectively 'a carte blanche for anything that furthers U.S. foreign policy interests' and legalizes the monitoring of European journalists, activists, and politicians who are engaged in any issue in which the United States has a stake. FISA, according to Bowden, expressly makes it lawful for the United States to do 'continuous mass-surveillance of ordinary lawful democratic political activities,' and could even go as far as to force U.S. cloud providers like Google to provide a live 'wiretap' of European users’ data."
FISA renewal: Report suggests spy law allows mass surveillance of European citizens
Slate (Blog), 8 January 2013

2012

"[British] Home Secretary Theresa May said the proposed surveillance law would 'save lives' .... But the committee's MPs and peers are likely to encourage the police and law enforcement agencies to work out a much simpler scheme that the public can trust. The message is likely to be 'go back to the drawing board and come and talk to us when you have something fresh'. As regular Register readers will know, the surveillance plans now being re-examined have been touted to successive governments by the intelligence services for years with little change to any details other than the name. The MPs are likely to offer fierce opposition to the proposals, which would allow the Home Office to wire network traffic probes into the public internet anywhere it chose, for this or any successor government to use for any purpose it chose....The report will be another setback for the Home Secretary: in 2010 the former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald was asked to review her plan to monitor citizens online. He previously called the project to mine the UK internet: A paranoid fantasy which would destroy everything that makes living worthwhile. This database would be an unimaginable hellhouse of personal private information. It would be a complete readout of every citizen's life in the most intimate and demeaning detail.... The two panels' highly critical reports will be an expected disappointment for the Home Office. They are the latest in a series of spectacular disasters for career spy Charles Farr, who three years ago had hoped to land the top job at the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and become 'C'."
Parliament to unleash barrage of criticism on Snoopers' Charter
The Register, 10 December 2012

"The cable boxes of the future could be able to detect when viewers are cuddling on the sofa and automatically serve adverts for contraceptives. U.S. cable provider Verizon has applied to patent a set-top box technology that can observe what's going on in the room and show viewers adverts based on what it detects. In U.S. Patent Application 20120304206 the company suggests it could detect when people are 'cuddling' then show 'a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers [...] etc.'. The technology would integrate a range of sensors into their products, including thermal imaging cameras, microphones and motion sensors, to detect the mood their audience and tailor media content to suit. Privacy campaigners called the new technology a 'privacy nightmare waiting around the corner' and called for it to be reined in 'before consumers lose control for good'. It has disturbing echoes of George Orwell's dystopia 1984, where the population were constantly watched by authorities through cameras integrated in their television screens....  This needs to be reined in before consumers lose control for good.'"
The TV box that can detect when you're cuddling on the sofa and show you an advert for condoms
Mail, 6 December 2012

"Everything we do on the Internet leaves a trail back to us. Search engine entries, shopping lists, e-mail addresses and so much more which is ripe for the taking. Now governments and their intelligence agencies want a piece of that action and they have new tools to ascertain our intentions and possible future actions.... There have been a series of related and interesting developments in the field of global intelligence gathering. The NSA is building a brand new data center in Utah in order to connect with some new intelligence sharing systems such as the Defense Intelligence Enterprise and the Global Information Grid.... most people would not appreciate their private conversations end up on foreign military or intelligence networks.... It goes on all the time, you could look at Project Echelon, Project Groundbreaker, Project Trailblazer and many others. Why do you think that the head of the CIA is gloating about being about to glean intelligence through your devices and net-centric applications. It is a gold mine for them and they have reaped a bonanza from it. CIA director David Petraeus put his cards on the table because he hinted about the next target, it will be all of data from the smart meters that have been put in place in the past few years. It wouldn’t be hard to tell how many people are living in a certain home from electricity records or which appliances are used the most. Will we be deemed terrorists from some poorly programmed profiling software based on our paper and data trail? Mistakes happen all the time, from faulty no-fly lists to swat team wrong door raids."
Trapped In The Grid: How Net-Centric Devices And Appliances Provide Voluminous Information To Intelligence Agencies And Their Business Partners
StratRisks, 22 March 2012

"When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are. Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home - the rise of 'connected' gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people 'bug' their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus. The CIA claims it will be able to 'read' these devices via the internet - and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home. Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps - and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells. The resultant chorus of 'connected' gadgets will be able to be read like a book - and even remote-controlled, according to CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired's 'Danger Room' blog. Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will 'transform' the art of spying - allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.  ' 'Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,' said Petraeus. 'Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters - all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.' Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously 'dumb' home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems. This week, one of the world's biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside 'connected' white goods."
The CIA wants to spy on you through your TV
Mail, 16 March 2012

2011

"Sir Richard Dearlove, Britain’s former chief spymaster has said the country should start spying on its Eurozone neighbours to protect the economy as the common currency is wracked by national defaults. Sir Richard Dearlove, who served as head of MI6 until 2004, said that Britain must not be 'squeamish' about using the intelligence services to defend its economic interests. The former C said central banks like the Bank of England maintained extensive networks of contacts to secure information on future developments. But specialist intelligence agencies should also undertake the task of financial security. 'I am addressing the future of the euro and how defaults affect us economically,' he told the Global Strategy Forum. 'Efficient central bankers should be able to handle themselves but I am indicating they could and might need help from time to time on the currency issue.' Sir Richard added that 2008 financial crisis had changed his views on the role of intelligence agencies in protecting the economy. Britain needed to be 'forewarned and forearmed’ in anticipation of a future crisis. He said: 'I don’t think we should be squeamish about using all means to protect ourselves financially.'.... As one of the highest regarded global spy agencies, the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, has deep ties with its intelligence counterparts across Europe. Sir Richard acknowledged that MI6 was a leader in efforts to integrate Europe’s intelligence agencies. By ordering the foreign intelligence agency to actively spy on its partners, the government would risk a backlash from the country’s closest neighbours and allies. Countries vulnerable to quitting the euro would be sure to view the move as an act of selfishness at a time of national weakness.... Sir Richard noted that the Bank of England had effectively intelligence capabilities – though it did not classify these activities as spying. As such MI6 would play a subordinate role to the Bank. Sir Richard was appointed head of MI6 in 1999 and was head of the organisation during the September 11 attacks on the US by al Qaeda. When he retired in 2004, the final year of his career had been overshadowed by controversy over the dossier used by the government to accuse Iraq of pursuing a secret Weapons of Mass Destruction programme.'
Britain should start spying on Eurozone neighbours, former MI6 chief says
Telegraph, 5 July 2011

2010

"The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.... In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space."
A hidden world, growing beyond control
Washington Post, 19 July 2010

"Fraudulent bankers are more of a danger to society than terrorists and the failure to reassure people that their money is safe is an 'absolute failure of public policy', a former Director of Public Prosecutions says today. Writing in The Times, Sir Ken Macdonald says that the systems for regulating markets and for prosecuting market crime have completely broken down...In his article, Sir Ken lambasts the 'liberty-sapping addictions' of the Home Office and the 'paranoiac paraphernalia of national databases and ID cards'. He also attacks the rush to 'bring in lots of terror law, the tougher the better'. Rather than ensuring that people's money and financial security 'will not be stolen from them', legislators wanted 'criminal justice to be an auction of fake toughness', he says. Sir Ken has previously criticised government plans to extend the time that terrorism suspects could be held without charge beyond 28 days; and, recently, plans for increased surveillance and data retention."
Sir Ken Macdonald rounds on Britain's banking robbers
London Times, 23 February 2009

2009

"A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties. In an interview in a Spanish newspaper, published in the Daily Telegraph, Dame Stella Rimington, 73, also accuses the US of 'tortures'....Dame Stella, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, has previously been critical of the government's policies, including its attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days and the controversial plan to introduce ID cards. 'It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism - that we live in fear and under a police state,' she told the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia...."
Ministers 'using fear of terror'
BBC Online, 17 February 2009

"With Google’s Latitude, parents will be able to swoop down like helicopters on their children, whirr around their heads and chase them away from the games arcade and back to do their French verbs....However Orwellian it sounds, don’t worry. The police and security services can already track you down from your phone without any help from Google..."
Sloping off could soon be a thing of the past
London Times, 5 February 2009

"Over the past few days, at trade fairs from Las Vegas to Seoul, a constant theme has been the unstoppable advance of 'FRT', the benign abbreviation favoured by industry insiders. We learnt that Apple's iPhoto update will automatically scan your photos to detect people's faces and group them accordingly, and that Lenovo's new PC will log on users by monitoring their facial patterns....So let's understand this: governments and police are planning to implement increasingly accurate surveillance technologies that are unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous, and searchable in real time. And private businesses, from bars to workplaces, will also operate such systems, whose data trail may well be sold on or leaked to third parties - let's say, insurance companies that have an interest in knowing about your unhealthy lifestyle, or your ex-spouse who wants evidence that you can afford higher maintenance payments. Rather than jump up and down with rage - you never know who is watching through the window - you have a duty now, as a citizen, to question this stealthy rush towards permanent individual surveillance. A Government already obsessed with pursuing an unworkable and unnecessary identity-card database must be held to account."
Let's face it, soon Big Brother will have no trouble recognising you
London Times, 13 January 2009

2008

"Our privacy is being invaded by the world's security services in every second of every day, as a routine matter. Vast quantities of information are collected by commercial enterprises such as Google or Tesco. Against these invasions of our privacy we have little or no protection."
Lord Rees-Mogg
London Times, 25 July 2008

'Stalin's Delight'
Smart Phones For Not So Smart People

"The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. ......Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique 'functioned whether the phone was powered on or off.' Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery.....Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added....A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. 'A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug,' the article said, 'enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down.'........ A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations. When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored. Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer's video camera and forwarded him the recordings."
FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
ZDNetNews, 1 December 2006

"Cellphone users say they want more privacy, and app makers are listening. No, they're not listening to user requests. They're literally listening to the sounds in your office, kitchen, living room and bedroom. A new class of smartphone app has emerged that uses the microphone built into your phone as a covert listening device -- a 'bug,' in common parlance. But according to app makers, it's not a bug. It's a feature! The apps use ambient sounds to figure out what you're paying attention to. It's the next best thing to reading your mind. The issue was brought to the world's attention recently on a podcast called This Week in Tech. Host Leo Laporte and his panel shocked listeners by unmasking three popular apps that activate your phone's microphone to collect sound patterns from inside your home, meeting, office or wherever you are. The apps are Color, Shopkick and IntoNow, all of which activate the microphones in users' iPhone or Android devices in order to gather contextual information that provides some benefit to the user.   Color uses your iPhone's or Android phone's microphone to detect when people are in the same room. The data on ambient noise is combined with color and lighting information from the camera to figure out who's inside, who's outside, who's in one room, and who's in another, so the app can auto-generate spontaneous temporary social networks of people who are sharing the same experience. ... So, what's possible with current technology? By listening in on your phone, capturing 'patterns,' then sending that data back to servers, marketers can determine the following: * Your gender, and the gender of people you talk to. * Your approximate age, and the ages of the people you talk to. * What time you go to bed, and what time you wake up. * What you watch on TV and listen to on the radio. * How much of your time you spend alone, and how much with others. * Whether you live in a big city or a small town. *What form of transportation you use to get to work."
Snooping: It's not a crime, it's a feature
Computerworld, 16 April 2011

"Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised. The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program. For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010. 'Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been,' said Pete Warden, one of the researchers. Only the iPhone records the user's location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. 'Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google's] Android phones and couldn't find any,' said Warden."
iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go
Guardian, 20 April 2011



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2019

"... one of the stories we were able to report using the Snowden documents, one that received less attention that it should have, is an active NSA program to collect the online sex activities, including browsing records of porn site and sex chats, of people regarded by the U.S. Government as radical or radicalizing in order to use their online sex habits to destroy their reputations. This is what and who the NSA, CIA and FBI are and long have been. If [Amazon's Jeff] Bezos were the political victim of surveillance state abuses, it would be scandalous and dangerous. It would also be deeply ironic. That’s because Amazon, the company that has made Bezos the planet’s richest human being, is a critical partner for the U.S. Government in building an ever-more invasive, militarized and sprawling surveillance state. Indeed, one of the largest components of Amazon’s business, and thus one of the most important sources of Bezos’ vast wealth and power, is working with the Pentagon and the NSA to empower the U.S. Government with more potent and more sophisticated weapons, including surveillance weapons. In December, 2017, Amazon boasted that it had perfected new face-recognition software for crowds, which it called Rekognition. It explained that the product is intended, in large part, for use by governments and police forces around the world. The ACLU quickly warned that the product is “dangerous” and that Amazon “is actively helping governments deploy it.” “Powered by artificial intelligence,” wrote the ACLU, “Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces.” The group warned: “Amazon’s Rekognition raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns.” In a separate advisory, the ACLU said of this face-recognition software that Amazon’s “marketing materials read like a user manual for the type of authoritarian surveillance you can currently see in China.” BuzzFeed obtained documents showing details of Amazon’s work in implementing the technology with the Orlando Police Department, ones that “reveal the accelerated pace at which law enforcement is embracing facial recognition tools with limited training and little to no oversight from regulators or the public.”Numerous lawmakers, including Congress’ leading privacy advocates, wrote a letter in July, 2018, expressing grave concerns about how this software and similar mass-face-recognition programs would be used by government and law enforcement agencies. They posed a series of questions based on their concern that “this technology comes with inherent risks, including the compromising of Americans’ right to privacy, as well as racial and gender bias.” In a separate article about Amazon’s privacy threats, the ACLU explained that the group “and other civil rights groups have repeatedly warned that face surveillance poses an unprecedented threat to civil liberties and civil rights that must be stopped before it becomes widespread.” Amazon’s extensive relationship with the NSA, FBI, Pentagon and other surveillance agencies in the west is multi-faceted, highly lucrative and rapidly growing. Last March, the Intercept reported on a new app that Amazon developers and British police forces have jointly developed to use on the public in police work, just “the latest example of third parties aiding, automating, and in some cases, replacing, the functions of law enforcement agencies — and raises privacy questions about Amazon’s role as an intermediary.”...Then there are the serious privacy dangers posed by Amazon’s “Ring” camera products, revealed in the Intercept last month by Sam Biddle. As he reported, Amazon’s Ring, intended to be a home security system, has “a history of lax, sloppy oversight when it comes to deciding who has access to some of the most precious, intimate data belonging to any person: a live, high-definition feed from around — and perhaps inside — their house.”... Bezos’ relationship with the military and intelligence wings of the U.S. Government is hard to overstate. Just last October, his company, Blue Origin, won a $500 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to help develop military rockets and spy satellites. Bezos personally thanked them in a tweet, proclaiming how “proud” he is “to serve the national security space community.”.... Then there’s the patent Amazon obtained last October, as reported by the Intercept, “that would allow its virtual assistant Alexa to decipher a user’s physical characteristics and emotional state based on their voice.” In particular, it would enable anyone using the product to determine a person’s accent and likely place of origin: “The algorithm would also consider a customer’s physical location — based on their IP address, primary shipping address, and browser settings — to help determine their accent.”... Bezos’ relationship with the military and spying agencies of the U.S. Government, and law enforcement agencies around the world, predates his purchase of the Washington Post and has become a central prong of Amazon’s business growth. Back in 2014, Amazon secured a massive contract with the CIA when the spy agency agreed to pay it $600 million for computing cloud software. As the Atlantic noted at the time, Amazon’s software “will begin servicing all 17 agencies that make up the intelligence community.”... Jeff Bezos is as entitled as anyone else to his personal privacy. The threats from the National Enquirer are grotesque. If Bezos’ preemptive self-publishing of his private sex material reduces the unwarranted shame and stigma around adult consensual sexual activities, that will be a societal good. But Bezos, given how much he works and profits to destroy the privacy of everyone else (to say nothing of the labor abuses of his company), is about the least sympathetic victim imaginable of privacy invasion. In the past, hard-core surveillance cheerleaders in Congress such as Dianne Feinstein, Pete Hoekstra, and Jane Harman became overnight, indignant privacy advocates when they learned that the surveillance state apparatus they long cheered had been turned against them. Perhaps being a victim of privacy invasion will help Jeff Bezos realize the evils of what his company is enabling. Only time will tell. As of now, one of the world’s greatest privacy invaders just had his privacy invaded. As the ACLU put it: “Amazon is building the tools for authoritarian surveillance that advocates, activists, community leaders, politicians, and experts have repeatedly warned against.'”
Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else
The Intercept, 8 February 2019

"....any major companies, like Air Canada, Hollister and Expedia, are recording every tap and swipe you make on their iPhone apps. In most cases you won’t even realize it. And they don’t need to ask for permission. You can assume that most apps are collecting data on you. Some even monetize your data without your knowledge. But TechCrunch has found several popular iPhone apps, from hoteliers, travel sites, airlines, cell phone carriers, banks and financiers, that don’t ask or make it clear — if at all — that they know exactly how you’re using their apps. Worse, even though these apps are meant to mask certain fields, some inadvertently expose sensitive data. Apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com and Singapore Airlines also use Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm, one of a handful of companies that allows developers to embed “session replay” technology into their apps. These session replays let app developers record the screen and play them back to see how its users interacted with the app to figure out if something didn’t work or if there was an error. Every tap, button push and keyboard entry is recorded — effectively screenshotted — and sent back to the app developers. Or, as Glassbox said in a recent tweet: “Imagine if your website or mobile app could see exactly what your customers do in real time, and why they did it?” The App Analyst, a mobile expert who writes about his analyses of popular apps on his eponymous blog, recently found Air Canada’s iPhone app wasn’t properly masking the session replays when they were sent, exposing passport numbers and credit card data in each replay session. Just weeks earlier, Air Canada said its app had a data breach, exposing 20,000 profiles. “This gives Air Canada employees — and anyone else capable of accessing the screenshot database — to see unencrypted credit card and password information,” he told TechCrunch."
Many popular iPhone apps secretly record your screen without asking
TechCrunch, 6 February 2019

"A man has been fined after refusing to be scanned by controversial facial recognition cameras being trialled by the Metropolitan Police. The force had put out a statement saying “anyone who declines to be scanned will not necessarily be viewed as suspicious”. However, witnesses said several people were stopped after covering their faces or pulling up hoods. Campaign group Big Brother Watch said one man had seen placards warning members of the public that automatic facial recognition cameras were filming them from a parked police van. “He simply pulled up the top of his jumper over the bottom of his face, put his head down and walked past,” said director Silkie Carlo.“There was nothing suspicious about him at all … you have the right to avoid [the cameras], you have the right to cover your face. I think he was exercising his rights.” Ms Carlo, who was monitoring Thursday’s trial in Romford, London, told The Independent she saw a plainclothed police officer follow the man before a group of officers “pulled him over to one side”. She said they demanded to see the man’s identification, which he gave them, and became “accusatory and aggressive”. “The guy told them to p*** off and then they gave him the £90 public order fine for swearing,” Ms Carlo added. “He was really angry.” A spokesperson said officers were instructed to “use their judgment” on whether to stop people who avoid cameras.... The Metropolitan Police has described the deployments as “overt” and said members of the public were informed facial recognition was being used by posters and leaflets. But no one questioned by The Independent after they passed through a scanning zone in central London in December had seen police publicity material, and campaigners claim the technology is being rolled out “by stealth”."
Police stop people for covering their faces from facial recognition camera then fine man £90 after he protested
Independent, 1 February 2019

"Two weeks after leaving her position as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. National Security Agency in 2014, Lori Stroud was in the Middle East working as a hacker for an Arab monarchy. She had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the United Arab Emirates engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights activists critical of the monarchy. Stroud and her team, working from a converted mansion in Abu Dhabi known internally as “the Villa,” would use methods learnt from a decade in the U.S intelligence community to help the UAE hack into the phones and computers of its enemies. Stroud had been recruited by a Maryland cybersecurity contractor to help the Emiratis launch hacking operations, and for three years, she thrived in the job. But in 2016, the Emiratis moved Project Raven to a UAE cybersecurity firm named DarkMatter. Before long, Stroud and other Americans involved in the effort say they saw the mission cross a red line: targeting fellow Americans for surveillance. “I am working for a foreign intelligence agency who is targeting U.S. persons,” she told Reuters. “I am officially the bad kind of spy.” The story of Project Raven reveals how former U.S. government hackers have employed state-of-the-art cyber-espionage tools on behalf of a foreign intelligence service that spies on human rights activists, journalists and political rivals. Interviews with nine former Raven operatives, along with a review of thousands of pages of project documents and emails, show that surveillance techniques taught by the NSA were central to the UAE’s efforts to monitor opponents. The sources interviewed by Reuters were not Emirati citizens. The operatives utilized an arsenal of cyber tools, including a cutting-edge espionage platform known as Karma, in which Raven operatives say they hacked into the iPhones of hundreds of activists, political leaders and suspected terrorists. Details of the Karma hack were described in a separate Reuters article today. An NSA spokesman declined to comment on Raven. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment. The UAE’s Embassy in Washington and a spokesman for its National Media Council did not respond to requests for comment."
Special Report - Inside the UAE’s secret hacking team of U.S. mercenaries
Reuters, 30 September 2019

"Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook  has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms. Facebook admitted to TechCrunch it was running the Research program to gather data on usage habits. Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page. The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook’s involvement, and is referred to in some documentation as “Project Atlas” — a fitting name for Facebook’s effort to map new trends and rivals around the globe. Seven hours after this story was published, Facebook told TechCrunch it would shut down the iOS version of its Research app in the wake of our report. But on Wednesday morning, an Apple spokesperson confirmed that Facebook violated its policies, and it had blocked Facebook’s Research app on Tuesday before the social network seemingly pulled it voluntarily (without mentioning it was forced to do so). You can read our full report on the development here.An Apple spokesperson provided this statement. “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.” Facebook’s Research program will continue to run on Android....Facebook first got into the data-sniffing business when it acquired Onavo for around $120 million in 2014. The VPN app helped users track and minimize their mobile data plan usage, but also gave Facebook deep analytics about what other apps they were using....Once installed, users just had to keep the VPN running and sending data to Facebook to get paid."
Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them
Tech Crunch, 30 January 2019

"Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is testing a technology that embeds cameras, sensors and digital screens in the cooler doors in its stores, a new network of “smart” displays that marketers can use to target ads for specific types of shoppers.  The refrigerator and freezer doors act as a digital merchandising platform that depicts the food and drinks inside in their best light, but also as an in-store billboard that can serve ads to consumers who approach, based on variables such as the approximate age the technology believes they are, their gender and the weather. This new technology could provide brick-and-mortar stores with a marketplace similar to online advertising. Ice cream brands could duke it out to get the most prominent placement when it is 97 degrees outside; an older man could see ads for different products than a younger woman. Cameras and sensors inside the coolers connected to face-detection technology also can determine which items shoppers picked up or looked at, giving advertisers insight into whether their on-screen promotions worked—and can let a retailer know quickly if a product has gone out of stock. .... The company says it only produces and stores anonymous metadata that describes the size and demographics of an audience, and doesn’t store or transmit image data or unique identifying information about shoppers. Walgreens also is posting a privacy statement and a concierge to answer customer questions near the coolers in its stores that test them, a Walgreens spokesman said. "
Walgreens Tests Digital Cooler Doors With Cameras to Target You With Ads
Wall St Journal, 11 January 2019

"At the tail end of 2018, Michigan approved Public Act 656, making electronic license plates legal. Yes, the stubbornly unchanging, unconnected rectangles that have been identifying cars for well over a century are finally getting a new look. The makeover, which comes courtesy of Silicon Valley startup Reviver Auto, is an Amazon Kindle–like display that bolts onto the front or back of the car, and does more than just show the standard plate number and state-celebrating miscellany. It lets you update the registration stickers on your car through an app instead of dealing with the DMV. It can display Amber alerts. It can be used as a miniature, knee-level billboard (when the car is parked). If someone steals the car, it can read “$NDHLP!” or the more serious “Stolen Vehicle.” It can double as your E-Z Pass, FasTrak, or whatever RFID-based device you use to pay tolls. It can track your car’s location, so you can keep tabs on your teenager. “It’s a platform that supports a lot of different functionality,” says Reviver cofounder and CEO Neville Boston. “I see it less as a license plate and more as a communication portal.” Digital displays have been allowed in California as part of a pilot program since last summer; Texas and Florida also permit them. Reviver hasn’t moved into those last two states yet, but Boston wants to have his product in six states by the end of the year, and is also looking to offer it in Canada and Dubai. His company dominates this market—when the California DMV asked for bids so it could offer this system, Reviver was the only bidder, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.Reviver’s plates, though, don’t come cheap. Deliveries won’t start until the spring, but you can preorder the basic RPlate for $499, or drop $799 on the RPlate Pro, which has more advanced telematics features....Cost and the inevitable privacy concerns that come with another location-tracking device may not slake consumers’ thirst for new gadgets, but it’s not clear that Reviver’s product does anything unique. Consumers who want insights into their travel patterns (plus data on fuel consumption and engine diagnostics) can get cheaper options that plug into the car’s OBD-II port, like Automatic, Autobrain, and Verizon Hum. Lots of automakers offer apps that provide similar data for their cars. The windshield-mounted devices most people use to pay for tolls cost about $30."
Do You Need a Digital License Plate? One Startup Thinks So
Wired, 21 January 2019

"The CEO of Israeli spyware company NSO Group has admitted that its software was used to spy on the Emir of Qatar. In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend, Shalev Hulio admitted that his company’s product was used to spy on Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, as well as Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. The interview disclosed that NSO’s “Pegasus” software – which can be used to remotely infect a target’s mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device – was used to intercept phone calls and text messages made by both the Qatari foreign minister and the Emir. These conversations reportedly concerned “hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom to Iran and Hezbollah for the release of several Qataris,” some of which was allegedly sent to the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani. This spying was seemingly undertaken at the behest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Hulio revealed that the Israeli Defense Export Control Agency (DECA) authorised three deals with the UAE for the sale of NSO software, despite the fact that DECA is only supposed to give authorisation for the “purpose of fighting terrorism and crime”. These deals – allegedly mediated by former senior Israeli defence officials with close ties to a senior Emirati official – raised a total of $80 million in revenue for NSO. NSO’s Pegasus software has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after the product was revealed to be complicit in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Though Hulio stressed in the interview with Yedioth Ahronoth this weekend that “Khashoggi was not targeted by any NSO product or technology, including listening, monitoring, location tracking and intelligence collection,” it appears that Saudi Arabia used NSO software to spy on many of Khashoggi’s friends and associates. US whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been at the forefront of these claims, telling the Israeli newspaper: “I do not pretend that NSO is involved in hacking [directly] into Khashoggi’s phone, so their denial does not take us to a different conclusion. The evidence shows that the company’s products were involved in hacking into the phones of [Khashoggi’s] friends Omar Abdel Aziz, Yahya Assiri, and Ghanem Al-Masarir.”"
Israel company admits spying on Emir of Qatar
Middle East Monitor, 14 July 2019

"The “smart home” of the 21st century isn’t just supposed to be a monument to convenience, we’re told, but also to protection, a Tony Stark-like bubble of vigilant algorithms and internet-connected sensors working ceaselessly to watch over us. But for some who’ve welcomed in Amazon’s Ring security cameras, there have been more than just algorithms watching through the lens, according to sources alarmed by Ring’s dismal privacy practices....  Ring unnecessarily provided executives and engineers in the U.S. with highly privileged access to the company’s technical support video portal, allowing unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras, regardless of whether they needed access to this extremely sensitive data to do their jobs. For someone who’d been given this top-level access — comparable to Uber’s infamous “God mode” map that revealed the movements of all passengers — only a Ring customer’s email address was required to watch cameras from that person’s home. Although the source said they never personally witnessed any egregious abuses, they told The Intercept “if [someone] knew a reporter or competitor’s email address, [they] could view all their cameras.”.... Despite its mission to keep people and their property secure, the company’s treatment of customer video feeds has been anything but, people familiar with the company’s practices told The Intercept. Beginning in 2016, according to one source, Ring provided its Ukraine-based research and development team virtually unfettered access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world. This would amount to an enormous list of highly sensitive files that could be easily browsed and viewed. Downloading and sharing these customer video files would have required little more than a click. The Information, which has aggressively covered Ring’s security lapses, reported on these practices last month. At the time the Ukrainian access was provided, the video files were left unencrypted, the source said, because of Ring leadership’s “sense that encryption would make the company less valuable,” owing to the expense of implementing encryption and lost revenue opportunities due to restricted access."
For Owners of Amazon’s Ring Security Cameras, Strangers May Have Been Watching Too
Intercept, 10 January 2019

"This week at CES, the international consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, a host of startup companies will demonstrate to global automakers how the sensor technology that watches and analyzes drivers, passengers and objects in cars will mean enhanced safety in the short-term, and revenue opportunities in the future. Whether by generating alerts about drowsiness, unfastened seat belts or wallets left in the backseat, the emerging technology aims not only to cut back on distracted driving and other undesirable behavior, but eventually help automakers and ride-hailing companies make money from data generated inside the vehicle.....It is not yet clear how consumers in the age of Facebook Inc (FB.O) and virtual assistants like Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Alexa will react to the potentially disconcerting idea of being watched - then warned - inside a vehicle, especially as cars become living rooms with the advent of self-driving....Tesla owners have speculated about the Model 3’s currently inoperational interior camera, with some asking in forums whether “Big Brother” was watching.“Put a small piece of scotch tape on it ... and you can nose pick again ...” advised one post."

Move aside, backseat driver! New tech at CES monitors you inside car
Reuters, 8 January 2019
      






".... if you look around and see what the world is now facing I don't think  in the last two or three hundred years we've faced such a concatenation of  problems all at the same time..... if we are to solve the issues that are ahead of us, we are going to need to think in completely different ways. "
Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002 -2006

BBC Radio 4, 'Start The Week', 30 April 2007

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Academy Award Winning Film Producer David Lynch (Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, etc)
David Lynch Foundation





  

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