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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


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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2018


"When Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, he tried to describe the difference between "surveillance and what we do." "The difference is extremely clear," a nervous-looking Zuckerberg said. "On Facebook, you have control over your information... the information we collect you can choose to have us not collect." But not a single member of the committee pushed the billionaire CEO about surveillance companies who exploit the data on Facebook for profit. Forbes has uncovered one case that might shock them: over the last five years a secretive surveillance company founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer has been quietly building a massive facial recognition database consisting of faces acquired from the giant social network, YouTube and countless other websites. Privacy activists are suitably alarmed. That database forms the core of a facial recognition service called Face-Int, now owned by Israeli vendor Verint after it snapped up the product's creator, little-known surveillance company Terrogence, in 2017. Both Verint and Terrogence have long been vendors for the U.S. government, providing bleeding-edge spy tech to the NSA, the U.S. Navy and countless other intelligence and security agencies....That same marketing page was online in 2013, according to internet archive the Wayback Machine, indicating the product is at least five years old. The age of the product also suggests far more than 35,000 videos and photos have been raided by the Face-Int technology by now, though Terrogence co-founder and research lead Shai Arbel declined to comment for this article. Though Terrogence is primarily focused on helping intelligence agencies and law enforcement fight terrorism online, LinkedIn profiles of current and former employees indicate it's also involved in other, more political endeavours. One ex-staffer, in describing her role as a Terrogence analyst, said she'd "conducted public perception management operations on behalf of foreign and domestic governmental clients," and used "open source intelligence practices and social media engineering methods to investigate political and social groups." She was not reachable at the time of publication.... "It raises the stakes of face recognition - it intensifies the potential negative consequences," warned Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "When you contemplate face recognition that's everywhere, we have to think about what that’s going to mean for us. If private companies are scraping photos and combining them with personal info in order to make judgements about people - are you a terrorist, or how likely are you to be a shoplifter or anything in between - then it exposes everyone to the risk of being misidentified, or correctly identified and being misjudged." Jennifer Lynch, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that if the facial recognition database had been shared with the US government, it would threaten the free speech and privacy rights of social media users."
These Ex-Spies Are Harvesting Facebook Photos For A Massive Facial Recognition Database
Forbes, 16 April 2018

"This is a wake-up call for a generation. The revelation of Cambridge Analytica’s manipulation of Facebook data to target American voters on behalf of Donald Trump in 2016 shines a torch on the jungle where we have become prey for the online carnivores to which we reveal our secrets. The chairman of the Commons culture committee yesterday called on Facebook’s warlord, 33-year-old multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, to attend personally to give evidence about his company’s behaviour, though there seems more chance of an appearance by Vladimir Putin.....those of us who spurn social media are almost as vulnerable. Every day that we place things online, Amazon bombards us with come-ons that emphasise its omniscience about what we read, watch, spread on the garden, use in the house.... Cambridge Analytica’s gift to the Trump victory appears to have been to empower his campaign to target ‘persuadable voters’, sparing canvassers from wasting effort on irreconcilable Democrats. It has been said for centuries that knowledge is power, yet Hitler’s Gestapo and Stalin’s secret police knew far less about their fellow citizens than does Facebook, which doesn’t have to photograph them outside their home, tap their phones, or steal government files. Spies seem redundant in the net age. What matters for us now is to move beyond shock and disgust about the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook revelations, and consider what can be done to make such companies behave better. Investigating and, if appropriate, charging the bosses of Cambridge Analytica will be the easy part, because they are based in Britain..... Even if Cambridge Analytica, or Facebook, are damaged as much as they deserve to be by this scandal, there are countless other online data markets where they came from. If any of us wishes to conceal anything about ourselves, this can be achieved only by making sure that information does not appear on a computer. Yet every detail of our finances, health record, employment history is stored somewhere out there, and can never be totally secure."
The best way to fight back against greedy predators like Facebook? Stop laying bare our lives online
Mail, 20 March 2018

"Computer speakers and headphones make passable microphones and can be used to receive data via ultrasound and send signals back, making the practice of air gapping sensitivite computer systems less secure. In an academic paper published on Friday through preprint service ArXiv, researchers from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev describe a novel data exfiltration technique that allows the transmission and reception of data – in the form of inaudible ultrasonic sound waves – between two computers in the same room without microphones. The paper, titled, "MOSQUITO: Covert Ultrasonic Transmissions between Two Air-Gapped Computers using Speaker-to-Speaker Communication," was written by Mordechai Guri, Yosef Solwicz, Andrey Daidakulov and Yuval Elovici, who have developed a number other notable side-channel attack techniques. These include: ODINI, a way to pass data between Faraday-caged computers using electrical fields; MAGNETO, a technique for passing data between air-gapped computers and smartphones via electrical fields; and FANSMITTER, a way to send acoustic data between air-gapped computers using fans. Secret data transmissions of this sort expand on prior work done by National Security Agency on TEMPEST attacks, which utilize electromagnetic, magnetic, acoustic, optical and thermal emanations from electronic devices to collect and transmit data. MOSQUITO, the researchers explain, demonstrates that speakers can covertly transmit data between unconnected machines at a distance of up to nine meters. What's more, the technique works between mic-less headphones – the researchers say their work is the first to explore headphone-to-headphone covert communication. Speakers, the paper explains, can be thought of as microphones working in reverse: Speakers turn electrical signals into acoustic signals while microphones turn acoustic signals into electrical ones. And each includes a diaphragm to assist with the conversion, which can help reverse the process. Modern audio chipsets, such as those from Realtek, include an option to alter the function of the audio port via software, the paper explains. This capability is referred to as "jack retasking." "The fact that loudspeakers, headphones, earphones, and earbuds are physically built like microphones, coupled with the fact that an audio port’s role in the PC can be altered programmatically, changing it from output to input, creates a vulnerability which can be abused by attackers," the paper explains. Malware, thus, may be able to reconfigure a speaker or headphone to act as a microphone, provided the device is passive and unpowered. That's a significant caveat since most modern PCs have active, powered speakers; headphones and earbuds generally have passive speakers, as do some older PCs. In an email to The Register, Mordechai Guri, one of the paper's authors, head of R&D at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Cyber-Security Research Center, and chief scientific officer at Morphisec, said, "The main problem involves headphones, earphones and earbuds since they are reversible and can become good pair of microphones (even when they don't have an integrated mic at all)." Using frequencies ranging from 18kHz to 24kHz, the researchers were able to achieve a data transmission rate of 166 bit/sec with a 1 per cent error rate when transmitting a 1Kb binary file over a distance of three meters. At distances ranging from 4 to 9 meters, that same error rate could only be achieved with a 10 bit/sec transmission rate, largely as a consequence of interference from environmental noise. The paper discusses several mitigation techniques, all of which have limitations, including designing headphones and speakers with on-board amplifiers (which prevents use as a mic), using an ultrasonic jammer, scanning for ultrasonic transmissions, preventing jack retasking via software, and completely disabling audio hardware via the UEFI/BIOS. Disconnecting speakers, headphones and the like represents the most practical solution, Guri said, "but this is not always feasible." Monitoring the ultrasonic band is a good theoretical and academic solution, he added, but has potential problems. "In practice, it will raise many false alarms," he said. Guri said ultrasonic malware does not appear to be very common. "A few years ago, a security researcher claimed that he found ultrasonic malware in the wild. It was dubbed BadBios. But in any case, it was claimed to be able to communicate between two laptops with both speakers and microphones." Inaudible audio is more likely to be used for marketing, and has prompted the development of defensive code called Silverdog. It's an ultrasonic firewall in the Google Chrome browser that's designed to block ultrasonic beacons (uBeacons), employed for cross-device tracking."
Air gapping PCs won't stop data sharing thanks to sneaky speakers
The Register, 12 March 2018

"A security researcher has ported three leaked NSA exploits to work on all Windows versions released in the past 18 years, starting with Windows 2000. The three exploits are EternalChampion, EternalRomance, and EternalSynergy; all three leaked last April by a hacking group known as The Shadow Brokers who claimed to have stolen the code from the NSA. Now, RiskSense security researcher Sean Dillon (@zerosum0x0) has modified the source code for some of these lesser-known exploits so they would be able to work and run SYSTEM-level code on a wide variety of Windows OS versions."
NSA Exploits Ported to Work on All Windows Versions Released Since Windows 2000
Bleeping Computer, 5 February 2018

"Secure end-to-end encrypted comms is a desirable technology that governments should stop trying to break, especially as there's other information to slurp up on crims, UK politicians were told this week. Blighty's former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday that there are plenty of sources of intelligence for law enforcement to get their hands on, rather than banging the drum for backdoors in communications. In what has now become a frustratingly standard question from politicians about tech companies' role in the war on terror, Anderson was asked if he thought the state would ever get access to encrypted messages for security purposes. "No," he replied. "Because end-to-end encryption is not only a fact of life, it is, on balance, a desirable fact of life. Any of us who do our banking online, for example, are very grateful for end-to-end encryption." The debate, Anderson continued, was sometimes wrongly "portrayed in very black and white terms, as if the world is going dark and because of end-to-end encryption we're all doomed". He argued that although the loss of information the state can gather from the content of someone's communications is "very significant", it is tempered by the mass of other data it can slurp from elsewhere. "I mean who would have thought 30 years ago you could track somebody's movements all around London by Oyster card? And you don't even need the Oyster anymore, because you can get the location data from the phone company. It's almost as good as having someone on their tail the whole time." "He said that the most striking of these measures are those contained in the controversial Investigatory Powers Act, which allow public authorities to gain access to 12 months' worth of a person's internet connection records from their provider. "The more people spend their lives online, the more revealing that behaviour becomes," Anderson said."
Terror law expert to UK.gov: Why backdoors when there's so much other data to slurp?
Register, 31 January 2018

"Mobile malware strain Skygofree may be the most advanced Android-infecting nasties ever, antivirus-flinger Kaspersky Lab has warned. Active since 2014, Skygofree, named after one of the domains used in the campaign, is spread through web pages mimicking leading mobile network operators and geared towards cyber-surveillance. Skygofree includes a number of advanced features not seen in the wild before, including:
* Location-based sound recording through the microphone of an infected device – recording starts when the device enters a specified location
* Abuse of Accessibility Services to steal WhatsApp messages
* Ability to connect an infected device to Wi-Fi networks controlled by the attackers
*...Skygofree is a strain of multi-stage spyware that gives attackers full remote control of an infected device.....
"The implant carries multiple exploits for root access and is also capable of taking pictures and videos, seizing call records, SMS, geolocation, calendar events and business-related information stored in the device's memory," the firm added. The malware is even programmed to add itself to the list of "protected apps" so that it is not switched off automatically when the screen is off, circumventing a battery-saving feature that might otherwise limit its effectiveness. The attackers also appear to have an interest in Windows users. Researchers found a number of recently developed modules targeting Microsoft's OS."

Android snoopwar Skygofree can pilfer WhatsApp messages
The Register, 16 January 2018

"Daniel Dunn was about to sign a lease for a Honda Fit last year when a detail buried in the lengthy agreement caught his eye. Honda wanted to track the location of his vehicle, the contract stated, according to Dunn — a stipulation that struck the 69-year-old Temecula, Calif., retiree as a bit odd. But Dunn was eager to drive away in his new car and, despite initial hesitation, he signed the document, a decision with which he has since made peace. “I don’t care if they know where I go,” said Dunn, who makes regular trips to the grocery store and a local yoga studio in his vehicle. “They’re probably thinking, ‘What a boring life this guy’s got.’  Dunn may consider his everyday driving habits mundane, but auto and privacy experts suspect that big automakers like Honda see them as anything but. By monitoring his everyday movements, an automaker can vacuum up a massive amount of personal information about someone like Dunn, everything from how fast he drives and how hard he brakes to how much fuel his car uses and the entertainment he prefers. The company can determine where he shops, the weather on his street, how often he wears his seat belt, what he was doing moments before a wreck — even where he likes to eat and how much he weighs.Though drivers may not realize it, tens of millions of American cars are being monitored like Dunn’s, experts say, and the number increases with nearly every new vehicle that is leased or sold. The result is that carmakers have turned on a powerful spigot of precious personal data, often without owners’ knowledge, transforming the automobile from a machine that helps us travel to a sophisticated computer on wheels that offers even more access to our personal habits and behaviors than smartphones do."
Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.
Washington Post, 15 January 2018

"The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to extend the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, rejecting a push by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to impose significant privacy limits when it sweeps up Americans’ emails and other personal communications. The vote, 256 to 164, centered on an expiring law that permits the government, without a warrant, to collect communications from United States companies like Google and AT&T of foreigners abroad — even when those targets are talking to Americans. Congress had enacted the law in 2008 to legalize a form of a once-secret warrantless surveillance program created after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001."
House Extends Surveillance Law, Rejecting New Privacy Safeguards
New York Times, 11 January 2018









".... 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

"Individual peace is the unit of world peace. By offering Consciousness-Based Education to the coming generation, we can promote a strong foundation for a healthy, harmonious, and peaceful world.... Consciousness-Based education is not a luxury. For our children who are growing up in a stressful, often frightening, crisis-ridden world, it is a necessity."
Academy Award Winning Film Producer David Lynch (Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, etc)
David Lynch Foundation





  

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