Posts Tagged ‘snoops’
When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.
Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.
The negotiations shed a light on how Internet companies, increasingly at the center of people’s personal lives, interact with the spy agencies that look to their vast trove of information — e-mails, videos, online chats, photos and search queries — for intelligence. They illustrate how intricately the government and tech companies work together, and the depth of their behind-the-scenes transactions.
And, legally, they haven’t a choice. Courtesy of a chickenshit Congress and a cavalier Constitutional lawyer for president.
When you use the Internet, you entrust your online conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what happens when the government demands that these companies to hand over your private information? Will the company stand with you? Will it tell you that the government is looking for your data so that you can take steps to protect yourself?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of 18 major Internet companies — including email providers, ISPs, cloud storage providers, and social networking sites — to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data….We also examined their track record of fighting for user privacy in the courts and whether they’re members of the Digital Due Process coalition, which works to improve outdated communications law. Finally, we contacted each of the companies with our conclusions and gave them an opportunity to respond and provide us evidence of improved policies and practices…
We are pleased to see that service providers across the board are increasingly adopting the best practices we’ve been highlighting in this campaign. We first published this report last year to recognize exemplary practices that at least one service provider was engaging in for each category we measured. This year, it appears that publishing law enforcement guidelines, formally promising to give users notice when possible, and publishing transparency reports are on their way to becoming standard practices for industry leaders, and several more service providers are pushing for privacy protections in the courts and on Capitol Hill.
We’re also happy to report that several of the companies included in last year’s report have stepped up their game. Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter have each upgraded their practices in the past year and earned additional stars. Comcast drew our attention to a case in which they went to bat for user privacy, and so it earned a star, too.
Some of the new companies we’ve added to the report are neck-and-neck with the competition. LinkedIn and SpiderOak, like Dropbox, have each earned recognition in three categories: promising to inform users about government access requests, transparency about how and when data goes to the government, and standing up for user privacy in Congress. None of them has a publicly available record of standing up in court for users. However, that’s not something that all companies have had the opportunity to do, and sometimes companies will defend users in court but be prevented from publicly disclosing this fact.
We are especially pleased to recognize the first company to ever receive a full gold star in each of the categories measured by the privacy and transparency report: Sonic.net, an ISP based in Santa Rosa, California.
You know I sometimes disagree with the EFF. When they climb onto their Open Source Religion hobby horse, those rare occasions when they start to behave like Greenpeace on a fundraising drive – patting themselves on the back. But, in general, they act like a cyber-ACLU and that’s OK by me. We all need someone dedicated to protecting our online speech and privacy. This report is another example of the electronic Frontier Foundation doing a terrific job.
RTFA for graphic results.
One of the display booths
The intelligence operative sits in a leather club chair, laptop open, one floor below the Hilton Kuala Lumpur’s convention rooms, scanning the airwaves for spies. In the salons above him, merchants of electronic interception demonstrate their gear to government agents who have descended on the Malaysian capital in early December for the Wiretapper’s Ball, as this surveillance industry trade show is called.
As he tries to detect hacker threats lurking in the wireless networks, the man who helps manage a Southeast Asian country’s Internet security says there’s reason for paranoia. The wares on offer include products that secretly access your Web cam, turn your cell phone into a location-tracking device, recognize your voice, mine your e-mail for anti-government sentiment and listen to supposedly secure Skype calls.
He isn’t alone watching his back at this cyber-arms bazaar, whose real name is ISS World.
For three days, attendees digging into dim sum fret about losing trade secrets to hackers, or falling prey to phone interception by rival spies. They also get a tiny taste of what they’ve unleashed on the outside world, where their products have become weapons in the hands of regimes that use the gear to track and torture dissidents…
Business is booming, with annual revenue of $3 billion to $5 billion growing as much as 20 percent a year, ISS organizer Jerry Lucas estimates…
Lucas, whose conference company TeleStrategies, Inc., is based in McLean, Virginia, makes the point that his marketplace serves police who conduct criminal investigations and intelligence services that prevent terror attacks. Virtually every communications network in the world includes wiretapping for prosecutors, or location tracking to rescue people in emergencies. And customers at ISS also include phone company executives…
“These guys can be your base station,” Lucas says.
RTFA. Long, detailed, the sort of complex dissection Bloomberg offers to business clients – and in the process offers the rest of the world a glance inside the dealings of a segment of the business world premised upon spying. Spying on you or me, spying wherever there is a profit to be acquired in information, cash or strategic outlook. Honesty, human rights and history have nothing to do with the process.
This is not a mutant Dalek
Newly released FBI data offer evidence of the broad scope and complexity of the nation’s terrorist watch list, documenting a daily flood of names nominated for inclusion to the controversial list.
During a 12-month period ended in March this year, for example, the U.S. intelligence community suggested on a daily basis that 1,600 people qualified for the list because they presented a “reasonable suspicion,” according to data provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the FBI in September and made public last week…
The ever-churning list is said to contain more than 400,000 unique names and over 1 million entries. The committee was told that over that same period, officials asked each day that 600 names be removed and 4,800 records be modified. Fewer than 5 percent of the people on the list are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Nine percent of those on the terrorism list, the FBI said, are also on the government’s “no fly” list.
And we all know what a great asset that is!
Before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI needed initial information that a person or group was engaged in wrongdoing before it could open a preliminary investigation…Under current practice, no such information is needed…
Just in case you were worried about whether or not your government was spending enough time and taxpayer dollars investigating every possible personage pissed-off at the United States. Or whether they may be investigating you or your kids.
An update for Blackberry users in the United Arab Emirates could allow unauthorised access to private information and e-mails.
The update was prompted by a text from UAE telecoms firm Etisalat, suggesting it would improve performance. Instead, the update resulted in crashes or drastically reduced battery life…
Etisalat is a major telecommunications firm based in the UAE, with 145,000 Blackberry users on its books.
In the statement, RIM told customers that “Etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application… independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could then enable unauthorised access to private or confidential information stored on the user’s smartphone”.
It adds that “independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry Handheld, but rather to send received messages back to a central server“…
The update has now been identified as an application developed by American firm SS8. The California-based company describes itself as a provider of “lawful electronic intercept and surveillance solutions”…
Etisalat issued a brief statement calling the problem a “slight technical fault”, saying that the “upgrades were required for service enhancements”.
RIM has issued a patch allowing users to remove the application. Phew!