Tag Archives: NSA

Al Jazeera Claims Emails Show Cozy Relationship Between NSA and Google

According to emails obtained by Al Jazeera, the relationship between the NSA and Google was far cozier than previously known.

The 2012 emails between then-NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt show that Google was working closely with the NSA, and was on very friendly terms with the government administration.

The emails, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, do not reveal anything outrageous. However, they show a relatively friendly relationship between the two parties that could be a red flag to some. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked über top-secret documents last year revealing the extent the NSA is watching us, tech companies have been walking on eggshells and have tried hard to convince the public that they are against unnecessary surveillance.

Schmidt writes: ““General Keith.. so great to see you.. ! I’m unlikely to be in California that week so I’m sorry I can’t attend (will be on the east coast). Would love to see you another time. Thank you !”

You can see the emails in the documents below.

Source: Al Jazeera

NSA Has Your Sexts: Five Ways to Scrub Your Secrets from PRISM

PRISM has hit headlines like a Midwest derecho, and you should be worried, too, because the NSA has your sexts. And Siri is their spy.

Okay, we don’t know for sure if they have your sexts, but if the United States government decided they needed them for whatever reason, they’d LEGALLY get their hands on them no problem, despite the first and fourth amendments (for now).

We’re talking those amazingly risque pictures of your ex. Dirty details on your latest shaving project. That thing you did at 3 am, at the bar in Cancun, with your coworkers, that was never supposed to see the light of day, yet was candidly shot on your new Windows Phone. All of that could be in the hands of NSA and the CIA once they tell Verizon, Google, or Microsoft (who signed up in 2007), that they have a reason to investigate you, let alone some other fishy character you’re acquainted with.

So what can you do? Delete your Gmail? Buy a burn phone? Move to the Antarctic? Here’s five ways to scrub your secrets from the United States government:

1. Encrypt files, clean out your MicroSD

You have thousands of photos right there on your smartphone’s microSD card (if your model has one). You don’t need to buy a burn phone to clear your cache and take out your card.  Keep your photos in a safe place. Better yet, take the data, encrypt it with TrueCrypt, and stash it on a hard drive. It’s opensource, free software you can use to encrypt files on your drive. You could also simply delete the files altogether (which could still be recovered), but what kind of paranoid fun is that?

Tech, Telecom Giants Face Privacy Scrutiny for NSA Spying Program

Media reports accuse America’s telecom giants of providing vast troves of data about phone calls and Internet use to the National Security Agency (NSA), placing companies and politicians on the defensive against privacy advocates.

President Obama spoke on Friday in San Jose defending the use of network surveillance as a necessary tool to prevent terrorism.

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” Obama said. “I think that on balance, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about.”

The firestorm began with a report by the Guardian, which obtained a court order dated in April from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) that requires Verizon to give the NSA ongoing, daily information about phone calls in the US and abroad.

The FISA court had reauthorized that order every 90 days since 2007, according to the Washington Post. The NSA also reportedly used the FISA court to order data collection about phone calls from AT&T and Sprint Nextel, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The NSA also collects data from the networks of nine U.S. Internet companies through an initiative called PRISM, according to the Washington Post, which obtained a slide briefing about the program used by agency employees.

This scrutiny about government surveillance could make it more difficult for U.S. telecom and Internet companies to gain approval from European Union regulators to expand their businesses into Europe, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker told Bloomberg West.

British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has also gathered intelligence on British citizen through PRISM, the Guardian reports.

The PRISM documents list the dates at which the nine Internet companies joined the initiative. The companies are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Statements from officials at those companies, including Google’s Co-Founder Larry Page and Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg, each denied involvement, claiming they did not allow the NSA direct access to accounts and that they do not disclose user data without a legal request from the government. None of the companies denied that the government had obtained user data from their networks.

These denials are carefully worded because the government does not need direct access to accounts to obtain information, according to Marc Ambinder, an editor at The Week, who explains how the government may access data using PRISM.

Reports of widespread domestic surveillance bring more heat on an already embattled Attorney General Eric Holder, who is facing criticism from members of Congress about the seizure of Associated Press phone records as part of a leak investigation and about the Internal Revenue Service’s admissions of allegedly targeting conservative groups.

Holder faced scrutiny about the Guardian story on the surveillance of Verizon’s phone calls on Thursday from members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce Justice, Science and Related Agencies, during a hearing that was scheduled coincidentally for the morning after the Guardian story broke. Guardian reporters detailed the meeting in a blog, including a subcommittee decision for Holder to give a future, classified briefing on the issue to the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Former President George W. Bush began the NSA’s domestic surveillance of phone calls shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The New York Times unmasked the secret wiretapping program in 2005.

Mother Jones compiled a quick timeline of the NSA’s surveillance efforts spanning from 2001 to 2013.


[Image courtesy of Flickr user DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)]