NSA collects phone records, user data of millions of civilians

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

(June 5, 2013) — The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order … requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

NSA taps in to user data of Google, Skype and others, secret files reveal

(June 6, 2013) — The Guardian reported that the National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the newspaper.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Open government groups demand answers on domestic spying program

(June 6, 2013) — NFOIC and its allies in the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition expressed outrage and demanded more answers regarding the FISA-court authorized data mining of Verizon customers' phone records:

Time for answers on domestic spying program

The recent news that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Verizon to turn over to the National Security Agency the mass collection of telephone call logs generated by millions of Verizon customers likely comes as a shock for many Americans. While officials within all three branches of our government signed off on or were briefed on the program, the public has been left completely in the dark about the scope and the extent of the government’s domestic spying.

Government likely to open criminal probe into NSA leaks: officials

(June 7, 2013) — WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama's administration is likely to open a criminal investigation into the leaking of highly classified documents that revealed the secret surveillance of Americans' telephone and email traffic, U.S. officials said on Friday.

The law enforcement and security officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the agencies that normally conduct such investigations, including the FBI and Justice Department, were expecting a probe into the leaks to a British and an American newspaper.

U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

(June 7, 2013) — The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.

The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.

The case for a secrecy beat

(June 13, 2013) — Despite the recent blockbuster leaks about spying on the phone records of millions of Americans, and President Obama’s stated willingness to discuss the issues they raise, a front-page New York Times article on Tuesday asserted that “legal and political obstacles” make a vigorous public debate about surveillance and civil liberties highly unlikely.

Scott Shane and Jonathan Weisman of the Times made a solid case that neither the executive nor legislative branches—and neither Democratic nor Republican leaders—show real interest in disclosing anything more about the programs. As for the president, they noted that his record on national security disclosures belies any commitment to transparency.

But the Times story disregarded another possible influence: The media itself.

U.S. surveillance court won’t stop release of secret ruling

(June 14, 2013) — The secret U.S. court that rules on surveillance requests from intelligence agencies said it won’t stand in the way of an activist group’s lawsuit seeking the release of one of its nonpublic opinions.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, in his capacity as presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, ruled June 12 that copies of the opinion in the possession of the government being sought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation are subject to review under the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA.

US charges NSA leaker Snowden with espionage

(June 21, 2013) — Federal prosecutors filed espionage charges against alleged National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, officials familiar with the process said. Authorities have also begun the process of getting Snowden back to the United States to stand trial.

The charges were filed June 14 under seal in federal court in Alexandria, Va. — and only disclosed Friday.

Senators demand NSA clarify privacy protections in domestic intel programs

(June 24, 2013) — The intelligence community's explanation of ongoing domestic intelligence programs include "inaccurate statements" that overstate government's protections for Americans' civil liberties, according to two lawmakers.

National Security Agency (NSA) official explanation of its domestic intelligence programs "portrays protections for Americans' privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are," according to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-Colo.)

Declassified gov’t report details decades of NSA computer spying

(June 25, 2013) — The clandestine National Security Agency is partly responsible for the modern PC era, a newly declassified document reveals, thanks to decades of custom computers built for one thing: espionage.

Declassified by the NSA on May 29 and posted online on Monday, the 344-page report “It Wasn’t All Magic: The Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis, 1930s – 1960s,” details the unknown high-tech history of computers so secretive even their code names were kept confidential.

Until now.

Critics question whether NSA data collection is effective

(June 25, 2013) — The recently revealed mass collection of phone records and other communications by the U.S. National Security Agency may not be effective in preventing terrorism, according to some critics.

The data collection programs, as revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, is giving government agencies information overload, critics said during the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

NSA: Responding To This FOIA Request Would Help 'Our Adversaries'

(June 25, 2013) — Shortly after the Guardian and Washington Post published their Verizon and PRISM stories, I filed a freedom of information request with the NSA seeking any personal data the agency has about me. I didn't expect an answer, but yesterday I received a letter signed by Pamela Phillips, the Chief FOIA Officer at the agency (which really freaked out my wife when she picked up our mail).

The letter, a denial, includes what is known as a Glomar response — neither a confirmation nor a denial that the agency has my metadata. It also warns that any response would help "our adversaries": …

Senators claim NSA fact sheet on surveillance contains inaccurate statement

(June 25, 2013) — Two U.S. senators challenged the National Security Agency over its explanation of the legal authority behind its broad surveillance program, alleging that a fact sheet put out by the agency contained a "significant" inaccuracy.

Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., made the allegation in a letter to NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander. They strained to explain the alleged inaccuracy, though — as the underlying information was classified, they could not include any specifics in their public letter.