Privacy may not be the only casualty of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program. Major sectors of the US economy are reporting financial damage as the recent revelations shake consumer confidence and US trade partners distance themselves from companies that may have been compromised by the NSA or, worse, are secretly collaborating with the spy agency. Members of Congress, especially those who champion America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, should take note and rein in the NSA now if they want to stem the damage.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that AT&T’s desired acquisition of the European company Vodafone is in danger due to the company’s well-documented involvement in the NSA’s data-collection programs. European officials said the telecommunications giant would face “intense scrutiny” in its bid to purchase a major cell phone carrier. The Journal went on to say:
“Resistance to such a deal, voiced by officials in interviews across Europe, suggests the impact of the NSA affair could extend beyond the diplomatic sphere and damage US economic interests in key markets.”
In September, analysts at Cisco Systems reported that the fallout “reached another level,” when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told companies not to use cryptographic standards that may have been undermined by the NSA’s BULLRUN program. The Cisco analysts said that if cryptography was compromised “it would be a critical blow to trust required across the Internet and the security community.”
This forecast was proven true in mid-November, when Cisco reported a 12 percent slump in its sales in the developing world due to the NSA revelations. As the Financial Times reported, new orders fell by 25 percent in Brazil and 30 percent in Russia and Cisco predicts its overall sales could drop by as much 10 percent this quarter. Cisco executives were quoted saying the NSA’s activities have created “a level of uncertainty or concern” that will have a deleterious impact on a wide-range of tech companies.
It is hard for civil libertarians to shed tears over AT&T losing business because of NSA spying, considering the company allowed the NSA to directly tap into its fiber optic cables to copy vast amounts of innocent Americans’ Internet traffic. AT&T was also recently revealed as having partnered with both the DEA and the CIA on separate mass surveillance programs. It is also hard to feel sorry for Cisco, which stands accused of helping China spy on dissidents and religious minorities. But the fact that the spying is hurting these major companies is indicative of the size of the problem.
This summer, European Parliament’s civil liberties committee was presented with a proposal to require every American website to place surveillance notices to EU citizens in order to force the US government to reverse course:
“The users should be made aware that the data may be subject to surveillance (under FISA 702) by the US government for any purpose which furthers US foreign policy. A consent requirement will raise EU citizen awareness and favour growth of services solely within EU jurisdiction. This will thus have economic impact on US business and increase pressure on the US government to reach a settlement.” [emphasis ours]
Meanwhile, Telenor, Norway’s largest telecom provider has reportedly halted its plans to move its customers to a US-based cloud provider. Brazil seems to be moving ahead to create its own email service and require US companies locate an office there if they wish to do business with Brazilian customers.
Laws like this mean that companies like Google “could be barred from doing business in one of the world’s most significant markets,” according to Google’s director for law enforcement and information security at Google, Richard Selgado. Google has been warning of this as far back as July, when in FISA court documents it argued that the continued secrecy surrounding government surveillance demands would harm its business.
Many commentators have been warning about the economic ramifications for months. Princeton technologist Ed Felten, who previously at the Federal Trade Commission, best explained why the NSA revelations could end up hurting US businesses:
“This is going to put US companies at a competitive disadvantage, because people will believe that U.S. companies lack the ability to protect their customers—and people will suspect that U.S. companies may feel compelled to lie to their customers about security.”
The fallout may worsen. One study released shortly after the first Edward Snowden leaks said the economy would lose $22 to $35 billion in the next three years. Another study by Forrester said the $35 billion estimate was too low and pegged the real loss figure around $180 billion for the US tech industry by 2016.
Much of the economic problem stems for the US government’s view that it’s open season when it comes to spying on non-U.S. persons. As Mark Zuckerberg said in September, the government’s position is“don’t worry, we’re not spying on any Americans. Wonderful, that’s really helpful for companies trying to work with people around the world.” Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond echoed this sentiment last week, saying:
“The justification has been couched as ‘Don’t worry. We’re only snooping on foreigners.’ For a company like ours, where most of our business and most of our users are non-American, that’s not very helpful.”
Members of Congress who care about the US economy should take note: the companies losing their competitive edge due to NSA surveillance are mainstream economic drivers. Just as their constituents are paying attention, so are the customers who vote with their dollars. As Sen. Ron Wyden remarked last month, “If a foreign enemy was doing this much damage to the economy, people would be in the streets with pitchforks.”
Cell Phone Manufacturers Offer Carefully Worded Denials To Question Of Whether NSA Can Track Powered-Down Cell Phones
Back in July, a small but disturbing detail on the government’s cell phone tracking abilities was buried inside a larger story detailing the explosive expansion of the NSA post-9/11. Ryan Gallagher at Slate pulled this small paragraph out and highlighted it.
By September 2004, the NSA had developed a technique that was dubbed “The Find” by special operations officers. The technique, the Post reports, was used in Iraq and “enabled the agency to find cellphones even when they were turned off.” This helped identify “thousands of new targets, including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgency in Iraq,” according to members of the special operations unit interviewed by the Post.
Ars Technica reports that some security researchers are calling this statement into question and have contacted cell phone providers for statements on the NSA’s claim. Only a few have responded at this point, and their denials have been worded very specifically.
Google had this to say:
When a mobile device running the Android Operating System is powered off, there is no part of the Operating System that remains on or emits a signal. Google has no way to turn on a device remotely.
Google may not have a way, but that doesn’t mean the NSA doesn’t.
Our devices are designed so that when they are switched off, the radio transceivers within the devices should be powered off. We are not aware of any way they could be re-activated until the user switches the device on again. We believe that this means that the device could not be tracked in the manner suggested in the article you referenced.
Once again, we’re looking at words like “should” and “not aware.” This doesn’t necessarily suggest Nokia does know of methods government agencies could use to track phones that are off, but it doesn’t entirely rule it out either.
Samsung’s response is more interesting. While declaring that all components should be turned off when the phone is powered down, it does acknowledge that malware could trick cell phone users into believing their phone is powered down when it isn’t. Ericsson, which is no longer in the business of producing cell phones (and presumably has less to lose by being forthright), was even more expansive on the subject.
The only electronics normally remaining in operation are the crystal that keeps track of time and some functionality sensing on-button and charger connection. The modem (the cellular communication part) cannot turn on by itself. It is not powered in off-state. Power and clock distribution to the modem is controlled by the application processor in the mobile phone. The application processor only turns on if the user pushes the on-switch. There could, however, be potential risks that once the phone runs there could be means to construct malicious applications that can exploit the phone.
On the plus side, the responding manufacturers seem to be interested in ensuring a powered down phone is actually powered down, rather than just put into a “standby” or “hibernation” mode that could potentially lead to exploitation. But the implicit statement these carefully worded denials make is that anything’s possible. Not being directly “aware” of something isn’t the same thing as a denial.
Even if the odds seem very low that the NSA can track a powered down cell phone, the last few months of leaks have shown the agency has some very surprising capabilities — some of which even stunned engineers working for the companies it surreptitiously slurped data from.
Not only that, but there’s historical evidence via court cases that shows the FBI has used others’ phones as eavesdropping devices by remotely activating them and using the mic to record conversations. As was noted by c|net back in 2006, whatever the FBI utilized apparently worked even when phones were shut off.
The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the “roving bug” was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect’s cell phone.
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; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.
While the Genovese crime family prosecution appears to be the first time a remote-eavesdropping mechanism has been used in a criminal case, the technique has been discussed in security circles for years.
Short of pulling out the battery (notably not an option in some phones), there seems to be little anyone can do to prevent the device from being tracked and/or used as a listening device. The responding companies listed above have somewhat hedged their answers to the researcher’s questions, most likely not out of any deference to government intelligence agencies, but rather to prevent looking ignorant later if (or when) subsequent leaks make these tactics public knowledge.
Any powered up cell phone performs a lot of legwork for intelligence agencies, supplying a steady stream of location and communications data. If nothing else, the leaks have proven the NSA (and to a slightly lesser extent, the FBI) has an unquenchable thirst for data. If such exploits exist (and they seem to), it would be ridiculous to believe they aren’t being used to their fullest extent.
Despite having front-door access to communications transmitted across the biggest Internet companies on Earth, the National Security Agency has been secretly tapping into the two largest online entities in the world, new leaked documents reveal.
Those documents, supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and obtained by the Washington Post, suggest that the US intelligence agency and its British counterpart have compromised data passed through the computers of Google and Yahoo, the two biggest companies in the world with regards to overall Internet traffic, and in turn allowed those country’s governments and likely their allies access to hundreds of millions of user accounts from individuals around the world.
“From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants,” the Post’s Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani reported on Wednesday.
The document providing evidence of such was among the trove of files supplied by Mr. Snowden and is dated January 9, 2013, making it among the most recent top-secret files attributed to the 30-year-old whistleblower.
Both Google and Yahoo responded to the report, with the former’s response being the most forceful.
Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company was “outraged” by the allegations.
“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide,” said Drummond, implying the web giant had been caught by surprise by the revelations..
“We do not provide any government, including the US government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”
Yahoo likewise implied it was not actively cooperating with the NSA in granting the agency access to its data infrastructure.
“We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency,” the company said via statement.
Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, told reporters Wednesday afternoon, “I don’t know what the report is,” according to Politico, and said his agency is “not authorized” to tap into Silicon Valley companies. When asked if the NSA tapped into the data centers, Alexander said, “Not to my knowledge.”
Earlier this year, separate documentation supplied by Mr. Snowden disclosed evidence of PRISM, an NSA-operated program that the intelligence company conducted to target the users of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple services. When that program was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper in June, reporters there said it allowed the NSA to “collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats” while having direct access to the companies’ servers, at times with the “assistance of communication providers in the US.”
According to the latest leak, the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters are conducting similar operations targeting the users of at least two of these companies, although this time under utmost secrecy.
“The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process,” the Post noted.
And while top-brass in the US intelligence community defended PRISM and said it did not target American Internet users, the newest program — codenamed MUSCULAR — sweeps up data pertaining to the accounts of many Americans, the Post acknowledged.
The MUSCULAR program, according to Wednesday’s leak, involves a process in which the NSA and GCHQ intercept communications overseas, where lax restrictions and oversight allow the agencies access to intelligence with ease.
“NSA documents about the effort refer directly to ‘full take,’ ‘bulk access’ and ‘high volume’ operations on Yahoo and Google networks,” the Post reported. “Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.”
To do as much, the NSA and GCHQ rely on capturing information being sent between company data centers around the globe, intercepting those bits and bytes in transit by tapping in as information is moved from the “Public Internet” to the private “clouds” operated by the likes of Google and Yahoo. Those cloud systems involve the linking of international data centers, each processing and containing huge troves of user information for potentially millions of customers. Intelligence officers who can sneak through the cracks when information is decrypted — or never encrypted in the first place — can then see the information sent in real time as take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to documents seen by the Post.
“Because digital communications and cloud storage do not usually adhere to national boundaries, MUSCULAR and a previously disclosed NSA operation to collect Internet address books have amassed content and metadata on a previously unknown scale from US citizens and residents” Barton and Soltani reported.
“Data are an essentially global commodity, and the backup processes of companies often mean that data is replicated many places across the world,” The Post’s Andrea Peterson added in a separate report. “So just because you sent an e-mail in the US, doesn’t mean it will always stay within the nation’s borders for its entire life in the cloud.”
As data goes into those facilities outside of the US, the NSA and GCHQ have more tactics to deploy in order to obtain private communications. Additionally, Yahoo has not nor do they now have any plans to deploy encryption technology to secure communications, suggesting the data of their millions of users was passed in-the-clear through international data centers, ripe to be intercepted by the intelligence community.
“Google and Yahoo generally connect their data centers over privately owned or leased fiber-optic cables, which do not share traffic with other Internet users and companies, to enable the tasted connections and keep information secure,” Gellman added in a separate article authored alongside the Post’s Todd Linderman. “Until recently, these internal data networks were not encrypted. Google announced in September, however, that it is moving quickly to encrypt those connections. Yahoo’s data center links are not encrypted.”
“It’s an arms race,” Eric Grosse, Google’s vice president for security engineering, told the Post last month. “We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game.”
After hearing ot the MUSCULAR program by the Post, Google said in a statement that they were “troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”
“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,” the company said.
“We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency,” insisted Yahoo.
Only hours before the latest Snowden leak was made public, NSA Director Keith Alexander told a Congressional panel that the illegal, unconstitutional revelations helped terrorist intent on killing Americans. Answering a question from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) about the effect of the leaks on national security, Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both said the disclosure have and will continue to cause major damage to the US.
At that same hearing, Alexander admitted that the NSA “compels” telecommunication companies to provide the government with user intelligence.
“Nothing that has been released has shown that we’re trying to do something illegal or unprofessional,” Alexander added.
Brazil is urging a plan to introduce local data storage for Internet giants like Facebook and Google in order to keep the information they get from Brazilian users safe –as part of a complex of measures to oppose US spying.
The new law could impact Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet global companies that operate in Brazil, Latin America’s biggest country and one of the world’s largest telecommunications markets.
The country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is urging lawmakers to vote as early as this week on the law, according to Reuters who have seen the draft of the legislation.
“The government can oblige Internet service companies … to install and use centers for the storage, management and dissemination of data within the national territory,” the draft of the document read.
Rousseff’s calls come after surveillance leaks by the US in Brazil that went as far as tracking the personal phone calls and e-mails of the President herself.
Last month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled a scheduled meeting at the White House after leaked documents showed the NSA spied on her country’s state oil company.
“We are not regulating the way information flows, just requiring that data on Brazilians be stored in Brazil so it is subject to the jurisdiction of Brazilian courts,” Rousseff spokesman Thomas Traumann said. “This has nothing to do with global communications.”
However, the companies disagree saying that the legislation will increase costs of services, and damage the economic activity connected with information.
Last week a coalition of business groups representing dozens of Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and eBay sent a letter to Brazilian lawmakers.
“In-country data storage requirements would detrimentally impact all economic activity that depends on data flows,” the letter read, Reuters reported.
Many also threatened the law will scare the companies, while others, nevertheless, were of the opinion that the companies would comply if faced with no other options.
This week, Brazil is expected to vote on a cyber-security bill to create a state system to protect the country’s citizens from spying.
When the news on the bill emerged two weeks ago, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tweeted the news, stressing the need for greater security “to prevent possible espionage.”
The latest legislation project comes against a backdrop of Brazil set to host a conference next April to debate ways to guard Internet privacy from espionage.
The meeting is to be held by ICAAN, the body that manages web domain names. It is thought to be neutral and includes governments, civil society and industry.
Meanwhile, BRICS companies are working to create a “new Internet”.
In particular, Brazil has been reported to be building a “BRICS cable” that will create an independent link between Brazil, South Africa, India, China and Russia, in order to bypass NSA cables and avoid spying.
The cable is set to go from the Brazilian town of Fortaleza to the Russian town of Vladivostok via Cape Town, Chennai and Shantou.
The length of the fiber-optic cable will be almost 35,000 kilometers, making it one of the most ambitious underwater telecom projects ever attempted.
Last week, most of the BRICS countries joined talks to hammer out a UN resolution that would condemn “indiscriminate” and “extra-territorial” surveillance, and ensure “independent oversight” of electronic monitoring.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “contacts [between Moscow and Washington] never stop,” when asked if the latest publication of secret files leaked by the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor would affect relations between Russia and the US.
Also, Lavrov made it clear that the situation surrounding Snowden is irrelevant to Russia.
“We have formulated our position on Snowden and have said everything,” he said.
- China echoes Brazil’s call for cyberspace guidelines (thebricspost.com)
Following in the footsteps of Facebook, anything you post, like, comment or review on Google or tied-in services can in future be used in product endorsement ads.
It means that starting Nov. 11, when Google’s new terms of service go live, all content (video, brands or products) Google+ and YouTube users publicly endorse by clicking on the “+1” or “Like” button can appear in an ad with that person’s image.
Such “shared endorsements” ads will also appear on millions of other websites that are part of Google’s display advertising network.
Google+ users will have the ability to opt out by turn the setting to “off,” but at the same time it “doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.”
“For users under 18, their actions won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and certain other contexts,” the announcement on Google’s website reads.
Another way to “opt out” is just stop “liking”, sharing and publicly checking-in.
Google’s move follows a similar change Facebook imposed in August. There it is called “sponsored stories.” It works almost exactly the same way – a recommendation made through the social network’s “like” button appears as advertising endorsement on a friend’s Facebook page.
While both companies say the service will be helpful for users, Google’s revised terms of service have again raised privacy concerns.
“It’s a huge privacy problem,” Reuters cited Marc Rotenberg, the director of online privacy group EPIC, as saying.
He has called on the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the policy change violates a 2011 consent order that prohibits Google from retroactively changing users’ privacy settings.
The announcement also was harshly criticized on Google’s profile, with users expressing dismay and disappointment. Some users suggested they might pull down all their current pictures or change profile pictures.
Video-sharing site YouTube deactivated Press TV’s official page without explanation after the Israeli-American Anti-Defamation League (ADL) ordered it to terminate the Iranian channel’s live broadcast.
“We have not been able to upload new videos on our official YouTube page since July 25. Both YouTube and (its parent company) Google have declined to comment,” said Press TV Newsroom Director Hamid Reza Emadi.
He added that YouTube was “in fact responding to an ADL order to stop us from revealing Israeli crimes to the world.”
An article on ADL’s official website has accused Press TV of bypassing the West’s sanctions by broadcasting live via YouTube and other internet and mobile platforms.
“ADL has contacted YouTube regarding concerns about Press TV,” reads the article, further noting that the station’s “broadcast on YouTube comes at a time when the United States, the European Union and others in the international community are seeking to isolate Iran.”
Since January 2012, Press TV has come under mounting pressure from European governments and satellite companies, which have taken the alternative channel off the air across the European Union.
In a statement published on the official website of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the pro-Israeli lobby has lauded Spain’s efforts to ban Press TV, saying Madrid has pulled the plug on the Iranian channel following months of negotiations with the AJC.
“In recent years has emerged a channel that not only challenges the Zionists’ long-time media dominance, but also has it questioned the West’s silence on their (the Zionists’) crimes against humanity. That’s Press TV and they’re determined to silence it,” Emadi added.
He said Press TV had to create an alternative YouTube account to upload its videos.
“Viewers can now watch our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/PresstvNewsCast,”; he said.
Press TV has created a new YouTube page weeks after Google disabled the alternative channel’s access to its official YouTube page without giving explanation.
“Press TV viewers can now watch our videos at www.youtube.com/user/PresstvNewsCast ,” said Press TV newsroom director, Hamid Reza Emadi, adding that tens of thousands of Press TV subscribers had been unable to watch the videos on the popular video sharing site since July 25.
YouTube’s parent company Google “disabled our official page’s account citing a violation of terms of services, but clarified neither the nature of the so-called violation nor did it mention the services in question,” Emadi added, stressing that Press TV will continue its efforts to get back on its official page on the popular video sharing site.
Last week, YouTube told Press TV that the channel’s account had become reactivated.
“The account appears to be active (now) and you should be able to access it,” wrote The YouTube Team in response to Press TV’s online queries. However, Press TV’s YouTube team was unable to access the channel’s official YouTube page, whose Google account remained “disabled”.
Meanwhile, an article on the official website of the Israeli-American Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused Press TV of bypassing the West’s sanctions by broadcasting live via Youtube and other internet and mobile platforms.
“ADL has contacted Youtube regarding concerns about Press TV,” reads the article, further noting that the station’s “broadcast on Youtube comes at the a time when the United States, the European Union and others in the international community are seeking to isolate Iran.”
“Press TV has yet to find out whether there’s a link between the ADL statement and the blocking of its official YouTube page,” Emadi said.
Almost a week after Google disabled Press TV’s YouTube account, the internet giant has yet to explain why it blocked the alternative TV channel’s access to the video sharing site.
“We have contacted Google several times since last Thursday, when Google prevented us from uploading new videos, but (we) have not received any concrete response as to why they did it,” said Hamid Reza Emadi, Press TV’s newsroom director.
Emadi said Press TV’s YouTube page is “up and running as we speak, but we do not have admin access to the page and cannot add or remove any material.”
He said many Press TV viewers and subscribers email the channel, asking for an explanation.
“We are telling them that we will be able to come up with an explanation once Google tells us what has happened,” he added.
Turkey said on Wednesday it had asked Twitter to set up a representative office inside the country, which could give it a tighter rein over the micro-blogging site it has accused of helping stir weeks of anti-government protests.
While mainstream Turkish media largely ignored the protests during the early days of the unrest, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook emerged as the main outlets for Turks opposed to the government.
Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters on Wednesday that without a corporate presence in the country, the Turkish government could not quickly reach Twitter officials with orders to take down content or with requests for user data.
“When information is requested, we want to see someone in Turkey who can provide this … there needs to be an interlocutor we can put our grievance to and who can correct an error if there is one,” he said.
“We have told all social media that … if you operate in Turkey you must comply with Turkish law,” Yildirim said.
Twitter declined to respond to the government request on Wednesday, but a person familiar with the company’s thinking said it had no current plans to open an office in that country.
Turkey successfully pressured Google Inc into opening an office there last October after blocking YouTube, a Google subsidiary, from Turkish Internet users for two years.
While Ankara had no problems with Facebook, which had been working with Turkish authorities for a while and had representatives inside Turkey, Yildirim said it had not seen a “positive approach” from Twitter after Turkey issued the “necessary warnings” to the site.
“Twitter will probably comply, too. Otherwise this is a situation that cannot be sustained,” he said, without elaborating, but he stressed the aim was not to limit social media.
An official at the ministry, who asked not to be named, said the government had asked Twitter to reveal the identities of users who posted messages deemed insulting to the government or prime minister, or that flouted people’s personal rights.
It was not immediately clear whether Twitter had responded.
Facebook said in a statement that it had not provided user data to Turkish authorities in response to government requests over the protests and said it was concerned about proposals Internet companies may have to provide data more frequently.
In the midst of some of the country’s worst political upheaval in years, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has described sites like Twitter as a “scourge,” although senior members of his party are regular users. He has said such websites were used to spread lies about the government with the aim of terrorizing society.
Police detained several dozen people suspected of inciting unrest on social media during the protests, according to local reports.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C., Twitter’s Chief Executive Dick Costolo said on Wednesday that he had been observing the developments in Turkey, but he emphasized that Twitter had played a hands-off role in the political debate.
“We don’t say, ‘Well, if you believe this, you can’t use our platform for that,’” Costolo said. “You can use our platform to say what you believe, and that’s what the people of Turkey … are using the platform for. The platform itself doesn’t have any perspective on these things.”
Turkey’s interior minister had previously said the government was working on new regulations that would target so-called “provocateurs” on social media but there have been few details on what the laws would entail.
One source with knowledge of the matter said the justice ministry had proposed a regulation whereby any Turk wishing to open a Twitter account would have to enter their national identification number, but this had been rejected by the transport ministry as being technically unfeasible.
Turkish users have increasingly turned to encryption software to thwart any ramp up in censorship of the Internet.
Last year, Twitter introduced a feature called “Country Withheld Content” that allows it to narrowly censor tweets considered illegal in a specific country, and it caused some concern among users.
Twitter implemented the feature for the first time in October in response to a request by German authorities, blocking messages in Germany by a right-wing group banned by police.
- Turkey announces plans ‘for gas’ and cyber security in face of Gezi protests (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Obama regime which was already in the midst of three high profile scandals now has a fourth one to deal with. Top secret documents were recently leaked to the Washington Post and the London Guardian detailing a vast government surveillance program code named PRISM. According to the leaked documents, the program allows the National Security Agency (NSA) back door access to data from the servers of several leading U.S. based Internet and software companies. The documents list companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and Apple as some of the participants in the program. There have also been other reports indicating that the NSA is able to access real-time user data from as many as 50 separate American companies. Under the program, the NSA is able to collect information ranging from e-mails, chats, videos, photographs, VoIP calls and more. Most importantly is the fact that PRISM allows the NSA to obtain this data without having to make individual requests from the service providers or without having to obtain a court order. To say that this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment which forbids unreasonable searches and seizures would be a gross understatement. This is actually much more than that. This is a program designed specifically to serve as a Big Brother like control grid and to end privacy as we know it.
In some ways this is not really a new story. This is just confirmation of what many people involved in the alternative research community have known for years. Going as far back as the 1990s there were reports revealing how Microsoft provided the NSA with back door access to their Windows operating system. Google’s cozy relationship with the NSA has also been discussed off and on over the past decade. There have even been other whistleblowers that have come forward previously detailing a number of unconstitutional and unlawful abuses conducted by the agency. This includes revelations of how the NSA was spying on American service members stationed overseas. The only difference with this is that these newly leaked documents provide definitive details on just how wide reaching the NSA’s activities have become.
It is now painfully obvious that James Clapper the Director of National Intelligence when testifying before the Senate this past March blatantly lied when asked by Senator Ron Wyden if the NSA was involved in collecting data from the American people. Clapper flatly denied that the NSA was engaged in these types of domestic surveillance activities. What makes the situation such a joke is that the Obama regime is not focused on the fact that Clapper lied to the Senate which in of itself is unlawful. Instead they have been more focused on determining the source of the leak that exposed these broad abuses of power. This is probably not surprising considering that this is a regime that rewards corruption by promoting people involved in all sorts of questionable activity. The promotion of Susan Rice as Obama’s new National Security Advisor is a perfect example of this considering her involvement in spreading bogus Benghazi related talking points. On the other hand, the Obama regime has severely punished a variety of whistleblowers who have dared to expose any wrong doing.
At least the Obama regime won’t have to spend much time and energy trying to identify the whistleblower as this person who leaked these documents has already come forward publically. At his own request the Guardian revealed his identity as Edward Snowden a 29-year old Information Technology specialist who has been working at the NSA for different contractors including Booz Allen Hamilton and Dell. Snowden had previously worked at an NSA office in Hawaii but boarded a flight to Hong Kong a few weeks ago where he has stayed since turning over these documents to the media. He expects that he will never set foot on U.S. soil again and may possibly seek political asylum in a country like Iceland. The Guardian interviewed Snowden over several days and has recently posted an interview transcript that provides more detail on the abuses he became aware of and why he decided to come forward as a whistleblower. In the interview Snowden confirms that the NSA has the infrastructure that allows them to intercept almost any type of data that you can imagine from phone records, e-mails to credit cards. He also reveals how the U.S. government is engaged in hacking systems everywhere around the world and how the NSA has consistently lied to Congress about their activities. There is little doubt that Snowden is thus far one of the most important whistleblowers to come along in the 21st century and he will likely face retaliation considering the vast reach and capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community.
Many individuals within the Obama regime including Obama himself have claimed that this type of widespread data collection is needed to fight terrorism and is used for national security purposes. Even if we were to assume that the war on terror is real, this claim is ridiculous and absurd on its face. It would be one thing if they were collecting information based upon a specific criteria identified by legitimate human intelligence. Instead they are collecting indiscriminate amounts of information which makes it much more difficult to analyze and target anything that might indicate a potential threat. If the NSA’s goal is really to detect and target terrorism then all they are doing is making their job more difficult by vastly increasing the noise they have to filter through. Either the people running the NSA are incredibly stupid or the goal of this program is to establish the infrastructure necessary to centrally collect data from communications everywhere around the world.
Other evidence to support this notion is the fact that the NSA is building a huge new facility in Utah that is being designed to store an enormous amount of data. A Fox News report indicates that, when completed, the facility will be able to store billions of terabytes worth of information. It is hard to fathom how the NSA would need this much storage space unless it was being used to collect and store any and all communications.
The Obama regime has tried to justify all of this by saying that PRISM helped stop an alleged New York City subway bomb plot back in 2009. This has been proven to be factually incorrect as regular police work and help from the British were larger factors in stopping the plot. This is assuming you even believe the official story of this terror plot to begin with. The government and more specifically the FBI have manufactured so many fake terror plots that it is difficult to determine fact from fiction at this point. So with this said, there is really no proof that PRISM has even helped to stop any so-called terror plot. They are collecting information simply for the sake of collecting information with no probable cause or reasonable justification.
At this point it is an undeniable fact that the NSA has been illegally collecting information on the American people. For years what has been dismissed as conspiracy theory is now without question a conspiracy fact. It is laughable that Obama and his assorted cronies are even trying to defend this program as a useful tool to fight terrorists. It is more likely that this program is being used to help find people domestically who dislike the government and would potentially fight back against it. A striking similarity to what is depicted in George Orwell’s dystopic novel 1984 where political dissidents are identified as thought criminals. A tool the NSA uses called Boundless Informant which counts and categorizes the information they collect shows that more data is actually gathered from domestic sources in the U.S. than from Russia. So based on this one could argue that the NSA almost seems to view the American people as more of a threat to national security than the Russians.
The three scandals the Obama regime was dealing with prior to this new scandal are all grounds for impeachment and one could easily argue that this one is many times worse than the previous three. Obama should resign in disgrace but being that he’s a narcissist who seems unwilling to admit making any mistakes it is highly doubtful he will do this. Obama and the rest of the useful idiots in his regime who have tried to defend and justify this and other criminal programs need to be … removed from office and put on trial. The criminal activity from the Obama regime is so vastly transparent it has become a complete and total joke to anyone who is even remotely paying attention.
- The NSA Black Hole: 5 Basic Things We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Snooping
- Why Did Edward Snowden Go to Hong Kong?
- DOJ launches criminal probe of NSA leaker
- US security officials said NSA leaker, journalist should be ‘disappeared’ – report
- Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked?
- Boundless Informant: NSA’s complex tool for classifying global intelligence
- The NSA’s Favorite Weasel Word To Pretend It’s Claiming It Doesn’t Spy On Americans
- The “Congress knew” defense
- NSA memo pushed to ‘rethink’ 4th Amendment