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Edward Snowden praises EU parliament vote against US extradition
Edward Snowden on Thursday hailed as "extraordinary" and a "game-changer" a vote in the European parliament calling on member states to prevent his extradition to the US. The parliament voted 285-281 to pass a largely symbolic measure, a resolution that called on European Union member states to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender".
Snowden has lived in exile in Russia since revealing secret US government surveillance programs in June 2013. The European parliament is a directly elected legislature with members from all 28 EU member states. Its legislative authority is limited. The resolution amounted to a request that member states reject attempts by the US to arrest and prosecute Snowden.
"This is not a blow against the US government, but an open hand extended by friends", Snowden tweeted. "It is a chance to move forward".
Theresa May unveils UK surveillance measures in wake of Snowden claims
- Spy agencies free to track everyone's internet use without warrant
- UK governments have signed secret orders on data collection for years
- Snowden says bill is most intrusive surveillance regime in the west
New surveillance powers will be given to the police and security services, allowing them to access records tracking every UK citizen's use of the internet without any judicial check, under the provisions of the draft investigatory powers bill unveiled by Theresa May. It includes new powers requiring internet and phone companies to keep "internet connection records" – tracking every website visited but not every page – for a maximum of 12 months but will not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the data. Local authorities will be banned from accessing internet records.
- Requires web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every citizen for 12 months for access by police, security services and other public bodies.
- Makes explicit in law for the first time security services' powers for the "bulk collection" of large volumes of personal communications data.
- Makes explicit in law for the first time powers of the security services and police to hack and bug into computers and phones. Places new legal obligation on companies to assist in these operations to bypass encryption.
- New "double-lock" on ministerial authorisation of intercept warrants with panel of seven judicial commissioners given power of veto. But exemptions allowed in "urgent cases" of up to five days.
- Existing system of three oversight commissioners replaced with single investigatory powers commissioner who will be a senior judge.
- Prime minister to be consulted in all cases involving interception of MPs' communications. Safeguards on requests for communications data in other "sensitive professions" such as journalists to be written into law.
Edward Snowden makes "moral" case for presidential pardon
Edward Snowden has set out the case for Barack Obama granting him a pardon before the US president leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosure of the scale of surveillance by US and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off. The US whistleblower's comments, made in an interview with the Guardian, came as supporters, including his US lawyer, stepped up a campaign for a presidential pardon. Snowden is wanted in the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act and faces at least 30 years in jail. Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited.
"Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists – for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things", he said. "I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result."
Although US presidents have granted some surprising pardons when leaving office, the chances of Obama doing so seem remote, even though before he entered the White House he was a constitutional lawyer who often made the case for privacy and had warned about the dangers of mass surveillance. Obama's former attorney general Eric Holder, however, gave an unexpected boost to the campaign for a pardon in May when he said Snowden had performed a public service.
How bad can the new spying legislation be? Exhibit 1: it's called the USA Liberty Act
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/10/0 ... iberty_act
Freedom doesn't mean what you think it does
The US Senate Judiciary Committee has unveiled its answer to a controversial spying program run by the NSA and used by the FBI to fish for crime leads. Unsurprisingly, the proposed legislation [PDF] reauthorizes Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) – which allows American snoops to scour communications for information on specific foreign targets.
It also addresses the biggest criticisms of the FISA spying: that it was being used to build a vast database on US citizens, despite the law specifically prohibiting it; was being abused to do a mass sweep of communications, rather than the intended targeting of individuals; and that there was no effective oversight, transparency or accountability built into the program.
But in case you were in any doubt that the new law does not shut down the expansive – and in some cases laughable – interpretations put on FISA by the security services, you need only review the proposed legislation's title: the USA Liberty Act. Nothing so patriotic sounding can be free from unpleasant compromises.
And so it is in this case. While the draft law, as it stands, requires the FBI to have "a legitimate national security purpose" before searching the database and to obtain a court order "based on probable cause" to look at the content of seized communications, it still gives the domestic law enforcement agencies the right to look at data seized on US citizens by the NSA. And agents only need supervisory authority to search for US citizens' metadata.
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