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Senate Republicans block landmark NSA surveillance reform bill
Senators, mostly Republicans warning of leaving the country exposed to terrorist threat, voted to beat back the USA Freedom Act.
"You're the bomb!" - Are you at risk from the anti-terrorism algorithms?
Does the stuff you post on the internet make you look like a terrorist? Is the rhythm of your typing sending the wrong signals? The government wants sites such as Google and Facebook to scan their users more closely. But if everything we do online is monitored by machines, how well does the system work?
WikiLeaks demands answers after Google hands staff emails to US government
Search giant gave FBI emails and digital data belonging to three staffers. WikiLeaks told last month of warrants which were served in March 2012.
Mass surveillance is fundamental threat to human rights, says European report
Europe's top rights body says scale of NSA spying is "stunning" and suggests UK powers may be at odds with rights convention.
WikiLeaks threatens legal action against Google and US after email revelations
<< Google handed over WikiLeaks staffers' emails to the FBI. WikiLeaks notified warrants were served two and a half years later. >>
Google warns of US government "hacking any facility" in the world
Google says increasing the FBI's powers set out in search warrants would raise monumental legal concerns that should be decided by Congress. Google is boldly opposing an attempt by the US Justice Department to expand federal powers to search and seize digital data, warning that the changes would open the door to US "government hacking of any facility" in the world.
NSA mass phone surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden ruled illegal
The US court of appeals has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency. A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling that the controversial surveillance practice first revealed to the US public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 could not be subject to judicial review.
NSA programme: Bush-era powers expire as US prepares to roll back surveillance
Sweeping US surveillance powers, enjoyed by the National Security Agency since the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, are to shut down at midnight on Monday after a dramatic Senate showdown in which even the NSA’s biggest supporters conceded that substantial reforms were inevitable.
François Hollande calls emergency meeting after WikiLeaks reveals US spied on three French presidents
The French president, François Hollande, has called an emergency meeting of his country's defence council for Wednesday morning after revelations that American agents spied on three successive French presidents between 2006 and 2012. According to WikiLeaks documents published late on Tuesday, even the French leaders' mobile phone conversations were listened to and recorded.
The leaked US documents, marked "top secret", were based on phone taps and filed in an NSA document labelled "Espionnage Elysée" (Elysée Spy), according to the newspaper Libération and investigative news website Mediapart. The US was listening to the conversations of centre-right president Jacques Chirac, his successor Nicolas Sarkozy, and the current French leader, Socialist François Hollande, elected in 2012.
The recorded conversations, which were handled by the summary services unit at the NSA, were said to reveal few state secrets but show clear evidence of the extent of American spying on countries considered allies. WikiLeaks documents suggest that other US spy targets included French cabinet ministers and the French ambassador to the United States.
UK and US demands to access encrypted data are "unprincipled and unworkable"
Demands by US and British security agencies for access to encrypted communication data have been dealt a serious blow in a report by an influential group of cryptographers and computer scientists who dismiss the move as unprincipled and unworkable. They warn that such access "will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation states can attack the very individuals law enforcement seeks to defend".
The report says: "The costs would be substantial, the damage to innovation severe and the consequences for economic growth hard to predict. The costs to our moral authority would also be considerable."
The expert opinion comes on the eve of an appearance before the US Senate intelligence committee by the FBI director, James Comey, who last year savaged tech companies for embracing end-to-end encryption, claiming it would deprive the security services of potentially life-saving information.
David Cameron and the UK home secretary, Theresa May, are proposing to introduce legislation in the autumn to force companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to provide access to encrypted data. The proposed legislation has been requested by the intelligence agencies, which say encryption has made their job much more difficult.
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.