The NSA has claimed that its systems are "too complex" to stop destroying evidence in pending lawsuits against it. They claim that that stopping the automated destruction of data would have to lead to a stoppage of all surveillance systems in order to facilitate keeping the data the system currently holds.
The problem lies with the vast amount of data that is being swept up by the various NSA programs like Prism, Somalget, and Stellar Wind. The technology to store that amount of data is enormously costly, so the NSA keeps a "rolling cache" of the information that they have retained. This means that data is continuously drawn into databases by the system, and uninteresting or old data is constantly being destroyed by the system to conserve space.
One year out from the disclosure of the Snowden files, the NSA retains all of its powers with little executive or legislative action to reign in clandestine programs that invade the privacy of American citizens and their allies worldwide.
We have heard about severe oversteps of authority by the NSA throughout this year. Outrage has been widespread and clearly justified, but other than a presidential speech doubling down on the NSA's practices, nothing has been done.
Here are some highlights of programs we know exist because of Snowden:
Bullrun - The NSA coerces standards agencies to weaken encryption standards worldwide, giving them offensive capability against targets, but also reducing the security of the world's systems against foreign attackers.
Muscular - The NSA tapped the interlink facilities between Yahoo and Google datacenters to intercept full-take email and chat data through all of their systems unencrypted. This program led to the surveillance of entire messages, not just metadata, and took American as well as foreign data.> read more
In a first for American television, Edward Snowden got to speak publicly to address the issues facing the nation, and to speak about the attacks on his character and record as an employee for the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Some things that we learned from the interview:
Snowden was not "just a systems analyst" or a "low-level systems administrator".
He worked covertly overseas for multiple government agencies under a fake name, at fake jobs. He was trained as a spy and also trained other agents and government officials about data security measures while working for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Smartphones are surveillance devices. They can be "owned" in seconds.
They can turn on the phone if it is off. They can listen to the microphone, take pictures, activate apps, inject malware, and pull data from the phone.> read more
Sweden's state department has ensured that Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange, and Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger are not invited to speak at the Stockholm Internet Forum.
The motivations for the block are dubious at best, claiming that it is for a more rounded discussion on wider topics. Sweden is a "5 eyes" nation that participates actively in the dragnet spying programs that the world is concerned about.
More about the issue can be found here: http://www.cicero.de/weltbuehne/conference-internet-freedom-swedish-foreign-ministry-prevents-snowdens-invitation/57582> read more
In the debate over the surveillance of the world, tensions between nations around the world have flared up when it was revealed that the US and the UK are engaged in mass-surveillance operations on their enemies, their allies, and themselves. The conversation is often steered toward the largest revelations like Prism and Section 215 of the Patriot Act where the agencies defend the collection of metadata and not "full take" content.
However, hidden in the releases we have seen we have seen full take operations like the MUSCULAR program that was not collecting just metadata. The program copied all of the data it could, including the full contents of emails and Google and Yahoo chat services as it was synced between various Google and Yahoo datacenters.
The White House has disclosed the circumstances in which the clandestine agencies will reveal a vulnerability to the public rather than exploit it.
The list of criteria is vague and strongly contradicts an agency that values the security of the internet.
The language largely consists of protecting American assets and infrastructure, and even then only in the event that there is a high likelihood that others will exploit it AND that it will do significant damage. What this means is that if a vulnerability is found in hardware that is mostly deployed in Europe or Asia, the vulnerability will almost certainly be hoarded away for safe keeping to be used against the enemies of the US like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Mozilla, the makers of the popular Firefox web browser, have come out in their blog to formally urge the FCC to push network providers into common carrier status. This would give the FCC the authority to enforce the net neutrality rules that were struck down earlier this year. As common carriers, the telecom companies would not be allowed to create a multi-tiered internet where providers would have to be paid for by services in order to get optimal speeds to their customers.
A number of groups have argued that the network companies are already being paid by their customers, and hosts are already paying connectivity, so net neutrality is important because of the highly noncompetitive environment in the US. If the US was saturated with many internet companies and customers had extensive choices, they could simply switch to a company that wasn't throttling Netflix. Because customers often only have one real choice for internet service, they are stuck with whatever that provider decides to do with their network.> read more
The white house is seeking immunity for companies that break US and international law.
In the NSA reform legislation that is being negotiated by congress, the United States is trying to insert amendments that will protect American companies from giving up customer information, even if it violates US or International privacy laws and agreements. This would allow the NSA to continue dragnet surveillance programs and directly working with companies to violate the privacy of normal citizens under no suspicion of wrongdoing.
The head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, appeared on John Oliver's new HBO news show "Last Week Tonight" and in a strange interview attempted to defend and deflect the conversation about the NSA debate.
Here is the official Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8lJ85pfb_E
In the interview, John actually made some surprising stabs at the NSA chief. He didn't let the General use the show for a pulpit to promote an agenda but did allow him ample room to respond. The full interview text is below and the parts we feel were the most important are in bold.
The transcript of the interview of General Alexander on Last Week Tonight.
John: "Looking back at your time with the NSA, do you have any regrets such as not retiring one year earlier."
The FCC has opened up the debate about net neutrality for comments from the public. This is your chance to voice your opinion on the up and coming changes. We plan to write an open letter via this channel and suggest that anyone interested in the debate make their case as well.
It is crucial that the voice of consumers is heard, and that the voice of reason prevails over profit motives.> read more