Global Coalition From Five Nations Demands “Five Eyes” Respect Encryption

Flickr/ Yuri Samoilov

By Staff of RSF – “Massive surveillance operations conducted by the Five Eyes partnership inherently put the human rights of people around the world at risk. The joint communique commits to human rights and the rule of law, but provides no detail as to how these powerful, secretive spy agencies plan to live up to those commitments. We call for public participation and meaningful accountability now; otherwise, those commitments are empty.” – Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “Our political leaders are putting people around the world at greater risk of crime when they call for greater powers to weaken our digital security. Security experts and cryptographers are as united in their views on encryption as scientists are on climate change. Politicians need to listen to them before they make decisions that could put us all at risk.” – Jim Killock, ORG. “Attempting to undermine the free use and development of strong encryption technology is not only technologically misguided, it is politically irresponsible. Both law enforcement and intelligence agencies have access to more data—and more powerful analytical tools—than ever before in human history. Measures that undermine the efficacy or public availability of encryption will never be proportionate when weighed against their profound threat to global human rights: encryption is essential to the preservation of freedom of opinion, expression, dissent, and democratic engagement.

NSA’s Use Of ‘Traffic Shaping’ Allows Unrestrained Spying On Americans

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By Zack Whittaker for Zero Day – By using a “traffic shaping” technique, the National Security Agency sidestepped legal restrictions imposed by lawmakers and the surveillance courts. A new analysis of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden details a highly classified technique that allows the National Security Agency to “deliberately divert” US internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans. According to the new analysis, the NSA has clandestine means of “diverting portions of the river of internet traffic that travels on global communications cables,” which allows it to bypass protections put into place by Congress to prevent domestic surveillance on Americans. The new findings, published Thursday, follows a 2014 paper by researchers Axel Arnbak and Sharon Goldberg, published on sister-site CBS News, which theorized that the NSA, whose job it is to produce intelligence from overseas targets, was using a “traffic shaping” technique to route US internet data overseas so that it could be incidentally collected under the authority of a largely unknown executive order. US citizens are afforded constitutional protections against surveillance or searches of their personal data. Any time the government wants to access an American’s data, they must follow the rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court, a Washington DC-based court that authorizes the government’s surveillance programs.

US Authorities Tapped 3 mln Phones In Single Wiretap Order In 2016

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By Staff of RT – It took US authorities a single wiretap order to intercept and record over 3 million phone calls and messages last year, the Wiretap Report 2016, published by the United States Courts, revealed. The intercepts were carried out over the course of two months by an undisclosed government agency, which applied for the wiretap order in late 2015, according to the report, brought to media attention by the ZDNet website. “The federal wiretap with the most intercepts occurred during a narcotics investigation in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and resulted in the interception of 3,292,385 cell phone conversations or messages,” the Wiretap Report 2016 reads. The phone tapping was authorized to facilitate the capture of 26 individuals, suspected of illegal drug-related activities in Pennsylvania. It cost the US tax payers $335,000 and resulted in around a dozen arrests being made, the report said. However, none of those detained were convicted or taken to court as the surveillance failed to produce any compelling evidence. The ineffectiveness of wiretapping is well known, Albert Gidari, director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, told ZDNet.

New TSA Policy May Lead To Increased Scrutiny Of Reading Material

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By Jay Stanley for ACLU – The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns. Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said that “we might, and likely will” apply the policy nationwide. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” he told Fox News. The policy may also apply to food items. The rationale for the policy change given by Kelly and the TSA is that the imposition of growing fees for checked baggage by the airlines has prompted passengers to more densely pack their carry-ons, and that this has made it harder for screeners to identify particular items amid the jumble of images appearing on their screens. Laptops must already be pulled out separately because they are regarded as a heightened threat and can be better examined if they are not scanned in a bag with many other objects.

TigerSwan Private Security Takes On Popular Movement

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By Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri for The Intercept – BY THE TIME law enforcement officers began evicting residents of the Oceti Sakowin Dakota Access Pipeline resistance camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on February 22, the brutal North Dakota winter had already driven away most of the pipeline opponents. With protesters’ numbers dwindling, along with nationwide attention to their cause, it would have been a natural time for the private security company in charge of monitoring the pipeline to head home as well. But internal communications between TigerSwan and its client, pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners, show that the security firm instead reached for ways to stay in business. “The threat level has dropped significantly. This however does not rule out the chance of future attack,” states a document dated February 24, two days after the eviction began. “As with any dispersion of any insurgency, expect bifurcation into splinter groups, looking for new causes.” Indeed, TigerSwan appeared to be looking for new causes, too. As The Intercept has reported, the security firm’s sweeping surveillance of anti-Dakota Access protesters had already spanned five months and expanded into Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois.

Local Movements Demand Disclosure Of Police Technologies

Reflections of pedestrians in a window of a restaurant on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, in an area known as Little Morocco that was under surveillance by the New York City Police Department, January 7, 2016. The department has agreed to even greater oversight of its intelligence-gathering programs as it tries, for the second time, to settle a lawsuit over its surveillance of Muslims. (Photo: Uli Seit / The New York Times)

By Candice Bernd for Truthout – President Trump issued a proclamation on May 15 dedicating last week to law enforcement officers, saying he would make it a “personal priority” to ensure police are “finally treated fairly.” Meanwhile, around the country, a different set of priorities is taking shape: Cities, counties and even one state are working to push legislation that would force police agencies to disclose their acquisition and use of surveillance technologies to local lawmakers and communities. At least 19 cities have introduced ordinances that would force transparency in local police departments’ acquisition and use of secretive surveillance technologies, which are disproportionately used to target communities of color. A statewide bill in Maine, sponsored by State Sen. Shenna Bellows, would take similar steps. The measures being introduced around the country mandate that the acquisition and/or use of local police surveillance tools like “Stingray” cellphone tracking equipment, automated license plate readers, facial recognition technology and closed-circuit television cameras, among other surveillance tools…

Obama Intel Agency Secretly Conducted Illegal Searches On Americans For Years

U.S. President Barack Obama finishes a statement to the media about the government shutdown in the briefing room of the White House in Washington

By John Solomon and Sara Carter for Circa – The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community. More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa. The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

More Biometric Scanning Is Coming Soon To U.S. Airports

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By Suzy Strutner for The Huffington Post – So the government is looking for a way ― probably using facial recognition, but potentially using eye scans or other measures too ― to verify which travelers have left the country by collecting biometric data right before passengers board a flight. This isn’t a new idea: Many countries already use face scans extensively in their airports and train stations, and the U.S. has been working on its own way to track exiting travelers for more than 20 years. However, CBP is now under extra pressure to choose a method and get a system into airports, said Theresa Cardinal Brown, an immigration expert at the Bipartisan Policy Center. So yes, more face scans are coming soon, even for U.S. citizens. In 2015, CBP started piloting biometric exit programs in America’s 10 busiest airports by using fingerprint scans. But the agency chose facial recognition as one of the easiest ways to do so, Gabris said, and will move forward with that. Last year, CBP started piloting face-scanning technology on some travelers exiting Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

NYPD Sued Over Facial Recognition Program

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By Ava Kofman for the Intercept. Researchers at Georgetown University law school filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the New York City Police Department for the agency’s refusal to disclose documents about its longstanding use of face recognition technology. The NYPD’s face recognition system, which has operated in the department’s Real Time Crime Center since at least 2011, allows officers to identify a suspect by searching against databases of stored facial photos. Records pertaining to the NYPD’s program were requested in January 2016 by researchers at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology as part of The Perpetual Line-Up, a year-long study on law enforcement uses of facial recognition technology. After receiving public records from more than 90 agencies across the country, the study found that one in every two American adults is enrolled in a criminal face recognition network and that “few agencies have instituted meaningful protections to prevent the misuse of the technology.”

First Hundred Days Of Human Rights Violations

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By Amie Stepanovich for Access Now. In the final years of the Obama Administration, we frequently took issue with the negative impact the administration’s actions were having on our human rights, tackling issues from surveillance to encryption and beyond. However, nothing we saw then could have prepared us for what we have witnessed in the first few months of 2017. Simply put, when President Trump hits the 100th day benchmark on Saturday, April 29, he and his administration will have taken — or prepared to take — a series of actions with massive negative consequences for human rights all around the globe, some of which will darken the U.S. human rights record for generations to come. Below we detail five that are related to our mission of defending and extending the digital rights of users at risk, and describe what we’re doing to fight back.

Cybersecurity For The People

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By Micah Lee and Lauren Feeney for The Intercept. Planning on going to a protest? You might not be aware that just by showing up, you can open yourself up to certain privacy risks — police often spy on protesters, and the smartphones they carry, and no matter how peaceful the demonstration, there’s always a chance that you could get detained or arrested, and your devices could get searched. Watch this video for tips on how to prepare your phone before you go to a protest, how to safely communicate with your friends and document the event, and what to do if you get detained or arrested. This is the first in a new series of videos I’m hosting called Cybersecurity for the People. In future videos we’ll dive into topics such as encrypted messaging apps, password management, and how to become a whistleblower.

58% Increase In Electronic Device Searches On International Air Passengers In U.S.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers check a passenger’s luggage and documents.
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By Mark Nensel for ATW – US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searched approximately 4,600 electronic devices, or 0.008%, of approximately 58 million incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of the US government’s FY 2017 (October 2016-March 2017), according to CBP statistics released April 11. The figure represents a 57.6% increase in the number of electronic devices searched during the six-month period compared to approximately 2,900 devices searched on incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of FY 2016. Compared to two years ago, the number of electronic devices searched has more than tripled. CBP said its increase of electronic device searches corresponds to how the agency “adjusted its actions to align with current threat information.” “Electronic device searches are integral in some cases to determining an individual’s intentions upon entering the US,” CBP deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, John Wagner said. CBP said its searches have resulted in evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, child pornography, export control violations, intellectual property rights violations and visa fraud.

Lawsuit Attempts To Hold Foreign Governments Accountable For Spying On Americans

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By Derrick Broze for Activist Post – On Thursday April 13, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked an appeals court to review a decision that will allow foreign governments to monitor the activities of Americans in America. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling on the court to reverse the decision made in a case involving an American living in Maryland and the Ethiopian government. The case, Kidane v. Ethiopia, relates to the Ethiopian government attaching a malware program known as FinSpy to Mr. Kidane’s computer. FinSpy is capable of copying every keystroke made by the user, as well as Skype calls, and sending all of the data back to Ethiopia. In March, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against Mr. Kidane and stated that foreign governments could not be held accountable for surveillance in American courts if they did not send a human agent to perform the spying. “In essence, this would mean governments around the world have immunity for spying, attacking, and even murdering Americans on American soil, as long as the activity is performed with software, robots, drones, or other digital tools,” the EFF writes.

Canadian Police Surveilling Journalists

Martin Prud'homme, chief of the Sûreté du Québec, testified Monday before the commission looking into the surveillance of journalists by police. (CBC)

By Staff for CBC News – The head of the Quebec provincial police revealed Monday that its officers had a seventh journalist under surveillance — Nicolas Saillant of the Journal de Québec. Sûreté du Québec Chief Martin Prud’homme revealed the information about Saillant in his testimony Monday at the commission tasked with looking into police surveillance of journalists. The commission is led by Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Jacques Chamberland. The revelation about Saillant came out of a cross-examination by Christian Leblanc, the lawyer representing a number of news organizations in the province, including CBC / Radio-Canada, before the commission.

NYPD Infiltrated Black Lives Matter, Got Access To Messages

People protest after a grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner case. Photograph: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

By George Joseph for The Guardian – Undercover officers in the New York police department infiltrated small groups of Black Lives Matter activists and gained access to their text messages, according to newly released NYPD documents obtained by the Guardian. The records, produced in response to a freedom of information lawsuit led by New York law firm Stecklow & Thompson, provide the most detailed picture yet of the sweeping scope of NYPD surveillance during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. Lawyers said the new documents raised questions about NYPD compliance with city rules. The documents, mostly emails between undercover officers and other NYPD officials, follow other disclosures that the NYPD regularly filmed Black Lives Matter activists and sent undercover personnel to protests.