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.

The Surveillance State Behind Russia-Gate

The White House in Washington, D.C. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

By Ray McGovern and Bill Binney for Consortium News – What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail. This crisis (yes, “crisis” is an overused word, but in this highly unusual set of circumstances we believe it is appropriate) came to light mostly by accident…

Palantir Technologies Is Creating a Vast Immigration Database

A new Palantir Technologies system will help immigration officials discover targets and administer deportation cases against them. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Emma Niles for Truthdig. Palantir Technologies, a software company founded by Silicon Valley conservative Peter Thiel, has almost finished creating a $41 million program for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The new technology, called Investigative Case Management (ICM), will greatly help ICE and the Trump administration deport undocumented immigrants. Palantir won the government contract in 2014 and is expected to complete the project this fall. Spencer Woodman of the Intercept explained ” It allows ICE agents to access a vast “ecosystem” of data to facilitate immigration officials in both discovering targets and then creating and administering cases against them. … can provide ICE agents access to information on a subject’s schooling, family relationships, employment information, phone records, immigration history, foreign exchange program status, personal connections, biometric traits, criminal records, and home and work addresses. …

Law Enforcement Using Facebook And Apple To Data-Mine Accounts Of Trump Protest Arrestees

By Memorial Day weekend, Congress will likely have decided whether the federal government's mass surveillance programs will be partially reined in or not. (iStock)

By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet – Law enforcement is compelling Apple and Facebook to hand over the personal information of users who were mass arrested at protests against the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., AlterNet has confirmed. The tech giants appear to be complying with the data-mining requests, amid mounting concerns over the heavy-handed crackdown against the more than 200 people detained on January 20, among them journalists, legal observers and medics. “This is part of an increasing trend of law enforcement attempting to turn the internet, instead of technology for freedom, into technology for control,” Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight for the Future, told AlterNet. “This trend started long before Trump and seems to be escalating and growing in scale now.”

Memphis Police Have A Watchlist Of BLM Protesters

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By Staff of Tele Sur – The Memphis Police Department has a watch list of Black Lives Matter protesters — a fact that has come to light decades after the department was barred from spying on civil rights activists. The list, which includes the names, race, gender, height, weight and corresponding photographs of several well-known activists, bars those listed from entering the Memphis City Hall without an escort. The list infringes on the civil rights of those it profiles. MPD also appears to be in violation of the 1978 federal decree it was handed following revelations the department spied on civil rights activists and other protesters for years, spurring the American Civil Liberties Union to sue them. MPD Director Michael Rallings defended the list Tuesday, saying it was instead related to “security.”

NYPD Must Release All Files About Undercover Spying On Black Lives Matter Protests

People protest in New York, November 25, 2014 © Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

By Staff of RT – A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled that the New York Police Department must comply with an information request for files and recordings of undercover surveillance of a Black Lives Matter protest that didn’t result in any arrests. The NYPD had sought to withhold its records from activist James Logue, who had attended a Black Lives Matter protest at Grand Central Station in November 2014. Logue filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the files after noticing both uniformed and plainclothes officers “regularly and openly recording events as they were taking place,” court documents said.

Are Police Searching Inauguration Protesters’ Phones?

Riot police push back protesters from an inaugural ball venue after the swearing in of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington January 20, 2017. (James Lawler Dugga/Reuters)

By George Joseph for City Lab – A lawyer for several protesters arrested in inauguration protests on Friday claims that police appear to be mining information from mobile phones taken after they were detained. On Friday, January 20, thousands of protesters took to the streets of D.C. to disrupt Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. A small fraction of them damaged property and threw projectiles at police in riot gear, who deployed flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and pepper spray on large crowds throughout the day. But according to CityLab’s observations of the demonstrations that morning, most of the roughly 230 people arrested—who included a number of legal observers, journalists, and medics