Posts Tagged With: surveillance

Web giants get broader surveillance revelations……


Facebook and Microsoft Corp. representatives said Friday night that after negotiations with national security officials their companies have been given permission to make new but still very limited revelations about government orders to turn over user data.
The announcements come at the end of a week when Facebook, Microsoft and Google, normally rivals, had jointly pressured the Obama administration to loosen their legal gag on national security orders.
Those actions came after Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old American who works as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, revealed to The Guardian newspaper the existence of secret surveillance programs that gathered Americans’ phone records and other data. The companies did not link their actions to Snowden’s leaks.
Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said in a statement that Facebook is only allowed to talk about total numbers and must give no specifics. But he said the permission it has received is still unprecedented, and the company was lobbying to reveal more.
Using the new guidelines, Ullyot said Facebook received between 9,000 and 10,000 government requests from all government entities from local to federal in the last six months of 2012, on topics including missing children investigations, fugitive tracking and terrorist threats. The requests involved the accounts of between 18,000 and 19,000 Facebook users.
The companies were not allowed to make public how many orders they received from a particular agency or on a particular subject. But the numbers do include all national security related requests including those submitted via national security letters and under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which companies had not previously been allowed to reveal.
The companies remain barred from revealing whether they’ve actually received FISA requests, and can only say that any they’ve received are included in the total reported figures.
Microsoft released similar numbers for the same period, but downplayed how much they revealed.
“We continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues,” John Frank, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel said in a statement.
Frank said Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts.
Both attorneys emphasized in their statements that those affected by the orders represent a “tiny fraction” of their huge user bases.
Google did not release its own numbers, saying late Friday that it was waiting to be able to reveal more specific and meaningful information.
“We have always believed that it’s important to differentiate between different types of government requests,” Google said in a statement. “We already publish criminal requests separately from national security letters. Lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users. Our request to the government is clear: to be able to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately.”
Facebook repeated recent assurances that the company scrutinizes every government request, and works aggressively to protect users’ data. Facebook said it has a compliance rate of 79 percent on government requests.
“We frequently reject such requests outright, or require the government to substantially scale down its requests, or simply give the government much less data than it has requested,” Ullyot said.” And we respond only as required by law.”

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Is 1984 here Now??!! By Sen. Rand Paul


The National Security Agency’s seizure and surveillance of virtually all of Verizon’s phone customers is an astounding assault on the Constitution.

After revelations that the IRS targeted political dissidents and the Department of Justice seized reporters’ phone records, it would appear that this Administration has now sunk to a new low.

When Sen. Mike Lee and I offered an amendment that would attach Fourth Amendment protections to the FISA bill last year, it was defeated.

And FISA passed by an overwhelming majority of the Senate.

At the time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked that FISA was “necessary to protect us from the evil in this world.”

The Bill of Rights was designed to protect us from evil, too.

Particularly that evil which always correlates with concentrated government power.

I put together a video last fall to explain that exact point.

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BILL GIVES FEDS WARRANTLESS EMAIL SURVEILLANCE…..



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A Senate proposal originally drafted to protect American’s email privacy has taken a dramatic detour. In fact, it’s turning around and heading in the opposite direction.

The original bill, backed by Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee Patrick Leahy, required that government agencies obtain search warrants before accessing email accounts. According to CNET’s Declan McCullagh, a new version of the bill does away with all the middle men and actually gives government agencies warrantless access to Americans’ email accounts. The bill is up for vote next Thursday (November 29.)
Leahy’s revision would give more than 22 government agencies access to email, Google Docs files, Facebook posts, even Twitter direct messages, without probable cause. In some scenarios, the bill also gives the FBI and Homeland Security full access to Internet accounts without the approval of the owner or a judge.

Law enforcement groups, such as the National District Attorney’s Association, and Justice Department officials objected to Leahy’s original bill. Detractors worried that requiring a warrant to access email accounts could impede criminal investigations.

Citing ongoing legislature discussions, an aide to the Senate Judiciary committee declined CNET a comment on the matter. In light of former CIA director David Petraeus’ email scandal, Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, did tell CNET that “even the Department of Justice should concede that there’s a need for more judicial oversight,” not less.
Agencies granted this warrantless surveillance power include any executive department, military department, government corporation, government-controlled corporation or other establishment in the executive branch of the government. Also included is a long list of independent regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission, just to name a few.
Such a hodgepodge list has rankled Markham Erickson, a lawyer in Washington D.C. who has kept a close eye on the legislation. Speaking not for his corporate clients, Erickson aired his concerns to CNET:

There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the [National Labor Relations Board], [Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission], [Securities and Exchange Commission] or FTC need to access customer information service providers with a mere subpoena. If those agencies feel they do not have the tools to do their jobs adequately, they should work with the appropriate authorizing committees to explore solutions. The Senate Judiciary committee is really not in a position to adequately make those determinations.

In many cases, police will still be required to obtain search warrants — except when an “emergency” situation is declared — but the new bill is in stark contrast to the original draft. Tech companies are likely to furrow their brow over these new proposals. What about you?

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