Category: Social Networks


Defiant Apple, Facebook, other firms to inform public of govt surveillance requests

Published time: May 02, 2014 01:07
Edited time: May 02, 2014 06:42
Reuters / Eric Thayer

Reuters / Eric Thayer

The same technology companies that the US intelligence community has relied upon to disclose email records are now refusing to keep surveillance requests secret and informing customers when they are the subject of such requests.

In the nearly ten months since former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed extensive surveillance efforts on everyday Americans’ online activity, the companies that were forced to facilitate that surveillance have come under harsh public scrutiny.

The embarrassment ignited a series of comments from executives at Google and Facebook, among others, calling on the NSA and other agencies to either stop forcing them to provide the communications that customers trust them with, or allow them to be more transparent.

Now, according to a Thursday report in the Washington Post, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have updated their policies to routinely notify customers when law enforcement has requested information about them.

Yahoo enacted such a change in July, with the Post reporting Thursday that companies “have found that investigators often drop data demands to avoid having suspects learn of inquiries.”

 

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Apple, Facebook, others defy authorities, notify users of secret data demands

Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure.This increasingly defiant industry stand is giving some of the tens of thousands of Americans whose Internet data gets swept into criminal investigations each year the opportunity to fight in court to prevent disclosures. Prosecutors, however, warn that tech companies may undermine cases by tipping off criminals, giving them time to destroy vital electronic evidence before it can be gathered.

Graphic

How the NSA is infiltrating private networks

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

How the NSA is infiltrating private networks

Fueling the shift is the industry’s eagerness to distance itself from the government after last year’s disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance of online services. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all are updating their policies to expand routine notification of users about government data seizures, unless specifically gagged by a judge or other legal authority, officials at all four companies said. Yahoo announced similar changes in July.As this position becomes uniform across the industry, U.S. tech companies will ignore the instructions stamped on the fronts of subpoenas urging them not to alert subjects about data requests, industry lawyers say. Companies that already routinely notify users have found that investigators often drop data demands to avoid having suspects learn of inquiries.

“It serves to chill the unbridled, cost-free collection of data,” said Albert Gidari Jr., a partner at Perkins Coie who represents several technology companies. “And I think that’s a good thing.”

The Justice Department disagrees, saying in a statement that new industry policies threaten investigations and put potential crime victims in greater peril.

“These risks of endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses are not merely hypothetical, but unfortunately routine,” department spokesman Peter Carr said, citing a case in which early disclosure put at risk a cooperative witness in a case. He declined to offer details because the case was under seal.

The changing tech company policies do not affect data requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which are automatically kept secret by law. National security letters, which are administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI for national security investigations, also carry binding gag orders.

The government traditionally has notified people directly affected by searches and seizures — though often not immediately — when investigators entered a home or tapped a phone line. But that practice has not survived the transition into the digital world. Cellular carriers such as AT&T and Verizon typically do not tell customers when investigators collect their call data.

Many tech companies once followed a similar model of quietly cooperating with law enforcement. Courts, meanwhile, ruled that it was sufficient for the government to notify the providers of Internet services of data requests, rather than the affected customers.

Twitter, founded in 2006, became perhaps the first major tech company to routinely notify users when investigators collected data, yet few others followed at first. When the Electronic Frontier Foundation began issuing its influential “Who Has Your Back?” report in 2011 — rating companies on their privacy and transparency policies — Twitter was the only company to get a star under the category “Tell users about data demands.” Google, the next mostly highly rated, got half a star from the civil liberties group.

 

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NYPD Twitter campaign backfires, thousands of negative tweets

NEW YORK Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:18pm EDT

 

A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn

 

(Reuters) – A New York Police Department campaign to burnish its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of apparent police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images including police violence at New York’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, an NYPD officer pointing a gun at a dog, and an officer asleep in a subway car.

“The reality of policing is that oftentimes our actions are lawful, but they look awful,” Bratton told a news briefing at New York City Hall.

“Most of those photos that I looked at are old news,” said Bratton, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to take over from Ray Kelly, who served for 12 years under de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

 

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NYPD commissioner welcomes attention from disastrous #myNYPD hashtag

FILE - In this May 1, 2012, file photo, a police lieutenant swings his baton at Occupy Wall Street activists in New York. This photo is among the many put on Twitter in response to a New York Police Department request for Twitter users to share pictures of themselves posing with police officers. The NYPD sent a tweet on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, saying it might feature the photographs on its Facebook page. The responses soon turned ugly when Occupy Wall Street tweeted a photograph of cops battling protesters with the caption

This file photo, from May 2012, shows a police lieutenant swinging his baton at Occupy Wall Street activists in New York. It was recirculated Tuesday in response to a police hashtag that went awry. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The New York Police Department’s attempt at using social media to connect with constituents on Tuesday went…well, let’s say awry.

An initial tweet asked people to post photos of themselves with police officers along with the hashtag #myNYPD. Obviously this went poorly, because obviously it was going to go poorly, because these things can really only go poorly (we’ll get back to that in a moment). In response, people sent in lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of photos of New York police officers doing violent things to people. (Like the photo at the top of this post. It’s almost two years old, but thanks to the #myNYPD hashtag, it has been everywhere over the last 24 hours.)

William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, said he isn’t too bothered by the reaction:

“I kind of welcome the attention,” Bratton said Wednesday as the negative tweets kept coming nearly 24 hours after cops invited the cyber-submissions….

“Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news,” Bratton said, tossing previous NYPD administrations under the patrol car. “They’ve been out there for a long time.”

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Desert Rose Creations  (C)  2014

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Snowden Docs Expose How the NSA “Infects” Millions of Computers, Impersonates Facebook Server

democracynow democracynow

Guests

Ryan Gallagher, reporter for The Intercept.

New disclosures from Edward Snowden show the NSA is massively expanding its computer hacking worldwide. Software that automatically hacks into computers — known as malware “implants” — had previously been kept to just a few hundred targets. But the news website The Intercept reports that the NSA is spreading the software to millions of computers under an automated system codenamed “Turbine.” The Intercept has also revealed the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. We are joined by The Intercept reporter Ryan Gallagher.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to our last segment, the latest on leaks from Edward Snowden. TheIntercept.org reported last week the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process. The Intercept also revealed the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive.

Joining us now is Ryan Gallagher from The Intercept, co-wrote the piece, “[How] the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware.” Explain, Ryan.

RYAN GALLAGHER: Hi, Amy. Yeah, and the story we wrote last week, really, the key thing about it is the extent to which these techniques have really rapidly escalated in the last decade. And what we can see and what we reported was that, since about 2004, the National Security Agency has expanded the use of what it calls these “implants,” which are sort of malicious software implants within computers and computer networks, and even phone networks, to basically steal data from those systems. About 10 years ago, they had, they say, about a hundred and a hundred and—between a hundred and 150 of these implants, but within the last decade that expanded to an estimated 100,000, in some reports, and they’re building a system to be capable of deploying “millions,” in their own words, of these implants.

AMY GOODMAN: The revelation around the issue of Facebook has led Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to call President Obama on Wednesday and demand an explanation. He later wrote in a blog post, quote, “I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

RYAN GALLAGHER: Yeah, and Mark Zuckerberg was definitely very agitated, we think, about the report and seems to have got on the phone to Obama. And interestingly, the NSA later issued a—actually claimed that they hadn’t impersonated U.S. websites. However, their own documents actually say that they pretended to be the Facebook server for this particular surveillance technique, so their denial sort of doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny when compared with their own documents. And there’s a bit of sort of a—you know, there’s questions to be asked about that.

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S.C.G. News

Posted by S.C.G. February 12, 2014

Rather than grovel and beg for the U.S. government to respect our privacy, these innovators have taken matters into their own hands, and their work may change the playing field completely.

People used to assume that the United States government was held in check by the constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and which demands due process in criminal investigations, but such illusions have evaporated in recent years. It turns out that the NSA considers itself above the law in every respect and feels entitled to spy on anyone anywhere in the world without warrants, and without any real oversight. Understandably these revelations shocked the average citizen who had been conditioned to take the government’s word at face value, and the backlash has been considerable. The recent “Today We Fight Back” campaign to protest the NSA’s surveillance practices shows that public sentiment is in the right place. Whether these kinds of petitions and protests will have any real impact on how the U.S. government operates is questionable (to say the least), however some very smart people have decided not to wait around and find out. Instead they’re focusing on making the NSA’s job impossible. In the process they may fundamentally alter the way the internet operates.

1

Decentralized Social Media – Vole.cc

Anyone who was paying attention at all over the past several years knows that many of the top social media websites Facebook and Google have cooperated with the NSA’s surveillance program under PRISM, handing over the personal information that they’ve been hoarding over the years. Many of us have grown to despise these companies but continue to use their services due to the fact that no real competitors have presented themselves. Yes there are a few sites oriented towards the anti-government niche but nothing that has the potential of opening up the kind of reach that’s possible on Facebook or Google plus. The underlying problem here is that the server technology to run a site even a fraction of the size of Facebook is highly expensive, and to build and maintain a code base that can handle millions of users requires a full time team of highly skilled programmers. What this means is that anyone who wants to launch a real competitor to these sites would have needed to be well funded and have a sustainable business model. But what if someone came up with a system that removed the need for massive centralized servers? That’s just what vole.cc is working to accomplish. Vole.cc is a decentralized social media system in development based on bittorrent and Ember.js which completely cuts the server out of the equation and allows users to build social media networks without exposing their personal information to “authorities” or data mining companies.

2

Getsync Decentralized and Encrypted File Sharing – A Dropbox Alternative

With the revelations that data in Apple’s iCloud was available to the NSA as part of PRISM it has become clear that any centralized file sharing service is vulnerable, and any information that you upload to services like dropbox may end up being inspected by government agents. The folks at Bittorrent didn’t like that idea, so they decided to build a viable alternative, one that doesn’t depend on a centralized server at all and encrypts your data to make it difficult if not impossible to open without your permission. The service claims to already have amassed over 2 million users. Interestingly the vole.cc social media project uses Getsync to manage the social media data on your computer.

 

3

Decentralized & Encrypted Communications – Bittorrent Chat

Don’t like the fact that the NSA has been rummaging through your skype chats, emails and other instant messaging services? Well if you were a bit tech savvy you might have opted to set up your own mumble server or IRC channel, but this route will likely never be approachable for the average citizen and the reliance on a centralized server brings security vulnerabilities. However work is currently underway on a protocol that will completely remove the need for a centralized server and cut the NSA out of the loop entirely.

 

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The Daily Caller

Twitter keeps suspending account critical of Obamacare

Charles C. Johnson

Twitter has repeatedly suspended an account critical of the Affordable Care Act.

The account, @mycancellation, was just getting started when Twitter suspended it—twice—before reinstating the account late Saturday night.

The purpose of @mycancellation or mycancellation.com was to allow some of the millions of Americans who are losing their health insurance to post pictures of themselves with their cancellation letters. “Help us show Washington the faces who lost what they liked,” the account asked. “ObamaCare canceled your health insurance. Now, send us your letter,” the tagline for the website advertised.

More bad news about Obamacare. More bad news for Wendy Davis.

Real ppl are losing insurance they were told they could keep. Send your picture & letter: letters@mycancellation.com

The Twitter account quickly gained steam and had over 1,000 followers before Twitter suspended it.

Late Saturday night Heather Higgins, CEO and president of the Independent Women’s Voice, announced on Facebook that the account was suspended again.

“We were suspended yesterday late afternoon without a notice email,” Victoria Coley, who along with Eric Kohn is running the account, told The Daily Caller.

Kohn managed to get the account reinstated. “Tonight shortly before 11:30pm ET the handle was canceled again,” Coley told TheDC. “We are looking into the issue now to see whether Twitter can give us a reason.”

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Without their knowledge or permission, the National Security Agency has broken into the global data centers of Yahoo! and Google, the Washington Post is reporting on Wednesday.

In a report that terms the specific NSA surveillance program as “unusually aggressive,” the newspaper claims that leaked documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show how the operation, codenamed MUSCULAR, allowed the agency to access the “cloud networks” of the two internet giants and “collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans.”

Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the leaked drawing from the NSA: “I hope you publish this,” one of them said.

“The NSA does not keep everything it collects,” the Post reports, “but it keeps a lot.”

Though the stream of information generated by the Snowden leaks seems endless, these latest revelations come amid growing concern both in the U.S. and abroad about the unrivaled power of the NSA when it comes to accessing information that was otherwise thought protected.

In this case, it is the internet giants themselves who seem most caught off guard over the revelations. Since the Snowden leaks first began, these companies (along with others) have been criticized for allowing the NSA specific kinds of access to their customer data.  As the Post reports, however, disclosure of the MUSCULAR program becomes “especially striking,”

because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

When asked by the Post if they were aware of the program, both Yahoo! and Google adamantly said they did not know and expressed deep concern—anger, in fact—that the NSA had possibly infiltrated their private, highly secure, “cloud” networks.

As the Post explains:

In order for the data centers to operate effectively, they synchronize high volumes of information about account holders. Yahoo’s internal network, for example, sometimes transmits entire e-mail archives — years of messages and attachments — from one data center to another.

Tapping the Google and Yahoo clouds allows the NSA to intercept communications in real time and to take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to one internal NSA document.

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.

Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes.

In an NSA presentation slide on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” however, a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where their data resides. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is “added and removed here!” The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.

Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. “I hope you publish this,” one of them said.

Whether those in the outraged public will find sympathy with the likes of Google and Yahoo!, the exposure of MUSCULAR shows the degree to which online data—even that which was thought to be more secure—is susceptible to the reach of the NSA.

One of the other key takeaways from the Post reporting is how this particular program seemed to target communication hubs and data centers located outside of the U.S., showing that legal requirements, though clearly not effective overall, certainly have an impact on the manner in which the NSA operates. Again, from the report:

Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to “full take,” “bulk access” and “high volume” operations on Yahoo and Google networks. Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.

Outside U.S. territory, statutory restrictions on surveillance seldom apply and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has no jurisdiction. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has acknowledged that Congress conducts little oversight of intelligence-gathering under the presidential authority of Executive Order 12333 , which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies.

John Schindler, a former NSA chief analyst and frequent defender who teaches at the Naval War College, said it was obvious why the agency would prefer to avoid restrictions where it can.

“Look, NSA has platoons of lawyers and their entire job is figuring out how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole,” he said. “It’s fair to say the rules are less restrictive under Executive Order 12333 than they are under FISA.”

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Snowden leak: NSA secretly accessed Yahoo, Google data centers to collect information

 

Published time: October 30, 2013 16:36
Edited time: October 30, 2013 17:58

Google data center

Google data center

Despite having front-door access to communications transmitted across the biggest Internet companies on Earth, the National Security Agency has been secretly tapping into the two largest online entities in the world, new leaked documents reveal.

Those documents, supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and obtained by the Washington Post, suggest that the US intelligence agency and its British counterpart have compromised data passed through the computers of Google and Yahoo, the two biggest companies in the world with regards to overall Internet traffic, and in turn allowed those country’s governments and likely their allies access to hundreds of millions of user accounts from individuals around the world.

From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants,” the Post’s Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani reported on Wednesday.

The document providing evidence of such was among the trove of files supplied by Mr. Snowden and is dated January 9, 2013, making it among the most recent top-secret files attributed to the 30-year-old whistleblower.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, told reporters Wednesday afternoon, “I don’t know what the report is,” according to Politico, and said his agency is “not authorized” to tap into Silicon Valley companies. When asked if the NSA tapped into the data centers, Alexander said, “Not to my knowledge.”

 

Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander (AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander (AFP Photo / Alex Wong)

Earlier this year, separate documentation supplied by Mr. Snowden disclosed evidence of PRISM, an NSA-operated program that the intelligence company conducted to target the users of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple services. When that program was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper in June, reporters there said it allowed the NSA to “collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats” while having direct access to the companies’ servers, at times with the “assistance of communication providers in the US.”

According to the latest leak, the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters are conducting similar operations targeting the users of at least two of these companies, although this time under utmost secrecy.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process,” the Post noted.

And while top-brass in the US intelligence community defended PRISM and said it did not target American Internet users, the newest program — codenamed MUSCULAR — sweeps up data pertaining to the accounts of many Americans, the Post acknowledged.

The MUSCULAR program, according to Wednesday’s leak, involves a process in which the NSA and GCHQ intercept communications overseas, where lax restrictions and oversight allow the agencies access to intelligence with ease.

NSA documents about the effort refer directly to ‘full take,’ ‘bulk access’ and ‘high volume’ operations on Yahoo and Google networks,” the Post reported. “Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.”

 

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NBC News Technology

Snapchat

Snapchat

The reputation of Snapchat as an “ephemeral” photo messaging service took another blow Monday, when the app let it be known that it can — and will — share your snaps and (newly introduced) “stories” with the cops. There are two conditions, though: The snaps can’t have been opened by the recipient yet, and law enforcement needs to have a warrant. And while 350 million snaps are now sent every day, Snapchat has turned over unopened snaps to law enforcement “about a dozen times,” since May 2013, according to a company blog post.

Civilians can use several methods (as well as a new app called Snaphack) to save snaps, which are designed to disappear 30 seconds after opening, both from the recipient’s mobile device and from Snapchat’s own servers. The app company says as much in its privacy policy. “We cannot guarantee that deletion always occurs within a particular time frame. We also cannot prevent others from making copies of your Snaps (e.g., by taking a screenshot).”

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Google-bye to privacy? Users’ faces, names and comments are going in ads

 

Published time: October 12, 2013 14:40
Edited time: October 12, 2013 16:30
Reuters / Mark Blinch

Reuters / Mark Blinch

 

It means that starting Nov. 11, when Google’s new terms of service go live, all content (video, brands or products) Google+ and YouTube users publicly endorse by clicking on the “+1” or “Like” button can appear in an ad with that person’s image.

Such “shared endorsements” ads will also appear on millions of other websites that are part of Google’s display advertising network.

Google+ users will have the ability to opt out by turn the setting to “off,” but at the same time it “doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.”

“For users under 18, their actions won’t appear in shared endorsements in ads and certain other contexts,” the announcement on Google’s website reads.

Another way to “opt out” is just stop “liking”, sharing and publicly checking-in.

 

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Yahoo CEO Mayer: we faced jail if we revealed NSA surveillance secrets

Marissa Mayer

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer: ‘Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated’, she told the TechCrunch disrupt conference. Photograph: Reuters

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook struck back on Wednesday at critics who have charged tech companies with doing too little to fight off NSA surveillance. Mayer said executives faced jail if they revealed government secrets.

Yahoo and Facebook, along with other tech firms, are pushing for the right to be allowed to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. Companies are forbidden by law to disclose how much data they provide.

During an interview at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Mayer was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the US surveillance industry was up to. “Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” she said.

Mayer said she was “proud to be part of an organisation that from the beginning, in 2007, has been sceptical of – and has been scrutinizing – those requests [from the NSA].”

Yahoo has previously unsuccessfully sued the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, which provides the legal framework for NSA surveillance. In 2007 it asked to be allowed to publish details of requests it receives from the spy agency. “When you lose and you don’t comply, it’s treason,” said Mayer. “We think it make more sense to work within the system,” she said.

Zuckerberg said the government had done a “bad job” of balancing people’s privacy and its duty to protect. “Frankly I think the government blew it,” he said.

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Zuckerberg says U.S. ‘blew it’ on NSA spying

Posted:   09/11/2013 05:47:38 PM PDT | Updated:   about 12 hours ago
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is seen on a display as he speaks at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2013. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is seen on a display as he speaks at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2013. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the annual Tech Crunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2013. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) ( Dai Sugano )

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lashed out at the U.S. government Wednesday, saying that authorities have hurt Silicon Valley companies by doing a poor job of explaining the online spying efforts of U.S. intelligence agencies.

“Frankly I think the government blew it,” Zuckerberg complained during an onstage interview at the tech industry conference known as Disrupt, a weeklong event where Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer and other prominent tech executives also spoke out publicly and expressed frustration in person, for the first time, since a series of news leaks revealed the government’s controversial surveillance programs.

“It’s our government’s job to protect all of us and also protect our freedoms and protect the economy, and companies,” Zuckerberg told interviewer Michael Arrington, “and I think they did a bad job of balancing those things.”

He went on to say: “They blew it on communicating the balance of what they were going for.”

Facebook and other Internet companies have been under intense pressure in recent months after a series of news reports that suggest U.S. intelligence agencies have gained access to the online activities and communications involving users of Facebook and other popular services. Some of those reports have suggested that unnamed companies have cooperated with the U.S. efforts, although the details are unclear.

Analysts say those reports could hurt the companies financially, especially overseas, if consumers and business customers believe their sensitive information isn’t safe from government prying.

Along with Google (GOOG), Yahoo and other tech giants, Facebook has insisted it doesn’t give the government free rein to tap into its servers. But the companies also say they comply with legal requests to turn over user information. And they have chafed at national security rules that prohibit them from discussing the details of their actions.

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The Denver Post 
Posted:   06/20/2013 06:27:50 PM MDT
Updated:   06/21/2013 10:47:38 AM MDT

By Chris Staiti and Barry Bortnick, Bloomberg News


Norwood School Superintendent David Crews said experts were brought in to talk about hazing and bullying in the wake of an incident in which a 13-year-old boy was sodomized by upperclassmen. Crews imposed a one-day, in-school suspension on the three boys accused of the assault. (Barry Bortnick/Bloomberg News)

NORWOOD, Colo. — At the state high-school wrestling tournament in Denver last year, three upperclassmen cornered a 13-year-old boy on an empty school bus, bound him with duct tape and sodomized him with a pencil.

For the boy and his family, that was only the beginning.

The students were from Norwood, Colo., a ranching town of about 500 people near the Telluride ski resort. Two of the attackers were sons of Robert Harris, the wrestling coach, who was president of the school board. The victim’s father was the K-12 principal.

After the principal reported the incident to police, townspeople forced him to resign. Students protested against the victim at school, put “Go to Hell” stickers on his locker and wore T-shirts

Norwood, Colo., is so small that its 300 students in preschool through 12th grade attend classes in a single building. (Barry Bortnick/Bloomberg News)

that supported the perpetrators. The attackers later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, according to the Denver district attorney’s office.”Nobody would help us,” said the victim’s father, who asked not to be named to protect his son’s privacy. Bloomberg News doesn’t identify victims of sexual assault. “We contacted everybody and nobody would help us,” he said.

High-school hazing and bullying used to involve name- calling, towel-snapping and stuffing boys into lockers. Now, boys sexually abusing other boys is part of the ritual. More than 40 high school boys were sodomized with foreign objects by their teammates in over a dozen alleged incidents reported in the past year, compared with about three incidents a decade ago, according to a Bloomberg review of court documents and news accounts.

Among them, boys were raped with a broken flagpole outside Los Angeles; a metal concrete-reinforcing bar in Fontana, Calif.; a jump-rope handle in Greenfield, Iowa; and a water bottle in Hardin, Mo., according to court rulings and prosecutors.

At New York’s elite Bronx High School of Science, three teenage track-team members were arrested after a freshman teammate alleged they repeatedly hazed him between December

Norwood’s single main street, with laundromat and diner, presents a working-class contrast to the lavish Telluride ski and summer resort 33 miles away. (Barry Bortnick/Bloomberg News)

and February, including holding the boy down and sodomizing him with their fingers. They pleaded not guilty in New York state criminal court in the Bronx, according to Melvin Hernandez, a spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney’s office. A lawyer for one of the boys was unavailable for comment; the other two declined to comment.While little research has been done on boy-on-boy sexual hazing, almost 10 percent of high school males reported being victims of rape, forced oral sex or other forms of sexual assault by their peers, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

“This is right out of ‘Lord of the Flies,”‘ said Susan Stuart, a professor of education law at Valparaiso University Law School in Indiana, who has studied an increase in federal lawsuits brought by male victims of sexual hazing. “And nobody knows about it.”

Hazing in high school is fueling college hazing, experts say, as a new generation of players on middle- and high-school sports teams learn ways to haze through social media, said Susan Lipkins, a psychologist in Port Washington, N.Y., who has studied the subject for 25 years. The practice has been increasing in frequency over the past decade, becoming more brutal and sexually violent, she said.

“Each time a hazing occurs, the perpetrators add their own mark to it by increasing the pain or humiliation,” Lipkins said.

High school boys are trying to prove their masculinity to each other by humiliating younger boys because that’s what they think manliness is all about, said William Pollack, associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

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