Category: Social Networks


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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.”

___________________________________________

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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Series: Glenn Greenwald on security and liberty

 

Edward Snowden: NSA whistleblower answers reader questions

The whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history answered your questions about the NSA surveillance revelations

Edward Snowden Hong Kong
The NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, pictured in a Hong Kong hotel. Photograph: The Guardian

9.00am ET

Edward Snowden Q&A

It is the interview the world’s media organisations have been chasing for more than a week, but instead Edward Snowden is giving Guardian readers the exclusive.

The 29-year-old former NSA contractor and source of the Guardian’s NSA files coverage will – with the help of Glenn Greenwald – take your questions today on why he revealed the NSA’s top-secret surveillance of US citizens, the international storm that has ensued, and the uncertain future he now faces. Ask him anything.

Snowden, who has fled the US, told the Guardian he “does not expect to see home again”, but where he’ll end up has yet to be determined.

He will be online today from 11am ET/4pm BST today. An important caveat: the live chat is subject to Snowden’s security concerns and also his access to a secure internet connection. It is possible that he will appear and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while to get through the questions, please be patient.

To participate, post your question below and recommend your favorites. As he makes his way through the thread, we’ll embed his replies as posts in the live blog. You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #AskSnowden.

We expect the site to experience high demand so we’ll re-publish the Q&A in full after the live chat has finished.

Updated at 10.03am ET

11.07am ET

Question:

User avatar for GlennGreenwald Guardian staff

Let’s begin with these:

1) Why did you choose Hong Kong to go to and then tell them about US hacking on their research facilities and universities?

2) How many sets of the documents you disclosed did you make, and how many different people have them? If anything happens to you, do they still exist?

Answer:

1) First, the US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That’s not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it.

Second, let’s be clear: I did not reveal any US operations against legitimate military targets. I pointed out where the NSA has hacked civilian infrastructure such as universities, hospitals, and private businesses because it is dangerous. These nakedly, aggressively criminal acts are wrong no matter the target. Not only that, when NSA makes a technical mistake during an exploitation operation, critical systems crash. Congress hasn’t declared war on the countries – the majority of them are our allies – but without asking for public permission, NSA is running network operations against them that affect millions of innocent people. And for what? So we can have secret access to a computer in a country we’re not even fighting? So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own Police? No, the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the “consent of the governed” is meaningless.

2) All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.

11.13am ET

Question:

User avatar for ewenmacaskill Guardian staff

I should have asked you this when I saw you but never got round to it……..Why did you just not fly direct to Iceland if that is your preferred country for asylum?

Answer:

Leaving the US was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored. There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route, so I had to travel with no advance booking to a country with the cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained. Hong Kong provided that. Iceland could be pushed harder, quicker, before the public could have a chance to make their feelings known, and I would not put that past the current US administration.

11.17am ET

Question:

You have said HERE that you admire both Ellsberg and Manning, but have argued that there is one important distinction between yourself and the army private…

“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

Are you suggesting that Manning indiscriminately dumped secrets into the hands of Wikileaks and that he intended to harm people?

Answer:

No, I’m not. Wikileaks is a legitimate journalistic outlet and they carefully redacted all of their releases in accordance with a judgment of public interest. The unredacted release of cables was due to the failure of a partner journalist to control a passphrase. However, I understand that many media outlets used the argument that “documents were dumped” to smear Manning, and want to make it clear that it is not a valid assertion here.

11.20am ET

Question:

Did you lie about your salary? What is the issue there? Why did you tell Glenn Greenwald that your salary was $200,000 a year, when it was only $122,000 (according to the firm that fired you.)

Answer:

I was debriefed by Glenn and his peers over a number of days, and not all of those conversations were recorded. The statement I made about earnings was that $200,000 was my “career high” salary. I had to take pay cuts in the course of pursuing specific work. Booz was not the most I’ve been paid.

11.23am ET

Question:

Why did you wait to release the documents if you said you wanted to tell the world about the NSA programs since before Obama became president?

Answer:

Obama’s campaign promises and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly. Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge.

11.27am ET

Question:

1) Define in as much detail as you can what “direct access” means.

2) Can analysts listen to content of domestic calls without a warrant?

Answer:

1) More detail on how direct NSA’s accesses are is coming, but in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on – it’s all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed.

Updated at 11.41am ET

11.40am ET

1) Define in as much detail as you can what “direct access” means.

2) Can analysts listen to content of domestic calls without a warrant?

2) NSA likes to use “domestic” as a weasel word here for a number of reasons. The reality is that due to the FISA Amendments Act and its section 702 authorities, Americans’ communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant. They excuse this as “incidental” collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications. Even in the event of “warranted” intercept, it’s important to understand the intelligence community doesn’t always deal with what you would consider a “real” warrant like a Police department would have to, the “warrant” is more of a templated form they fill out and send to a reliable judge with a rubber stamp.

Glenn Greenwald follow up: When you say “someone at NSA still has the content of your communications” – what do you mean? Do you mean they have a record of it, or the actual content?

Both. If I target for example an email address, for example under FAA 702, and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything. And it gets saved for a very long time – and can be extended further with waivers rather than warrants.

11.41am ET

Question:

What are your thoughts on Google’s and Facebook’s denials? Do you think that they’re honestly in the dark about PRISM, or do you think they’re compelled to lie?

Perhaps this is a better question to a lawyer like Greenwald, but: If you’re presented with a secret order that you’re forbidding to reveal the existence of, what will they actually do if you simply refuse to comply (without revealing the order)?

Answer:

Their denials went through several revisions as it become more and more clear they were misleading and included identical, specific language across companies. As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we’re finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception.

They are legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program, but that does not comply them from ethical obligation. If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?

11.55am ET

Question:

Ed Snowden, I thank you for your brave service to our country.

Some skepticism exists about certain of your claims, including this:

I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email.

Do you stand by that, and if so, could you elaborate?

Answer:

Yes, I stand by it. US Persons do enjoy limited policy protections (and again, it’s important to understand that policy protection is no protection – policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens) and one very weak technical protection – a near-the-front-end filter at our ingestion points. The filter is constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the “widest allowable aperture,” and can be stripped out at any time. Even with the filter, US comms get ingested, and even more so as soon as they leave the border. Your protected communications shouldn’t stop being protected communications just because of the IP they’re tagged with.

More fundamentally, the “US Persons” protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal.”

12.04pm ET

Question:

User avatar for Spencer Ackerman Guardian staff

Edward, there is rampant speculation, outpacing facts, that you have or will provide classified US information to the Chinese or other governments in exchange for asylum. Have/will you?

Answer:

This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk “RED CHINA!” reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn’t I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.

12.10pm ET     

Question:

Kimberly Dozier Kimberly Dozier @KimberlyDozier

US officials say terrorists already altering TTPs because of your leaks, & calling you traitor. Respond? http://www.guardiannews.com 

Answer:

US officials say this every time there’s a public discussion that could limit their authority. US officials also provide misleading or directly false assertions about the value of these programs, as they did just recently with the Zazi case, which court documents clearly show was not unveiled by PRISM.

Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we’ve been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.

Further, it’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.

Updated at 12.11pm ET

12.12pm ET

Question:

Is encrypting my email any good at defeating the NSA survelielance? Id my data protected by standard encryption?

Answer:

Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.

Question:

Jacob Appelbaum Jacob Appelbaum @ioerror

Do you believe that the treatment of Binney, Drake and others influenced your path? Do you feel the “system works” so to speak?

Answer:

Binney, Drake, Kiriakou, and Manning are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures. Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they’ll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers. If the Obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they’ll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response.

This disclosure provides Obama an opportunity to appeal for a return to sanity, constitutional policy, and the rule of law rather than men. He still has plenty of time to go down in history as the President who looked into the abyss and stepped back, rather than leaping forward into it. I would advise he personally call for a special committee to review these interception programs, repudiate the dangerous “State Secrets” privilege, and, upon preparing to leave office, begin a tradition for all Presidents forthwith to demonstrate their respect for the law by appointing a special investigator to review the policies of their years in office for any wrongdoing. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny – they should be setting the example of transparency.

12.28pm ET

Question:

What would you say to others who are in a position to leak classified information that could improve public understanding of the intelligence apparatus of the USA and its effect on civil liberties?

What evidence do you have that refutes the assertion that the NSA is unable to listen to the content of telephone calls without an explicit and defined court order from FISC?

Answer:

This country is worth dying for.

12.34pm ET

Question:

My question: given the enormity of what you are facing now in terms of repercussions, can you describe the exact moment when you knew you absolutely were going to do this, no matter the fallout, and what it now feels like to be living in a post-revelation world? Or was it a series of moments that culminated in action? I think it might help other people contemplating becoming whistleblowers if they knew what the ah-ha moment was like. Again, thanks for your courage and heroism.

Answer:

I imagine everyone’s experience is different, but for me, there was no single moment. It was seeing a continuing litany of lies from senior officials to Congress – and therefore the American people – and the realization that that Congress, specifically the Gang of Eight, wholly supported the lies that compelled me to act. Seeing someone in the position of James Clapper – the Director of National Intelligence – baldly lying to the public without repercussion is the evidence of a subverted democracy. The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed.

12.37pm ET

Follow-up from the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman:

Regarding whether you have secretly given classified information to the Chinese government, some are saying you didn’t answer clearly – can you give a flat no?

Answer:

No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists.

12.41pm ET

Question:

So far are things going the way you thought they would regarding a public debate? – tikkamasala

Answer:

Initially I was very encouraged. Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history.

12.43pm ET

Final question from Glenn Greenwald:

Anything else you’d like to add?

Answer:

Thanks to everyone for their support, and remember that just because you are not the target of a surveillance program does not make it okay. The US Person / foreigner distinction is not a reasonable substitute for individualized suspicion, and is only applied to improve support for the program. This is the precise reason that NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance.

 

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Hackers send fake market-moving AP tweet on White House explosions

The White House is seen from the South Lawn in Washington October 17, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON | Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:32pm EDT

 

(Reuters) – Hackers took control of the Associated Press Twitter account on Tuesday and sent a false tweet about explosions in the White House that briefly sent U.S. financial markets reeling.

 

In the latest high-profile hacking incident involving social media service Twitter, an official @AP account reported that two explosions at the White House injured President Barack Obama.

 

AP spokesman Paul Colford quickly confirmed the tweet was “bogus,” and White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Obama was fine, just minutes after the tweet hit a little after 1 p.m. (1700 GMT).

 

But within 3 minutes of the tweet’s release, virtually all U.S. markets took a plunge on the false news in what one trader described as “pure chaos.”

 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the bogus tweet and its impact on the markets, SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher told Reuters in an interview.

 

“I can’t tell you exactly what the facts are at this point or what we are looking for, but for sure we want to understand major swings like that, however short it was,” Gallagher said.

 

Reuters data showed the tweet briefly wiped out $136.5 billion of the S&P 500 index’s value before markets recovered. Some traders attributed the sharp fall and bounce-back to automatic electronic trading.

 

At a time when cybersecurity and hacking have become top national security concerns, Twitter and its reach to hundreds of millions of users is coming under growing scrutiny for the risk of privacy breaches on the site.

 

A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army, which is supportive of that country’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, during the two-year civil war, claimed responsibility on Tuesday on its own Twitter feed for the AP hack.

 

The group has in the past taken credit for similar invasions into Twitter accounts of National Public Radio, BBC, CBS’s “60 Minutes” program and Reuters News.

 

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the Tuesday breach, saying the company did not comment “on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.” An FBI representative had no immediate comment.

 

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” said Stewart Baker, a cybersecurity lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington. “AP should have had better passwords, Twitter should have gone to at least optional two-factor authentication months ago, and guys on the Street really should be thinking twice before they trade on Twitter reports. That’s risky.”

 

For years, security experts have called on Twitter to introduce a two-factor authentication measure, which requires a two-step process to log in and which they say would greatly reduce such breaches.

Read Full Article Here

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Syrian Electronic Army Takes Credit for AP Hack

Tweet claimed Obama was injured in White House attack

By Kristen Meriwether, | April 23, 2013
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A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army appears to be taking credit for hacking The Associated Press Twitter account and sending out a fake tweet claiming President Obama was injured in an explosion.

The group claimed responsibility by tweeting the following: “Ops! @AP get owned by Syrian Electronic Army! #SEA #Syria #ByeByeObama pic.twitter.com/HTKoO6gIL6.” Being “owned” is the vernacular in the hacker world for a successful attack.

Linked to the tweet was also a photo of AP’s Twitter banner having been replaced by a Syrian Electronic Army graphic.

The Associated Press Twitter account generated some brief shock waves on Tuesday afternoon, when it sent out a tweet at 1:07 p.m. describing an explosion at the White House. “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

The Associated Press confirmed the tweet was fake and their account had been hacked.

Read Full Article Here

 

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Fake AP tweet latest hacking claimed by pro-Assad ‘army’

A tweet by the nation’s largest newswire about a catastrophe at the White House was nearly immediately shot down as false on Tuesday.

By Emily AlpertApril 23, 2013, 2:08 p.m.

A fake tweet that claimed President Obama had been injured after explosions went off at the White House was quickly debunked by the Associated Press, which said its Twitter account had been hacked.

But a band of hackers who support Syrian President Bashar Assad crowed that they had sent Americans into a tizzy.

“This small tweet created some chaos in the United States in addition to a decline in some U.S. stocks,” the Syrian Electronic Army wrote on its website, referring to a brief, steep drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It claimed credit for hijacking both @AP and @AP_Mobile.

Overtaking the news agency on Twitter is the latest in a long string of attacks for which the group has claimed credit. The hackers pledge allegiance to Assad and call the rebellion against his government “an armed insurrection that seeks to lead Syria into a dreadful anarchy.”

Online, the group has waged a cyber war parallel to the real and deadly battles in the streets of Syria, harassing groups that back rebels and media outlets it sees as biased.

Earlier this week, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed to have hacked Twitter accounts for FIFA, the world soccer federation, and its president, Joseph Blatter. The organization has been trying to fend off allegations that Qatar – which backs Syrian rebels – bribed officials in order to host the 2022 World Cup.

 

Read Full Article Here

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