Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

US government surveillance of citizens steadily increases

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Combine the increasing constant surveillance of US citizens by the government with the increasing militarization of police and the increasing immunity of police from any sort of accountability—plus the US government’s undeniable fondness for, and support of, repressive dictatorships, and you can see the future. Here are two sobering articles:

How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance, Snowden Be Damned, by Lee Fang in The Intercept – Government controlled by, and run for, big business is pretty much the definition of Fascism. The article begins:

Since November 11, 2011, with the introduction of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, American spy agencies have been pushing laws to encourage corporations to share more customer information. They repeatedly failed, thanks in part to NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance. Then came Republican victories in last year’s midterm Congressional elections and a major push by corporate interests in favor of the legislation.

Today, the bill is back, largely unchanged, and if congressional insiders and the bill’s sponsors are to believed, the legislation could end up on President Obama’s desk as soon as this month. In another boon to the legislation, Obama is expected to reverse his past opposition and sign it, albeit in an amended and renamed form (CISPA is now CISA, the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”). The reversal comes in the wake of high-profile hacks on JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The bill has also benefitted greatly from lobbying by big business, which sees it as a way to cut costs and to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government.

For all its appeal to corporations, CISA represents a major new privacy threat to individual citizens. It lays the groundwork for corporations to feed massive amounts of communications to  private consortiums and the federal government, a scale of cooperation even greater than that revealed by Snowden. The law also breaks new ground in suppressing pushback against privacy invasions; in exchange for channeling data to the government, businesses are granted broad legal immunity from privacy lawsuits — potentially leaving consumers without protection if companies break privacy promises that would otherwise keep information out of the hands of authorities.

Ostensibly, CISA is supposed to help businesses guard against cyber attacks by sharing information on threats with one another and with the government. Attempts must be made to filter personal information out of the pool of data that is shared. But the legislation — at least as marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee — provides an expansive definition of what can be construed as a cyber security threat, including any information for responding to or mitigating “an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm,” or that is potentially related to threats relating to weapons of mass destruction, threats to minors, identity theft, espionage, protection of trade secrets, and other possible offenses. Asked at a hearing in February how quickly such information could be shared with the FBI, CIA, or NSA, Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity Phyllis Schneck replied, “fractions of a second.”

Questions persist on how to more narrowly define a cyber security threat, what type of personal data is shared, and which government agencies would retain and store this data. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who cast the lone dissenting vote against CISA on the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared the legislation “a surveillance bill by another name.” . . .

Continue reading.

The FBI Wants to Kill Encryption. Meanwhile, the Pentagon Buys New Crypto Phones, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai in Motherboard:

To protect the communications of American servicemen and women, the Department of Defense has turn​ed to Silent Circle, a company that makes apps and even a phone that are designed to protect privacy with strong encryption.

And it’s not just strong encryption; Silent Circle is built on ​making services that can’t be compromised, that are designed to take even the company out of the equation. In theory, Silent Circle founders always say, even they can’t spy on you because they use end-to-end encryption and don’t have access to the keys. And in turn, governments can’t force them to turn over their users’ data.

In light of the recent debate over encryption, led by the FBI Director James Comey, who has publicly said that new encryption technologies threaten “to lead all of us to a very dark place,” it might seems a little ironic that some parts of the US government want exactly what other parts are railing against.

Even the people selling these apps and phones to the Pentagon haven’t missed the irony.

“It’s beyond ridiculous to me,” Mike Janke, the chairman and co-founder of Silent Circle, told Motherboard. “They need it, why can’t the public need it? Why shouldn’t we be allowed to have it?”

The argument of Comey, as well as other high-ranking officials like Attorney GeneralEric Hol​der, and even NSA Director Mike Rogers, is that encryption is fine as long as authorities have a way to circumvent it if they need to. That’d be the case if they want to, say, monitor a terrorist, or a pedophile. If they can’t do that, they say, they would “go d​ark,” which is an FBI expression to describe a future where technology makes it impossible to to intercept criminals’ communications or break into their computers or phones.

But encryption supporters counter that the FBI has been complaining about this issue since the 1990s, and that even though encryption has become more widespread, it’s never been a significant hurdle for law enforcement. In 2013, for example, feds encountered encryption in only 41 cases, and that stopped them only nine times, according to government data. . .

Continue reading.


Written by Leisureguy

1 April 2015 at 12:10 pm

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Brian By Experience.


    Brian Dead Rift Webb

    1 April 2015 at 11:42 pm

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