"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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Edward Snowden’s Not The Story. The Fate Of The Internet Is.

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm
Edward Snowden

While the press concentrates on the furore surrounding Edward Snowden’s search for political asylum, it has forgotten the importance of his revelations. Photograph: Tatyana Lokshina/AP

Oldspeak: “Here are some of the things we should be thinking about as a result of what we have learned so far.  The first is that the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered… Second, the issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious…. Third… the Obama administration’s “internet freedom agenda” has been exposed as patronising cant…. (Fourth) No US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their “cloud” services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA.” –John Naughton

“Look past the “Where’s Waldo” narrative that been propagandized by state media outlets. The last free and open source of communication and distribution of free information and truthful knowledge is fast becoming a thing of the past. It’s being turned into a global surveillance network. You no longer should have any reasonable expectation for privacy of any activities you engage in digitally. The Stasi couldn’t have dreamed of doing it better.” –OSJ

By John Naughton @ The U.K. Guardian:

Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world’s mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose contempt for journalists was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower.

In a way, it doesn’t matter why the media lost the scent. What matters is that they did. So as a public service, let us summarise what Snowden has achieved thus far.

Without him, we would not know how the National Security Agency (NSA) had been able to access the emails, Facebook accounts and videos of citizens across the world; or how it had secretly acquired the phone records of millions of Americans; or how, through a secret court, it has been able to bend nine US internet companies to its demands for access to their users’ data.

Similarly, without Snowden, we would not be debating whether the US government should have turned surveillance into a huge, privatised business, offering data-mining contracts to private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton and, in the process, high-level security clearance to thousands of people who shouldn’t have it. Nor would there be – finally – a serious debate between Europe (excluding the UK, which in these matters is just an overseas franchise of the US) and the United States about where the proper balance between freedom and security lies.

These are pretty significant outcomes and they’re just the first-order consequences of Snowden’s activities. As far as most of our mass media are concerned, though, they have gone largely unremarked. Instead, we have been fed a constant stream of journalistic pap – speculation about Snowden’s travel plans, asylum requests, state of mind, physical appearance, etc. The “human interest” angle has trumped the real story, which is what the NSA revelations tell us about how our networked world actually works and the direction in which it is heading.

As an antidote, here are some of the things we should be thinking about as a result of what we have learned so far.

The first is that the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. It was always a possibility that the system would eventually be Balkanised, ie divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decided that they needed to control how their citizens communicated. Now, Balkanisation is a certainty.

Second, the issue of internet governance is about to become very contentious. Given what we now know about how the US and its satraps have been abusing their privileged position in the global infrastructure, the idea that the western powers can be allowed to continue to control it has become untenable.

Third, as Evgeny Morozov has pointed out, the Obama administration’s “internet freedom agenda” has been exposed as patronising cant. “Today,” he writes, “the rhetoric of the ‘internet freedom agenda’ looks as trustworthy as George Bush’s ‘freedom agenda’ after Abu Ghraib.”

That’s all at nation-state level. But the Snowden revelations also have implications for you and me.

They tell us, for example, that no US-based internet company can be trusted to protect our privacy or data. The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their “cloud” services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA. That means that if you’re thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again.

And if you think that that sounds like the paranoid fantasising of a newspaper columnist, then consider what Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, had to say on the matter recently. “If businesses or governments think they might be spied on,” she said, “they will have less reason to trust the cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out. Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets, if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes? Front or back door – it doesn’t matter – any smart person doesn’t want the information shared at all. Customers will act rationally and providers will miss out on a great opportunity.”

Spot on. So when your chief information officer proposes to use the Amazon or Google cloud as a data-store for your company’s confidential documents, tell him where to file the proposal. In the shredder

 

 

UPSTREAM, They Know Much More About You Than You Think

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm
bamford_1-081513.jpg

The headquarters of the National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Maryland

Oldspeak: “Within days of Snowden’s documents appearing in The Guardian and The Washington Post, revealing several of the National Security Agency’s extensive domestic surveillance programs, bookstores reported a sudden spike in the sales of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984. On Amazon.com, the book made the “Movers & Shakers” list and skyrocketed 6,021 percent in a single day. Written sixty-five years ago, it described a fictitious totalitarian society where a shadowy leader known as “Big Brother” controls his population through invasive surveillance. “The telescreens,” Orwell wrote, “have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone….” –James Bamford

“The most awesome and near omniscient surveillance network ever created by man has been revealed in much of its grotesquely invasive corptalitarian horror. And what was American’s response? CONSUME.  Sales of the script to the horror show we are currently living Orwell’s “1984” exploded 6,000 PERCENT. No critical thoughts given to the personal telescreens/tracking device/listening device/thought recorder/microwave radiation emitter a.k.a. smart phones. Sheeple literally responded to news that all their actions on the internet are being watched, stored and analyzed, by buying a dystopian novel on the internet. All those people should consider themselves a “selector”. 🙂  More and more I’m seeing all these hip sexy cool invitations to “share everything” via your telescreen. Incessant exhortations to use your telescreen to buy everything, check things, secure things, pay things, scan things, tweet things, like things, post things, photograph things, record things, ask things, watch things, play things, listen to things, control devices, read, get medical advice, report crime, inform on others, etc, etc, etc…. Never mind that your ever expanding constellation of ever more convenient and personalizable apps are watching youSoon, your televisions, dvr’s and video games will watch you too. Keep consuming, keep providing free content, that make it ever easier to target more marketing at you to buy more shit you don’t need. When will we wake from our hyperconsumptive soma coma?. I’ll tell you one thing though, somebody is making an ass ton of money collecting and analyzing this exponentially expanding flow of digital content. ” –OSJ

By James Bamford @ The New York Review Of Books:

In mid-May, Edward Snowden, an American in his late twenties, walked through the onyx entrance of the Mira Hotel on Nathan Road in Hong Kong and checked in. He was pulling a small black travel bag and had a number of laptop cases draped over his shoulders. Inside those cases were four computers packed with some of his country’s most closely held secrets.

Within days of Snowden’s documents appearing in The Guardian and The Washington Post, revealing several of the National Security Agency’s extensive domestic surveillance programs, bookstores reported a sudden spike in the sales of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984. On Amazon.com, the book made the “Movers & Shakers” list and skyrocketed 6,021 percent in a single day. Written sixty-five years ago, it described a fictitious totalitarian society where a shadowy leader known as “Big Brother” controls his population through invasive surveillance. “The telescreens,” Orwell wrote, “have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone….”

Today, as the Snowden documents make clear, it is the NSA that keeps track of phone calls, monitors communications, and analyzes people’s thoughts through data mining of Google searches and other online activity. “Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it,” Orwell wrote about his protagonist, Winston Smith.

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Of course the US is not a totalitarian society, and no equivalent of Big Brother runs it, as the widespread reporting of Snowden’s information shows. We know little about what uses the NSA makes of most information available to it—it claims to have exposed a number of terrorist plots—and it has yet to be shown what effects its activities may have on the lives of most American citizens. Congressional committees and a special federal court are charged with overseeing its work, although they are committed to secrecy, and the court can hear appeals only from the government.

Still, the US intelligence agencies also seem to have adopted Orwell’s idea of doublethink—“to be conscious of complete truthfulness,” he wrote, “while telling carefully constructed lies.” For example, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, was asked at a Senate hearing in March whether “the NSA collect[s] any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Clapper’s answer: “No, sir…. Not wittingly.”

Three months later, following the revelations of the phone-log program in which the NSA collects telephone data—the numbers of both callers and the length of the calls—on hundreds of millions of Americans, Clapper switched to doublethink. He said that his previous answer was not a lie; he just chose to respond in the “least untruthful manner.” With such an Orwellian concept of the truth now being used, it is useful to take a look at what the government has been telling the public about its surveillance activities over the years, and compare it with what we know now as a result of the top secret documents and other information released by, among others, the former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden.

Looking back, the NSA and its predecessors have been gaining secret, illegal access to the communications of Americans for nearly a century. On July 1, 1920, a slim balding man in his early thirties moved into a four-story townhouse at 141 East 37th Street in Manhattan. This was the birth of the Black Chamber, the NSA’s earliest predecessor, and it would be hidden in the nondescript brownstone. But its chief, Herbert O. Yardley, had a problem. To gather intelligence for Woodrow Wilson’s government, he needed access to the telegrams entering, leaving, and passing through the country, but because of an early version of the Radio Communications Act, such access was illegal. With the shake of a hand, however, Yardley convinced Newcomb Carlton, the president of Western Union, to grant the Black Chamber secret access on a daily basis to the private messages passing over his wires—the Internet of the day.

For much of the next century, the solution would be the same: the NSA and its predecessors would enter into secret illegal agreements with the telecom companies to gain access to communications. Eventually codenamed Project Shamrock, the program finally came to a crashing halt in 1975 when a Senate committee that was investigating intelligence agency abuses discovered it. Senator Frank Church, the committee chairman, labeled the NSA program “probably the largest governmental interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken.”

As a result of the decades of illegal surveillance by the NSA, in 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was signed into law and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) came into existence. Its purpose was, for the first time, to require the NSA to get judicial approval for eavesdropping on Americans. Although the court seldom turned down a request for a warrant, or an order as it’s called, it nevertheless served as a reasonable safeguard, protecting the American public from an agency with a troubling past and a tendency to push the bounds of spying unless checked.

For a quarter of a century, the rules were followed and the NSA stayed out of trouble, but following the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration decided to illegally bypass the court and began its program of warrantless wiretapping. “Basically all rules were thrown out the window and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans,” I was told by Adrienne J. Kinne, who in 2001 was a twenty-four-year-old voice intercept operator who conducted some of the eavesdropping. She or her superiors did not have to get a warrant for each interception. “It was incredibly uncomfortable to be listening to private personal conversations of Americans,” she said. “And it’s almost like going through and stumbling and finding somebody’s diary and reading it.”

All during this time, however, the Bush administration was telling the American public the opposite: that a warrant was obtained whenever an American was targeted. “Anytime you hear the United States government talking about a wiretap, it requires—a wiretap requires a court order,” President George W. Bush told a crowd in 2004. “Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” After exposure of the operation by The New York Times in 2005, however, rather than strengthen the controls governing the NSA’s spying, Congress instead voted to weaken them, largely by codifying into the amendment to FISA what had previously been illegal.

At the same time, rather than calling for prosecution of the telecom officials for their role in illegally cooperating in the eavesdropping program, or at least a clear public accounting, Congress simply granted them immunity not only from prosecution but also from civil suits. Thus, for nearly a century, telecom companies have been allowed to violate the privacy of millions of Americans with impunity.

With the arrival of the Obama administration, the NSA’s powers continued to expand at the same time that administration officials and the NSA continued to deceive the American public on the extent of the spying. In addition to the denial I have mentioned by James Clapper, General Keith Alexander, the NSA director, also blatantly denied that his agency was keeping records on millions of Americans. In March 2012, Wired magazine published a cover story I wrote on the new one-million-square-foot NSA data center being built in Bluffdale, Utah. In the article, I interviewed William Binney, a former high-ranking NSA official who was largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. He quit the agency in 2001 in protest after he saw the system designed mainly for intelligence about foreign threats turned inward on the American public. In the interview, he told how the agency was tapping into the country’s communications and Internet networks. He revealed that it also was secretly obtaining warrantless access to billions of phone records of Americans, including those of both AT&T and Verizon. “They’re storing everything they gather,” he said.

In the months afterward, General Alexander repeatedly denied Binney’s charges. “No…we don’t hold data on US citizens,” he told Fox News, and at an Aspen Institute conference he said, “To think we’re collecting on every US person…that would be against the law.” He added, “The fact is we’re a foreign intelligence agency.”

But the documents released by Edward Snowden show that the NSA does have a large-scale program to gather the telephone records of every Verizon customer, including local calls, and presumably a similar agreement with AT&T and other companies. These are records of who called whom and when, not of the content of the conversations, although the NSA has, by other methods, access to the content of conversations as well. But the NSA has, on a daily basis, access to virtually everyone’s phone records, whether cell or landline, and can store, data-mine, and keep them indefinitely. Snowden’s documents describing the PRISM program show that the agency is also accessing the Internet data of the nine major Internet companies in the US, including Google and Yahoo.

Snowden’s documents and statements add greatly to an understanding of just how the NSA goes about conducting its eavesdropping and data-mining programs, and just how deceptive the NSA and the Obama administration have been in describing the agency’s activities to the American public. In a video interview conducted in his room in the Mira Hotel, Snowden elaborated on the extent of the NSA’s capabilities. “Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere,” he said.

Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But 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 e-mail [address].

What Snowden was discussing was the way in which analysts at the NSA can place such things as names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses on target lists, thus causing communications containing those “selectors” to be intercepted. He seemed to be indicating—although this remains to be officially confirmed—that while under FISA, a court order would be required to enter an American on a target list, analysts have the capability to unilaterally bypass the procedure by simply listing a name or e-mail address on the target list. To understand what Snowden is saying, it is necessary to elaborate a bit on the way the NSA conducts its eavesdropping.

Bamford_2-081513.jpgEdward Gorey Charitable Trust

Drawing by Edward Gorey

During the past decade, the NSA has secretly worked to gain access to virtually all communications entering, leaving, or going through the country. A key reason, according to the draft of a top secret NSA inspector general’s report leaked by Snowden, is that approximately one third of all international telephone calls in the world enter, leave, or transit the United States. “Most international telephone calls are routed through a small number of switches or ‘chokepoints’ in the international telephone switching system en route to their final destination,” says the report. “The United States is a major crossroads for international switched telephone traffic.” At the same time, according to the 2009 report, virtually all Internet communications in the world pass through the US. For example, the report notes that during 2002, less than one percent of worldwide Internet bandwidth—i.e., the international link between the Internet and computers—“was between two regions that did not include the United States.”

Accessing this data is possible through a combination of techniques. Through the most effective of them, the NSA can gain direct access to the fiber-optic cables that now carry most kinds of communications data. According to a slide released by Snowden, the cable-tapping operation is codenamed “UPSTREAM” and it is described as the “collection of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past.” It also appears to be both far more secret and far more invasive than the PRISM program revealed by Snowden. Although PRISM gives the NSA access to data from the individual Internet companies, such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft, the companies claim that they don’t give the agency direct access to their servers. Through UPSTREAM, however, the agency does get direct access to fiber-optic cables and the supporting infrastructure that carries nearly all the Internet and telephone traffic in the country.

As part of its cable-tapping program, the NSA has secretly installed what amount to computerized filters on the telecommunications infrastructure throughout the country. According to the leaked inspector general’s report, the agency has secret cooperative agreements with the top three telephone companies in the country. Although the report disguises their names, they are likely AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint:

NSA determined that under the Authorization it could gain access to approximately 81% of the international calls into and out of the United States through three corporate partners: Company A had access to 39%, Company B 28%, and Company C 14%.

The filters are placed at key junction points known as switches. For example, much of the communications—telephone and Internet—to and from the northwestern United States pass through a nearly windowless nine-story building at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco. This is AT&T’s regional switching center. In 2003, the NSA built a secret room in the facility and filled it with computers and software from a company called Narus. Established in Israel by Israelis, and now owned by Boeing, Narus specializes in spyware, equipment that examines both the metadata—the names and addresses of people communicating on the Internet—and the content of digital traffic such as e-mail as it zooms past at the speed of light.

The agency also has access to the telephone metadata—the numbers called and calling and other details—of all Americans. Phone calls from telephone numbers that have been selected as targets can be routed directly to the agency and recorded. According to William Binney, the former NSA senior official, the NSA has established between ten and twenty of these secret rooms at telecom company switches around the country.

It is this daily access to the telephone metadata of all Americans without FISA warrants that the NSA and the Office of National Intelligence tried to hide when they falsely denied that the agency had surveillance records on millions of Americans. For years, the agency also had a nationwide bulk e-mail and Internet metadata collection and storage program, although that was ended in 2011 for “operational and resource reasons,” according to the director of national intelligence.

But according to a joint statement issued on July 2 by senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, the real reason the program was shut down was that the NSA was “unable” to prove the usefulness of the operation. “We were very concerned about this program’s impact on Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights,” they said, “and we spent a significant portion of 2011 pressing intelligence officials to provide evidence of its effectiveness. They were unable to do so, and the program was shut down that year.” The senators added, “It is also important to note that intelligence agencies made statements to both Congress and the [FISA court] that significantly exaggerated this program’s effectiveness. This experience demonstrates to us that intelligence agencies’ assessment of the usefulness of particular collection program—even significant ones—are not always accurate.”

Speaking on Meet the Press, Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and journalist who wrote the story about the NSA’s collection of phone data for The Guardian, also mentioned a still-secret eighty-page FISA court opinion that, he said, criticized the NSA for violation of both the Fourth Amendment and the FISA statute. According to Greenwald, “it specifically said that they are collecting bulk transmissions, multiple conversations from millions of Americans…and that this is illegal.” The NSA, he said, “planned to try to accommodate that ruling.” On the same program, Representative Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed that the FISA court had issued a critical opinion and said that the NSA had “figured out how to correct that.”

According to The Economist of June 29, “the NSA provided congressional intelligence committees with what it said were over 50 cases in which the programmes disclosed by Mr. Snowden had contributed to the ‘understanding and, in many cases, disruption’ of terrorist plots in America, and over 20 other countries.” In a recent New York Review blog post, Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch and a former federal prosecutor, commented that “upon scrutiny” many of the plots referred to by the NSA

appear in fact to have been uncovered not because of the mass collection of our metadata but through more traditional surveillance of particular phone numbers or e-mail addresses—the kinds of targeted inquiries that easily would have justified a judicial order allowing review of records kept by communications companies or even monitoring the content of those communications.

At the AT&T facility on Folsom Street and the other locations, fiber-optic cables containing millions of communications enter the building and go into what’s known as a beam-splitter. This is a prism-type device that produces a duplicate, mirror image of the original communications. The original beams, containing Internet data, continue on to wherever they were originally destined. The duplicate beam goes into Room 641A, the NSA’s secret room one floor below, a discovery made by another whistleblower, AT&T technician Mark Klein. There the Narus equipment scans all the Internet traffic for “selectors”—names, e-mail address, words, phrases, or other indicators that the NSA wants to know about. Any message containing a selector is then retransmitted in full to the NSA for further analysis, as are the contents of phone calls selected. With regard to targeted phone numbers, the agency supplies them to the company, which then gives the NSA access to monitor them.

The selectors are inserted by remote control into the Narus equipment by NSA analysts sitting at their desks at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland or at dozens of locations around the world. What Snowden seemed to be saying in his interview is that as long as certain analysts have an e-mail address, for example, they can simply enter that information into the system and retrieve the content of the e-mails sent from and to that address. There are, by his account, no judicial checks and balances to assure that the targeting of an American has been approved by a FISA court order and not just by NSA employees. These claims by Snowden, and other revelations from the documents he released, should be investigated by either a select committee of Congress, such as the Church Committee, or an independent body, like the 9/11 Commission.

While UPSTREAM captures most of the telecommunications—about 80 percent according to Binney—there are still gaps in the coverage. That is where the PRISM program comes in. With PRISM, the NSA is able to go directly to the communications industry, including the major Internet companies, to get whatever they miss from UPSTREAM. According to the top secret inspector general’s report, the “NSA maintains relationships with over 100 US companies,” adding that the US has the “home field advantage as the primary hub for worldwide telecommunications.”

According to a recent slide released by Snowden, the NSA on April 5, 2013, had 117,675 active surveillance targets in the program and was able to access real-time data on live voice, text, e-mail, or Internet chat services, in addition to analyzing stored data.

In the end, both UPSTREAM and PRISM may be only the tips of a much larger system. Another new document released by Snowden says that on New Year’s Eve, 2012, SHELLTRUMPET, a metadata program targeting international communications, had just “processed its One Trillionth metadata record.” Started five years ago, it noted that half of that trillion was added in 2012. It also noted that two more new programs, MOONLIGHTPATH and SPINNERET, “are planned to be added by September 2013.”

One man who was prescient enough to see what was coming was Senator Frank Church, the first outsider to peer into the dark recesses of the NSA. In 1975, when the NSA posed merely a fraction of the threat to privacy it poses today with UPSTREAM, PRISM, and thousands of other collection and data-mining programs, Church issued a stark warning:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

Church sounds as if he had absorbed the lessons of 1984. From the recent evidence, they are still to be learned.

—July 12, 2013

Big Brother Is Prism: NSA Is Watching All Communications Over Phones, Facebook Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Skype, Pal Talk, AOL & You Tube

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Prism Oldspeak:”It is a massive surveillance state of exactly the kind that the Church Committee warned was being constructed 35 years ago… the idea that the PATRIOT Act enables bulk collection, mass collection of the records of hundreds of millions of Americans, so that the government can store that and know what it is that we’re doing at all times, even when there’s no reason to believe that we’ve done anything wrong, that is ludicrous“. –Glenn Grunwald

If Someone want’s to know why their government has decided to go on fishing expedition through every personal record or private document – through library books they’ve read and phone calls they’ve made – this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear their plea, no jury will hear their case. This is just plain wrong.” –Senator Barack Obama, 2005, On The USA Patriot Act.

I came in with a healthy skeptcism about these programs. My team evaluated them, we scrubbed them thoroughly, we actually expanded the oversight. But my assessment… was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks. And the modest encroachment… on privacy in getting phone numbers and durations without a name attached, and looking at content that – [I decided] net, it was worth us doing. Some other folks may have a different assessment. I think it’s important to recognize you can’t have 100 percent security and also 100 percent privacy, and also zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society….In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance.” –President Barack Obama, 2013 

AHAHA! HA! My man went from “This is just plain wrong.” to “we scrubbed them throughly” and…decided it was worth doing.” My people Big Brother is OFFICIALLY watching you.  Obama was nice enough to scrub it down and balance it out for you, placing some of the burdens for surveillance on government and some on oligarchical collectivist corporations. We are living in the age of the painless concentration camp. Assume all your digital communications are insecure. I wonder though, when was it that society made these choices? When did “society” choose to be systematically surveilled during an endless war? To do away with, privacy safeguards, transparency, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unlawful search & seizure, summary execution and indefinite detention? I think when Obama said “society” he meant the elites and the imperial institutions they control. If you look at what he said that way, it makes a lot more sense, as I’m fairly certain most of the people who live and suffer in this society did not make those “tough choices”.  The good news about this though is there are more and more leaks springing in the secret U.S. Government. This is the third whisleblower to speak the truth about Big Brother. Thomas Drake and Willam Binney preceded him. Hopefully, conscientious patriots will continue to expose the lies, illegality and anti-democratic actions of the Secret Corporatocracy. ”

Related Stories:

A Massive Surveillance State”: Glenn Greenwald Exposes Covert NSA Program Collecting Calls, Emails

We Don’t Live in a Free Country”: Jacob Appelbaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance”

By Glenn Grunwald @ The U.K. Guardian:

Prism

A slide depicting the top-secret PRISM program.

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of Prism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of Prism.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Disclosure of the Prism program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.

The participation of the internet companies in Prism will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.

Some of the world’s largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan “Your privacy is our priority” – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.

Prism

The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies.

Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users’ communications under US law, but the Prism program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies’ servers. The NSA document notes the operations have “assistance of communications providers in the US”.

The revelation also supports concerns raised by several US senators during the renewal of the Fisa Amendments Act in December 2012, who warned about the scale of surveillance the law might enable, and shortcomings in the safeguards it introduces.

When the FAA was first enacted, defenders of the statute argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

PRISM slide crop
The document is recent, dating to April 2013. Such a leak is extremely rare in the history of the NSA, which prides itself on maintaining a high level of secrecy.

The Prism program allows the NSA, the world’s largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.

The presentation claims Prism was introduced to overcome what the NSA regarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists. It noted that the US has a “home-field advantage” due to housing much of the internet’s architecture. But the presentation claimed “Fisa constraints restricted our home-field advantage” because Fisa required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.

“Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them,” the presentation claimed. “It took a Fisa court order to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all.”

The new measures introduced in the FAA redefines “electronic surveillance” to exclude anyone “reasonably believed” to be outside the USA – a technical change which reduces the bar to initiating surveillance.

The act also gives the director of national intelligence and the attorney general power to permit obtaining intelligence information, and indemnifies internet companies against any actions arising as a result of co-operating with authorities’ requests.

In short, where previously the NSA needed individual authorisations, and confirmation that all parties were outside the USA, they now need only reasonable suspicion that one of the parties was outside the country at the time of the records were collected by the NSA.

The document also shows the FBI acts as an intermediary between other agencies and the tech companies, and stresses its reliance on the participation of US internet firms, claiming “access is 100% dependent on ISP provisioning”.

In the document, the NSA hails the Prism program as “one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses for NSA”.

It boasts of what it calls “strong growth” in its use of the Prism program to obtain communications. The document highlights the number of obtained communications increased in 2012 by 248% for Skype – leading the notes to remark there was “exponential growth in Skype reporting; looks like the word is getting out about our capability against Skype”. There was also a 131% increase in requests for Facebook data, and 63% for Google.

The NSA document indicates that it is planning to add Dropbox as a PRISM provider. The agency also seeks, in its words, to “expand collection services from existing providers”.

The revelations echo fears raised on the Senate floor last year during the expedited debate on the renewal of the FAA powers which underpin the PRISM program, which occurred just days before the act expired.

Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware specifically warned that the secrecy surrounding the various surveillance programs meant there was no way to know if safeguards within the act were working.

“The problem is: we here in the Senate and the citizens we represent don’t know how well any of these safeguards actually work,” he said.

“The law doesn’t forbid purely domestic information from being collected. We know that at least one Fisa court has ruled that the surveillance program violated the law. Why? Those who know can’t say and average Americans can’t know.”

Other senators also raised concerns. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon attempted, without success, to find out any information on how many phone calls or emails had been intercepted under the program.

When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a “report”. According to the NSA, “over 2,000 Prism-based reports” are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.

In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISM program.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, that it was astonishing the NSA would even ask technology companies to grant direct access to user data.

“It’s shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this,” he said. “The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications.

“This is unprecedented militarisation of domestic communications infrastructure. That’s profoundly troubling to anyone who is concerned about that separation.”

A senior administration official said in a statement: “The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located within the United States.

“The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.

“This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

“Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.

“The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target.”

Additional reporting by James Ball and Dominic Rushe

Facebook Censors Prominent Political Critics; Deactivated Accounts In Coordinated Purge

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

8316464299 f197dba5e3 b Facebook Even Censors ART

Oldspeak:”The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum” –Noam Chomsky Facebook is the incarnation of Chomsky’s statement. This is hardly surprising. Meanwhile the rays of sunlight between the U.S. with its inverted totalitarian kleptocracy, and overt, hardcore totalitarian regimes grow fainter and fainter. It seems to be just as NSA Whistleblower William Binney said  says as he holds his thumb and forefinger close together,  “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.” Private, terms governed, electronic social networks, masquerading as public, free, all sharing democratic spaces. While we are constantly encouraged to share our feelings and everything else about ourselves on facebook, only a very narrow range of reality control approved feelings and things are acceptable. All others are removed. This is genius of this variant of Big Brother. It’s not something to fear or avoid. You love it. You tell it everything. You share everything gleefully. Where you are, who you’re with, when, why, how, how long, etc, etc, etc…. It’s the perfect narcissism cultivating surveillance tool. It is your friend.  Big Brother is your friend. “Ignorance Is Strength”

Update: Facebook Yields to Pressure: Reactivates Political Critics’ Accounts

By Washington’s Blog:

We’ve previously documented that the largest social media websites censor government criticism.

For example, Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list. For instance, Facebook deletes accounts created by any Palestinian resistance groups.

Today, Facebook deactivated the Facebook accounts of some of the leading American political critics.

For example, former diplomat and U.C. Berkeley Professor Emeritus Peter Dale Scott told us that his Facebook account was suddenly deactivated today without any justification.

So did Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

And Michael Rivero, owner of the popular website What Really Happened.

Infowars – one of the world’s most popular alternative media sites – confirms that accounts for the following political commentators have been shut down:

  • Kurt Nimmo, writer for Infowars.com and formerly Counterpunch
  • Aaron Dykes of Infowars
  • Jason from Infowars
  • Infowar Artist

Indeed, Facebook told an Infowars reporter last year not to post anything political:

Be careful making about making political statements on facebook … facebook is about building relationships not a platform for your political viewpoint. Don’t antagonize your base. Be careful and congnizat (sic) of what you are preaching.

And Infowars also confirms that the Facebook account for Natural News – one of the most popular alternative health sites – has been shut down.

Reports are that the Facebook accounts of a number of other political critics were suspended or deactivated today as well, including:

  • Robert M. Bowman, former director of the “Star Wars” defense program under President Ronald Reagan
  • Anthony J. Hilder, popular radio host
  • William Lewis
  • Wacboston
  • Michael Murphy
  • Mike Skuthan
  • Packy Savvenas
  • Sean Wright and Katherine Albrect

 

DHS Is Searching Your Facebook/Twitter For Words Like “Home”, “Cloud”, “Excercise” & “Social Media”

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

Oldspeak:The Department of Homeland Security monitors your updates on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, to uncover “Items Of Interest”. That’s catchy, in a Orwellian kinna way. “Items Of Interest” really? “Cloud” is an “item of interest? Consider the irony. In an era of unprecedented safety in the U.S., under the guise of ‘national security’, the U.S. is prosecuting a perpetual and nebulous “War On Terror”, Numerous civil liberties have been shredded via the “USA Patriot Act” and secretly negotiated treaties like ACTA, while Americans are being surveiled and spied on more than ever. We’re being encouraged to “Go Digital” and transition most of our lives from the physical world to a ‘more convenient’ virtual world, that is easier to monitor and control.  We’ve created a culture of fear unmatched since the days of the “Red Scare”. While words like “freedom” and “democracy” and “liberty” and flung about like so much red white and blue confetti. It is the insidious brilliance of inverted totalitarianism. You’re taught to love your farm, while you’re kept, spiritually, mentally and nutritionally deprived. Perpetually generating revenue for the corporocratic elite. Entertained in a world of screens, constantly bombarded with messages from a formidable propaganda system, telling you what to buy, think, eat, feel and know. We can only be kept in the cages we do not see. And we’re taught to love our cages. “To See The Farm Is To Leave It.”

Related Video:

The Story Of Your Enslavement

By Joel Johnson @ Animal New York:

The Department of Homeland Security monitors your updates on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, to uncover “Items Of Interest” (IOI), according to an internal DHS document released by the EPIC. That document happens to include a list of the baseline terms for which the DHS–or more specifically, a DHS subcontractor hired to monitor social networks–use to generate real-time IOI reports. (Although the released PDF is generally all reader-selectable text, the list of names was curiously embedded as an image of text, preventing simple indexing. We’ve fixed that below.)

To be fair, the DHS does have an internal privacy policy that attempts to strip your “PII”–Personally Identifiable Information–from the aggregated tweets and status updates, with some broad exceptions:

1) U.S. and foreign individuals in extremis situations involving potential life or death circumstances; (this is no change)
2) Senior U.S. and foreign government officials who make public statements or provide public updates;
3) U.S. and foreign government spokespersons who make public statements or provide public updates;
4) U.S. and foreign private sector officials and spokespersons who make public statements or provide public updates;
5) Names of anchors, newscasters, or on-scene reporters who are known or identified as reporters in their post or article or who use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed;
6) Current and former public officials who are victims of incidents or activities related to Homeland Security; and
7) Terrorists, drug cartel leaders or other persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest, (e.g., mass shooters such as those at Virginia Tech or Ft. Hood) who are killed or found dead.

In addition, the Media Monitoring Capability team can transmit personal information to the DHS National Operations Center over the phone as deemed necessary.

The MMC watch may provide the name, position, or other information considered to be PII to the NOC over the telephone when approved by the appropriate DHS OPS authority. But that information must not be stored in a database that could be searched by an individual’s PII.

In addition to the following list of terms, the DHS can also add additional search terms circumstantially as deemed necessary.

DHS Media Monitoring Terms

2.13 Key Words & Search TermsThis is a current list of terms that will be used by the NOC when monitoring social media sites to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. As natural or manmade disasters occur, new search terms may be added.

The new search terms will not use PII in searching for relevant
mission-related information.

DHS & Other Agencies

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Coast Guard (USCG)
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Border Patrol
  • Secret Service (USSS)
  • National Operations Center (NOC)
  • Homeland Defense
  • Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Agent
  • Task Force
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Fusion Center
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • Secure Border Initiative (SBI)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS)
  • Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Air Marshal
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • National Guard
  • Red Cross
  • United Nations (UN)

Domestic Security

  • Assassination
  • Attack
  • Domestic security
  • Drill
  • Exercise
  • Cops
  • Law enforcement
  • Authorities
  • Disaster assistance
  • Disaster management
  • DNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office)
  • National preparedness
  • Mitigation
  • Prevention
  • Response
  • Recovery
  • Dirty Bomb
  • Domestic nuclear detection
  • Emergency management
  • Emergency response
  • First responder
  • Homeland security
  • Maritime domain awareness (MDA)
  • National preparedness initiative
  • Militia
  • Shooting
  • Shots fired
  • Evacuation
  • Deaths
  • Hostage
  • Explosion (explosive)
  • Police
  • Disaster medical assistance team (DMAT)
  • Organized crime
  • Gangs
  • National security
  • State of emergency
  • Security
  • Breach
  • Threat
  • Standoff
  • SWAT
  • Screening
  • Lockdown
  • Bomb (squad or threat)
  • Crash
  • Looting
  • Riot
  • Emergency Landing
  • Pipe bomb
  • Incident
  • Facility

HAZMAT & Nuclear

  • Hazmat
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical Spill
  • Suspicious package/device
  • Toxic
  • National laboratory
  • Nuclear facility
  • Nuclear threat
  • Cloud
  • Plume
  • Radiation
  • Radioactive
  • Leak
  • Biological infection (or event)
  • Chemical
  • Chemical burn
  • Biological
  • Epidemic
  • Hazardous
  • Hazardous material incident
  • Industrial spill
  • Infection
  • Powder (white)
  • Gas
  • Spillover
  • Anthrax
  • Blister agent
  • Exposure
  • Burn
  • Nerve agent
  • Ricin
  • Sarin
  • North Korea

Health Concern + H1N1

  • Outbreak
  • Contamination
  • Exposure
  • Virus
  • Evacuation
  • Bacteria
  • Recall
  • Ebola
  • Food Poisoning
  • Foot and Mouth (FMD)
  • H5N1
  • Avian
  • Flu
  • Salmonella
  • Small Pox
  • Plague
  • Human to human
  • Human to ANIMAL
  • Influenza
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Public Health
  • Toxic
  • Agro Terror
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Agriculture
  • Listeria
  • Symptoms
  • Mutation
  • Resistant
  • Antiviral
  • Wave
  • Pandemic
  • Infection
  • Water/air borne
  • Sick
  • Swine
  • Pork
  • Strain
  • Quarantine
  • H1N1
  • Vaccine
  • Tamiflu
  • Norvo Virus
  • Epidemic
  • World Health Organization (WHO and components)
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
  • E. Coli

Infrastructure Security

  • Infrastructure security
  • Airport
  • CIKR (Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources)
  • AMTRAK
  • Collapse
  • Computer infrastructure
  • Communications infrastructure
  • Telecommunications
  • Critical infrastructure
  • National infrastructure
  • Metro
  • WMATA
  • Airplane (and derivatives)
  • Chemical fire
  • Subway
  • BART
  • MARTA
  • Port Authority
  • NBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center)
  • Transportation security
  • Grid
  • Power
  • Smart
  • Body scanner
  • Electric
  • Failure or outage
  • Black out
  • Brown out
  • Port
  • Dock
  • Bridge
  • Canceled
  • Delays
  • Service disruption
  • Power lines

Southwest Border Violence

  • Drug cartel
  • Violence
  • Gang
  • Drug
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Border
  • Mexico
  • Cartel
  • Southwest
  • Juarez
  • Sinaloa
  • Tijuana
  • Torreon
  • Yuma
  • Tucson
  • Decapitated
  • U.S. Consulate
  • Consular
  • El Paso
  • Fort Hancock
  • San Diego
  • Ciudad Juarez
  • Nogales
  • Sonora
  • Colombia
  • Mara salvatrucha
  • MS13 or MS-13
  • Drug war
  • Mexican army
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cartel de Golfo
  • Gulf Cartel
  • La Familia
  • Reynose
  • Nuevo Leon
  • Narcos
  • Narco banners (Spanish equivalents)
  • Los Zetas
  • Shootout
  • Execution
  • Gunfight
  • Trafficking
  • Kidnap
  • Calderon
  • Reyosa
  • Bust
  • Tamaulipas
  • Meth Lab
  • Drug trade
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Smuggling (smugglers)
  • Matamoros
  • Michoacana
  • Guzman
  • Arellano-Felix
  • Beltran-Leyva
  • Barrio Azteca
  • Artistics Assassins
  • Mexicles
  • New Federation

Terrorism

  • Terrorism
  • Al Queda (all spellings)
  • Terror
  • Attack
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • Agro
  • Environmental terrorist
  • Eco terrorism
  • Conventional weapon
  • Target
  • Weapons grade
  • Dirty bomb
  • Enriched
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical weapon
  • Biological weapon
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Improvised explosive device
  • IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
  • Abu Sayyaf
  • Hamas
  • FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia)
  • IRA (Irish Republican Army)
  • ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
  • Basque Separatists
  • Hezbollah
  • Tamil Tiger
  • PLF (Palestine Liberation Front)
  • PLO (Palestine Libration Organization)
  • Car bomb
  • Jihad
  • Taliban
  • Weapons cache
  • Suicide bomber
  • Suicide attack
  • Suspicious substance
  • AQAP (Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula)
  • AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)
  • TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)
  • Yemen
  • Pirates
  • Extremism
  • Somalia
  • Nigeria
  • Radicals
  • Al-Shabaab
  • Home grown
  • Plot
  • Nationalist
  • Recruitment
  • Fundamentalism
  • Islamist

Weather/Disaster/Emergency

  • Emergency
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Twister
  • Tsunami
  • Earthquake
  • Tremor
  • Flood
  • Storm
  • Crest
  • Temblor
  • Extreme weather
  • Forest fire
  • Brush fire
  • Ice
  • Stranded/Stuck
  • Help
  • Hail
  • Wildfire
  • Tsunami Warning Center
  • Magnitude
  • Avalanche
  • Typhoon
  • Shelter-in-place
  • Disaster
  • Snow
  • Blizzard
  • Sleet
  • Mud slide or Mudslide
  • Erosion
  • Power outage
  • Brown out
  • Warning
  • Watch
  • Lightening
  • Aid
  • Relief
  • Closure
  • Interstate
  • Burst
  • Emergency Broadcast System

Cyber Security

  • Cyber security
  • Botnet
  • DDOS (dedicated denial of service)
  • Denial of service
  • Malware
  • Virus
  • Trojan
  • Keylogger
  • Cyber Command
  • 2600
  • Spammer
  • Phishing
  • Rootkit
  • Phreaking
  • Cain and abel
  • Brute forcing
  • Mysql injection
  • Cyber attack
  • Cyber terror
  • Hacker
  • China
  • Conficker
  • Worm
  • Scammers
  • Social media

Yes, the Department of Homeland Security is searching social media for…”social media”.

Necessary Illusions – Thought Control in a ‘Democratic’ Society: Facebook, Reddit, Digg Censor “Controversial” Content

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Oldspeak:” ‘Big Brother is Watching You‘. “Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list. For example, Facebook deletes accounts created by Palestinian resistance groups.” ‘Downvote’ bots, Chinese style ‘content censors’. ‘Persona Management Software’ Government-controlled armies of  ‘Virtual People’  hundreds of fake profiles controlled by a few real people. “Fake people manipulating and,in some cases, even manufacturing the appearance of public opinion.” Edward Bernays would be too pleased to see the awesome system his early machinations have spawned. An omnipresent, surreptitious, propaganda, censorship, thought control and consent manufacturing system. And that system has been operating for close to 100 years, getting ever more sophisticated and insidiously ingrained in American life. “Ignorance Is Strength” “Freedom Is Slavery”

By Washington’s Blog:

Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list. For example, Facebook deletes accounts created by Palestinian resistance groups.

Digg was caught censoring stories which were controversial or too critical of the government. See this and this.

Now, even social media site Reddit – which helped launch the anti-Sopa Internet blackout and publicize GoDaddy’s slimy Sopa support – is doing the same thing.

As just one example, posts from this website are being censored by Reddit. Specifically, a friend of this site who has submitted stories to Reddit has received the following messages of rejection from a Reddit moderator named davidreiss666:

from davidreiss666 via /r/worldnews/

WashingtonBlog is not something we consider a good source for r/Worldnews.

 

from davidreiss666 via /r/worldnews/

Please submit that story from an alternate domain. Thank you.

 

And another moderator named Maxion:

from Maxion via /r/worldnews/

I am sorry but this submission is not appropriate for this subreddit.

There are certainly also more open-minded moderators at Reddit. But a couple of censors can squash discussion on entire topics.

Why Are They Censoring?

Why are they censoring?

Well, censorship is rampant in America … and social media has grown so big that it has become a target as well.

In addition, as I pointed out last year [for ease of reading, we’ll skip indentation]:

Wired reported on Friday:

The Pentagon is looking to build a tool to sniff out social media propaganda campaigns and spit some counter-spin right back at it.

On Thursday, Defense Department extreme technology arm Darpa unveiled its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program. It’s an attempt to get better at both detecting and conducting propaganda campaigns on social media. SMISC has two goals. First, the program needs to help the military better understand what’s going on in social media in real time — particularly in areas where troops are deployed. Second, Darpa wants SMISC to help the military play the social media propaganda game itself.

This is more than just checking the trending topics on Twitter. The Defense Department wants to deeply grok social media dynamics. So SMISC algorithms will be aimed at discovering and tracking the “formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes)” on social media, according to Darpa’s announcement.

***

SMISC needs to be able to seek out “persuasion campaign structures and influence operations” developing across the social sphere. SMISC is supposed to quickly flag rumors and emerging themes on social media, figure out who’s behind it and what. Moreover, Darpa wants SMISC to be able to actually figure out whether this is a random product of the hivemind or a propaganda operation by an adversary nation or group.

Of course, SMISC won’t be content to just to hang back and monitor social media trends in strategic locations. It’s about building a better spin machine for Uncle Sam, too. Once SMISC’s latches on to an influence operation being launched, it’s supposed to help out in “countermessaging.”

***

SMISC is yet another example of how the military is becoming very interested in what’s going on in the social media sphere.

Indeed, as I wrote in February:

I noted in 2009, in an article entitled “Does The Government Manipulate Social Media?”:

The U.S. government long ago announced its intention to “fight the net”.

As revealed by an official Pentagon report signed by Rumsfeld called “Information Operations Roadmap”:

The roadmap [contains an] acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military’s psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

“Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience,” it reads.

“Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” it goes on.

***

“Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will ‘fight the net’ as it would an enemy weapons system”.

Indeed, the Pentagon publicly announced years ago that it was considering using “black propaganda” – in other words, knowing lies.

CENTCOM announced in 2008 that a team of employees would be “[engaging] bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information.”

The Air Force is now also engaging bloggers. Indeed, an Air Force spokesman said:

“We obviously have many more concerns regarding cyberspace than a typical Social Media user,” Capt. Faggard says. “I am concerned with how insurgents or potential enemies can use Social Media to their advantage. It’s our role to provide a clear and accurate, completely truthful and transparent picture for any audience.”

In other words, the government is targeting “social media”, including popular user-ranked news sites.

In addition, when you look at what the Israeli lobby has done with Megaphone software to automatically vote stories questioning Israel down and to send pro-Israel letters to politicians and media (see this, this and this), you can start to see how the U.S. military – an even larger and better-funded organization – could substantially influence voting on social news sites with very little effort.

Moreover,the military has outsourced many projects to private contractors. For example, in Iraq, much of the fighting has been outsourced to Blackwater. And governmental intelligence functions have largely been outsourced to private companies.

It is therefore not impossible that the government is hiring cheap labor to downvote stories on the social media sites which question the government, and to post pro-government comments.

(other governments and large companies “astroturf” online as well. See this, this and this.)

I pointed out the same month:

Government propagandists, their hired private contractors and useful idiots are creating “downvote bots” or scripts to bury stories which question the government.

***

One free, simple scripting program to create automatic downvotes of certain topics or news posters is called “Greasemonkey”, which is commonly used on large social news sites such as Reddit.

For example, there are some 2,480 hits … for the google search site:reddit.com greasemonkey downvote. This is some 2,480 times that Reddit users are publicly admitting to using greasemonkey (see also this).

Propaganda agents obviously aren’t going to publicly brag about what they are doing, and you can bet that their use of downvote bots is much greater. Moreover, they probably have more sophisticated software than Greasemonkey.

Today, Raw Story reports that the Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people:

Internet users would be well advised to ask another question entirely: Are my “friends” even real people?

In the continuing saga of data security firm HBGary, a new caveat has come to light: not only did they plot to help destroy secrets outlet WikiLeaks and discredit progressive bloggers, they also crafted detailed proposals for software that manages online “personas,” allowing a single human to assume the identities of as many fake people as they’d like.

The revelation was among those contained in the company’s emails, which were dumped onto bittorrent networks after hackers with cyber protest group “Anonymous” broke into their systems.

In another document unearthed by “Anonymous,” one of HBGary’s employees also mentioned gaming geolocation services to make it appear as though selected fake persons were at actual events.

“There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas,” it said.

Government involvement

Eerie as that may be, more perplexing, however, is a federal contract from the 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, located south of Tampa, Florida, that solicits providers of “persona management software.”

While there are certainly legitimate applications for such software, such as managing multiple “official” social media accounts from a single input, the more nefarious potential is clear.

Unfortunately, the Air Force’s contract description doesn’t help dispel their suspicions either. As the text explains, the software would require licenses for 50 users with 10 personas each, for a total of 500. These personas would have to be “replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent.”

It continues, noting the need for secure virtual private networks that randomize the operator’s Internet protocol (IP) address, making it impossible to detect that it’s a single person orchestrating all these posts. Another entry calls for static IP address management for each persona, making it appear as though each fake person was consistently accessing from the same computer each time.

The contract also sought methods to anonymously establish virtual private servers with private hosting firms in specific geographic locations. This would allow that server’s “geosite” to be integrated with their social media profiles, effectively gaming geolocation services.

The Air Force added that the “place of performance” for the contract would be at MacDill Air Force Base, along with Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad. The contract was offered on June 22, 2010.

It was not clear exactly what the Air Force was doing with this software, or even if it had been procured.

Manufacturing consent

Though many questions remain about how the military would apply such technology, the reasonable fear should be perfectly clear. “Persona management software” can be used to manipulate public opinion on key information, such as news reports. An unlimited number of virtual “people” could be marshaled by only a few real individuals, empowering them to create the illusion of consensus.

***

That’s precisely what got DailyKos blogger Happy Rockefeller in a snit: the potential for military-run armies of fake people manipulating and, in some cases, even manufacturing the appearance of public opinion.

“I don’t know about you, but it matters to me what fellow progressives think,” the blogger wrote. “I consider all views. And if there appears to be a consensus that some reporter isn’t credible, for example, or some candidate for congress in another state can’t be trusted, I won’t base my entire judgment on it, but it carries some weight.

“That’s me. I believe there are many people though who will base their judgment on rumors and mob attacks. And for those people, a fake mob can be really effective.”

***

“Team Themis” [tasked by the Chamber of Commerce to come up with strategies for responding to progressive bloggers and others] also included a proposal to use malware hacks against progressive organizations, and the submission of fake documents in an effort to discredit established groups.

HBGary was also behind a plot by Bank of America to destroy WikiLeaks’ technology platform, other emails revealed. The company was humiliated by members of “Anonymous” after CEO Aaron Barr bragged that he’d “infiltrated” the group.

And see this, this, this, this.

***

Postscript: Gaming social media is only one propaganda technique employed by the government:

  • The New York Times discusses in a matter-of-fact way the use of mainstream writers by the CIA to spread messages
  • A 4-part BBC documentary called the “Century of the Self” shows that an American – Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays – created the modern field of manipulation of public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his techniques
  • The Independent discusses allegations of American propaganda
  • And one of the premier writers on journalism says the U.S. has used widespread propaganda

Who Are You? How Google & Facebook Dictate Identity

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Oldspeak:Facebook and Google have tried to drive this one size fits all, fast-food approach to identity. They’re consolidating identity, to make us more simple than we truly are. Over time, our options and ability to be creative and expressive are being eroded. Identity is prismatic, there are many lenses through which people view you, and we’re all multifaceted people. Google and Facebook would have you believe that you are a mirror, that there is one reflection that you have, one idea of self, that the reflection that you see in that mirror is what everyone else sees. But in fact we’re more like diamonds, you can look at people from any angle and see something totally different and yet they’re still the same.” –Chris Poole, founder of about.me and Canvas Social control, 21st century style. Indispensable and ubiquitous. Much of what you think, feel, see, hear, read, wear, create and express is being manipulated and controlled by a small group of highly interconnected education, social, media and entertainment corporations. All the while making you less human, less empathetic, atomized. It is (coupled with hyper-militarization/perpetual and global “War On Terror”) the expression of the “Ultimate In Malevolent Revolution” described by Aldous Huxley in 1962 when he said -“If you are going to control any population for any length of time you must have some measure of consent. It’s exceedingly difficult to see how pure terrorism can function indefinitely. It can function for a fairly long time, but sooner or later you have to bring in an element of persuasion. An element of getting people to consent to what is happening to them. The nature of the Ultimate Revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: that we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably always will exist, to get people actually to love their servitude! This is the, it seems to me the ultimate in malevolent revolution shall we say” “Ignorance is Strength.

By Chris Poole @ Web 2.o Summit:

Federal Reserve Bank Plans “Social Listening Platform” To Identify “Key Bloggers”, Monitor Billions Of Conversations Online Via Social Media

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Oldspeak:”A few short months after the Pentagon requested proposals to help it “get better at both detecting and conducting propaganda campaigns on social mediamonitoring the internet via its  Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, The Federal Reserve is following suit, requesting proposals to allow it to develop a “Social Listening Platform” whose function is to “gather data from various social media outlets and news sources.” It will “monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria.”The Fed’s desired product should be able to “determine the sentiment [ED:LOL] of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document”… “The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc.” Most importantly, the “Listening Platform” should be able to “Handle crisis situations, Continuously monitor conversations, and Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers.”  Why does this a bank need monitor conversations on the internet? I can sorta understand why the Pentagon would need to, but a bank needs to know the “sentiment” of speakers and writers?”

By Washington’s Blog:

The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, … in a Request for Proposals filed to companies that are Fed vendors, is requesting the creation of a “Social Listening Platform” whose function is to “gather data from various social media outlets and news sources.” It will “monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria.”The Fed’s desired product should be able to “determine the sentiment [ED:LOL] of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document”… “The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc.” Most importantly, the “Listening Platform” should be able to “Handle crisis situations, Continuously monitor conversations, and Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers.” Said otherwise, the Fed has just entered the counterespionage era and will be monitoring everything written about it anywhere in the world.

***

From the key section of the RFP, presented in its entirety below:

I. Introduction

Social media platforms are changing the way organizations are communicating to the public Conversations are happening all the time and everywhere.
There is need for the Communications Group to be timely and proactively aware of the reactions and opinions expressed by the general public as it relates to the Federal Reserve and its actions on a variety of subjects.

II. Social Listening Platforms

Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources. They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria. They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.
The information gathered can guide the organizations public relations group in assessing the effectiveness of communication strategies.

Here are some of the services it can offer:

o Track reach and spread of your messages and press releases 
o Handle crisis situations 
o Continuously monitor conversations 
o Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers 
o Spot emerging trends, discussions themes and topics

A. Geographic scope of social media sites

The solution must support content coming from different countries and geographical regions. It should also support multiple languages.

B. Content and Data Types

The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms –Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It should also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva etc.

C. Reports and Metrics

The solution must provide real-time monitoring of relevant conversations. It should provide sentiment analysis (positive, negative or neutral) around key conversational topics.

It must be able to provide summaries or high level overviews of a specific set of topics. It should have a configurable dashboard that can easily be accessed by internal analysts or management. The dashboard must support customization by user or group access.

The solution should provide an alerting mechanism that automatically sends out reports or notifications based a predefined trigger.

D. FRBNY Technology Integration

The solution must be able to integrate with existing FRBNY technologies such as: Google Search appliance, Lotus notes suite and web trends.It must have support for single sign on or windows integrated authentication.

E. Cost Structure

The solution should offer a flexible pricing structure that can support multiple user licensing. It should also have the option to base pricing on content volume and usage. Supplier acknowledges an understanding of and agrees to comply with the above minimum solutions requirements.

Full RFP:

Frbny Social Media Rfp 

The Federal Reserve Plans To Identify “Key Bloggers” And Monitor Billions Of Conversations About The Fed On Facebook, Twitter, Forums And Blogs

By The Economic Collapse:

The Federal Reserve wants to know what you are saying about it.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs.  This is yet another sign that the alternative media is having a dramatic impact.  As first reported on Zero Hedge, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has issued a “Request for Proposal” to suppliers who may be interested in participating in the development of a “Sentiment Analysis And Social Media Monitoring Solution”.  In other words, the Federal Reserve wants to develop a highly sophisticated system that will gather everything that you and I say about the Federal Reserve on the Internet and that will analyze what our feelings about the Fed are.  Obviously, any “positive” feelings about the Fed would not be a problem.  What they really want to do is to gather information on everyone that views the Federal Reserve negatively.  It is unclear how they plan to use this information once they have it, but considering how many alternative media sources have been shut down lately, this is obviously a very troubling sign.

You can read this “Request for Proposal” right here.  Posted below are some of the key quotes from the document (in bold) with some of my own commentary in between the quotes….

“The intent is to establish a fair and equitable partnership with a market leader who will who gather data from various social media outlets and news sources and provide applicable reporting to FRBNY. This Request for Proposal (“RFP”) was created in an effort to support FRBNY’s Social Media Listening Platforms initiative.”

A system like this is not cheap.  Apparently the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that gathering all of this information is very important.  In recent years, criticism of the Federal Reserve has become very intense, and most of this criticism has been coming from the Internet.  It has gotten to the point where the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has decided that it had better listen to what is being said and find out who is saying it.

“Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources.  They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria.  They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York intends to listen in on “billions of conversations” and to actually determine the “sentiment” of those that are participating in those conversations.

Of course it will be those conversations that are “negative” about the Federal Reserve that will be setting off the alarm bells.

“Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers”

Uh oh.  So they plan to “identify” key bloggers and influencers?

What exactly do they plan to do once they “identify” them?

“The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms –Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube.”

Hopefully you understand this already, but nothing posted on the Internet is ever anonymous.  Everything on the Internet is gathered by a vast host of organizations and is used for a wide variety of purposes.  Data mining has become a billion dollar industry, and it is only going to keep growing.

You may think that you are “anonymous” when you criticize organizations like the Fed, but the truth is that if you are loud enough they will see it and they will make a record of it.

“The solution must provide real-time monitoring of relevant conversations.  It should provide sentiment analysis (positive, negative or neutral) around key conversational topics.”

Why do they need to perform “sentiment analysis”?

If someone is identified as being overly “negative” about the Fed, what will they do about it?

“The solution should provide an alerting mechanism that automatically sends out reports or notifications based a predefined trigger.”

This sounds very much like the kind of “keyword” intelligence gathering systems that are currently in use by major governments around the globe.

Very, very creepy stuff.

Are you disturbed yet?

For those of us that write about the Federal Reserve a lot, this is very sobering news.

I wonder what the Fed will think about the following articles that I have posted on this site….

*Unelected, Unaccountable, Unrepentant: The Federal Reserve Is Using Your Money To Bail Out European Commercial Banks Once Again

*Celebrating Independence Yet Enslaved To Debt

*19 Reasons Why The Federal Reserve Is At The Heart Of Our Economic Problems

*Is Ben Bernanke A Liar, A Lunatic Or Is He Just Completely And Totally Incompetent?

*10 Things That Would Be Different If The Federal Reserve Had Never Been Created

What is their “Social Media Monitoring Solution” going to think about those articles?

Unfortunately, this is all part of a very disturbing trend.

Recently, a very creepy website known as “Attack Watch” was launched to gather information on those saying “negative” things about Barack Obama.

Suddenly, everyone seems obsessed with what you and I are saying.

This just shows how the power of the alternative media is growing.

Not only that, but it seems as though the government also wants to gather as much information on all of us as possible.

For example, a new rule is being proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services that would force health insurance companies to submit detailed health care information about all of their customers to the federal government.

Every single day our privacy is being stripped away a little bit more.

But now it is often not just enough for them to know what we are doing and saying.  Instead, the “authorities” are increasingly stepping in to silence important voices.

One of the most recent examples of this was when Activistpost was taken downby Google.  We are still awaiting word on why this was done.

Sadly, the silencing of Activistpost is far from an isolated incident.

Hordes of YouTube accounts have been shut down for their political viewpoints.

Quite a few very prominent alternative media websites have been censored or attacked because of what they stand for.

So why is this happening?  Well, it turns out that the power of the alternative media is growing.  According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, 43 percent of Americans say that they get their news on national and international issues from the Internet.  Back in 1999, that figure was sitting at just 6 percent.

The American people are sick and tired of getting “canned news”, and they are increasingly turning to the Internet in a search for the truth.

As I have written about previously, the mainstream media in this country is overwhelmingly dominated by just 6 very powerful corporations….

Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations.  These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day.  They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest.  Most Americans don’t really seem to care about who owns the media.  But they should.  The truth is that each of us is deeply influenced by the messages that are constantly being pounded into our heads by the mainstream media.  The average American watches 153 hours of television a month.  In fact, most Americans begin to feel physically uncomfortable if they go too long without watching or listening to something.  Sadly, most Americans have become absolutely addicted to news and entertainment and the ownership of all that news and entertainment that we crave is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands each year.

The “news” that we get from various mainstream sources seems to always be so similar.  It is as if nearly all mainstream news organizations are reading from the same script.  The American people know that they are not getting the whole truth and they have been increasingly looking to alternative sources.

The monopoly over the news that the mainstream media once possessed has been broken.  The alternative media is now creating some huge problems for organizations that were once very closely protected by the mainstream media.

The American people are starting to wake up and they are starting to get very upset about a lot of the corruption that has been going on in our society.

But it turns out that the “authorities” don’t like it too much when Americans try to actually exercise free speech in America today.  For example, you can see recent video of female protesters in New York City being penned in by police and then brutally maced right here.

Are you sickened by that?

You should be.

What the “authorities” want is for us to shut up, sit in our homes and act as if nothing wrong is happening.

Meanwhile, they seem determined to watch us more closely than ever.

So are you going to be afraid to talk negatively about the Federal Reserve now that you know that they are going to be watching what you say on the Internet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Forms PAC For Political Donations Ahead Of 2012 Elections

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Oldspeak:”Not content with dominating social networking, Facebook has gotten into the law making/law enforcement business. Facebook is lobbying politicians & running candidates for elected office. This news comes weeks after Facebook warned  a reporter about expressing his political viewpoint on its site.  Facebook’s PAC “will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” spokesman Andrew Noyes Said. Federal records show the company has more than tripled its federal lobbying spending since 2009, from about $200,000 to more than $730,000 this year. Much of Facebook’s recent lobbying activity has focused on net neutrality and privacy issues. The move is the latest in a series of maneuvers boosting the Palo Alto company’s political profile in recent years, joining a steady rise in lobbying spending, several high-profile fundraisers and the failed statewide candidacy of one of its key officers for attorney general last year” –Chase Davis  Why does a corporation that claims to be “about building relationships not a platform for your political viewpoint.”(Nevermind the countless politicians and political organizations with pages on its site) need a political action committee?

Related Story:

Facebook Forms PAC For Political Donations

By Chase Davis @ The San Francisco Chronicle:

Social networking giant Facebook is expanding its political footprint, confirming that it has filed the necessary paperwork to open a political action committee in advance of the 2012 elections.

The move is the latest in a series of maneuvers boosting the Palo Alto company’s political profile in recent years, joining a steady rise in lobbying spending, several high-profile fundraisers and the failed statewide candidacy of one of its key officers for attorney general last year.

News of the Facebook PAC was confirmed earlier this week by congressional newspaper the Hill, which noted that the company registered two domain names – FBPAC.org and FBPAC.us – that were intended for the committee’s use.

Much like Microsoft and Google before it, Facebook’s meteoric rise has been followed by a boost in political activity across the board.

Federal records show the company has more than tripled its federal lobbying spending since 2009, from about $200,000 to more than $730,000 this year. Much of Facebook’s recent lobbying activity has focused on net neutrality and privacy issues.

The company also has added a number of key political players to its bench in recent months. Sheryl Sandberg, who served as chief of staff for the Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, joined Facebook as chief operating officer in 2008. She held a fundraiser for President Obama this week at her home in Atherton, where Lady Gaga was among the attendees.

Other key political hires have included former George W. Bush administration official Joel Kaplan, who was hired to lead the company’s Washington, D.C., offices, and Tucker Bounds, who ran communications for former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s failed gubernatorial bid last year.

The company has expanded its footprint in Sacramento, too, spending more than $50,000 on lobbying through the first two quarters of this year and nearly $80,000 last year, when it hired its first state-level lobbyist.

Among the bills it lobbied were a measure that would have required stringent reporting for sex offenders on social networking sites and bills related to privacy and carpooling benefits.

The sex offender issue has come up for Facebook before, notably when the company’s former chief privacy officer, Chris Kelly, ran for California attorney general last year. Kelly, who resigned his post at Facebook in order to run, placed third in the Democratic primary.

The company also plans to co-sponsor a debate between Republican presidential candidates early next year in New Hampshire.

California Watch is a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. Contact the author at cdavis@californiawatch.org. For more, visit californiawatch.org

Facebook Tracks You Online, Even After You Log Out

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Oldspeak:Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. When you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you. …the only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.” –Nik Cubrilovic  The surveillance state as indispensable social network. Just a FYI.

By Asher Moses @ The Sunday Morning Herald:

Facebook cookie collection 'could be dangerous' (Video Thumbnail)

Click to play video

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An Australian technologist has caused a global stir after discovering Facebook tracks the websites its users visit even when they are logged out of the social networking site.

Separately, Facebook’s new Timeline feature, launched last week, has been inadvertently accessed by users early, revealing a feature that allows people to see who removed them from their friends’ lists.

Facebook’s changes – which turn profiles into a chronological scrapbook of the user’s life – are designed to let its 800 million members share what they are reading, listening to or watching in real-time. But they have been met with alarm by some who fear over-sharing.

Causing a stir ... Nik Cubrilovic.

Causing a stir … Australian Nik Cubrilovic first spotted the tracking issuePhoto: Flickr.com/e27singapore

Of course, Facebook’s bottom line improves the more users decide to share. Reports suggest that Facebook staff refer internally to “Zuck’s law“, which describes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s belief that every year people share twice as much online – a trend that has caused Facebook’s valuation to skyrocket towards $US100 billion.

“Facebook is a lot more than a social network and ultimately wants to be the premier platform on which people experience, organise and share digital entertainment,” said Ovum analyst Eden Zoller.

But in alarming new revelations, Wollongong-based Nik Cubrilovic conducted tests, which revealed that when you log out of Facebook, rather than deleting its tracking cookies, the site merely modifies them, maintaining account information and other unique tokens that can be used to identify you.

Facebook founder shows off the new Facebook profiles at the F8 conference last week.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shows off the new Facebook profiles at the F8 conference last week. Photo: AFP

Whenever you visit a web page that contains a Facebook button or widget, your browser is still sending details of your movements back to Facebook, Cubrilovic says.

“Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit,” Cubrilovic wrote in a blog post.

“The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.”

Facebook's new Timelines feature creates a chronological scrapbook of major events in your life.Facebook’s new Timelines feature creates a chronological scrapbook of major events in your life. Photo: AFP

Cubrilovic is working on a new unnamed start-up but has previously been involved with large technology blog TechCrunch and online storage company Omnidrive.

He backed up his claims with detailed technical information. His post was picked up by technology news sites around the world but Facebook has yet to provide a response to Fairfax Media and others.

David Vaile, executive director of UNSW’s Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, said Facebook’s changes were a ”breathtaking and audacious grab for whole life data”. In an email interview he accused the social networking site of attempting to ”normalise gross and unsafe overexposure”.

”While initially opt-in, the default then seems to be expose everything, and Facebook have form in the past for lowering protection after people get used to a certain level of initial protection – bait and switch,” he said.

Stephen Collins, spokesman for the online users’ lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said he did not believe Cubrilovic’s revelations would see people turn away from the site in droves but he hoped users became more engaged with the issue.

”Facebook, once again, are doing things that are beyond most users’ capacity to understand while reducing their privacy. That’s just not cool. I’d go so far as to say it’s specifically unethical,” he said.

Collins said the only reason he still uses Facebook is to help his 14-year-old daughter on the site. He said it took him an hour to lock down his profile to his satisfaction following the recent changes.

”It’s just not good enough. The default setting for any site should be ‘reveal nothing about me unless I make a specific choice otherwise’,” he said.

Others have compared Facebook’s changes to Bentham’s panopticon – a design for a prison where the guards can see all inmates but where the inmates never know whether they’re being watched. The result, applied to Facebook, is that real-time sharing means we always feel like we’re being watched and this then influences our behaviour.

Cubrilovic said he tried to contact Facebook to inform it of his discovery but did not get a reply. He said there were significant risks to the privacy of users, particularly those using public terminals to access Facebook.

“Facebook are front-and-centre in the new privacy debate just as Microsoft were with security issues a decade ago,” Cubrilovic said.

“The question is what it will take for Facebook to address privacy issues and to give their users the tools required to manage their privacy and to implement clear policies – not pages and pages of confusing legal documentation, and ‘logout’ not really meaning ‘logout’.”

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, would not comment specifically on Cubrilovic’s findings but said generally social networking sites need to clearly spell out when browsing information is being collected, the purposes for which it may be used and whether it will be disclosed to other organisations.

“Good practice would also be to allow for users to opt out of having it collected,” said Pilgrim.

The findings come after technology industry observer Dave Winer declared Facebook was scaring him because the new interface for third-party developers allows them to post items to your Facebook feed without your intervention. This has been dubbed “frictionless sharing”.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Timeline feature, which shows users a timeline of their activity on the site throughout the years, has not officially been switched on but many are using it already. Instructions can be found here.

But inadvertently or by design, the Timeline feature also lets people see which users had “unfriended” them by following a few simple steps:

1. Enable the new Timeline feature.
2. Pick a year in the timeline and locate the Friends box.
3. Click on “Made X New Friends”.
4. Scroll through the list and when you see an “Add Friend” box, those are the people either you have unfriended or vice-versa.

However, it appears Facebook has now disabled this function, describing it to gadget blog Gizmodo as a “bug”.

Finally, security researchers were quick to hose down a hoax that spread through the social network, claiming that Facebook was planning to start charging users for the new features.

twitter This reporter is on Twitter: @ashermoses