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Category Archives: Surveillance

The Power of Citizenship Bias

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Following up on my post from last week on the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of the UK Parliament, which inter alia recommended that British law for the first time introduce distinctions between citizens and non-citizens for the purpose of regulating electronic surveillance, I’d like to briefly comment on another relevant development. . . .
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Further Reflections on NOBUS (and an Approach for Balancing the Twin Needs for Offensive Capability and Better Defensive Security in Deployed Systems)

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Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 8:14 PM

In a previous post, I commented on the Nobody-But-Us (NOBUS) view of the world. My original post says that the real technical question raised by NOBUS is how long nobody-but-us access can be kept for a given proposed system. Since then, I’ve received comments from a number of people who have cited one example or . . .
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Brennan Center Report on “What Went Wrong with the FISA Court”

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 3:15 PM

The civil liberties group’s report was released today. It was authored by Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel (who has contributed pieces to Lawfare), and has a foreword by retired U.S. District Judge James Robertson—a former member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Here are the report’s key recommendations: Congress should end programmatic surveillance and require the . . .
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The Washington Post Fingers the Person Behind the Snowden Disclosures!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 2:15 PM

In what is surely a typographical error, the Washington Post has named NSA General Counsel Raj De as the man behind the Snowden disclosures: De’s last day was Friday, and he plans to start at Mayer Brown in June as head of the firm’s privacy and security practice in Washington. He had been NSA’s general counsel . . .
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Comments on the British Intelligence and Security Committee Report

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Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:57 AM

Last week the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of the UK Parliament published its much-anticipated report entitled “Privacy and Security: A Modern and Transparent Legal Framework.” The Report followed an extended inquiry into UK agencies’ surveillance practices prompted by the Edward Snowden revelations; while it concludes that the agencies have generally acted within the prescribed . . .
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Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users – Comment on NY Times editorial

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 6:00 PM

The New York Times today has an op-ed by the founder of Wikipedia called Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users. The op-ed asserts that “N.S.A.’s mass surveillance of Internet traffic on American soil — often called “upstream” surveillance — violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects the right to privacy, as well as the First Amendment, which . . .
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American Privacy and EU Privacy

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 2:33 PM

Of course the US cares about privacy, just as much, if not more, than they do in the EU.  And the data are clear that in the EU, national security and law enforcement surveillance are often subject to less formal judicial control than in America. Many have been making this case for quite some time . . .
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Bruce Schneier’s Important New Book

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 2:18 PM

Bruce has just published Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, a book that will interest many Lawfare readers.  Data and Goliath is deeply informed and accessibly written analysis of mass surveillance by firms and the government.  Part One is a terrific tutorial on big data and data mining, . . .
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Why Americans Don’t Trust the Intelligence Community

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 10:30 AM

In his NSA Constitution Day speech, and in a follow-up post last week with Ashley Deeks, Ben offered this “tentative hypothesis” for why the intelligence community, and NSA in particular, engenders so much distrust among “reasonable” Americans: whereas most of our laws (theoretically) apply to people irrespective of race, class or gender, the intelligence community does . . .
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Happening Now: DNI James Clapper Speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations

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Monday, March 2, 2015 at 12:55 PM

At the top of the hour, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr. will discuss the state of the intelligence community, and outline the major challenges and successes experienced throughout the last year. You can watch the speech live below:

Fishing Expedition

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Friday, February 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Do you worry that the NSA, perhaps in a joint program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, might be considering a “collect-it-all” program to seize and monitor fish, crocodiles, or antelopes for national security purposes?  If so – and I think I may have read something about this on The Intercept – you can . . .
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Making Progress on the Encryption Debate

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 1:24 PM

In a recent debate between NSA director Mike Rogers and Yahoo Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, the topic of law-enforcement restricted access to encrypted communications once again came up. To summarize the debate as it has been expressed to date, one side believes in encryption that only the user can decrypt. Those on this . . .
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Expanding on the International vs. U.S. Surveillance Law Comparisons

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Following my post from last week  regarding how the debate over the Snowden disclosures has blurred the distinctions between national security surveillance authorities and consumer privacy law, Tim Edgar pointed out yesterday  that U.S. law is probably one of the most, if not the most, protective legal structures concerning government access to data for national . . .
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The Real Story Behind Citizenfour’s Oscar

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Monday, February 23, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Like a lot of Lawfare readers, we were pretty surprised by Citizenfour‘s triumph at the Oscars last night. It wasn’t just that there was Glenn Greenwald, foe of all things mainstream, holding—of all things—that picture of establishment respectability, the Oscar. It was, more importantly, the question of who the heck decided to honor this paranoid and self-congratulatory film? . . .
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Mysterious Discretion: When Journalists Wield Power We Don’t Understand

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Monday, February 23, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Last night, Laura Poitras’s Citizenfour received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, a win I have been anticipating since Glenn Greenwald won the Pulitzer Prize back in April for breaking the Edward Snowden leaks. In honor of the occasion, let’s reflect on the single most compelling moment in Citizenfour. I am talking about the moment in the . . .
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Why Should We Buy Into The Notion That The United States Doesn’t Care About Privacy?

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Monday, February 23, 2015 at 8:23 AM

It is a common perception that Americans care less about privacy than Europeans, especially after the attacks of September 11, and the Snowden revelations only seemed to reinforce that perception. Last week, President Obama argued that European privacy complaints are really about something else. Europeans, he said, may simply be using privacy fears as a . . .
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The President’s Comments on European Privacy Claims and A Look Back at the LIBE Committee Report on Government Surveillance

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:30 PM

President Obama made a refreshing observation during an interview with Re/Code at the White House Summit on Cyber Security and Consumer Protection in Silicon Valley last week. Following an exchange regarding the need for greater privacy for students using the Internet for educational purposes, the discussion turned to European scrutiny of U.S.-based technology companies, and . . .
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Status of Various Executive Branch Agencies’ Guidelines Regarding U.S. Person Information

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 12:26 PM

From the website of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB): this helpful table, which was assembled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and released today. It describes the status of various agencies’ Attorney General-approved guidelines for collecting, retaining and disseminating U.S. person information pursuant to Executive Order 12,333. As the table reflects, . . .
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The Equation Group’s Sophisticated Hacking and Exploitation Tools

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 12:31 PM

This week, Kaspersky Labs published detailed information on what it calls the Equation Group — almost certainly the NSA — and its abilities to embed spyware deep inside computers, gaining pretty much total control of those computers while maintaining persistence in the face of reboots, operating system reinstalls, and commercial anti-virus products. The details are . . .
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On Cameron’s Candor and Public-Private Cooperation for Monitoring Digital Communications

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Friday, February 13, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Susan Landau has published a thought-provoking critique on Lawfare of the UK Prime Minister’s recent remarks covering the powers he believes the State should be afforded to access the electronic communications of terrorist suspects. Crucially, she highlights and explores the link between the need for effective cyber security and how she believes this contradicts the . . .
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