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Category Archives: Surveillance

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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NSA’s Section 215 Telephony Metadata Program Should and Can Be Shut Down

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Friday, February 13, 2015 at 7:40 AM

One year ago, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) reviewed the National Security Agency’s bulk telephony metadata program and concluded the program was both illegal and imprudent as a policy matter. Under this program conducted pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA on a daily basis indiscriminately collects Americans’ . . .
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NSA, CIA, and FBI Implementation of PPD-28

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Monday, February 9, 2015 at 12:00 PM

As we continue to read through documents released on February 3 that collectively detail the intelligence community’s efforts to implement Presidential Policy Directive-28, (PPD-28), we thought it would be helpful to overview briefly, and to compare. implementing documents issued by three agencies in particular: NSA, CIA, and FBI. Overall, there is a great deal of overlap between the three . . .
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DNI Report on Implementation of Signals Intelligence Reforms: Some Highlights

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Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 8:14 PM

Last week the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its 2015 Signals Intelligence Reform Report, designed to highlight the intelligence community’s implementation of Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-28. The document is a mixed bag: There’s some aspirational, high-altitude language; the report also reaffirms previously known intelligence community views regarding the legality of certain operations . . .
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Second Take on Government’s Surveillance Reform Update Report: What’s New in Transparency

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Friday, February 6, 2015 at 9:18 AM

Earlier this week I provided observations on new data retention and data query restrictions as outlined in the Government’s Signals Intelligence Reform 2015 Anniversary Report. Today’s post focuses on the section of Tuesday’s report entitled, “Enhancing Transparency.” This section largely summarizes and outlines the types of information that the Intelligence Community released over the last . . .
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First Take on Government’s Surveillance Reform Update Report

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 3:12 PM

As Wells noted yesterday the Administration released its report on the implementation of Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-28. I am still reading through the documents, which include twelve new agency-specific procedures that implement Section 4 of PPD-28, as well as additional restrictions on the counterterrorism telephone metadata program. For now, this post provides observations on two items contained . . .
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Live: Bob Litt Speaks at Brookings on Intelligence and Surveillance Reform

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 11:58 AM

At the top of the hour, Robert S. Litt, General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will speak at the Brookings Institution. His address is expected to examine what has been done so far to implement the directives announced in President Obama’s January 2014 speech at the Department of Justice as . . .
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Data Analytics and Policing

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 9:25 AM

This interesting article on the NYPD’s use of data analytics came across my desk the other day.  Here is the abstract: The New York City Police Department’s Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center integrates data from a variety of sources, including sensors (cameras, license plate readers, and environmental detectors) and records (arrests, complaints, summonses, 911 calls, . . .
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What Happens if We #Sunset215?

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 2:30 PM

A law the government cites as authority for the bulk collection of millions of Americans’ communications records—Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—expires unless Congress extends it by Memorial Day weekend. The Center for Democracy & Technology, and other public interest groups, believes that Sec. 215 should sunset unless it is reformed to stop nationwide surveillance . . .
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DNI Report on Signals Intelligence Reform

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 10:29 AM

Today’s document details the implementation of reforms that the President announced a little more than a year ago.  For background on the directive, Lisa Monaco’s statement from the White House is here. The report opens as follows:                                     . . .
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No, Twitterati, Gen. Alexander Didn’t Leave His Laptop Unattended on Amtrak

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 10:22 AM

I’m going to let this exchange on Twitter this morning speak for itself. [View the story “Facts Too Good to Check on Keith Alexander’s Laptop” on Storify] And for the record, no, I don’t have General Alexander’s cell phone number, and I didn’t call him. I emailed him. But nobody checked that fact either.