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Category Archives: Surveillance

The Continuing Democratization of QUANTUM Technology

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Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:15 PM

From my book Data and Goliath: …when I was working with the Guardian on the Snowden documents, the one top-secret program the NSA desperately did not want us to expose was QUANTUM. This is the NSA’s program for what is called packet injection­ — basically, a technology that allows the agency to hack into computers. . . .
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More Arrests of Americans Attempting to Fight for ISIL in Syria

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Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Six Somali-American men from the Minneapolis area have been arrested on material support charges, based on allegations that they were attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIL. The complaint and corresponding FBI affidavit are posted here. Note that the complaint is a handy case study in the variety of investigative techniques that FBI might . . .
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Keeping Track of the US Intelligence Community’s Leakers

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Monday, April 20, 2015 at 8:13 AM

It’s getting hard to keep track of the U.S. intelligence community leakers without a scorecard. So here’s my attempt: Leaker #1: Chelsea Manning. Leaker #2: Edward Snowden. Leaker #3: The person who leaked secret documents to Jake Appelbaum, Laura Poitras and others in Germany: the Angela Merkel surveillance story, the TAO catalog, the X-KEYSCORE rules. . . .
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A Tidbit From an Old NSA Document (2000)

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 10:11 PM

Browsing through an old NSA document called Transition 2001, dated December 2000, I came across this tidbit on page 3. “In transforming the cryptologic system, the NSA/CSS must shift significant emphasis and resources from current products, services, and targets to the modern and anticipated information technology environment for both SIGINT and information assurance. The NSA/CSS . . .
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Focusing on 702: A Brief Reply to the Brennan Center’s Liza Goitein and Faiza Patel

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Friday, April 10, 2015 at 11:30 AM

The Brennan Center’s Liza Goitein and Faiza Patel have posted a response  to my post of last week challenging three of their recommendations in their recent report on the FISA Court. This post is a brief reply to their first response point regarding the justification for and important function of Section 702 of FISA. Section . . .
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PCLOB Takes on Executive Order 12333 Surveillance

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 8:31 AM

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board yesterday had a public meeting yesterday to, as its web site describes it, “discuss and vote on a proposed plan for its review of counterterrorism activities conducted by the Intelligence Community under Executive Order 12333.” Here’s video of the meeting: Here is how the PCLOB describes its project:

Fixing the FISA Court by Fixing FISA: A Response to Carrie Cordero

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 12:18 PM

Our friend Carrie Cordero has levied criticisms against three of the recommendations presented in our report, What Went Wrong With the FISA Court. We appreciate, as always, her constructive engagement with us on these issues. In the same spirit, we offer these points in response. 1. Our report notes that Section 702 had a limited . . .
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John Oliver Interview with Edward Snowden

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Monday, April 6, 2015 at 11:58 AM

Some of it is very funny. And there’s a very interesting discussion starting at 19:30 about how well he understood—and to what extent he read—the documents he disclosed.

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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