theguardian -- The NSA files

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily
Thu, 06 Jun 2013 10:05:00 GMT
Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

Read the Verizon court order in full here
Obama administration justifies surveillance

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

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Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security
Fri, 06 Sep 2013 10:24:00 GMT
• NSA and GCHQ unlock encryption used to protect emails, banking and medical records
• $250m-a-year US program works covertly with tech companies to insert weaknesses into products
• Security experts say programs 'undermine the fabric of the internet'

Q&A: submit your questions for our privacy experts

US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.

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UK gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA operation
Fri, 07 Jun 2013 13:27:23 GMT
Exclusive: UK security agency GCHQ gaining information from world's biggest internet firms through US-run Prism programme

The UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.

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GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians' communications at G20 summits
Mon, 17 Jun 2013 09:45:00 GMT
Exclusive: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.

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GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications
Fri, 21 Jun 2013 16:23:17 GMT
Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal

Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).

The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.

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Obama's NSA review gives the lie to Britain's timid platitudes: a debate is possible | Alan Rusbridger
Thu, 19 Dec 2013 20:50:00 GMT
In the US, the official response to Snowden's revelations celebrates journalism and calls for real change. In Britain, the picture has been rather different

What a relief. It is, after all, possible to discuss the operations of modern intelligence agencies without having to prove one's patriotism, be turned over by the police, summoned by politicians or visited by state-employed technicians with instructions to smash up one's computers.

The 300-page report into the Guardian's revelations about the US National Security Agency commissioned by President Obama and published this week is wide-ranging, informed and thoughtful. It leaps beyond the timid privacy-versus-national security platitudes which have stifled so much of the debate in the UK. It doesn't blame journalism for dragging the subject into the open: it celebrates it.

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State surveillance of personal data: what is the society we wish to protect?
Tue, 10 Dec 2013 01:00:00 GMT
One of the writers who signed a letter demanding an international bill of digital rights, says 'our masters are in the grip of a delusionary nightmare'

What in principle would justify the scope of the surveillance revealed by the Snowden leak? Would it be enough, for example, if it could be shown that a specific potential act of terrorism had been prevented by, and could only have been prevented by, the full breadth and depth of what we now have learned is the playing field of the security services?

We should hesitate before we stray off the touchline. The idea that public safety, the safety of the innocent, is an absolute which trumps every other consideration, is tacitly abandoned in the way we live.

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The primary NSA issue isn't privacy, it's authority | Jeff Jarvis
Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:08:00 GMT
At heart, the NSA debate is about what the government is allowed to do with what it knows and who is overseeing it

I celebrate Judge Richard J Leon's opinion that the government's mass collection of communications metadata is "almost Orwellian", and I decry Judge William H Pauley III's decision that the NSA's collection is both effective and legally perfectly peachy.

But I worry that the judges, as well as many commentators and Edward Snowden himself, may be debating on the wrong plane. I see some danger in arguing the case as a matter of privacy because I fear that could have serious impact on our concept of knowledge, of what is allowed to be known and thus of freedom of speech. Instead, I think this is an argument about authority – not so much what government (or anyone else) is allowed to know but what government, holding unique powers, is allowed to do with what it knows.

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The Guardian view on the freedom of information commission: a very British farce | Editorial
Sun, 11 Oct 2015 17:45:34 GMT
Ministers appointed a panel of establishment figures to advise them on FoI. Its recommendations could make it harder to root out inconvenient truths

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. Had the Party in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four been after a fourth slogan to add to the list, Openness is Opacity would have fitted well. But in Britain 2015, it is fast emerging as the operating principle of the so-called independent commission on freedom of information. “So-called” because it hardly seems independent, at least not in the sense of coming to its work with fresh eyes, unencumbered by preconceptions. So-called, too, because on the evidence thus far, it is less concerned with free information than imposing new restrictions upon its flow.

Before the commission was created this summer, No 10 began – just days after the Conservative election win – to float the idea of ministers acquiring new rights to block sensitive disclosures. The formal rubric which it works to, as set out in July by the Cabinet Office minister George Bridges, is plainly restrictive. Underneath some fine rhetoric about this being the world’s most transparent government, Lord Bridges tasked the commissioners with thinking about “robust protection” of sensitive documents, the “burden” of FoI upon the authorities, and the need for a “safe space” for official thinking – the same safe space argument which the original opponents of FoI had invoked all those years ago. If this remit did not make the agenda plain enough, the names of the commissioners surely did.

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The Guardian view on counter-terrorism legislation: too important to rush | Editorial
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:29:44 GMT
With radio interviews and meetings with the data companies, the government is trying to force the pace on new laws

Andrew Parker became the first ever MI5 boss to give a live interview this morning, choosing the Today programme to emphasise the importance of being able to collect and monitor electronic activity. On Tuesday, internet and social media bosses were invited for a chat with the home secretary, and now there are reports of a new counter-terrorism bill coming before parliament within weeks. Something is clearly up: it seems the snooper’s charter, the bill that refuses to die, is back on the agenda of a government that expected to have its ambitions curtailed by coalition, and now finds itself unbound – or at least bound only by the slender size of its majority.

The demand for legislation to extend the gathering and retention of meta-data from telecommunications, the internet and social media has recurred almost annually since 2008. To question it is not to underestimate the security threat that the UK faces. That is unquestionably serious: according to Mr Parker, six attempts have been foiled in the past 12 months, the highest number in his long career. But, as David Anderson, the watchdog on terrorism laws, said in his important report A question of trust last June, the law as it is currently framed is inadequate. It needs a complete overhaul, a view supported only 10 days after the report’s publication when the investigatory powers tribunal upheld a complaint for the first time in its existence, accepting the argument of the human rights organisation Amnesty International that GCHQ had been intercepting and monitoring its communications without explicit safeguards.

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