Friday, September 13, 2013

NSA Impersonates Google to Spy on Web Users; Issa wants re-vote on Amash Amendment (rev'd.)

google nsa 001

Earlier this week, Techdirt picked up on a passing mention in a Brazilian news story and a Slate article to point out that the US National Security Agency had apparently impersonated Google on at least one occasion to gather data on people. (Mother Jones subsequently pointed out Techdirt's point-out.)
Brazilian site Fantastico obtained and published a document leaked by Edward Snowden, which diagrams how a "man in the middle attack" involving Google was apparently carried out.
A technique commonly used by hackers, a MITM attack involves using a fake security certificate to pose as a legitimate Web service, bypass browser security settings, and then intercept data that an unsuspecting person is sending to that service. Hackers could, for example, pose as a banking Web site and steal passwords.
The technique is particularly sly because the hackers then use the password to log in to the real banking site and then serve as a "man in the middle," receiving requests from the banking customer, passing them on to the bank site, and then returning requested info to the customer -- all the while collecting data for themselves, with neither the customer nor the bank realizing what's happening. Such attacks can be used against e-mail providers too....
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Remember the days when doing a search with Google brought about results instantaneously?
Has only else noticed an obvious time lag when doing a Google search? For the past two months, I have experienced Google literally drawing a blank when doing a search; other times a time lag.


In March 2009 the USA entered into a deal with Israel in which the NSA would provide unfiltered information obtained while spying on Americans to Israel without placing legally binding limits on the use of the information by Israel.

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel
Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process "minimization", but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.
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Should Israel happen upon information of US government officials  (from executive branch down to the Senate) in the unfiltered data provided, they are expected to destroy the information.


Obama mentioned several weeks ago, plans to form  a special review panel to discuss changes to the NSA’s spying activities.  Well, the panel met this week in the White House with tech firms but failed to “…address making any substantive changes to the controversial mass collection of Americans' phone data and foreigners' internet communications, which can include conversations with Americans….” (See, Obama's NSA surveillance review panel did not discuss changes, attendees say.)

The panel is made up of  intelligence insiders, former White House officials and Obama advisers.
…Michael Morell, a former deputy CIA director, is a member, as is Richard Clarke, a White House counter-terrorism aide to three presidents. Cass Sunstein, a former White House regulatory staffer who is married to the new US ambassador to the United Nations; Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor; and Peter Swire, a Georgia Tech professor and former aide to Obama and Bill Clinton, round out the panel….
In other words, this is nothing more than another Obama dog and pony show, i.e., another illusion that will as usual net results only favorable to the Obama administration.

As for the tech firms in attendance, none were concerned with government surveillance or opposed it.  Their primary concern was how surveillance would affect their bottom line.


Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011
The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.
In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances…
Finally, upon new information that has surfaced these past weeks relating to the scope of fourth amendment violations committed against Americans as denied by the NSA, DNI and Barack Obama, Darrell Issa has contacted Eric Cantor asking that the Amash Amendment and legislation to defund NSA be brought back to the floor for a vote.

…Prior to earlier votes on the House floor on amendments to limit NSA intelligence gathering programs, members of Congress were given assurances that there would be a substantive legislative review of their scope and function. Now that it has been publicly acknowledged that the communications of Americans were included in the NSA's data collection program, likely violating their Fourth Amendment rights, Congress must respond in a manner that both increases the transparency of the Agency's programs and reinforces the constitutional protections of our citizens….

Suggested reading:
NSA Illegally Gorged on U.S. Phone Records for Three Years
NSA Revelations Cast Doubt on the Entire Tech Industry6 Whopping Government Misstatements About NSA Spying
Patriot Act Author Says NSA Is Abusing Spy Law
Developers Scramble to Build NSA-Proof Email


All posts cross-posted on PUMABydesign001's Blog