Ciencia y Tecnología · Información Grado 33 · News · Noticias Internacionales · Redes Sociales · Wikileaks

Greenwald’s ‘No Place to Hide’ Shines Light on NSA Shadows

An anonymous message signed by “Cincinnatus”; a secret meeting in a hotel room in Hong Kong; an intelligence specialist who travels the world developing ways of intercepting global communications. It has all the makings of a Hollywood feature, and yet the tale is true. It is the story behind the biggest government leaks in history, revealing the largest mass surveillance scheme in the world run by the National Security Agency (NSA).

On June 5, 2013, much of the world learned what had been an open secret for years: the US government has been intercepting international and domestic communications without a warrant, and it continues to do so. In fact, the warrantless eavesdropping operation had been previously reported in 2005 by New York Times journalist James Risen.

The Edward Snowden case, however, stands apart. This time the source is an insider, an NSA contractor, and he has the classified documents to prove his allegations. “The media pays attention when top secret documents are leaked. And the fact that the warning was coming from someone on the inside of the national security apparatus… surely meant that it would have added weight,” writes Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer turned journalist who was on the receiving end of that anonymous message by Snowden and the leaks that followed.

Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide

Greenwald’s No Place to Hide is an inside look at the events that led to the confirmation of a US government domestic spying program. The size and scope of the NSA’s surveillance program bests the snooping capabilities of the worst dictatorships throughout the world.

“A top secret presentation to the 2011 annual conference of the Five Eyes [an alliance formed by intelligence agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States], for instance, shows that the NSA has explicitly embraced [Keith] Alexander’s motto of omniscience as its core purpose.” Greenwald presents a series of documents within the book to evidence the security agency’s insatiable appetite for information.

But without Edward Snowden, there would be no Glenn Greenwald. The first part of the book focuses on the story behind the meeting between the journalist and the NSA contractor, who “in mid-May of 2013… requested a couple of weeks off to receive treatment for epilepsy.” In actuality, Snowden was preparing for the final phase before leaking thousands of classified documents.

To accomplish his task, Snowden needed a journalist. Greenwald recounts his initial contact with Snowden, receiving an email from “Cincinnatus” requesting he install PGP encryption tools to continue their exchange. Unlike the excitement Cincinnatus displayed toward his chosen journalist, Greenwald initially considered the mysterious email just another item on his “always too-long list of things to take care of.”

It was then that a frustrated Snowden contacted Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker, who then reached out to Greenwald once again. The first email Poitras received from Snowden gave an early glimpse into the motivations behind the leak: “In the end, we must enforce a principle whereby the only way the powerful may enjoy privacy is when it is the same kind shared by the ordinary.” Snowden’s analysis of privacy in terms of a power struggle is a recurring topic throughout Greenwald’s book.

Edward Snowden

“Citizenship carries with it a duty to first police one’s own government before seeking to correct others,” wrote Snowden in a computer file marked “read me first” within a folder of thousands of secret NSA files. Snowden first decided to begin collecting documents that would expose the mass surveillance program once he realized “how easy it is to divorce power from accountability, and how the higher the levels of power, the less oversight and accountability there was.”

Through Greenwald’s interrogation of Snowden, we see how the former spy grew to distrust authority. Not surprisingly, Snowden reportedlydonated US$250, twice, to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Greenwald also describes his interactions with the lawyers and editors of The Guardian, the British newspaper he worked for, and how compromises were made to get the story published. Greenwald’s attitude toward the media is another persistent topic throughout the book. Greenwald points to the “establishment media” which “mandates that reporters avoid any clear or declarative statements and incorporate government assertions into their reporting, treating them with respect no matter how frivolous they are.”

Much of the book is devoted to reviewing various NSA surveillance programs, the agency’s intent, objectives, ambitions, and cooperation with other intelligence agencies. The documents within the book also reveal the arrogance of a security agency that spies with impunity.

Greenwald’s book is nothing if not well documented and sourced. Evidence is what separates conspiracy theories from reality, and in this sense, the book does not disappoint. Most of its 313 pages are slides of presentations, memorandums, and graphs that give the reader a sense of this secretive agency’s inner workings.

Brazil stands out as one of the NSA’s favorite targets. The agency intercepted the communications of President Dilma Rousseff, as well as information from Brazilian embassies in several cities. The NSA also collected communications from Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras, and looked into the business dealings of other energy companies in Mexico and Venezuela as well.

Greenwald closes out the book with his own take on privacy, arguing that the “compulsion to obedience exists in the individual’s mind.” He says the effect of constant surveillance “eliminates the need for all the visible hallmarks of compulsion, and thus enables control over people who falsely believe themselves to be free.”

His argument includes an analysis of how political support for domestic spying programs oscillates depending on which political party wields control in Washington. He compares the reality of the surveillance state in the United States to Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, and offers an elaborate rebuttal to NSA apologists, both in government and in the media.

Snowden feared the public would react with indifference at the information he leaked. “I want to spark a worldwide debate about privacy, internet freedom, and the dangers of state surveillance,” he said. Snowden gave Greenwald the crucial task of releasing the documents, asking him to determine what to publish, how, and when. Greenwald was the man chosen to transform a mountain of sensitive data into digestible information and has undoubtedly succeeded in this dangerous and difficult task.

Articulo · Ciencia y Tecnología · Información Grado 33 · News · Noticias Internacionales · Política · Redes Sociales · Wikileaks

Independent panel: NSA surveillance program targeting foreigners is lawful

An undated handout photograph made available by the National Security Agency shows the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (National Security Agency/Via European Pressphoto Agency)

An independent executive-branch board has concluded that a major National Security Agency surveillance program targeting foreigners overseas is lawful and effective but that certain elements push “close to the line” of being unconstitutional.

The “unknown and potentially large” collection by the agency of e-mails and phone calls of Americans who communicate with foreign targets is one aspect that raises concerns, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board said in a report released online Tuesday night.

But the board did not go as far in its recommendations as privacy advocates would like. For instance, it would leave in place the government’s ability to conduct warrantless searches for Americans’ communications in the data gathered by the NSA.

At issue is a program authorized by Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which was an effort to bring under the law a surveillance effort begun after the 2001 terrorist attacks and run exclusively by the executive branch.

Under the law, the government can target “non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located abroad.” However, it is not required to obtain individualized warrants, even though the collection is done inside the United States.

The 191-page report comes after a year of heightened debate and scrutiny over U.S. surveillance practices in the wake of leaks of NSA documents to journalists by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.

In January, the board issued a strongly worded report that concluded that a different NSA program involving the collection of Americans’ phone call records was illegal and should end. The agency’s gathering of billions of such “metadata” records — numbers dialed, times and durations — did not comply with the law, the board found.

Unlike the phone metadata program, Section 702 “fits within the ‘totality of the circumstances’ standard of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment,” the board said.

It also has enabled the government to obtain a greater range of foreign intelligence than it otherwise would be able to, and to do so quickly and effectively, the board said.

The board also said the program has led the government to identify previously unknown individuals involved in international terrorism.

But certain features raise privacy concerns, the board said. For instance, though the law does not explicitly permit it, the agency collects communications in which a target’s e-mail address or phone number is mentioned — even if it is in the body of an e-mail as opposed to the “to” or “from” line.

As a result of this practice, known as “about” collection, both parties to the communication could be U.S. persons or inside the United States. This is largely due to technical difficulties with determining the location of the parties at the time of collection, the board said.

 Also of concern is the use of queries to search for the communications of specific U.S. persons within the database of information already gathered. Sometimes called “backdoor searches,” the practice was the target of a House vote last month to bar such searches.

The board was divided on the issue. Two members recommended court approval — but with less than a warrant based on probable cause. Two members said sign-off by an executive-branch agency was sufficient. And a fifth declined to weigh in.

The board also recommended, among other things, that the NSA’s targeting procedures be revised to specify criteria for determining the expected foreign intelligence value of a particular target. And it urged that the NSA annually count the number of phone calls acquired in which one caller is located in the United States, the number of e-mails that originate or terminate in the United States and the number of queries performed for U.S. persons’ data.

Articulo · Ciencia y Tecnología · Información Grado 33 · News · Noticias Internacionales · Política · Política Nacional · Redes Sociales · Wikileaks

Estados Unidos: La “reforma” de la NSA como ejemplo perfecto de gatopardismo  

Centro de Operaciones de Seguridad Nacional, NSA

De momento, parece que las promesas de reforma de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA) de Estados Unidos son parte de una gran puesta en escena. El texto del proyecto de ley que acaba de aprobar la Cámara de Representantes es un ejemplo perfecto de gatopardismo: Cambiar para que nada cambie.

En 2007 la NSA, una de las agencias de inteligencia más oscuras de Estados Unidos, lanzó el programa Prism, con el cual, mediante el acceso directo a los servidores de Google, Microsoft, Facebook y Yahoo —entre otros gigantes de Internet— recopiló —y lo sigue haciendo— miles de millones de correos electrónicos, chats, fotos, metadatos de llamadas telefónicas (tiempo, duración, número marcado) e información de redes sociales.

Hace casi un año, gracias a los documentos filtrados por Edward Snowden, salieron a la luz pruebas contundentes de Prism, comprobándose que se trataba de un programa de vigilancia masiva y recolección de datos encabezado por la NSA. Desde hace años, la agencia extiende sus tentáculos en las comunicaciones telefónicas e Internet, recolectando todo tipo de datos. Con la cooperación de agencias de inteligencia del Reino Unido, Australia, Alemania y Holanda, la NSA se convirtió en un riesgo para la privacidad global.

La extensión del monitoreo es todavía difícil de medir. Apenas una fracción de los miles de documentos filtrados por Snowden fueron publicados. Escuchas a líderes políticos de más de 40 países, recolección de metadatos de llamadas telefónicas, registros de localización obtenidos a través de los teléfonos celulares, la intercepción de servidores y routers y la instalación de dispositivos espía, revelan el alcance que tiene el sistema de vigilancia global.

La difusión de los documentos clasificados disparó un debate internacional. Las presiones ejercidas por legisladores y empresas tecnológicas lograron lanzar la discusión sobre la reforma de la NSA. Pero por supuesto, no todos los congresistas tenían en mente lo mismo.

El jueves pasado, quienes buscaban mantener el status quo obtuvieron su primera victoria al lograr aprobar el USA Freedom Act en la Cámara de Representantes. Si bien las organizaciones críticas de la NSA vieron en la redacción original del proyecto un primer paso, los cambios de último momento modificaron el lenguaje y las esperanzas de una reforma profunda.

La mayor parte de la polémica se desarrolló en torno a los “términos específicos de selección” [“specific selection terms”], el concepto a través del cual sería controlado y restringido el poder de vigilancia de la NSA. Si en el Senado se aprueba el texto sin modificaciones, la NSA sólo podría recurrir a la recolección de datos a través de “términos específicos de selección”, cuya definición en la versión original incluía a “personas, entidades y cuentas”. Pero el texto final expandió confusamente la definición a “direcciones y dispositivos”, diluyendo aun más el texto.

La actual reforma prevé la posibilidad de interceptar las comunicaciones provenientes de, o pertenecientes al “término de selección” (una persona, una dirección, una entidad, etc.), y además de todo aquéllo que contenga información relacionada con el término seleccionado. Así, se amplían las fronteras para invadir la privacidad de personas inocentes sin una orden judicial. Finalmente, la política de “tres saltos” [three hops] es limitada a dos, sin embargo, esta pequeña restricción no compensa el que los límites que se establecen sean difusos al punto de que no cumplen con la promesa de neutralizar la capacidad de la NSA para invadir la privacidad de las personas.

Otras de las críticas que despertó la legislación fue la eliminación de la cláusula que hubiese permitido la presencia de un defensor ante los tribunales creados por la Ley de Vigilancia a la Inteligencia Extranjera (FISA), una instancia que en los hechos funciona como un simple trámite burocrático para obtener una orden de espionaje. Se trata de un tribunal creado en 1978 al que acceden las agencias federales para obtener las órdenes que les permiten requerir información. Este proceso se lleva a cabo sólo con un representante del gobierno y sus sentencias no son públicas. De convertirse en ley el texto actual, tampoco habrá cambios en este sentido.

La reforma tampoco aborda ningún aspecto de la privacidad en el resto del mundo. El voto en la Cámara tuvo lugar la misma semana en la que quedó aun más expuesta la actividad de la NSA en el extranjero. Nuevas revelaciones de los documentos facilitados por Snowden indican que la NSA registraba el contenido de todas las comunicaciones telefónicas de Bahamas. Otro aspecto que deja sin abordar esta falsa reforma.

De hecho, el apoyo de la Casa Blanca al proyecto de ley confirma que estamos ante una de esas reformas que se hacen para que todo siga igual.

“No quiero vivir en un mundo donde todo lo que digo, todo lo que hago, todos con quienes hablo, cada expresión de la creatividad o el amor o la amistad queden registrados”, dijo Snowden, ahora asilado en Rusia, cuando fue entrevistado por The Guardian el año pasado. El texto del USA Freedom Act no nos acerca ni por asomo al mundo en el que quiere vivir Snowden.

El Senado tiene ahora la oportunidad de enmendar el texto y otorgarle dignidad a la reforma de la NSA, o como manifestó el congresista Justin Amash, uno de los patrocinadores del texto original, se mantendrá y legalizará un programa inconstitucional de espionaje doméstico a gran escala.



Articulo · Información Grado 33 · News · Noticias Internacionales · Política · Wikileaks

USA “Freedom” Act: Political Theater Affirms NSA Status Quo

National Security Operations Center, NSA

For the time being, it seems the promise of reform to the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States has been part of a big stage show. The text of the bill that just passed in the House of Representatives is a perfect example of gatopardism: a change so that nothing really changes.

In 2007, the NSA, one of the most secretive US intelligence agencies, launched the PRISM program, through which it directly accessed the servers of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and other internet giants, compiled billions of emails, chats, photos, phone call metadata (time, date, duration, and number called), and other information on social networks — and continues to do so.

Almost a year ago, thanks to the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, evidence of the PRISM program came to light, proving the NSA has carried out a program of mass domestic surveillance and data collection. For years the agency extended its tentacles in all telephone and internet communications, collecting all kinds of data. Through the cooperation of intelligence agencies in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands, the NSA has become a threat to global privacy.

The extent of the surveillance is still difficult to measure. Only a small fraction of the many thousands of documents leaked by Snowden have been published. Wiretapping political leaders in more than 40 countries, collecting phone call metadata and geolocation records, intercepting servers, routers, and installing spyware, all reveal the extent of this global monitoring system.

The dissemination of classified documents triggered an international debate. Pressure from lawmakers and technology companies managed to spark discussion of reforming the NSA. However, not all members of Congress had the same kind of “reform” in mind.

On Thursday, those who seek to maintain the status quo achieved their first victory by passing the USA Freedom Act in the House of Representatives. While organizations critical of the NSA viewed the original draft of the bill as a first step, last minute changes to the legislation modified both the language of the bill and the hope of real reform.

Most of the controversy surrounding the bill involved defining the “specific selection terms,” language meant to restrict the scope of NSA surveillance. If the Senate approves the text of the bill without amendment, the NSA’s data collection would be limited to “specific selection terms” defined in the original draft as “persons, entities, and accounts.” However, the final draft in the House confusingly expanded the definition to include “addresses and devices,” further diluting the bill.

Current reform allows the NSA to intercept communications from or belonging to the “selection term” (a person, address, company, etc.), as well as anything else that contains information related to the term selected. In this way, the scope of surveillance will be expanded to invade the privacy of innocent people without a warrant. In addition, the NSA’s policy of “three hops” for collecting data will be limited to two, however, this minor restrictiondoes not achieve the promise of limiting the agency’s reach, nor neutralize its ability to invade the privacy of individuals.

Another point of controversy in this legislation was the removal of the clause that would have allowed the presence of a defense attorney in the court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a body that serves more as a mere bureaucratic formality in obtaining authorization to spy. The FISA Court was created in 1978 to oversee requests for surveillance warrants from federal agencies. This process is carried out in sessions closed to the public, with only the government being represented in court and without a publicly available record. The USA Freedom Act, if signed into law, changes nothing in this regard.

The reform also does not address infringements on privacy in the rest of the world. The vote in the House took place during the same week that new revelations of the NSA’s activity abroad came to light. Recently published documents provided by Edward Snowden indicate that the NSA recorded the content of all telephone communications in the Bahamas. These issues are not addressed in this phony reform.

In fact, the support coming from the White House for this bill confirms that this is the sort of reform designed to carry on with business as usual.

“I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity, or love, or friendship is recorded,” said the now exiled Snowden when interviewed by The Guardian last year. The text of the USA Freedom Act does not bring us anywhere near the world that Snowden wants to live in.

The Senate now has the opportunity to amend the bill and give dignity to NSA reform. Should it fail to do so, Congressman Justin Amash, a sponsor of the original bill, warns that we risk maintaining and legalizing an unconstitutional domestic spying program on a mass scale.


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Edward Snowden aparece en TED 2014: “Las revelaciones más grandes están por venir”


Una de las conferencias más importantes del mundo, TED 2014, se está celebrando en Vancouver, Canadá. Como cada año, esta conferencia intenta reunir a expertos y personas interesantes de todo el mundo para dar charlas que inspiren y además, logren llegar al máximo número de personas posibles.

Uno de los invitados estrellas este año ha sido Edward Snowden, que evidentemente no ha podido desplazarse hasta Canadá ya que se encuentra en Rusia bajo un visado temporal de un año. Snowden no ha dado una presentación como tal, si no una entrevista junto al organizador de las charlas TED, Chris Anderson.

Esta ha sido una aparición especial, porque no estaba anunciada en ningún lado, sorprendiendo a todos los asistentes, sobre todo por el cómo se hizo, gracias a un robot que pone a la altura de una persona una pantalla con la videoconferencia.


Durante la entrevista, Snowden explicó los motivos ya conocidos de porqué decidió entregar toda la información que pudo recoger durante su tiempo como analista externo en su oficina de Booz Allen Hamilton, en Hawaii. Ante la imposibilidad de poder denunciar toda la información que leía y ante la nula protección legal que se les ofrece a los analistas externos de las agencias de seguridad, decidió hacer pública esta información a ante los medios.

Respecto a los estimados 1.7 millones de documentos que Snowden robó de los servidores de la NSA, afirmó que “las revelaciones más grandes aún están por venir” y si tenemos en cuenta todas las noticias que se han publicado acerca de las revelaciones de la NSA, es ciertamente preocupante.

A las preguntas se le unió el considerado “padre de Internet”, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, en una serie de preguntas que han tocado sobre todo las revelaciones publicadas hasta el momento, pero también personalmente a Snowden, sobre su vivencia de revelador de secretos y su posible vuelta a EU en caso de existir una amnistía por parte del gobierno.

Esta es la segunda aparición de Snowden en una conferencia, tras su panel durante el SXSW en el que llamó a empresas a implementar y mejorar los servicios de cifrado.

Como cada año, este evento genera muchísimas horas de vídeo de las charlas que poco a poco se publican en internet, por suerte la entrevista a Edward Snowden ha sido una de las más rápidas y ya se puede ver en la web de TED y en YouTube.

Por cierto, en el mismo día, un poco después de la presentación/entrevista, esto pasó, Sergey Brin junto a Edward Snowden, aunque sea virtualmente.

Articulo · Ciencia y Tecnología · Información Grado 33 · News · Noti-Geeks · Noticias Internacionales

Julián Assange denuncia que la NSA espió a WikiLeaks


(Londres, 18 de febrero)– La agencia de inteligencia estadounidense NSA y la británica GCHQ “espiaron a WikiLeaks y a sus lectores”, afirma el martes el sitio de Julian Assange citando documentos obtenidos por el exanalista Edward Swowden.

Según uno de esos documentos, la Agencia Nacional de Espionaje (NSA) puso a Assange, fundador de Wikileaks, en “una lista de personas que deben ser objetivo de una caza al hombre y que incluye a miembros sospechosos de pertenecer a Al Qaida”, aseguró WikiLeaks en un comunicado.

“La NSA y su aliada británica GCHQ (Central de comunicaciones del gobierno), espiaron además a WikiLeaks y a sus lectores“, añadió la página web que revela documentos y secretos oficiales.

“WikiLeaks condena firmemente el comportamiento insensato e ilegal de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad. Pedimos a la administración (del presidente estadounidense Barack) Obama que nombre un fiscal especial para investigar la magnitud de la actividad criminal del NSA contra los medios, particularmente WikiLeaks”, asegura Julian Assange en el comunicado.

Julian Assange está refugiado en la embajada de Ecuador en Londres desde junio de 2012 para evitar su extradición a Suecia, donde dos mujeres le acusan de agresión sexual. El australiano teme que desde Suecia le extraditen a Estados Unidos y le condenen por espionaje por las revelaciones de WikiLeaks.

Por su parte, Snowden es un exanalista de la NSA que está refugiado en Rusia tras haber sustraído miles de documentos de la agencia, que han servido para conocer detalles comprometedores sobre sus actividades, como el espionaje masivo a ciudadanos inocentes y a líderes aliados de Estados Unidos.

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