aNewDomain.net — NSA data mining via the recently unveiled government backed, corporate sponsored PRISM program got you down? Here’s an update on the developing scandal from aNewDomain.net …
Looking at the Google Transparency Report, it is ever clear that U.S. officials and those of other governments routinely ask for and often get information you probably consider to be private. That includes data on the sites you visit, what you purchase and download, your communications online via email, SMS, Skype and more.
Then NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the U.S. government runs a top secret program called PRISM. The intelligence program, via fiber, directly routes data, pictures, videos, messages and other material as it passes through servers belonging to its so-called “partners” Google, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo and such services as Twitter, Skype and YouTube. Google and Facebook were first to deny knowledge of this, even given the slides below.
There are nine tech companies in league with it in all, according to the slides.
Check out the PRISM slides the NSA leaked to The Washington Post and the UK Guardian, viewable below. The seal on the upper left of each slide notes who is a partnering “provider” and that the system is a collaboration between the companies and government. The name “PRISM” derives from the fiber optic connection the NSA uses to get the data, its No. 1 source of information electronically.
Update: The Obama administration now has issued a statement confirming the PRISM program — it says the NSA PRISM program, classified and approved by Congress, targets non-U.S. citizens only. It does not explain how or why it is able to do that, given that the Internet has no geographical boundaries. Click here to learn about Raytheon’s search engine for espionage, called RIOT.
Update: The UK Guardian in July posted a slide we did not include in our original report. It indicates the U.S. is collecting data upstream — and downstream, too. They are two programs — PRISM — and the Upstream system. The new slide is below.
Read the Obama administration’s official comments on this below the fold, just under the leaked NSA slides, also below.
UPDATE: Award-winning political commentator Ted Rall weighs in here — asking some hard questions of the Obama administration. Swift investigation is needed, he says. Here’s why.
Update: The Electronic Frontier Foundation told aNewDomain.net it is inundated with requests for quotes and reminded us of what Senator Frank Church said in 1975. This Senator’s Church Commission formed in the 1970s as a reaction to discoveries that the U.S. government was systematically spying on anti-war activists and government critics, including such American citizens as the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and the late British musician John Lennon. The committee the Idaho senator set forth appeared to halt domestic spying for decades, EFF reps said.
From its post here, the EFF quotes Church:
[The National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”
The EFF says it has long suspected the government was in league with U.S. tech companies and monitoring all data. As you’ll see below, the Obama administration maintains that it is merely working with tech companies on its backdoor surveillance for anti-terrorism reasons and solely collecting data on non-U.S. citizens.
Following are the slides and info.
Slide one is the cover slide for a PRISM presention. This slide appeared first in the Washington Post and UK Guardian, in a leak that alleged the government was working with nine major tech companies and via Verizon to monitor, collect and aggregate online activities.
Slides source: The Washington Post
Here’s a slide from the leaked PRISM presentation.
Here’s a second leaked slide, one that is particularly worrisome to privacy advocates, as it shows the extent to which tech companies are cooperating with the United States government.
Update: Facebook and Google CEOs now issue statements saying they knew nothing of the PRISM program even though the NSA lists Facebook and Google as Current Providers, in this slide below.
In its official post, the EFF is calling “for a new Church commission” in light of this still-developing story.
The Obama administration’s official response is:
The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any U.S. citizen or of any person located within the United States … The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.
This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate … Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats … The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target.”
Gina Smith is the New York Times best-selling author of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s memoir, ” iWOZ: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It”. (W.W. Norton, 2005/2007/2012). With John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle, she is editorial director at aNewDomain.net. Email her at gina@aNewDomain.net, check out her Google + stream here or follow her @ginasmith888.
Leave comments here and I’ll build a new story from them, guys.
Isn’t the UK collecting this too? Each says it can’t target it’s own citizens…but what’s stopping them from swapping the data they collect on each others citizens?
I can’t think of much else having the potential for more abuse. Imagine a government who would have your entire life on paper. Yours, your family’s, just waiting until you become a part of the next thing we are told to fear, or dare to dissent, and are then targeted to be prosecuted by a government who has your life on paper and can connect the dots to find or manufacture a criminal offense. If it has to be explained to you why this is against everything this country was founded on, you deserve this program. America, Land of the freely watched and prosecuted.
Data mining is common place these days, I would venture that Facebook does more than PRISM to compromise privacy. However, the concern is where this would lead. I am guessing that terrorists/extremists are less than 1% of the target of PRISM. So exactly how much data do they need to hone the data mining accuracy to reduce the associated false positives. We face a situation where either the data collection is so intrusive or the false positives are so prevalent. In either case, it will be a compromise to civil liberties.
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I say…my god…always years…I,you,they…iludity by USA for the programs vigilitions…my god…thanks snowden,you are a hero…
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