SNOWDEN STRIKES AGAIN: UK intelligence used FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE to manipulate online behavior…

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Summary: A fresh set of documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the UK intelligence agency can manipulate online polls and debates, spread messages, snoop on YouTube and track Facebook users.

By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | July 15, 2014 — 08:10 GMT (01:10 PDT)

GCHQ has developed a toolkit of software programs used to manipulate online traffic, infiltrate users’ computers and spread select messages across social media sites including Facebook and YouTube.

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The UK spy agency’s dark arts were revealed in documents first published by The Intercept, and each piece of software is described in a wiki document written up by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The document, which reads like a software inventory, calls the tools part of the agency’s “weaponised capability.”

Some of the most interesting capabilities of the tools on the list include the ability to seed the web with false information — such as tweaking the results of online polls — inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed “extremist” and the use of psychological manipulation on targets — something similar to a research project conducted with Facebook’s approval, which resulted in heavy criticism and outrage levied at the social media site.

A number of interesting tools and their short descriptions are below:

ASTRAL PROJECTION: Remote GSM secure covert Internet proxy using TOR hidden service
POISON ARROW: Safe malware download capability
AIRWOLF: YouTube profile, comment and video collection
BIRDSTRIKE: Twitter monitoring and profile collection
GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a target’s IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.
MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of realtime call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.
PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user
SPRING-BISHOP: Finding private photos of targets on Facebook
BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings
BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages
GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (YouTube)
SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets
SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online
SWAMP DONKEY: A tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine
UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).
WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.
HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.
The list, dated from 2012, says that most of the tools are “fully operational, tested and reliable,” and adds: “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.”

“We only advertise tools here that are either ready to fire or very close to being ready,” the document notes.

The release of these documents comes in the same week that the UK intelligence agency’s spying activities are being investigated by surveillance watchdog the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). Civil liberty groups set a legal challenge against the GCHQ in order to question the legal standing of schemes such as Tempora — a project revealed in the NSA scandal that showed the agency placed data interceptors on fiber-optic cables that carry Internet traffic to and from the UK.

NSA Files Provided by Snowden Show Extent to Which Ordinary Web Users Are Caught in the Net

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In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

By Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani July 5 at 8:46 PM 

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.

Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

A breakdown of the cache of NSA-intercepted communications provided to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden

Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

In order to allow time for analysis and outside reporting, neither Snowden nor The Post has disclosed until now that he obtained and shared the content of intercepted communications. The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA content is generally stored in closely controlled data repositories, and for more than a year, senior government officials have depicted it as beyond Snowden’s reach.

The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection.

Taken together, the files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge. One program, code-named PRISM, extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.

No government oversight body, including the Justice Department, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, intelligence committees in Congress or the president’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has delved into a comparably large sample of what the NSA actually collects — not only from its targets but also from people who may cross a target’s path.

A composite image of two of the more than 5,000 private photos among data collected by the National Security Agency from online accounts and network links in the United States. The images were included in a large cache of NSA intercepts provided by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Images obtained by The Washington Post)

Among the latter are medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque.

Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.

“None of the hits that were received were relevant,” two Navy cryptologic technicians write in one of many summaries of nonproductive surveillance. “No additional information,” writes a civilian analyst. Another makes fun of a suspected kidnapper, newly arrived in Syria before the current civil war, who begs for employment as a janitor and makes wide-eyed observations about the state of undress displayed by women on local beaches.

By law, the NSA may “target” only foreign nationals located overseas unless it obtains a warrant based on probable cause from a special surveillance court. For collection under PRISM and Upstream rules, analysts must state a reasonable belief that the target has information of value about a foreign government, a terrorist organization or the spread of nonconventional weapons.

Most of the people caught up in those programs are not the targets and would not lawfully qualify as such. “Incidental collection” of third-party communications is inevitable in many forms of surveillance, but in other contexts the U.S. government works harder to limit and discard irrelevant data. In criminal wiretaps, for example, the FBI is supposed to stop listening to a call if a suspect’s wife or child is using the phone.

There are many ways to be swept up incidentally in surveillance aimed at a valid foreign target. Some of those in the Snowden archive were monitored because they interacted directly with a target, but others had more-tenuous links.

If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.

“1 target, 38 others on there,” one analyst wrote. She collected data on them all.

In other cases, the NSA designated as its target the Internet protocol, or IP, address of a computer server used by hundreds of people.

The NSA treats all content intercepted incidentally from third parties as permissible to retain, store, search and distribute to its government customers. Raj De, the agency’s general counsel, has testified that the NSA does not generally attempt to remove irrelevant personal content, because it is difficult for one analyst to know what might become relevant to another.

The Obama administration declines to discuss the scale of incidental collection. The NSA, backed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has asserted that it is unable to make any estimate, even in classified form, of the number of Americans swept in. It is not obvious why the NSA could not offer at least a partial count, given that its analysts routinely pick out “U.S. persons” and mask their identities, in most cases, before distributing intelligence reports.

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

‘He didn’t get this data’

U.S. intelligence officials declined to confirm or deny in general terms the authenticity of the intercepted content provided by Snowden, but they made off-the-record requests to withhold specific details that they said would alert the targets of ongoing surveillance. Some officials, who declined to be quoted by name, described Snowden’s handling of the sensitive files as reckless.

In an interview, Snowden said “primary documents” offered the only path to a concrete debate about the costs and benefits of Section 702 surveillance. He did not favor public release of the full archive, he said, but he did not think a reporter could understand the programs “without being able to review some of that surveillance, both the justified and unjustified.”

“While people may disagree about where to draw the line on publication, I know that you and The Post have enough sense of civic duty to consult with the government to ensure that the reporting on and handling of this material causes no harm,” he said.

In Snowden’s view, the PRISM and Upstream programs have “crossed the line of proportionality.”

“Even if one could conceivably justify the initial, inadvertent interception of baby pictures and love letters of innocent bystanders,” he added, “their continued storage in government databases is both troubling and dangerous. Who knows how that information will be used in the future?”

For close to a year, NSA and other government officials have appeared to deny, in congressional testimony and public statements, that Snowden had any access to the material.

As recently as May, shortly after he retired as NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander denied that Snowden could have passed FISA content to journalists.

“He didn’t get this data,” Alexander told a New Yorker reporter. “They didn’t touch —”

“The operational data?” the reporter asked.

“They didn’t touch the FISA data,” Alexander replied. He added, “That database, he didn’t have access to.”

Robert S. Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a prepared statement that Alexander and other officials were speaking only about “raw” intelligence, the term for intercepted content that has not yet been evaluated, stamped with classification markings or minimized to mask U.S. identities.

“We have talked about the very strict controls on raw traffic, the training that people have to have, the technological lockdowns on access,” Litt said. “Nothing that you have given us indicates that Snowden was able to circumvent that in any way.”

In the interview, Snowden said he did not need to circumvent those controls, because his final position as a contractor for Booz Allen at the NSA’s Hawaii operations center gave him “unusually broad, unescorted access to raw SIGINT [signals intelligence] under a special ‘Dual Authorities’ role,” a reference to Section 702 for domestic collection and Executive Order 12333 for collection overseas. Those credentials, he said, allowed him to search stored content — and “task” new collection — without prior approval of his search terms.

“If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,” one of the NSA’s main query systems, he said.

The NSA has released an e-mail exchange acknowledging that Snowden took the required training classes for access to those systems.

‘Minimized U.S. president’

At one level, the NSA shows scrupulous care in protecting the privacy of U.S. nationals and, by policy, those of its four closest intelligence allies — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

More than 1,000 distinct “minimization” terms appear in the files, attempting to mask the identities of “possible,” “potential” and “probable” U.S. persons, along with the names of U.S. beverage companies, universities, fast-food chains and Web-mail hosts.

Some of them border on the absurd, using titles that could apply to only one man. A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.

Even so, unmasked identities remain in the NSA’s files, and the agency’s policy is to hold on to “incidentally” collected U.S. content, even if it does not appear to contain foreign intelligence.

In one exchange captured in the files, a young American asks a Pakistani friend in late 2009 what he thinks of the war in Afghanistan. The Pakistani replies that it is a religious struggle against 44 enemy states.

Startled, the American says “they, ah, they arent heavily participating . . . its like . . . in a football game, the other team is the enemy, not the other teams waterboy and cheerleaders.”

“No,” the Pakistani shoots back. “The ther teams water boy is also an enemy. it is law of our religion.”

“haha, sorry thats kind of funny,” the American replies.

When NSA and allied analysts really want to target an account, their concern for U.S. privacy diminishes. The rationales they use to judge foreignness sometimes stretch legal rules or well-known technical facts to the breaking point.

In their classified internal communications, colleagues and supervisors often remind the analysts that PRISM and Upstream collection have a “lower threshold for foreignness ‘standard of proof’ ” than a traditional surveillance warrant from a FISA judge, requiring only a “reasonable belief” and not probable cause.

One analyst rests her claim that a target is foreign on the fact that his e-mails are written in a foreign language, a quality shared by tens of millions of Americans. Others are allowed to presume that anyone on the chat “buddy list” of a known foreign national is also foreign.

In many other cases, analysts seek and obtain approval to treat an account as “foreign” if someone connects to it from a computer address that seems to be overseas. “The best foreignness explanations have the selector being accessed via a foreign IP address,” an NSA supervisor instructs an allied analyst in Australia.

Apart from the fact that tens of millions of Americans live and travel overseas, additional millions use simple tools called proxies to redirect their data traffic around the world, for business or pleasure. World Cup fans this month have been using a browser extension called Hola to watch live-streamed games that are unavailable from their own countries. The same trick is routinely used by Americans who want to watch BBC video. The NSA also relies routinely on locations embedded in Yahoo tracking cookies, which are widely regarded by online advertisers as unreliable.

In an ordinary FISA surveillance application, the judge grants a warrant and requires a fresh review of probable cause — and the content of collected surveillance — every 90 days. When renewal fails, NSA and allied analysts sometimes switch to the more lenient standards of PRISM and Upstream.

“These selectors were previously under FISA warrant but the warrants have expired,” one analyst writes, requesting that surveillance resume under the looser standards of Section 702. The request was granted.

‘I don’t like people knowing’

She was 29 and shattered by divorce, converting to Islam in search of comfort and love. He was three years younger, rugged and restless. His parents had fled Kabul and raised him in Australia, but he dreamed of returning to Afghanistan.

One day when she was sick in bed, he brought her tea. Their faith forbade what happened next, and later she recalled it with shame.

“what we did was evil and cursed and may allah swt MOST merciful forgive us for giving in to our nafs [desires]”

Still, a romance grew. They fought. They spoke of marriage. They fought again.

All of this was in the files because, around the same time, he went looking for the Taliban.

He found an e-mail address on its English-language Web site and wrote repeatedly, professing loyalty to the one true faith, offering to “come help my brothers” and join the fight against the unbelievers.

On May 30, 2012, without a word to her, he boarded a plane to begin a journey to Kandahar. He left word that he would not see her again.

If that had been the end of it, there would not be more than 800 pages of anguished correspondence between them in the archives of the NSA and its counterpart, the Australian Signals Directorate.

He had made himself a target. She was the collateral damage, placed under a microscope as she tried to adjust to the loss.

Three weeks after he landed in Kandahar, she found him on Facebook.

“Im putting all my pride aside just to say that i will miss you dearly and your the only person that i really allowed myself to get close to after losing my ex husband, my dad and my brother.. Im glad it was so easy for you to move on and put what we had aside and for me well Im just soo happy i met you. You will always remain in my heart. I know you left for a purpose it hurts like hell sometimes not because Im needy but because i wish i could have been with you.”

His replies were cool, then insulting, and gradually became demanding. He would marry her but there were conditions. She must submit to his will, move in with his parents and wait for him in Australia. She must hand him control of her Facebook account — he did not approve of the photos posted there.

She refused. He insisted:

“look in islam husband doesnt touch girl financial earnigs unless she agrees but as far as privacy goes there is no room….i need to have all ur details everything u do its what im supposed to know that will guide u whether its right or wrong got it”

Later, she came to understand the irony of her reply:

“I don’t like people knowing my private life.”

Months of negotiations followed, with each of them declaring an end to the romance a dozen times or more. He claimed he had found someone else and planned to marry that day, then admitted it was a lie. She responded:

“No more games. You come home. You won’t last with an afghan girl.”

She begged him to give up his dangerous path. Finally, in September, she broke off contact for good, informing him that she was engaged to another man.

“When you come back they will send you to jail,” she warned.

They almost did.

In interviews with The Post, conducted by telephone and Facebook, she said he flew home to Australia last summer, after failing to find members of the Taliban who would take him seriously. Australian National Police met him at the airport and questioned him in custody. They questioned her, too, politely, in her home. They showed her transcripts of their failed romance. When a Post reporter called, she already knew what the two governments had collected about her.

Eventually, she said, Australian authorities decided not to charge her failed suitor with a crime. Police spokeswoman Emilie Lovatt declined to comment on the case.

Looking back, the young woman said she understands why her intimate correspondence was recorded and parsed by men and women she did not know.

“Do I feel violated?” she asked. “Yes. I’m not against the fact that my privacy was violated in this instance, because he was stupid. He wasn’t thinking straight. I don’t agree with what he was doing.”

What she does not understand, she said, is why after all this time, with the case long closed and her own job with the Australian government secure, the NSA does not discard what it no longer needs.

Jennifer Jenkins and Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.

ISIS IS HIRING JUDGES, DOCTORS AND ENGINEERS AS AL-QAEDA PREPARES FOR WAR AGAINST CALIPHATE

ISIS IS HIRING JUDGES, DOCTORS AND ENGINEERS AS AL-QAEDA PREPARES FOR WAR AGAINST CALIPHATE

“Judges and those who have military and managerial and service skills, and doctors and engineers in all fields”

by ZERO HEDGE | JULY 2, 2014

As we reported earlier, in what was perhaps the first official action by the jihadists with the glossy year end brochures, the newly crated ISIS Caliphate which stretches from Syria to Iraq (and which is not longer ISIS, just IS, or Islamic State) made a global call urging the Muslim proletariat to immigrate to the newly created territory in a clear example of what in the US would be called “porous” immigration policy. Judging the by the expansive proposed borders, the terrorist organization, which in the past has received occasional training and support by the US and with a penchant for cannibalism will have a while to wait before its removes all the slack from its incipient economy, more or less like the Fed.

But perhaps more curious is that the leader of the self-proclaimed al-Qaeda spin off nation, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in addition to a broad religious call to arms, so to speak, also beckoned workers with a specific skillset to present themselves for duty: namely those with military, medical and managerial skills were urged to flock to the newly-declared state in an audio recording released Tuesday.

As Al Arabiya reports, the newly named “caliph” said the appeal especially applied to “judges and those who have military and managerial and service skills, and doctors and engineers in all fields.”

It goes without saying that IS is also in need to fighters (not to mention suicide bombers, although compensation arrangements there could be problematic): Baghdadi also addressed the group’s fighters, saying that “your brothers in all the world are waiting” to be rescued by them.

“Terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death in the places where you expect to find it,” he said. “Your brothers, on every piece of this earth, are waiting for you to rescue them.”

“By Allah, we will take revenge, by Allah we will take revenge, even if after a while,” Baghdadi said. “Fighters should “embrace the chance and champion Allah’s religion through jihad,” he added.

Undated file picture claims to show Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Furthermore, since the caliphate is now wealthier than its ideological competitor Al Qaeda ever was, it just may be the case that Europe (and/or the US) may suddenly experience a major skilled worker brain drain as the best doctors, managers and engineers rush to get paid by terrorists, with the occasional virgin thrown in as a Christmas bonus.

Perhaps ironically, the biggest question now is not whether or not IS(IS) will continue its jihad against Baghdad and seek to branch out by, say, crossing the Atlantic – that much is guaranteed – but what happens with the abovementioned Al Qaeda itself, which will hardly stand idly by and watch as it is upstaged by its formerly smaller, and (formerly) far more irrelevant spin off.

According to AFP, the declaration of an Islamic caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria is a direct challenge to Al-Qaeda and could set off a dangerous contest for the leadership of the global jihadist movement, experts say.

Paradoxically, it would be the west that suffers the most:

Desperate to retain its preeminent role, the movement behind September 11 may be driven to carry out fresh attacks on Western targets to prove it remains relevant.
“This competition between jihadists could be very dangerous,” said Shashank Joshi of the London-based Royal United Services Institute, warning that Al-Qaeda may look to make a “spectacular” show of force.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) announced on Sunday it was establishing a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria where it has seized control. A form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire, a caliphate has been a long-held dream of radical jihadists who want to impose their version of Islamic sharia law.

Renaming itself simply the Islamic State (IS), the group also daringly declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph and “leader for Muslims everywhere”.
Here is where it gets interesting: Al-Qaeda can hardly ignore what is essentially a declaration of war from an upstart that has scored a string of successes, said Magnus Ranstorp, an expert on radical Islamic movements at the Swedish National Defence College.

“The competition has already started,” he said. “Al-Baghdadi already refused to pledge allegiance to (Al-Qaeda leader Ayman) al-Zawahiri and now he can say: ‘Look what we have accomplished… You are just somewhere, we don’t know where, talking on the Internet.’”
For a new, younger generation of radical Islamic militants, Al-Qaeda with its grey-bearded 63-year-old leader is no longer the draw it was under Osama bin Laden.

Believed to be holed up in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, Zawahiri in their eyes seems to have done little in recent years beyond issuing statements and videos.
Finally, in what could be the coup de grace in its recruitment efforts, the Islamic State is allowing its cannibal terrorists to use FaceBook and Twitter. In other words, the original Al Qaeda will have to blow up some really big and really symbolic buildings to regain its coolness factor from its much younger and much hipper Islamic State terrorist competition.

FACEBOOK EMOTIONAL EXPERIMENT LINKED TO PENTAGON RESEARCH ON CIVIL UNREST

FACEBOOK EMOTIONAL EXPERIMENT LINKED TO PENTAGON RESEARCH ON CIVIL UNREST

Researcher who worked on social media experiment was funded by DoD

by STEVE WATSON | INFOWARS.COM | JULY 1, 2014

Facebook’s controversial “emotional study”, which subjected over half a million unwitting users of the social network to a psychological conditioning experiment, has direct ties to research funded by the Department of Defense concerning the likelihood of civil unrest.

The Facebook scandal hit the headlines this week, as it was revealed that the company participated with a federally funded UCSF study into how emotions can be swayed on social media by controlling the content of personal feeds and deciding whether to show negative or positive material.

While that fact in itself is disturbing, it seems that the rabbit hole goes even deeper.

Bloggers and online sleuths have since highlighted that the research appears to be at least in part connected to a Pentagon-led project called the Minerva Initiative.

Researcher and London Guardian writer Nafeez Ahmed has noted that the project provides “funding to universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world.”

In other words, the DoD wants to master how to predict, prevent, manipulate, control, and even instigate mass civil unrest. It wishes to do this by developing “operational tools” related to “social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces.”

The initiative seeks to provide authoritative knowledge on “social movement mobilisation and contagions”. Social networks including Facebook and Twitter are highlighted as key indicators in the research.

It has been noted that within the official credits for the controversial study recently conducted by Facebook, Cornell University’s Jeffrey T. Hancock is listed as an author. Hancock is also listed on the Pentagon’s Minerva initiative website, where it is noted that he received funding from the Department of Defense for a study called “Cornell: Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes”.

The section of the website devoted to that study includes a visualization program that models the spread of beliefs and disease.

This is not the only connection Cornell University has to the Pentagon civil unrest study. There is a second project listed on the funding page of the Minerva website entitled “Cornell: Tracking Critical-Mass Outbreaks in Social Contagions”.

The US government in conjunction with the military has long been concerned with studying the potential for civil unrest and how it can control, facilitate and combat it. The U.S. Army War College, in conjunction with numerous think tanks have somewhat obsessively studied the subject for years.

In recent years, the rise of social media, and its potential use for growing and organising protest movements, has spurred a new urgency within government and the military to adapt to and co-opt such tools.

The so-called “spring” revolutions of recent years have been heavily centered around the use of social media, with many even suggesting that Western government and military forces have, at least in part, controlled and even initiated unrest in other parts of the world for strategic purposes by employing social media.

Reports have recently emerged of the Military setting up fake Twitter-like social networks in countries such as Cuba, in order to manipulate and sway popular opinion there. The Military also developed so called ‘sock puppet’ software to create fake online identities and spread propaganda at home and abroad.

The government has also heavily invested in companies that monitor social media and track how opinions and information spreads on such networks.

Facebook was and is deeply connected to the NSA’s PRISM program. Via leaked information, and by the NSA’s own admission, it has been noted that Facebook not only knew about, but also cooperated with the mass spying program. The NSA even masqueraded as Facebook via fake servers, using them as a launching pad to grab information from hard drives, in order to infect millions of computers around the world with malware as part of the mass surveillance program.

The trend is clear – the government and the military have set about fully co-opting social media and turning it into a tool for social control and manipulation, and Facebook has cooperated in the process.

CIA joins social media, is immediately trolled

CIA joins social media, is immediately trolled

Though the US Central Intelligence Agency may use Facebook, Twitter, and the like to keep tabs on targets of interest, the spy agency has only now officially joined social media–a move hastened by an imposter who was using the agency’s name online.

The agency’s first tweet, which earned the CIA nearly 200,000 Twitter followers in just a few hours, was the appropriately sarcastic, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” There were already 40,000 followers after just a single hour online, with the agency’s debut on Facebook sparking a similar conversation on that platform.

“By expanding to these platforms, CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on the CIA’s mission, history, and other developments,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a press release Friday. “We have important insights to share, and we want to make sure that unclassified information about the agency is more accessible to the American public that we serve, consistent with our national security mission.”

The CIA admitted as far back as 2011 that its agents and employees regularly scan social media to spy on intelligence targets. It already had multiple accounts on Flickr and YouTube, but only debuted on Twitter Friday because it had spent months lobbying Twitter to stop someone else who was already using the @CIA handle.

“There was someone out there impersonating CIA via Twitter,” spokesperson K. Jordan Caldwell told NBC. “Earlier this year, CIA filed an impersonation complaint with Twitter and they secured the @CIA account for us, which is routine for government agencies. This has been a lengthy process. It’s been in the works for a long time.”

The poser wasn’t a member of the Syrian Electronic Army, or even a veteran of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, but the Cleveland Institute of Art, which was cursed with the same abbreviation as one of the most powerful cloak and dagger agencies in the world.

“We just deleted that one because it was kind of confusing,” Jessica Moore, the institute’s web manager, told the Wall Street Journal. “Some people would mention us in their tweets and they were clearly thinking they were talking with the ‘real CIA,’ the Central Intelligence Agency.”

If the CIA is used to infiltrating foreign governments and aiding assassinations, though, it was still unprepared for Twitter trolling. Tweets immediately began pouring into the agency’s timeline from all over the world. Whether it be journalists, comedians, companies, or conspiracy theorists, seemingly all of Twitter felt compelled to make a joke that had been made dozens of times before.

Certainly the most effective trolling so far has come from the New York Review of Books, which launched an assault on the CIA’s Twitter feed complete with the torture methods used by the CIA and the date each incident occurred.

Each of the flurry of tweets included a link to the 2009 NY Review of Boks article titled “US Torture. Voices from the Black Sites,” which “reveals for the first time the contents of a confidential Red Cross report about the CIA’s secret offshore prisons.” The link was unavailable for much of the afternoon Friday, most likely because the site in question was overwhelmed with the sudden amount of traffic that came from the hundreds of retweets and favorites.

Along with compelling the Cleveland Institute of Art to give up its Twitter moniker, the CIA’s debut on Twitter is also timely because it comes as a number of US government agencies have increasingly relied on social media to communicate with the public. The trend began a year ago after the Edward Snowden leak, when the National Security Agency sought to shift the conversation with its own Twitter account.

“Other US government departments have attempted to use social media not only to get out their message, but at times to actively combat America’s enemies in sometimes bizarre online spats,” explained Lee Ferran of ABC News. “The State Department’s Think Again Turn Away Twitter account, for instance, directly engages in arguments with pro-jihadi computer users. Terrorist groups, like the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda-allied group Al-Shabab in Somalia, already have a robust social media presence, which they use to spread their own propaganda.”

BIG BROTHER ALERT: Say the Wrong Thing on Facebook, Get Fined

BIG BROTHER ALERT: Say the Wrong Thing on Facebook, Get Fined

As it turns out, more government agencies are monitoring your online activity than Obama’s NSA. A Chicago area woman was recently fined $50 by the Will County Forest Preserve District and the fine was directly related to a post that she made on Facebook.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Christine Adamski received a citation in the mail which indicated that she used a dog park without a proper permit. Included along with the citation was a copy of a comment that she made on Facebook which the police indicated was an admission of guilt.

There were cases of kennel cough among dogs who used the Whalen Park Dog Park. Adamski posted on the dog park’s Facebook page, “I was feeling bad that I haven’t bought a pass and been bringing Ginger there but I’m pretty glad I haven’t. So not going to worry about it until later. I hope all the doggies get better soon.”

The overzealous employee obviously didn’t read the post clearly enough because Christine was clearly saying that she had not brought her dog to the park and was happy that she hadn’t. In fact, she hadn’t been there since 2013. But, that’s beside the point. It is disturbing that a monitored Facebook page would result in a ticket for, of all things, presumably not having a parking pass. A furious Adamski addressed this citation and monitoring of her Facebook activity on the park’s Facebook page.

According to officials, the incident was not handled according to protocol.

Forest Preserve District Executive Director Marcy DeMauro said she contacted the district’s police chief Tuesday about the citation and learned it was already under review. DeMauro stressed the district does not monitor social media in search of potential law breakers nor should the district issue a citation based on a post made on a social media site.

“We treat any information like that as a tip and that has to be verified before any action is taken on our part,” she said adding, “We would go to the dog park to see if that individual is actually there and using the dog park without a permit.”

DeMauro said no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer who issued the citation but noted the issue is still under review. The officer who issued the citation has been an employee of the forest preserve district since 2008. Forest preserve district officials declined to identify the officer.

Moral of the story – be careful what you write on social media. Big brother is watching.

Facecrook: NSA storing your facial web images, millions intercepted daily

Facecrook: NSA storing your facial web images, millions intercepted daily

The National Security Agency is collecting millions of images of people through its international surveillance network to be implemented in a number of other facial recognition programs, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Read Snowden’s comments on 9/11 that NBC didn’t broadcast

Thanks to rapid advances being made in the field of facial recognition technology, the NSA is much better equipped to “exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, video conferences and other communications,” according to an article in the New York Times, co-written by Laura Poitras, who, together with Glen Greenwald, are the only two journalists to have received the leaked NSA documents.

The NSA has the capacity to intercept “millions of images per day,” as well as some 55,000 “facial recognition quality images.” This latest milestone in US intelligence gathering, which goes a long way to putting the final touches on the much-feared Orwellian nightmare, gives the US spy agency “tremendous untapped potential,” according to the 2011 documents.

“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting,” noted a document dated 2010.

Such comments are bound to spark fears that the harvesting of facial images, much like the collection of oral and written communications, will snag innocent Americans in the vast intelligence net.

The latest revelations to be gleaned from Snowden’s stash of top-secret documents prove the NSA is not just interested in collecting the meta-data from global communications, but also the images that put a face on potential terrorists and other would-be adversaries of the American government.

The NSA is unique in its ability to match images with huge troves of private communications.

“We would not be doing our job if we didn’t seek ways to continuously improve the precision of signals intelligence activities — aiming to counteract the efforts of valid foreign intelligence targets to disguise themselves or conceal plans to harm the United States and its allies,” said Vanee M. Vines, the agency spokeswoman.

ID databases out of the game?
Since most people have a number of photographs taken of themselves for identification purposes, the question arises as to how much reach the NSA has in acquiring peoples’ facial images.

According to Vines, the NSA does not access driver’s licenses or passport photos of Americans, but refused to say whether the agency had access to the State Department’s photo archive of foreign visa applicants. She also declined to say whether the spy agency collected photographs of Americans from social media sources, like Facebook and Instagram, which would not be a difficult task considering that millions of people willingly post ‘selfies’ to the web.

Moreover, the report claimed that one of the agency’s most intense efforts to acquire facial images is through a program dubbed Wellspring, which “strips out images from emails and other communications, and displays those that might contain passport images.”

Because images are considered a form of communicational content, the NSA is required to get court approval for collecting facial images of Americans, just as it is required to read emails or listen in on phone conversations, an NSA spokeswoman was quoted in the Times article as saying.

However, exceptions may be made in the event “an American might be emailing or texting an image to someone targeted by the agency overseas,” it said.

Human rights and civil liberty groups are expressing concern that the power of the technology, in the hands of government and corporate officials, could have a disastrous impact on privacy.

“Facial recognition can be very invasive,” Alessandro Acquisti, a researcher on facial recognition technology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, told the paper. “There are still technical limitations on it, but the computational power keeps growing, and the databases keep growing, and the algorithms keep improving.”

Harvesting on video conferences
The NSA facial recognition program made tremendous headway in 2010 when it successfully matched images from two separate databases, one in the NSA database code-named Pinwale, and another in the government’s primary terrorist watch database, known as Tide, the NSA files revealed.

That technical breakthrough led to an “explosion of analytical uses” for the agency.

The NSA has since brought on board “identity intelligence” analysts whose job it is to match the facial images with other records about individuals to build broad portfolios of intelligence targets.

The full depth of the image-collection program is daunting in that it has developed sophisticated methods of integrating facial recognition programs with numerous other databases.

“It intercepts video teleconferences to obtain facial imagery, gathers airline passenger data and collects photographs from national identity card databases created by foreign countries, the documents show,” the files revealed.

They also show that the NSA was attempting to infiltrate such databases in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Aside from its own programs, the NSA partially relies on commercially available facial recognition technology, including from PittPatt, a company owned by Google, the leaked files show.

Geo-positioning does matter
But the power of facial recognition technology apparently goes beyond the collection of faces, and includes geographic points photographed from satellites.

One leaked file shows photographs of several men standing near a waterfront dock in 2011. Through the use of the recognition technology, the NSA was able to match their surroundings to a satellite image of the same dock taken about the same time.

The document said the photograph showed a militant training facility in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, US law remains surprisingly flimsy in terms of the protections it offers Americans when it comes to their images.

“Unfortunately, our privacy laws provide no express protections for facial recognition data,” said Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, in a letter in December to the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

News of the NSA’s ‘facial-mining’ techniques echo earlier leaked information, reported in February, that Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, in direct cooperation with the NSA, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of terrorism or other criminal behavior.

GCHQ records between 2008 and 2010 reveal a surveillance program, codenamed Optic Nerve, harvested still images of Yahoo webcam chats and stored them on databases, the Guardian reported.

“In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally,” the paper reported.

NSA TO LISTEN TO CONVERSATIONS IN REAL TIME VIA CELLPHONE MIC

New Facebook app another backdoor for government snooping

by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON | MAY 23, 2014

Facebook’s new mobile spy app which listens to a user’s background noise by utilizing the device’s microphone is merely another backdoor via which the NSA and other government agencies will be able to spy on conversations in real time, a technique that we warned about eight years ago.

“Each time I think they’ve become as creepy as possible, somehow they find a way to be even creepier than that,” joked comedian Jimmy Kimmel in response to the announcement, before a skit about how Facebook would soon automatically post your thoughts as a status update.

“Facebook is to release a new feature on its mobile app that “listens” to your music and TV shows,” reports BBC News. “The feature, which will be available in a few weeks’ time, uses the microphones inside users’ smartphones to detect nearby music or TV shows.”

Although Facebook claims the app cannot record conversations, the user agreement for Facebook’s messenger service includes a term that necessitates users to agree to allow their audio to be recorded without permission. Given that microphones on cellphones exist for the sole reason of sending audio of speech, Facebook’s claim that its new app cannot also do so is dubious to say the least.

Such technology was already being mooted eight years ago, when we published an article entitled, Government, Industry To Use Computer Microphones To Spy On 150 Million Americans, in which we explained how, “Private industry and eventually government is planning to use microphones in the computers of an estimated 150 million-plus Internet active Americans to spy on their lifestyle choices and build psychological profiles which will be used for surveillance and minority report style invasive advertising and data mining.”

Given new reports based on the latest Edward Snowden documents which show that the NSA is recording nearly every phone call in entire countries, to think that the federal agency isn’t already utilizing or at least planning to use open microphones on cellphones to spy on Americans would be incredibly naive.

Back in March it was revealed that the NSA is masquerading as Facebook in order to infect millions of computers around the world with malware as part of its mass surveillance program.

“We are sure this will not be abused or hacked by the NSA… and we are sure there will be plenty of small digital print that users will understand… One wonders though, is there any way for non-Facebook users to know that they are being eavesdropped upon?” asks Zero Hedge.

The answer is that every virtually single user of smartphones has given their permission to have their conversations listened to via the device’s microphone. As we have previously highlighted, terms of agreement for both Android and iPhone apps now require users to agree to allow their microphone to be activated at any time without confirmation before they can download the app.

Earlier this year we also reported on how a computer programmer discovered that Google’s Chrome browser had the ability to record conversations without the user’s knowledge.

VALERIE JARRETT: ‘WE HAVE A COMMITMENT’ FROM BOEHNER ON AMNESTY THIS YEAR

VALERIE JARRETT: 'WE HAVE A COMMITMENT' FROM BOEHNER ON AMNESTY THIS YEAR

http://launch.newsinc.com/share.html?trackingGroup=90085&siteSection=breitbart_nws_pol_sty_vmppap&videoId=25881955

President Barack Obama’s top adviser and confidant told a group of global elites on Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has made a commitment to the White House to try to pass amnesty legislation this year.
After hailing the Senate’s amnesty bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of American workers, Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor, told attendees at the yearly invitation-only SkyBridge Alternatives Conference that Boehner would help the White House make a push get immigration reform enacted in the next three months.
“I think we have a window this summer, between now and August, to get something done,” Jarrett said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We have a commitment from Speaker Boehner, who’s very frustrated with his caucus.”
Addressing attendees at an event described as conference where “investors and elite political donors” along with “hedge fund managers, political and business leaders and celebrities” can “speak freely,” Jarrett said that the Senate’s bill would pass in the House if Republicans brought it to the floor.
Jarrett, echoing the sentiments of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who has said that Democrats would want a piecemeal approach to immigration reform if they get all of the pieces of the Senate bill, said that there were “a lot of ways to skin a cat” and that there would be “mounting pressure” on amnesty legislation in the coming months. She also reportedly claimed the high-tech industry needed more “educated workers” even though numerous studies have debunked the myth that there is a shortage of American high-tech workers.
The Senate’s bill would double and possibly triple the number of H1-B visas that high-tech lobbying groups like Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us covet even though American colleges and universities graduate more workers in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields than there are job openings. In addition, illegal immigrants put on a path to citizenship and given work visas could qualify for any job, which would reduce the opportunities for Americans on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
Boehner, who hired Sen. John McCain’s top amnesty adviser at the end of the last year, has previously told fundraisers in Las Vegas that he was “hellbent” on getting amnesty legislation done this year and then mocked conservative opponents of amnesty at an event in his Ohio district. Boehner also said that when he and Obama agreed the most on amnesty legislation when they met at the White House in February of this year. Obama also indicated this week that there were only “two to three months” to get amnesty legislation enacted this year.
House GOP leaders like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the GOP Conference Chair, have also floated an August deadline to get legislation on the House floor while business executives have said they thought amnesty legislation would be the”final act” of the lame-duck session. Even if Congress is pressured not to act on immigration legislation this year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and GOP leaders said on Wednesday that Republicans in the Senate would “absolutely” try to pass amnesty legislation again in the next Congress if Republicans win back the Senate in November.

FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance .

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

“If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET. The requirements apply only if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded, according to a second industry representative briefed on it.

The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.
“Going Dark” timeline

June 2008: FBI Director Robert Mueller and his aides brief Sens. Barbara Mikulski, Richard Shelby, and Ted Stevens on “Going Dark.”

June 2008: FBI Assistant Director Kerry Haynes holds “Going Dark” briefing for Senate appropriations subcommittee and offers a “classified version of this briefing” at Quantico.

August 2008: Mueller briefed on Going Dark at strategy meeting.

September 2008: FBI completes a “high-level explanation” of CALEA amendment package.

May 2009: FBI Assistant Director Rich Haley briefs Senate Intelligence committee and Mikulsi staffers on how bureau is “dealing with the ‘Going Dark’ issue.’” Mikulski plans to bring up “Going Dark” at a closed-door hearing the following week.

May 2009: Haley briefs Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, currently the top Democrat on House Intelligence, who would later co-author CISPA.

September 2008: FBI staff briefed by RAND, which was commissioned to “look at” Going Dark.

November 2008: FBI Assistant Director Marcus Thomas, who oversees the Quantico-based Operational Technology Division, prepares briefing for President-Elect Obama’s transition team.

December 2008: FBI intelligence analyst in Communications Analysis Unit begins analysis of VoIP surveillance.

February 2009: FBI memo to all field offices asks for anecdotal information about cases where “investigations have been negatively impacted” by lack of data retention or Internet interception.

March 2009: Mueller’s advisory board meets for a full-day briefing on Going Dark.

April 2009: FBI distributes presentation for White House meeting on Going Dark.

April 2009: FBI warns that the Going Dark project is “yellow,” meaning limited progress, because of “new administration personnel not being in place for briefings.”

April 2009: FBI general counsel’s office reports that the bureau’s Data Interception Technology Unit has “compiled a list of FISA dockets… that the FBI has been unable to fully implement.” That’s a reference to telecom companies that are already covered by the FCC’s expansion of CALEA.

May 2009: FBI’s internal Wikipedia-knockoff Bureaupedia entry for “National Lawful Intercept Strategy” includes section on “modernize lawful intercept laws.”

May 2009: FBI e-mail boasts that the bureau’s plan has “gotten attention” from industry, but “we need to strengthen the business case on this.”

June 2009: FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs prepares Going Dark briefing for closed-door session of Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

July 2010: FBI e-mail says the “Going Dark Working Group (GDWG) continues to ask for examples from Cvber investigations where investigators have had problems” because of new technologies.

September 2010: FBI staff operations specialist in its Counterterrorism Division sends e-mail on difficulties in “obtaining information from Internet Service Providers and social-networking sites.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller is not asking companies to support the bureau’s CALEA expansion, but instead is “asking what can go in it to minimize impacts,” one participant in the discussions says. That included a scheduled trip this month to the West Coast — which was subsequently postponed — to meet with Internet companies’ CEOs and top lawyers.

A further expansion of CALEA is unlikely to be applauded by tech companies, their customers, or privacy groups. Apple (which distributes iChat and FaceTime) is currently lobbying on the topic, according to disclosure documents filed with Congress two weeks ago. Microsoft (which owns Skype and Hotmail) says its lobbyists are following the topic because it’s “an area of ongoing interest to us.” Google, Yahoo, and Facebook declined to comment.

In February 2011, CNET was the first to report that then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni was planning to warn Congress of what the bureau calls its “Going Dark” problem, meaning that its surveillance capabilities may diminish as technology advances. Caproni singled out “Web-based e-mail, social-networking sites, and peer-to-peer communications” as problems that have left the FBI “increasingly unable” to conduct the same kind of wiretapping it could in the past.

In addition to the FBI’s legislative proposal, there are indications that the Federal Communications Commission is considering reinterpreting CALEA to demand that products that allow video or voice chat over the Internet — from Skype to Google Hangouts to Xbox Live — include surveillance backdoors to help the FBI with its “Going Dark” program. CALEA applies to technologies that are a “substantial replacement” for the telephone system.

“We have noticed a massive uptick in the amount of FCC CALEA inquiries and enforcement proceedings within the last year, most of which are intended to address ‘Going Dark’ issues,” says Christopher Canter, lead compliance counsel at the Marashlian and Donahue law firm, which specializes in CALEA. “This generally means that the FCC is laying the groundwork for regulatory action.”

Subsentio, a Colorado-based company that sells CALEA compliance products and worked with the Justice Department when it asked the FCC to extend CALEA seven years ago, says the FBI’s draft legislation was prepared with the compliance costs of Internet companies in mind.

In a statement to CNET, Subsentio President Steve Bock said that the measure provides a “safe harbor” for Internet companies as long as the interception techniques are “‘good enough’ solutions approved by the attorney general.”

Another option that would be permitted, Bock said, is if companies “supply the government with proprietary information to decode information” obtained through a wiretap or other type of lawful interception, rather than “provide a complex system for converting the information into an industry standard format.”

A representative for the FBI told CNET today that: “(There are) significant challenges posed to the FBI in the accomplishment of our diverse mission. These include those that result from the advent of rapidly changing technology. A growing gap exists between the statutory authority of law enforcement to intercept electronic communications pursuant to court order and our practical ability to intercept those communications. The FBI believes that if this gap continues to grow, there is a very real risk of the government ‘going dark,’ resulting in an increased risk to national security and public safety.”

Next steps
The FBI’s legislation, which has been approved by the Department of Justice, is one component of what the bureau has internally called the “National Electronic Surveillance Strategy.” Documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation show that since 2006, Going Dark has been a worry inside the bureau, which employed 107 full-time equivalent people on the project as of 2009, commissioned a RAND study, and sought extensive technical input from the bureau’s secretive Operational Technology Division in Quantico, Va. The division boasts of developing the “latest and greatest investigative technologies to catch terrorists and criminals.”

But the White House, perhaps less inclined than the bureau to initiate what would likely be a bruising privacy battle, has not sent the FBI’s CALEA amendments to Capitol Hill, even though they were expected last year . (A representative for Sen. Patrick Leahy, head of the Judiciary committee and original author of CALEA, said today that “we have not seen any proposals from the administration.”)

Mueller said in December that the CALEA amendments will be “coordinated through the interagency process,” meaning they would need to receive administration-wide approval.

Stewart Baker, a partner at Steptoe and Johnson who is the former assistant secretary for policy at Homeland Security, said the FBI has “faced difficulty getting its legislative proposals through an administration staffed in large part by people who lived through the CALEA and crypto fights of the Clinton administration, and who are jaundiced about law enforcement regulation of technology — overly jaundiced, in my view.”

On the other hand, as a senator in the 1990s, Vice President Joe Biden introduced a bill at the FBI’s behest that echoes the bureau’s proposal today. Biden’s bill said companies should “ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.” (Biden’s legislation spurred the public release of PGP, one of the first easy-to-use encryption utilities.)

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment. An FCC representative referred questions to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, which declined to comment.

From the FBI’s perspective, expanding CALEA to cover VoIP, Web e-mail, and social networks isn’t expanding wiretapping law: If a court order is required today, one will be required tomorrow as well. Rather, it’s making sure that a wiretap is guaranteed to produce results.

But that nuanced argument could prove radioactive among an Internet community already skeptical of government efforts in the wake of protests over the Stop Online Piracy Act , or SOPA, in January, and the CISPA data-sharing bill last month. And even if startups or hobbyist projects are exempted if they stay below the user threshold, it’s hardly clear how open-source or free software projects such as Linphone, KPhone, and Zfone — or Nicholas Merrill’s proposal for a privacy-protective Internet provider — will comply.
Related stories

FBI to announce new Net-wiretapping push
FBI: We’re not demanding encryption back doors
FBI targets Net phoning

The FBI’s CALEA amendments could be particularly troublesome for Zfone. Phil Zimmermann, the creator of PGP who became a privacy icon two decades ago after being threatened with criminal prosecution, announced Zfone in 2005 as a way to protect the privacy of VoIP users. Zfone scrambles the entire conversation from end to end.

“I worry about the government mandating backdoors into these kinds of communications,” says Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has obtained documents from the FBI relating to its proposed expansion of CALEA.

As CNET was the first to report in 2003, representatives of the FBI’s Electronic Surveillance Technology Section in Chantilly, Va., began quietly lobbying the FCC to force broadband providers to provide more-efficient, standardized surveillance facilities. The FCC approved that requirement a year later, sweeping in Internet phone companies that tie into the existing telecommunications system. It was upheld in 2006 by a federal appeals court.

But the FCC never granted the FBI’s request to rewrite CALEA to cover instant messaging and VoIP programs that are not “managed”–meaning peer-to-peer programs like Apple’s Facetime, iChat/AIM, Gmail’s video chat, and Xbox Live’s in-game chat that do not use the public telephone network.

If there is going to be a CALEA rewrite, “industry would like to see any new legislation include some protections against disclosure of any trade secrets or other confidential information that might be shared with law enforcement, so that they are not released, for example, during open court proceedings,” says Roszel Thomsen, a partner at Thomsen and Burke who represents technology companies and is a member of an FBI study group. He suggests that such language would make it “somewhat easier” for both industry and the police to respond to new technologies.

But industry groups aren’t necessarily going to roll over without a fight. TechAmerica, a trade association that includes representatives of HP, eBay, IBM, Qualcomm, and other tech companies on its board of directors, has been lobbying against a CALEA expansion. Such a law would “represent a sea change in government surveillance law, imposing significant compliance costs on both traditional (think local exchange carriers) and nontraditional (think social media) communications companies,” TechAmerica said in e-mail today.