Tag Archive: FISA


Judge Says NSA Can Continue To Destroy Evidence

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Well, this is unfortunate. After yesterday’s back and forth between the DOJ and the EFF over the ongoing destruction of key evidence in the Jewel v. NSA case, the court ordered an emergency hearing for this afternoon. About an hour before the hearing, the DOJ presented its opposition to the temporary restraining order, arguing, basically, that it would be too damn complicated to stop destroying evidence in the case. Part of this is because the data collected under the Section 702 program apparently isn’t just one big database, but is quickly fed into all sorts of other systems.”

 

 

Tech Dirt has the whole story . See also :

 

Judge Asks for More Information About NSA Spying Evidence Destruction After Emergency Hearing

Judge Changes Mind, Says NSA Can Resume Destroying Evidence

Judge Says NSA Can Continue To Destroy Evidence

FISA Court Reverses Order to Destroy NSA Phone Data -CIO.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Court Takes A Pass On Challenging Legality Of Government Surveillance Programs

 

 

 

 

” The Supreme Court has just given the government (and the NSA’s defenders) a little more breathing room on the issue of the legality of the agency’s surveillance programs.

  In a case very similar to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against warrantless surveillance made “legal” by the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008, which the Supreme Court declined to grant “standing” in February 2013, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) announced the Court had rejected their lawsuit against Bush-era warrantless surveillance. 

“ The Supreme Court’s refusal to review this case guarantees that the federal courts will never address a fundamental question: Was the warrantless surveillance program the NSA carried out on President Bush’s orders legal? The Court’s decision also guarantees that the Obama administration, which has for the last five years refused to take any position on that question, will now never have to answer either,” CCR declared.

  This refusal will give those who claim the programs are “legal” another notch on the rhetoric belt, as if not discussing the legality (or illegality) of the program was the equivalent to being found legal by the highest court in the land. If the courts are unwilling to entertain surveillance-related cases, either by refusal to grant standing or refusal to hear the case at all, the defenders can continue to claim the programs are legal. “

 

 

    Read the whole thing at TechDirt . It’s been a very sorry week for individual rights and the Constitution thanks to the “nine old swine” . Madison and Jay would be appalled . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Floor, Not A Ceiling: Supporting The USA FREEDOM Act As A Step Towards Less Surveillance

 

 

” Over the last few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the USA FREEDOM Act1, a bipartisan bill authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). If passed, this bill (also known as S. 1599) would be a substantial improvement to America’s laws regarding mass surveillance. It brings new levels of transparency to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA court), introduces a special advocate to champion civil liberties in the FISA court, and appears to create new statutory limits on mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). We are proud to support this bill and urge others to join us in working to ensure its passage. However, we consider this bill to be a floor, not a ceiling. “

EFF highlights the significant changes to current law in seven categories which we list below :

1) It would likely stop the NSA’s call records program. 2)The bill modifies Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.  3)The bill creates a special advocate in the FISA court. 4)Significant decisions” by the FISA court must be disclosed by the Attorney General. 5)It increases protections designed to limit the potential harm from the use of National Security Letters (NSLs). Nevertheless, NSLs would still be unconstitutional. 6)Transparency. 7)It grants subpoena powers for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).

 

 

   Each of these sections is explained in greater detail in the post and is well worth your time . The Electronic Frontier Foundation makes quite clear that this bill must be just a starting point in the battle to retrieve our 4th Amendment rights from the usurpers in the federal government , beginning with but not limited to , the NSA and their infamous snooping programs . 

 

 

” So while we are happy to support the USA FREEDOM Act, we also acknowledge that there is still much to do to dial back the NSA. This can happen through ongoing improvements to the USA FREEDOM Act as well as through additional bills.”

 

 

   The writer then proceeds to list numerous privacy/surveillance issues that the bill , in it’s present form , does NOT deal with and leaves the reader with the understanding that even if this bill is passed we still have a long way to go to stop the abuse of State and to return our government to it’s founding principles . This is what Sen Sensenbrenner’s web page has to say about H.R. 3361/ S. 1599 aka The USA FREEDOM Act

 

 

THE USA FREEDOM ACT

” Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act  
H.R. 3361/ S. 1599

Purpose:  To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.  

End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records

• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.   • The bill would strengthen the prohibition on “reverse targeting” of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American.  • The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.

Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.  • The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole. • The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight  Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.

Increase Transparency

• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law.   • Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.  • The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records. 

National Security Letters

• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection.  It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.”

 

 

 Senator Leahy’s webpage is here , and this is an editorial co-authored by Sen’s Leahy and Sensenbrenner and published in the Politico .

Here is the bill itself . It runs 118 pages . 

Here is the ACLU’s take on S.1599

Freedom Works offers their opinion

 

TechCrunch :                                      This is the Snowden Effect in legislative form.

” The bill is a solid first effort, but does not go far enough. We will likely see other bills of similar ilk. This specific bill is interesting given that one of its authors, Representative Sensenbrenner, played a key role in the creation of the Patriot Act, something that he is now trying to rein in.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Gillespie Puts Forth How A Libertarian “State” Could Be … ??

 

 

 

” Like hits for Katy Perry, the scandals for the National Security Agency just keep coming. In the wake of revelations that the NSA has been tracking virtually every phone call ever made and sifting through Internet data like a crazed prospector panning for gold at Sutter’s Mill, there’s yet more disturbing news with every passing day.

The latest is that between 2006 and 2009, Politico reports, the NSA lied about its activities to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court charged with authorizing its snooping. Worse still, this outcome is a toxic mix of spy-agency overreach and bureaucratic incompetence. “An internal inquiry into the misstatements also found that no one at the NSA understood how the entire call-tracking program worked,” says Politico, which quotes an unnamed source who explains, “There was nobody at NSA who really had a full idea of how the program was operating at the time.” “

 Fool Me Once Shame On You, Fool Twice Shame On Me

From Forbes

 

” When NSA Director Keith Alexander appeared at the Las Vegas security conference Black Hat Wednesday morning, he hoped to mend the NSA’s reputation in the eyes of thousands of the conference’s hackers and security professionals. It didn’t go exactly as planned.

Alexander was about a half hour into his talk when a 30-year-old security consultant named Jon McCoy shouted “Freedom!”

“Exactly,” responded Alexander. “We stand for freedom.”

“Bullshit!” McCoy shouted.”

 

Read More …

 

 

 

 

Google Asks Intelligence Court To Let It Release Data

 

 

” Google Inc. (GOOG) urged the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission to publish the aggregate numbers and scope of national security requests it receives from the U.S. government.

The filing with the secret court, which issues warrants for collecting foreign intelligence inside the U.S., is the latest effort by Google to ease restrictions on disclosing the information the government has asked for under the surveillance program code-named Prism.

“We have long pushed for transparency so users can better understand the extent to which governments request their data — and Google was the first company to release numbers for National Security Letters,” Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Google in Washington, said in an e-mail. To promote greater transparency, the company is seeking “to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately,” she said.”

 

Google is late to the party .

 

” Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), yesterday became the latest technology company to give details of government data collection, following disclosures by Apple Inc. (AAPL), Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., all of whom have revealed thousands of warrants for data from government entities.

Yahoo!, the largest U.S. Web portal, said it got as many as 13,000 requests for information from U.S. law enforcement agencies in the six months ending in May, with the most common types related to fraud, homicides and criminal investigations, Yahoo said in a posting on Tumblr. The Sunnyvale, California-based company said it can’t lawfully break out FISA requests, and it urged the U.S. government to reconsider its stance on the issue.”

 

 

 

 

 

Apple: iMessage And FaceTime Are Safe From The NSA’s Prying Eyes

 

 

” Here’s how to have a secret conversation the government can’t access: Just use iMessage, Apple’s text-messaging service that, the company now says, is encrypted and can’t be read by anyone except the sender and the recipients.

Apple has added its voice to a growing chorus of Silicon Valley companies calling on Washington for more transparency regarding its data-collection practices. In a statement released Monday, Apple disclosed new details about the requests for user information it fields from the government.

For the six months ending May 31, the company reported getting between 4,000 and 5,000 law-enforcement data requests, which altogether cover between 9,000 and 10,000 specific user accounts (“or devices,” Apple says). Some fraction of that number is made up of FISA warrants and national security letters, but it’s not clear how many or what the distribution looks like.

The firm also disclosed just what kind of data it does not make available to law enforcement—mainly, the end-to-end encrypted content Apple is unable to track, such as text and multimedia messages sent over Apple’s iMessage service, as well as video chats using FaceTime.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NSA Sucks In Data From 50 Companies

 

 

 

 

” Analysts at the National Security Agency can now secretly access real-time user data provided by as many as 50 American companies, ranging from credit rating agencies to internet service providers, two government officials familiar with the arrangements said.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that U.S. credit card companies had also provided customer information. The officials would not disclose the names of the companies because, they said, doing so would provide U.S. enemies with a list of companies to avoid. They declined to confirm the list of participants in an internet monitoring program revealed by the Washington Post and the Guardian, but both confirmed that the program existed.

The idea is to create a mosaic. We get a tip. We vet it. Then we mine the data for intelligence,” one of the officials said.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government Says Secret Court Opinion on Law Underlying PRISM Program Needs to Stay Secret

 

 

 

” In a rare public filing in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Justice Department today urged continued secrecy for a 2011 FISC opinion finding government surveillance to be unconstitutional.  Significantly, the activities at issue were carried out under the controversial legal authority that underlies the National Security Agency’s recently-revealed PRISM program.

EFF filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2012, seeking disclosure of the FISC ruling.  Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall revealed the existence of the opinion, which found that collection activities under FISA Section 702  “circumvented the spirit of the law” and violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But, at the time, the Senators were not permitted to discuss the details publicly. Section 702 has taken on new importance this week, as it appears to form the basis for the extensive PRISM surveillance program reported recently in the Guardian and the Washington Post.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the Senate Doesn’t Know About FISA

 

 

” Nancy Pelosi once said that we had to pass Obamacare to see what’s in it. Last week, Congress said we shouldn’t ask what’s in the federal surveillance law even after we’ve passed it.

That’s the most charitable way to interpret the Senate’s votes reauthorizing expiring provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without any major changes or new checks and balances. The FISA amendments package of 2008 allows the kind of general warrants the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent, giving the government a blank check for snooping on Americans.

It’s not so much that senators voted by lopsided margins to continue Bush-era warrantless wiretapping nearly five years into the age of hope and change (with the Obama administration’s blessing, of course). More surprising is their lack of interest in how many people are being spied on and how likely irrelevant data belonging to innocent citizens is to be ensnared in terrorism investigations.”

 

 

Despite Concerns By Fellow Democrats And Civil Libertarians, The Senator Says There’s Ample Oversight On Spying

Ample Oversight … Where have we heard that before ? Oh yeah . The Stimulus , Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac , Pigford , Gunwalker , Benghazi , Solyndra , need we go on ? Charlie Rangel , Maxine Waters , William Jefferson , Domestic Drones , TSA ?  Secret Service , GSA ?

” However, outgoing chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Dianne Feinsten, D.-Calif., defended the surveillance practices permitted under FISA’s current provisions. “I don’t think there’s any program that has more vigorous oversight,” she said in response to Wyden Thursday. Feinstein said that in regards to stopping domestic terrorist attacks in recent years, the surveillance program “has worked,” noting that some of the 100 arrests made over the past four years to prevent attacks on U.S. soil have been made based on intelligence gleaned under FISA.

According to the Guardian, “National Security Agency whistleblower Bill Binney has estimated that the agency has ‘assembled’ 20 trillion transactions between U.S. citizens.”

As Wyden put it Thursday, I think, when you talk about oversight, and you can’t even get a rough estimate of how many law-abiding Americans had their communications swept up by this law … the idea of robust oversight, really ought to be called toothless oversight if you don’t have that kind of information.”

InfoWars :

“In a 301-118 vote, the House of Representatives, today, passed an amendment that would extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law allowing government monitoring of American communications in efforts to allegedly thwart foreign spies and terrorists.”