The state of privacy in America

Right or wrong, Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance have focused attention on the Fourth Amendment and national security in ways that our founding father’s never could have imagined.

After the June 2013 leaks by Edward Snowden about NSA surveillance of Americans’ communications, Pew Research Center began an in-depth exploration of people’s views and behaviors related to privacy. Here’s what we learned.

Source: The state of privacy in America | Pew Research Center

Thanks to Pew Research

No such thing as absolute privacy

“There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America; there is no place outside of judicial reach,” Comey said at a Boston College conference on cybersecurity. He made the remark as he discussed the rise of encryption since 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed sensitive US spy practices.
“Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private in America,” Comey added. “In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications.”
 But, he also said Americans “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, in our devices.
“It is a vital part of being an American. The government cannot invade our privacy without good reason, reviewable in court,” Comey continued.
The privacy conversation continues in 2017 as the White House sends mixed messages.  And new threats to computing devices and TVs remind us to be vigilent and not assume that we are protected from surveillance, hacking, and cyber crime.

FBI Chief Comey on Privacy

Thanks to the FBI and CNN

America’s Top Spy James Clapper and the Future of Cyberwar and Surveillance

In a rare public article, we hear about the current US position on cyberwar and surveillance.  The interesting question is where we might go with our protections in 2017 and beyond and will Clapper be a part of that effort.

Source: America’s Top Spy James Clapper and the Future of Cyberwar and Surveillance

Thanks to TCIH 2.0 and WIRED

NSA ‘not interested in’ Americans, privacy officer claims

Privacy advocates want Congress to weigh in on a decades-old executive order for spying on foreigners.

The big question is not the target of intellegence, but whether law abiding citizens are having their conversations monitored unlawfully.  This surveillance has yet to be challenged in court and potentially legislated.  the US Constitution IS important and needs to be defended.

Source: NSA ‘not interested in’ Americans, privacy officer claims | TheHill


Thanks to The Hill

Snowden leaks resulted in no uptick in encrypted terrorist communications, study finds

“Flashpoint Global Partners, a firm that specializes in uncovering threats on the Dark Net and Deep Web and the creator of the study, found that “underlying public encryption methods employed by online jihadists do not appear to have significantly changed since the emergence of Edward Snowden.”On Monday, CIA Director John Brennan bemoaned “unauthorized disclosures” and “hand wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover terrorists” as reasons why it has become more difficult to identify terrorists. Brennan didn’t explicitly name Snowden in his remarks, but the implication is clear.”

Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater over the suggestion that encryption was responsible for the Paris terrorist attacks.  The ubiquity of Internet communications and new media have created a vast system of open and closed networks used by nearly everyone in the world with acess to a smartphone or computer.  Public encryption is but one method of privatizing information,

Source: Snowden leaks resulted in no uptick in encrypted terrorist communications, study finds

Thanks to The  Daily Dot

This Week In Data Collection News, And The Privacy Paradox

“As California tightened its digital privacy protections, news involving Google, Pandora and other firms highlighted the way companies increasingly rely on data about their users. How much do we care?

“For nearly a decade now, researchers have tracked this concept known as the “privacy paradox. At its heart is the fact that Web users routinely say that privacy is a big and serious concern, but then don’t actually behave accordingly.”

“There’s a bit of a disconnect between what people say and what they do,” says Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who has studied digital market manipulation. He says the paradox is complex and theories that explain it vary. “Maybe they don’t really care? Maybe they just don’t know?” Calo adds.”

The so called privacy paradox is at the center of the conversation between strict constitutionalists, liberals, and hawks who want to beat back the threats at our borders at any cost.


Source: This Week In Data Collection News, And The Privacy Paradox

Thanks to Data Collection News

With ‘Brandeis’ Project, Darpa Seeks to Advance Privacy Technology

“The new Darpa program is called Brandeis, a nod to the guiding principle of the research initiative. Louis Brandeis, a progressive lawyer who became a Supreme Court justice, was the co-author with Samuel D. Warren of an influential essay, “The Right to Privacy.” Published in Harvard Law Review in 1890, it forcefully made the case that safeguarding privacy was essential to individual freedom.”

Apparently we’ve learned some things from the edward Snowden revelations and the Pentagon is putting a public face on its efforts to understand and practice the need for personal privacy.

Chalk one up for the Constitution.

Source: With ‘Brandeis’ Project, Darpa Seeks to Advance Privacy Technology – The New York Times


Thanks to The New York Times

Mathmaticians spying: The quandary of working for the spooks

“FOR the past 10 months, a major international scandal has engulfed some of the world’s largest employers of mathematicians. These organisations stand accused of law-breaking on an industrial scale and are now the object of widespread outrage. How has the mathematics community responded? Largely by ignoring it.

Those employers – the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – have been systematically monitoring as much of our lives as they can, including our emails, texts, phone and Skype calls, web browsing, bank transactions and location data. They have tapped internet trunk cables, bugged charities and political leaders, conducted economic espionage, hacked cloud servers and disrupted lawful activist groups, all under the banner of national security. The goal, to quote former NSA director Keith Alexander, is to “collect all the signals, all the time”.

The standard justification for this mass surveillance is to avert terrorism. US officials repeatedly claimed that mass surveillance had thwarted 54 attacks. But the NSA eventually admitted it was more like one or two; its best example was an alleged $8500 donation to a terrorist group.”

Maths spying: The quandary of working for the spooks – opinion – 23 April 2014 – New Scientist.

Thanks to New Scientist

NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence

“The NSA and other elite intelligence agencies devote millions of dollars to hunt for common software flaws that are critical to stealing data from secure computers. Open-source protocols like OpenSSL, where the flaw was found, are primary targets.The Heartbleed flaw, introduced in early 2012 in a minor adjustment to the OpenSSL protocol, highlights one of the failings of open source software development.While many Internet companies rely on the free code, its integrity depends on a small number of underfunded researchers who devote their energies to the projects.In contrast, the NSA has more than 1,000 experts devoted to ferreting out such flaws using sophisticated analysis techniques, many of them classified. The agency found Heartbleed shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit for stealing account passwords and other common tasks.”

NSA Exploits Heartbleed

Heartbleed graphic courtesy of Leena

Thanks to Bloomberg

via NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years – Bloomberg.