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New Intelligence Bill Gives FBI More Secret Surveillance Power

June 10, 2016

A Senate bill published late Monday night includes a new provision that would give the FBI more power to issue secret demands, known as national security letters, to technology, internet, communications, and banking companies for their customers’ information.
The provision, tucked into the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, would explicitly authorize the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” for individuals or entities — though it doesn’t define what that means. The bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.
In the past, the FBI has considered “electronic communication transactional records” to be a broad category of information — including everything from browsing history, email header information, records of online purchases, IP addresses of contacts, and more.
The Justice Department told the FBI in 2008 that it was not authorized to receive this information from companies without a court order, although as The Intercept reported last week, the FBI has continued to demand such data anyway — insisting on a different legal interpretation.
The major technology companies have been fighting back since then by refusing to provide email metadata and online records — forcing the FBI to pursue a legislative solution.
Before the full text of the bill was published, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued a press release warning about the expansion of power.
Read the text of the amendment below:
Sec. 803. Counterintelligence Access to Telephone Toll and Transactional Records:
Subsection (b) of section 2709 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
“(b) REQUIRED CERTIFICATION.—The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the designee of the Director in a position not lower that Deputy Assistant Director at Bureau headquarters or a Special Agent in Charge in a Bureau field office designated by the Director, may, using a term that specifically identifies a person, entity, telephone number, or account as the basis for a request, request the name, address, length of service, local and long distance toll billing records, and electronic communication transactional records of a person or entity, but not the contents of an electronic communication, if the Director (or the designee) certifies in writing to the wire or electronic communication service provider to which the request is made that the name, address, length of service, toll billing records, and electronic communication transactional records sought are relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such an investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”.
By Jenna McLaughlin
www.theintercept.com

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FBI Wants Email Privacy Act To Allow Warrantless Access To Browsing Histories

June 8, 2016

Fixing a “typo” in a law governing domestic surveillance is the top priority for the bureau this year, FBI Director James B. Comey has said.
A “typo?” Tech companies and privacy advocates are strenuously disagreeing with his characterization of the proposed amendment, which would give the FBI explicit authority to access a person’s internet browser history and other electronic data without a warrant in terrorism and spy cases.
At the FBI’s request, lawmakers have put forth legislation that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which Comey claims now lets some tech companies refuse to hand over data that, the government claims, Congress had intended for them to provide.
The proposed legislation would do away with the necessity to get a warrant for such data and would let the government get a national security letter (NSL) instead: a subpoena that doesn’t require a judge’s approval.
The Senate Intelligence Committee panel recently voted out an authorization bill with the NSL amendment, but it’s since crept back, reintroduced in an amendment to the ECPA floated last week by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Cornyn’s on-message with the FBI. As reported by The Washington Post, he referred to Comey’s “typo” in the law as a “scrivener’s error” that’s “needlessly hamstringing our counterintelligence and counterterrorism efforts.”
If the amendment passes, it would allow the FBI to access internet browsing records without a warrant in terrorism and spy cases. That doesn’t mean they’d get at the content of email: rather, with an NSL, the Feds could access a host of online information, including IP addresses, routing and transmission information, session data, and more.
The bureau told The Washington Post that there’s a limit to how specific the browsing history would be. For example, somebody could visit any part of the newspaper’s website, but law enforcement would only see that they’d visited washingtonpost.com.
Privacy advocates say that’s bunk.
A letter signed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International USA, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Google, Facebook and Yahoo, among others, pointed out that a 2007 audit found that the FBI illegally used NSLs to collect information that wasn’t permitted by NSL statutes.
This history of abusing NSLs compounds the civil liberties and human rights concerns brought up by expanding the use of the subpoenas, the letter said.
As it is, even without email content, the Electronic Communication Transactional Records (ECTRs) the Feds are after would paint “an incredibly intimate picture of an individual’s life,” the letter signers said.
“ECTRs could include a person’s browsing history, email metadata, location information, and the exact date and time a person signs in or out of a particular online account.
This information could reveal details about a person’s political affiliation, medical conditions, religion, substance abuse history, sexual orientation, and, in spite of the exclusion of cell tower information in the Cornyn amendment, even his or her movements throughout the day.”
According to The Hill, Cornyn’s amendment was one of a few that delayed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of the Email Privacy Act last week.
That bill, which the House of Representatives unanimously passed in April, would require investigators to get a warrant before they can force technology companies to hand over customers’ email or other electronic communications, no matter how old.
The Senate committee’s slated to mark the bill up on Thursday.

By Lisa Vaas
www.nakedsecurity.sophos.com

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defense-large

The Military Is Building an Employee Database to Predict Traitors

June 6, 2016

The “DoD Component Insider Threat Records System” is part of the U.S. government’s response to the 2010 leaks of classified diplomatic cables by former Pfc. Chelsea Manning.
The Defense Department is building a massive information-sharing system detailing national security personnel and individuals cleared for accessing U.S. secrets, to flag who among them might be potential turncoats or other “insider threats.”
The “DoD Component Insider Threat Records System” is part of the U.S. government’s response to the 2010 leaks of classified diplomatic cables by former Pfc. Chelsea Manning. A 2011 so-called WikiLeaks executive order called for an “insider threat detection” program.
A review of the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings found that the department still lacked “a centralized hub” to obtain a holistic view into potential threats, Defense spokeswoman Linda Rojas told Nextgov in an email.
Now, the Pentagon is establishing a team of “cross-functional experts” trained in cybersecurity, privacy, law enforcement, intelligence and psychology—aided by the new workflow technology—to help fill that gap, she said.
But some civil liberties advocates say this Defensewide insider threat analytics system could create a culture of mutual suspicion that silences whistleblowers.
The Pentagon expects to enter into the tool information that is gleaned, in part, from a new ”continuous evaluation” approach to screening clearance-holders that uses automated data checks, according to a May 19 Privacy Act notice.
The insider-threat system also will share data pulled from public social media posts and “user activity monitoring” of employees’ private digital habits at work, the notice states. The surveillance of military networks may include keystrokes, screen captures, and content transmitted via email, chat, and data import or export.
Earlier this month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed a policy that would authorize investigators to vet public social media posts when conducting background checks of national security personnel.
In the privacy notice, Aaron Siegel, alternate Defense Federal Register Liaison officer, describes user activity monitoring as the technical capability to “record the actions and activities of all users, at any time, on a computer network controlled by DoD.”
The insider threat technology also would disseminate equal employment opportunity complaints, security violations, and personal contact records, the notice states. Logs of printer, copier, and fax machine use would be shared through the tool. Public information from professional certifications—like pilot’s licenses, firearms and explosive permits—would be fair game too, the notice states.
Traitor or Truthsayer?
Referring to the equal employment opportunity complaints and security violation data, some civil liberties advocates said the new technology could propagate misleading information about behaviors that are common in any workplace.
“Almost all of us at different periods of time, have been upset with the people we work with, and that is part of the human nature, so to identify that behavior as potentially troubling and indicative of being a—quote—insider threat is both inappropriate and likely to lead to errors,” said Michael German, a 16-year FBI veteran who now is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program.
“When you read the insider threat material, what they view as a threat is somebody reporting information about government activity to the press, which is, in a democratic society, not only important but necessary,” he said.
According to the privacy notice, the system will be governed under the following definition of “insider threat:”
The threat that an insider will use his or her access, wittingly or unwittingly, to do harm to the security of the United States. This threat includes damage to the United States through espionage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of national security information, or the loss or degradation of government, company, contract or program information, resources, or capabilities.
German said personnel who ruffle the feathers of managers while trying to root out government abuses could be tracked by the system.
“They are definitely attempting to get whistleblowers and people who are reporting the truth in the face of government efforts to suppress that truth,” he said. “The real threat are the people that they are not seeing,” German added, pointing to cases like that of Robert Hanssen, who spied for the Russian government while serving at the FBI—unnoticed—between 1979 and 2001.
And if national security personnel know their criticisms will be widely circulated, they might shy away from reporting problems, German said.
“If you have an agency whose mission is national security and that entity is being hampered by waste, fraud, misconduct or illegality, you would think reporting that would be something that is positive and promoted, but this program would tend to suppress that type of internal activity and instead cause more problems which then undermine our national security goals,” he said.
System Specs
Defense officials said only military-affiliated personnel who fall under certain criteria will be entered into the insider-threat system.
“Adequate controls, training, and oversight are in place to ensure that personally identifiable information is protected and that only information which meets a pre-determined threshold is entered into the system,” Rojas said.
The tool will share records on people eligible to hold sensitive Defense positions and people granted security clearances who have “exhibited actual, probable, or possible indications of insider threat behaviors or activities,” Siegel said in the privacy notice.
Only personnel trained in insider threat, privacy and civil liberties, and intelligence oversight, who are approved by the department, will be allowed to use the system, Rojas said. The system will not be activated until after a public comment period that ends June 20.
Insider threat programs require “a holistic approach to information management,” since the “data containing anomalous behaviors that may be indicative of an insider threat can come from many sources, such as personnel security, physical security, information assurance, and law enforcement,” Rojas said. But, right now, this information is not easy to access, plus the size and complexity of the Pentagon makes it hard to share information among military components, she said.
The insider threat tool’s ”workflow management and analytics” features will facilitate the exchange of information, Rojas said. When one department unit identifies and validates behavior that may signal a threat, it can be shared with other department units for further analysis, once the tool is in place, she said.
The system also will provide access to traditional background check records like biometric data files, and self-reported “SF-86” forms detailing the medical and personal lives of individuals applying for security clearances.
On the Record
A diverse group, including the press and civilian agency employers, will be able to use certain material in the system, according to the privacy notice.
Information in the tool also could be used outside the Pentagon for HR, licensing and counterterrorism purposes.For example, other federal and state agencies can obtain information that is relevant to a “decision concerning the hiring or retention” of a worker, the notice states. The “news media or the general public” can view factual information that is in the public interest and does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, Siegel said. And congressional offices can request records on specific individuals.
In addition to active troops, individuals profiled by the system could include National Guard members, civilian employees cleared to handle classified material, and defense contractors, the notice states.
U.S. Coast Guard members, “mobilized” retired military personnel, and Limited Access Authorization grantees could be documented in the system too, according to the notice.

By Aliya Sternstein

www.defenseone.com

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CIA Ex-Boss: Secretive Spooks Tolerated In UK More Than In US

May 31, 2016

British people are not demanding more transparency from the intelligence services as loudly as Americans, the former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA has said.
Michael Hayden played a pivotal, leading role in American intelligence until he was replaced as director of the CIA shortly into the presidency of Barack Obama.
In a wide-ranging talk on the fourth day of the Hay festival, Hayden addressed CIA torture, targeted killings, what he thinks about Edward Snowden and how Facebook is perhaps a greater threat to privacy than government.
Hayden said the security services were changing faster in the US than the UK. “You as a population are far more tolerant of aggressive action on the part of your intelligence services than we are in the United States,” he said.
The US intelligence services would not have validation from the American people unless there was a certain amount of knowledge, an increased transparency, he said.
Hayden talked about the tensions between the need to know and the need to protect.
In his newlypublished book Hayden calls Snowden naive and narcissistic and says he wanted to put him on a “kill list”.
On the next page he said Snowden “highlighted the need for a broad cultural shift” in terms of transparency and what constitutes consent. On Sunday he said there was no contradiction between the two assertions.
“The 2% of what Snowden revealed that had to do with privacy accelerated a necessary conversation. The other 98% was about how the US and foreign governments collected legitimate material … that was incredibly damaging.”
The privacy revelations quickened a conversation which had “hit the beach” in the US but it “has not hit the beach here in Great Britain”.
Hayden was asked about how much information we give to social media companies and whether the public is naive in trusting Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook more than the NSA.
“I have my views on that,” he joked. “Your habits are all geared to protecting privacy against the government because that was always the traditional threat. That is no longer the pattern, it is the private sector … we are going through a cultural adjustment.
“With regard to the 21st-century definition of reasonable privacy, Mark Zuckerberg is probably going to have a greater influence on that than your or my government because of the rules we will embed inside his Facebook applications.”
On “enhanced interrogation techniques” or torture – which could include waterboarding – Hayden said he personally authorised it only once and it did not, he admitted, work.
But he added the “suite” of usable techniques had been reduced from 13 to six and the interrogator believed he would have got information if that had not been the case. “Was it doomed to failure or was it a failure because we did not do enough?”
Targeted killings were justified, Hayden said, because the US believed it was at war. The UK, he said, referring to the killing of “Jihadi John”, has now “joined the queue”.
Hayden said he believed Islam was going through the crisis that Christianity went through in the 17th century as it was in an internal crisis. “We are not the target, we are collateral damage. What has happened in Paris, in Brussels … is spillage.”
Hayden also touched on Donald Trump, whose pronouncements, he said, had damaged US security.
“The jihadist narrative is that there is undying enmity between Islam and the modern world so when Trump says they all hate us, he’s using their narrative … he’s feeding their recruitment video.”
By Mark Brown
www.theguardian.com

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Under Surveillance: Journalists Urged To Guard Their Data

May 30, 2016

The two most important principles for great journalism go hand in hand: first, to hold power to account, and second, to protect sources.
However, both principles are becoming increasingly challenging in light of the UK government’s attack on Freedom of Information and the expansive surveillance powers laid out in the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill.
If the UK Home Office has its way, bulk collection of metadata and content, collation of ‘bulk personal datasets’ (including innocent people’s political opinions, medical conditions, ethnicity, sexuality) and even bulk hacking, will be exercised under the new legislation. This is despite the extreme breaches of human rights law and basic democratic principles.
Journalistic principles are more important than ever if the draft bill becomes law in the United Kingdom. Equally important is for journalists to offer real source protection and adopt good information security practices.
It is thanks to great journalism, and excellent information security, that we can even have an informed debate about the surveillance state today. I’m referring, of course, to the courageous work of Glenn Greenwald and other journalists. It was their reporting on thousands of classified documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – jigsaw pieces put together over the past two and a half years – that formed an unrecognisable and frankly dystopian picture of the Western democracies we thought we knew.
Whistleblowing and journalism has forced UK intelligence agencies and government to present comprehensive legislation to parliament in form of the draft bill to clearly define the powers that have been, and currently are, exercised with dubious legality. Few expected the worst of Snowden’s revelations to be proliferated and even extended, but they have been.
The UK government made a great deal of ‘journalist protections’ in the draft bill. I spent considerable time looking for them in the 300-page document. There aren’t any. There is a draft code of practice accompanying the bill, which recommends that police and spies have ‘consideration’ when gathering data on, or intercepting, journalist-source communications. But the bill gives police and intelligence agencies the power to spy on, intercept and even hack journalists’ communications. Since when is ‘consideration’ an effective safeguard to protect a critical pillar of a free society – a free press?
Journalists rarely know when they are being spied on. Authorities need not declare their target’s job; there is no obligation to inform those wrongfully spied on; and intercept evidence is banned from the courts. Despite the near impossibility of finding out you’ve been the target of surveillance, there are increasing examples of unjustified surveillance of journalists and their sources.
Journalists who want to be able to offer source protection; who want to do serious investigative work; who want to hold power to account, must adopt information security practices. Information security is source protection in the digital age, and journalists who show an awareness, willingness and ability to adopt digital security behaviours will attract valuable sources and stories.
My top tips for journalists on protecting their data:
• Don’t offer source protection unless you are confident you can provide it. It is important to give potential sources an honest and informed evaluation of the protection you can provide them and the safety of your communications. Their livelihoods, and in some countries their lives, could be at stake.
• Information you need to understand the risks and defend against them is widely available, including this free handbook from the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
• Use encryption to securely exchange emails and to safely share important source files. Encryption wraps communications in impenetrable code, so that the content is only accessible to the intended recipient/s. It is one of the very best ways we have of securing modern communications and technologies.
• Using the Centre for Investigative Journalism handbook you can learn some simple but highly effective ways to encrypt your emails, use encrypted instant messaging and store or exchange encrypted files.
By Silkie Carlo
www.newssafety.org

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