Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Mike Rogers’ Plan To ‘Stop’ Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Riddled With Dangerous Loopholes That Will Expand Surveillance

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | April 1, 2014

Now that people have had a chance to go through the proposal by Reps. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger to “stop” the bulk phone record collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, they’re finding more and more things to be concerned about. We had noted some potential easter eggs in there for law enforcement, but the deeper people look, the worse it gets. Trevor Timm notes that the bill is really a trojan horse to expand surveillance capabilities, while pretending to end them.

Curiously, a large majority of the House bill focuses on new ways for the government to collect data from “electronic communications service providers” – also known as the internet companies. Why is a bill that’s supposedly about ending bulk collection of phone-call data focused on more collection of data from internet companies?

From there, we turn to Julian Sanchez, who has given one of the most thorough explanations of what’s actually in the bill, noting that it fails to really end the bulk collection of phone records while also potentially massively expanding other surveillance capabilities.

First, the HPSCI bill’s seemingly broad prohibition on bulk collection turns out to be riddled with ambiguities and potential loopholes. The fuzzy definition of “specific identifiers” leaves the door open to collection that’s extremely broad even if not completely indiscriminate. Because the provision dealing with “call detail records” applies only to &sect:215 and the provision dealing with “electronic communications records” excludes telephony records, the law does not bar the bulk collection of telephony records under FISA provisions other than §215. The prohibition on non-specific acquisition of other communications “records” probably does not preclude bulk collection under the FISA pen register provision that was previously used for the NSA Internet metadata dragnet. And, of course, none of these prohibitions apply to National Security Letters. If the government wanted to keep collecting metadata in bulk, it would have plenty of ways to do so within the parameters of this statute given a modicum of creative lawyering—at least if the FISC were to continue being as accommodating as it has been in the past.

Second, something like the novel authority created here may well be necessary to enable fast and flexible acquisition of targeted records without dragnet collection. However, once we get down to details—and even leaving aside the question of ex-post versus ex-ante judicial approval—this authority is in some respects broader than either the current §215 telephony program, the president’s proposal, or the pre-Snowden understanding of the FISA business records authority. Critically, it eliminates the required link to a predicated investigation—which, in the case of U.S. persons, must be for counterterror or counterespionage purposes.

In other words, this appears to be a superficial attempt to end bulk collection “under this program,” while at the same time knocking down a bunch of barriers to much broader bulk collection under other authorities, with less oversight and fewer ways to push back against abuse. Did anyone really expect anything different from the NSA’s two biggest defenders in the House?

April 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AT&T’s First Transparency Report Reveals Warrantless Demands for Customer Data

By Matthew Cagle | ACLU | February 19, 2014

In the wake of our shareholder advocacy, AT&T has now joined Verizon and released its first transparency report. AT&T’s report shows how federal, state, and local governments have requested large volumes of customer information, typically without a warrant. While we welcome AT&T’s move, the American public remains in the dark about a lot of what’s happening behind the scenes. Greater transparency is still needed from AT&T and the federal government.

Here’s a breakdown of the many demands AT&T received in 2013. As we have long suspected, the vast majority of these demands lacked a warrant:

  • AT&T received 301,816 demands related to criminal and civil litigation. Only 16,685 of these demands included a warrant based on probable cause.
  • AT&T received 223,659 subpoenas for customer information. This is significantly more than the 164,184 subpoenas Verizon received during the same period.
  • AT&T received 37,839 demands for location information. At least 21,000 of these demands lacked a warrant. AT&T’s full report says a warrant is “almost always required to obtain real-time location information.”
  • AT&T also received 1,034 demands for “cell tower searches” last year, some of them compelling the company to identify the numbers of all phones that connected to a specific cell tower during a given period of time. Cell tower information is ripe for misuse—we know of at least one instance where a cell tower request was made for all phones within the vicinity of a planned labor protest.

AT&T also included information on national security requests (though, not the complete story):

  • AT&T reported receiving between 2,000 and 3,000 National Security Letters (NSLs) from the federal government for customer information including name, address, length of service, and toll billing records. NSLs do not require prior approval from courts and the government has been criticized for misusing them. 4,000 to 4,999 AT&T customers were affected by NSLs last year. Note: Verizon has not yet revealed how many customers were affected by the NSLs it received.
  • AT&T also released information about federal government demands for customer content under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), demands that may result in government access to the telephone and Internet communications of US citizens and persons abroad. For the first six months of 2013, AT&T received 0-999 requests for content that ultimately affected 35,000-35,999 customers. In fact, more AT&T customers were affected by FISA content requests in the first half of 2013 than the combined number of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft customers affected by the same sort of requests during that period.
  • Unfortunately, the report omits important information on the metadata that the government reportedly obtains from AT&T under the call records program (currently being challenged by the ACLU in federal court). Phone metadata includes the phone numbers of parties to a conversation, a call’s duration, and device identifiers—information that can paint a very detailed picture of private lives. We know that the government justifies its access to phone metadata with a section of the FISA law, yet AT&T’s report states that only 0-999 customers were affected by such “non-content” requests. On its own, this lack of detail misleads the millions of AT&T customers whose phone metadata may be subject to these demands.

In addition to a clearer explanation of national security requests, we hope that AT&T’s future reports will also address the following shortcomings:

  • The current report does not include the number of customers or individuals affected by all of the government demands. The company claims that it is “difficult” to tally this information.
  • The report does not describe statistics on how often AT&T complies with demands.
  • This report includes very limited information about demands from foreign governments.

AT&T’s transparency report, limited in what it reveals, also highlights just how essential it is for privacy laws to be updated in both the national security and law enforcement contexts. Technology has advanced exponentially and our privacy laws are still in the digital dark ages, enabling the government to engage in a largely unsupervised shopping spree of the personal data held by AT&T and other companies. This is why you should tell your member of Congress to support the USA Freedom Act and an update to the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act. We also urge AT&T to play a larger role by pushing for greater transparency, including far more detail in its future reports, and advocating for stronger privacy protections.  

Matthew Cagle is a Volunteer Attorney for Technology and Civil Liberties with the ACLU of Northern California.

Copyright 2014 American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
Reprinted with permission of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California http://www.aclunc.org

February 21, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11

By Matthew Harwood | ACLU | July 5, 2013

Next Tuesday, James Comey will have his first job interview for succeeding Robert Mueller as director of the FBI.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will not only have the chance to determine whether Comey is qualified for the job—and we have our concerns—but an opportunity to examine what the FBI has become since 9/11 and whether it needs to change course over the next decade.

Over the past 12 years, the FBI has become a domestic intelligence agency with unprecedented power to peer into the lives of ordinary Americans and secretly amass data about people not suspected of any wrongdoing. The recent revelation about the FBI using the Patriot Act’s “business records provision” to track all U.S. telephone calls is only the latest in a long line of abuse stemming from the expanded powers granted to the bureau since September 2001.

These abuses and bad policies, however, do not get the attention they deserve, despite serious violations of people’s civil rights and liberties. Since 9/11, the ACLU has learned of persistent FBI abuses, including domestic spying, racial and religious profiling, biased counterterrorism training materials, politically motivated investigations, abusive detention and interrogation practices, and misuse of the No-Fly List to recruit informants.

We hope Congress and the new FBI director, whoever it is, will use the information provided as a starting point to conduct a thorough evaluation of the FBI’s post-9/11 authorities, policies, and practices to identify and curb any and all activities that are illegal, ineffective, or prone to misuse.

The choice between our civil liberties and our security is a false one: we can be both safe and free.

In the interest of highlighting the worst abuses that have occurred over the last 12 years, the ACLU has put together a factsheet:

The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11

USA Patriot Act Abuse

The recent revelation about the FBI using the Patriot Act’s “business records provision” to track all U.S. telephone calls is only the latest in a long line of abuse. Five Justice Department Inspector General audits documented widespread FBI misuse of Patriot Act authorities (1,2,3,4,5), and a federal district court recently struck down the National Security Letter (NSL) statute because of its unconstitutional gag orders. The IG also revealed the FBI’s unlawful use of “exigent letters” that claimed false emergencies to get private information without NSLs, but in 2009 the Justice Department secretly re-interpreted the law to allow the FBI to get this information without emergencies or legal process. Congress and the American public need to know the full scope of the FBI’s spying on Americans under the Patriot Act and all other surveillance authorities enacted since 9/11, like the FISA Amendments Act that underlies the PRISM program.

2008 Amendments to the Attorney General’s Guidelines

Attorney General Michael Mukasey re-wrote the FBI’s rulebook in the final months of the Bush administration, giving FBI agents unfettered authority to investigate people without any factual basis for suspecting wrongdoing. The 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines created a new kind of intrusive investigation called an “assessment,” which required no “factual predicate” before FBI agents could search through government or commercial databases, conduct overt or covert FBI interviews, and task informants to gather information about people or infiltrate lawful organizations. In a two-year period from 2009 to 2011, the FBI opened over 82,000 “assessments” of individuals or organizations, less than 3,500 of which discovered information justifying further investigation.

Racial and Ethnic Mapping

The 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines also authorized “domain management assessments” which allow the FBI to map American communities by race and ethnicity based on crass stereotypes about the crimes they are likely to commit. FBI documents obtained by the ACLU show the FBI mapped entire Chinese and Russian communities in San Francisco on the theory that they might commit organized crime, all Latino communities in New Jersey and Alabama because a street gang has Latino members, African Americans in Georgia to find “Black separatists,” and Middle-Eastern communities in Detroit for terrorism investigations. The FBI’s racial and ethnic mapping program is simply racial and religious profiling of entire communities.

Unrestrained Data Collection and Data Mining

The FBI has claimed the authority to secretly sweep up voluminous amounts of private information from data aggregators for data mining purposes. In 2007 the FBI said it amassed databases containing 1.5 billion records, which were predicted to grow to 6 billion records by 2012, or equal to “20 separate ‘records’ for each man, woman and child in the United States.” When Congress sought information about one of these programs, the FBI refused to give the Government Accountability Office access. That program was temporarily defunded, but its successor, the FBI Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, currently has 360 staff members running 40 separate projects. Records show analysts are allowed to use data mining tools to establish “risk scores” for U.S. persons. A 2013 IG audit questioned the task force’s effectiveness, concluding it “did not always provide FBI field offices with timely and relevant information.”

Suppressing Internal Dissent: The FBI War on Whistleblowers

The FBI is exempt from the Whistleblower Protection Act. Though the law required it to establish internal mechanisms to protect whistleblowers, it has a long history of retaliating against them. As a result, a 2009 IG report found that 28 percent of non-supervisory FBI employees and 22 percent of FBI supervisors at the GS-14 and GS-15 levels “never” reported misconduct they have seen or heard about on the job. The FBI has also aggressively investigated whistleblowers from other agencies, leading to an unprecedented increase in Espionage Act prosecutions under the Obama administration, almost invariably targeting critics of government policies.

Targeting Journalists

The FBI’s overzealous pursuit of government whistleblowers has resulted in the inappropriate targeting of journalists for investigation, potentially chilling press freedoms. Recently, the FBI obtained records from 21 telephone lines used by over 100 Associated Press journalists, including the AP’s main number in the U.S. House of Representatives’ press gallery. And an FBI search warrant affidavit claimed Fox News reporter James Rosen aided, abetted, or co-conspired in criminal activity because of his news gathering activities, in an apparent attempt to circumvent legal restrictions designed to protect journalists. In 2010, the IG reported that the FBI unlawfully used an “exigent letter” to obtain the telephone records of seven New York Times and Washington Post reporters and researchers during a media leak investigation.

Thwarting Congressional Oversight

The FBI has thwarted congressional oversight by withholding information, limiting or delaying responses to members’ inquiries, or worse, by providing false or misleading information to Congress and the American public. Examples include false information regarding FBI investigations of domestic advocacy groups, misleading information about the FBI’s awareness of detainee abuse, and deceptive responses to questions about government surveillance authorities.

Targeting First Amendment Activity

Several ACLU Freedom of Information Act requests have uncovered significant evidence that the FBI has used its expanded authorities to target individuals and organizations because of their participation in First Amendment-protected activities. A 2010 IG report confirmed the FBI conducted inappropriate investigations of domestic advocacy groups engaged in environmental and anti-war activism, and falsified public responses to hide this fact. Other FBI documents showed FBI exploitation of community outreach programs to secretly collect information about law-abiding citizens, including a mosque outreach program specifically targeting American Muslims. Many of these abuses are likely a result of flawed FBI training materials and intelligence products that expressed anti-Muslim sentiments and falsely identified religious practices or other First Amendment activities as indicators of terrorism.

Proxy Detentions

The FBI increasingly operates outside the U.S., where its authorities are less clear and its activities much more difficult to monitor. Several troubling cases indicate that during the Bush administration the FBI requested, facilitated, and/or exploited the arrests and detention of U.S. citizens by foreign governments, often without charges, so they could be interrogated, sometimes tortured, then interviewed by FBI agents. The ACLU represents two victims of such activities. Amir Meshal was arrested at the Kenya border by a joint U.S., Kenyan, and Ethiopian task force in 2007, subjected to more than four months of detention, and transferred between three different East African countries without charge, access to counsel, or presentment before a judicial officer, all at the behest of the U.S. government. FBI agents interrogated Meshal more than thirty times during his detention. Similarly, Naji Hamdan, a Lebanese-American businessman, sat for interviews with the FBI several times before moving from Los Angeles to the United Arab Emirates in 2006. In 2008, he was arrested by U.A.E. security forces and held incommunicado for nearly three months, beaten, and tortured. At one point an American participated in his interrogation; Hamdan believed this person to be an FBI agent based on the interrogator’s knowledge of previous FBI interviews. Another case in 2010, involving an American teenager jailed in Kuwait, may indicate this activity has continued into the Obama administration.

Use of No Fly List to Pressure Americans Abroad to Become Informants

The number of U.S. persons on the No Fly List has more than doubled since 2009, and people mistakenly on the list are denied their due process rights to meaningfully challenge their inclusion. In many cases Americans only find out they are on the list while they are traveling abroad, which all but forces them to interact with the U.S. government from a position of extreme vulnerability, and often without easy access to counsel. Many of those prevented from flying home have been subjected to FBI interviews while they sought assistance from U.S. Embassies to return. In those interviews, FBI agents sometimes offer to take people off the No Fly List if they agree to become an FBI informant. In 2010 the ACLU and its affiliates filed a lawsuit on behalf of 10 American citizens and permanent residents, including several U.S. military veterans, seven of whom were prevented from returning home until the suit was filed. We argue that barring them from flying without due process was unconstitutional. There are now 13 plaintiffs; none have been charged with a crime, told why they are barred from flying, or given an opportunity to challenge their inclusion on the No Fly List.

(Find a printable PDF version here.)

July 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spying by the Numbers

By BILL QUIGLEY | CounterPunch | June 20, 2013

Thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden many more people in the US and world-wide are learning about extensive US government surveillance and spying.  There are publicly available numbers which show the reality of these problems are bigger than most think and most of this spying is happening with little or no judicial oversight.

Hundreds of Thousands Subject to Government Surveillance

The first reality is that hundreds of thousands of people in the US have been subject to government surveillance in each of the last few years. Government surveillance of people in the US is much more widespread than those in power want to admit.   In the last three years alone about 5000 requests have been granted for complete electronic surveillance authorized by the secret FISA court.  The FBI has authorized another 50,000 surveillance operations with National Security Letters in the last three years.  The government admits that well over 300,000 people have had their phone calls intercepted by state and federal wiretaps in the last year alone.  More than 50,000 government requests for internet information are received each year as reported by internet providers. And, remember, these are the publicly reported numbers so you can be confident there is a whole lot more going on which has not been publicly reported.

Courts Almost Never Deny Government Requests for Surveillance

The second reality is that there is little to no serious oversight or accountability by the courts of this surveillance.  Government spy defenders keep suggesting the courts are looking carefully and rigorously at all this and only letting a tiny number of really bad people be spied on.  Not true.  Despite thousands of requests by the federal government to look deeply into people’s lives, the secret federal FISA court turned down no requests at all in the last three years.  The state and federal courts report on wiretap applications document over 2000 applications annually for surveillance which authorize the interception of hundreds of thousands of calls and emails.  The courts have turned down the government two times in the most recent report.  FBI national security letters do not even have to be authorized by a court at all.  The lack of Congressional oversight is plain to see but the lack of any judicial review of many of these surveillance actions and the very weak oversight where courts do review should concern anyone who cares about government accountability.

Let’s break down the surveillance by the authority for spying.

In FISA Court Government Always Wins  

The US government has tried to say the public should not worry about government scooping up hundreds of millions of phone calls and internet activities because no real information is disclosed unless it is authorized by what is called the FISA court.  Therefore, you can trust us with this information.

The FISA Court, actually called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, is made up of ten federal judges who deliberate and decide in secret whether the government can gather and review millions of phone and internet records.  This court, though I know and respect several of its members, cannot, be considered an aggressive defender of constitutional rights and civil liberties.

Government lawyers go to these FISA judges in secret.  Government lawyers present secret evidence in secret proceedings with no defense lawyer or public or press allowed and asks for secret orders allowing the government to secretly spy on people.  Its opinions are secret.  The part the public knows is a one paragraph report which is made every year of the number of applications and the number of denials by the court.

What is worse is that the judges in this secret court never turn the secret government lawyers down.

Over the last three years, the government has made 4,976 requests to the secret FISA court for permission to conduct electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. But the really big FISA number is zero.  Zero is the number of government requests to conduct electronic surveillance the FISA court has turned down in the last three years.

In 2012, the government asked for permission from the judges of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) 1,789 times to conduct electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes.  There were zero denials.  One time the government withdrew its request.

In 2011, the government asked FISA judges 1,676 times to conduct electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence services.  There were zero denials.  The government withdrew two requests.

In 2010, the government asked FISA judges 1,511 times to conduct electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes.  There were zero denials.  The government withdrew five requests.

Not a bad record, huh?  Nearly five thousand victories for those who want surveillance powers and no defeats is a record that should concern everyone who seeks to protect civil liberties.

FBI National Security Letters Scoop Up Information No Court Approval Even Needed

With a NSL letter the FBI can demand financial records from any institution from banks to casinos, all telephone records, subscriber information, credit reports, employment information, and all email records of the target as well as the email addresses and screen names for anyone who has contacted that account.  The reason is supposed to be for foreign counterintelligence.  There is no requirement for court approval at all.  The Patriot Act has made this much easier for the FBI.

According to Congressional records, there have been over 50,000 of these FBI NSL requests in the last three years.  This does not count the numerous times where the FBI persuades the disclosure of information without getting a NSL.  Nor does it count FBI requests made just to find out who an email account belongs to.

These reported NSL numbers also do not include the very high numbers of administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI which only require approval of a member of the local US Attorney’s office.

In 2012, the FBI issued 15,229 national security letter requests for information concerning US citizens.

In 2011, the FBI made 16,511 national security letter requests for information concerning US persons.

In 2010, the FBI made 24,287 national security letter requests for information on US citizens.

Since there is no court approval needed, there are no denials.  The NSL record is even better than the FISA record at 56,027 wins and no losses for Team Surveillance.

Thousands of Wiretaps Each Impacting Over One Hundred People Authorized Two Denied

According to the latest report to Congress by the US Courts, there were 2,732 applications for wiretaps submitted to all federal and to half of the state courts in 2011.  Half the states did not report on their numbers, so these numbers are certainly quite much too low.  Also, the term wiretap is out of date as this process currently covers providing information on conventional phone lines, cell phones, secret microphones, texts, fax, paging, and email computer transmissions.

For the year 2011, out of 2,732 applications, only two were denied.  Two losses out of 2700 tries is a comparatively poor win loss record for the surveillance folks.

On average, each wiretap intercepted the communications of 113 people, thus over three hundred thousand people had their calls intercepted.

The most prevalent reason reported for the wiretaps was drug offenses.  The average length of the wiretap was 42 days.  One federal wiretap in Michigan resulted in intercepting over 71,000 cellular messages extending over 202 days.  A New York state wiretap intercepted 274,210 messages over 564 days.

 Company Reports on Spying Show Tens of Thousands of Requests

It is well known that user accounts at Google, Apple and others contain a treasure trove of information on the customer’s basic information including searches, likes and dislikes, purchases, friends, and the like.  Government investigators seek this information tens of thousands times each year as the reports from the companies show.

Apple reported receiving 4,000 to 5,000 government requests for information on customers in just the last six months.  From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013 Apple received law enforcement requests for customer data on 9-10,000 accounts or devices.  Most of these requests are from police for robberies, missing children, etc.

Facebook reported that in a six month period ending December 31, 2012, it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from the US government for user data on 18,000 to 19,000 accounts.

Google reported it received over 15,000 requests for data by US government officials in 2012 for information on over 30,000 accounts.  It produced some data 88% of the time.

Microsoft (including Skype) reported 75,378 law enforcement requests for information on 137,424 accounts world-wide for the year 2012.  In over 11,000 cases, they could find no data to respond to the requests.  Microsoft disclosed non-content information in 56,388 cases, mostly to the US, UK, Turkey, Germany and France. In the US, Microsoft received 11,073 requests from law enforcement for information on 24,565 accounts.  Microsoft rejected 759 requests or 6.9% on legal grounds.  Microsoft provided user content in 1544 cases and subscriber/transactional data in 7,196 cases.

Yahoo said that in the last six months of 2012 it received between 12,000 and 13,000 requests for user data from law enforcement.

In a democracy, transparency and public participation are critical.  This is not just about “the terrorists.”  This is about civil liberty and government accountability.  Hundreds of thousands of people are being spied upon every year by our own government’s public admissions.  There is little oversight by judges and even less by Congress.  If the government admits this much, you can certainly assume there is more to come out.  It is time to wake up.  These secret subpoenas and secret courts and secret processes should be abolished or fundamentally changed.  Otherwise, change the slogan on the dollar to “In Secrecy We Trust.”

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.  Bill also works with the Center for Constitutional Rights.  A longer version of this article with full sources is available.  You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

June 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Spying by the Numbers

President Foreshadows New Internet Surveillance Proposal During National Security Speech

By Trevor Timm | EFF | May 30, 2013

President Obama gave an influential speech on counter terrorism and national security policy last week, and while much of the media coverage discussed the President’s remarks on Guantanamo prison and drone strikes, buried in the speech was a line just as critical to civil liberties online.

Half way through the speech, Obama said he wanted to “review […] the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse.”

We certainly agree with the president, we need new privacy protections for our digital communications, and it’s encouraging to hear him suggest support for such proposals. After all, we know that the vast surveillance authorities have given to law enforcement over the last decade—like the Patriot Act, FISA Amendments Act, and National Security Letters—have been serially abused. Unfortunately, President Obama has actively defended these laws and policies in Congress and the courts, despite promising to reform them as a candidate.

There are still many measures his administration could support in the coming months to protect American’s communications. The White House could formally support reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which still says law enforcement agencies do not need warrants to obtain emails over 180 days old. The White House could come out in favor of warrant protection for cell-phone location information since it’s requested by authorities literally millions of times a year without a warrant. In the wake of the Associated Press scandal, Obama could also support a bill to require a court order for call records of all Americans.

But the first half of Obama’s statement—about “review […] the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication”—is quite troubling. The line is likely an allusion to CALEA II, a dangerous proposal the New York Times has reported the administration “is on the verge of backing.” The measure would force companies like Google and Facebook to install backdoors in all of their products to facilitate law-enforcement access, putting both our privacy and security at risk.

Law enforcement certainly doesn’t need more legal authorities to conduct digital surveillance. As mentioned above, Congress has already been provided a huge amount of new surveillance authority that has been abused. As former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire said in 2011, “today [is] a golden age for surveillance.”

Indeed, it seems that law enforcement is working at cross-purposes with folks concerned about actual cybersecurity. Just a few months ago in his State of the Union address, Obama himself talked about hackers who “steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail” and  “foreign countries and companies [that] swipe our corporate secrets.” Requiring real-time back doors into all of our communications would make those kinds of attacks easier. Recently, a group of more than a dozen of the nation’s best cybersecurity experts published a paper explaining why such a proposal would be a disaster for Internet security, giving hackers all over the world a central point of vulnerability to target.

And of course the FBI has still failed to put forth any evidence showing a bill to “intercept new kinds of communications” is needed at all. According to government statistics, from 2006-2010, the FBI has been ultimately thwarted by encryption zero times in their criminal investigations.

Citing privacy concerns, the White House commendably has threatened to veto CISPA, the cybersecurity bill. It should also jettison this ill-conceived CALEA II proposal in favor of privacy and security.

Email and call the White House today to tell them you oppose any plan to make Internet companies build government backdoors into your communications.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on President Foreshadows New Internet Surveillance Proposal During National Security Speech